Quick Leica M9 vs. Fuji X-Pro1 image comparison

Today I will be comparing apples and oranges. The Leica M9 and Fuji X-Pro 1 are two completely different beasts. The only similarity is the way both cameras look. Well, actually there is more then that - both have optical viewfinders, similar megapixel counts (18MP vs. 16.3MP) and no anti-aliasing (AA) filter and that's about it. I am not going in details to discuss the features and functions, instead I will just compare few images taken with the Leica M9 and Fuji X-Pro 1 cameras. This is not an easy task because Lightroom 4 currently does not support RAF files form the X-Pro 1 and the Silkypix RAW file converter (included with the X-Pro1) doesn't support M9 DNG files. My only option at that point is to use JPG files taken directly from the X-Pro1. I may redo this test later with direct conversions from the RAW files. Obviously this is not a scientific comparison and it's prone to user's error. Click on images for larger view.

Wide open at f/1.4

Keep in mind that the M9 has a slightly higher resolution count. I took several shots with the M9 to make sure that the focus is correct - I would say the $600 Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens is a pretty good performer compared to the $4000 Summilux 50mm f/1.4:

Leica M9 at f/1.4 (100% crop)

Fuji X-Pro1 at f/1.4 (100% crop)


Leica M9 at f/2.8 (100% crop)

Fuji X-Pro1 at f/2.8 (100% crop)


To my eyes the Leica has a slightly more contrasty/saturated colors (ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/30):

Leica M9

Fuji X-Pro1


The Leica M9 has a shallow depth of field compared to the Fuji X-Pro1 because of its full frame sensor:

Leica M9, 50mm, f/1.4

Fuji X-Pro1, 35mm (50mm equivalent), f/1.4

Leica M9 bokeh sample

Fuji X-Pro1 bokeh sample

Leica M9 bokeh crop

Fuji X-Pro1 bokeh crop

ISO 2500

In terms of high ISO performance, the Fuji X-Pro 1 is a clear winner and probably has one of the best performing APS-C sensors out there. The Leica M9 camera is almost three years old - I will revisit this comparison once the next M camera is released later this year.

Leica M9 at ISO 2500

Fuji X-Pro1 at ISO 2500

Here are some more full size jpg samples taken in aperture priority with both cameras:


In my opinion both cameras have excellent and comparable image quality. The M9 is almost 3 years, the X-Pro1 is not full frame, manual vs. auto focus, price, functionality, simplicity of use, ergonomics, etc. should be driving factors if you are considering to purchase one of those cameras.

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  • Leicaddicted

    Hmmm interesting… Even if I still prefer the look of the M9 because of the FF, I think that the Fuji X-pro1 with the summilux Asph should be very good also !… 😉

  • Very interesting this X1 Pro. But Leica bokeh is far better. 😀

    • JCR

      The bokeh of the Leica is much softer, more creamy.
      The red of the red Leica is not rosy.
      The Leica contrasts are more real.

      But the price is not the same

      • yes, I definitely like the M9 colors better, but Fuji is pretty close

      • Eric

        Also important to remember that its hard to judge bokeh side byside ehen dof is different in each ff vs crop. It doesnt matter that they are the same equiv pov lenses.

        . Yes i do understand dof and bokeh are no the same thing,but when u compare different sensor sizes the dof chanes and things can look creamy.

        If you were to grab a similar lenses that could cover a 6×9 camera the dof again would be wildly different changing how to view bokeh.

        The lenses also too have a huge huge impact on thing slike color and contrast.


        • _core

          what u mean is u have to use the corp on the aperture too.

          the X1 Pro 35/f1.4 is like a 50/f2 on FullFrame

          so this Tester use the wrong Leica Lens for the competition 🙁

          • shootfirstlive

            Yes-it should have been a cron battle.

  • Joaquim Prado

    Leica really needs a sensor upgrade!

    • Mikael

      The M8/M9 CCD makes amazing prints and will continue to do so!

      • Ronan

        So does the D3, D4, heck iv made amazing prints with a D300 last year.

        Leica is overpriced for what you get anyways.

      • Joaquim Prado

        It does specially because of their lenses! But not above ISO 1000 for sure. For such a light contidion it’s preferble use a M7 with a 1600 Fuji negative color film.

  • R!

    Well the fuji is better!!!!!!great test I knew that M9 & M8 wont be lasting for ever,bring on the M10 & R10 with live view full hd video and a descent 920 000 screan articulated ,for 5000$ or I will stick to my m 4/3 that kicks in the ass any neysayers!!!!!!!

    • wow iam pretty sure a leica worker just killed himself because you probably will never buy an m10 🙂

      • Not to mention all those poor English teachers that just jumped in front of a racing bus in shame due to his exquisite composition, diction, and grammar. How could they compete? roflmao… I kill me 😛

    • well, not everyone deserves a Leica….

      the X-Pro 1 is a great camera and plenty of photographers out there will be very satisfied with it. But even with a performance like this, it can never give you a true rangefinder feeling! Would I buy one? Maybe! Would it replace any Rangefinder? Certainly not…

      • Nobody Special

        “….well, not everyone deserves a Leica….”

        What exactly does that mean???? Just who does deserve a Leica???

        • Ed Stevens

          Someone who understands that a Leica M is all about the pure unadulterated joy of taking photos, and not being a gadget with live view and video… The lack of these features is one of the many reasons that photographers choose the M over a cheaper but more ‘functional’ camera.

          • Nobody Special

            I’ve used M cameras and lenses for over forty years and never thought anyone was more deserving than another to use one.

            I know many photographers that are extremely ‘quailified’ and ‘deserving’ that choose not to own a Leica and still they use other, more gadget-filled cameras and record great images and do it for the pure joy of photography. I have used all kinds of imaging ‘tools’ from view cameras to point and shoot – AND – even cell-phones to record images.

            This whole notion that a Leica records better images or is THE tool to use for imaging because it has less gadgets and thus is only deserving of those that want a simple camera is a bit of stretch. ALL cameras do the same thing – take or record images – and this is done by a person using them – any person.

      • jack

        Maybe not everyone deserves a Leica, but your low light images on your website suggest that maybe you deserve a Nikon for high ISO.

        Seriously, you leica-philes crack me up… doesn’t deserve a leica…heh, what a douche.

  • Huggs

    Comparing the noise between the Fuji & the M9. We knew the outcome before the test. 😀 Any rumors of a digital CLE? C’mon you can tell me. 😀

  • well, you did admit that you were comparing apples to oranges. i honestly do not even see the point of this obsession with comparing everything against everything, regardless of whether it makes sense or not.
    there is NO comparison; for anyone who understands anything about photography – or simply prefers rangefinders- the leica will always win hands down.
    maybe you should have compared the M8 to the fuji, closer sensor size, the M still would be a better camera, at least FOR ME.
    the fuji is yet another over-hyped flavor of the week camera, soon to be replaced by the next one and forgotten.
    the M8 or M9 can and will be used for many more years and continue to give superb images.
    and no, i do not think the new Ms will not have USELESS video mode, useless articulated screens, nor live view, we do not need them (and there will be NO new Rs, i think that is pretty clear to everyone).
    end of story.

    • ….sorry, double negative in my last paragraph, i just noticed, there is one too many ‘not’ … i meant of course that the new M cameras will NOT have all that stuff …

    • The point of this post is that Fuji’s APS-C sensor and lenses perform as good as, or at least very close to Leica’s (and in some cases like ISO even better). Both cameras obviously are completely different, but the image quality is pretty close. Of course if you don’t care about image quality, this comparison is completely irrelevant.

      • thanks for your comment; i actually care more about picture quality than anything else, and that is why i sometimes fail to see the relevance of these comparisons.
        there are MANY camera/lens combinations out there that give VERY similar results, when we compare a few shots.
        the overall LOOK and FEEL of Leica’s images are so distinctive that it makes it really hard, IN MY OPINION, to make ANY kind of comparison.
        sure, there are many cameras that perform a lot better at low ISO, but that doesn’t really interest me much – just like movie mode or other fancy features are not a deciding factor when i look at cameras.
        my PERSONAL interest is for cameras that give an exceptional image quality at ‘normal’ ISO range (i know, old film mind-set!), everything else is secondary.
        for this reason (image quality), i value cameras like the old epson r-d1, the sigma dp1 and dp2, the new sigma sd1, even the olympus micro 4/3 with good glass, much more than many other cameras that are today’s flavor of the month; their images have ‘something’ special, the ‘film-like’ quality that one gets from the M.

        that is all ….

        • Robert Falconer

          What makes Leica special is their glass, not the insides of their camera bodies. Now that the world has moved to digital, differentiations are even less relevant. Leica is subject to the same technological limits as everyone else, and most of those technological limits are being established by the Japanese.

          Leica is dependent on the same third-party sensor suppliers as everyone else, and most of those are Japanese.

          • r yu

            I 100% Agree! I still cannot figure out why people cannot understand or refuse to admit that the Leica magic lies in their lens.

            The camera itself is more of a status symbol more than anything else.

          • Well, it could be argued that if you want the absolute best performance that you would use a body that has been designed, even calibrated to work with that great Leica glass…

            But I agree – the glass is the most important part. If for any reason I could not afford to keep my M8, I would seriously consider buying a cheaper, older, Leica film body. Maybe even a cheaper digital body that could work with the Leica glass. But I would never let go of my Leica glass!

    • Daryl

      Everyone involved in research and methodology can find flaws in the best of best scientific studies. Methodology critiques of camera tests is far easier and there is a never ending parade of those who voice their opinion on how to better implement their own flawed comparison. Just saying.

    • Leicaddicted

      I don’t see the problem… This is more, here, a side by side comparison than “comparing everything against everything”…
      Even if one is a rangefinder and the other one an ovf/evf hybrid with AF, both take pictures so we can make at least an image comparison…

      “the new Ms will not have USELESS video mode, useless articulated screens, nor live view, we do not need them (and there will be NO new Rs, i think that is pretty clear to everyone).”

      I totally agree… 😉

    • exactly, i would take an m8 over that fuji anytime

      i used an x100 for a few month and sold it because its just so many miles away from what its looks suggest, it hurts hehe

      also this rubber grip is ugly as hell

      • I am only comparing images here, nothing else.

    • Denis

      Don’t speak for everyone. I need EVF (kind of hybrid, or external): I will much prefer it over external optical ones for precise framing.

      • btw the Leica viewfinder is brighter than the Fuji’s

    • CHD

      Stefano way to make yourself souns like a foolish Leica fanboi. I too am a Leica user and I love my M8. I also agree with you that the XPro1 is NOT a replacement for those who enjoy a rangefinder. With that said, you comment that: ‘the fuji is yet another over-hyped flavor of the week camera, soon to be replaced by the next one and forgotten.’ is just ridiculous.

      Fuji has a lot of followers and some great legacy cameras/glass including their GSW series cameras.

      I love my M8 and the image quality is great at base ISO’s but for me the M8/M9 is one massive compromise.

      Truth be told, Leica should be wary of Fuji. If Fuji releases a full frame version of the XPro1 with focus peaking for manual lenses and a slightly better AF…..Leica bodies will become an even bigger niche market.

      • no “fanboy” here, mr. anonymous. i am not ,and have never been, one, for ANY brand.
        i have owned a few leicas but today the only one i still have is an ancient III from the 40s.

        i still stand by my comments, you believe whatever you want, i could not care less.
        fuji is a great company, capable of making great product; this one unfortunately suffered from being over-hyped by legions of morons.

        • CHD

          Stefano….I’m not anonymous…my handle is CHD…but I’ve now linked a website if that was what you were getting at.

          Fact remains the XPro1 for all it’s quirks could be a GREAT camera for a lot of people…to call them morons is both classless and ignorant. If anything, there are probably a lot MORE people who would accuse us Leica guys as ‘legions of morons’ for the blind love of the Leica M8/M9.

          It’s more than just a little ironic to be dissing the XPro1 for it’s various quirks given the tonne of limitations (both perceived and real) of the various Leica bodies.

          • Bart

            Nice portfolio!

      • r yu

        and you have to consider that the only issue stopping Fuji from releasing a FF is because they have not developed their AF to an acceptable modern standard. Although I’m not really sure why they are not using phase detect since CDAF speed is dependent on the sensor size.

        Probably they need to pirate one of nikon’s AF designers (LOL) and develop a hybrid AF…

  • Daryl

    Now I can remove the sensor from my M9 sell it at a profit due to the shortage and buy a Fuji ex-pro-won….Not!!! This should give Leica incentive to release an M10 sooner rather than later. Thank you admin for posting this test but it will take more than this to rip the M9 away from me.

  • My biggest surprise was the sharpness of the 35mm Fuji lens – I was really expecting it to perform way worse than the 50mm Summilux.

    • endowtro

      The Fuji is a heavily artifacted gaussian unsharpened image of poor quality. You can post process M9 DNG images to incredibly sharp and clean, without suffering that kind of loss of integrity.

      • Mike

        I guess you missed reading the bit where it was stated the images were JPEGs, not RAWs.

        • endowtro

          if you find a clear statement that the M9’s are JPG’s in this mess of a sentance, you’re dreaming:

          “This is not an easy task because Lightroom 4 currently does not support RAF files form the X-Pro 1 and the Silkypix RAW file converter (included with the X-Pro1) doesn’t support M9 DNG files. My only option at that point is to use JPG files taken directly from the X-Pro1.”

          Whether in camera or post processed, the Fuji images are heavily artifacted gaussian unsharpened images of poor quality.

  • JCR

    The Leica bokeh is more soft, the Leica red is really red not rosy.

    The Leica contrast are more really.

    But it is not the same price

  • EnPassant

    With no comparable RAW-converter available I think it is a bit early to make a comparision. At low ISO Leica clearly show a much smoother and more saturated image while Fuji have a lot of jagged edges that doesn’t look pretty. At high ISO however, despite the JPG handicap Fuji is the clear winner.
    Still thank you for the effort to make the comparision.

    Comparing bokeh of lenses with different sensor formats using the same f-stop on both lenses is really comparing apples to oranges.

    We already know Leica with a full frame sensor will show less depth of field than Fuji at the same aperature. To give the Fuji lens a fair chance a photo with the Leica lens shot at f: 2.0 should have been included as that is the depth of field equivalent of the Fuji lens set at f: 1.4.

    But what is ‘RAF files form’? 😉

    • I will revisit this topic once Lightroom adds support for RAF files (those are the RAW files from the X-Pro1), or even better – once the M10 is announced in September.

      • Sgoldswo

        I would also be interested in a comparison of the fuji set to Astia film simulation, colour +1, as IMHO it produces the most realistic colours/contrast.

        Would also be good to use the same lens for both cameras.

    • Denis

      And then leica files will look MUCH sharper

  • Gavin

    Not long ago I was travelling with a Leica M9 and and X100. In my final output I ended up having more pics from the X100 than the M9. It simply had more usability over a larger range of conditions that I was in. However the files were starkly different. I’m not even talking about sharpness, just the overall quality. Not that they were bad, but when compared the Leica files it was chalk and cheese. Non photographers commented on this as well. The amount of times I was questioned about them and how they look soft but sharp at the same time!

    Using tests like this produce comparable results but in the real world, as cliched as it may sound, the Leica files have some magic about them. There is a lot more to image quality than breaking it down to individual sharpness, colour and bokeh.

    I don’t know if it is the rumored release of the M10 or due to cameras like the Fuiji being released but there are a hell of a lot more second hand M9’s on the market and they are being sold way less than 6 months earlier.

    • Ronan

      Check your settings. What my X100 output was 98% similar to my friend’s M9. I was also able to boost my ISO and take near-night pictures with no tripod. He had to bag his M9 and look at my take photographs. lol.

  • Scott

    Thanks for the information. I’m in the position of wanting to buy a camera as I’m about to travel a lot. The full Canon 7D kit just isn’t practical, although I could drop the battery grip and travel with only my 30mm.

    The X1, M9 and Fuji X-Pro1 are all being considered. Your article answered a few questions for me. At least I know now that the Fuji is well worth considering in my final decision.

    I look forward to the May 10th announcements to see what other complications Leica will introduce into my future purchase. Thanks again for posting the article.

    • The M camera that will be announced on May 10th will have a black and white (monochrome) sensor if this helps. The may also announce a replacement for the X2 and a new 50mm Cron lens.

      • Daryl

        re: M10 monochrome, absolutely this helps. This is a very definite statement. What % certainty do you give this?

        Replacement for X2? Can you clarify further including details.

        • I feel pretty confident about the B&W Leica M. This could be another limited edition. Don’t know much about the X2, but I think Leica will announce it now because the X1 sales are down.

          • Nobody Special

            Ouch….. IF is this what Leica ‘shows’ or ‘promises’ in May then they will look more than a bit goofy. It seems they have backed themselves into a ‘high expectation’ corner.

            I have a thread of hope that they will really do something.

          • Zockson

            If b/w sensor and a limited edition, what is your guess for the price?

  • Mark

    I don’t know why people insist on calling this camera vastly different. They’re pretty much on the same level. Except the Fuji is priced for regular people and the Leica is a poorly thought out investment.

    • hello there,

      it sounds like you never even held either one in your hands, never mind tried them or owned them, otherwise you would not question their differences!

      as far as pricing is concerned, let’s just look at the facts:
      – the ‘poorly thought out investment’ holds its value year after year; the lenses not only hold their value, they sometimes even appreciate. i do agree however in principle that NO camera is a sound investment (some are less disastrous than others on the wallet, regardless of initial purchase price) 🙂
      – the fuji on the other hand will quickly lose its value (check for example what the x100 sells for now on the used market, versus a used leica x1), and its lenses will be completely obsolete the second fuji decides to ‘upgrade’ and change to a new system …

      i have nothing against the fuji per se, what bothers me is the unjustified hype that built up over the months over a camera that nobody had even seen … and which, as several recent tests seem to show, is not really up to the (very high) expectations.

      • Gavin

        Gotta agree and disagree with some of your points…

        unfortunately as I posted earlier, second hand Leica M9’s are selling vastly cheaper than they were not long ago. They seem to be having a lot of trouble selling. Yep the lens will hold value but not the body 🙁 Also with regards to the Fuji/X 1 look on ebay and compare!! X100’s with lots of bids some near original price. The X1’s simply not selling at all!!

        If the Fuji lenses were usable on FF cameras then it would be a more interesting proposition. What happens if/when Fuji release a full frame version down the line!! That’s the main reason I won’t buy one! That said if they bring out some kind of focus assist with the Leica mount it will be a different ball game!!

      • Mark

        I held an M8 in my hand. It worked for 15 minutes then froze up and didn’t work again until hours later. The lenses hold their value now but that wasn’t always the case, there is just a bubble due to demand created by Leica. And then I held an M9, which feels very cheap compared to a 5D3 or my titanium Contax G2.

        Plus the initial investment is so much greater than other options out there that even with the value held, your return is less than other pro level systems. You can get 1 Xpro and 3 lenses for less than one M9. Even Irin Putts compared the M9 to the X100 and found the image quality very comparable.

        And Canon L prime lenses hold their value just as well as Summilux lenses, and cost less even new. So that argument doesn’t make sense because your money goes WAYYYY further with, likesay, Canon, than it does with Leica. Getting $6k back on an M9 doesn’t erase the fact that you tied up $7k on your initial investment. 5d2 owners spent $2.5k and could now get $1.6k back. The whole thing is a moot point.

        And before you wax poetic about the feeling of an M with all manual lenses and blah blah blah…The Zeiss lenses on my Canon have lovely mechanical helicoids and character all their own, and I still haven’t scratched half of what an M9 body costs. To say nothing of the fact that at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters are the pictures.

        • you keep your opinions, i will keep mine, i am not going to continue a pointless ‘conversation’.

          the one thing we do agree on is that the only thing that really matters are the pictures!!

          • When are you people going to understand? LEICAS MAKE YOU A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER. The photos have a magic feel that you will never get from any other camera.

            I’m being sarcastic of course.

          • Harold

            You ment this statement as a joke, but it’s actually true!

      • olyamk

        The out of focus rendition of the Fujinon 35/1.4 is quite similar to that of the Summilux 35 FLE on a M8 sensor. While commenting on bokeh please do not forget about the focus lenth differenсe, because of the crop vs FF.

      • Nobody Special

        Leica digital cameras DO NOT hold their value year after year. There is NO comparison with FILM Leicas that do hold their value.

        If you were to look solely at the product useability versus long-term value, the digital M’s lose badly aginst the closest priced pro cameras that are digital and are more useable in the field.

      • Ronan

        Stefano it sounds like you never actually USED or OWNED one.

        The ergonomic is poor, it feels like a brick.
        The quality is poor, a lot of issues of cracked sensors among other issues.
        It’s VERY expensive for 1 reason. It has a Leica logo on it.

        It’s a great camera but nothing justifies its MSRP.

        • Nothing justifies the price?

          Well, maybe you mean nothing other than the fact that someone prefers to use Leica above all else?

          So you’re saying that everyone out there taking photos using Leica gear has made a completely unjustified purchase?

          If you can’t justify the price for yourself, that’s fine. But there are plenty of people who can (obviously). Although the fact that you’re coming across as a Leica-hating zealot won’t ever do you any favours…

          • Maybe if you were a pro street photographer or a photojournalist, I can justify the price. But I’m going to have a guess here, NO ONE in this forum (who I have checked their website) is a working pro in those fields. Most of the people here are gear heads, and could care less about actually taking the photo.

            So if you’re doing this for a hobby, it certainly does not justify the price. Unless you’re filthy rich, there’s no point in buying this overpriced system.

            When a company releases a digital RF with good lenses (hopefully Fuji steps up) it will spell the end of the overpriced M9’s.

          • o.b.1ne, I couldn’t see the ‘reply’ link for either of your above posts (strange), but maybe this will still get your attention…

            First up – I agree that probably no one here is a pro photographer, pro’s would be too busy actually working and making money to spend time commenting on a rumours site. Haha.

            Second – just because you cannot justify the price does not mean there’s no point in buying a Leica body unless you’re rich. Saying that just makes you appear ignorant, which I’m sure you’re not. Just ask Thorsten Overgaard (among many others). Actually, there’s a new podcast called Rangefinder Moment that you would find very enlightening.

            My case is just one example of why the price was justified: I sold my dSLR gear because I simply wasn’t using it as much because I was sick of carrying bulky, heavy gear around (1D with 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L was my usual kit). The other thing that really annoyed me was that the viewfinder blanked out with each exposure and I was not having fun looking through a dim, tiny peephole. I did a bit of research and at my price range the M8 is the only digital rangefinder available, so I dove right in and ordered one from KEH sight unseen, I had never even touched a Leica before. It was something very different to get used to compared to a dSLR, which is one reason that any dSLR and rangefinder comparisons make no sense at all, but I digress. I couldn’t be happier with the M8 and 50mm Summilux. It seems like a cliche to say that with Leica you are much move involved in the photographic process, and that the simplicity allows you to have more control and enjoyment, but it’s absolutely true. Give me the large, bright viewfinder and framelines any day.

            But it’s completely fine if people don’t want to pay for a Leica, even fewer would want to actually use a rangefinder! Conversely, there are people who just don’t want to use SLR either (me for one). But to categorically declare that Leica are overpriced and unjustifiable is simply a false statement.

          • @Mugget

            I’m not arguing the ergonomics of a RF, I actually would like a digital RF than a SLR. I prefer to do photojournalism/street photography but the only options I have is the M9 or R-D1. The R-D1 needs an update and I have seen a few with reliability issues.The M9 is overpriced.

            There is a gap in the market and when someone releases a ‘cheap mans M9’, I will jump on board.

            And think about this, when I started photography, I used cheap cameras (and I still do), eventually each camera paid itself off. How many jobs would you have to do if you were going to use an M9 to justify the cost?

            I had just finished studying photography, and I haven’t saved much money (because I was a full time student), but I am now finding myself as a photographer, and I KNOW that I NEED a digital range finder, but that still does not justify the costs involved in buying a Leica. If you got the money, then good for you, for everyone else we are waiting for a reasonably priced RF.

  • Never Generate

    Comparing clarity/contrast with two different lenses doesn’t make any “sense”. Although I accept that the configurations that have been compared are the most likely to be adopted in real life and thus most comparable.

    Also Fujinon is a renowned name in lens manufacturing (at least in Japan) so a surprise for me that you yourself see sharpness as a surprise. I suppose you have only testes center sharpness, but I wonder how the edges perform?

    • Since I have the M adapter for the X-Pro1, I may compare Fuji vs. Leica lenses on the same sensor.

      • Gavin

        This would be appreciated. More of concern though is how usable is it with regards to focus etc

      • h

        THIS WOULD BE AMAZING!! Please do this test!

      • Daryl

        Leica/Fuji lens comparisons would be great to see, and the posts following are an added bonus, thanks admin for your posts the interest in the thread increases.

  • Alan

    Thanks for those images. And yes, that 35mm Fujinon seems remarkable. I think both devices can be compared, not only on IQ, but also because both are absolutely quirky compared to most current APS and FF digital cameras. If IQ only was the topic, the M9 output would have a similar hard time against all current FF DSLRs and many of the current APS-C systems, starting with those sporting Sony’s latest 16 MP and 24 MP sensors, if paired with good lenses. Hard time in low light of course, but also at best “on par” in all other shooting situations.

    It is a hard lesson for those (like me) who purchased the M9 in 2009 thinking they’d be done with “upgraditis”, and that things would stabilize as they were in the tim age, where Leica M was immune to the passage of time. The M9 is just as “excellent” on its own as it was on release, but it is really outdated when compared to the market.

    Outdated not just by the list of features, but also in terms of IQ, including resolution, dynamic range, color depth and low light capability. The latter is the most damning for people like me who used Leica M for more than 25 years with the secure feeling of being more capable than any big machine after the sun sets.

    To go back to the comparison with Xpro1, Leica is extremely lucky that Fuji did not avoid a heavy dose of quirks in its system, such as slow AF and messed up manual focus. On IQ only, the M9 is heading for the museum, and the image of Leica M as a long term investment is probably gone forever…

    • Never Generate

      +1 well said.

      However M9 is still the only option if one wants to go digital RF (aside from the retired M8, R-D1). EVIL is still not an option for night photography with the EVFs crapping out in low light making it impossible to focus.

    • The Fuji X-Pro 1 is indeed very quirky, I would say it’s at least 2 firmware updates away from being a “normal” camera.

    • Mikael

      I think you are peeping pixels and back to upgraditis…

      I use an M8 and still looking at final prints I cannot see any reason to upgrade. Prints are just superb upto A3+/A2 size. And thats what a camera is for… making physical photos (be it art or editorial) not for looking at 100% crops. Good photography does not get old and is not determined by IQ.

      • i could not agree more; i had the M8 for a long time and i could not bring myself to ‘upgrade’ to the M9, i kept looking at image after image and i could not honestly find a justification for the ‘upgrade’ and its cost.
        i printed really large images from the M8 files and they look fantastic; could it be done with MANY other cameras? absolutely!

      • Daryl

        Well said Mikael. For anyone to say the M9 is obsolete/worthless as a camera in 2012 is nonsense. A good photographer is not made by the camera, and a good camera does not make a good photographer.

      • Ronan

        Sure just like a D2 or a D200 is enough for superb prints.

        • Daryl

          Many superb photographs were made with D2 and D200, agree. I have 17×22 prints from a Nikon D1, it wouldn’t be my camera of choice any longer but the capabilities of APS-C size is superb despite lower resolution.

  • Oscar Stahle

    IMHO there will never be a M10. Leica will not continue numbering their Ms above 9. Yes, there will be upgrades of the M9, even with a brand new sensor one day, just like for Canon EOS-1. Yes, there will be less expensive cameras offering very similar IQ, but don’t forget that a Leica M9 is not just a picture taking machine, it is an object of very high mechanical precision which gives its owner a lot of pleasure just owning it. It is also beautiful to look at (not the same with the Fuji, which I find ugly). “A Rolex does not show time as good as a 25 dollar Timex watch, but which would you like to own?”. By the way, I have a M9….

    • Stevie Lee

      “A Rolex does not show time as good as a 25 dollar Timex watch, but which would you like to own?”. By the way, I have a M9….

      But your analogy falls flat and non-applicabe when you take into account that the “Rolex” has the finest, timelessly endurable interior bejeweled mechanics that will never become obsolote by what they are and how they operate. This is certainly not true of any digitally based modern camera – and is especially so for Leica’s Digital M-Series cameras. Their exteror bodies may be akin to “Rolex” standards, but their decidedly non-state-of-the-art internal electronic and aging Kodak CCD will not stand up to the test of time and technological advancements in digital imaging – as most other digital camera bodies will be subject to as well.

      As some earlier in this discussion thread said quite succinctly about the “investment in Leica” subject: it’s mostly about the suburb optics that still keeps anything Leica branded in the game – as compared to the rest all of the other digital camera option available today. Leica lenses will (justifiably IMO) be about the only part of the system that will not only retain most of their upfront investment “value”, but may even exceed it, as some cult Leica film lenses have done for over 50 years now.

      Unless Leica allows for some sort of internal electronics upgrading of their digital M-Series cameras (especially concerning their sensor s), then all the care put into producing their hand tooled and high grade materials external bodies will NOT down the line (3-5 years on) help stave off their technological performance and associated overall IQ’s total eclipsing by even some pedestrian, entry-level DSLR’s, and other assorted compacts coming on the market right now, and in the next year or so.

      If you have to means and desire and a nice stable of Leica glass, by all means “invest” in a 7K+ digital imaging tool. But it would be a mistake to believ that somehow, because they are Leica branded, that the current Digital M9s will hold their “value”, any better than any other recent digital camera body made by anyone.

      It’s always been about the optics above anything else!

    • Andrew Pemberton

      I send your crystal ball back for a full refund.

  • Gavin

    Has anyone thoughts on X Pro 1 compared to the Nex 7? I know the Fuji has a similar shape to the M9 but I think the ability to use Leica and Ziess glass is a more important issue.

    The Fuji obviously has better low light ability but seems the Nex 7 is a pretty good body to stick some 3rd party lens’s on.

  • Dan

    Interesting red fringing around the contrast transitions (all the way around) in your sharpness test. That to me looks like slight mis-focus. My 50mm summilux asph shows nothing like that when in focus.

    Corners would be interesting to see as well, since we have seen the 18/2 Fuji is rubbish in the corners.

  • Both cameras (and lenses) are fantastic, but Fuji takes this battle easily. Could the Leica bokeh be better because of 35mm/crop issues?

  • Bryan Campbell

    No one has mentioned that while the 50 Summilux ASPH could safely be considered the best overall 50mm lens on the planet, it is not actually the sharpest lens. I’m not surprised that the Fuji 35 1.4 is ever so slightly sharper. I think most people think the 50 Summilux ASPH is the best 50mm lens in the world because of the bokeh and how it draws the image, and yes it is also really sharp. As far as the sensor is concerned they are pretty close, but the M9 in is much older camera so I’m not surprised that the Fuji has better ISO and maybe a slight edge in other areas like dynamic range. I much preferred the M9s color though, and I’m willing to bet you can coax more detail out of M9 images with careful processing.

    I’m impressed with the Fuji but if someone asked me to give up my M8 for one, I would tell them to get lost. The combination of Leica lenses character and at least the M8 and M9 sensors have some kind of magic I haven’t seen elsewhere except film, especially at ISO 160.

    • I agree, the 50 Summilux is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used.

      • Nawksi

        That’s not even what he said. Why are you agreeing when Bryan Campbell said the opposite?

  • J Rand

    what noise suppression setting did you have the x pro 1 set on?

    • the noise reduction was turned off

  • Jeff

    Since the Fuji is not a Rangefinder camera, I really don’t care! It does not matter to me if the Fuji is better, or worse than a M9. To me this is pointless. Now if Voigtlander came out with a Digital Rangefinder camera, then it might matter. You might as well compare the M9 to a Hasselblad, just because it has a sensor, and interchangeable lenses. Why don’t compare the Fuji to D800E while your at it?

    • Well said. Sometimes I wonder if all these people who say that DSLR does the same thing as Leica even stop to think that the rangefinder system is completely different!

      I sold all my DSLR gear simply because I was sick of carrying bulky gear, and got tired of peeking through a tiny hole in a box. Give me a digital rangefinder with the large, bright viewfinder and framelines any day!

      There would probably also be some DSLR users who would like to try a Leica, but would find that they didn’t like the usage, since it’s too different to the DSLR way.

      In usage, DSLR and digital rangefinders are completely different – any comparison is really a long stretch.

  • marshall878

    I’m a little tired of always hearing about Leica “magic”… perhaps the real “magic” is simply in the photographer’s hands? It’s time we give us, the photographers, some credit huh!?!? 😀

    • bob2

      I just borrowed an M8.2 for the third time in a couple of years, getting that Leica yearning….

      Testing it again reveals bad noise and mushed detail above ISO 320, even processed through LR3.6. The much touted Leica sharpness advantage quickly disappears at anything beyond base ISO. And I don’t want to shoot B&W only, or do other so called work-arounds that Leica fan-boys are so quick to offer to compensate for all the large deficits of that camera. It’s clear that the photographers who shoot with a Leica M highly skilled (excluding all the fan-boys who photograph their cats!), DESPITE the camera itself.

    • NRA Advocate


  • Dixie

    It seems that these threads always end up containing the same argument! In a way it is funny: Apple, Leica etc. quality products with reasonable prices or status objects?

    IMHO: they are both cults. I remember an April fool joke (was it 2 years ago) in a Leica related web forum where a bloke claimed to have compared M9 and Fuji X100. In reality those X100 pics were taken by some state of art MF camera. And still some people saw some imaginary details which made M9 better!

    And, yes, I own M9 as well. And yes, I have fooled myself with “the magic” before. But as soon as I will return from my holiday, I’m going to sell it and collect my losses. Going to keep the glassware, though, so I’m not completely off the cult yet. But I’m so happy that I won’t have a Leica tattoo to be lasered off!

    • Mark

      I recommend an M6 (or really a Zeiss Ikon FTW!), and an X-Pro1 for digital. Sign up with Richards Photo Lab and start shooting film again with the film-dev-scan workflow.

      I’ve gone back to film recently for even my professional work and now I see nearly all digital images as lacking in maybe that “magic” that the Leica people are talking about. It’s slower, but easier than digital in some ways because there is so much less post work to be done.

  • steven

    Amazed about all this very interesting comparisons and technical suff but let me say one thing :

    “I’m still regreting my old M2 I had to sell to pay french taxes…. booooooooooo :-(“

  • This may be a wake up call for Leica. If the M10 changes it FF chip from Sony to Fuji, we will have a force to be dealt with. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fuji and Leica are thinking about it.

    • r yu

      My thoughts exactly! I wonder what would the fanboys say when they find out that the new leicas on May 10th will use the new fuji sensor.

      Just thinking…hmmmm.

    • PaulB


      The Leica M9 uses a Kodak CCD not a Sony CMOS sensor, which at the time of the M9’s introduction had some image quality advantages over the available CMOS sensors from Asia. Though, of course technology has advanced and those earlier advantages have been matched and surpassed in CMOS sensors. One of the biggest advantages in the new CMOS sensors is live view which is something CCD sensors have difficulty with. On the other hand CCD technology has also advanced in the same time frame, so we will have to wait and see what Leica announces in May; though the M10 may wait for Photokina.

      Concerning the source of a new sensor in a Leica M10, my guess is the supplier will either be Kodak (or what ever the new name is) or Sony. Leica previously had a partnership with Fuji, which ended prior to Leica joining the 4/3’s group. Another dark horse supplier might be Panasonic, since there is still a relationship between the two companies; though this is a personal guess.

      • 東京タワー333

        what the fuck, can’t you say CMOS sensors from Japan? What do you think where the key components from an iphone come from, US?? China?? No, they can only be from a High-Tech country like Japan,
        And all these threads here, where are we, Disneyland? Fuji / Fujinon produces the latest Zeiss lenses for mirror less cameras, Fuji / Fujinon have produced a lot of hardware for Hasselblad as well. Of course the Leica should be the much better camera, it cost 10 times more!! But it isn’t! In terms of noise which is important for indoor shoots, the Leica is far behind the X Pro 1. The Japanese have always produced highest possible quality for reasonable price, but Leica or Zeiss, Mercedes or BMW is ALL about Emotions!

        • You’re generalising. Fujinon lenses are incredible. And it was clumsy to say that the Fuji sensor is produced in Asia vs. Japan. But come on. Japan makes high quality stuff, but like any other country, it makes complete rubbish.

          “The Japanese have always produced highest possible quality for reasonable price” – this is wrong, but because of the word ‘always’, and ‘highest quality’. It’s all dependent.

          I have a GX680III: great camera, great lenses. I have a Leica M: Great camera, great lenses. I had an X-Pro 1: great camera, great lenses.

          And then there are myriad problems lumping a single country as containing highest quality always. You’re probably not familiar with Nikon, or the X-T1, or Japanese plumbing, roads, housing, etc. and so on. If you’re Japanese and you don’t realise how many of the above things have either failed their own design standards, or are poorly designed or built, you’re either blind, or a nationalist (Japon über alle!). In which case, you’d never, for a moment, understand this post.

          You may also not remember that upon release, the X-Pro 1 was by far the most expensive APS-C mirrorless camera ever.

          By and large, the reason people choose Fuji over other brands (Japanese or not), is because of emotion.

  • James

    I shot the X-Pro 1 with 35mm 1.4 for two days over Easter. Then sold it. I came from an X1. That decision had nothing to do with IQ, which is good, but not great. It has nothing to do with the fact that the AF is often off by miles, albeit quick enough. It has to do with the overall experience i get from using the camera. The best experience I have ever had shooting a camera, and I have shot many from PNS to FF, is a Leica X1, despite all of its limitations WRT IQ, I get what I see.

    • Ric

      James – while I do not own the X1 (I shoot with the M9), I know exactly what you mean about the “experience” issue. There is too much tendency in these forums to talk about all the technical details of a camera as if we were in a scientific conference of some sort. The feelings associated with merely handling a particular camera, the simple ergonomics that make photography such a simple pleasure, and the idea of becoming one with the camera of your choice are generally glossed over in these forums. Granted that this could be because such talk could be interpreted as not being “macho” enough, but I think that at the heart of every photographer there is a general feeling of becoming one with a camera, or what you refer to as that “experience.” Sort of like opening a bottle of wine and going through the ritual of extracting the cork, versus unscrewing the screw-top. The results may be similar, but the experience is quite different. That simple difference is what Leica is all about.

  • Can someone please explain how the sensor size affects depth of field?

    Maybe I am mis-understanding the intended meaning of the article… but DoF is a result of lens and lens setting. Using a camera with a crop sensor is, for all intents and purposes, the same as cropping a photo from a full-frame sensor. And cropping a photo does not affect DoF. Which is why I’m very confused about that statement in the article…

    • Mark

      Sensor size does not affect depth of field. It’s more of a cause and effect relationship. You have a bigger sensor, so you need a longer lens to cover the same field of view. The longer your lens, the less depth of field. So when comparing a normal on full frame, 50mm, to a normal on APSC, 35mm, you see a lessening of the depth of field.

      This is less of a problem than people make it out to be, unless your whole mission in photography is to have one element of the image in focus.

      For those people I always wonder why they bother with 35mm at all. A Contax 645 and the 80mm f2 will wipe the floor with any 35mm system in regards to subject isolation and bokeh.

      If a manufacturer fully builds out their lenses to the smaller format, like Pentax has with APSC, there are actually some advantages. For instance, look how small the K5 is, and how small their lenses are.

      On the other hand, I do weddings so full frame has its advantages there too. I prefer the larger viewfinder of my Canon when working all day with it. But I won’t have anyone tell me I couldn’t do it with a smaller format. That’s hogwash.

    • The DOF comparison is completely invalid in this case because he’s comparing a 35mm lens with a 50mm lens. Of course the 50 will have a shorter DOF – it’s just math. Go to any of the online DOF calculators and enter the parameters (there isn’t one for sensor size). Saying a 35mm on a cropped sensor is the equivalent of a 50mm on a full-frame is only valid with respect to angle of view.

      I’m not a Leica owner, but was headed that way once. The ISO performance killed it for me (along with “investing in a $7k piece of digital hardware). With the Fuji, I can keep the camera cost reasonable and still use all those wonderful Leica and Zeiss lenses.

  • Paul

    Fuji is an interesting and capable camera but the 3 year old Leica is still better quality except for high iso.

    So it should be at that price.

    Bring on the M10

    • Ronan

      It’s slightly better but not 2x or 3x better. Thats what bothers people, you pay 2x, 3x more and you do NOT get 2x or 3x the quality, IQ, etc.

      Also if you want JUST IQ, go shoot MFD, it will blow your mind away. Or heck go pick up a FF Nikon or Canon.

      M9 is a good camera, it’s price is not however.

      • One of the main points of an M-series Leica is the small form factor. Having the best in class (arguably best even among DSLR), in such a small and compact, lightweight (relatively speaking) package (both body AND lens).

        If you just want the best IQ, obviously medium format will be the choice. But then that is a completely different type of person to someone who would buy an M-series Leica.

        Part of what you pay for is quality engineering, in such a simple to use and compact package. Simple as that.

        • Nobody Special

          I have both MF and M Leica’s. The best ergonomic Leica M was the M5 even with it’s slightly bigger size, The ‘clustered’ control dial was perfect, and something Leica could have brought along if they so afraid of hurting traditonalists that cried about the form.

          I’ve found the other M bodies to be a bit of a pain as to the shutter dial – having a small camera with small controls doesn’t always equate to easier to use. Of course that also applies to DSLR’s with all the ‘dang tiny buttons.

      • Nawksi

        You just described everything in the world, ever. Cars, watches, clothes, haircuts, burgers, bike helmets, etc.

        You pay for excellence, and Leica is excellent. I’m an X100 and X-Pro 1 owner.

        And in the “numbers” image, you can see that the X-Pro 1 is screwing up the lined pattern along the outside border.

      • Nawksi

        You just described everything in the world, ever. Cars, watches, clothes, haircuts, burgers, bike helmets, etc.

        You pay for excellence, and Leica is excellent. I’m an X100 and X-Pro 1 owner.

        And in the “numbers” image, you can see that the X-Pro 1 is screwing up the lined pattern along the outside border.

  • Huggs

    I think we are going to see a Digilux 3

  • There may be good reasons for choosing an M9 outfit over a DSLR but I don’t think weight is one of them. Consider the Nikon D700. It’s by no means a lightweight but teamed with 24mm f2.8, 35mm f2 and 85mm f1.8 lenses it weighs in at about 1.91 kgs. The M9 with the 24mm Elmar and 35mm and 90mm Summicrons is 1.57 kgs. That’s a difference of just 340g which is hardly noticeable in the field and could be made up just by carrying the Nikon outfit in a lighter bag. Although this may not be a consideration for everybody, when I looked a couple of years ago, the above Leica outfit cost $17,100 at Amazon against the D700 and three prime outfit at $3,615.

    Of course, depending on the type of shooting you’ll be doing, it may be more advantageous to use a 24-85mm zoom with the D700 (for travel photography, for instance), in which case the D700 outfit would weigh 1.54kgs.

    I’m prepared to accept that the M9 outfit would give slightly sharper results but sharp is sharp and the D700 is certainly good enough for pro work. I’ve sometimes looked at a sharp photograph and wished I’d done something differently but I’ve never sat there thinking, “If only this image had been just a little bit sharper.” If I want extra quality, I use my Rolleiflex SL66 outfit. The M9 would have a slight advantage over the D700 in some areas but it would be hugely outclassed in others where macro capabilities or long lenses were required.

    I write this as an ex-Leica user, albeit with the M2 and M3. I sold them because they were too restrictive and the viewfinders too imprecise for accurate framing. I’m sometimes tempted to buy another one but I know it would only be for their fine engineering and “fondleability” and not because they would contribute anything special to the final product.

  • Colonel

    Whilst I have used the xpro-1, and it’s an excellent camera, it is no where near the quality of the M9

    I call this test bogus. Who cares about the centre, it’s the corners that count.

    • NRA Advocate


    • LeicaZeiss

      I dont mind centerfocus but I’d never buy a lens or camera that destroys the corners with cromatic aberrations. But if price didnt matter I’d go for the Leica every day of the week. Wich makes the Fuji the poor mans choise… Fullframe is ALLWAYS the sollution, saying different is a poor mans defence speach, I’m a poor man who accepts the truth…

  • Kevin

    I can’t see anything to tell me these cameras have ‘comparable image quality’… the Fuji is CLEARLY ahead in sharpness and high ISO. Otherwise, colours can be adjusted and the Leica has slightly more pleasing bokeh. Leica has been trumped by Fuji – a difficult fact for M9 owners.

    • LOL

      Are you sure? Don’t you see artifacts at digits with fuji?
      The difference is in PPing. With sharpening applied M9 files have superior clarity and resolution.

      • Jolene

        others might say “with pp applied by someone who knows what they’re doing, nobody can tell the difference between the two especially in a print, while anyone can manipulate a jpeg or pick it apart to look any how they want it to justify an opinion”.

  • Crispijn van Sas

    I think that in this time of surplus of very high quality producing cameras even under very low light conditions it’s appropriate to make your very personal preference for what system you like and suits best to the way you make photos. I went along with the fuji x-pro1 although for those who love the simplicity and manual focus of leica m9 they might be better of with that camera. As the photographer matches with the camera it only requires a well trained eye to make breathtaking shots with beautiful compositions and elegant falls of light an aspect that in this time of fast technological developments tends to be overshadowed.

  • Matteo Isotti

    Relevant evidence,
    I also think it would be right to put the shutter speed below the diaphragm and the iso.
    I have a fuji X100S and a m9, after careful testing I noticed that the same iso and opening times of the fuji are slower than 2 3 stop.
    This might seem like a small thing, but in the evaluation of the high iso is, in my opinion, essential.
    Sorry for the translation (google).
    Matteo Isotti

  • Nick932

    These comparisons are not useful. They are confusing they readers. I used to have an X-E1 and never worked correctly even after repair. It was a very unstable an immature product. It is the first cousin of X-Pro1. I gave my X-E1 for a more reliable camera. I can understand that somebody would talk about the ergonomics, technical characteristics and how well they cameras perform in delivering the technical attributes that the manufacturer portrays.

    On the other hand it is the photographer that knows and tries to make the best image. So what do we see by comparing to cameras with the same settings?

    • Jolene

      Good to know there are those nannies who can hold my internet hand & tell me I’m confused when reading an article. If I spend $8000 on a camera body I would think I know best for everyone else too (not).

  • Dave

    This also show that 50mm out-resolves a 35mm (a 35mm doesn’t magically become 50mm by putting it on apsc camera except in view angle). Also the color Leica ‘peace’ shot is stopped to f/4 (not 2.8) as per the exif data. Maybe putting the 50mm on the Fuji at same f/stops would show the Fuji even better.
    It is good test though, showing Fuji to be excellent camera with that 35 lens; doubtful the 18-55 would come close at 35 and arguable the sensor has to do with this clarity/sharpness vs. the glass. Thank you for the efforts and comments by everyone, it is helpful.

  • robert

    i´m thinking of buying the xpro-1 , and though the m9 evidently beat the shit out of it in your samples, the former is within my budget, so there!

  • Trq Atallah

    the leica glass pays off better at the pro end and it shows clearly for the trained eye. the results from leica are organic and pop-up more which the fuji nor any other small format manufacturer had crossed so far. the pro wants that organic effect which has colors and contrasts that pop-up to accentuate the realism of his projects, and he pays for it when he can, he is not a fool, nor leica are hypocrites to call for high price. Fuji and the rest can produce identical leica quality but they have to sell it three times more becz it takes three times more working time and requires clearer and more expensive glass crystals as raw material. i love leica but i can’t afford it.

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