The CL boasts a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor
with a native ISO range of 100-50,000. It can
burst at 10 fps for 33 RAW+JPEG images or
up to 140 JPEGs.
It uses a contrast detection AF system with
49 points and face detection. You’ll enjoy a
top mechanical shutter speed of 1/8000 sec.
and an electronic shutter for speeds up to
1/25,000 sec. There’s also Wi-Fi for remote
control and image transfers.
On the video front, the TL2 records 4K video
(3840 x 2160) at 30p. Full HD recording is
also available up to 60p.
We tested the CL with the new Elmarit-TL
18 mm f/2.8 ASPH, the smallest wide-angle
APS-C pancake lens currently on the market.
We’ll admit that the austere design of the TL2
didn’t really do it for us. The CL, by contrast, is
much more our speed. There are a pair of dials
on the top of the camera with buttons nestled
inside them for changing settings. There’s
also a top (and rather tiny) LCD display
that reads out camera mode. It’s the kind
of design that’s very accessible, giving you
ample control of the camera without having
to navigate menus. Very helpful.
Unlike the TL2, which had almost
no buttons outside of the touch screen
and shutter, the CL has a programmable
function button. It’s missing the TL2’s
touch screen, which we would have liked
as well, if only for touch focusing. That
said, you do get a built-in, and very sharp,
viewfinder with the CL.
As you’d expect, the CL is slim, robust and
beautifully sturdy. At 14 ounces, it’s on par with
other models in its class. With the new 18mm
lens attached, it’s easily pocketable. The CL
accepts TL and SL mount lenses directly and
Leica R and M lenses with an adapter.
Like the TL2, the CL delivers beautiful images.
JPEGs were sharp and color accurate out of
the camera, though a little on the low-contrast
end of the spectrum. Skin tones were beautiful
and low-light performance was also solid.
Noise is very well controlled through ISO
6400 and RAW files have plenty of latitude to
claw back detail or smooth away noise.
While TIPA’s image testers hadn’t gotten
their white-gloved hands on the CL at the
time of our writing, its core specs closely
mirror the TL2—a camera TIPA praised
for excellent dynamic range ( 11. 8 f-stops)
and excellent image sharpness. TIPA did
caution that video from this sensor/processor
combination does appear very over-sharpened.
With 49 contrast-detect AF points, the CL isn’t
as brisk with AF and AF tracking of moving
subjects as competitors in this class. That’s
not to say it can’t handle moving subjects—its
10 fps burst mode is near the top of the class.
There’s a pretty generous buffer for JPEGs at
144, though you’ll only fit about 30 or so RAW
files before the camera slows down.
At 220 shots per charge, the battery life
(per CIPA) is rather meager, significantly lower
than cameras costing a fraction of the CL’s price.
The CL is more expensive than both Panasonic’s
GH5 and Olympus’s OM-D E-M1 Mark II—
cameras that offer far more features, if not more
resolution. Indeed, the CL is more expensive
than any crop sensor mirrorless camera in the
market by a fair margin—and more expensive
than some older full-frame cameras that have
come down in price. If you’ve got to stretch
your camera dollar, the CL is a tougher sell,
especially if video is as important as stills.
That said, there’s no doubt the CL delivers
in the image quality and design department.
If you have the means and the inclination to
spend up, you won’t be disappointed.
GEAR & TECHNIQUES PRODUCT REVIEWS
When Leica introduced the TL2,
the company sought to make a bold,
minimalist design statement. The CL
shares many of the TL2’s imaging
specs, but a completely different
design and a higher price tag.
Are those extra knobs worth it?
It’s a mirrorless showdown as we go hands-on with
Leica’s CL, Fujifilm’s X-E3 and Olympus’s OM-D
E-M10 Mark III. BY GREG SCOBLETE
PROS: Excellent image quality; superb
design; compact build; sharp viewfinder;
first-rate dynamic range.
CONS: Pricey; meager battery life.
PRICE: $2,795 (body)
TOP: The CL doesn’t have the huge display of the TL2,
but it does have more dials and buttons.
MIDDLE AND BOT TOM: We were very impressed with both
the camera and the new 18mm pancake lens.