Leica M9, M9-P and M-E Type 220 review – Ahead of the new Leica M we round up the DxOMark Scores of its predecessors

By Paul Carroll - Wednesday March 06 2013

Sensor Review
Introduction | Leica M9 sensor performance | Leica M9 versus competition | Conclusion

Nikon D4 Vs Canon EOS 1Dx Vs Leica M-E Type 220: Leica off the Image Quality pace

Leica M9
Overall Scores for the Leica M-E Type 220 are notably worse in all categories compared to the top of the range Canon and Nikon DSLRs that sit in a similar price bracket.

Yes, they are VERY different cameras, and no one is suggesting any sports photographer will consider buying a Leica M-E Type 220 (although we bet a fair few photojournalists own a D4 or 1Dx), but occupying the same price bracket comparisons do become relevant.

We’ve seen the Leica’s CCD can’t compete with the DxOMark Overall Scores from the latest evolution of CMOS Sensors, but drill down further and differences become starker as the M-E Type 220 continues to struggle at high ISOs.

Color Depth of 24.7 bits (D4) vs. 23.8 bits (EOS 1Dx) vs. 22.7 bits (M-E Type 220) equates to a 1 1/3rd of a Stop improvement for the D4 over the M9, and 2/3rds of a Stop for the 1Dx. As the best Portrait Score is usually achieved at the lowest ISO, value Canon and Nikon are at an immediate advantage with Measured ISO values of 80 and 75, respectively compared to 145 ISO on the M-E Type 220. Results on the Leica drop off steeply, however and while great Color is achievable at the Manufacturer ISO 640 on the M9, the 1Dx keeps going up to ISO 1600 and the D4 up to ISO 3200.

A more exaggerated result occurs with Dynamic Range, too. The M-E Type 220 starts at a respectable 11.7Evs at ISO 145, the same as the1Dx at ISO 80, but then quickly falls away and by Manufacturer ISO 640 the Leica has dipped below the 10Evs threshold for good Dynamic Range. The D4 and 1Dx don’t drop to that level until manufacturer ISO 6400, however and boasting greater sensitivity latitude these models produce comparable Dynamic Range at ISO 25600 compared to ISO 2560 on the M-E Type 220.

Leica M9
At base ISO sensitivity the D4 and 1Dx offer 1 1/3rd and 2/3rds Stop better color respectively. While good color on the M-E Type 220 tails off at ISO 640 similar results are achieved at ISO 1600 on the 1Dx and ISO 3200 on the D4.
Leica M9
Dynamic Range on the M-E Type 220 drops off even more rapidly. Despite a comparable score to the 1Dx of 11.7Evs at ISO 145 by ISO 2500 the M-E 220’s Dynamic Range is 2 Stops worse than the Canon and Nikon DSLRs.

Leica M-E Type 220 Vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III Vs Nikon D800: The cheaper DSLRs take the spoils

Leica M9
The Leica M-E Type 220’s CCD Sensor can’t compete against cheaper Nikon and Canon DSLR image quality and especially not against the D800 which offers nearly 2 Stops better Image Quality overall.

Results don’t improve for the Leica’s when they’re pitted against cheaper full frame DSLRs, like the $3499 Canon EOS 5D MKIII or the $2797 Nikon D800 either.

Compared to the EOS 5D MKIII, like we saw with the 1Dx, Dynamic Range results at the base ISO are the same at 11.7Evs. But with a Portrait Score of 24 bits against 22.7 bits on the M-E Type 220, the Leica is almost 1 Stop worse. Again, it’s the low-light capabilities of the Leica which are more relevant, however and with a Sports Score of just 787 ISO on the M-E Type 220 the Canon offers an extra 1½ Stops with a score of 2293 ISO.

The Nikon D800 is just in a different league altogether though. A DxOMark Overall Score of 95 compared to 69 equates to nearly 2 Stops better image quality overall, a result which is replicated in each of the three individual categories.

Leica M9
At base ISO the M-E Type 220 scores similar to the 5D MKIII with 11.7Evs. The D800 is way ahead with 14.3 Evs and the Nikon has the same Dynamic Range at ISO 25600 as the Leica at its max sensitivity of ISO 2500.
Leica M9
At all ISO values up to the M-E Type 220’s max sensitivity of ISO 2500 the Leica has poorer SNR Scores than the 5D MKIII and the D800, which also offer greater latitude up to ISO 25600 and ISO 102400 respectively.