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APS-C cameras: The world keeps on turning after the death of the Leica CL


Full frame is the future? According to Leica, yes. But if you are considering the industry as a whole, APS-C cameras are actually experiencing a renaissance. Did Leica abandon the CL/TL range and the X series too soon?

Perhaps the enthusiasm for Leica’s APS-C system simply came a little too late in the day. It certainly seems that way, although high price may well have had an important bearing on the lacklustre sales performance of the TL and CL models. One sad result are orphaned APS-C L-Mount lenses (read here how you can continue to use them). Another is that Leica has no camera to offer in the €3000 range currently.

Loss is still raw

At any rate, the loss of the latest APS-C cameras, CL and TL2, is still pretty raw in Leica circles. Many enthusiasts continue to use these pretty cameras faithfully. And they deliver stunning images to this day. John Shingleton and Jean Perenet, for example, have demonstrated the virtues of APS-C to the Macfilos readers over the years. This loss is quantified because, today, a used CL in good condition can even sell for more than its original cost.  Yet, despite all the anguish among Leica fans, there is no point in crying over spilt milk. Leica has left the universe of APS-C cameras, period.

The image results can hardly be the reason Leica abandoned APS-C: South Spain and North Italy. In both (and many other) cases, the CL was a perfect travel camera. 

It works without Wetzlar

But believe it or not, this APS-C universe continues to exist and prosper, without the support of Wetzlar. Despite suggestions that there is no room for a standard between micro four-thirds and full frame, the APS-C ecosystem is apparently alive and well. Leica clearly believed that APS-C was being squeezed at both ends; that continuing the range made no longer commercial sense. Yet, since the demise of the CL and TL2, we have seen several significant product releases in the market for APS-C cameras, and these developments call into question Leica’s logic.

Fuji leads the way with a remarkable range of APS-C cameras

Fujifilm continues to lead the way with its range, which is aimed at both amateurs and semi-professionals. The fact that Fuji is attempting to replicate the “classic” aesthetic of Leica and other vintage cameras is not a secret. Therefore, it is not surprising that many Leica users are at least interested in Fujifilm products. 

The Fuji range of prime and zoom lenses caters for almost all needs, much more so than did the discontinued Leica APS-C line-up. The X100 series, in particular, represents a long-time success. In fact, new cameras were almost impossible to get for months; dealers had waiting lists. 

This, alone, is a good indication of where Leica went wrong. The 13-year continuous development of the X100 series contrasts dramatically with Leica’s frequent change of direction within the APS-C world. If only Leica had continued to develop the X1/2 cameras (which actually preceded the X100) the company could have maintained a firmer stake in APS-C. This could have had a bearing on the future of the interchangeable-lens range. With the support of a buoyant fixed-lens range, Leica may have seen benefits in sticking with the smaller standard. 

New mount, new APS-C cameras: Canon makes a second attempt

The continued progression of APS-C is not solely down to the sterling efforts of Fujifilm, however. Canon has three mirrorless RF-Mount APS-C cameras to pick from. I do hope it works better than in their first attempt with their former APS-C cameras, whose EOS-M-Mount remained exotic so say the least. This time, the impressively featured EOS R7 obviously hints at the EOS 7D SLR. The engineers combined good image results, outstanding operational speed, and top build quality in this camera. I had one once, and have fond memories of it. 

The EOS R5 and R10 are more entry-level cameras. And more is yet to come in this segment. Here, the smaller sensor pays off. I am not aware if the sensor in an APS-C camera makes a significant cost difference in relation to full frame. But the entire ecosystem can be of a more compact standard (smaller lenses with less glass, slower processors because of lower resolution, for instance).

Nikon tries to square the circle with small APC-C cameras for the huge Z-Mount

Even Nikon surprised the photographic world with a new APS-C camera in 2022. The Z30 uses the relatively large Z-Mount (echoing Leica’s use of the L-Mount, designed for full frame but introduced first on the APS-C range). However, this means that the dimensions of the camera are determined by the bayonet’s impressive size. 

The earlier (mid- 2021) Zfc is an attempt to offer a classic looking camera to customers who still miss their FM2, or to those who love its stylish looks (I think, however, these people have been much at home with Fujifilm for a few years). Sadly, I have never had the opportunity to try any of these Nikons, and I don’t know what Nikon’s plan is for APS-C, with no new camera in over a year. However, unlike Leica, they are still in the game.

Ricoh-Pentax has the guts for APS-C cameras

Ricoh-Pentax is also firmly wedded to the APS-C sensor. Just think of the successful GR range, which combines this sensor with a fixed focal length lens (similar to the Fujifilm X100 and the defunct Leica X cameras). It has become something of a cult device, constantly in demand and in short supply in many markets. It is another clear example of where Leica went wrong in not continuing to develop a fixed-lens APS-C camera. 

And Ricoh-Pentax is still in the APS-C DSLR market. In the past twelve months, the brand launched the Pentax Kf (actually a minimally updated K70) and the K-3 Mark III Monochrome. The latter is of special interest to monochrome fans (think of the MM) and, alone, could draw enthusiasts back to the APS-C standard.

Even for Sony, full-frame is not everything

Even Sony, which so successfully developed the concept of the full-frame mirrorless camera, backed by an unprecedented marketing effort, is still sticking to APS-C cameras with the recently released Alpha 6700. I don’t think this is Sony’s last contribution to the segment, especially since it has an impressive line-up of APS-C lenses.

Finally, the Pixii APS-C cameras

The Pixii – with it three iterations so far – is another example in point: This is an M-Mount rangefinder camera with an APS-C sensor. Although this size limits the wide-angle options of this camera, designers went for it for good reason. On the other hand, the Pixii is small and can provide stunning image quality. While a niche product for sure, the Pixii is certainly another proof that APS-C cameras do have a future. There is a waiting list for a new Pixii at the time of writing. We can assume that both manufacturers and customers believe in APS-C.

Lens manufacturers continue to support APS-C

It appears that third-party manufacturers also continue to believe in the viability of a standard lying between micro four-thirds and full frame. Sigma and Tamron are introducing new designs, and Sigma even has new APS-C lenses for L-Mount, despite the lack of suitable new cameras. I am uncertain if Sigma is contemplating marketing an own-brand L-Mount APS-C camera, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Sigma’s latest 10-18mm lens for APS- C cameras will also be available for L-Mount.

APC-S is not a market to be left without a valid reason

All things considered, this does not look like a dying standard, does it? Although APS-C sensors have their limits in maximum resolution (most offer between 20 and 26 megapixels, but Fujifilm is leading the way with 40 MP), the idea of a smaller sensor is nonetheless intriguing. APS-C cameras are still a good choice when it comes to finding a good balance between image quality, small size, and an attractive price point. So it is not a market a camera or lens manufacturer should leave without a valid reason.

St Oscar knows best…

Even Leica once subscribed to this confidence in APS-C. When Leica announced the CL almost six years ago, the company referred to no less a mentor than St. Oskar. A promotional video stated that Barnack, the pioneer in smaller film format, would most likely have opted for an APS-C sensor had he still been in charge. Quite… 

It is a bitter irony to listen again to these words from the promotional video: “We gave the CL a class leading APS-C sensor for the best possible ratio of image quality to system size.” 

I rest my case.  

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  1. For me the CL digital was excellent. The tiny 18mm lens is superb and so is the 23 Summicron. My message to Leica: If you get back into the APS-C market, keep the camera + lens small. I would love to see a Leica product like the old Rollei 35S, fixed 35mm or 28mm lens, AF, no rangefinder and it could even be full frame. Keep it simple, small with pocketable high quality that only Leica can do.

    • Hi Bill, have you tried the Ricoh GRiii? It is precisely the camera you describe, 28mm, AF, no rangefinder, pocketable, high image quality, insanely sharp lens, totally unobtrusive, etc.

      • I agree with this, SlowDriver. The GRIII is the camera I keep in my pocket, and it is all you say it is. The lack of view finder is a negative point for many, but I always say that a viewfinder would result in a much bigger camera. For instance, the Fuji X100V, another excellent camera, does have a viewfinder and proves the point. For ultimate portability and superb results, the GRIII (28mm) or the IIIx (40mm) win hands down.

        • I very honestly never got around to using the Leica T/TL2 without viewfinder. I always attached the (rather ugly) clip-on EVF. I seem to be fine though using the Ricoh GR III without viewfinder, not really sure why… One negative perhaps about the Ricoh GR III is the build quality, it is rather flimsy, but then again you can buy 3-4 Ricoh GR IIIs for one Leica CL + 18mm and about 6 Ricoh GR IIIs for one Leica Q so perhaps not that big of a deal, at least not when comparing to Leica.

        • Mike, to take your comparison further, The Fuij X70 does not have a viewfinder and is much smaller than the X100S that it was contemporary with, yet has the same IQ. The X70 is a marvelous camera for travel; did offer a slip-on optical viewfinder, which I purchased and found much value in.

  2. I am a bit mystified by the statement that Leica has not sold a “rebranded M43 camera”.
    I owned a Leica DLux 7 which is essentially a Panasonic LX 100 with a red dot and a Micro 4/3 sensor.
    Darn good camera with IS and nice macro capability, and a 24-70 equiv zoom. It produced raw files with the “RWL” file name extension.

    Am I missing something or am I off my rocker?

    • Sorry Bill, sloppy wording. We meant re-branded interchangeable-lens camera to take advantage of the Leica-branded optics.

  3. All good points. Now let’s talk about a smaller sensor system that Leica is committed to: Micro Four Thirds. The Panasonic G9 II is a serious contender and about to reboot a set of Leica lenses for the M43 realm. I am exploring this ecosystem, I started my more serious digital photography with M43, and have been acquiring Leica Panasonic M43 lenses that are outstanding. The 12mm F1.4 is a gem, as is the 15mm, and how can I not mention the 42,5mm Nocticron. Also, the 10-25mm and 25-50mm are unique and outstanding. They might be bigger but remain very light. Watch this space as I will write a few posts about my Leica M43 adventures.

    • As with you, Erwin, I have been in and out of M43 and am currently out. But I do agree that M43 makes sense as an alternative to full-frame, rather than APS-C. It has always been a mystery why Leica hasn’t sold a rebranded Panasonic M43 camera. And now the D-Lux is on its last legs, perhaps is now the time. After all, as you say, the lens programme is in place.

      • It would certainly work as an entry point into ILC cameras for Leica. I suspect most people have a reasonably high regard for what Olympus has done in terms of quality, so why not Leica?

      • “It has always been a mystery why Leica hasn’t sold a rebranded Panasonic M43 camera.”

        Perhaps because Leica mainly wants to be seen as a high end luxury camera manufacturer with prices out of reach to most people and m43 simply does not fit into that vision/image very well.

        • From the Leica website:
          “The large size of the 4/3rd sensor consequently leads to larger pixels, that in turn are able to collect more light which reduces image noise and makes the D-Lux 7 ideal for available light photography.”

          • I’ll just say this: I have the D-Lux Typ 109, which has manual controls where they belong. I love working with it. I’ve looked at the Panasonic GX9; if Leica reworked it with shutter speed replacing PASM, I’d buy it and a slew of Leica Pana lenses so fast my bank account wouldn’t know what hit it.

            That said, the Fuji’s are pretty good ….

  4. I should add that the Nikon has proven with the Z8 and Z9 that a fully electronic shutter is feasible. So the next iteration of the Leica Q won’t need a shutter and therefore adapting the TL 35mm lens it the Q3 body is even easier to engineer.

    • Right, the electronic shutter of the Z9 is remarkable. This certainly points into the future. The goal is to combine these sensors with a small processor that doesn’t use much energy and can be powered by a small battery. No idea how long it take to get such a setup.

  5. Leica could certainly return to the APS-C sensor size with a proven format. How about the Q3 with an APS-C sensor (same pixel density of Q3 would give about 26.5MP) and use the lens optical design of the excellent TL 35mm f1.4 Summilux lens but with a leaf shutter (same as the Q3 lens). This gives a fixed lens 50mm equivalent in a Q3 body (largely unchanged) without the crippling 60MP file sizes.

    Lots of people have yearned for a 50mm version of the Leica Q but Peter Karbe had commented the lens size would be too big. Drop to APS-C and you fix the lens size issue. Leica have applied a similar concept to the SL2 and SL2-S already and it works. Sony have done the same thing with the A6700 in APS-C and the A7C Mark II in full frame.

    • Great ideas, Tom, but the TL 35/1.4 is a huge lens for its technical specs. So I think they would have to create something new. For example, an up-to-date body for the 23/2 would tick many boxes, I think. And as for Sony: Their bodies are remarkably small, but the lenses aren’t. I think it is always important to see the system szie. JP

      • Size is one thing, weight another. I own the Sony a7c. With the 35mm f/1.4 it is about 700g… lighter than the Leica SL2(s) plus 35 f/2. That is not insignificant.

  6. Really enjoyed this article – lovely overview! I use a couple of Ricoh cameras (amongst others) and I liked the CL line and was rather sorry the plug was pulled.

    With Fujifilm, however, I think it’s worth stressing that its digital cameras are possible by the successes of the Instax cameras and the other products in the Consumer Imaging group and effectively subsidises the rest of its Imaging Division. It’s also rationalised the line of its digital cameras, which was rather bloated and could be a little confusing for consumers, so not everything it’s done has been marvellous.

    With the current shortages of the X100V, there’s been suggestion that demand spiked to social media (such as TikTok) influencers recommending (largely on the basis of their film simulations) possibly opening a new type of customers! Also, there has been suggestions is that the supply line has challenges and Fujifilm is having production issues.

    • Hi Tim, thanks for your comment. I have no insights into Fujifilm’s strategy, but I assume that the Instax move brought them a lot of money – after all, customers have to buy ever new material. Just like in the old days. The reason for the X100C shortages I don’t know, but I can say they exist. I know people who have been waiting for many months now. JP

      • I have a Fuji X100F, the last model. I have purchased X100 SE, X100S, and X100F. All used except the X100F, which was new and actually sent to me by Fujifilm USA, to replace an X100S they could not repair. I skipped over the X100T.

        Each iteration makes minor changes in the cosmetics and position of the controls. And sensor resolution. I was perfectly happy with the 16MP X100S, but was also pleased with the 24MP X100F.

        Given that I now use the 16MP Nikon Df and 21MP Nikon 1 J5 exclusively, I don’t worry so much about sensor resolution any more. The images from these two cameras are comparable, except for low light, where the Df is superior.

        So if the 26MP X100V is hard to get, I would suggest a used 24MP X100F.

  7. Leica Camera AG will only design, manufacture, and market, cameras which sell in sufficient quantities to be viable business propositions. Those cameras require state of the art sensors which are supplied by sensor manufacturers in batches of thousands. Leica needs to COMMIT to buying those thousands AND be certain the cameras can be sold. Unlikely sensor manufacturers will supply their products in small batches to Leica when they can sell or supply in far greater quantities to other camera designers / manufacturers. Anyone who has studied commerce and economics understands the principle of ‘economies of scale’. Leica’s marketplace is aimed at a relatively smaller customer base than that of e.g., Fuji, Ricoh, Canon, Nikon et al who can order components in far, far, greater quantities and at less cost than Leica. Leica do not manufacture many components ‘in house’. Furthermore, a ‘new’ CL2 would require several years design and development to reach the prototype stage – development requiring negotiations with Leica suppliers to acquire components at reasonable cost for the ‘X’ thousand anticipated sales – which will always be much lower than other camera manufacturers. Leica cannot be a manufacturer of all formats and hope to survive – Leica likely took the decision to concentrate on key products rather than ‘also rans’. Some of us who attended Leica Duke Street’s presentation to The Leica Society in October 2019 will recall the Q&A session when a member enquired about the future of the CL digital system. The reply from Leica UK MD Jason Heward was: “The future is full frame mirrorless”. We could not have been given a bigger hint that the Leica CL had no future. The only non-full frame cameras marketed by Leica Camera AG are ‘badge engineered’ Panasonic digital compacts. If Panasonic decided to enter the APS-C market there might be a chance of a badge engineered APS-C PanaLeica – but all the signs are that this will not happen – especially in a market place where camera sales in general are slowing / declining. Leica are concentrating on full frame products – especially FF L-mount which now has THE most comprehensive range of lenses to suit most budgets. Maybe best to count our blessings with what IS on offer from Leica Camera AG, than to bemoan what is not?

    • Hi Dunk, no offense you sound like a Leica apologist… I appreciate your Leica Duke Street hint but the reality is that Leica Corporate (through the person of Stefan Daniel) kept lying about the future of Leica APS-C till May of last year.. as a customer I took that very badly and I believe rightfully so, discontinuing a product is one thing, deliberately lying and misleading customers is another… apologies for not sugarcoating my words… and very honestly most likely with the money that Leica currently is investing in an also non full frame very low quantity medium format system they could very easily have released a CL2… and it would probably have been more successful than that medium format system will ever be… Respectfully.

    • Sounds like you’re a disciple of the “Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble” school of thinking. Leica had plenty opportunities to seize the potential of the APSC line, but just chose to give up and go home. It does not instill much confidence in their management, that’s for sure.

      • Don’t want to answer for Jörg-Peter, but I saw this article as something to provoke grumbles and “two-years-on” reflections. I think it has succeeded well!

        • It has, and this indicates that the chapter is not yet closed for quite a few Leica fans. So why not report on it?

      • Le Chef: I can assure you i have no hesitation in ‘complaining’ to Leica Camera AG when necessary and have done so in the past. To the best of my knowledge when the CL was a current Leica APS-C, ICL camera, there was no indication or rumour of any upgrade to e.g., a CL-2 model. I am a Leica CL and T owner; CL camera acquired July 2022 knowing it was very likely discontinued.

    • Hi Dunk,

      I think you are perfectly right with your assumption that Leica has abanonded APS-C for a good reason. Their portfolio was huge for such a small manufacturer. However, they were ill advised if they were really looking for massive economies of scale. Leica is far too small for scale effects, and they will always find a way to source components in rather small amounts.

      But then again, this is not impossible. I don’t think Ricoh-Pentax has a market share that allows real scale effects, and they are doing well. Pixii even manages to get sensors by the hundred, so why wouldn’t Leica succeed here? So maybe we have to hope for a compact FF L-Mount body. Sony has shown what is possible with the Alpha7C.

      But personally, I would have preferred Leica to bring a CL2 instead of venturing in the middle format market, which is a far smaller niche and crowded by Fujifilm, PhaseOne and others. As I wrote below, I agree that an APS-C L-Mount camera from Panasonic is very unlikely.

      So, yes, let us be happy with what Leica has to offer. Which is a lot, no doubt.


  8. I loved the Leica CL and also found the DLux-7 to be excellent given they added a Micro-4/3 sensor. With the AI software out there now, including Topaz, the smaller sensors can produce amazingly good images. Smart phone cameras prove this. Even the X series produce very good images and all of the above can fit in your pocket, like the original Leicas. I would like to see a new X series camera, with improved AF and it would be very attractive in a Monochrom version. IMHO 24 MP is plenty good enough for an APS-C camera, as we saw from the CL digital camera. Leica could produce a new X series camera in a similar form factor and size to the Rollei 35 series pocket camera, with a USB-C port

  9. You certainly make your case! My starting point was the D-lux 4, and small Leicas were still in my range, until Panasonic with Leica lenses took over.

  10. Hi there Jörg-Peter
    Excellent article, you have me convinced!
    Perhaps Leica will see the light and try something different . . . . but I doubt it!
    All the best

    • Thanks, Jonathan, glad you liked it. And I share your doubt. I believe that Sigma is the only candidate for a possible new APS-C L-mount camera. Panasonic will stick to Micro Four Thirds. But maybe Leica and Sigma could bring something with a joint effort. They are used to cooperation, after all. All the best, JP

  11. Thanks for a really comprehensive review! I was quite ignorant of the breadth of offerings!

    If the CL had a standard speed selector, I would have bought it. Similarly for the X series — had there been an integrated viewfinder. As it turned out, I bought a used Fuji XE-3 for about $459 US (pre-COVID prices) from a no questions returns dealer.

    Of course it feels a bit like a cheap plastic toy compared to my M, and it is certainly harder to focus accurately than the rangefinder. But I set a back button to change ISO, and I use M lenses, which work very well, and in all the haptics are quite similar to the M. And it has an electronic shutter.

    After trying to shoot a dance competition on manual, I even learned how to use autofocus — though it’s really not my style.

    In my first 6 week trip to Japan I took the DLux Typ 109. This coming 9 week trip I’ll take the Fuji — the body is of comparable size. A post on MACFILOS recommended the Sigma 18-50 f2.8 zoom; a very good lens. For long, I’ll take a Leica 90mm f2.8 (135mm equivalent).

    While I’d still prefer a Leica version, I will, as this post recommends, get on without it.

    • Kathy,

      I tried a Fujifilm XE for a short time, but got rid of it. It definitely had a cheap feel to it. If you’ve never tried one of the X100 series, they are quite different. Made in Japan, they have a metal body and a quality feel about them. The XE series, and some of the other lower-priced Fujis are made in China and have plastic body coverings.

      • Thanks! If my luggage were lost in security, I’d be more likely to try the XPro line. I’m guessing it’s a quality similar to the X100?

        Anyone worked with one?

    • Thanks, Kathy,

      for your kind comment, and sorry for replying only now. It was a busy week. The Fujifilm cameras have their weaknesses for sure, but I think they can be great travel companions. I had an X-E2 for a short time and regret selling it. The images were beautiful, and the camera was pretty complete with a decent EVF. And to build quality, as far as I can remember, was good, especially for the 18-55 f/2.8-4 lens. A body in this form factor with a 24MP sensor, EVF and fill-in flash would be a great replacement for the impossible-to-get X100V. But with what you are having, you will be able to take great images!

      All the best, JP

      • Thanks for the comment. If you ever do go back to the fold — I found the XE-3 a substantially better camera than the 2 model.

        Still, as you say: if I can’t get good photos out of the camera, I’ve only my skill to blame.

        Oh, dear: now I truly have to face the music, don’t I 🙂

  12. The success of Fuji and Ricoh I believe proves that APS-C cameras still have a future. A number of things are required though: 1) commitment to the format 2) listening to your customer base 3) a vision. Leica failed on all accounts. Leica seems to prefer to build expensive high margin high end niche cameras that complement the M rather than risk to directly compete with it. So be it. I took my CL with the 18-56mm to a cycling race on Saturday. As expected it performed flawlessly giving me image quality virtually indistinguishable from FF and without the weight penalty of FF, roughly 1/2 the weight of the SL with 24-70mm and 2/5 the weight of the SL with 24-90mm. It might not matter to Leica but it matters to me. Peace to all.

    • Hi SlowDriver,

      I would not judge so harshly in tone, but basically, I agree in all three points. However, truth to be told, the customers were not too excited by the T/TL/CL. It seems these cameras only became attractive then the end drew close. Maybe some dealers could also have done more to support the APS-C L-Mount line. My Leica Store Konstanz isn’t to blame, by the way. They always advocated the range when talking to interested customers. If they end up buying an M all the same, any dealer would sell them what they want, of course.


      • The T (typ 701) and TL, languished on the market because lack of clear direction. No weather sealing, an odd lens line-up with no price/quality tiers, no viewfinder, and mostly a very unresponsive slow camera that sat on the market for 4 years before its sucessor was released.

        The T (typ 701) and TL where dead slow, to the point of is it going to take a picture. The 2015 launch of SL drew attention away from the TL (APSC) line and didn’t have these hang ups. Then it took two more years to release the TL2 and CL. At that point it was too late to the market to recover the tarnished reputation over almost 4 years of a sluggish truncated camera that took wonderful photos.

        Leica tried to market it toward a younger mobile phone user, but the T (typ 701) and TL where laughably slow for that market. The pricing was also an issue. The market does have the money for a premium camera, but not that much money fro a small system with various limitations. Each lens could have reeled in the price a bit, as a system like this attracts buying multiple lens up front.

        The CL and TL2 where good answers, but too late and seemed to be supported more by Blackstone than Kaufmann. Blackstone started its exit a year or two after the release. At that time (2018) dealers more focused on the traditional buyer of the M and pushing the SL along with the expansion of the full frame L-mount. The Sigma set of 4 APSC lenses for the ridiculously low prices marked Leica’s and the Kaufmann’s departure from the system; Instead of maybe selling that set with Leica branding as they are doing with lens for the SL right now.

        • Hi Cityguru, about the The Blackstone Group exit, as far as I know they are still around and they still own 45% of the company. That being said, if what you say is correct it could potentially explain a number of things. It could explain why one fraction within the company pushes the development of certain products and another fraction within the company does little or nothing to market them and to find a suitable target audience. I have always been of the opinion that Leica could have kept the CL going with little to no effort if they wanted to. As you point out they even did not have to make any new lenses. Sigma was already doing that for them and if successful they could even have decided to rebadge them as they currently do for the SL. It would also have helped if the rebadged FF Panasonic lenses had come to market earlier. It would not only have helped the CL but it would almost certainly also have helped the SL!

  13. Thanks Jörg-Peter for this excellent article. APS-C cameras are wonderful tools. Sizewise they’re smaller than their FF big brothers (sigma fp excepted). They produce excellent images regarding quality and you can carry them all day long. Pick the right one for you and you’re set.

    • Thanks, Jean, while actually rooted in the full frame world, I could not agree more. A camera’s what you make it. JP

  14. Thanks for a great article.

    I was much angered when Leica cancelled the APSC line a couple of years ago.

    You can blame dithering and vacillating product planning. (They could have hired a senior Fuji product planner if they had wanted to, but that lack of forward thinking and action tells you that the company was not committed to APSC.)

    The “ Positioning” of the APSC line was poor. “Who is it for? Why should I buy it?” were never clear and again there was an obvious lack of commitment.

    Every once in a while I look at Fuji’s offerings. They are undoubtedly well thought through, built well for the price and offer both any number of variants and options to put GM to shame. But I still don’t feel comfortable with the UI which feels as if it were designed like a diner menu with pages of choices that take ages to sort through and likely mean you missed the decisive moment. And their lenses miss that indefinable something that Leica lenses seem to have. I can’t define it but I just know they don’t have it.

    Maybe Panasonic changes its mind, or Sigma takes a bold leap to produce a mainstream APSC camera. We can only hope.

    So I remained tied to the mast of the shipwrecked CL and TL lenses and have a Q2 as my lifeboat, but see nothing that meets the ideal destination for my next camera. I’m trying an M this weekend so maybe that’s my future.

    But when the CL finally expires I will be much saddened and will still be saying “If only Leica had…”

    • Thanks, Le Chef, I remember you were one of the many disappointed customers after Leica declared they would leave the APS-C market. I fully agree with what you are writing, and I wish they have given more attention to this segment. In fact, I also think it was a “positioning” question – at least, in part. As for Panasonic, I am sure they could produce a very attractive APS-C camera which is smaller than the S5 and looks a bit more classic, like the Fujifilm X-E2 and following models. But I think Pana will stick to APS-C, so we can maybe hope for Sigma. Imagine a fp model with a more photography-oriented user interface, fast sensor readout (easier in APS-C than in FF) and a few more features in a really compact body: I am sure it would sell if they cared for good marketing. All the best. JP

  15. PaulB calls this the ultimate travel camera, and I completely agree — and also agree with his comments with regards to the M and Q.

    My CL, together with the 23 and 60, have been a favorite travel kit for quite a while now, and I’m hoping that it’ll serve me well for a long while yet to come. The possibility of a Sigma 10–18 is interesting, too; will definitely look into that one.

    Thanks for the great article and comments!

    • Hi Giles, I know that there are many T, TL, CL fans out there. I think you have a wonderful travel kit, and I wish you many wonderful experiences with it. Maybe we see innovations in the APS-C L-Mount market one day. The fact that new lenses are marketed gives me some hope. JP

  16. A very nicely put together article, and I agree, it is very likely that the APS-C format will survive and possibly out live M43.

    I think one of the reasons Leica did not have much success with the CL/TL line of cameras was their marketing. These were billed as entry level cameras for the new photographer, rather than as the ultimate travel camera, or as a first Leica.

    Another issue that plagues Leica is their unwillingness to eat their own lunch. All of Leica’s APS-C cameras were not equipped to be an ultimate camera for the size. They were equipped to avoid being a threat to the M-system. Which, along with the asking price made them too little camera for the money, compared to the other cameras on the market.

    Fortunately, Sony introduced the fixed lens RX-1 series of cameras, which threatened the position of the M-system, and forced Leica to introduce the Q cameras. Which are now the gateway drug into the Leica eco-system.


    • Hi Paul,

      I have no idea where MFT will end. As long as Panasonic AND OM Systems (aka Olympus) are still in the game, I expect that the standard has a solid future. The OM-1 is an excellent camera, and some of the MFT lenses are outstanding. So for wildlife photographers who need mobility, for travellers and many amateurs MFT is a good thing. I am always surprised to see that this standard is seemingly more popular in other countries, such as Italy and France.

      As for Leica’s policy – I wouldn’t contradict you, but I also know that Leica dealers ask for an “entry-level” (in their terms) line because the only thing can currently offer for, say €3000, or €4000 with lens, is a pretty old second-hand camera with a fitting lens. While they are happy if they have something to sell, many customers want something new for this money, and they are likely to end as Fujifilm etc. customers. And I do not know where the fear for the M system comes from. The people who want an M camera buy one. The others never won’t. So what’s the problem?

      We’ll see. JP

    • Cannibalism: I agree, the same happened in the early ’70’s when the Leica CL was introduced; sales of the Leica M took a severe nose dive. Lovely little gem, though.

  17. “The earlier (mid- 2021) Zfc is an attempt to offer a classic looking camera to customers who still miss their FM2, or to those who love its stylish looks (I think, however, these people have been much at home with Fujifilm for a few years)”.

    Indeed. I used X100 series for about six years. Until I could see my way to purchase the much more expensive Nikon Df. With the Df I have much more versatility than I had with the X100 series (including the wide and tele supplemental lenses).

    I was never tempted to buy the other Fuji models with interchangeable lenses. Fortunate that, since Fuji comes out with improved models every year, perfect for their bottom line but not for mine. I am perfectly happy to be “stuck” with my Df. And no, I won’t be sucked into switching to the Z mount. I have such wonderful glass in the F mount.

    • Martin, thanks for your interesting comment! I can fully understand your choice of X100+Df. Nikon F mount will be a wide-spread standards for years to come, so you are not stuck in a dead end for sure. A truly classic setup which should cater for almost every need. I hope you can enjoy it for many years! All the best, JP

  18. Well researched and written, JP. It appears that Leica’s agenda is primarily to produce high-priced niche products for the super-rich. (Televisions, smartphones, and high-end cameras, with always a celebrity version in sight).

    The sadness lies in the success being enjoyed by other top manufacturers, with insatiable demand for their APS-C products. There are waiting lists for Ricoh GR cameras worldwide. I believe the same is true for Fuji. And their products are not exactly inexpensive to buy. I am convinced the market is there, but Leica was never a serious player in it. Even the design teams were dispersed, soon after launch, so I believe, when I suggested referring my experience with the X-Vario. It is very sad, but there are excellent alternatives.

    • Hi David, thanks for your kind feedback. The success of the Fujifilm and Ricoh cameras shows that neither the sensor format nor the product was the problem for Leica’s APS-C line, but poor marketing and unclear positioning. I think they did not really believe in the system themselves, which also led to an attitude of unambitious product design. Only think of image stabilisation, which the CL lacked while other cameras already had very capable IBIS (see Sony full frame). Very sad indeed. JP

  19. APSC definitely has a future. I would hope that Leica reconsiders – a much smaller size SL is needed. Much smaller size ! I have M and TL2 and now also Q3. Even the Q3 is no pocket camera. I wouldn’t think twice if there was a CL2 – love of the format.

    • Thanks, Kim. I can fully understand you. A TL2 with the 18mm lens is a very compact yet powerful combo. The only consolation is that the Ricoh GR series offers even smaller size and comparable image quality. JP


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