Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: It is the duel of the compact cameras! If you are looking for a Leica Q2 alternative, the Leica CL might fit the bill. Since choosing the wrong camera can make you have a bad experience in this article we will see which one is the best camera for you.

Table Of Contents

Leica Q2 vs Leica CL At a glance

NameCamera 1Camera 2
Camera nameLeica Q2Leica CL
Leica q2leica cl 18mm
Sensor sizeFull FrameAPSC
Megapixels47.324.4
Lens typeFixedInterchangeable
Lens (35mm equivalent)28mm27mm (Kit lens)
Focal Length1.72.8
Max ISO50,000 50,000
FPS1010
Memory CardSDXC SlotSDXC Slot
WirelessWifi & BluetoothWifi
Dimensions5.1 x 3.1 x 3.6 inches5.2 x 3.1 x 1.8 inches
Weight1.58 lb / 718 g0.88 lb / 403 g
Positives+ Compact
+ Full frame
+ Rangefinder style
+ Fast lens
+ Interchangeable lens
+ Large sensor
+ Small lenses and package
+ Comes with 27mm lens
+ Cheaper then Q2
Negatives– Fixed lens
– Pricier than CL
– A bit slow at f2.8
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Leica CL and Leica Q2 both are the impressive and stylish cameras. Leica CL was introduced in November 2017, while Leica Q2 was launched in March 2019. Leica CL consists of outstanding features with the APS-C sensor. While Leica Q2 has a full-frame sensor. In the following article, we will discuss the differences and similarities between the Leica CL and Leica Q2. 

Leica Q vs Leica CL: What are the similarities?

The specifications of both cameras attract users who are finding ease and comfort. The following are some similarities found in Leica CL and Leica Q2.

Leica cl beginners
Wide angles like the 28mm are great for landscapes and street photography [1]

1. It’s a family duel

Let’s state the obvious first: This is a family duel, Leica vs Leica. What that means right off the bat is that both are very high quality cameras with excellent optics. While of course both have their differences because they are both from Leica they have similar aesthetics to them.

2. Similar philosophy

Leica is the king of digital rangefinders, it’s their turf. But if you know anything about Leica, it’s that they are a bit stuck with the Leica M cameras because there is only so much they can do while keeping the M mount and full frame.

Both the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL branch off the M line and go in two different directions. But both have the soul of the original M camera by looking and handling like a rangefinder even tough technically they are mirrorless compact cameras and don’t need that design.

In short if you want a Leica both of these cameras will fit the bill, no matter which one you chose.

3. They both share the Maestro Engine II

Both of these cameras share the proprietary Maestro II engine. This is software that Leica perfected to make them most out of their cameras in terms of speed, sharpness and color.

4. Screens are identical

Interestingly. These screens are identical. Both have a fixed touchscreen and are 3 Inch LCDs with 1040k dots. While it’s always nice to have flip screens, these are also the camera’s weakest points, so any camera with flip screens are versatile but cameras without are more durable.

Leica cl beginners 3
Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: Both can do great Bokeh portraits [2]

5. They both have fast 28mm lenses

The Leica Q2 has a 28mm built in while most of the time when the Leica CL is sold, they sell it with the 18mm lens. Because there is a crop factor the lens is effectively a 27mm lens, or as close as you can get to a 28mm.

So whichever camera you chose, both will have a 28mm.

6. Both have electronic viewfinders

Unlike the Leica Ms that have rangefinders and are optical viewfinders, both cameras are rangefinder style mirrorless cameras with electronic viewfinders. This is actually a benefit to both because the drawback of real rangefinders is the framelines.

For example if you wanted a 21mm on your M you would need to attach a viewfinder on top of the camera so that you could have an idea of what you are shooting. This is not the case with either the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL because electronic viewfinders are pretty much what you see is what you get, no extra viewfinder needed.

Leica cl beginners 4
The 28mm on both the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL is great for landscapes [3]

Ironically for certain lenses on the Leica M what is needed is actually an electronic viewfinder to make the most our of them.

7. They shoot high resolution video

While video is not really Leica’s strong suit, both camera shoot high resolution up to 4K with 30 fps.

Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: What are the differences?

Now that we have seen the similarities of the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL, let’s look at what makes each camera stand out.

1. Same parent, different children

If we take the Leica M cameras, full frame with M mount, and imagine they had two children, the results would be the Q2 and the CL. They both take after the M line in terms of general simple is good philosophy and beautiful looks.

But like two children from the same parent they are also different. One takes the approach of taking an M camera, keeping the full frame and gluing a Summilux 28mm on it.

The CL on the other hand is more like a mini M camera because it is smaller, but has a smaller sensor. Due to the bigger sensor the Q2 has better image quality but loses because of the fact that it is fixed vs the interchangeable CL.

Just like one cannot chose one of our children over another, this one is a tie. it is a tradeoff between sensor size, fixed lens and size.

WINNER: Tie

Leica CL travel photography
Because of the large sensor the quality is wonderful on both Leica Q2 vs Leica CL [4]

2. One has an updated viewfinder

When it comes to the viewfinder of the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL, the Leica Q2 the later model so it has a higher resolution of 3680k dots than Leica CL of 2360k dots. This pretty significant jump makes the images you see in the viewfinder more crisp and close to the final image you will get.

WINNER: Leica Q2

3. Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: The sensor conundrum

The size of the sensors matters for a photographer. It has a significant impact on image quality. A large sensor allows the photographer a more comprehensive dynamic range and richer color-depth than the small-sized sensor.

Also, a large sensor camera gives control over depth of field to the photographer. So if you want Bokeh for example, the larger the sensor the better it is. This is also tied to the lens speed. So for the sensor, just because by default larger sensors render higher quality results and Bokeh the Q2 wins.

WINNER: Leica Q2

4. Equal sensitivity, different results

This is interesting, both of the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL have the same processor (Maestro II) and the same amount of maximum ISO of 50,000. Both do well under low light but evidently because a larger sensor deals with grain better the Q2 wins. If you are looking to shoot a night, the Q2 might be the one, especially due to the next point.

WINNER: Leica Q2

Leica q2 portrait
When it comes to bokeh the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL, the Q2 is better due to the larger sensor and faster lens [5]

5. One has a slower lens

Right off the bat the Leica Q2 wins because the attached lens is a Summilux f1.7 vs the CL’s 27mm f2.8. It is about one stop of difference that can make or break a photo if it’s taken in low light. Because of the larger sensor and due to the lens speed the Leica Q2 it is much better for Bokeh.

WINNER: Leica Q2

6. The Full Frame sensor and the digital zoom

Now let’s get something straight about the Leica Q2: It is a FIXED 28mm lens. But it also has a massive 47 megapixel sensor that is pretty much overkill for most purposes.

Enter the crop mode, or digital zoom where the camera essentially crops out parts of the image in order to emulate longer focal lengths. So with the Q2 you have the possibility to have the effective focal length of 35mm, 50mm and 75mm although that last one only outputs a 6.6 megapixel file.

The Leica CL too has crop modes, it can digital zoom x1.3 and x1.7 but the 20 megapixel is cutting it quite short.

WINNER: Leica Q2

Leica q2 portrait 3
When it comes to Bokeh Leica Q2 vs Leica CL, the Q2 wins by default but other lenses are available [6]

6. The Megapixels and the lenses

Up until now with the Leica Q2 vs Leica CL it seems like the Leica Q2 wins hand down. You could consider this point the reversal point. Yes the Leica Q2 is higher resolution, has a faster lens, is better at cropping than the CL.

But. If you are simply fine with having multiple lenses, the CL beats the Leica Q2. So for example the CL is slower and worse for portraits considering it’s a small sensor but that’s only because of the kit lens.

There’s bunch of Leica TL lenses for the CL and it helps beat the Q2. Consider for example the digital zoom vs real lens

CameraFocal length (Effective)Effective apertureMegapixels
Leica Q2 Digital Zoom50mm2.814.6
Leica CL + 18mm + 1.7x zoom47.65.6 (?)7.5
Leica CL + 35mm f1.4 Lens52.51.424.4
Leica Q2 vs Leica CL digital zoom vs lenses

With this table you can see the shortcomings of the digital zoom. No amount of cropping can make up for a dedicated lens, even if it’s on a smaller sensor with less megapixels. The Q2 beats the CL with the kit lens but if you add lenses, the CL beats the Q2, even in the Bokeh and speed department.

WINNER: Leica CL

Leica CL street photography 2
The CL has very good dynamic range [7]

7. One has an LCD on top

One of the best features of the Leica CL is the little LCD on top between the two dials. This is an extremely useful (and can’t live without once you get used to it) little detail that allows you at all times to know what your settings are without looking at the rear screen. The Q2 has no such LCD on top.

WINNER: Leica CL

8. Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: The similar yet different design

Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: Both cameras come from the same strand. They share the same DNA. But they are still pretty different. The Leica Q2 really takes after the M cameras and can be considered like an M camera that has a fixed lens.

So it’s as close as you will ever get from a Leica M kit without the price tag. Like said above, the shutter dial and zen like approach of the M cameras are present in the Q2. The CL on the other hand takes a more modern approach and is more inspired by the M than anything.

The dials are not shutter dials like the M line and are faster to operate (just twist the dial as fast as you can). There’s the addition of the top LCD and unlike the Q2 that has the aperture ring on the lens, the CL lenses don’t have that.

So the closest to an M camera is the Q2, but if you want the same feeling but without being tied to convention, the Leica CL.

WINNER: Tie

Leica CL travel photography 3
The Leica CL being small makes for a great travel camera [8]

9. One is significantly heavier

Due to the fact that the Leica Q2 is pretty much an M, it is also in similar size as an M camera. In contrast the CL camera is about half the weight of the Q2 and it also much lighter.

  • Leica Q2: 5.1 x 3.1 x 3.6 inches 1.58 lb / 718 g
  • Leica CL: 5.2 x 3.1 x 1.8 inches 0.88 lb / 403 g

The 18mm f2.8 that comes with the Leica CL is very small and light so even with it the Q2 weights more.

WINNER: Leica CL

Leica q2 street photography
Leica Q2 [9]

10. Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: The price question

When you consider that the Full frame Leica Q2 is a M camera with a Summilux lens and that apples to apples it is worth $15,000 it is pretty cheap for what it is.

But the Leica CL is even cheaper then this considering that you not only have a nice kit lens to go with it but that for the same price of the Q2 you can not only get the CL body + 18mm but you can also get either an extra TL lens form Leica or 3-4 from other companies like Sigma.

So besides the obvious monetary consideration you have to ask if you really don’t mind being with the 28mm or not having any problems using the digital zoom. Because if you are going after versatility the CL offers more bang for the buck.

If you really want a full frame, there is only once choice and that is the Q2.

WINNER: Leica CL

Camera 1Camera 2
Leica Q2Leica CL
Leica q2leica cl 18mm
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Leica Q2 vs Leica CL: Which one do you get?

Which camera is the best? Both are in their own rights. But in many ways while the Leica Q2 is superior, the Leica CL wins. It’s just much more versatile and you have some money left for extra lenses. It has sharp lenses and is as close to an automatic Leica M as you will ever get.

That is except if you REALLY want a full frame camera, then the choice is the Leica Q2. If you can deal with the wide angle and do not mind the digital zoom from time to time, this could well be the type of camera that is the only one you need as it’s hard to beat a full frame camera with an excellent lens atached.

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