Leica SL versus Leica CL
The Leica SL (Typ 601) and the Leica CL (Typ 7323) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2015 and November 2017. Both the SL and the CL are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (SL) and an APS-C (CL) sensor. The SL has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the CL provides 24.1 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 SL vs Leica CL
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica SL and the Leica CL is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 SL – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica CL is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Leica SL. Moreover, the CL is substantially lighter (52 percent) than the SL. It is worth mentioning in this context that the SL is splash and dust resistant, 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 camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Leica SL (⇒ rgt)||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||YES||2015||7,450||latest||check|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||no||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||no||2017||779||latest||check|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||YES||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||no||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||YES||2016||5,999||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||no||2016||399||latest||check|
|Hasselblad X1D (⇒ lft | rgt)||150 mm||98 mm||71 mm||725 g||..||YES||2016||8,995||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 Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||no||2015||4,249||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||YES||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||YES||2016||6,499||latest||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt)||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||YES||2014||2,299||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||YES||2016||999||discont.||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 CL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 62 percent) than the SL, 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 SL vs Leica CL
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 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica SL features a full frame sensor and the Leica CL an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the CL is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the CL offers a slightly higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 24 MP of the SL. 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 6.00μm for the SL). However, it should be noted that the CL is much more recent (by 2 years and 1 month) than the SL, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. 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.
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.
|Leica SL (⇒ rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.6||13.2||1135||79|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.4||12.4||1262||77|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Hasselblad X1D (⇒ lft | rgt)||Medium Format||51.3||8272||6200||1080/25p||26.2||14.8||4489||102|
|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 Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87|
|Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Feature comparison: Leica SL vs Leica CL
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 SL offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the CL (4400k vs 2360k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica SL, the Leica CL, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Leica SL (⇒ rgt)||4400||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||2360||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||5||no|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.2||1620||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||5||no|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1620||fixed||YES||8000||16.0||no||no|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||6.0||7||no|
|Hasselblad X1D (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||920||fixed||YES||2000||2.3||no||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 Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||2000||10.0||no||no|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||fixed||YES||8000||14.0||no||no|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||tilting||no||4000||6.0||12||no|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||no||4000||11.0||6||no|
Both the SL and the CL are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Leica.
Review summary: Leica SL vs Leica CL
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica SL or the Leica CL – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Leica SL (Typ 601):
- Better low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO images.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (4400k vs 2360k dots).
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2015).
Reasons to prefer the Leica CL (Typ 7323):
- More compact: Is smaller (131x78mm vs 147x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 444g or 52 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (62 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the SL launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL comes out slightly ahead of the CL (5 : 4 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL or the CL handle or perform in practice. 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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.
|Leica SL (⇒ rgt)||-||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||2015||7,450||latest||check|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||..||..||..||..||4/5||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2017||779||latest||check|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||5,999||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||74/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||2016||399||latest||check|
|Hasselblad X1D (⇒ lft | rgt)||reviewed||-||-||-||4/5||2016||8,995||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 Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||2015||4,249||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||-||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||6,499||latest||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||91/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||90/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2014||2,299||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||999||discont.||check|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 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.
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