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Leica’s Stefan Daniel on the retirement of the Leica CL and some hints for the future

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Speaking to members of the Leica Society International in Dublin on October 14, Leica’s Executive Vice President Technology and Operations, Stefan Daniel, acknowledged that many CL/TL customers had been unhappy about the company’s exit from APS-C and the end of the CL.

He said that he felt rather guilty about this but confirmed that the decision had to be taken on economic grounds. The APS-C segment is very price sensitive, and there are many alternative APS-C offerings from other companies, and there were just not enough buyers for the CL system to warrant continuing development.

Asked if the withdrawal of the APS-C line meant that the Q2 would now remain the entry point for Leica buyers, he said that the Q2 now sets the entry barrier very high, and the Leica is aware of the lack of a lower-cost entry point. He said Leica is working on other strategies, but it is too early to say anything.

At the other end of the price scale, he mentioned the mirrorless medium-format camera, which has been discussed: “It will not be next year, and probably not in 2024, but it could come in 2025”.

On the question of lens production delays, he responded to concerns over the slow trickle of the APO-Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH, which is leading to a lot of frustration. He explained that it is extremely difficult to produce a lens of this high quality in such a small size.

However, the factory had implemented a new method of producing aspheric elements, which would help reduce delays. The new facility was the most advanced outside Japan. On the general question of M lens production, he confirmed that close focus would be extended to more lenses in the range in due course.

He touched on the long repair times for analogue cameras and lenses. Film cameras require highly trained technicians, and hiring and training has been slow, but he hoped that improvements would come soon.

Stefan mentioned the prospect of a new film camera and said that it was “not so much a myth”. He couldn’t be more specific. We will have to wait and see.

Turning to the bread-and-butter rangefinder, Stefan explained that the decision to redesign the M11, not least the removal of the bottom plate, had not been taken lightly. The factory knows the importance of sticking to the traditional M format: “We wouldn’t want another M5”.

He was pleased that the changes to the M11 had been so well received by customers. On the question of in-body stabilisation, he explained that this desirable improvement is currently impossible without increasing the camera size. And, having gradually reduced both size and weight of the M over the past 12 years, to turn the clock back would be “against everything we have been striving for”.

He did, however, hold out some hope for the future. Everything depends on a suitable sensor being available in order to accommodate stabilisation without physical changes to the body. No such sensor currently exists, but it could become available in the future. Again, in relation to stabilisation, he touched on the increasing power requirements of new features.

Already, greater pixel density and faster processing lead to more power use, and battery performance has to be a major consideration for the future, especially since space within the M body is so limited.

Inevitably, the much-discussed M with EVF raised great interest among LSI members in the room. This had even been raised four years ago at the LSI meeting in Wetzlar, when there had been a call for a hybrid viewfinder, and it has remained a hot topic ever since.

Stefan assured LSI members that the factory had conducted extensive trials of a hybrid system, combining both rangefinder and EVF. However, they had reached the conclusion that the result would be the worst of both worlds and would risk upsetting rangefinder fans. So the project had been shelved.

The alternative was to produce a camera with an EVF instead of the rangefinder. While it was possible from a technical point of view, Stefan said he was not a big fan of the idea, believing that the M should remain in its pure form. After all, as he said, M stands for Messsucher (range-viewfinder), and it would always remain the hallmark of the range.

Several audience members pointed out that while they preferred the small size and weight of the M — which ideally complements the small M optics — they were experiencing difficulty working with the rangefinder because of eyesight problems.

The prospect of a light mirrorless camera with a native M mount was attractive. And, as someone else pointed out, an M body with built-in EVF instead of the rangefinder would probably be welcomed as a second body, even by rangefinder diehards.

In response to this, Stefan surprised the audience by saying that if there were sufficient demand, Leica would consider producing an M with EVF. Asked how many they would need to sell in order to make such a decision, he estimated “a couple of thousand”. This news was well received, and after a show of hands, the LSI agreed to poll members on whether or not they would be interested in buying an M body with EVF without compromising the established rangefinder camera.

Asked when the Q3 would be launched, Stefan obviously couldn’t make a prediction. However, when a delegate raised the prospect of a Q with a longer lens — 50 mm has been discussed on forums — Stefan smiled enigmatically and said that this was a question that had often been asked. But he could not say categorically no. I found this rather surprising. Whereas before the meeting, I would have said that the Q would always remain a 28mm camera, I now feel there is at least a possibility of a 50mm version.

In my discussion with Stefan after the talk, I touched on the cooperation with Panasonic and the prospects for future cameras, particularly the SL3. He said that the technical cooperation, known as L², between Leica and Panasonic was working well and agreed that it no longer made sense for the two companies to work entirely independently on camera development. Would the next SL be lighter or smaller than the current SL2? He said that some paring was possible, but any changes would not be dramatic. Again, of course, no hint of a timescale for the arrival of the SL3.

We all appreciated the opportunity to meet Stefan Daniel and to ask about Leica’s developments. As William Fagan said after the conference, he could not think of another brand where the top people were so approachable and willing to submit to a question-and-answer session like this.

More on Stefan Daniel

More on the Leica M11

More on the Leica Q range

More on the Leica CL


87 COMMENTS

  1. Stephan Daniel’s remarks about the lack of demand for the CL, should have prompted a question why Leica failed to market the camera more professionally, effectively, and constantly during its lifetime. Was this abject failure addressed?

    • Well, no one asked this question, David. I suspect the LSI members are more concerned with their Ms and Qs and not overly fussed on APS-C. I think the underlying reason is that Leica just wanted to get out of the APS-C market and concentrate on full frame (and MF going forward).

    • Well said. You can see marketing of M, Q, SL and even D-Lux cameras but I can’t recall seeing advertising promoting the CL. I’m sure someone will tell me it exists (I’m sure on the introduction of the camera) but Leica never demonstrated the kind of commitment to the CL that it did to the other camera systems. I use a Fujifilm X-E3 and hoped to move up to Leica with a CL2 that brought in-body stabilization or new lenses with stabilization. Obviously never going to happen. Unless Leica comes up with a lower-priced interchangeable lens system, I guess I’ll stick with Fuji.

  2. I am pretty convinced that a Leica CL with IBIS and a higher number of MP (a la Fuji) would have sold well. Stefan Daniel’s explanation is very unsatisfactory to me. The R&D required for a CL2 would have been a fraction of the R&D required for a new mirrorless medium format system.

    • I’m not sure that the R&D will be a great deal larger for a new mirrorless medium format system (why should it be?), but I’m quite sure that the profits for a Fuji look-a-like would be a great deal less, and I really doubt that Leica could be in any way competitive at that level.

      I’m sad as well (Stefan was sad too!) but it’s reasonable to think they’ve done their focus groups etc.

      I think one of the problems was that adding IBIS and weather sealing (both vital) would have made the camera quite a bit bigger.

      • Hi Jono, the R&D for making changes to an already existing system should be significantly lower than the R&D for designing a brand new system from scratch. And I am sure Stefan would even feel sadder if he (like me) had $20K invested in a T, TL2, CL, 7 Leica lenses and some Sigma lenses. No offense but Leica does not get a pass from me on this one. Their throw it at the wall and see whether it sticks attitude would even make Sony blush…

        • Yes, I have spent so much money on APSC and what Leica says is that we can just buy another brand. Sony Canon or Nikon. That’s not a proper answer. It seems very arrogant. Only silence is more arrogant.

      • Not sure that Stefan’s comments reveal the whole story.”There are many APS-C offerings form other companies” Well, there are many offerings by other companies in other formats too. Should we buy them instead of Leica then? They couldn’t make a full frame CL to replace the APS-C one? I don’t think anyone would mind if it was bigger as long as it was smaller and lighter than an SL series body which it surely would be. Also, lack of demand for the CL? Really? So are we to understand there is plenty of demand for the SL bodies? I thought most people who avoided buying the SL2 or SL2s thought these were too heavy. In which case, a very good reason to make a full frame CL. History repeating itself here, after all, not the first time the a CL was ‘killed off’. The M11 and SL series are marvelous but there is now still no entry level Leica with interchangeable lenses. A sort of black hole unless you are happy with the Q.

  3. I do not understand the continued calls for an M with EVF. The SL with M lenses already suits this desire very well, albeit without the traditional controls. The M, as Stefan said, should always remain an optical mechanical rangefinder. One could also get a Fujifilm X-Pro and Cosina Voigtlaender X-Mount manual mechanical lenses.

    • Hi Bryan
      Personally I’m fairly agnostic about this, but if I was still shooting weddings then I’d kill for one to go next to my M11 – one with an EVF, one with a Rangefinder – same menus, same files, same controls – perfect. Shooting with an M and an SL (which is what I have been doing) is all fine, but it’s sometimes a bit harder to make it all look ‘of a piece’.

      I think there are a lot of people who would have both a rangefinder and an EVF version of the M

      . . . . and then there’s the 30 somethings who think an M camera is incredibly cool, so they go into a store and look through the rangefinder (and don’t like it) . . . . . They’d buy them as well.

      Then of course there’s the old codger brigade with failing eyesight . . .

      I could go on quite a bit about this – my feeling is that it would increase sales, but hardly cut into M sales at all.

      . . . .

      • From one old codger to a younger codger, post-cataract, I now have the vision of a 20-year-old, and the rangefinder is gradually coming back into focus… I agree that the fabled M/EVF would not cannibalise sales of the rangefinder Ms. As you say, it would be an extra buy for many people and would appeal to those who fancy a Leica M but don’t like the rangefinder.

      • I can understand the appeal of matching camera bodies, but I still feel an EVF would pollute the M concept too much. If there is that much interest in an EVF, Leica would probably be better off revisiting a CL-style body with full-frame sensor and M-mount. I think there has been some discussion on here of the CL being somewhat Barnack-style — maybe that is what Leica needs to consider for EVF M-mount.

        But I am biased, because I very much prefer film and traditional cameras. The MP is the main (current) camera I appreciate from Leica. I do wish they would continue some more modest classic lenses like the plain Summicron-M 50mm and 35mm.

        I think the M optical mechanical rangefinder and S optical SLR are Leica’s best systems for photography.

    • As I answer this, I am putting together a piece on the most popular cameras in Dublin last week. The SL2 was almost nowhere to be seen. I think I saw one SL2-S (with a Panasonic 35mm prime attached). Chatting with a dealer only yesterday, I heard that the SL is too big and heavy for many people, especially for M lenses. True, it works superbly, but it is a fact that the smaller M body is easier to carry around.

      • If only Leica could make an SL system smaller! I would be game. Huge heavy camera with monstrously large lenses to boot.

        • I’ve made the same comments in the past, probably because I find lugging SL and lenses around too much of a strain. But see Tom Brennan’s comment (below) about Canon’s equivalent equipment. I’m guilty of not looking at the wider market, but it seems that big lenses are now the norm and Leica isn’t too far out of step.

          Panasonic and Sigma have shown the other side of the argument with the small S5 and fp and, also, the more compact lenses. Many of them are very good and we have a choice been light-and-good and heavy-but-excellent.

    • The SL with M lenses is great, but I think the point is that a lot of people find it too big and heavy. That is why they want an M- style body with an EVF. Leica can, and probably will, still keep the M with its rangefinder. What I don’t understand is Stefan suggesting we buy another brand because Leica doesn’t make it. presumably the other brands are making these things because there IS a demand for them, right? Yes, you can argue Leica can’t sell enough of them to make it a profitable however, they seem to be able to make the M cameras profitable at a much higher price, so one has to wonder. in the end of course, it’s up to Leica to make what they want to make and we photographers are lucky to have a choice of quality Leica products still available in 2022 and not built in China.

  4. If Leica is glad enough with just selling “a couple of thousands” to open a product line, one could deduce they sold less than 2000 CL, as they closed the line (with all expenses done) because “there were just not enough buyers”. That’s a bit of his argumentation 🖖

    • I also had this in my mind. I can only think that the CL production line was uneconomic. An M with EVF would be a a sort of branch line of the M, presumably not such a big endeavour. But I don’t know. As I said elsewhere, I think the real reason for the CL decision was Leica’s desire to get out of APS-C.

      • Well, desire to get out of apsc should response to a particular reason. Production line was uneconomic, ok, that means for instance developing lenses like Elmarit 18 (introduced for CL) for a short period of four or five years: how can be possible to make that economic?, how can that be sold in much more than a couple of thousand amount? Also the apsc line included other cameras: TL, TL2, X. So why not economize (that word exists?) and concentrate in just a product (CL 1 or 2) with good expectations and an improved sensor (no hot spots please)?

      • Hi Mike, I would agree with that, I simply do not believe the sales figures of the CL are the main or only reason for getting out of APS-C. According to me Leica long term sees no future in APS-C and has decided to concentrate on high end (35mm and medium format) with higher margins. Whether there is no future in APS-C obviously remains to be seen, other companies seem to believe there is. What is clear right now though is that Leica’s decision to get out of APS-C has deeply disappointed a lot of customers, especially with no replacement product being on the horizon, and that it raises question marks about the longevity of the full frame L-mount as well.

        • Nikon, Canon, Sony and of course Fujifilm all seem to have a commitment to APS-C. What do they know that Leica doesn’t?

          • Who could forget Ricoh? I love that little GRIII and the results are amazing. But it is a very niche product with a strong following among photographers who also own bigger cameras — including many Leica owners. I know it’s a fixed lens camera but none the worse for that. Just look at the success of the Q2. It’s only failing is the absence of a built-in EVF. But if it had one, it wouldn’t fit in my pocket so easily. Thanks for prompting me on this.

    • If “a couple of thousand” is the going metric, where I wonder does that leave the SL line? Are SL2 sales dipping below that “couple of thousand” threshold?

      If there’s one comment that crops up repeatedly it’s that the camera and lenses are too heavy. When Daniels talks about a possible SL3 being only slightly smaller/lighter then one presumes he has not listened to those comments or chosen to ignore them.

      And I’m not sure where that would leave the SL lenses either. They are also big and heavy.

      • I had the same thoughts, and I’ve heard one or two rumours that the SL isn’t exactly flying off the shelves at the moment. The big problem with size and weight is that those lenses need a big body, otherwise the camera is like a pea on a drum. I did ask Stefan if we could expect a camera the size of the Panasonic S5 and he said not. Any savings would be minor.

        • Sad reading. Both about CL and SL.
          It doesn’t seem Leica will listen to us.
          Upcoming SL will be the same size. And as you write , Mike – the very few SL I have seen used.
          M and Q I see on a regular basis. I think I see a dark future ahead with the SL line. I really hope I am wrong.

        • Really sad to read about this. I guess I’ll say goodbye to Leica and buy the S5 successor + Sigma lenses, and keep one SL APO prime for studio work.

          • In fairness to Leica, the SL isn’t extraordinarily large compared to equivalent cameras from Sony, Nikon and Panasonic. They would argue that big lenses (for best quality) need a big camera to balance them. I think our best bet is that EVF M which was discussed. I’d certainly buy one on size grounds alone. But for AF and L, there S5 and its successor is currently the best bet (if you exclude the quirky Sigma fp, which isn’t everybody’s flavour). I have an S5 and feel that it is vastly underrated, and I cannot understand why it has not sold in greater numbers. As an alternative to the SL2-S, with the 24MP sensor, it’s a very strong contender.

      • If big and heavy sell more than a couple of thousands, then let it go: that is perhaps a strategy. But the point is CL is light and friendly; not only that but also capable and very welcome by many. And, they let it go too but to the trash back courtyard.

  5. Basically treading water, no vision for leadership in mirrorless world. Take it or leave it attitude, M Q or SL THING. HELL OFA WAY TO RUNA COMPANY.

      • Competence is something which must be judged objectively. By such standards Stefan and his team come across as totally competent. The company is very successful and people are buying its products. We live in a disposable world where fads and fashions change quickly and the discussion here, which I find quite dizzying with a myriad of different views, is evidence of that. I am sure that Stefan is reading this or Mike or I can send it to him. He left the audience in no doubt as regards the EVF M concept that if enough people would buy it, the company would produce it. As regards the CL I can understand why people feel let down, but if it made economic sense to produce a new version plus new accessories I am sure that Leica AG would produce them. Plenty of other companies do the same thing with plenty of planned obsolescence. Apple being a case in point and if they don’t get you on the hardware they will get you on the software.

        I fully understand the emotions involved here. Personally I am not really in the market for most digital models and I have no ‘skin in the game’. However, in the case of most consumer products we can only purchase the products that are there and not the ones we would like to see there. Leica AG is not a co-operative society but a company that has to survive and thrive.

        This may seem like heresy here, but photographers should buy the cameras they like most, irrespective of make. For what it is worth, from a conversation I overheard (I wasn’t listening in, but I could not avoid hearing) in Wetzlar last June Leica considers Sony to be its main competitor and not Fuji. While the Fuji small cameras are closer to the Leicas as regards ‘the essentials’, Sony produces small ‘full frame’ cameras. It is a classic German engineering approach, of course.

        I liked your comment about the number of cameras a semi-sane person might have. I’m afraid that I have long since passed the full insanity threshold in that regard.

        William

    • But John, Brian
      They’ve just had their best year ever . . . . . which seems to me to be the way to run a company in an industry where almost all the competition are losing money!

      I very much agree with what William says.

      Also, I work with the production people and to me they seem to be full of dedication and imagination.

      Best
      Jono

  6. I’ll try to post here. My recent posts have been put on by Mike after I had drafted them as they would not ‘take’.

    I chaired the session with Stefan and Mike’s comments above are a good reflection of what Stefan said, with a number of later conversations thrown in for good measure. In the German engineering sense, an M with an EVF built in is not a ‘Messucher’ camera, but an EVF camera with the same layout as an M could easily be an EM – for electronic rangefinder. The ‘couple of thousand’ was not really specified, but Stefan was open to a poll. I did note, however, that a number of older members of LSI were using add on EVFs on their Ms. I have never really liked add on EVFs, but with the current cataract in my right eye an EVF may beckon soon. On the other hand, my upcoming operation may be as successful as Mike’s.

    Yes, SL cameras were the exception at the conference and Ms and Qs dominated. I’ve never been tempted by the SL as it is so large and so are its native lenses. It is possible to build a smaller EVF autofocus camera and other manufacturers are able to do this. The large SL prime lenses show the highest MTF curves according to what we were shown, but Peter Karbe uses Ms. There is a play off between size and IQ which most people deal with on the basis of what is more visible. It is much easier to notice a considerably smaller camera than an additional percent or two of IQ.

    I don’t really remember the CL coming up for much mention at the Friday session with Stefan. The item that attracted the most passion from the audience was the lack of supply of the 35mm APO lens. Unless I misheard what Stefan said, it would seem that the delays are due to issues with getting supplies from a third party, possibly in Japan.

    As for the new film M, it definitely exists as does at least one new lens. I took photos of Stefan and Mike on Saturday night with a film camera/lens combo, which was not mine. Make of that what you wish.

    William

    • As I wrote earlier, William, your comments were going to spam for some reason. All seems to be well now, as I see.

  7. Disappointing. Perhaps a bit of data would be useful. IF you want a three zoom lens system to cover roughly 16-200mm, here is a quick comparison of the CL, SL2 and Sony A1.

    CL: Camera, 11-23, 18-56, 55-135 weigh 1,554 grams (3.4 lbs) with volume of 1,369 cubic cm.
    SL2: Camera, 16-35, 24-90, 90-280 weigh 4,756 grams (10.5 lbs) with volume of 4,332 cubic cm.
    A1: Camera, 12-24, 24-70, 70-200 weigh 3,324 grams (7.3 lbs) with volume of 3,993 cubic cm.

    And that is why I will never get rid of the CL and its lenses. As someone who likes to hike into remote areas, the SL2 is way too heavy and large. Sony becomes a reasonable choice, especially with all lenses at f2.8. Leica is simply insensitive to the size and weight of the SL system. Across Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Leica is simply not competitive. Given the excellence of today’s mirrorless systems, size and weight also need to fit into the equation for what makes an appealing photographic tool. Please, please – give us a small, modern system!

  8. LEICA CL AND SL

    I see that Leica Rumors has misquoted me, suggesting that it is the SL and not the CL that is discontinued. This is very unfortunate and I wish to assure readers that my article is factually correct. There was absolutely no mention of the future of the SL system except in relation to forthcoming lenses and, as I stated, a passing reference to the SL3.

    This is embarrassing and, of course, unfair on Leica and the SL. I have asked Leica Rumors to correct their misrepresentation of my article.

    Mike

  9. It’s amusing how so many folks perceive they have better information than Leica that the CL is wildly popular and the SL is a dying breed based on their own impressions. Who else other Leica has clear sales numbers to make critical decisions on future product lines?

    • I agree with you. Despite its popularity with Leica enthusiasts, the CL was not selling well and development was moribund. Almost all the lenses had been designed before 2014 and were increasingly uncompetitive in the face of continued development among Sony, Fuji and others. I think Leica also felt that APS-C was no longer part of the cote strategy.

      As for the SL, I know that many think it is too big and heavy. But there are many others who find the system wonderful. It certainly produces excellent results and the SL is a dream to operate once you get used to the size.

      • CL was not selling well or APS-C system cameras and lenses were not selling well? Or, at the end the unsuccessful CL isn’t perhaps a consequence of L system (SL included) cameras and lenses global strategy?

        • I think the overall approach to APS-C was the fundamental problem. The CL wasn’t selling in sufficient quantities outside the die-hard Leica firmament. Probably because of this, Leica had neglected the development of the CL line while most other manufacturers were making big strides forward in improving their offerings at a more reasonable price. SO I don’t see Leica ever returning to APS-C, but I do see some attempt to create a lower-price full-frame entry point.

          • Yes, why making a double headed Lmount system? To abandon apsc line, to promise alliances, to bring out a bulky SL instead of a medium format sensor robust camera? Perhaps the whole L mount approach was too fuzzily thought from the beginning

          • Digging back into my memory, I seem to remember that the T mount (as it then was) was developed around 2012 as the basis of a new full-frame mirrorless camera. It was always on the large side for APS-C needs. But then they decided to use it on the T before it appeared on the SL. It could easily have been the other way round, and I suspect the SL was meant to launch before the T but it got delayed.

      • I’m hiking with an SL2s and the 24-70 in a Lowepro rucsac (with an M tele lens too) and at over 60 years of age and reasonably fit, but certainly not superhuman, I can carry it comfortably for 3-4 hours, so it is possible.Carried this way, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as heavy as in a shoulder bag where one shoulder is taking all the weight. Of course, a CL kit would be much lighter especially in warm, humid conditions when carrying anything is a chore.

  10. I assume Leica is heading to medium format being the significant if not primary offering for the SL system. Hence the resolving powers with accompanying size and weight of the native SL lenses.

    Most adverts I see for SL cameras include the Leica 24-70 lens not the 24-90. That, along with other Sigma, Panasonic or M lenses would address the requirements for full frame photography.

    Are both the SL bodies and native lenses ahead of their times, their capabilities to be fully revealed only once the medium format SL sensors arrive?

    I would be interested in an M format body with EVF so I could use longer focal length lenses more easily.

    • I’m not sure there’s a connection. Leica already has a full house of MF lenses for the S system (although pretty old in most cases), and although the SL lenses would work on MF, they wouldn’t use the entire frame, thus partly defeating the object. It’s the same as using TL lenses on the SL2.

      But yes, it’s interesting, especially if the new MF mirrorless isn’t much bigger than the SL. Maybe they are looking over their shoulder at Fuji, but then Fuji are not into full-frame and can afford to put all their eggs in the MF basket. This also begs the question of whether or not Panasonic could enter the MF market. With increasing technical cooperation between the marques, I wouldn’t mind betting there will be significant Panasonic involvement in the new Leica MF.

        • Hi Kevin, at this point in time most people assume that Leica will build a new set of medium format lenses and that it will not be the S-mount but that you would be able to use S-lenses with an adapter.

          • Of course, silly me, in my enthusiasm, I’d completely forgotten about the S mount. Perhaps they can change the mounts without too much trouble.

  11. I originally bought the Sony NEX-7 and a 23mm lens as a small, excellent walk around camera back in 2012 (about a year after launch). In reality it took Leica three iterations with the Leica T, TL and then TL2 in 2017 to get the camera body close to matching the Sony NEX-7. The Leica lenses were far better than either the Sony E mount, or Zeiss E mount offerings right from the start. The weakness of the TL/CL system has been the bodies, not the lenses. The same might be said for the SL body particularly compared to say the Sony A1, Nikon Z7 II or Canon R5 where the auto-focus systems are faster and more reliable for moving subjects. Some of the Canon R lenses are truly huge (have you held the 28-70mm f2) so the size of the SL lenses are not markedly bigger. The Summicron SL f2 line are actually relatively small for the quality. I expect the medium format mirrorless market is smaller than APS-C although the buyers probably have more money to spend on gear and Leica is already very late compared to the excellent Fujifilm GFX series and the Hasselblad X1D and X2D. But looking at what Leica has sold most of (M and Q) they are very niche rather than mainstream products.

    As a SL2 owner I am a bit nervous about Leica’s commitment to the L-mount longer term and the reduced level of trust/confidence makes me hesitant to commit to further lenses. I’m sure I am not alone there.

    The message to Leica needs to be “you have seriously dented your credibility with the Leica CL and you need to develop and market the Leica SL line (and deliver products on time) or you risk that going the same way”.

    • Tom,

      Excellent summary. I’m particularly interested in your comment on the size and weight of Canon lenses since the weight of the SL lenses is often cited as a reason not to purchase. I haven’t tried them, unfortunately, and perhaps I should pay a visit to a Canon store in order to get a better perspective.

      You should be writing for Macfilos! Why not turn this into a couple of thousand words and we will publish it? We’d need some pix, of course, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

      Mike

      • The Canon EOS R5 weighs about 200g less than an SL body (738g versus 931g). Some of the higher quality Canon lenses are indeed humongous but Canon (contrary to Leica) also has lightweight and cheap lenses like the 35mm f1.8, 305g, with macro capabilities, IS and punching way above its weight. And for some zooms you can choose between f2, f2.8 and f4 versions. Canon also releases about 6-8 lenses per year compared to Leica 1 if you are lucky. Canon autofocus is on an entirely other level altogether. The Canon menu system is good IMO. The bodies contain a lot of buttons but you can explicitly turn them off if you want pretty much giving you the same simplicity as Leica. Where Canon together with other Japanese manufacturers disappoint me is the design. Their cameras are ugly. If you value design you are automatically looking at Leica or Hasselblad.

        • I agree on Canon design – I have never liked their camera bodies so it is the only camera manufacturer I have never tried excluding obscure brands. I have even used the Sigma FP for a year and loved it but a semi- sane person can only own so many cameras according to my wife.

      • Mike I will send you a size comparison courtesy of the Camerasize.com website via email (as I can’t post photos here in comments). Long story short Canon 28-70 f2 makes the Leica 24-90 look like Twiggy (if you remember her). The Leica 90-280 is far more manly than the Canon 70-200 f2.8 and the Leica 50mm f1.4 is pretty similar to the Canon 50mm f1.2.

        • Thanks, Tom. Got it. That does give the lie to all the comments about the vast size of the SL optics. And the cameras are similar in size too. I suppose if you want the highest lens quality you have to accept the size and the corresponding need for a camera that complements those lenses, with a large format and good grip.

          • The main difference is that Canon, but the same can be said for Nikon and Sony, also offer smaller native lenses. With Leica, you’re stuck with the 700g Summicrons SL.
            Leica’s offering in SL mount is piss poor, it’s either the gargantuan primes or you go the Sigma/Pana route. The 35 and 28 APO SLs are a prime example of that, they are REALLY big for a F2 lens.

  12. I’m with Tom and Brian – the TL lenses may have been designed in 2014 but they are superb and far lighter than the recent L mount versions. I use them on the SL but more frequently on the Fpl which offers 32mp in its crop mode. And I would love an M with an EVF!

  13. Leica always made relatively heavy cameras and lenses. In the past I used the r7 and r8 with several R lenses and M6 and M8 with M lenses. We are currently walking around in the Eifel with the SL and the 24-90mm and a smallish M Zeiss 50mm 1,5 with adapter. Maybe 2,5kg with a shoulder bag. We walk daily between 5 and 10 km in hilly terrain, I may not be the youngest one any more (69) but no complaints here. Every time I am smitten by the technical quality of the pictures I made, which makes it very worthwhile.
    Maybe it is also the quality of Leica (due to their size and weight!?): lenses I bought 20-30 years ago still work without problems, even the R 180 3,4 Apo of my father he bought in 1976, now more than 45(!) years old, still is super!
    Relatively (compared to the competitors) heavy, large and expensive, all of them, but a joy to use and they’ll survive me with ease. The real problem may be the software (no updates after ca. 5 years) and the electronics: processors, sensors in the digital cameras and the motors in the SL lenses, they are probably all dead in 15-20 years. Although they are still built by Leica as to have to work forever…
    Name me a camera company (or any company for that matter), apart from the software, which is their weak point, who still have that attitude.

    Cheers!
    Donald

    • Unfortunately software is an essential part of a camera nowadays and yes, it is an extremely weak point of Leica. The X cameras never got the firmware updates that they deserved and now you cannot even get the 2014 Leica X Typ 113 serviced nor repaired anymore. And the TL/CL cameras will go the same way. Not exactly very impressive in my book. FWIW, Nikon recently released a new firmware update for their almost 10 years old D7100 camera. I would love to see Leica do that as well.

  14. Thank you very much, Mike,

    for the excellent coverage from the Dublin conference. This is great reporter work (re-portare=to bring back) and gives us who were not present a good idea of what the conference was like. Your articles meet all professional standards (which I can assess), and I am absolutely convinced they are 100 per cent factual.

    I am impressed that the Leica managers do listen to and speak with their customers in such a friendly, open-minded and honest way. You will not find many companies who act comparably.

    On the other hand, you will not find many bloggers who are working in Mike’s level. Leica can be grateful that Macfilos exists, otherwise the usual suspects would shape Leica’s public image, and we all know how much ingonrance and envy exists as soon as the name of Leica comes up.

    JP

    • Thank you for your confidence, Jörg-Peter. As you know, Macfilos does not generate income and I am not rushing after clicks and more clicks. I prefer to think that we have a high-quality bunch of readers who are truly interested in Leica and its products. I think this is proved by the temperate and informative comments to every article. Sometimes, the comments are better than the articles!

  15. I am very fond of my SL2’s grip- big hands, and all that. It’s about the same- or less weight- than other pro bodies I have had (uh, big hands). 1DX was perfect, if that gives you a reference.
    That said, I was holding out on the CL because I was hoping for a CL body with IBIS. ‘Larger’ body would be OK (it’s all relative). But not to be. Maybe I was not alone waiting and collectively inadvertently skewed Leica’s marketing ‘research’?
    I’ve had an M10 and an M10P. Very fond of the ‘P’ especially. But there’s the geezerly eye thing, and with glasses it’s tough to see the whole image in the eyepiece. I had some diopter screw-ons (real pain), but then I’m constantly taking glasses on and off. Bottom line, I would instantly go for a M with EVF (and built in diopter!). It also solves another problem- I was gentle on the M bodies, but once a year the rangefinder would go out of whack, so it would have to go on holiday to Leica. It became a 10 to 11 month camera, given the turn around time. I presume the EVF would fix that!

  16. There is also the point that technology made possible lighter and smaller cameras, so users’ trends perhaps stablished a new preference. That about SL an CL. Some years ago I really wanted some weight hanging from my neck; nowadays actually not, M7 for instance became rather heavy for me.

    • I am sure you are right that there is a demand for a smaller camera, but now they have abandoned APS-C, there isn’t much hope of a light full-frame. I really do not know how Leica can introduce a lower entry point without, say, rebadging an S5 or similar. And even that would be nowhere near the size of the CL (but potentially much cheaper).

      • Though I’m just in CL digital, perhaps Leica has too many fronts open: EVF SL, EVF Q2, future EVF M, plain rangefinder M digitals, plus disappeared apsc. All that’s already done, so the mess is on the table. Not easy to resume in a new concept. For me it was CL and that’s why I bought it.

        • This is where manufacturing can save money or cost you money. Look a the car industry and most these days, even the small ones, use component sharing as standard practice. For a company like Leica not to do this is shameful. It essentially costs them money from reduced margins to put more into R&D and marketing.

      • I fear there is a major disconnect between design and production on one hand, and marketing on the other hand. I have tried, in vain, to explore the reason for this glaring gap.

        When I asked Leica support for my findings with the X Vario to be fed back to the original design team, I was told that would not be possible, because the team had been dismantled. (Or words to that effect). So there is no continuous learning within Leica for any product, outside the M-range. Add to that fact, that entry level models seldom receive any revivifying boost from imaginative marketing, and it is easy to see why non-mainstream products wither prematurely. It is self-inflicted injury.

        • So the idea of throwing onto the wall to see if sticks remains their most accurate tactic. Once dropped, then it melts down, team included. Or even if sticking, on occasions (CL f.e.) they burn everything out.

  17. A lot of times which camera I take depends on the areas crime. I feel like the SL2 screams high dollar photography, while the CL goes unnoticed. The too heavy, to large crowd isn’t using 600mm, 400mm lens’s, so I’m certain they don’t understand the SL2 as a platform. I tend to drag the SL2 into the wilderness, and use the CL in urban environments.

  18. Clearly, dropping the CL is contentious. Leica has a rich tradition (with the M) of building lenses and cameras that can be used for decades… so the high price seems worthwhile. With the CL, they created an expensive short-lived system. In my opinion, Leica broke trust with all customers who bought into that system. So yes, it is an emotional issue, and no matter of rationalization by Leica or Leica influencers will mitigate the feeling of being abandoned by a company that should know better based on its rich history.

    • Well said. I wish Leica would understand this widespread dissatisfaction held by one-time loyal Leica owners. You can also add the Leica X-line to this sentiment. Both bit the dust, due to inept marketing and promotion.

    • Although I had no inside information, I sensed nearly two years ago that there wasn’t much future for Leica’s APS-C line. There was little real promotion and absolutely no development in lenses after the initial batch (I think the 60mm came a little later, but essentially it was cut-and-dried when the T was introduced. Talking about the T and TL, these cameras were pretty outstanding when launched and I really thought that Leica had a real bond with APS-C.

      But as it became clear to me that nothing was happening, I decided to sell up all my CL gear (except for the 18-56 which is still sitting on a dealer’s shelf waiting for a new owner). I felt this left things open for a change. I had thought of moving over to another APS-C range but couldn’t find anything that I felt happy with. Instead, I made the best of the Q2 and M11. Now, my only foot in the APS-C camp is the gorgeous little Ricoh GRIII. If you want a smaller Q with excellent image quality, this is the little camera to keep in your pocket.

      All this said, I can understand the frustration of those who were wholly committed to the excellent CL. As Stefan Daniel said, though, the sector is very price sensitive and I suspect that the CL system was just too expensive for what it offered.

      • It is frustrating and unfortunate that the Leica CL/TL has been abandoned and there will not be any new releases with regards to lenses and cameras. Though this does not mean that my Leica CL and 18-56 lens became less functional or produce worse photos than before. I will continue using my CL although it does not get as much love since the arrival of the SL2-S but I still like photos from the CL.

  19. The Leica CL together with the Leica Vario-Elmar 18-56 lens cost Euro 4.070,- in Germany. The Leica Q2 is sold for Euro 5.650,-. I believe the price points of both setups present a hurdle for most costumers. Thus neither the Leica CL or the Q2 can be compared with entry points of other camera makers. It certainly is more expensive to produce high quality cameras and lenses in Japan than it is in China, Thailand or other Asian countries. Probably research and development costs for Leica are at least as high as for other camera companies but cannot be spread across a large volume of units.

    Maybe leasing or pre owned Leica cameras and lenses would be notions for entry points into the Leica ecosystem.

  20. Posting my views on CL versus SL systems in another post to enable separate answers and remarks.

    I initially planned to buy a Leica M camera as well as the 35mm and 90mm Summicron lenses in 2014. My local Leica store lend me this setup. As much as I liked the intuitive controls of setting aperture and shutter speed. The rangefinder worked ok but I preferred the EVF of the Leica T which I also received on loan for comparison. At the time the Leica T (later TL) was the only camera that offered an EVF (apart from the add-on EVF of the M).

    The view through the Leica T’s EVF felt more direct; focus and composition were much easier especially with telephoto lenses. Hence I bought the Leica T and 18-56 lens. Later I upgraded to the CL because of the integrated EVF though I missed the smartphoneesque user interface of the Leica T at first. With later firmware upgrades (the current status screen that comes up when pressing the menu button of the CL, M, Q2, SL) it feels to me that Leica revived some of the concepts of the Leica T’s touchscreen interface.

    This year I bought a Leica SL2-S and 24-90 lens because I wanted a more robust weather-sealed camera-lens combination for working under harsh conditions like hiking in the rain and snow. The low noise levels at high ISO settings and image stabilization (in-body as well as in the lens) were further aspects for buying this camera-lens combination. As much as I like and enjoy working with my CL it does not get as much love since the arrival of the SL2-S. The SL2-S is bigger and heavier but this is not a disadvantage for me: I can hold the camera steadier because of its heft and grip; the physical user interface is far more intuitive and thus the SL2-S is much quicker to operate. More physical buttons provide more direct access to functions and the joystick is a joy to use. Furthermore the SL2-S’s EVF is just superb and provides a lifelike view that certainly is very comparable to optical viewfinders and in some situations like shooting in dim conditions in my view superior.

    There are still times when I like to take my CL with me but they became less and less. Certainly weight and size are not deciding factors that prevent me from regularly carrying the SL2-S with me.

    This is my personal view, experience and way of working. I am not trying to justify the demise of the CL/TL system. It would have been nice for customers to have a further option with the CL/TL system.

    • The issue with the CL and TL is not the camera body per se, but the redundancy of the lenses. There is no future pathway for what was a not inexpensive line of lenses. You could attach them to an SL, but as a reasonable assumption CL owners chose the CL because it was light and compact. To attach them to an SL rather defeats the purpose.

      So apart from continuing to use the hell out of your CL, what do you do with your lenses?

      • Unfortunately, I cannot answer your question as I have not thought about this much. I have only the CL and 18-56 mm lens. Thus I am not heavily invested in the system as others might be. Personally I regard the Leica CL as a camera-lens combination similar to a camera like the Leica Q where camera and lens are married permanently. Maybe I would have bought a Q2 if it offered a zoom lens rather than a T/CL and 18-56 mm lens.

        I am going to use the CL as long as it works for me. I might either replace it with a camera-lens combination that suits my needs better at a point in future or might just carry on enjoying it as long as it works properly. If either the lens or camera fail and cannot be repaired by Leica I might try to sell the remaining working component or keep the working lens and use it as you suggested with the SL.

  21. Exactly. Not only is the camera body no longer being upgraded, but thousands of dollars of lenses are effectively orphaned. If the CL breaks, the lenses can only be used on full frame L-mount cameras. Of course, those will automatically crop. So to maintain 20+ megapixels, the choices become the SL2, fp-L, S1R. The good news is that the Sigma fp-L is about the same size as the CL, about the same weight, with phase detect and BSI sensor. Since Leica has abandoned the CL customers, perhaps other members of the L-mount alliance can step up and help out! The other two are also reasonable choices. SL2 with CL lenses is MUCH lighter than with SL lenses.

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