The Leica CL has many of the same components as the TL2 announced a few months earlier, including the 24.24Mp APS-C format sensor and Maestro II processing engine, but there are a few key differences that set the two cameras apart. 

Leica CL Review: Show with the Leica TL2

Leica TL2 (left) vs Leica CL (right)

Viewfinder

One of the most significant differences between the CL and the TL2 is that the CL has an electronic viewfinder built-in. This is a 2.36Mp device with a neat dioptre adjustment and eye-sensor to activate it when you lift the camera to your eye. 

While the TL2 doesn’t have a viewfinder built-in, there’s an optional EVF available called the Visoflex (Typ 020) that retails for £390/$575.  This has a 2.4Mp LCD screen and can be tipped up through 90 degrees for easier viewing from above – that’s something the CL’s built-in EVF can’t do. There’s also dioptre adjustment of +/-3, while the CL’s EVF can be adjusted to +/-4EV.

The inclusion of the EVF in the CL goes some way to explaining the differences in the price of the two cameras.

Leica CL Review: Show with the Leica TL2

Leica TL2 (left) vs Leica CL (right)

Interface

Another major difference between the CL and TL2 is how they are operated. There are no buttons on the back of the TL2 and it makes heavy use of the large touch-screen.  The CL also has a touch-screen, but as the image above shows, there’s also a navigation pad, with a central button and three labelled buttons on the back of the CL.

Both cameras have two dials on their top-plate, but only the CL has buttons within these dials. Pressing one of these buttons reveals the settings that are available for selection using the dial. A long press of the right dial-button displays a list of features that can be adjusted via the button and dial. This list of up to 8 features can be customised via the menu. The CL’s Fn (Function) button operates in a similar way, giving a route to up to 8 customisable features.

As mentioned earlier, the TL2 relies on the touch-screen and gesture control much more. Its menu is displayed as a series of tiles that can be rearranged and hidden or revealed as required. By default, the left top-plate dial is set to change sensitivity, but it can be set to adjust exposure compensation, white balance, focus mode, self-timer or the flash mode just by tapping the relevant icon on the screen.

If you’re familiar with older Leica cameras you’re likely to feel more at home with the CL, but if you’re coming from a smartphone and are used to touch-controls the TL2 is a good choice. It doesn’t take long to get used to either interface, but they feel very different.

Screen

While the CL has a 3-inch 1.04-dot touch-screen, the back of the TL2 is almost entirely taken up by a 3-7inch screen with 1.3 million dots. Both provide a good clear view and have a wide viewing angle.

Leica CL Review: Show with the Leica TL2

Leica TL2 (left) vs Leica CL (right)

Shape

The CL looks more like a traditional Leica camera and has a completely flat front with a slightly stippled texture. There’s an optional grip to help give more purchase when using long or heavy lenses, and an optional thumb support that slips into the hot-shoe making the camera feel much more secure in your hand.

As the image above shows, the TL2 has a more modern appearance with a stylish grip on the front. Although it has a smooth finish, this grip helps keep the camera fairly safe in your hand.

I’d advise using a strap with both cameras to help avoid dropping them.

Memory

Both cameras have an SD card port that can accept SD/SDHC/SDXC cards and is compatible with UHS-II media. However, only the TL2 has internal memory – 32GB.

Camera NameLeica CL (Type 7323)Leica TL2
Camera typeCSCCSC
Date announced21st November 201710th July 2017
Price at launch£2,250/$ body only, £3,150 with 18mm, £3,275 with 18-56mm,£1,700 body only
Sensor sizeAPS-C (23.6x15.7mm)APS-C (23.6x15.7mm)
Effective pixel count24.24 million24.24 million
Lens MountLeica LLeica L
ProcessorMaestro IIMaestro II
Sensitivity rangeISO 100-50,000ISO 100-50,000
AF System49-point contrast detection49-point contrast detection
Max video resolution3840 x 2160 p (4K) 30fps3840 x 2160 p (4K) 30fps
Storage32GB internal plus SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-IISD/SDHC/SDXC
Viewfinder2.36Mp electronic viewfinder (EVF)Optional external EVF
Screen3-inch 1.04-dot touch-screen3.7-inch TFT LCD, 1.3 million dots
Dimensions131 x 78 x 45mm134 x 69 x 33mm
Weight353g body only, 403g with battery355g body only, 399g with battery