Leica CL versus Leica SL
The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Leica SL (Typ 601) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2017 and October 2015. Both the CL and the SL are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (CL) and a full frame sensor. The CL has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the SL provides 24 MP.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Leica SL. 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 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica SL is considerably larger (50 percent) than the Leica CL. Moreover, the SL is substantially heavier (110 percent) than the CL. It is noteworthy in this context that the SL is splash and dust-proof, while the CL does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Leica CL (⇒ rgt)||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||no||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Leica SL (⇒ lft)||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||YES||2015||7,450||latest||check|
|Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||no||2017||549||latest||check|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||no||2017||779||latest||check|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||YES||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||no||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||YES||2016||5,999||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||no||2016||399||latest||check|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||no||2017||6,595||latest||check|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||no||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||no||2016||1,695||discont.||check|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||no||2015||4,249||latest||check|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||no||2013||2,850||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||YES||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||no||2016||499||latest||check|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||YES||2016||6,499||latest||check|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||no||2016||699||latest||check|
The listed 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 62 percent) than the SL, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tent 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 SL a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the SL is 133 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Leica CL offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 24 MP of the Leica SL. 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 6.00μm for the SL). However, it should be noted that the CL is much more recent (by 2 years and 1 month) than the SL, 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.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Leica CL (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica SL (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.6||13.4||1041||79|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.6||13.2||1135||79|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.4||12.4||1262||77|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||no||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the SL offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the CL (4400k vs 2360k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica CL and Leica SL along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Leica CL (⇒ rgt)||2360||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Leica SL (⇒ lft)||4400||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||9.8||no|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||5||no|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.2||1620||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||5||no|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1620||fixed||YES||8000||16.0||no||no|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||6.0||7||no|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1037||fixed||no||4000||5.0||no||no|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.7||1230||fixed||YES||4000||7.0||no||no|
|Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.7||1230||fixed||YES||4000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||2000||10.0||no||no|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||5.0||7||no|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||fixed||YES||8000||14.0||no||no|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||YES||4000||5.0||12||no|
Both the CL and the SL are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Leica.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica CL or the Leica SL – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Leica CL (Typ 7323):
- More compact: Is smaller (131x78mm vs 147x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 444g or 52 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (62 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the SL launch.
Advantages of the Leica SL (Typ 601):
- Better low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO images.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (4400k vs 2360k dots).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2015).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SL comes out slightly ahead of the CL (5 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.
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 SL handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Leica CL (⇒ rgt)||..||..||..||..||4/5||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Leica SL (⇒ lft)||-||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||2015||7,450||latest||check|
|Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||2017||549||latest||check|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2017||779||latest||check|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||5,999||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||74/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||2016||399||latest||check|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4.5/5||2017||6,595||latest||check|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||4/5||2016||1,695||discont.||check|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||2015||4,249||latest||check|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||4/5||4/5||2013||2,850||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||-||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||499||latest||check|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||6,499||latest||check|
|Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||699||latest||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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