Are you looking at getting the CL and wondering is the Leica CL worth it? This is understandable, as the CL is relatively pricey. In this article will be revealed if the CL is worth the money, or not.

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leica cl 18mm

The Leica CL is not to be confused with the older Leica CL, a film camera made by Minolta. This is an APSC sensor camera that takes L mount lenses and is made in Germany by Leica themselves.

Is the Leica CL worth it?

The Leica CL is absolutely worth it. It’s actually one of the most affordable Leicas you can buy. Here’s the reasons why it is worth it.

Leica CL Sample image 3

You can’t beat Classic rangefinder design

Let’s face it, Leicas make some beautiful cameras, especially the M line. The CL takes most of it’s design cues from the M digital rangefinders and the result is a camera that has a both a modern yet classic look.

Just like the M there is a bright viewfinder and since this has no “real” rangefinder focusing system the whole top of the M cameras is removed to have everything in a smaller, compact body.
Coupled with the bundled pancake 18mm kit lens (equivalent to a 28mm f/2.8) the overall kit makes for a portable powerhouse capable of handling anything you throw at it.

While the top has no space for a full sized Shutter speed dial, there is a beautiful mini LCD that tells you exactly what your settings are at all time. From your shooting mode to you aperture and shutter speed.

The smaller design is possible because the CL is not a full frame camera but an APSC sensor camera. Smaller sensor means smaller body but also lesser image quality, but this is Leica we are talking about!

When you get this and shoot, you’d be hard pressed to point out which was made with a full frame or APSC sensor.

Leica CL Sample image 4

Modern features

Unlike the M cameras that are manual focus cameras, the CL cameras are L mounts and take autofocus SL lenses. This mount is special because it is both for Leica’s APSC sensor cameras AND their full-frame SL cameras. So this can take SL lenses too, but these being full frame lenses, they are larger and bigger.

Other modern features include a touchscreen, but there are still buttons for old school shooters like me. Also included are the quality of life things like wi-fi if you want to conveniently transfer your phone on the spot. Useful if you want to send a quick shot to someone.

Plus if you have always been frustrated not being able to shoot video the CL is capable of shooting in 4k. It is everything you would expect from a modern camera and is one of the rare few Leicas capable of shooting video.

Leica CL Sample image 5

A Real Leica

Make no mistake. This is a real Leica. This is not one of those Leica branded Panasonic cameras (they end with -lux), no, this is built and made by Leica from the ground up and so are the lenses.

The lenses might be autofocus but they all have the same care and high quality that Leica puts in their M systems. To their own accord the SL lenses are some of the sharpest they have ever made.

But above all the same Maestro engine image processor that drives Leica’s other masterpieces like the Leica M10 is also present in this camera. So every care that was in the M has been put into the Leica CL.

Not that many native lenses

Is the Leica Cl worth it? This is one of the reasons against it. The lack of native lenses. Sure, it does not have decades of history but there are more then enough lenses when you consider you can put Leica’s own lenses AND (since the L mount is a partnership) Panasonic and Sigma lenses too. So you have choices between:

SupportLens mountNotes
NativeLeica TL Fully compatible
NativeLeica SLFully compatible, but bigger
NativeSigma & Panasonic LFully compatible, but bigger
AdapterLeica M lensesx1.5 crop

Yes you can also fit in Leica M lenses in there with the official adapter. So you can have the best of both worlds, autofocus when you need it and manual focus when you need it. This is impossible with the M cameras that have no motors.

But even if you want to stay within the TL autofocus lenses, you really only need two, the 18mm and the 23mm f2. These are equivalent to 28mm and 35mm,the two most used focal lengths. For anything more specific, maybe the telephoto but the available lenses are more then enough.

Good news? The 18mm is bundled with the CL, so you really only need just one more the 23mm or the 35mm f1.4 for an amazing “nifty fifty” lens with stunning Bokeh.

Leica CL Sample image 6
Leica CL Sample image 7

Steals the heart of many M photographers

The Leica Ms will always be frozen in time for better or for worse. Leica will not be able to change anything to them because, well you can’t change the M system. That means no matter how great the sensors will become the M series will always be manual focus and carry with it a certain amount of bulk due to the sensor size and the space needed for the rangefinder mechanism.

The Leica CL is what happens if Leica made a camera today, and if you want to know, many Leica M shooters are compelled towards the “mini M”, the Leica CL.

Because no matter how great the Ms are there are limits. It cannot be smaller, mud could be covering your lens and you would never know, etc.

The CL has stolen the hearts of many Leica M shooters. And if you know anything about M photographers is that they don’t like any other cameras, so that goes a long way to tell you that the Leica CL is worth it.

The price is more than adequate

Let’s be frank here, Leica isn’t particularly cheap. A small part is brand, but a larger part is simply that Leica is a SMALL company that does HANDMADE cameras. And if you’ve ever purchased a handmade bag vs a factory bag, you know what to expect in terms of price.

But the Leica CL is actually surprisingly adequate. Look at it compared with another similar-ish APSC sensor camera:

ValueLeica CLFuji X-Pro 3
Price w/ 28mm$2995$2598

A few things about this. First, 20 FPS is overkill for anything but some type of sports, you won’t miss anything with 10 frames per seconds. Second, the Leica CL is bundled with a 28mm lens, which by ITSELF costs $1495. The body only is $2495! So you win by having it bundled.

TypeLeica CLFuji X-Pro 3
Body only$2495$1995
18mm lens only$1495$599
Cost of Body + Lens$3990$2598
Bundled$2995(NA) $2598

The Fuji is $1995 body only. There is no bundled 18mm available If you had to add a comparable 18mm lens, the total would be $2598. So the difference isn’t that high compared to the Leica CL.

This is an absolute bargain in the Leica world making this a steal and absolutely worth it. Even better the lenses do not carry with them the M prices so even if you factor in one more lens, the whole kit is at a great price.

You get a lot of camera, great optics and pretty much the same know how and care that the M cameras get for a fraction of the price. This is like a mini M camera: All the benefits, none of the bulk and without the price tag. Click here to run a price check.

Is the Leica CL worth it conclusion:

Take everything that is great about the Leica M cameras, cram it into a smaller body and smaller sensor, add in modern features like autofocus, video, Wi-Fi and don’t compromise on the classic looks or image quality. Slap in a small price and what you have is one of the most affordable Leicas ever. So is the Leica CL worth it? YES without a shadow of a doubt. Click here to get it.

(CC BY 2.0)Kleinbildkamera

(CC BY 2.0)Kleinbildkamera

(CC BY 2.0)Kleinbildkamera

(CC BY 2.0)Kleinbildkamera

(CC BY 2.0)Kleinbildkamera

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