After using the Leica CL with two quite heavy M lenses — the Voigtländer f/1.1 Nokton and the Leica f/0.95 Noctilux — and one native heavyweight, the 35mm Summilux-TL, I soon concluded that a bit of extra grip would be a good idea. The TL is a pretty little thing, closely adhering to the traditional Leica design ethos, but it does suffer from lack of grip when a nose-heavy lens is mounted.
It’s nice, though, to use it naked when travelling light and using the 18mm Elmarit-TL, 23mm Summicron-TL or 18-56mm Vario-Elmar-TL. So we can forgive Leica for not including a built-in grip.
After struggling a little with the larger lenses, though, the arrival of the Leica Thumb Support was a welcome occasion. I picked mine up from Red Dot Cameras in London last week and my first impressions are that it transforms the handling of the CL, both with heavy and light lenses. I am a firm fan of thumb grips and have been using them for years on almost all the cameras I have owned.
While the Thumb Support genuinely improves handling, It does mean that when using manual lenses and wishing to access the right-hand control dial (to flick over to magnification) the thumb has to be lifted off the grip and moved over to the wheel. Similarly, with native automatic lenses, the thumb has to be lifted in order to set aperture. However, the grip doesn’t alter the utility of the left-hand control wheel which, in my case, is set to handle exposure compensation.
This slight awkwardness, which I soon got used to, is a small price to pay for the vastly improved handling. Leica has also announced a handgrip which screws to the bottom of the camera and offers substantial support when using bigger and heavier lenses. When the this grip arrives I will do a comparison test to see which is best for all-round use. Cost will play a factor, though.
The Thumb Support is an expensive item at £150. By comparison, the handgrip is only £100 — which somehow seems out of kilter to me given that the handgrip is a more substantial and complicated piece of kit. The handgrip can accommodate the rubber finger loops as supplied for the M grip. I’ve never got on with these loops and the extra price of £90 is something of a disincentive unless you really love them.
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