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Leica CL versus Leica SL

The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Leica SL (Typ 601) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, 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 (SL) sensor. The CL has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the SL provides 24 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 SL

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Leica SL. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size 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).

Compare Leica CL vs Leica SL
Compare CL versus SL top
Compare CL and SL rear

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 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)
Camera
Model
Leica CL» 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i i Leica CL
Leica SL« 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
Canon 2000D« » 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 475 g 500 n Feb 2018 449 i i Canon 2000D
Canon M50« » 116 mm 88 mm 59 mm 390 g 235 n Feb 2018 779 i i Canon M50
Canon 200D« » 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i Canon 200D
Canon M6« » 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon 80D« » 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Fujifilm X-A5« » 117 mm 68 mm 40 mm 361 g 450 n Jan 2018 399 i i Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm X100F« » 127 mm 75 mm 52 mm 469 g 390 n Jan 2017 1,299 i i Fujifilm X100F
Fujifilm X-E3« » 121 mm 74 mm 43 mm 337 g 350 n Sep 2017 899 i i Fujifilm X-E3
Leica C-LUX« » 113 mm 67 mm 46 mm 340 g 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« » 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i Leica TL2
Leica TL« » 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- i Leica TL
Leica M Typ 240« » 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
Nikon D5« » 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D500« » 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D7200« » 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The CL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 62 percent) than the SL, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 SL

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 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.

Leica CL and Leica SL sensor measures

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.

CL versus SL MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Leica CL» APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----Leica CL
Leica SL« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188Leica SL
Canon 2000D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.611.9100971Canon 2000D
Canon M50« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p----Canon M50
Canon 200D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon 200D
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon M6
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579Canon 80D
Fujifilm X-A5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/15p----Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm X100F« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Fujifilm X100F
Fujifilm X-E3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----Fujifilm X-E3
Leica C-LUX« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----Leica TL2
Leica TL« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica TL
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084Leica M Typ 240
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. 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).

 

Feature comparison: Leica CL vs Leica SL

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range 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.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Leica CL»2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 10.0 n n Leica CL
Leica SL«4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 11.0 n n Leica SL
Canon 2000D« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 2000D
Canon M50« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 10.0 Y n Canon M50
Canon 200D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 200D
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M6
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 80D
Fujifilm X-A5« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm X100F« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 8.0 Y n Fujifilm X100F
Fujifilm X-E3« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 8.0 n n Fujifilm X-E3
Leica C-LUX« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n Leica TL2
Leica TL« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n Leica TL
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Leica M Typ 240
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n Nikon D5
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the CL features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

Both the CL and the SL write their imaging data to SDXC cards. The SL features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the CL only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Leica CL»Ystereomono----Y--Leica CL
Leica SL«YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--Leica SL
Canon 2000D« »Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-Canon 2000D
Canon M50« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYYCanon M50
Canon 200D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 200D
Canon M6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M6
Canon 80D« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon 80D
Fujifilm X-A5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y-YFujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm X100F« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Fujifilm X100F
Fujifilm X-E3« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-YFujifilm X-E3
Leica C-LUX« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« »Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--Leica TL2
Leica TL« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Leica TL
Leica M Typ 240« »Ystereomono---2.0Y--Leica M Typ 240
Nikon D5« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
Nikon D500« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Nikon D7200« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200

Both the CL and the SL are recent models that feature in their makers' current product line-up. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Leica.

Review summary: Leica CL vs Leica SL

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica CL and the Leica SL? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Leica CL (Typ 7323):

  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • 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.


Arguments in favor of the Leica SL (Typ 601):

  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: Larger pixels generate images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • 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 solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2015).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

CL 05:12 SL

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the CL or the SL 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 following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica CL»----4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i i Leica CL
Leica SL«-84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
Canon 2000D« »rev-3.5/5-3.5/5 Feb 2018 449 i i Canon 2000D
Canon M50« »Rec79/100--3.5/5 Feb 2018 779 i i Canon M50
Canon 200D« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i Canon 200D
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Fujifilm X-A5« »Rec-4/54/53.5/5 Jan 2018 399 i i Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm X100F« »Rec83/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,299 i i Fujifilm X100F
Fujifilm X-E3« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2017 899 i i Fujifilm X-E3
Leica C-LUX« »--4.5/5-4/5 Jun 2018 1,049 i i Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« »--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i Leica TL2
Leica TL« »----4/5 Nov 2016 1,695- i Leica TL
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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