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Sunday, 26 November 2017


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I will stick with my Fuji X70 which is remarkably similar (and very simple) and only cost about $500 used. It’s quite slim and jacket pocketable and has a very nice tilty-flippy screen for composing waist level, low and high angle shots as well. I rarely even miss the viewfinder.....

Certainly reason enough to go for it; unfortunaly, pocket not deep enough to go for it.

Down straight to the point, as always, Mike - bravo! A voice of sanity in a sea of... I don't know, but it surely makes me come back here as often as there's new content...

Has been a few decades now but I remember reading the actual cost of a Leica M series camera compared to other rangefinder style types over its expected service life. Per number of frames of film shot the Leica cost less as the cheaper cameras would wear out and have to be replaced numerous times. The Leica would still be going strong.

Don't know that it has any bearing with digital gear now.

While we see this body - does Panasonic have anything based on it?

If you have an expensive collection of Leica glass you started building in the film era, you can construct a rational argument for buying this or any other current Leica body. Otherwise, there's been no non-emotional reason to buy Leica since the 80s, maybe earlier. Maybe much earlier. The exact point Leica went from being a camera company to a luxury goods company isn't easy to determine, but it's deep in the past now. When you look at Miles Davis holding an M3 on the cover of "At Newport 1958" you're looking at a guy with an expensive camera, which also happened to be the best camera. Same scene today and you'd merely be looking at a guy with a REALLY expensive camera. If you want the best, I don't think you can get it from Leica these days, but if you want expensive they can hook you right up.

An anatomical grip as an extra-cost option? No thanks.

In another lifetime (as a working photographer over three decades ago) I greatly desired an M2—I thought that the built-in support for 35mm lenses was more sensible for me than the M3’s telephoto tendencies.

But an M2 would have been used for personal work; the Nikons used at the time were better for pro work (my pro work), along with Bronica/Mamiya MF cameras, and the occasional view camera excursion.

I like the minimalism very much, but will never own one.

With its two configurable dials it's more like Nex-7, than a6000. Which is actually good - I liked the "Tri-Navi" as Sony called it, and it's a pity they didn't implement it in the a7 line, which also has three dials.

I haven't used a digital Leica, so this is a real question: are they actually simple cameras? My impression is that no, they're not: they are the about as complicated as any digital camera, but very skilfully sold as being much simpler than most. However I freely admit that this impressions comes from reading the manual of the Monochrom (which made me realise I did not want one).

(It does depress me that designers of digital cameras, with sensors which can probably respond to individual photons, stabilisation which is close to being limited by the rotation of the earth (yes, really) and more processing power to handle all this than was used for forecasting the weather a few years ago don't use all that technology to make something as simple and transparent to use as good film cameras were. I think I know why it is -- features sell cameras whether they are useful or not, and the market for serious cameras which trade features for usability is, essentially, me -- but it's still depressing: probably the only simple cameras that will exist from now on out are smartphones, and they have usability problems for anyone with old eyes.)

If this CL is made to look like a Leica IIIf, I'd go for it.

"Leica is the only company today that dares to make simple cameras" - I don't agree. Sigma also dares to. As well as daring to think considerably different.

Hi Mike
One reason I bought the PenF was a replacement for my long lost CL - reading the blurb (no IBIS?) - I'm sticking with the brilliant Pen F - and (sacrilege) the lenses are better 😂

Arguing about the cost of Leica is useless. Everybody knows they are expensive. Everybody knows that other, less dearer cameras produce similar results.

What I find absurd this time around is that the pancake lens is made by Panasonic, so it should be much cheaper...

"It makes no rational sense." - That's how I felt when I read about this camera, and looked at my Fuji X-Pro 1 which I bought at an end of life sale (last year in Jan) with the 18mm/f2 and 28mm/f2.8 for EUR 806. I since sold the 28mm/f2.8 as it played up on the camera.

Here's a scenario that makes sense to me:
1) You already have a zillion Leica lenses and love the look they produce on bigger, older Leicas. 2) You have tried some of them on Sony bodies, or on Fuji bodies in the past, and the results are kind of smeary and unsatisfying. 3) Because of (1), you are not terribly cost-sensitive.
4) It is a lovely little camera, so you're in the customer demographic .

It's the lenses that will sell the CL. Not just the 18mm pancake that is currently given attention.

I would buy this except my sights are set on 240 m p, I have 4 x cameras 2x1 X2 and XE, don’t need extra modes or use video. Love their build quality and lightness in hand.

Glad someone had the balls to say it.

And when it comes to simplicity, a camera that changes into video mode because you touched its rear screen with your nose is not making the most of the possible abscence of complications.

I know its a Leica. Like a Rolex only you don't buy a Rolex to check the time...

My first good camera was a Leica IIIf so this one tugs at my heartstrings but not at my pocketbook.
To me 24MP APS cameras represent the sweet spot in terms of return on investment for photography enthusiasts. Working pros may see things in an entirely different way.
And on the subject of ROI, Adorama is selling refurbished D7100 bodies for $549.

Bingo! And, you’ve hit the nail on the head and separated the wheat from the chaff, too. I shoot micro-4/3rds exclusively now and before I bought my GX-8 I rented one and a Leica Q at the same time. I knew almost at once that I would buy the GX-8 but while I had both, the Q was the one in my hands most of the time. It just felt right. It was like shooting with my old M3 (or M2, 4, 6 or 7, for that matter). I’ve owned a lot of Leicas. And, not once did my fingers accidentally hit some button that turned all my pictures blue or reset the camera to ISO 25,000. Besides, full-frame is so unnecessary for what I do. This may be the camera that brings me back into the Leica fold. I have one pre-ordered one as a rental to try it out.

Since days of yore, less has always been more. Apple and Leica recognize this. The others not so much—in Sony's case not at all.

Aside from all the other rea$on$ To not buy the new CL, there’s no way to load film.

But I am disappointed that the Rokkor 40 is considered better than my Summicron C. I guess I won’t be shooting any Kodachrome against the light. And now with an extra $3.8K in my bank account I can afford to quite a few fancy dinners.

"Why would anyone spend the money for a Leica?" is the question that one asks about every single Leica product that exists. If you are looking at the price and wondering this then you've already decided not to buy it.

Also, this camera looks pretty simple until you open the same 20 page embedded menu screen UI that's hiding behind one of those buttons. Then it's no longer simple.

I love your review.
As you know I somewhat fit your description.
Except for the hankering status. Oh I guess I hanker status too, but Leica doesn’t bring it when only 0.5% of the population know what a Leica is.

But I once lusted for a Leica CL because there was no way I could afford a Leica M. Then about eight years ago I had one in my hands and was fulfilled. So the new Leica CL does not fulfill the longing for the old CL. With the pancake lens, it fulfills my longing for an iPhone type camera that I can have with a EVF.

Yeah, the Sony would make more sense, but I already have a few lenses that are TL mounts, importantly a 11-23mm.

Yeah I can rationalize this.

But will I?

I have heard if you handle one, you can easily rationalize it.

A few things. First I am surprised you liked the CLE, I liked my CL but the idea of a camera that had auto-exposure or unmetered manual exposure never appealed to me. Maybe there was some work-around that wasn't as slow as it seemed to me?

I think you are being just a tiny bit harsh about the new camera. Some people are willing to buy the higher priced option to experience the slightly better lenses, out-of-camera jpegs and the feel of a finely crafted machine. They may want a Porsche 911, but not be able to afford it, but the Leica CL they can afford.

I never found that my Leica M cameras impressed anyone. To most people they looked cheaper than a Pentax. That didn't bother me in the slightest.

My M Leicas felt great, were fast and intuitive to use and had lenses that pleased me a tiny bit more than my Nikons. My customers didn't care about the difference, but.... When I traveled I took the CL because I didn't want the more expensive camera stolen, lost or destroyed. Plus the CL really did look cheap, almost always a plus.

But the new CL has two flaws for my taste. One is that is not $3795 for me because I wouldn't take the 28mm as a gift. It's $4645 with the 23mm, or $5845 with the kit zoom and the 23. And it's half frame so it doesn't mesh well with my M lenses.

So like you, I will not be buying it.

Price aside, from a practical use standpoint, it would have been nicer if the body were weather sealed and incorporated a joystick (for focus point) like its larger sister L mount camera (that can share lenses).

Note, too, that the CL can not only accept other L mount lenses (SL and TL), but also M lenses with an adapter. This makes, fore some folks, an M-ish sized camera with modern EVF facility.

I'll wait for the green ostrich leather edition

Mike wrote, " ... cameras so ridiculously complexified that only tech-whiz mavens can really wrap their heads around them ... "

I've had several Sony NEX and A6XXX cameras and I agree that they are unnecessarily complex for people like me. My solution is to find a picture, frame it, push the button and let the camera do all the rest. I don't know what is going on behind the curtain and I mostly don't care. Just like an iPhone with a zoom lens.

Old airplane joke:

What is the ideal cockpit crew?
A pilot and a dog. The pilot is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to bite the pilot in case he tries to touch anything.

I had (well, still have) the original Leica CL and loved it. Remembering back, it wasn’t cheap either. I could have purchased about four mid-level SLR/50mm kits for the price of the CL and its superb 40mm Summicron-C lens.

Using the same thinking, the cost of the digital CL has come down to about 2.5 times that of a mid-level DSLR and lens.

Regardless, that Sony is an outstanding bargain figured any way you want.

Yes, yes, yes!

The question I would ask Leica is why persist with the 1920s 'Barnack' form? You no longer have to string film between two spools! Let's see an ergonomic hand grip! Maybe a fill-in flash. It's 2017!

On the pricing - well it's Leica. But for many purchasers they'll be in the Leica boutique and the choice will be Leica Q or Leica SL; so there's its niche.

PS I'm a Leica friend not foe - my SL has 'KISS' and fits all the Yashica/Contax, Nikon, Canon, Leica M and LTM lenses I have somehow acquired over the years....

That Leica CL sure is a sexy beast !

Reason enough to go for it?-Mike

Nope. I've heard you use those comments about design regarding Leica before, and I still respectfully disagree. There's such a thing as too much simplification, and Apple, of late, has been very poor in this regard. They've stripped down their "interfaces" to the point where they are now harder to use rather than easier. Ever try to use the Play button the podcast app on the iPhone? It's so small its frickin' ridiculous. That touch bar on the new MBPs is a joke; people keep activating it by accident all the the time.

Personally, I don't like having to plow through menus to set basic functions like comp, ISO, AF mode, etc. Also, one of those command dials on the CL should have been on the front so you could operate one with your forefinger and the other with your thumb. And, while I'm normally not a specs-geek, some of the CL's specifications are unimpressive; the biggest one is that there is no phase-detection AF. On a $3800 camera...

Most folks that buy a camera this small will most likely use it with the 18mm or 27mm pancake lenses. Anything bigger will be pretty cumbersome to use.

IMHO, it's impossible to beat a Fuji X100F with it's well thought-out physical controls for this type of camera.

I had to laugh, out loud at your use of all-cap italics to note the price of this somewhat over the top camera!!
But it is a pretty beast! Leica made a point and shoot that had similar specs and look of the Ricoh GR II, but of course priced a good deal higher. I don't recall what it was called, but it had that little red badge on its front that made it worth so much more.
I'm repeating myself from a comment I made for a previous post, that if I were to win the lottery, I think I'd go for it!

It is all well and good to talk about the virtues of simplification. I read such discussions and wonder if your simplified camera would have any of the features that are important to me.

Wildflower and insect closeups are my main use for a camera. Focus peaking (that really works), image magnification, 2 sec. review. blown highlight detection in the EVF on on the LCD and a fully articulated LCD screen are vital. I'm sure that your list is entirely different.

If a camera maker provides a variety of features, changes are much better that they will satisfy a variety of customers. Good for them and good for the customers.

Nice, but no thanks. The Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon f2 lens compliment is the better choice for me. I applaud Leica for offering a slightly more affordable camera body that will likely appeal most to the Leica fan. The top plate LCD display is a nice touch, but I think the minimalism design would drive me crazy after awhile having to press a button, turn the dial to find the function, select it, then make the change, while the moment I wanted to capture passed by, waving goodbye.

My first camera had shutter speed, lens aperture and focus controls.

My current camera has an exposure mode dial with 12 options - green rectangle, P, Sv, Tv, Av, TAv, M, B, X, USER, and video. There's also another dozen control buttons and wheels, plus a thousand or so options in the menu system (which I can't read when I'm outside in the sunshine). This is all explained succinctly in the 364 page operating manual.

I am considering the CL as a backup to my MP and SL kits. The CL makes for a nice teleconverter setup for the 90-280 SL lens or a nice and small EVF experience with my lenses.

The cost of gear is not terribly important to me, nor is what others think of my choices. I shoot currently an MP and M lenses, SL and three native lenses, and a Sony RX1. This after years of shooting Nikon with a lot of lenses. The Nikon setup was better for some things (including the cost of course) but I enjoy the current setup much more and find myself shooting much more. I could save money with a complete Sony kit but don’t enjoy those cameras and lenses as much. My primary driver for my gear is my enjoyment when shooting along with a certain level of IQ

Sony! (Well, or Panasonic, actually ...)

This feels like Cadillac making pick-up trucks; why bother when it is already done so well by so many other companies? Is it keeping a client base faithful? Is it just a company evolving into a market that will grow inevitably while its film-oriented investment slowly disappears.

And then there is the endless swooning here over Leica glass as a selling point....lord save me.

I guess I am simply too practical to spend the extra couple of grand for a name when skill and application are the most important elements in my equation. After 45 years of this stuff I'll limp along with my Nikons and the Fuji X 100t. Though if my Nikons turned into X-series Fujis I wouldn't complain but I'll wait and see what Nikon does with APS.

It's a good-looking camera, and might have the digital sensibilites that I like. Still, that price makes it a no-go.

There is at least the claim that Leica makes all their cameras play nice with M lenses and that the CL is no exception. If you have a collection of those, they might work better on the CL than on any Sony mirrorless.

I think you hit it when you mentioned "simplification"/handling and lenses - I've learned over time that it's best to buy into a lens family you really like moreso than a camera body. Leica is rare in that they build products that are more like cameras and less like computers, plus the tactile quality of how their cameras feel when holding them... Even Fuji, which I would say otherwise "gets it", still isn't quite the same with their X-E3 even though they are specifically marketing it as "minimalist" (see the brochure...). Leica also has the classic prime lenses of 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm well covered so you can easily (albeit not affordably...) re-live the Minolta CLE experience goodness (I still own one...) or original Leica CL...

"Simplification: The Next Frontier.

That should be on a t-shirt.

Or, fujifilm X-E3, which takes my fine X-mount lenses, used on the camera line that replaced Leicas for all tasks they once did. (I was a Leica shooter - until the coming of the >20 megapixel X mount cameras, Leica's could do projects others couldn't. That has changed. My wallet naps happily by the heater vent knowing this.)

Leica is the only company today that dares to make simple cameras. It's blatantly, painfully, excruciatingly obvious that the camera companies have allowed themselves to chase features 'n' tech right down a rabbit hole, making cameras so ridiculously complexified that only tech-whiz mavens can really wrap their heads around them...

Fuji strikes a good balance in this respect. My X-T2 has plenty of sophisticated software (firmware) functions that are accessible through its menu system, but probably 95 percent of the time the only controls I need to use before making a shot are the physical ones on the camera body.

Well, if it is on sale with 85% off on Black Friday 2018, why not?

Agree totally about Leica industrial design. To be fair, I personally think the Panasonic GX7 was on the right lines (excuse the pun). Still has about ten too many buttons for my liking though (as well as being physically a bit too small - or it at least looks like it might, not having actually seen a real one).

I'd like to think that between Panasonic and Fuji we might, one day, get to challenge Leica's design mojo. For me, anyway, it's close but no cigar.

Being an Olympus OM user, my dream would be that someone there would channel the spirit of Yoshihisa Maitani and be very, very brave to go against the corporate, computer as camera, trend and make a camera which is inspirational, simple and high end without having to spend Leica prices.

In this dream of mine, they reconstruct the OM1n, put a 14 stop monochrome 135 sensor in it and start making OM Zuiko lenses again. The only digital part is a histogram and shot counter on the back. But then, I'm just weird. :-)

Of course, most of us would be delighted to own one. It's just that we can't or won't pay the price. It's a lovely bauble, just in time for X-mas--a perfect item for a shutterbug blessed with a wealthy patron to add to their X-mas list.

Even at this price, if it was full frame it would have made headlines and sold out in an hour (though M sales might have suffered. Are there M sales? Sorry--I am a Leica fan, actually, if not a fanatic.).

I hear the image quality is superb, so there's that. But it's too bad that that isn't besides the point.

What I mean by that--and it regards the "simplicity" thing--is (and I'm sure I'm not the first TOPster to note this) that early Leicas had sub-par image quality compared to the better cameras then in vogue (because Leica used a considerably smaller negative). The Leica's world-beating feature was a revolutionary level of portability, speed and reliability, coupled with good-enough image quality. It was a precision instrument, yes, but an upstart punk of a precision instrument. It had to be excellent just to be adequate.

Sadly, I'm not sure Leica could sell anything like that today. No matter how simple, usable and reliable--and even relatively affordable--the camera is, anything less than top-shelf image quality from Leica is considered failure. I'm stretching the point, but, in a sense, Leica is so constrained by the reputation it's earned since, that it has a hard time doing the thing that put it on the map.

Maybe because you actually need a ... lens... to put in front of that camera body?

Sony does not make lenses, remember?

I like what Leica have done with the T and (and now) the CL line. However, I’d caution that the lenses for this mount appear to be merely very good rather than spectacular. I’m hoping we’ll soon see a Ricoh GR III with that same sensor. I’ll take that over a CL (or any other mirrorless equivalent) and pancake lens.

Hello Mike, the new CL is definitely a handsome little camera. And as of today, Leica is still willing to make and market something different from the mainstream. I assume this is why so many [commenters] on DPreview go ballistic whenever any announcement is made about anything Leica; non-mainstream is threatening. But you are right that the cost is pretty high for an APS-size camera. With the CL, Leica has competition from other excellent APS systems, so someone would have to really want this CL to choose it over one of the other brands. With their M rangefinders, Leica makes something unique, so I can understand the price difference. Regardless, I hope this works out for Leica. (From a 1949 IIIC user).

I agree wholeheartedly that only Leica has the courage to go for a simple camera. It is the restrictions of what's possible in all sorts of creative pursuits that allows good, meaningful work to be produced.

I put a film through an Olympus XA2 recently. There's three focus settings; quite near, about right for most things, and far, far away (just quickly choose one) and auto exposure. No readouts. 35mm lens. It was great; it didn't get in the way, I could concentrate on taking photos.

What I would try if I were Leica is to make a camera like this, but which does not look like a Ricoh or a Sony. A camera with a really unique hardware quality and a unique look, something which would make even the muggles go “what is that...?”

... It strikes me, and this is surely obvious to many, that Leica just can’t sell such a camera for, say, the double price of a similar Sony. Because that would be saying that they are in the same ball park, and invite feature and quality comparisons. And nobody can make a digital camera which is twice as good as Sony (or basically almost any solid camera like that). It HAS to be something indefinable which you pay four grand for, and the price has to be insane to support that idea.

When I saw the first press release for this camera, I didn't want to like it. Then I watched Kai's YouTube review. And then surfed to Leica's website and saw the 23mm f/2. Now, I find that I can't stop desiring one.

I jwonder why Sony doesn't make similar primes.

Life is short, don't have to justify anything, who can live until 110, i am sixty. In the end all my leica will be sold in car boot, so if I have 3.5k I will definitely go for it.

Sexy thing but! Darling I cant afford you.

There are a lot of comments today and you'll probably never reach mine but if you do I suggest you go back up and read, or reread, Steve Biro's comment.

In short ALL electronics will fail. If not in the first 30 days, rarely, then in 3 to 5 years. If you have Wi-fi, GPS, or a HDMI port expect that to be on the short side. Also if you have one of those over-the-top FF DSLR cameras then expect your LCD screens on your top plate to fail first.

I have an Context G1 and when the LCD screen fails on that camera I might as well throw the camera in the trash. Keep the lens though.

My Fujifilm XPro-1 is anywhere from 3 to 5 years old. If something failed on that camera tomorrow I wouldn't be surprised.

My Nikon D40X was about 4 years old and 95,000 frames when it failed. Wasn't worth the cost or the very long time Nikon has been taking to repair anything to bother with it.

So spending almost 4K on a camera is not a good idea because there is no law of physics that states Leica cameras will always last longer between failures than other brands.

Those commenters that stated the camera may last 10 years were being VERY optimistic.

Mike wrote:
• Leica is the only company today that dares to make simple cameras. It's blatantly, painfully, excruciatingly obvious that the camera companies have allowed themselves to chase features 'n' tech right down a rabbit hole, making cameras so ridiculously complexified that only tech-whiz mavens can really wrap their heads around them...in the meantime just frustrating the hell out of most other users and driving them straight into the welcoming arms of blissfully simple smartphones. Simplification is the next frontier, like connectivity and software was the next frontier up until just a few years ago, and cameramakers, heads firmly planted in the sand, are ignoring it. Only Leica has the Jobsian confidence to be different and pare down to essentials. "Designed with Leica's minimalist yet functional school of thought, the CL is a compact, sleek mirrorless digital camera offering intuitive control...."
Actually, Mike, there is another camera out there now that fits this design objective. The Hasselblad X1D. Sure, it costs even more than the Leica CL, but you get a relatively huge "cropped" medium format sensor that produces files (and prints) with exceptional color and tonality. For anyone who detests the experience of shooting with "feature laden" Japanese cameras, it is a joy to use.

I think it's interesting that if you described the CL as a German made electronic optical imaging device with a very accurate imagining sensor installed in a solid chassis machined from a billet of alloy and backed up by some of the most sophisticated software available a person might expect the device to be a military supply issue or something used for landing rovers on Mars. It's only when the word "camera" is used that we believe it is overpriced.

A second thought is how much the camera market has changed regarding price. A D850 is about the same price but without a lens and yet it is backordered. The CL is a camera with a vastly different mission in life but it's still deemed as expensive. It seems expensive to me anyway. Then again, a mint M6 sells for more today than it cost when new so I can't claim to understand the Leica market. I guess I sold my FM2N last year for more than I paid for it three years earlier so it's not just the Leica market which is confusing.

I feel I have the digital Barnack, the 7 year old 12mp Leica X1 I bought this fall. Has all the limitations and lack of features I could ever want, and produces, to my eye, the nicest looking digital files I have gotten. It replaced a fuji x100t and a Ricoh gr II.

Your comparrison with the price of the Sony A6000 is a perfect illustration of why Sony would make a killing if they introduced special Leica M compatible editions of their cameras.

A Sony A7rIII or perhaps even a Sony A6500 with thin, leica M-optimised cover glass is many a Leica user's dream, and Sony could charge a premium.

You're right. Leica does seem to be the only camera company that has the chutzpah to make a simple camera. They have a habit of making the simple cameras that I want. It's extremely frustrating, because I'm not in their target demographic. Yeah, I know, if I work real hard and . . . . nope, I'm not the target audience here. Why can't Canon grow a pair and market something like this for $500? Sony?
Olympus? Anyone? A simple, maybe retro, perfectly usable, cool camera would be great!

Oh well.

PS I'm sure Leica will come out the a "monochrom" version too, just to make me feel the pain all over again.

Isn’t she lovely?

If I could to start now from scratch, which is not the case since made a solid investment in an other system, and when I had more money, which is not the case due to the financial meltdown in 2008, and when it had a tilting LCD screen which is not the case either, she would be on top of my shopping list.
‘Camera of the Year 2007’ sounds attractive enough to me. In the end it all comes down to the images. Looking at the out of camera samples on the World Wide Web I would say that I rather had one Leica CL than five Sony A6XXX’s.

How could they call it the CL without the sideways neckstrap lugs?

I once dated a woman on the basis of her having a Leica CL and a seriously cool black leather jacket.

Fortunately, it was a bad enough idea that it didn't last long at all.

A lifestyle camera for the 1%. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is a camera I have been waiting for a long time. Sort of. Leica CL was full frame. Minolta CLE was full frame. Pen F was half frame so let’s let Olympus continue with small sensor cameras. But why is this not full Leica format? Isn’t that what traditions are all about. I want to mount my M and R lenses without losing a lot of angle of view, and with an electronic finder in a body that is reasonable sized (not an SL).
So I keep waiting, or maybe pick up that Sony 7 that sells for less than $1000 now.

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