Leica CL – 10 things you need to know
November 21, 2017
The Leica CL is the latest APS-C mirrorless camera to roll off the company’s production line and is designed to sit alongside the company’s aluminium bodied Leica TL2. It inherits some of the core features of the TL2 such as its 24MP sensor and Maestro II processor, but is built around an entirely new body and presents some genuinely exciting features alongside a different control layout.
Take one look at the Leica CL and you’ll notice it’s a very different proposition to the Leica TL2. As well as boasting a built-in electronic viewfinder on the corner of the body – a feature the Leica TL2 lacks, it has a small top plate LCD display and adopts the same style of menu system from the Leica M10. There’s much more besides, all of which you can read about in detail in our Leica CL review.
If you’d like a quick tour of the Leica CL, check out our brief summary of the key features below.
1. 24MP APS-C sensor
The Leica CL inherits the same 24-million-pixel sensor from the TL2, which works alongside the company’s Maestro II processor. Unsurprisingly this combination provides the same sensitivity range of ISO 100-50,000, and includes an Auto ISO mode that aims to keep shutter speeds high to eliminate blurring from camera shake. Leica tells us the sensor is able to achieve a dynamic range figure of up to 14 stops at ISO 100. If it produces identical image quality as the Leica TL2, as we’re led to believe, then expect results on a par with the very best APS-C cameras on the market.
2. Electronic viewfinder
The built-in electronic viewfinder is one of the standout features on the Leica CL. Having it permanently fixed rather than being the clip-on type is a good move from Leica. It’s positioned on the corner of the body and presents a 2.36-million-dot resolution with 0.74x magnification. As you would expect, it has an eye sensor for automatic switching between the EVF and screen and just beside it there’s a diopter that has its own push lock to prevent it being adjusted accidentally.
3. Top plate LCD
The Leica CL positions a tiny LCD panel between its twin dials on the top plate. The idea is that it allows users to glance down at key camera settings or preset camera controls from the hip without having to view the screen or raise the camera to the eye. It also rather helpfully lights up automatically in the dark, but Leica gives you the option to switch this function off from the menu. Read on to find out what the twin dials either side of the LCD are used for.
4. Twin dials
The two dials that sit either side of the LCD are well spaced and are slightly different to conventional dials in the way they feature a button inside. Set to default, the dials change exposure parameters (shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation) depending on the exposure mode that’s set. Pressing the button in the left dial sets the exposure mode (PASM, movie, auto) while pressing the button in the right dial switches it to changing ISO by default. It’s important to note that the right dial button is customisable, however the left dial button is not.
The Leica CL is capable of shooting continuously at up to 10fps using its mechanical shutter or electronic shutter for as many as 33 frames (DNG+JPEG). Unlike the Leica TL2, the Leica CL has a manually selectable shutter mode. The camera’s mechanical shutter provides a range of 30sec to 1/8000sec, with the new silent fully electronic shutter extending this to 1/25,000sec. I’m told the Leica TL2 will get its own manually selectable shutter mode via a new firmware update, but when remains unknown.
At the rear of the Leica CL is a 3in, 1.04-million-dot fixed screen that supports touch control. Unlike some cameras though the AF point can’t be repositioned by shifting your thumb across the screen when the EVF is raised to your eye. The sensitivity of the touch screen is alike to the Leica TL2, however it can’t be used to navigate the camera’s menu settings. The touchscreen is used to reposition the AF point, fire the shutter and swipe through images in playback mode. Those with an eye for detail will notice the Leica CL also features the same menu as the Leica M10.
7. Pancake lens
One of the advantages of Leica’s APS-C system is that it allows small lenses to be made. Up until recently there have been six lenses available for Leica’s APS-C mirrorless system cameras, but this number has been increased to seven with the introduction of the Leica Elmarit-TL 1:2.8/18 ASPH. Leica claims that it’s the smallest APS-C pancake prime on the market (it’s just 20.5mm thin) and is equivalent to 27mm in 35mm terms. Weighing 80g, this new prime lens will go on sale for £1,020 and will be made in black and silver.
Leica has designed the CL with wireless connectivity in mind. The camera comes Wi-fi equipped, however it doesn’t feature Bluetooth connectivity to initiate an instant pairing with mobile devices like we’ve seen on a number of new cameras of late. To tie in with the launch of the camera, Leica has created a CL-app for Android and iOS operating systems, which also supports wireless remote control.
A Leica wouldn’t be a Leica if it wasn’t supported by a wide range of accessories. It’s possible to use Leica’s famous M-mount rangefinder lenses with the Leica CL, but you’ll need to buy the £300 M-adapter L to do so most effectively. Leica will also produce a metal thumb support that mounts via the camera’s hotshoe to improve handling when shooting over long durations. In addition to the above there will be a range of classic and vintage soft accessories made for the camera, including leather cases and straps.
10. Pricing and availability
The Leica CL will be sold in three configurations when it goes on sale on the 28th November 2017. The price of the Leica CL (body only) will be £2,250. Anyone wishing to purchase the body with a lens have two bundles to choose from. The prime kit that includes the Leica CL with the new Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f/2.8 ASPH lens will cost £3,150. The price of the Vario kit that includes a Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens will be £3275.