Sony A7R III versus Leica CL
The Sony Alpha A7R III and the Leica CL (Typ 7323) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2017 and November 2017. Both the A7R III and the CL are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7R III) and an APS-C sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 42.2 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 24.1 MP.
The physical size and weight of the Sony A7R III and the Leica CL are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 – the A7R III – represents 100 percent 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 notably smaller (16 percent) than the Sony A7R III. Moreover, the CL is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the A7R III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7R III 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Sony A7R III (⇒ rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||YES||2017||3,199||latest||check|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||no||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||no||2016||979||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|
|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 TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||no||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||760||YES||2016||1,799||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 A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||YES||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||YES||2015||3,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||YES||2015||2,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||YES||2014||1,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||YES||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||YES||2012||2,799||discont.||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.
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 Sony A7R III 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.
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).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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.
|Sony A7R III (⇒ rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.4||12.4||1262||77|
|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||-||-||-||-|
|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 TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|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 A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|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|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
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. The two cameras under consideration 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7R III and Leica CL in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony A7R III (⇒ rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||2360||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.2||1620||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||5||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|
|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 TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.7||1230||fixed||YES||4000||7.0||no||no|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||full-flex||no||8000||4.4||no||YES|
|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 A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||4000||11.0||6||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|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||4.0||no||no|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||full-flex||no||8000||6.0||no||YES|
Both the A7R III and the CL 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.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A7R III or the Leica CL – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7R III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (42.2 vs 24.1MP) with a 32% higher linear resolution.
- 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: Can take more shots (650 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
Reasons to prefer the Leica CL (Typ 7323):
- Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More compact: Is smaller (131x78mm vs 127x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 247g or 38 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R III is the clear winner of the match-up (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.
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 A7R III or the CL. 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 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.
|Sony A7R III (⇒ rgt)||HiRec||90/100 Gold||..||..||..||2017||3,199||latest||check|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||..||..||..||..||4/5||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||979||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|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||74/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||2016||399||latest||check|
|Hasselblad X1D (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||4/5||2016||8,995||latest||check|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,799||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 A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||90/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||3,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2015||2,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2012||2,799||discont.||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.
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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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