The Leica CL has now been with us for a year. I love the size of the camera and the feeling that this is a modern incarnation of the original Barnack Leica. It is one of the prettiest designs Leica has produced to date. The native TL lenses are exceptional and help produce high-quality imagery.
On the other hand, the lack of image stabilisation, whether in-body or in-lens, is a concern. Like most users, however, I can accommodate this and ensure that the settings avoid problems. And Leica make a virtue out of its absence because it helps keep down the size and weight of the lenses which are thus more suited to the small CL and TL2.
I tolerate the soft control rings and the tiny, almost irrelevant status screen. I would much prefer manual controls such as those on the Leica X cameras — a clear and unambiguous rendering of speed and aperture. However, I do understand that this is a divisive issue and many owners absolutely love the flexibility afforded by soft controls.
One thing doesn’t change. I hate the way the focus point moves around unbidden and the impossibility of anchoring it in the centre of the frame.
The only solution is to use the sledgehammer lock-down facility, introduced in the last firmware update, which also also prevents any changes to other settings, including exposure and mode. I live in hope of a fix for this in the next firmware update, but why is it so difficult for manufacturers to provide an option to work with a fixed central focus point? It is beyond me.
However, after a year it is time to take stock. I feel that the benefits of the CL outline the disadvantages and I still find it an entertaining and competent APS-C camera. I try to take a balanced view and I was intrigued to read a very positive review of the CL by fashion photographer. Rick Birt. As he says:
I’ve been going through a phase where I value 3D depth in my images. I sold my Fuji X-Pro2 kit because I felt the images where “flat” compared to my other larger- sensored-cameras. So I was a little apprehensive about going back to an APS-C camera. However, the appeal of owning a Leica “Mini-M” with a built-in EVF, and Autofocus was too strong.
The Leica CL is so small and light that you will never have to ask – “Do I really want to lug this around with me all day?” Due to its gorgeous outward appearance, great image quality, and speedy performance, it’s a camera that you’ll want to have with you. As others have said before me – the best camera is the one you have with you.
So that‘s one CL sold, then. I know that many Macfilos readers have bought the CL and enjoy using it. What is your assessment after one year? Have Leica got it right? Or is there more they could do to improve their APS-C system camera?