Leica CL vs Nikon D6
The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Nikon D6 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2017 and February 2020. The CL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D6 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (CL) and a full frame (D6) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Nikon D6? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Nikon D6. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D6 is considerably larger (155 percent) than the Leica CL. Moreover, the D6 is substantially heavier (215 percent) than the CL. It is noteworthy in this context that the D6 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 and compare 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 D6 can take 3580 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18c power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D6 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|2.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|3.||Fujifilm X-T100||121 mm||83 mm||47 mm||448 g||430||n||May 2018||599|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T20||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A3||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|6.||Leica C-LUX||113 mm||67 mm||46 mm||340 g||370||n||Jun 2018||1,049|
|7.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|8.||Leica TL||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695|
|9.||Leica T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|10.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|11.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|12.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|13.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|15.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|16.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|17.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 D6, 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 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 D6 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D6 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Leica CL offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixels, compared with 20.7 MP of the Nikon D6. This megapixels 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 D6). Moreover, it should be noted that the D6 is much more recent (by 2 years and 2 months) than the CL, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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.
The resolution advantage of the Leica CL implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the CL for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20.1 inches or 76.4 x 51 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16.1 inches or 61.1 x 40.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.4 inches or 50.9 x 34 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D6 are 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm for good quality, 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm for very good quality, and 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica CL (Typ 7323) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D6 are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3280000.
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.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|15.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|16.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|17.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for 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. For example, the CL has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the D6 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D6 has a higher magnification than the one of the CL (0.72x vs 0.49x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica CL and Nikon D6 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the CL is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Leica CL and the Nikon D6 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The CL writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D6 uses CFexpress or XQD cards. The D6 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the CL only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Leica CL (Typ 7323) and Nikon D6 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D6 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The CL lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D6 (unlike the CL) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the CL and the D6 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The D6 replaced the earlier Nikon D5, while the CL does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica CL better than the Nikon D6 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer 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 160x163mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 867g or 68 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in November 2017).
Advantages of the Nikon D6:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- 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 viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.49x).
- 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 (3580 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the CL launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D6 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 10 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica CL and the Nikon D6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the CL and the D6 in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|2.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|3.||Fujifilm X-T100||4/5||+||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||May 2018||599|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T20||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A3||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|6.||Leica C-LUX||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2018||1,049|
|7.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|8.||Leica TL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695|
|9.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|10.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|11.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|12.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|13.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|14.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|15.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|16.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|17.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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.
Specifications: Leica CL vs Nikon D6
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Leica CL||Nikon D6|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica T mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2017||February 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 2,795||USD 6,499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica CL||Nikon D6|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Megapixels||20.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6014 x 4014 pixels||5568 x 3712 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.92 μm||6.44 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.52 MP/cm2||2.41 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 3,280,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||Maestro II||EXPEED 6|
|Screen Specs||Leica CL||Nikon D6|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica CL||Nikon D6|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||14 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/25000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CFexpress or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica CL||Nikon D6|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||no USB||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica CL||Nikon D6|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||220 shots per charge||3580 shots per charge|
131 x 78 x 45 mm
(5.2 x 3.1 x 1.8 in)
160 x 163 x 92 mm
(6.3 x 6.4 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||403 g (14.2 oz)||1270 g (44.8 oz)|
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