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Leica CL versus Nikon D500

The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Nikon D500 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2017 and January 2016. The CL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D500 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C 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 D500

The physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Nikon D500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. 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 side – the CL – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica CL vs Nikon D500
CL versus D500 top view
CL and D500 rear side
Body view (CL on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D500 is considerably larger (65 percent) than the Leica CL. Moreover, the D500 is substantially heavier (113 percent) than the CL. It is noteworthy in this context that the D500 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 D500 can take 1240 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15 power pack.

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 Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 no 2017 2,795 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft) 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 YES 2016 1,999 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 M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 no 2016 979 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 1,695discont. check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 no 2013 2,850 latest check
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 YES 2017 1,299 latest check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 no 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 no 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 1110 YES 2015 1,199discont. check
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 950 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 YES 2013 1,999 latest check
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 YES 2009 1,799discont. check

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 D500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 28 percent) than the CL, 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 D500

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D500 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica CL and Nikon D500 sensor measures
Sensor size

With 24.1MP, the CL offers a higher resolution than the D500 (20.7MP), but the CL has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 4.22μm for the D500). However, the CL is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the D500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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 D500 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.0 14.0 1324 83
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 M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.4 12.4 1262 77
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 X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3272 1080/30p 23.4 12.7 1320 78
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.3 14.0 1483 86
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 13.9 1192 86
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1306 84
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.5 14.6 1333 87
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.2 13.7 1256 83
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.2 6016 4016 1080/30p 25.1 14.4 2925 94
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 720/24p 22.5 12.2 787 70

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 D500

Beyond 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 D500 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica CL and Nikon D500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) 2360 YES 3.0 1040 fixed YES 8000 10.0 no no
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 10.0 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 M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 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 X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 922 tilting YES 8000 8.0 12 no
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 7 no
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 4000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 7.0 12 no

Both the CL and the D500 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The D500 replaced the earlier Nikon D300S, while the CL does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Leica CL vs Nikon D500

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica CL and the Nikon D500? 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.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More compact: Is smaller (131x78mm vs 147x115mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 457g or 53 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 10 months after the D500).

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Advantages of the Nikon D500:

  • 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).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1240 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (28 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D500 comes out slightly ahead of the CL (8 : 7 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 before making a decision on a new camera.

CL 07:08 D500

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the CL or the D500. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. 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. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) .. .. .. .. 4/5 2017 2,795 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft) HiRec 91/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 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 M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 979 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 1,695discont. check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,850 latest check
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 86/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 1,299 latest check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 76/100 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199discont. check
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,999 latest check
Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec 82/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,799discont. check

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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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