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Leica M9 18MP Digital Range Finder Camera (Steel Gray, Body Only)

by Leica
12 customer reviews

Available from these sellers.
  • Smallest full frame digital camera in the world; first Rangefinder camera with a 24 x 36mm format sensor
  • 18-megapixel sensor allows the full 35mm format; custom-designed CCD sensor for optimal performance
  • Newly-developed cover glass to eliminate infrared light contamination, i.e. no IR filters needed
  • Simple Menus and easy handling
  • Body only, lenses sold separately; compatible with SD cards up to 2 GB, SDHC cards up to 32 GB (not included)
2 used from $3,100.00

Technical Details

Product Description

Product Description

The world's smallest full frame digital camera. This 18 megapixels camera continues the legacy of the Leica M rangefinder with the most modern digital technology.

From the Manufacturer

Digital photography enters a new dimension: the Leica M9 is the world's first digital rangefinder camera with a full-format 24 x 36 mm sensor. As the world's most compact full-format system camera, the M9 extends the legendary heritage of the Leica rangefinder M System and unites over 50 years of continuous technical improvements to the system with the best in cutting-edge digital technology.

The successful combination of an extremely high-resolution image sensor, the superior performance of M lenses and sophisticated processing of the captured digital information ensures the best imaging results in all photographic situations. With its wide-ranging technical specifications, the camera adjusts to all fields of photography - from reportage and 'available light' to the capture of discreet and fine-art images alike. The M9 is the ideal tool for all photographers who demand the highest standards in image quality and a freedom of composition.

Leica M9 digital camera highlights

The 18-megapixel CCD image sensor, specifically designed and developed for the M9, enables the capture of the full 35-mm film format without any compromises. All M lenses mounted on the Leica M9 therefore offer the same angle of view as with film camera models, meaning the enormous potential performance of the current M lens portfolio with focal lengths from 16 to 135 mm is now fully available in a digital camera for the very first time. In addition, most Leica M lenses built since 1954 can still be used on the new M9. Once again, Leica Camera AG proves their commitment to full system compatibility and the enduring value of the M series.

The sensor of the M9 features a newly developed glass cover that is designed to guarantee the suppression of infrared light in practical photography, avoiding the necessity of mounting special UV/IR filters.

Concentrating on essentials, its simple handling is a significant feature of the Leica M System. In the case of the Leica M9, the handling has been further improved by simplification of the menu navigation: setting the sensitivity only requires holding down the ISO button while simultaneously turning the dial to select the required setting. All other functions important for everyday situations are quickly and easily accessible by pressing the set button. Furthermore, the menu also offers a snapshot profile option. In this mode, the M9 automatically sets as many settings as possible and provides a valuable aid to spontaneous and discreet photography. The camera also features automatic lens recognition via 6-bit coding. On the basis of the coded information, the M9 can compensate for any system-inherent lens vignetting effects (darkening in the image corners).

Despite the considerably larger sensor, Leica has been successful in making the Leica M9 body comparable to the compact size typical of M cameras. With its compact dimensions of only 139 × 37 × 80 mm (5.47 × 1.45 × 3.15 inches), the Leica M9 maintains the ideal size of the M series and is now the world's smallest full-format digital system camera.

As a working tool for professionals and ambitious amateur photographers, all features and functions of the Leica M9 are designed for absolute dependability and endurance. The one-piece, full-metal housing is made from a high-strength magnesium alloy. Additionally, the top deck and bottom plate are machined from solid brass blocks providing perfect protection for the precious inner mechanisms. The digital components and shutter assembly of the M9 are similarly constructed with extreme endurance in mind. For photographers, this means absolute reliability for decades of use.

Leica M9 Features and Highlights

The sensor
The CCD sensor specially developed by Kodak for the Leica M9 has been optimised to fully exploit the particular qualities of the Leica M lens system. As a result, the Leica M9 achieves highest resolution values that guarantee outstanding image quality. The image sensor of the M9 employs further-advanced and meticulously designed micro lenses with a low refractive index. The micro lenses at the sensor edges are laterally displaced towards the image center to precisely match the characteristics of M lenses. This optimized micro lens design, based on many years of precision optical engineering experience, captures and concentrates even the most oblique rays on the sensor and reliably prevents image brightness fall-off at the edges and corners of the image. As a result, all existing Leica M lenses maintain their full performance when used for digital photography.

The intentional decision to exclude a moiré filter, which optically filters out the finest image details, was made to permit full the exploitation of the superb resolution of Leica M lenses. Any moiré patterns occurring with the M9 are eliminated in the camera's digital signal-processing software. The optimized signal-noise ratio of the CCD image sensor reduces the need for digital post-processing and ensures that images possess an unrivaled, natural visual impact. This results in high-contrast, particularly high-resolution exposures with natural color rendition from corner to corner.

The lenses
All Leica M lenses mounted on the Leica M9 offer the same angle of view as with film camera models. Therefore, for the first time, the immense performance potential of the lenses is now maintained and can be fully exploited for digital photography. In line with Leica's renowned commitment to extreme system compatibility, most Leica M lenses built since 1954 can be used on the new M9. As a result of the high mechanical and optical precision and extraordinarily good imaging performance, and particularly that of the current range, Leica M lenses are now ideal for use in digital photography. Performance criteria, such as the individual coating of each element, have long been a Leica standard, and there was no need to develop and implement any special measures for 'digital lenses.'

The efficient image sensor on the M9 demands a particularly high spatial resolution that is, above all, offered by the latest M lenses. The excellent correction of optical aberrations and high resolution make them all the more suitable for digital use. The current M lenses are supplied with a 6-bit code on the bayonet mount that is scanned optically by the M9. On the basis of the coded information, the M9 can compensate for any (almost negligible) system-inherent vignetting effects if necessary. In addition, the lens type is recorded in the EXIF data of the image files and, when using the latest flash units like the Leica SF 58, automatically adjusts the reflector to match the focal length of the lens attached.

The viewfinder/rangefinder
The Leica viewfinder / rangefinder system sets the Leica M9 apart from the market-dominating SLR and compact digital cameras and makes it particularly suitable for vibrant reportage photography, 'available light' exposures and discreet portraiture. Photographers become part of the action and frame whatever they wish to capture in the viewfinder--a scene, a mood, a moment. Simultaneously, the photographer still perceives what is going on outside the viewfinder frame. The decisive moment can be anticipated, and can therefore be captured at precisely the right instant. This results in particularly authentic images that are not impaired by the presence of the photographer.

The clear view of the subject remains even during exposure and, even in the most adverse lighting conditions, the bright, high-contrast viewfinder guarantees extremely fast and precise focusing. In combination with the minimal delay between releasing the shutter and capturing the shot--in digital photography too--the combined viewfinder/rangefinder system positions Leica M cameras among the fastest cameras in the world.

In contrast to SLR photography, where focusing must take place through the lens and focal length and aperture determine focusing accuracy, the rangefinder base of the Leica M remains precisely the same and independent of the actual lens being used. This is the reason why its focusing precision is immensely superior for shorter focal lengths. The high-contrast, rectangular RF spot in the center of the viewfinder guarantees fast, precise and pin-sharp focusing, even under adverse lighting conditions.

The frame selector lever allows photographers to simulate different compositions with alternative focal lengths and assess the most appropriate lens for the shot without changing lenses. Because their position is automatically adjusted by automatic parallax compensation depending on the focusing distance, the six different bright-line frames always show the precise image framing. The bright-line viewfinder shows all other information relevant to the capture of a perfect image and the peripheral area around the envisaged subject, thus providing ideal conditions for spontaneous and unobtrusive photography.

The shutter
The Leica M9 features a new, microprocessor-controlled, particularly silent, metal-leaf, focal-plane shutter that enables shutter speeds of up to 1/4000 seconds. This allows the photographer to maintain complete creative freedom by using a selective focus at maximum apertures, even in bright situations. The short flash synchronisation speed of 1/180 seconds enables daylight flash exposures with selective focus.

Together with its compact form, the camera's virtually silent shutter is another keystone for discreet and unobtrusive photography. Additionally, photographers can select the appropriate moment for re-cocking the shutter. When longer exposure times requiring an extremely steady camera stance are essential, a slight pressure on the shutter release button in 'soft release' mode is sufficient.

Intuitive handling
The Leica M9 concentrates the photographer's attention on photographic essentials, not on setting the camera. Particular diligence, many years of experience and a vast knowledge of how professional photographers work have all influenced the handling concept for the digital functions of the Leica M9. The result is a simple, clearly laid-out and intuitive user interface that concentrates purely on essentials; multifunction buttons and complex menu hierarchies have been avoided.

The key control element is an intuitive four-way switch and dial combination that enables fast menu navigation. Pressing the 'set' button activates the capture parameter menu on the 2.5-inch monitor screen. The most important image-capture settings are quickly and easily set in this menu: sensor sensitivity, exposure correction, white balance, image-data compression and resolution. Free profile storage spaces are also available for fast access to frequently used or application-specific combinations. The menu button is also used for changing more permanent, values outlining basic controls in the clearly structured system menu. The photographer can also choose whether the captured image is displayed immediately for assessment on the large monitor, how long it should be displayed and whether an additional tonal value histogram is shown.

The Leica M9 has a delayed shutter release function with a choice of two countdown times -2 and 12 seconds.

The technical features of the Leica M9 allow it to quickly adapt to its intended use. Its sensitivity ranges from ISO 160 (PULL 80) for wide-open apertures on bright days to ISO 2500. At the same time, very low noise and finely detailed images are achieved throughout the sensitivity range, even at the highest settings. The very low noise characteristics, a bright viewfinder / rangefinder, low-vibration shutter and fast lenses make the M9 the perfect camera for 'available light' photography.

Innovative flash technology
The M-TTL flash technology in the Leica M9 enables both precise and creative control over flash and mixed lighting effects. Prior to the actual exposure, a measuring flash is emitted that is metered through the lens. The flash power is then precisely determined with consideration for the natural lighting conditions, ensuring that natural lighting is maintained as much as possible In combination with the aperture priority exposure mode, the auto-slow sync function ensures subtle lighting of the subject, whereby the longest shutter speed may be set manually or, when using 6-bit coded lenses, automatically, according to the 1/focal length rule of thumb.

Image assessment with the tonal value histogram
As a professional digital camera, the Leica M9 naturally offers an RGB tonal value histogram, which can be displayed at any time for the assessment of stored images. This feature is also available in conjunction with the automatic image review function. A useful additional aid is the indication of overexposed image areas by means of a so-called 'clipping warning.' These two quality control tools are updated for enlarged views and thus allow the quality of even the finest image details to be assessed. Pressing the info function button displays all photographically relevant settings, including additional metadata stored in the image files. These functions enable full control over captured results at the shooting location of the digital images.

Digital workflow
The M9 comes with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, a professional digital workflow solution for Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. The software is available as an online download for all Leica M9 customers. This also ensures that the latest release is always readily available. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers a vast range of functions for the management, processing and presentation of digital images, quite independent of image format. If the images from the M9 are saved as raw data in the standardized and future-proof Adobe Digital Negative Format (DNG), Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, with its sophisticated and precise processing options, guarantees direct and extremely high-quality image processing with maximized image quality. The 14-bit-per-channel color information captured by the image sensor is then processed at a16-bit-per-channel color information until the final presentation, and ensures that the most delicate tonal differentiations are preserved in maximum quality after completion of the post-processing sequence.

Materials, finish and dimensions
The tough and resilient top deck and base plate of the M9 are machined from solid brass blocks, while the full-metal body is manufactured from a high-strength magnesium alloy that ensures a long and reliable professional working life. The rechargeable battery and the SD card slot are protected from dust and moisture under the base plate, which uses a specialized locking mechanism effectively preventing unintentional opening and the subsequent loss of the battery and SD card. In addition, this long-established construction concept, already employed for decades in the Leica M System, significantly increases the structural stability of the camera body.

The experienced technicians at the Leica factory in Solms, Germany are responsible for the hand-assembly and hand-calibration of M9 bodies and the precise testing of all mechanical and electrical components. The experience gathered over decades of maintenance and repairs by Leica Customer Service creates a solid foundation for long life and enduring value. Even today, the service department maintains and repairs all M cameras built since 1954.

Sensor cleaning
The Leica M9 offers a special function for manual sensor cleaning: selecting the appropriate item from the menu and pressing the shutter release locks the shutter open to allow access to the sensor for cleaning purposes. Due to the short register of Leica M cameras, the sensor is easier to access than in DSLR cameras in which the sensors are located behind the mirror box and shutter assembly.

What's in the Box
Battery charger 100-240 V with two power cords (Euro, USA, may differ for other export markets) and one car charging cable, lithium-ion battery, USB cable, carrying strap

Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 3.2 inches ; 1.3 pounds
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • Domestic Shipping: Item can be shipped within U.S.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: B002NX13NA
  • Item model number: M9 Steel Gray
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,778 in Camera & Photo (See Top 100 in Camera & Photo)
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Date first available at August 10, 2009

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Eric on September 27, 2010
Verified Purchase
From the first time I went out with my new Leica M9 I could not believe how much I missed the days of manual photography. Granted that the Leica M9 has plenty of automated features (like Aperture priority shooting), but the need to construct your shot with this camera took me back to the golden days of manual photography. Point-and-shoot is definitely not what this camera is all about. With the M9 I found myself back in the world of photography as art. Composition, aperture, f-stop, distance, white balance, etc., were again something I had to think about, and this gave me the feeling that photography was once more all about the photographer than about the camera. You, the photographer, are back in charge, but with an extremely modern work of art at your disposal. The experience is so great that you tend to put up with some of the challenges presented by these rangefinders: people with glasses find it hard to see the whole finder coverage, you sometimes forget you have the lens cap on, some lenses partially cover the rangefinder view, and the viewer doesn't have all the info goodies we have grown used to with late model DSLR's. The thing is that after taking this camera for a ride, you really won't care much about what's not there. You'll be plenty distracted with the art of making photographs. That's right, the Leica M9 is not one of those cameras that allow you to "get lucky." Leica photographs are the product of some photographic reflection, composition, and manipulation of the simple functions of photography. You will have to put some time on taking a photo, but the rewards brought about by impeccable optics and a machine reminiscent of a high-end Mercedes Benz will make every minute worth it. Never thought that photography on the slow lane would be that much fun.
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Mel Rose on January 27, 2011
I have wanted a Leica Rangefinder for a very long time. I am an experienced amateur photographer with an extensive portfolio in sports, landscape, portrait and travel photography. I have an immense collection of Canon digital and film bodies and nearly every lens Canon has produced in the past 20 years. I have been more than satisfied, more like enthralled, with the photography this equipment makes possible. Then I took the plunge and bought that Leica M9 I had been eyeing for the past year. After the sticker shot passed though I very nearly experienced buyer's remorse. Although I usually shoot all manual settings on my Canons, still the M9 looked painfully plain and unadorned without all the knobs, buttons, menus and gizmos to which I have become accustomed (alright addicted). I mean did I really intend to pony up $7000 for the body and another 3K for a lens so that I could step back twenty years? Then I took the camera on a winter photography trip to Venice along with my two adult sons who were both carrying Canon 7D's and 100 pounds of lenses. I couldn't believe how much fun photography became again and how this straightforward and exquisitely built camera freed the operator to become a photographer again. The learning curve is a little steep but fast and the immediate results are impressive. I knew that I was on to something in Venice but was blown away when we returned stateside and I have had several weeks to review all the images from the trip carefully. The Leica is a pleasure to carry, elegant to use and produces the sharpest photographs I have ever taken. This was apparent across the board, in all lighting conditions and when used for long exposure or for HDR work. I could not be happier with this camera and take it with me everywhere now. This camera can only be described with superlatives. If you can afford it, buy it.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 12, 2012
Remember the Leica M8? I wrote an honest review of the M8 on Amazon and got flamed by Leica enthusiasts. My main concern with the M8 was the smaller than full frame sensor (18 mm x 27 mm) and its extreme IR sensitivity. I fully expect to get flamed for this review. I was not able to rent an M9 in my home city, Milwaukee. 6 months on a waiting list and an AmTrack ride I did get my rental from a well known photo shop in Chicago (with insurance!). So here goes. The full frame sensor on the M9 boasts a resolution of 18 Megapixels WITHOUT an anti-aliasing filter. Files are in the DNG format. Both Canon and Nikon use full frame sensors with resolutions of 25 Megapixels BUT they DO use anti-aliasing filters. In theory less processing (i.e. no anti-aliasing filter) can can yield better images. Without an AA filer images could be suseptable to moire patterns. But there were none visible with the M9. The question is this. Is the picture quality of the Leica quantifiably better than its competitors? I rented my M9 with a Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH lens. I shot numerous interiors, cityscapes and a few portraits. The quality of the images were excellent. But it's really impossible to distinguish Leica images from those of any other full framed brands. Handling and controls were excellent. The M9 seems to be about the same size as the old M8 so it's really small for a full framed 35mm camera. Controls are very similar between the M8 and M9. Leica removed a LCD counter from the top panel if I remember correctly. One thing about the camera is that it's auto exposure but manual focusing. I admit to being slow at manual focusing. This is a big disadvantage with action photography. BOTTOM LINE: This is a high quality digital camera built like a tank.Read more ›
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