Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

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John Davis1 Contributing Member • Posts: 542
Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

Hi. I've been reading several posts in this forum talking about the Leica CL. I'm curious about autofocus in general. Certainly for still subjects it is very good. What about moving subjects such as grandkids, pets or even sporting events (not super telephoto)? Also curious to hear about the various lenses related to autofocus if there are any comparisons.

Thanks in advance.

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John

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Tomm111 Senior Member • Posts: 1,116
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

I have the CL but only one AF lens, the 23 Summicron which works well for me, I have photographed events and it is a good indoor people lens. I have several other lenses that are manual focus and find they are very easy on the CL. Otherwise the 55-135 has an excellent reputation, a little slow but the CL easily handles ISO 800,1600 and up. Especially on tele lenses the focus peaking works well in manual focus.

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Leica M8 Nikon D300 Leica CL Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 +16 more
Jay OC Contributing Member • Posts: 773
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

I have the 18 to 56 kit lens. The only time I missed a shot was when I tried to get a small fast moving bird that I walked up on. I have not used the continuous autofocus setting so I cannot speak to that

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Nikon D7100 Leica CL Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +1 more
OP John Davis1 Contributing Member • Posts: 542
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

Thanks for the replies so far

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John

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eFilm Senior Member • Posts: 2,018
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

I've got limited experience about the CL AF in particular, but I assume it's very similar if not identical to that of the T and TL2. To me the AF in these cameras appears to be quite typical CDAF. Think of a 'traditional' AF. Not particularly good or bad, but it works, and seems to work in quite a predictable manner. Which is fine in most situations, until the AF starts to struggle in low enough light. After which focusing on moving targets in particular is probably a bit too challenging.

As for shooting moving targets, I think that's up to you, really. The contrast detection AF does focus on moving targets, too, but with its obvious limitations, compared to a typical PDAF system.  But it is still usable.
So you just need to be a bit more careful and you may have to shoot in a somewhat slower pace to optimise your hit rate. Anticipating subject movement will also help, just like when shooting with MF.

I for one have shot moving targets like martial arts athletes and some animals even in relatively dim light, and the hit rate has been surprisingly good when using primes. I haven't tried targets like birds in flight, though. Which would likely be more frustrating.

Given that the CDAF needs more light to work well, the best hit rate is typically achieved with faster prime lenses. Which my experience would confirm. Focusing with the 18-56mm kit zoom is fine in good light, but in dimmer light the primes do a better and faster job.

As for the third party L-mount lenses, I've only tried the Sigma 45mm so far, and it appears to focus more or less as fast as, say, the 18mm pancake, both being F2.8 lenses. I think the Summicron may be ever so slightly faster, but the shooting experience is more or less the same.

Tomm111 Senior Member • Posts: 1,116
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

The CL autofocus is faster than the TL and TL2, still not high speed. As I said earlier the only AF lens I have is the 23. All my telphotos are MF. Lenses to look at would be the Sigma and Panasonic 80-200 both have OIS, Panasonic has an f4 and an f2.8 versions.

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Leica M8 Nikon D300 Leica CL Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 +16 more
MEDISN
MEDISN Senior Member • Posts: 1,396
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses
3

Hi John,

The Leica CL is very good for a CDAF only camera. Yes, I have to qualify as such. Not as effortless as some of Sony's latest with PDAF, so if you prioritize speed/accuracy of face/eye AF then might have a look at Sony a6600 or a7c. The ergonomics and handling of them are awful but that is subjective.

In good lighting the CL is very fast and accurate for moving subjects. It is quick to identify the body/face/eye of the subject even as I'm squeezing the shutter button. Here's an example from yesterday. I said the child's name, then pressed the shutter as she looked in my direction with that "why are you bothering me look"

Ambient lighting with the Lumix 50/1.4 (~75mm f/2 equivalent)

The focal plane is very shallow and she was shifting about, but 2 of the 3 shots were sharp like this. The third shot, one eye was behind the focal plan and soft (again, very shallow depth at this distance) but not the fault of the camera AF.

The primary difficulties I have with CL (any CDAF only) are low contrast/low light environments, especially if people are moving freely (indoors without flash). The constant pulsing back and forth of the lenses in C-AF mode can be distracting when you're composing/waiting for the right moment.

As for lenses the Summicron-SL primes are very fast and accurate. The TL 23/2 is moderately fast and accurate but sometimes hunts at closer distances. The Lumix 50/1.4 and 70-200/2.8 are fast and accurate. The Sigma DC (APS-C) 56/1.4 is very good, but the 30/1.4 tends to miss more than it should. The Sigma DG (full frame) 45/2.8 is good, not great on the CL (also applies to SL2, S1R etc). The Lumix 24-105/4 is fast and works well for people perhaps because even wide open the DOF is generous. That lens also has OIS which is nice paired with the CL. For close-ups like macro, it looks like it focuses in the right spot but then during playback it is off. Haven't gotten to the bottom of that issue yet to determine if it's the lens or the camera...or both lol

I use the CL a lot with Mrs. MEDISN's M-mount glass and the manual focus aids are really helpful. But not for kids at play haha unless you zone focus or set a focus trap and wait for them to run through it

Ultimately there is a lot to like about the CL but I don't use it much for kids at play. Not that it's bad, just that some of my other cameras make that type of shooting much easier (EM1mkIII, A9).

Good luck!

OP John Davis1 Contributing Member • Posts: 542
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

MEDISN wrote:

Hi John,

The Leica CL is very good for a CDAF only camera. Yes, I have to qualify as such. Not as effortless as some of Sony's latest with PDAF, so if you prioritize speed/accuracy of face/eye AF then might have a look at Sony a6600 or a7c. The ergonomics and handling of them are awful but that is subjective.

In good lighting the CL is very fast and accurate for moving subjects. It is quick to identify the body/face/eye of the subject even as I'm squeezing the shutter button. Here's an example from yesterday. I said the child's name, then pressed the shutter as she looked in my direction with that "why are you bothering me look"

Thanks !!!

Ambient lighting with the Lumix 50/1.4 (~75mm f/2 equivalent)

The focal plane is very shallow and she was shifting about, but 2 of the 3 shots were sharp like this. The third shot, one eye was behind the focal plan and soft (again, very shallow depth at this distance) but not the fault of the camera AF.

The primary difficulties I have with CL (any CDAF only) are low contrast/low light environments, especially if people are moving freely (indoors without flash). The constant pulsing back and forth of the lenses in C-AF mode can be distracting when you're composing/waiting for the right moment.

As for lenses the Summicron-SL primes are very fast and accurate. The TL 23/2 is moderately fast and accurate but sometimes hunts at closer distances. The Lumix 50/1.4 and 70-200/2.8 are fast and accurate. The Sigma DC (APS-C) 56/1.4 is very good, but the 30/1.4 tends to miss more than it should. The Sigma DG (full frame) 45/2.8 is good, not great on the CL (also applies to SL2, S1R etc). The Lumix 24-105/4 is fast and works well for people perhaps because even wide open the DOF is generous. That lens also has OIS which is nice paired with the CL. For close-ups like macro, it looks like it focuses in the right spot but then during playback it is off. Haven't gotten to the bottom of that issue yet to determine if it's the lens or the camera...or both lol

I use the CL a lot with Mrs. MEDISN's M-mount glass and the manual focus aids are really helpful. But not for kids at play haha unless you zone focus or set a focus trap and wait for them to run through it

Ultimately there is a lot to like about the CL but I don't use it much for kids at play. Not that it's bad, just that some of my other cameras make that type of shooting much easier (EM1mkIII, A9).

Good luck!

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John

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Canon EOS R5 Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM Canon RF 70-200 F4 L
lefkop
lefkop Contributing Member • Posts: 753
Re: Leica CL Autofocus With Various Lenses

The CL has good overall autofocus, the only lens I haven't owned is the 23. I love the 18 because its small and the camera fits in the pocket. Anyway its pretty quick to focus. The camera has focus light to help out. Here is a run down on the Leica lenses

18mm - good autofocus overall, the lens is a 2.8 so lower light you have to up the iso. I have no issue with image quality.

23 mm I don't own it, but understand its excellent.

35 1.4 - this is a buy, spectacular lens

60 2.8 Spectacular lens - not a must but nearly so

18-56 good lens, but slow and makes it impractical while indoors and lower light. Sold this one because of more limited use

11-23 - awesome lens - go get it

55-135 - good outdoor lens but its not stabilized and rather slow overall. I ended up selling it off. Great image quality in compact zoom, just it needs to be stabilized

For on the CL - for light travel - 18, 36 and 60. I will often pack the 11-23 too. If you need a big zoom, I like the sigma 100-400 its not all that heavy and but stabilized very well and works well IMO with the CL. I swapped out  55-135 for the 100-400.

SL lenes on CL

24-90 - works very well, but obviously front heavy

50 mm 1.4 summilux - great image quality, slow to focus

75 mm Summicron - fantastic image quality - quick focus

35 mm Summicron - fantastic image quality - quick focus

Panasonic Lumix

20-60 Kit lens - great image quality, quick to focus - light wt and versatile, Slow lens holds it back a little. Good for travel, but carry a faster lens with you for indoors

Lumix 50 1.4 - this lens is incredible, Like it more than the 1.4 Summilux

All of these lenses perform amazing well on the S1R which is stabilized from in body, this is a huge benefit especially with slower lenses. the benefit of using TL glass on the S1R, is a much lighter stabilized camera to carry with the autofocus being very good with these lenses.

John Davis1 wrote:

Hi. I've been reading several posts in this forum talking about the Leica CL. I'm curious about autofocus in general. Certainly for still subjects it is very good. What about moving subjects such as grandkids, pets or even sporting events (not super telephoto)? Also curious to hear about the various lenses related to autofocus if there are any comparisons.

Thanks in advance.

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Fujifilm FinePix X100 Leica Q Leica SL (Typ 601) Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Olympus E-M1 II +20 more
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