Leica CL

Leica CL

24MP APS-C CMOS sensor | 10 fps burst shooting | 4K video capture

What we like:

  • Beautifully designed
  • Simple, direct controls
  • 4K video capture

What we don't:

  • Expensive
  • Touchscreen can be too sensitive
  • Lacks USB and HDMI ports
The Leica CL is a 24MP mirrorless camera that shares much with the company's TL2, but relies on physical controls rather than a touchscreen. The CL uses Leica's L-mount, with 'TL' designating those designed for crop sensors. Aside from the red dot, solid metal body and price, the CL doesn't stand out from other APS-C mirrorless cameras in terms of features.
The CL doesn't have many physical controls, but it has the important ones, most two control dials on the top plate, whose functions can be toggled by pressing the button in their centers. The touchscreen remains a big part of the user experience: and is used for setting the focus point, navigating menus and swiping through images. There's also an optional electronic viewfinder, though we found it easy to tap the touchscreen with our nose when using it. A useful OLED panel on the top plate makes it easy to see current settings. Something unusual about the CL is that it has no I/O ports of any kind: not even USB.
As always, the CL is a beautifully crafted camera that has a decent spec sheet
Since we haven't reviewed the CL we cannot draw any conclusions about its AF system performance. We can tell you that it has a 49-point contrast-detect system that was suspect is borrowed from Panasonic. Leica claims that the CL can shoot continuously at 10 fps with focus locked on the first shot. They don't provide a number for bursts with continuous AF, however. The CL's battery life is rated at 220 shots per charge, which is significantly below average for it class (with price taken out of the equation, of course).
Again, it's too early to judge image quality, but we can tell you that the CL has an ISO range of 100-50000 and that Leica claims 14-stops of dynamic range. Raw images are saved in the standardized DNG format.
The CL can shoot both UHD 4K at 30p as well as 1080/60p. A limited feature set omits zebra patterns or a mic/headphone jack, though you can adjust the mic level and turn on a wind filter. A digital video stabilization feature is also available, though the field-of-view will be cropped.
Leica cameras are never a bargain and, with a price tag of almost $2800, the CL carries on that tradition. As always, it's a beautifully crafted camera that has a decent spec sheet, with the notable exception of zero I/O ports. We can't comment on image or video quality yet, but odds are that it should be comparable to typical 24MP APS-C cameras.

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