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Leica CL versus Sony A6500

The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2017 and October 2016. Both the CL and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony 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 Sony A6500

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Sony A6500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions 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).

Snapsort Leica CL vs Sony A6500
Compare CL versus A6500 top
Compare CL and A6500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6500 is notably smaller (21 percent) than the Leica CL. However, the A6500 is markedly heavier (12 percent) than the CL. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 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 A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 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
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)
Leica CL» 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Sony A6500« 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i
Fujifilm X-E3« » 4.8 in 2.9 in 1.7 in 11.9 oz 350 n Sep 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-T20« » 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.6 in 13.5 oz 350 n Jan 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-A3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 12.0 oz 410 n Aug 2016 399 i i
Leica C-LUX« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Leica TL2« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica TL« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- i
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499 i i
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i
Olympus PEN-F« » 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i

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 A6500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 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 Sony A6500

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A6500 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 Sony A6500 sensor measures

With 24.1MP, the CL offers a slightly higher resolution than the A6500 (24MP), but the CL nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 3.91μm for the A6500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the CL is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the A6500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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 A6500 MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica CL» APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Sony A6500« APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277
Fujifilm X-E3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----
Fujifilm X-T20« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----
Fujifilm X-A3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----
Leica C-LUX« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386
Leica TL2« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica TL« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. 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 Sony A6500

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the CL offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (2360k vs 2300k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica CL and Sony A6500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Leica CL»2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 10.0 n n
Sony A6500«2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n
Fujifilm X-E3« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 8.0 n n
Fujifilm X-T20« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y n
Fujifilm X-A3« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Leica C-LUX« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n
Leica TL2« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n
Leica TL« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the CL and the A6500 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The A6500 replaced the earlier Sony A6300, while the CL does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Leica CL vs Sony A6500

So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica CL better than the Sony A6500 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 50g or 11 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 1 month after the A6500).

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Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6500:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 131x78mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (350 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2016).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A6500 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 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 07:09 A6500

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the CL or the A6500 handle or perform in practice. 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica CL»----4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Sony A6500«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i
Fujifilm X-E3« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-T20« »HiRec82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-A3« »-74/1004.5/5-4/5 Aug 2016 399 i i
Leica C-LUX« »----- Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Leica TL2« »--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica TL« »----4/5 Nov 2016 1,695- i
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499 i i
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i

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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, 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 the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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