Leica CL camera reviews

The first reviews and opinions of the new Leica CL mirrorless camera ($2,795) are in:

“For me, the Leica CL has the same fun factor as the Q. The TL lenses provide an excellent addition for other focal lengths if you‘re willing to get into the APS-C format, which I found very easy. However, as long as the CL doesn’t have a back-button focus it won’t be able to replace a Q in my opinion. The CL can also be combined very well with my other cameras and lenses. The Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm is an unbeatable and (relatively) manageable telephoto zoom with image stabilisation and autofocus up to 420mm. Alternatively, I can cover the most important focal lengths of 16-135mm with the TL 11-23mm and the SL 24-90mm. An important aspect to me is that the CL closes a gap in the SL system with the 60mm macro.” (Ingo-Cordes)

In sum, the CL isn’t terribly different from the TL2, but Leica is clearly pitching it at Leica-philes who prefer the classic form and dials. The biggest addition is the built-in electronic viewfinder that goes a long way to transforming it into a rangefinder-like model beloved by fans of the brand. What’s missing compared to rivals is image stabilization and USB transfers, items that probably aren’t deal-breakers for most wannabe Leica buyers. (Engadget)

The biggest difference between the TL2 and the CL is the CL’s integrated electronic viewfinder. It has a 2.36-megapixel display mounted on the top left side of the camera (when viewed from the rear). As far as electronic viewfinders go, this one won’t blow anyone away — even the viewfinder on Leica’s own Q bests it — but it is much better than the detachable viewfinder that slides into the hotshoe on the TL2. (TheVerge)

Key to the CL’s appeal is the way Leica has pared it right back to the essentials, which is (quite literally) the company’s motto. So rather than feeling like it’s been built by a team of engineers hell-bent on fitting every imaginable feature into the smallest possible box, the CL gives the impression that it’s been designed by people who are themselves passionate photographers, with the sole aim of giving fellow photographers the best possible tool. As a result, it works pretty much perfectly out of the box; it’s a really smart, elegant design that even manages to look fabulous without feeling the need for superfluous cosmetic flourishes. (Trusted Reviews)

The CL is a nice combination of what we tend to regard as ‘traditional’ Leica and modern technology. Thanks to Leica’s craftsmanship, it looks and feels like a high-quality camera and thanks to the company’s imaging knowhow it also delivers high-quality results. Although I think it needs a few quirks sorting out with a firmware upgrade, I really like the control arrangement and interface of the CL. It manages to get a lot of functionality out of relatively few buttons and dials without seeming completely dependent on the touch-screen. It’s also very intuitive to use so you get to grips with the camera quickly. (CameraJabber)


On balance, the Leica CL is a nicely-designed camera that is pleasant to use. It’s not perfect, but compared to the T/L and TL2 that came before it, it’s more practical for everyday photography and easier to get to grips with. The built-in viewfinder is excellent, and I appreciate the more or less conventional button-and-dial interface, and the straightforward, M10-inspired menu. Less convincing is the touchscreen implementation. While the ability to set focus by touch in some AF modes, and scroll through / zoom into images in playback is really handy, the frequent problem of the AF point being repositioned by my nose, and the ‘always on’ swipe functionality did frustrate me. (Dpreview)

The CL’s menu, on the other hand, is also very simple. It is not anything like the TL2 menu, but rather more along the line of the SL or M10 menu. There is really nothing hard about figuring this menu out, and I found my self-setting everything up in just a few seconds before shooting. (MadeInWetzlar)

Other reviews:

Related videos:

Leica CL sample photos (more available at Dpreview, Ephotozine and Leica’s website):

Leica CL

Like the new Leica CL Facebook page and the Leica TL2 Facebook page.

Leica CL pre-order links: B&H | Adorama | Leica San Francisco | Leica Miami | Popflash | Park Camera | Reddotcameras

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