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Leica CL versus Nikon D5

The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Nikon D5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2017 and January 2016. The CL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D5 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (CL) and a full frame (D5) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 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 Nikon D5

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Nikon D5. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the CL – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica CL vs Nikon D5
Compare CL versus D5 top
Compare CL and D5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5 is considerably larger (149 percent) than the Leica CL. Moreover, the D5 is substantially heavier (251 percent) than the CL. It is noteworthy in this context that the D5 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.

Concerning battery life, the CL gets 220 shots out of its BP-DC12 battery, while the D5 can take 3780 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D5 has a battery grip build in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

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» 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i i Leica CL
Nikon D5« 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Fujifilm X-T100« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 15.8 oz 430 n May 2018 599 i i Fujifilm X-T100
Fujifilm X-T20« » 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.6 in 13.5 oz 350 n Jan 2017 899 i i Fujifilm X-T20
Fujifilm X-A3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 12.0 oz 410 n Aug 2016 399- i Fujifilm X-A3
Leica C-LUX« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i Leica TL2
Leica TL« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- i Leica TL
Leica T« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
Nikon D3500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 12.9 oz 1550 n Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D4S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610

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 57 percent) than the D5, 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 Nikon D5

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 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica CL features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D5 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D5 is 131 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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Leica CL and Nikon D5 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Leica CL offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 20.7 MP of the Nikon D5. 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 6.44μm for the D5). However, it should be noted that the CL is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the D5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the CL has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

CL versus D5 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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
Nikon D5« Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Fujifilm X-T100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/15p----Fujifilm X-T100
Fujifilm X-T20« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----Fujifilm X-T20
Fujifilm X-A3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Fujifilm X-A3
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 T« » APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275Leica T
Nikon D3500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Nikon D3500
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100Nikon D850
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693Nikon D750
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Leica CL vs Nikon D5

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 D5 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 Nikon D5, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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
Nikon D5«optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n Nikon D5
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Fujifilm X-T100« »2360 n 3.0 1040 full-flex Y 4000 6.0 Y n Fujifilm X-T100
Fujifilm X-T20« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y n Fujifilm X-T20
Fujifilm X-A3« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Fujifilm X-A3
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 T« »- n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n Leica T
Nikon D3500« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3500
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n Nikon D850
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D750
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610

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).

The CL writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D5 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D5 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
Nikon D5«YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
Fujifilm X-T100« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-YFujifilm X-T100
Fujifilm X-T20« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Fujifilm X-T20
Fujifilm X-A3« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Fujifilm X-A3
Leica C-LUX« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« »Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--Leica TL2
Leica TL« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Leica TL
Leica T« »Ystereomono---2.0Y--Leica T
Nikon D3500« »Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3500
Nikon D850« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D850
Nikon D5600« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
Nikon D3400« »Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3400
Nikon D4S« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D4S
Nikon D750« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Nikon D750
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610

Both the CL and the D5 are recent models that feature in their makers' current product line-up. The D5 replaced the earlier Nikon D4S, while the CL does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Leica CL vs Nikon D5

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica CL and the Nikon D5? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 20.7MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (131x78mm vs 160x159mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 1012g or 72 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 10 months after the D5).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • 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.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1040k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3780 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D5 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 11 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 11:16 D5

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the CL and the D5 in practical situations. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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
Nikon D5«-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Fujifilm X-T100« »Rec79/1004/5-4.5/5 May 2018 599 i i Fujifilm X-T100
Fujifilm X-T20« »HiRec82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 899 i i Fujifilm X-T20
Fujifilm X-A3« »-74/1004.5/5-4/5 Aug 2016 399- i Fujifilm X-A3
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 T« »--4/5-4/5 Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
Nikon D3500« »--4/5-4.5/5 Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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 use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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