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Leica CL versus Sony A7R III

The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Sony Alpha A7R III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2017 and October 2017. Both the CL and the A7R III are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (CL) and a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 MP.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Sony A7R III is provided 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 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 – the CL – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Leica CL vs Sony A7R III front
CL versus A7R III top view
CL and A7R III 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 Sony A7R III is notably larger (19 percent) than the Leica CL. Moreover, the A7R III is substantially heavier (61 percent) than the CL. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R III 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 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
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 YES 2017 3,199 latest check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 no 2017 529 latest check
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 no 2017 899 latest check
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 no 2017 499 latest check
Fujifilm X100F (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 75 mm 52 mm 469 g 390 no 2017 1,299 latest check
Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 121 mm 74 mm 43 mm 337 g 350 no 2017 899 latest check
Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt) 118 mm 83 mm 41 mm 383 g 350 no 2017 899 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 D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 124 mm 79 mm 1005 g 1840 YES 2017 3,299 latest check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 YES 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 YES 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 YES 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 YES 2015 2,999 latest check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The CL was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the A7R III, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica CL features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7R III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R III is 132 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 Sony A7R III sensor measures
Sensor size
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Sensor size

With 42.2MP, the A7R III offers a higher resolution than the CL (24.1MP), but the A7R III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 3.92μm for the CL) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. 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.

Unlike the CL, the A7R III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

CL versus A7R III MP
Sensor resolution
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Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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 .. .. .. ..
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 14.7 3523 100
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.9 12.5 522 65
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Fujifilm X100F (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p - - - -
Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p - - - -
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992 no .. .. .. ..
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 D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 45.4 8256 5504 4K/30p 26.4 14.8 2660 100
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.9 13.3 3517 92
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 25.4 13.4 2317 92
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 13.9 3434 98
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.0 4240 2832 4K/30p 23.6 13.3 2993 85

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. 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).

Feature comparison

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 A7R III offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the CL (3686k vs 2360k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica CL, the Sony A7R III, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, 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
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 8.2 6 no
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 6.0 12 no
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 6.1 5 no
Fujifilm X100F (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 8.0 4.6 no
Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 8.0 no no
Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 5 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 D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 9.0 no no
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 12.0 no YES
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES

Both the CL and the A7R III are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The A7R III replaced the earlier Sony A7R II, while the CL does not have a direct predecessor.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica CL and the Leica CL? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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Reasons to prefer the Leica CL (Typ 7323):

  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More compact: Is smaller (131x78mm vs 127x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 247g or 38 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7R III:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 24.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 32%.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO images.
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3686k vs 2360k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1040k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R III is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 5 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.

CL 05:09 A7R III

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 A7R III 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 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. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) .. .. .. .. 4/5 2017 2,795 latest check
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) HiRec 90/100 Gold .. .. .. 2017 3,199 latest check
Canon G9 X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 529 latest check
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 .. 4/5 2017 899 latest check
Canon M100 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec .. 4/5 .. 3.5/5 2017 499 latest check
Fujifilm X100F (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Gold 4.5/5 .. 4.5/5 2017 1,299 latest check
Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 .. 4.5/5 2017 899 latest check
Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Silver 5/5 .. 4.5/5 2017 899 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 D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 .. 5/5 2017 3,299 latest check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 89/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2015 2,999 latest check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 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 comparisons

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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