Is the Leica CL still worth $3000 in 2020?

Published: July 27, 2020
By Anthony
8 min read
Is the Leica CL still worth $3000 in 2020?

The Leica CL (not to be confused with the 1973 Leica CL) is an APS-C camera that was released in 2017. It uses the L-mount which features autofocus unlike the conventional M-mount that most Leica cameras use. I've had many people ask me if the Leica CL is worth it in 2020, so let's take a look at how well it fairs in 2020.


Max resolution6,000×4,000
Effective pixels24 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C
Sensor typeCMOS
Max shutter speed1/25000 sec - 30 sec
Weight with battery483g (1.06lb)
Dimensions131 x 78 x 45 mm (5.2 x 3.1 x 1.8")
Year Released2017


The Leica CL has a very elegant and classic Leica look. The camera is smaller and lighter than your typical mirrorless camera at 483g (1.06lb) which makes it the ideal travel camera. While the camera is light, the camera is extremely durable. The body is made of magnesium and top and bottom plates are black anodized aluminum. The body is also wrapped in fine-grain leather. It also comes with the trademark Leica logo on the front. Design-wise, the CL is basically a mini Leica M.

Both the Leica TL2 and the Leica CL share the same sensor, but have a different body. I personally prefer the look and feel of the CL over the TL2. The TL2 doesn't come with an EVF which is a biggie for me and the leather wrapping just feels nicer to hold. However, I do wish the CL came with a grip like the TL2 to make the camera easier to hold. You can purchase an optional Leica CL Handgrip, but it's pretty expensive.



Unlike most Leica cameras, this comes with autofocus like the SL, Q, and other T series making it easier for newcomers to pick up and use. This camera comes with a 49 point contract-detect autofocus system. It works pretty good for a camera that came out in 2017, but I found Sony's autofocus to be far superior. I found the Sony RX100vii's eye detection to blow the Leica CL out of the water. The camera supports shooting at up to 10 frames per second. Don't expect to use this for sports photography, but it's definitely not a slow camera. Thankfully, you can also use your M lens with this camera if you pick up a M-Adapter T. These lens will only work in manual focus, but it's a nice option you have M lens sitting around.


Leica CL Controls

This Leica is unique since it comes with 2 unlabeled wheels which have different functionality based on your shooting mode. I found it difficult to remember what each dial does since it's not labeled, so I ended up just sticking to Aperture Priority.

There's also a monochrome LCD that shows your shooting mode, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation. I honestly don't use it too often since that information is available through the viewfinder. The viewfinder is a welcome addition since the TL series require the Visoflex to use a EVF.

The camera doesn't have that many buttons in general. On the back there's a Play, Function, and Menu button. The dials can also be down on to change certain settings depending on your mode.

4K video at up to 30 frames per second

The camera supports shooting video at 4k, but I haven't recorded any videos on it so I won't comment on the quality of the videos.

Transfer Over Wifi

The camera also comes with the ability to transfer photos over WIFI using the Leica Fotos app. I found this too painful to use since it took a long time to transfer the RAW files. I recommend sticking to transferring via the memory card.


The Leica CL supports shooting in both RAW (DNG) and JPEG. The RAW files are pretty large at around 45MB at a resolution of 6,000 x 4,000. The JPEGs are reasonably smaller at around 10MB per photo. The camera only sports one UHS SD card slot, so be prepared to buy a big SD card.

Leica Elmarit TL 18mm lens

The Elmarit is an 18mm lens (equivalent to a 27mm lens in the full-frame 35mm format). I initially thought this focal length would be perfect for everyday shooting, but I didn't spend too much time with this lens since I found the f/2.8 aperture a bit too slow for my liking. There's a bit of softness in the edges and corner, but the center is really sharp. I do like the small pancake size which makes it easy to take around as a secondary lens.

All of these photos were shot with the Leica Elmarit TL 18mm lens.

Leica Summilux TL 35mm f/1.4

I wish the Leica Elmarit TL 18mm lens had a larger aperture at f/1.4. It's sometimes hard to capture photos in low light without having to bump up the ISO. I ended up purchasing Leica Summilux TL 35mm f/1.4 and never looked back. The Summilux is a wonderful lens. It produces creamy and beautiful bokeh that notorious Leica look. I personally think it's a big step up from the other Leica L lenses. The Summilux is a bit front heavy compared to the Elmarit, but it's still well built. There's a bit of chromatic aberrations time to time, but like any lens, that can be fixed in post production.

All of these photos were shot with the Leica Summilux TL 35mm f/1.4.

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/1.4 | 1/250 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/5.6 | 1/400 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/6.3 | 1/320 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/3.5 | 1/100 sec | ISO 125

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/4.0 | 1/160 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/2.8 | 1/500 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/1.4 | 1/3200 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/1.6 | 1/1600 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/13 | 1/100 sec | ISO 160

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/1.8 | 1/1000 sec | ISO 100

Leica Summilux Image

ƒ/2.5 | 1/800 sec | ISO 100




Low light Performance

The camera's lowlight performance is decent. I don't suggest pushing the camera over ISO 6400. I also found the camera struggled a bit in dark situations even at f/1.4.

You can find all the images taken from the Leica CL here.

Final Verdict

When this camera first came out, kit with the Leica Elmarit TL 18mm lens cost around $4000. I bought this camera back in early 2019 for $3195 which came with a Leica Elmarit TL 18mm f/2.8. You can get the same bundle in 2020 for $3000. I also bought the Leica Summilux TL 35mm f/1.4 which cost $2500. In total, I spent $5700 before tax. This is still cheap compared to Leica's other offerings like the M10 or the SL series, but the real question is it worth it in 2020? It depends. Like all Leica cameras, you can get a full frame camera at the same price with much better specs, a better selection of lens, and faster autofocus. You can pair the Sony a7R IV which costs $3200 with a Zeiss Batis 2/25 and Zeiss Batis 85mm and still be under $5700. If you must buy a Leica, I would recommend the Leica Q2 over the Leica CL + Summilux in 2020 since it's about $700 cheaper. Check out my hands on impression of the Leica Q2 to learn more. However, if you demand a light and minimalist camera with interchangeable lens and amazing build quality, then this camera is for you. Even though, it's an APS-C camera, my Leica CL outperforms my previous Sony a7ii in most situations (maybe not lowlight). The camera lens are also top notch and high quality. I do question whether Leica will continue to produce T series cameras though. I'm hoping Leica will put out a successor to the CL so I can continue to use my TL lens in the future to make my investment worth it.



  • Light and well built
  • Amazing as a travel camera
  • Cheapest Leica camera with interchangeable lens
  • Supports M lens with an adapter


  • Small selection of L lens
  • Autofocus is not as great as competition in 2020
  • Still expensive even 3 years after initial release

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