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Leica TL versus Leica CL

The Leica TL and the Leica CL (Typ 7323) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2016 and November 2017. Both the TL and the CL are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The TL has a resolution of 16.1 megapixel, whereas the CL provides 24.1 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica TL and the Leica CL. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 TL – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Leica TL vs Leica CL front
TL versus CL top view
TL and CL rear side
Body view (TL on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica CL is notably larger (11 percent) than the Leica TL. Moreover, the CL is slightly heavier (5 percent) than the TL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the TL nor the CL are weather-sealed.

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 TL (⇒ rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 no 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica CL (⇒ lft) 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 no 2017 2,795 latest check
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 no 2017 899 latest check
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 no 2016 799 latest check
Fujifilm X-E2S (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 75 mm 37 mm 350 g 350 no 2016 699discont. check
Fujifilm X-T10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 118 mm 83 mm 41 mm 381 g 350 no 2015 799discont. 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 T (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 no 2014 1,850discont. check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 no 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 no 2012 1,995discont. check
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 no 2009 1,995discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The TL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 39 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

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. 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 and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica TL and Leica CL sensor measures
Sensor size
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Sensor size

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the CL offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 16.1 MP of the TL. This megapixel advantage translates into a 22 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the CL has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 4.80μm for the TL). However, it should be noted that the CL is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the TL, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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.

TL versus CL 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 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.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica TL (⇒ rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p - - - -
Leica CL (⇒ lft) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4896 3264 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X-E2S (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4896 3264 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X-T10 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4896 3264 1080/60p - - - -
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992 no .. .. .. ..
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.2 4944 3278 1080/30p 23.0 12.7 1082 75
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3272 1080/30p 23.4 12.7 1320 78
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 no - - - -
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4272 2856 no - - - -

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the CL provides a better video resolution than the TL. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the TL is limited to 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the CL has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica TL, the Leica CL, 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 TL (⇒ rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 5.0 YES no
Leica CL (⇒ lft) 2360 YES 3.0 1040 fixed YES 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 6.0 12 no
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 7.9 no
Fujifilm X-E2S (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 7.0 7 no
Fujifilm X-T10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 920 tilting no 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 T (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1300 fixed YES 4000 5.0 4.5 no
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 2.7 230 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 2.7 230 fixed no 2000 3.0 YES no

The CL is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the TL has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the TL was succeeded by the Leica TL2.

Summary

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


Reasons to prefer the Leica TL:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 131x78mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (39 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in November 2016).

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

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (7 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs.

TL 07:07 CL

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 TL or the CL. 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 expert reviews 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
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica TL (⇒ rgt) - - - - 4/5 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica CL (⇒ lft) .. .. .. .. 4/5 2017 2,795 latest check
Canon 77D (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 .. 4/5 2017 899 latest check
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2016 799 latest check
Fujifilm X-E2S (⇒ lft | rgt) - 77/100 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2016 699discont. check
Fujifilm X-T10 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4/5 5/5 2015 799discont. 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 T (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2014 1,850discont. check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 3/5 - 4/5 2012 1,995discont. check
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec - - 4/5 2009 1,995discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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