Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica CL Lockdown: It’s all or nothing in the latest firmware update

Leica CL Lockdown: It’s all or nothing in the latest firmware update

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  Now you can lock all the buttons on the Leica CL so that no adjustments to functions can be made, no access to menus is possible. But why? It
Now you can lock all the buttons on the Leica CL so that no adjustments to functions can be made, no access to menus is possible. But why? It’s a mystery at the moment.

On Friday I was praising Leica for the CL firmware upgrade which enabled button locking. As readers know, it’s something I’ve been campaigning about since the launch of the camera last November. To reprise the problem, the four-way button pad is too easily nudged — in my case by the ball of my right thumb — and moves the focus point around the screen. Since I like to fix the focus in the centre and then use the focus-and-recompose method, this wayward focus point makes the camera very frustrating to use. It’s one of the main reasons I haven’t used my CL as much as I would have liked.

  Welcome to Total Leica Lockdown Mode: But just what is it for?
Welcome to Total Leica Lockdown Mode: But just what is it for?

It was the same when the SL launched two years before. The new joystick was nearly as vulnerable as the four-way pad on the CL. It was impossible to keep the focus point locked in the centre. Then, in April this year, the SL 3.3 firmware permitted disabling of the joystick. This was exactly what many of us had been asking for since 2015. At that time, the CL still had the annoyingly sensitive and vulnerable four-way pad. 

So I was delighted to learn on Friday that Leica had acted and introduced a button-lock feature. What I didn’t understand at the time was that the “improvement” locks all the buttons, including Play, Fn, Menu, the two adjustment dials and the four-way pad. It’s complete lockdown and all for no apparent reason. 

Far from solving our problem, the new firmware just makes matters worse. With lock enabled, the camera becomes a simple point-and-shoot device. It lacks the ability to change aperture, speed or exposure compensation. It also prevents access to the Favourites Menu and makes it impossible to review a picture.

  The Leica CL is capable of producing great results. As a system, it is compact, ergonomically mature and fun to use. But the lack of a central focus lock has been a big problem for many users (image Leica Camera)
The Leica CL is capable of producing great results. As a system, it is compact, ergonomically mature and fun to use. But the lack of a central focus lock has been a big problem for many users (image Leica Camera)

Madness?

What madness is this? It seems to me like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I wish someone at Leica would enlighten us. Just why is this total lockdown a good idea?

Readers were quick to point out the problem. Keith summed up the situation: “(the update) appears to lock the CL into a point-and-shoot mode with no user input possible. In my quick testing, it adjusted either the shutter speed or the Auto ISO to get the right exposure, with the aperture fixed to the value set on entering lock mode. It behaved like this for P, A, S and Auto. For M it seemed to lock both aperture and shutter speed and change the ISO when possible.”

  The firmware updates announced on Friday are all very sensible except for the CL lockdown mode. I am particularly pleased with the calculation of aperture for data purposes when using the M10. It
The firmware updates announced on Friday are all very sensible except for the CL lockdown mode. I am particularly pleased with the calculation of aperture for data purposes when using the M10. It’s a clever estimate that, in this case, was completely accurate. As a guide for reference purposes, this is a welcome improvement

My old friend Don Morley, one of the most experienced professional photographers I know, was even more critical. He has been a great fan of the TL and is now a CL user. As he acknowledges, “The results from a CL with any of the T, TL, CL lenses are potentially stunning if the photographer gets it right, but Leica seem determined to make getting it right needlessly harder”

He continues, “in my view at least, the latest firmware, far from improving matters. has created THE most frustrating camera I have ever used. It is even more frustrating than it already was. Come on Leica what are you playing at?“

Today I took the CL out for a spin and tried the lockdown. I can tell you that I agree entirely with Don. This is the most ridiculous “improvement” I have ever encountered from Leica. As Hank of Beckmeyer Photographs ponders: “One wonders if the software people ever use these cameras.”

Despite the excellent results from the CL — it is a fantastic camera once set up correctly — I have been discouraged from using mine in the past three months because of the problem with the errant focus point. I thought that Leica had listened and enabled a lockdown of the four-way pad — that is all that was necessary. If they had done just that I would have been satisfied. But no, they have solved one problem by creating an even bigger one. 

It seems to me that there are now two options. The first is to revise the all-button lock feature so that it works only on the four-way pad outer buttons (the centre button is not a problem). The second is to add a button lock menu item so owners can customise which buttons are locked. Other manufacturers, including Fuji, have done this successfully. But the big question remains — just why does someone at Leica think it’s a good idea to offer a total lock-down feature?

I would be interested to hear from readers if anyone thinks a total lockdown of all buttons and adjustments on the camera is in any way sensible? I don’t think so, but then I could be missing something. I hope that Leica will acknowledge this error and do something about it quickly. In the meantime, I am not encouraged to use the CL.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Mike,
    As you know I have been researching and trying out other cameras looking for what my next purchase may be.

    The CL is on that list but I have yet to go out and try one. More because of the issues reviewers and your good self have raised about the errant focus point.

    I would take your last line a bit further based on this update – I’m not encouraged to go out and buy one at this stage.

    I do hope that Leica resolve this issue, as it would seem sensible.

    Dave

  2. Genuinely I do not like or enjoy finding myself Leica bashing, after all I have used and mostly loved such as Wetzlar’s M products for over sixty five years and so now despite all of my CL frustrations I would like to be able to love it too as the zoom lenses are are all way above average in definition terms, and superbly matched to the latest 24mp sensor.

    Hence though I have also backed my horses in several other ways including my owning major Canon and Fuji outfits as well much of me still wants to be able to remain loyal to Leica and hence lives in the hope one day that I will not even feel the need for my wonderful Fuji X-Pro2 or Canon’s BUT that is only ever going to happen if Leica do finally accept they have got the CL’s settings and programming all wrong.

    This really worries me now because I have long harbored doubts about the photographic (as opposed to engineering) credentials of whoever Leica uses to test and sort out any pre production bugs which in such as the CL’s instance should all have been well sorted before launch, and worse who on earth comes up with, tests and then amazingly signs off such as these latest decidedly ill suited firmware updates?

    Whoever it was or whoever they are I would dare to suggest they were not serious photographers, indeed had they have been so they should be ashamed as I for one am quite sure this awful latest firmware update would not even have begun to get past any half decent ‘Photographer’ who genuinely and frequently uses a CL to actually take pictures

    • Hi Don,

      I am sure if they researched forums such as this, Leica could find an Armada of decent photographers who could test and give them decent feedback on what does and doesn’t work.

      Fuji do have a knack of updating their cameras quickly, and changing if things still are not right.

      Dave

  3. Yeah, this makes no sense at all. May as well disable the power button while they are at it… because it makes the camera one you don’t even want to use with this new "feature".

    • Mike, you can decide not to enable the power saving option. Do not use if you don’t need it. Personally I think it is a very good option to attempt better power management and prolong battery life. Bringing the camera back to life can be done in less than one second, quicker than reacting and bringing the camera to your eye. A small price to pay.

      • Good point, David, and something worth bearing in mind. I haven’t set power-saving mode because I seem to have accumulated a lot of CL/V-Lux/Lumix GX8 batteries and just carry a few spare ones.

  4. Offering more selective locking would be a more elegant solution. I am sure that is possible and Leica will listen. But it does make one wonder why Beta-testers did not flag blanket locking as an incomplete solution; locking most functions indiscriminately does detract from functionality. But I do wonder how many CL users felt the need for any locking at all. It has not been a problem with me, but I do use the Leica handgrip which avoids thumb contact with the direction pad.

  5. I’ve had the CL for about 4 months, used it several times professionally and have never had a problem with the focus point moving unintentionally. My hands are probably slightly bigger than average so it must be the way the camera is held as it just isn’t an issue for me.

    • I do believe it is down to a personal issue. I’ve had similar problems with many cameras, including the X-Vario and X cameras. I have tried the camera with grip and thumb grip and haven’t found an improvement. David A, elsewhere in this thread suggests using the Leica Handgrip prevents inadvertent movement of the focus point, but I have not been so successful. This inadvertent movement of the focus point with the four-way pad is common to many cameras. Fuji, I know, have tackled it and enabled selective locking.

  6. It’s taken 6-7 months to add Autocratic Locking Mode. It will be interesting to see how much time it takes to, um, ‘improve’ it.

    Now, if only Fuji (AKA Dad’s, ‘Wait.. Wait a second. Ok. Ready.’ camera) could soft lock the M-C-S switch on the front of its cameras (except the great, original X100), so that it doesn’t change every time it travels in a bag.

  7. It might appear to be the case that Leica is so successful with its M range not because of its desire to keep things at the essentially simplest, but because it is difficult to add needless complexity to the system.

    Everything else that they touch seems to be locked into the "nanny knows best" category.

    And when it comes down to it, the camera that gets in the way, is the camera that tries to do stuff for the user, rather than the user just doing stuff for themselves.

    The oddest thing about this update, is that as Mike explains, Leica have already achieved the goal with the SL, which has the same computer. They got it right once, but apparently that was a one-off.

    Come on Leica!

  8. It doesn’t surprise me Leica got this wrong.

    My experience as a two-time beta tester for the Q firmware updates was quite frustrating, and I there was virtually nil engagement with the beta testers by Leica on both occasions.

    Leica didn’t even send the beta testers a list of the new ‘improvements’….they simply gave us a download link, and left us to it.

    And in case you’re wondering, Leica firmware beta testers aren’t required to sign a non disclosure agreement. We’re given a ‘licence to use’ to sign, and this has a clause prohibiting distribution of the new firmware to third parties.

    Quite unprofessional and next to useless in my view.

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