A Cold Sunday With The Leica CL

A Cold Sunday With The Leica CL:

Hey everyone!  Check this out: I have the new Leica CL on loan to review.  It’s been with me a little while now, and you probably know I’ve had it already, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook.  This is my first post with it but I will definitely be talking more about it over the next couple of weeks.  Right now, I thought I’d start off by sharing some photos I took last weekend, and my overall experience with it so far.

So, we’ve been experiencing some seriously cold weather in NYC over the past few weeks, and last weekend was definitely no exception.  I was out there on Sunday morning, and I think it was in the teens!  At night, it supposedly went down to the single digits.  I actually like the cold but I’ve had enough lol :).  Anyway, I decided to walk around downtown because I figured if I was too cold, I could always run into the Oculus, the Brookfield Place or even a great little Japanese noodle shop I know around there for some tasty ramen.

↑ The CL feels about the size of the first Leica X camera.

↑ I still have the sticker on the display in this photo.  Sorry about that; I had just taken the camera out of the box, and decided to take some quick snapshots of it.  I love the clean design of the Leica CL.  All the important functions are available at your fingertips.

↑ The CL isn’t much larger than an Olympus Pen-F.

I brought along the bare essentials with me.  I had the Leica CL with the 18mm Elmarit.  I also brought along the Cravar Rana 15, which is oversized for my kit but I’m currently reviewing it, and therefore, I want to use it as much as possible.  I urge anyone who likes leather cameras bags to take a closer look at it because it is absolutely beautiful.  Plus, it has a slot for my laptop, and I brought it along with me as well to do some work on the bus ride home.

Anyway, the Leica CL has been fantastic to shoot with so far.  I’m actually surprised at how much I enjoy using it.  It’s typical Leica in many ways.  The build quality is fantastic, and quite frankly, this little camera feels very solid.  It may not be up to the solid feel of an SL but I can’t remember a camera in the APS-C category that I’ve tested recently that feels this solid and one piece-like.  The thing is, it’s also a light camera, and easy to carry around all day.

To top it off, the overall handling of the camera is great.  It’s so straight forward, and easy to use. It’s not unnecessarily complicated, which is a hard thing to achieve these days.  There are not a million buttons, and it doesn’t have a bunch of functions that you don’t need.  The menu system is also typical Leica design in that its very easy, and fast to navigate through.  In my opinion, Leica menu systems are top notch, and I’m glad to see it is the same with the CL.  The EVF is also excellent.  It’s clear, sharp, detailed, and with a 0.74x magnification, it’s very easy to see through it.

I have to say, it also handled the cold like a champ.  It was seriously freezing out.  My hands were cold even with gloves on.  I normally hold my camera in my hand, and wrap the neck strap around my wrist when I’m out shooting but it was so cold out that I ended up just hanging the camera around my neck the entire time.  I was out from around 9am to about 4:30pm (of course, I went indoors for a couple of hours for food, and warmth), and the CL had absolutely no issues.  Keep in mind that throughout the whole time, it was hanging around my neck, and exposed to the cold.  The battery life, which is supposedly one of its weaker areas, since it only lasts about 220 shots, didn’t die. I took a little over 200 pics, and I still had some juice left in the battery.  Oh yes, I almost forgot; I was a little worried this camera would be difficult to handle with gloves on since it is so compact.  However, because of it’s uncluttered design, and lack of unnecessary buttons and knobs, I had no issues shooting the Leica CL with gloves on.  I was very happy about this :).  I was not only able to shoot, I had no issues making adjustments to exposure or navigating through the menu system.

Anyway, If I don’t stop now, I am going to go on and on, and end up writing the review, so I’ll leave you now with the pics.  As you can tell I’m a big fan of the Leica CL.  Stay tuned for the review, and thanks for stopping by!

Check out the Leica CL at B&H Photo if you want more info or to purchase it.

14 comments… add one
  • inthedarkroom

    Looking forward to more detailed information — this has been the best no-BS Leica blogs for years. Keep up the fine work.

    • Patrick

      Hi inthedarkroom,

      I really appreciate the kind words! Thanks! My review is coming soon,

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Mahesh

    Hi Patrick, thanks for the review. There have been such mixed reviews of this. One thing is true that evf of this is brilliant, I did have a look at that. Sadly, I wish the lenses were smaller. E.g. the 35mm is great but quite big. I wish they had just kept this m mount manual camera.

    • Patrick

      Hi Mahesh!

      Great to hear from you as always, and thanks for your input! For me, this comes closest to what I wanted to see from Leica in the APS-C category. It’s not perfect but no camera is; however, I genuinely love using it. This is what I would’ve wanted instead of the TL2. Lens wise, the zooms are pretty compact but I would like to see more primes. They have a 35mm f1.4, which being a 50mm guy, I would want. But I’d like to see an ultra wide and a short fast tele. I imagine Leica is probably working on new lenses as we speak, so who knows, maybe will see those soon. Anyway, I appreciate you stopping by, and leaving a comment!

      Best,

      Patrick

      • Mahesh

        Of course Patrick, your blog is one of the few I visit almost everyday to see if there is a new review 🙂
        I like your writing style and also the pictures. Haven’t seen..is it Kopi ? for a long time

      • Patrick

        Thanks Mahesh!

        I really appreciate your kind words. It means a great deal to me! I’m seriously always glad to see you around here. I apologize for the lack of posts lately; I’ve just been busy, which is a bad excuse lol but it’s true :). I will have some stuff coming soon in addition to the CL review though. I’m buying the 90mm APO SL lens, so there’s definitely going to be a review on it but I’ll also finally get down to review some of the other SL gear. I’m also thinking about maybe a Handevision lens for the Fuji system…maybe a portrait lens. So, I’m hoping to fill my blog during the month of February…March too since I’m going to Tokyo.

        Kopi is getting older, and to this day, she still does not like pictures unless I bribe her with a treat haha. But even with a treat, she does not stay still for long :). I’ll see if I can get a few more pics of her haha.

        Best,

        Patrick

  • Kathy Davis

    Thanks — as always — for a nice review. But one thing I have to wonder (I know this isn’t something you can answer for me): Wouldn’t I be just as well off buying an Olympus Pen F, and a handful of those great Pana-Leica prime lenses? Probably save a bundle at the same time!

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy!

      Nice to hear from you, and thank you for coming by to read my stuff! The Pen-F is a fantastic camera, and the Pana-Leica lenses are awesome. My favorite M43 lens is still the 42.5mm Nocticron. In my opinion, it’s the best m43 lens regardless of focal length :). In fact, I actually have a Pen-F here, and I use it to test M43 lenses. But even as a person that owns one, I can tell you that the CL is not only better built, the ergonomics are better, and so is the image quality. But like I said before, the Pen-F is still a great camera. You can build quite an awesome Pen-F system with the money you would spend on just the CL and one lens.

      Best,

      Patrick

      • Kathy Davis

        Patrick, thanks for the reply! I guess, if you want Leica quality, you need to buy a Leica! I actually have an M8 but long for longer lenses. . . .

        Best Regards

        Kathy

      • Patrick

        Hi Kathy,

        You’re welcome! I’m glad to! I switched from the M to the SL because my eyes are just not as good as they used to be :). Plus, I’m more interested in other types of photography now like portraiture for example, where autofocus, and consistency are important. I hope I’ll see you around here the next couple of months because I’ll be posting a few reviews with a lot of different material than I currently have here. Anyway, with the M, I found myself stuck at the 50mm focal length, and even with that, I sometimes had a little trouble getting consistent focus at a fast aperture. If you want longer lenses, and you want something in the Leica world, I highly suggest either the SL or the CL. I absolutely love the SL; it’s the best camera that I’ve ever owned from any manufacturer. My review of it is still coming…I’ve been saying that for the last year and a half lol but I promise it’ll be a long one with plenty of photos. The CL is awesome as well; I reviewed it a couple of weeks ago, and manually focusing M lenses on it is a breeze.

        Best,

        Patrick

  • Kathy Davis

    Ha! I was selling my M8 and Summicron 50 for just the same reasons. Almost the same. I have to spend six weeks in Tokyo this summer, and I wanted a camera that would go with me always, would let me see everything, everywhere. I noticed your review of the D-Lux Typ 109, took that to Vancouver for a month. I loved it, what I could do with it that never quite happened with the M8. And I loved that shooting with it was a lot like the M.

    So that’s definitely coming with me to Tokyo. Still … what you said about the Pen F, is true about the Typ 109 … it just isn’t the same quality as the big guys.

    I will watch for your SL review. Though … I do want to have *some* money left over to retire!

    And thanks, as always, for the great reviews.

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      It’s always great to hear from you. I am so jealous you’re going to Tokyo for 6 weeks! I just came back a week ago, and I still miss it.

      I’ll be posting my 90mm APO Summicron-SL review first, since it’s newer. I am currently working on some of the pics as we speak. I promise you though that I am pulling all the stops out for all my SL reviews. These reviews will be more detailed and contain more photos because quite frankly, I just love the system. I love Leica gear but the SL brought that love to a new level. And if you thought the M lenses were good, wait till you try the SL lenses! These lenses basically redefined what I thought was possible from Leica. The optics are simply phenomenal. Keep in mind that when the SL first came out, I had no desire to buy one. I thought it would be an M all the way but when I was looking to replace my M 240, I was tempted by the Hasselblad X1D, and the Fuji GFX. They were in the same price range. I love Leica but my photography was changing, and I found it increasingly more difficult to use an M. My dealer gave me the SL to try out for a week. I was sold in an a day :).

      Size wise, it is larger than an M but if you use M lenses, it’s not that bad. I think its still manageable in Tokyo’s summer heat. I think one of the great things about the SL is that if you’re coming from an M, it allows you to essentially take baby steps into a new Leica system because the camera is fully compatible with M lenses. Best of all, manual focusing is a lot easier too.

      Still, if you’re considering the SL, I highly suggest you try it out with an SL lens. The zoom is fantastic. I find the optics better than some of my M primes. The SL primes though are in a class of their own. Also, it’s worth mentioning that my 50mm Lux-SL, which is my favorite lens, is tack sharp wide open all the time thanks to autofocus :).

      Yes, this stuff is pretty expensive. Every time I buy a lens, I feel like I’m selling an organ :). But the Leica bodies tend to stay current for about 3-4 years, which is pretty long in the digital world, and when you do trade them in, they tend to hold their resale better. Also, the lenses stay current for decades, so it’s not like they ever need replacing. In fact, all my older lenses have gone up in value.

      Again, it’s great to hear from you again, Kathy!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Kathy Davis

    I saw your Tokyo/M10 post. Now who’s the jealous one!!
    (aside: my spouse lived there for 6 years and has been after me the last 27 to go back. This trip is for her. Doesn’t hurt that she speaks fluent Japanese.)

    Seriously — back to cameras. You made a point about the SL lenses almost no-one else has. I heard that these are the next generation of Leica lens, with higher resolution than the M lenses can achieve.

    Every year I go to the annual nature photography award exhibit. Out of 100 pix, 97 were taken with the mega DSLR’s, with those enormous 500mm lenses. Two were Sony Alpha and this year, for the first time I’ve noticed — Leica made it in with the SL.

    So I’ll be very interested to see your review. But please don’t rush — like good sushi, the best things take their own time.

    Best Regards,

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy!

      So sorry for the late reply! I’ve been working on my SL reviews, and sometimes I can have a one track mind. Yeah, I had the M10 but it was only a loaner haha. I would definitely like to live in Tokyo even if it were for a short while. I had an old girlfriend that lived there, and so I used to visit there often. Like your spouse, she is fluent. I am not although I should be since I did take Japanese in high school and in college haha.

      The SL lenses are really on a whole new level if you ask me. I’ve been taking a lot of portraits for my 90mm SL review, and the quality simply blows my mind. I think my problem right now is that I have to softening things a bit simply because I don’t think models would want to work with me if I didn’t. The best thing is the quality is so easy achieve because the lenses are autofocus. I’ve been using the three lenses I own (the 90mm, 50mm, and 24-90mm), and what I love about them the most is that the quality of each one is consistent with each other.

      Wow, I’m happy to hear Leica actually made it into a nature photography award exhibit. It’s definitely something you don’t normally associate Leica with much anymore. I think the only thing the SL is missing right now are more lenses. The lens choice now is enough for me but I think it would be great to see Leica release longer telephoto lenses. The problem is they might hit 5 figures lol.

      It’s seriously always great to hear from you, and I’ll try my best not to disappoint with the SL reviews. If all goes as plan, the 90mm review should come soon. Appreciate you stopping by, Kathy!

      Best,

      Patrick

Leave a Comment