Leica CL Snap Verdict
The Leica CL is the type of camera that makes photographers smile when they pick it up, it looks great and it feels even better in your hand. Add in the clever interface that makes superb use of the limited collection of physical controls, the touch-screen and the high-quality results and you have a very attractive camera. However, there are a few oddities with the interface that I’d like to see sorted out with a firmware upgrade and, as usual with Leica cameras, it commands a high price especially compared to models like the Fujifilm X-E3.
For Leica CL
- Superb build quality
- Leica heritage and optical quality
- Streamlined control system
Against Leica CL
- A few quirks in the interface need to be ironed out
- Limited range of directly compatible APS-C format lenses
- High price
What is the Leica CL?
The Leica CL is a 24Mp APS-C format compact system camera (CSC) or mirrorless camera with the Leica L lens mount. It sits alongside the Leica TL2 in the company’s interchangeable lens camera line-up and although has a very similar specification, the CL has a more traditional ‘Leica-look’ along with a few more buttons around the touch-screen.
Leica has given the Leica CL a very similar specification to the TL2 announced in July 2017. The 24.24-million-effective-pixel APS-C sized (23.6 x 15.7 mm) CMOS sensor and Maestro II processing engine, for example, are the same.
Leica has also stuck with the same 49-point contrast detection autofocus system for the CL as is found in the TL2. These points can be selected using Single point, Multi-zone, Spot, Face detection or Touch AF modes or using the tracking option for moving subjects.
Leica is known for keeping things simple and concentrating on the most important aspects of photography, but in addition to aperture priority, shutter speed priority and manual exposure mode, the CL has Automatic Program and other fully automatic modes along with 12 user-selectable scene modes to make getting the correct settings easier for inexperienced photographers.
There’s also a small collection of Film Styles available (Standard, Vivid, Natural, B&W Natural, B&W High Contrast) that allow you to tailor jpeg images to suit the subject or conditions.
It’s also possible to record 4K (3840 x 2160) video at up to 30fps, or Full-HD (1920 x 1080) video at 60 or 30 fps and Wi-Fi connectivity is built-in for easy image transfer to a smartphone.
Unlike the TL2, the Leica CL has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) built-in. This is a 2.36Mp (1024×768) device with magnification of 0.74x. Just to the right of the viewfinder as you hold the camera is the diopter adjustment (+/-4). This has to be pulled outwards before it can be rotated, which ensures that it won’t adjust as you pull the camera from your bag.
The Leica CL and TL2 have the Leica L-mount and this enables Leica TL lenses that are designed for APS-C sized lenses or full-frame Leica SL lenses to be mounted directly on the camera. There are currently six TL optics, three zooms – the Super-Vario-Elmar-TL 11-23mm f3.5–4.5 ASPH., Vario-Elmar-TL 18-56mm f/3.5–5.6 ASPH. and the APOVario-Elmar-TL 55-135mm f/3.5–4.5 ASPH. plus four prime lenses – the Elmarit-TL 18mm f/2.8 ASPH., Summicron-TL 23mm f/1:2 ASPH. and the Summilux-TL 1:1.4/35 ASPH. and the APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm f/2.8 ASPH.
Owners of Leica M-mount and R-mount optics can mount them on the CL or TL2 via adaptors.
|Date announced||21st November 2017|
|Price at launch||£2,250/$ body only, £3,150 with 18mm, £3,275 with 18-56mm,|
|Sensor size||APS-C (23.6x15.7mm)|
|Effective pixel count||24.24 million|
|Lens Mount||Leica L|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100-50,000|
|AF System||49-point contrast detection|
|Max video resolution||3840 x 2160 p (4K) 30fps|
|Storage||32GB internal plus SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II|
|Viewfinder||2.36Mp electronic viewfinder (EVF)|
|Screen||3-inch 1.04-dot touch-screen|
|Dimensions||131 x 78 x 45mm|
|Weight||353g body only, 403g with battery|