Vintage Leica CL Now Returns as a Compact Digital Camera

Leica CL

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The original analog Leica CL was released long ago and it was an awesome camera. Although it was pretty much a pared down version of the Leica M, it’s still a powerful piece. The new Leica is up there with the Leica TL2. Both use the same lens mount. Both can also be paired with lenses from the SL range. Even the internal components between both devices are also similar. The most prominent one is definitely the 24 megapixel APS-C sized sensor. However, there are still striking differences especially concerning their designs. The predecessor was all screen, while the new one also includes a viewfinder. Besides, there is an array of additional buttons designed for key parameters.


It’s much easier to comprehend than the M10 despite the rangefinder style shape. The viewfinder is located on the left, which is perfect for those who are into street photography. The Leica CL is also very compact, so you can carry it around easily just like a Smartphone. Being small makes it more portable, but when it comes to performance, it still delivers. The build quality is great as it looks and feels solid. There are several buttons and dials on top, which are used to control essential aspects of the camera.

On the same side you can find the shutter release button. The buttons are shortcuts to various settings, such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc. There is no need to check the screen whenever you want to change parameters. A small LCD screen is also mounted on top, which can display the key settings that have been picked before. The viewfinder is on the left, which features an eye sensor. The system will detect if you move your eye closer to the viewfinder and then turn on automatically.

Leica CL 2

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The camera offers two shutters, which are mechanical and electronic. The electronic one is especially useful when you want to shoot in discreet situations. The Leica CL can be controlled via the touchscreen. It can do many things, like changing the autofocus and stuff. However, to enable it you should first head to the AF mode. Select touch AF and it will be ON shortly after. The physical buttons will be inactive by then, which means you can’t use them to set the AF point since this function is being controlled by the touchscreen at the moment. In other words, you can use only one between the buttons or touchscreen.

Image quality

The image quality is exceptional and we don’t expect less from the reputable Leica brand. The colors are saturated, but not in a way that makes the pictures unrealistic. You can pick the ‘Film Type’ setting as it’s suitable for different shooting conditions. There are other settings that can give photos different effects. Vivid, for instance, is ideal for shooting objects that can take advantage of saturation. Automatic white balance is just as versatile. We love the fact that it can help create photos with accurate colors even when they’re captured in artificial lighting. Low light performance is also great as it manage to take quality photos up to ISO 6400. ISO 25000 or above in comparison isn’t that reliable, so you might as well skip it.

Leica CL specs:

  • 24.2MP APS-C sensor
  • 2.36M-dot electronic viewfinder
  • 3-inch 1.04M-dot touchscreen
  • ISO 100-50,000
  • Photo file formats: DNG, JPG or DNG + JPG
  • Video recording format: MP4


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