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Leica CL versus Leica M8

The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Leica M8 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2017 and September 2006. The CL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an APS-C (CL) and an APS-H (M8) sensor. The CL has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the M8 provides 10.4 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica CL vs Leica M8

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Leica M8. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the CL – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica CL vs Leica M8
Compare CL versus M8 top
Compare CL and M8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M8 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Leica CL. Moreover, the M8 is substantially heavier (47 percent) than the CL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the CL nor the M8 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica CL» 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Leica M8« 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799- i
Fujifilm X-E3« » 4.8 in 2.9 in 1.7 in 11.9 oz 350 n Sep 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-T20« » 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.6 in 13.5 oz 350 n Jan 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-A3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 12.0 oz 410 n Aug 2016 399 i i
Leica C-LUX« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Leica TL2« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica TL« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- i
Leica M9« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499 i i
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i
Nikon D40X« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729- i
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The CL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 49 percent) than the M8, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica CL vs Leica M8

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica CL features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M8 an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the M8 is 31 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica CL and Leica M8 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Leica CL offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 10.4 MP of the Leica M8. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the CL is much more recent (by 11 years and 2 months) than the M8, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

CL versus M8 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica CL» APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica M8« APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277
Canon XTi« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462
Fujifilm X-E3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----
Fujifilm X-T20« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----
Fujifilm X-A3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----
Leica C-LUX« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386
Leica TL2« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica TL« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
Leica M9« » Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
Nikon D40X« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.411.451663
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The CL indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the CL can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica CL vs Leica M8

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the CL has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the M8 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica CL, the Leica M8, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica CL»2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 10.0 n n
Leica M8«optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n
Canon XTi« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Fujifilm X-E3« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 8.0 n n
Fujifilm X-T20« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y n
Fujifilm X-A3« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Leica C-LUX« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n
Leica TL2« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n
Leica TL« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Leica M9« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D40X« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n

The CL is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the M8 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M8 was succeeded by the Leica M9.

Review summary: Leica CL vs Leica M8

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica CL and the Leica M8? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Leica CL (Typ 7323):

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 10.4MP) with a 53% higher linear resolution.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 188g or 32 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (49 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 11 years and 2 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.


Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2006).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the CL is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 2 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

CL 11:02 M8

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the CL or the M8 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica CL»----4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Leica M8«-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i
Canon XTi« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i
Fujifilm X-E3« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-T20« »HiRec82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-A3« »-74/1004.5/5-4/5 Aug 2016 399 i i
Leica C-LUX« »----- Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Leica TL2« »--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica TL« »----4/5 Nov 2016 1,695- i
Leica M9« »--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499 i i
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i
Nikon D40X« »79/100HiRec4/5rev4/5 Mar 2007 729- i
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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