The new Leica CL joins the Leica TL2 in the company’s line up of APS-C format mirrorless cameras. Both cameras share the same 24.2-million-pixel sensor and Leica-TL mount, but the feel and styling of the two are quite different. 

Design-wise, the camera harks back to Leica’s analog rangefinders, surely influenced by the Leica III more so than it’s namesake (yes there is a analog Leica CL from way back). It’s a wonderfully elegant, compact and simplistic design.

Leica has broken away from the norm with the camera’s layout and how each control functions. It’s a different concept and experience to most digital interchangeable lens cameras and very enjoyable one at that.

The initial response to the Leica CL has been highly positive and we are rather keen on it too. Let’s take a quick look at the key highlights of Leica’s new rangefinder-style mirrorless camera.

Leica CL: Handling 

While using the same Leica-TL lens mount, the CL is much more compact than the TL2. With the new 18mm f/2.8 pancake lens attached (see below for more details on the lens), this is one dinky camera. 

As we would expect, the Leica CL has a high-end feel, with lovely leather finish sandwiched between top and base metal plates.

There are very few markings to indicate what the controls do – no on/off label and so on. We like the tidy end result. Let’s face it, you don’t need to look twice to learn where the on/off switch resides. 

We also like the twin controls dials on the top that can be customised to scroll through camera settings, which of course includes shutter speed and aperture. There is a button within each dial that activates a secondary function. Realistically you’re unlikely to regularly be changing more than four sets of camera settings, so most of your needs are covered in these two dials.

A tiny top LCD plate displays the camera settings and handily it illuminates when in dimly lit conditions. 

On the rear, there is the fully functional touchscreen, which handles really well, plus a smattering of buttons. Ultimately, in the hand the camera is easy to navigate – you get direct access to the key functions without being overwhelmed by a plethora of controls.

Unlike the TL2, the CL features a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). It has a 2.36-million-dot resolution and sits on the left-hand side of the camera. 

First impressions of the Leica CL are highly positive. 

Leica CL: Features

On the inside, the Leica CL packs a pretty solid feature set. You have the 24.2-million-pixel APS-C sensor which we believe is exactly the same as the one used in the Leica TL2. We, therefore, expect the same performance, which means RAW image quality should be excellent. 

Leica TL lenses now number seven in all, while some SL lenses are compatible with the Leica CL too. In addition, you have two other adaptors for Leica-M and R mount lenses, which opens up a whole range of Leica glass old and new. 

Otherwise, you have a 49-point AF system, 4k video at up to 30fps plus built-in Wi-Fi for image sharing and remote control of the camera via Leica’s app. 

Leica continues to do things a little differently to other brands and we look forward to getting our hands on the Leica CL soon for a full review. Stay tuned for more.  

Leica CL front

Five things we love about the Leica CL

• A wonderfully simple design concept 

• Looks great, obviously

• A solid Leica-TL lens line up plus Leica adaptors for M and R mount lenses too

• Excellent RAW image quality

• Dependable auto-ISO function

What’s not to like about the Leica CL

• Pitiful battery life

• No image stabilization 

• No USB/ HDMI/ remote/ microphone ports. None.

• Cheaper than most red dot cameras but still expensive by any other standard

Leica CL: Pricing and Availability

Body only, the Leica CL will set you back $2,795. Not cheap, but hey this is Leica. 

In addition to the Leica CL, the Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f/2.8 ASPH pancake lens was announced. You can see the new lens in some of the product shots and we think it compliments the size and feel of the Leica CL really well. The 18mm lens retails at $1,295. 

You can get the Leica CL in a kit with the new 18mm lens for $3,795 which is a saving of $295. There is also a kit with the Vario-Elmarit-TL18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens for $3.995. 

According to Leica, the camera and lenses will start shipping from 28th November. For more details please visit the Leica website

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