Leica CL Review & Photos (+ Focusing Leica M Lenses) – Polish Models

Leica CL Review & Photos (+Focusing Leica M Lenses) – Polish Models

>> Leica CL + Leica M mount lenses for 2 day photoshoot in Poland.  Detailed article: Leica CL sample photos with Leica M lenses, focusing M lenses, CL portraits using different lighting
leica cl review - summicron 50 dr
Leica CL + Summicron 50 DR

1. – Intro – Poland model photography trip with the new Leica CL camera

2. – Leica M lenses on the Leica CL (x5) – Which lenses I chose and why

3. – How to focus Leica M lenses on a Leica CL camera – Is it easy?

3.1 – Leica CL EVF Viewfinder vs Leica M240

3.2 – Leica CL Manual focus – TL lenses (as comparison)

3.3 – Leica CL – Manual focus – Leica M Lenses (Day 1)

3.4 – Manual Focus (Poland Day 2) – Don’t believe all you read!

3.5 – How to use the Leica CL focus assist with manual lenses

3.6 – Limitations for me of focusing via the Leica CL magnified view

3.7 – Focus Assist vs Focus Peaking – Leica CL

3.8 – Leica CL EVF focus peaking – It’s a new one for me!

3.9 – Real life limitations of Leica CL focus peaking

3.10 – Leica CL EVF option – P-A-S/ P-A-S-M  to help focusing

3.11 – Leica CL focusing when using speedlights

3.12 – ND filters on the Leica CL – limitations

Leica CL Portrait

4. – 6 different ways I was Lighting my Portraits in Poland – Leica CL

4.1  – Leica CL photo shoot with direct sunlight

4.2 – Leica CL indoor low light photography

4.3 – Leica CL high ISO outdoor low light photos

4.4 – Portraits with a ring light and the Leica CL

4.5 – Leica CL beach photos – natural reflector

4.6 – Leica CL + Speedlight  (Direct flash for a fashion look)

5. – Leica M lenses on the Leica CL – Sample images & lens comments (x5)

6. – 3 Leica CL dislikes (vs M240)(so far)

6.1 – Leica CL EVF black out

6.2 – Leica CL battery life

6.3 – Leica CL SD card slot issue

7. – Best feature of the Leica CL?

8. – Has the Leica CL changed my photography?

Leica CL Fashion

1. Intro – Poland Trip

Poland Model Photography – 2 Days, 8 Photoshoots

In this blog post I talk about my experience of using the Leica CL on one of my overseas model photography trips.  It was to be my first outing with the Leica CL so I was excited at what I could achieve.  I visited model friends in Sopot, Poland and stayed at my usual hotel overlooking Sopot beach.

On some of my model photography trips I work with as many as 5-6 models a day trying to fit everyone in.  In Poland this time a few of my regulars were busy or out of town so this allowed me to have more time with each model.  If a model is good 3hrs can pass in a blink of an eye and I always wish we had a whole day to shoot.  This was the case I think for every photo session in Poland.  Even working 9am through til dark (7:30pm approx) there wasn’t enough time.  I was really lucky to work with some amazing models again.  I try to help myself by inviting the best of the best models I can find but on the day itself the models need to perform too for it to be a success.  They did.  I worked with two new models recommended to me by a model friend who was out of town, and some familiar faces too.

Leica CL Review - cameras
Leica CL photo of M240 + Hasselblad H3D-31
Camera gear packed for Poland
  • Leica CL digital camera
  • Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 lens
  • Leica CL – Leica M lens adapter
  • Leica M240 digital camera
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 lens
  • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens
  • Leica SOOKY-M close focus adapter / googles
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens
  • Leica Macro Elmar 90mm f4 lens
  • Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens
  • Hasselblad H3D-31 digital & film camera
  • Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 lens
  • Hasselblad H3D 645 film back
  • Film – assorted 120 B&W film (PanF, Delta 100, HP5, Trix, Fomapan)
  • Speedlight (I will detail full spec of lights I use in a new post soon)
  • Tripod (I will detail in a new post soon)
  • Lightmeter (I will detail in a new post soon)
  • 2 Camera bags (I will detail in a new post soon)

Leica CL LR Preset

2. 5 Leica M mount lenses on the Leica CL camera

Of all the Leica M mount lenses I could choose from why did I take the selection I did?

2.1 – Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH II

The Voigtländer 35mm f1.2 lens is relatively big and heavy for a Leica mount lens. The f1.2 aperture doesn’t make a huge difference compared to the 1.4 Nokton classic lenses I have. The Voigtländer Nokton 40mm f1.4 and 35mm f1.4 are both much smaller and lighter. For this reason historically I have used them more than the 35/1.2 ASPH as I often shoot overseas so need to pack as light as I can. So why did I bring it? I chose it as it has one ‘special’ feature.. it focuses as close as 0.5m (closer than the standard 0.7m for Leica M lenses).  As the Leica M rangefinder system only works as close as 0.7m this wasn’t a great advantage on the Leica M240.  On the Leica CL however there is no optical rangefinder so I can use the lens up close at 0.5m. This helps create a nice shallow depth of field (DOF) at f1.2.

35mm on the Leica CL APS-C 1.5x crop sensor gives an equivalent 50mm focal length which is nice for portraits.  The f1.2 aperture is good for low light photography and I like to carry one fast lens for this reason for each trip.

Leica CL Review & photos - girl with film camera
Leica CL + 35/1.2 (Photo of models Zenit 35mm film camera)(loaded)
2.2 – Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

The Summaron 35mm f3.5 lens is a vintage. 1950s design, tiny in size and has a lovely retro look.  The problem with modern lenses is everything can look too perfect. I brought the Summaron as it is sharp yet flares easily so helps give a more filmic rendering to photos.

2.3 – Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR

The Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR is also a vintage lens. It is special in that it can work with a SOOKY-M close focus adapter (googles).  Without the goggles it can only focus as close as 1m. With the close focus adapter the Summicron 50 DR can focus to 0.4m. Being an older Leica lens again it can flare easier than modern lenses (but less so than other older lenses)(The old Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens flares the most for me I think).  I will use the Summicron DR for close up portraits (especially) and again for a less modern look.  50mm on the Leica CL APS-C crop sensor is equivalent to 75mm on the Leica M240.

leica cl review & 18mm TL
Leica CL + 18mm Elmarit-TL
2.4 – Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

If I want to get the most out of the Leica CL sensor then the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens should help. Super sharp and a modern look to the photos (perhaps similar to the look of the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens that I use a lot). 75mm on the Leica CL is very roughly equivalent to 110mm so at f2 should be very pleasing for portraits.

2.5 – Leica Macro Elmar M 90mm f4

I was going to bring my older Leica Elmar 135mm f4 lens instead but I needed a smaller lens. I wanted to bring a long lens to give a different look to the shorter lenses.  The Leica Elmar 90mm macro collapses so is super compact and a perfect travel companion. Like the 75mm APO this lens is sharp and modern in how it renders.  The Elmar 90 equates to 135mm on the Leica CL so should help give some nice compression in photos.

leica cl review - girl in hat with old camera B&W - zenit film

3. Focusing Leica M lenses on a Leica CL camera – is it easy?

3.1 – Leica CL EVF Viewfinder vs Leica M240

I was not sure to expect when from the Leica CL camera.  I didn’t test a CL prior to purchase and I’ve never used a Leica M240 with the additional hotshoe EVF accessory.  I’ve used a Leica M rangefinder camera as my main camera since the Leica M9.  As such it is safe to say I like rangefinder cameras, Leica and otherwise.  For medium format film photography I enjoy using a Fuji GF670, Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 and these are all rangefinder cameras.  I enjoy focusing via an optical rangefinder viewfinder where I align two lines in the viewfinder and I know my photo is in focus.  The Leica CL has a built in viewfinder but it is an electronic not optical viewfinder EVF).

3.2 – Leica CL manual focus – TL lenses (as comparison)

When I bought the Leica CL camera it came with a Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 autofocus lens.  I used it in autofocus mode initially and found the CL easy to focus.  I then switched to manual mode and was pleasantly surprised by an automatic magnified window view in the centre of the EVF view. That made focusing even easier.

leica cl review 18mm
Leica CL + 18mm (Photo edit with my “High Contrast” LR preset)
3.3 – Leica CL – Manual focus – Leica M Lenses (Poland Day 1)

After first using a TL lens on the Leica CL I was excited to try out some of my Leica M mount lenses.  I thought the magnified window would be perfect for pin point focusing accuracy for a lens like my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens.  Sadly I soon found out that when using a Leica M lens on the Leica CL that the magnified EVF view doesn’t show.  With the Leica TL lens the camera can sense the lens being turned manually so auto pops up the magnified view.  With manual lenses the Leica CL doesn’t sense the lens being turned to focus so only displays the standard (non-magnified) EVF view. (Please read 3.4**)

leica cl review - B&w girl smoking
This shoot was day 1- notice not tack sharp focus here
3.4- Manual Focus (Poland Day 2) – Don’t believe all you read!

Well the above statement was my best knowledge up until the end of the first day in Poland.  After day one I noticed from the Leica CL LCD display that some of the model photos taken with manual lenses were not tact sharp (in focus).  I woke up at 4am thinking about it so decided to do some online research on my phone.  When using a Leica CL and Leica M lenses  (6-bit coded and not coded) is it possible to manually activate a magnified view for the Leica CL focus assist option.  Contrary to the Leica CL facts I had read online prior to buying the camera, I found you can use the Leica CL focus assist with manual lenses.

3.5 – How to use the Leica CL focus assist with manual lenses

To be specific for anyone with a Leica CL and doesn’t already know this, I use the left of the top two dials (on the top right of the camera) when looking through the EVF.  The left dial allows two steps of magnification and makes focusing any of my Leica M lenses lenses super accurate. All my Leica M mount lenses are working whether a 6-bit coded modern Leica lens (like the 75mm APO or 90mm f4), the vintage Leica Summicron 50 DR and Summaron 35 lens or lenses from Voigtländer (I assume my Zeiss ZM lenses will work also but I’ve not tried them yet).

leiac cl review - camera selfie

3.6 – Limitations for me of focusing via the Leica CL magnified view

Focusing on a model using the Leica CL magnified view and a lens set to it’s widest aperture works if the subject stop moving when I ask (so I can focus).  For some models this just isn’t how they pose so for these instances I found I had to stop down the lens to say f2.8-f4 to give me a deeper depth in focus to capture movement.  I then just try to catch the faces and poses as they came, thick and fast!

leica cl review - girl in black with camera

> Off topic – How I pose a model

Some models that have worked with me for years know how I operate so try to slow down their own fluid model posing (non-stop poses).  They tell me it feels awkward holding a pose but also that they trust my eye and direction as I fine tune everything before taking a photo.  When working with an experienced agency model (many in Poland have worked in Asia and elsewhere) poses from them are often spontaneous and I just adjust a little if I feel it will help the photo.

> Off topic – It’s a team effort + creative models are best

I might suggest ideas to models for poses but it is a team effort.  The more creative the model generally the better the resulting photos.  We can feed off each other creativity and the photos get better and better as we both keep thinking of ways to improve an initial pose. On occasion a pose can look amazing on the first take but more often it might be the 5th or 6th fined tuned version of the original pose.  That said some things I can’t control, like wind and available light.  For these sometimes we just get lucky.  If the wind blows the hair as I take the photo or a break in the clouds allows the sun to peek through and gives a nice rim light to the model.

leica cl review -B&w girl in cap, fashion photo model polish
Leica CL + Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH
3.7 – Leica CL Focus Assist vs Focus Peaking

When using the Leica CL with Leica M mount lenses I tried to use the lenses at their widest apertures as much as possible.  The Leica CL APS-C crop sensor gives a less shallow DOF compared to the same lens on a full frame Leica M camera (like my M240). For this reason using the lenses wide open would hopefully give for some nice shallow DOF portraits on the Leica CL.  As mentioned above, after day one I noticed some photos were not in focus. I found that although the focus peaking will light up to confirm a subject is in focus it is not 100% accurate. When I zoomed in on the focus peaking highlights the focus still needed fine tuning for some photo to be sharp. This focusing problem is most apparent for distance subjects and less of a problem when up close (I found). Now that I had the Leica CL focus assist magnified view setup for day two if the model didn’t move the photos were sharp.

leica cl review - 35mm f1.2
Leica CL + 35mm f1.2
3.8 – Leica CL EVF focus peaking – It’s a new one for me!

Coming from Nikon DSLRs then Leica M cameras I’ve never had a camera offering focus peaking. (That’s actually not quite true as I had a Lumix LX100 for a short time and I think that had focus peaking)(I didn’t use it much so can’t remember!).  If I’m not using a digital Leica M then it is usually various old film cameras.  Film cameras of course don’t have focus peaking and many don’t even have a battery / electronics!

3.9 – Leica CL focus peaking real life limitations

When using the Leica CL with manual focus lenses the only was to focus accurately for me is to use focus peaking. I have the Leica CL focus peaking set to red and I look for the red highlight on what I want to focus on.  Focus peaking seems to work much better in a high contrast environment or when focusing on a subject with defined edges.  In low light and with flat low contrast scenes the focus peaking aid often fails to light up. In these situations I tried to focus as accurately as I can by eye. (Once I had discovered the Leica CL magnified view option for day 2 it helped).  Luckily though I find the CL focus peaking worked most the time.

leica cl review- lcd preview photo

3.10 – Leica CL EVF option – P-A-S/ P-A-S-M  to help focusing

One unexpected nice feature of the Leica CL EVF is when you want to focus in low light. The EVF normal view is the exposure you will obtain if you fire  the shutter with those camera settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO). Leica call this exposure mode P-A-S (Program Aperture Shutter).  The second option is to set the Leica CL to P-A-S-M (Program Aperture Shutter Manual) mode and in low light the EVF view is brighter than reality (brighter that what you can see with your eyes).  Coming from Leica M camera optical viewfinders this was a nice surprise and it really helps when focusing the Leica CL in low light.

leica cl review model in B&W bikini - girl on balcony
Leica CL + 35mm f1.2 (+ “Poland 2018” LR preset (most photos for this trip)
3.11 – Leica CL focusing when using speedlights

On my first photo shoot with the Leica CL in the studio I was using my usual  strobes/ studio lights/ speedlights. Not knowing the Leica CL P-A-S/P-A-S-M camera option when I tried to view the model in normal P A S mode I could see nothing (just a blacked out EVF).  For that shoot in the moment I switched to using continuous lighting instead of strobes to overcome the issue.  For Poland however I knew the camera a little better so switched to P A S M for speedlight lit photos.  The Leica CL worked just fine with a flash when I used the correct camera settings.

3.12 – ND filter on the Leica CL – limitations

I am used to using ND filters on the Leica M240 to darken daylight so I can illuminate the subject with flash.  (Espeically lenses like the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0).  With the M240 I look through the optical viewfinder to focus so I can stack ND filters on a lens and it has no impact on my view of the subject or focusing.  I soon realised I can’t use ND filters on the Leica CL so easily as I need to look through the EVF to focus.  If the EVF is black I can’t take a photo and that was the case I had.  I soon gave up on the ND filter idea using the Leica CL for the method I was using it for.  (It will still be fine for something like landscapes where the Leica CL can be placed on a tripod, lens focused then ND filter added after. (This is probably standard practise for all non-Leica shooters!)

leica cl camera review ringlight
Leica CL + 18mm candid

4. Leica CL portraits with different types of lighting

4.1  – Leica CL photo shoot with direct sunlight

Day one was surprisingly nice weather for September with sunshine so I shot with available light as much as I could.  Unlike most photographers (I think) I like sunlight for my model photography (and even for wedding photography too).  I like directional contrasty light.  Day two was more overcast and the light was very flat.  Having both conditions helps give a bit of variety to the pictures.

Leica CL Lightroom Preset

4.2 – Leica CL indoor low light photography

For indoor low light photos when it was starting to get too dark I used the Leica CL with an off camera speedlight.  This was to initially boost existing light levels and then as it got darker to replicate daylight coming from outside.  I did this because the quality of light from a speedlight was more flattering for the models faces.  Low power room lamps never give the best light for portraits.  Using a speedlight also meant I didn’t require a high ISO above about 800.  The Leica CL photos still look great at ISO 800 so I had no concerns.

Leica CL B&W Preset

4.3 Leica CL high ISO outdoor low light photos

For outside low light photos I used available light only.  I was using the Leica CL at ISO 1600-3200 and the Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens at f1.2.  The quality of light was very flat but it gave quite a nice look.  It was quite cold for the model on the beach so we came indoors before I had to push the ISO beyond 3200.     As I enjoy using different light sources I think I would rarely go above ISO 3200 when I have a choice but it might prove useful for Leica wedding photography with the Leica CL.

leica cl review 35mm lens
Leica CL + 35mm f1.2 ISO 1600
4.4 Portraits with a ring light and the Leica CL

For two of the photo sessions I shot at Dorota’s home again, with partner in crime, Kinga.  As a makeup artist she has a ringlight so I like to make use of this in the photos.  (I have a ring light in the studio too).  Unlike maybe ‘normal’ photographers, I was using the ring light too boost daylight / add some fill light for the pictures. I also added a reflector for some of these photos too.  In the UK I don’t use photography reflectors as much currently as I tend to just be lazy and use multiple light sources instead.  Saying that, I have quite a few different ones for when I’m in a reflector portraits phase.  Reflectors can be great when working overseas with limited equipment to add some fill light, especially when working in bright conditions. (That’s probably why I use reflectors less in the UK! – Often cloudy!).

leica cl review - 35mmf1.2
Leica CL- 35mm f1.2 + Ringlight
4.5 Leica CL beach photos – natural reflector

On a sunny day sand on a beach can work well as a natural reflector. For added effect get the model down lower.  I was using this style of lighting for some of the photos with Teresa.

Leica CL review - girl on beach in jumper B&W
Leica CL + Summicron 50 DR
4.6 Leica CL + Speedlight  (Direct flash for a fashion look)

Being blessed with sunshine for a lot of day one, when it later became absent I really missed it.  I decided to replicate the effect of the direct sun onto the model with an off camera speedlight.  For the static photos of Julia it was easy to hand hold the speedlight. I did this as I felt the clothes required a more fashion look which can be achieved with lighting.  When working with Marta at first I was working with the speedlight on a light stand (tripod as packs smaller).  This was great for limited movement and when she stayed in the same position.  We then decided to do a few catwalk style photos in her amazing dress. With her walking in her dress I needed to move too.  I decided to switch to using the Leica CL kit lens, the Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8.  This lens is wider than the Leica M lenses I was using so I could work closer to the model. The 18mm TL lens is also autofocus so I could walk backwards holding the camera in one hand and the flash in my other hand. This worked for the look I was trying to create.

Leica CL Review
Leica CL + Speedlight
> Off Topic – Leica M hyperfocal distance focusing

Side note!  In the past I used a similar technique for Leica weddings with the Leica M9 or M240.  I used a wide lens M lens like the Zeiss ZM Biogon 21mm f2.8 lens stopped down for a larger depth in focus.  Manual focus actually works much better than a autofocus lens as autofocus can miss.  I could have switched the Leica Elmarit-TL lens to manual but at the time I didn’t think to do so.

leica cl review models
Leica CL + 35/1.2 candid

5. Favourite Leica M lenses on the Leica CL (so far)

5.1 – Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

So far the Leica M mount lens that I have used the most on the Leica CL is the Leica Summicron-M 75mm f2 APO.  I used this lens for the Leica CL wedding and for perhaps 25% of the model photos in Poland.  It is a sharp and contrasty lens wide open and produces pleasing shallow DOF portraits.  Perhaps strangely it is not a go to lens on my Leica M cameras.

leica cl review 75mm
Leica CL + 75mm
5.2 – Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

Another lens which has seen limited use on my Leica M cameras (after initial purchase) is the Voigtländer 35mm f1.2 ASPH version of the less.  I also have the Voigtländer 35mm f1.4 classic version which is smaller and lighter.  On the Leica M cameras I tended to use smaller lenses the most so the f1.2 lens tended to be second choice to the f1.4.  The Nokton f1.2 is sharper to my eyes though and as mentioned above it focuses to 0.5m which is great on the Leica CL.  35mm was my widest focal length for manual lenses (equivalent to 50mm on the CL) so I used it a lot in Poland.  It was also the fastest lens so was my lens of choice in low light.  I think it was my most used lens for the trip.

Leica CL Fashion Photography

5.3 – Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR

I found lenses with less contrast like the Leica M 50 DR were harder to focus on day one.  Focus peaking highlights seems less apparent so in some cases photos were focused by best guestimate.  On day two however using the Leica CL focus assist magnified view I could now focus the Summicron DR accurately and it gave for some pleasing results. It was good for when the Leica 75mm APO was a bit too long to use.

Leica CL + Summicron DR

5.4 – Leica Summicron 50mm DR + close focus goggles

I didn’t use the Leica close focus adapter as much as I expected. I think I wanted to incorporate more of the background to use the location.  Tight crop headshot can be taken in a studio or where the background is less interesting.  Saying that I did enjoy using the Leica Summicron  50mm DR with close focus goggles for a few arty camera photos!

Leica CL + Leica Summicron 50mm DR

5.5 – Leica Macro-Elmar M 90mm f4

Talking of too long, for model photography in Poland I found the 90mm too long in most instances, when on the 1.5x crop sensor Leica CL.  I tried to use it for some photos to see the result but I wouldn’t take it with me for future Leica CL photoshoots.

Leica CL + 90mm Elmar

5.6 – Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

I only used the vintage Leica Summaron 35mm lens for a handful of photos. It didn’t really suit the lighting conditions I was working in. That being I couldn’t see a creative advantage to use this lens instead of the Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f1.2 lens on the Leica CL.

leica CL review
Leica CL + Voigtlander 35/1.2 + speedlight

6. Leica CL vs M240 dislikes (x3)

After using the Leica CL camera non-stop for 2 days of model photography and for a Leica wedding I feel I am starting to know it better.  Coming from a Leica M240 camera I base my Leica CL dislikes as a direct comparison.

6.1 – Leica CL EVF black out

With the Leica M240 I am very accustomed to an optical viewfinder. What was normal for me is probably alien to everyone who has not used a camera with an optical viewfinder. Everyone this isn’t a digital Leica M shooter is missing out so much!  So normal life for me is to see a moment through the optical viewfinder (whether camera off or on).  When I press the shutter button I don’t lose sight of the subject I am photographing so I can prepare to capture instant moments immediately after the first photo. This is great for weddings to photograph day the first kiss or any series of images.  With model photography where a model poses fast it is also extremely beneficial.  When using a Leica CL camera when you press the shutter the EVF and LCD display blackout immediately after the photo.  If a model is quite static this is no problem but if they are moving constantly I was missing maybe 2 of every 3 facial expressions. Not good.  With a Leica wedding this is very unnerving as you literally can’t see to recompose on a moving subject like bride and father walking down the aisle.  I appreciate now this is probably normal life for most photographers but it shows a true huge benefit of Leica M camera.  For this reason o think a Leica M camera is probably still a better choice for Leica street photography if your particular style is to take a series of images. I have read that the lag on the Leica CL EVF is quite good but it’s worth noting if you are used to a Leica M rangefinder camera (with optical viewfinder not EVF).

leiac cl review- model photography
Me caught in action (screenshot of a instagram story)
6.2 – Leica CL battery life

As mentioned in my Leica CL wedding post battery life (capacity) is not great on the Leica CL.  Less than the a larger Leica M240 battery I am used to. Did I find it a problem in Poland, no. I had one battery in charge while I used the second battery and rotated. Will it be a problem when photographing on location and not having the hotel in walking distance. Yes. If I was doing a photo shoot on location and away from any power source I will need at least 2 spare Leica CL batteries, perhaps 3 spares for a non-stop full day of model photography. More spare batteries will be good to have for wedding photography also as backup.

6.3 – Leica CL SD card slot issue

Half way through day two I had to change memory card in the Leica CL and found when I tried to clip in the new card it wouldn’t clip securely.  I had to switch to using the Leica M240 camera while the Leica CL was out of action. Perhaps temporarily falling out of love with the M240, when the model stopped to change clothes I tried to fix the CL.  I found if I closed the Leica CL battery/ card slot bottom plate door it held the SD card in place and I could still take photos.  From then I switched back to the Leica CL.  I might need to send the CL back to Leica for repair as it is under warranty.

Leica CL Colours

7 – Best feature of the Leica CL?

The best (most noticeable) feature of the Leica CL camera vs the Leica M240 that I am used to is the fantastic dynamic range of the CL sensor.  It makes a huge difference and I really appreciate this feature.  I have clipped almost no highlights since getting the Leica CL vs more often with the Leica M240.  Excellent sensor Leica engineers!  I’m impressed.

Leica CL review - girl topless, smiling, happy, B&W

8. Has the Leica CL change my photography?

8.1 – The impact of the Leica CL focus peaking on my photography

I think perhaps yes.  I felt I was more spontaneous using the Leica CL if I could see the focus peaking highlights already showing on the model from the EVF preview image (ie. the EVF telling me that the model was in focus).  I took more sequences of photos (at some stages/ with fast models particularly) rather than lots of 1s (as I do with the Leica M240) to try to capture the in between pose poses. I think this might also be my wedding photography influencing my model photography where I enjoy catching the little moments at weddings.

Seeing the focus peaking highlights on the Leica CL might also improve my Leica M camera photography. I think I often stop and refocus for each photos with models using a Leica M camera, like my Leica M240.  (Less so with weddings as I need to capture the action as it happens). In reality I might be better to ‘chance’ a few photos and take pictures on the M240 without refocusing each time.  With a manual focus lens the lens is already prefocused on the model/ subject from the last photo.  Yes it might not be tack sharp on the nearest eye if I take a second or third photo without refocusing but it might help capture a few nice natural moments.  It is probably worth noting this is less of an issue if people use a lens stopped down (giving more depth in focus).  I might do with this style of shooting for parts of a wedding day for this exact reason (need more depth to capture moving subjects in focus).  It’s only because I often use lenses at f1.0, f1.2, f1.4.. that the focusing problem is more apparent (ie.  Focus depth is so narrow it only covers one eye).

leica CL review -girl on beach
Leica CL (ISO 1600) + my LR preset “Wedding” applied
8.2 – Has the Leica CL improved my model photography specifically?

I’m not sure. If the photos look better / worse / different to you I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment, good or bad.  Regardless of how the final photos will look I felt the Leica CL helped the photos flow well with the exception of a model working fast and me struggling with the Leica CL EVF black out. Having the Leica CL focus assist with manual focus lenses M definitely made the photography process more rewarding.   I don’t like the thought of merely hoping a photo is in focus! (Poland day 1 vs day 2).

8.3 – Leica CL – One camera photography (not multiple cameras!)

Using only one camera on day 2 (other than when the Leica CL SD card slot had issues) was quite rare for me. I almost always have at least two cameras on me at any one time, film and digital. I’m not sure if it helped the photos but it should have in theory as less stop start between 2 cameras.

Leica CL review - M lenses
Leica CL + 35/1.2 – Edit with “High Contrast” LR preset – candid
8.4 – Has the Leica CL negatively impacted my film photography?

I tried to ‘be good’ for once and take less cameras on this trip to Poland. I packed the Leica M240 to backup the Leica CL and the Hasselblad H3D with film back to hopefully capture some high quality medium format film photos.  Film doesn’t suit every model as I’ve written before but I shot 2 rolls with one model and then only half of a third roll for all other models put together. A combination of perhaps the quality of light, light levels, location and how the model posed/ worked.  Sadly on the second day the Hasselblad camera stopped working so I had no option to be able to shoot film after the first few frames during the morning session. I think I would have only shot 4-5 rolls of film maximum anyway in Poland as some of the photos were fast and frantic or the light levels were too low for film.

Hasselblad H3D-31 film photography

I will share the Hasselblad H3D film back photos from Poland on a separate blog post once I get chance to develop the film. Fingers crossed the photos look as nice as they did in camera.  I’m excited to see the results as the Hasselblad H3D camera has produced extremely sharp film negatives in the past (even if I have not used it a great deal).

Hasselblad H3d-31 camera - with film back
Photo taken with Leica CL + Summicron 50mm f2 DR + Close focus goggles

Big thanks!

Big thanks as with all my model photography trips to the models themselves.  Without them I just have an empty beach / hotel room to photograph. For models I’ve worked with previously I think these photos may well be some of our best pictures yet.  For the new models it was amazing to find you and I hope to see you next time too! Also thanks to Monika for another comfortable stay in her hotel. I loved the new decor too!

Looking forward to taking the Leica CL on my next model photography trip overseas again soon!

Tempted by the Leica CL?  Treat yourself!

Check out the latest CL prices on Amazon! (UK) / (US)

New to MrLeica.com!

**Since writing this article I have added a SHOP section to MrLeica.com so you can now download the presets I make for my Leica cameras.  So far I have listed 3 Leica CL LR presets – “Poland 2018” B&W, “High Contrast” B&W & “Wedding” Colour preset.

leiac cl review vs m240

Related Posts

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit (2018) – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit (2018) – HERE



Leica Lightroom Presets – MrLeica LR Downloads Now Available!

Leica Lightroom Presets – MrLeica LR Downloads Now Available!


Leica CL Lightroom Presets featured in this post.  See Leica M8 LR Presets also and Leica M240 LR Presets are now available to download too!



MrLeica Lighroom presets - Now Available!

Why am I now selling my Leica Lightroom presets?

When I have shared digital photos on Flickr in the past and mentioned words to the effect of “quick edit with a Lightroom preset I’ve made” some readers have commented or wrote to me asking if I would share these presets.  I think originally I didn’t want to share mt Leica Lightroom presets as I was worried everyone’s photos would look the same.  In reality I think so few people will be interested I can’t see it making a difference!  As you may know I shoot a lot of film so for these images I don’t use Lightroom.  For all digital photos with my Leica cameras however I push the raw DNG files through Lightroom and add a preset across all images before exporting all and sending to the client.  For each digital Leica camera I develop a few black and white presets and a couple of colour ones to suit my taste (and probably with a film photography influence).  The presets are nothing special nor ground breaking and you might be frustrated at how simple they are.  You did ask for them though so as requested! 3 new Leica CL presets.

Download Now! (Or read more detail first! – See below)







Leica CL + Summilux 50 M

Leica CL – Leica Lightroom presets (More info)

New digital camera – New Lightroom presets needed!

When I bought the Leica CL camera a few weeks ago the first thing I had to do was make a Lightroom preset.  Each camera sensor is different so I don’t use say a Leica M8 preset on the Leica M240 (and v.versa).  My Leica M240 presets didn’t suit the Leica CL sensor for my eyes so I developed new ones.  My first few photo shoots all suited high contrast B&W tones (to my eyes, on those days) so my first Leica CL preset I made was “High Contrast”.  I loved the crisp black and whites from the Leica CL sensor!


Poland trip – More Leica Lightroom preset requests!  Time to make available!

After returned from my Poland model photography trip I wanted to give the photos a more vintage vibe.  Many of the photos seemed to have a timeless quality to them so the super modern Leica CL”High Contrast” preset I had made didn’t suit most of the pictures (for me).  With my film photography eye I tried to develop a vintage look B&W preset to suit the mood of the images.  As a reminder of its origin I called this Leica CL black and white preset “Poland 2018”.


First Leica CL Wedding – Need a Lightroom wedding preset

Much of my model photography is black and white images so I tend to use B&W presets the most.  That said for my Leica wedding photography most clients seem to want colour photos.  Buying the Leica CL ahead of a wedding when it came to editing I needed to develop a new Leica CL colour profile / preset.  I work closely with wedding clients and Adam and Becky loved the bright low contrast wedding look.  I made the CL colour preset “Wedding” and used it for all the wedding images.  I like the slight vintage / filmic look it has.


3 New MrLeica Leica CL Lightroom presets – Now available

For each of the 3  Leica CL Lightroom presets I have made I have shown below a RAW file (left) and the same photos with the Lightroom preset applied (right).  No other adjustments were made to these photos. These presets may not suit this particular image but I wanted to use a single photo with all 3 Leica CL presets applied so you can see the effect side by side.  I then included 3 sample photos using each of the 3 Leica Lightroom presets I developed as seen on Flickr (If you use Flickr!).

More Leica preset example photos – Where to find?

In addition to the sample photos included below you will be able to see more of my Leica camera images using the Mr Leica Lightroom presets soon.  I will post the full Leica CL wedding blog (with all photos using my Leica CL “Wedding” preset) and also the recent Poland model photography trip blog (with many of the photos using the “Poland 2018” LR preset as soon as I get time.  For the “High contrast” preset please see more example photos on my previous Leica CL blog posts. (It was the first Leica CL preset I made so I used it on all the early Leica CL photos).


(1) Leica Lightroom Presets: MrLeica Leica CL B&W “High Contrast”


£4.99 - Download Now!

A modern look Lightroom preset with crisp high contrast black and white tones


Leica Lightroom Presets




Leica CL + Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica CL B&W - 18mm



Leica CL + Leica Elmarit 18mm f2.8

(2) Leica Lightroom Presets: MrLeica Leica CL B&W “Poland 2018”


£4.99 - Download Now!

A vintage look Lightroom preset with softer tones and a low contrast effect


Leica Lightroom Presets - B&W

Leica CL Fashion Photography

Leica CL LR Preset

Leica CL + Summicron DR


(3) Leica Lightroom Presets: MrLeica Leica CL Colour “Wedding”


£4.99 - Download Now!

A less modern looking lower contrast colour Lightroom preset for weddings


Leica Lightroom Presets - Colour

Leica CL Wedding!

Leica CL wedding - M lenses

Leica CL Wedding!


(1+2+3)  Leica Lightroom Presets: MrLeica Leica CL BUNDLE SPECIAL OFFER! (All 3 Leica CL presets)


£9.99 - Download Now!

Special bundle offer giving all 3 Leica CL presets for the price of only 2


Leica Lighroom Presets – More Leica Cameras LR Presets:

If people seem to like my MrLeica Leica CL Lightroom presets I have LR presets for my other Leica cameras too.  As I get chance I can make these available.

Leica M240 – Lightroom presets (to follow)

I still use a digital Leica M240 and have a few different presets to suit most conditions I photograph in. Black and white and colour.  This camera nearly broke me coming from a Leica M9 so it took months trying to develop a Lightroom preset to make the photos nice enough to look at to my taste.  I wrote a post about nearly giving up on the M240 at the time.  My Leica M240 presets probably try to get the images back to something closer to what was obtained from the Leica M9 sensor (together will a film photography influence). (*I didn’t develop the presets to replicate the exact Leica M9 look, merely something I enjoyed looking at).

Leica M8 – Lightroom presets (to follow)

The Leica M8 captures amazing B&W JPEGs (like the M9) so in the past I often posted straight from camera Leica M8 JPEGs.  More recently I have edited Leica M8 DNG raw files so needed to make presets.  I still have the M8 but seem to have misplaced the presets.  I will try to find as I need them for myself anyway.  I can then share them too as I know people have asked me directly to provide M8 presets.

Leica M9 – Lightroom presets (maybe to follow)

The Leica M9 was my first digital Leica camera.  I loved the M9 in camera B&W JPEGs especially.  I part exchanged it to buy my Leica M240 so I have not used the camera for a few years now.  My current version of Lightroom doesn’t seem to show older presets so I’m not sure if I will be able to find my old Leica M9 presets.  If I can I will make them available as people have requested them.

Leica D-Lux 109 / Lumix LX100 – Lightroom presets (I can make available if requested)

I used a little Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera as a backup camera to my Leica M240 for about a year for overseas trips.  The LX100 is the same inside as the Leica D-Lux 109 camera but a bit cheaper.  The LX100 sensor is not quite a Leica M sensor so I made myself a few LX100 Lightroom presets to make the photos more pleasing to my eye.  If anyone uses a Leica D-Lux 109 or Lx100 and want these presets please comment / write to me and I will look to make them available.


Lightroom presets – Answers to possible questions

1. What version of Lightroom do I use?

My current version of Lightroom is CC 2015, Version 6.3  (Licence type Creative Cloud). (To find this detail I went into Lightroom and clicked Help-System info) but I also have Lightroom 6 installed on my PC.

1b. Will my Lightroom preset work with older versions of Lightroom 4/5/6

I upgraded from 5.6 to 6.3 and the presets definitely work fine with LR v5 and v6. I have read online that v6 Lightroom presets should work with LR v4 and possibly earlier LR versions too but I have not tested it.

1c. Will Lightroom 5,6,7 and CC2015 presets work on Lightroom CC (2017/2018)(Like LR Classic 7.3.X)?

Yes a Lightroom preset made in LR versions 5,6,7 or CC 2015 can be used in the more recent Lightroom CC 2017/2018.  You will just need to copy the preset into the new Lightroom preset location.  See next paragraph to find your Lightroom preset folder.  Up until LR 7.2 (I believe) all the earlier preset file types are the same.  Adobe apparently then changed how presets save for Lightroom Classic versions 7.3.X (from .LrTemplate files to .xmp files).  If you use a version of LR7.3 it might require a bit more LR knowledge to get my preset to work for you.

1d. Will Lightroom presets work on a Windows PC and a Mac the same

Yes Lightroom is the same for PC and Mac.  The only difference is the preset folder location is in a different place.

2. How to install your new Lightroom preset download? – For Windows 2018
  1. Open Lightroom and click: Edit->Preferences->Presets
  2. Click: Show Lightroom Presets Folder (to open)
  3. Double Click: Lightroom (to open)
  4. Double Click: Develop Presets (to open the folder)
  5. Drag & Drop or Copy & Paste the MrLeica preset into Develop Presets
  6. Restart Lightroom (Mr Leica Preset(s) should now display in Presets)
3. What photos can the MrLeica Lightroom presets be used for?

All of my MrLeica Lightroom presets can be applied to any RAW or JPEG image. I designed the Lightroom presets with specific cameras in mind but in reality the presets can be applied to any photo from any camera.

4. What if I don’t use a Leica camera but want to try out the MrLeica look presets?

Perhaps you use a Nikon, Canon, Sony or  Fuji camera (it can be any camera).  Even if you don’t use a Leica camera you can still apply one of my MrLeica presets to your image.  By using the same Lightroom preset as me that removes the editing aspect of how my photo might differ from yours.   You then know that any differences are from the camera or lens used.

5. Trying to Replicate the MrLeica photo look?

If you use the same camera(s) as me, say a Leica CL and you apply one of my Leica CL presets.  If the photo still looks different it must be the effect of the lenses I used (if different to the lens you are using).  If you use exactly the same equipment (Camera, Lens, MrLeica Preset) as me then the difference can only be the light / location and camera settings used (Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO).

6. How to Buy / Download a MrLeica Lightroom presets?

To buy a MrLeica Lightroom preset you can click one of the red “Purchase” buttons above or go directly to the new MrLeica SHOP.  The SHOP contains links to all MrLeica products currently available to download. Once you click “Purchase you will automatically proceed to Checkout where you can click “BUY NOW”.  This will direct you to PayPal to complete your payment and an email will instantly be sent to your email address with a link to download the product.

7. Please read before buying

If you experience any difficulties trying to purchase a product please email me and I will be in touch as soon as I can.  So far everyone that has downloaded my Lightroom presets has been able to install and use them sucessfully.



Related Posts

Leica CL Review (13 Reasons why I prefer it!)

Leica CL Review (13 Reasons why I prefer it!)

(Leica CL review vs Leica M240)

Qu. Ever wondered how the Leica CL compares to a Leica M240?
>> In this article I review both cameras during a wedding and list 13 reasons why you might prefer a Leica CL

Leica CL vs Leica M240
(Left, Leica CL vs Leica M240, right – my wedding camera setup yesterday)

Intro – Buying the Leica CL camera

I have had my new digital Leica CL camera for just over a week now so I am back with more Leica CL facts and thoughts. I bought the CL in a hurry to receive it in time for a Leica wedding photography booking yesterday.  Adam and Becky’s wedding at South Farm, Royston (UK) had been 3 years in the planning with me in contact with them throughout.  I think this lead to me being more excited than ever to try to produce some of my best wedding photos to date.  (When a couple cares as much as I do about creating the best possible photos they always exceed results when it is only me interested.  It is a team effort!) I hoped the Leica CL camera purchase would help me in my quest for raising the bar (wedding photography wise).

The Test – Leica wedding photography

For anyone who has never photographed a wedding, a wedding gives an environment to see the best and worst of any camera and lens.  Equipment needs to work and jump when you shout jump.  If not you don’t take it to a wedding.  Simple.  Over the years I have learnt and now try to pack only my best/ most reliable cameras and photography gear.

I did a lot of testing ahead of yesterday’s wedding (well a weeks worth!) so was confident the Leica CL camera was up to the job.  I took my Leica M240 camera as a second body so I felt I had the wedding covered between the two Leica bodies.

Leica CL wedding - M lenses

Showtime!  Leica CL vs Leica M240 Wedding

So which camera did I use the most for the wedding?

I expected to use the Leica CL maybe 10-20% maximum for a few 18mm wide shots and a few macro photos.  I then expected to use the tried and tested Leica M240 camera for everything else.  It didn’t pan out like that.  I shot 80% of the wedding photos with the Leica CL!  Using both cameras in the heat of the moment I soon appreciated what each camera could offer. Driving back at midnight I was trying to summarise the Leica CL vs Leica M240.  While it is fresh in my mind a made a simple list, Leica CL vs Leica M240.

Leica CL Wedding!

Results – 13 Reasons Why I prefer the Leica CL!

1. Lightweight Leica camera (super light!)

With the Leica CL 18mm Leica Elmarit-TL lens attached you can wear the CL around you neck all day and forget it is there.  It is that lightweight.

2. Smaller and more compact than any Leica M

The Leica CL with the 18mm Leica Elmarit-TL f2.8 lens attached is tiny!  If like me you are juggling cameras in the thick of the wedding action it is easy to slip the Leica CL into a large jacket pocket or top of a small camera bag to free up your neck/ hands.

3. Leica macro/ close up work! (not the usual 0.7m limit)

Macro photography was my first love when I first got into photography and I often miss it using a Leica M 240 rangefinder. The Leica CL with Leica M lenses attached let me give the wedding couple macro photos that have been absent in my wedding photography work for quite a while.  I loved capturing the smaller details with a very shallow depth of field).

Leica CL wedding photography - wedding succulent table decor
Leica CL + Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
4. Through the lens view (not a rangefinder)

If you are not a Leica photographer what you may not realise is us rangefinder shooters focus and compose our photos without looking through the lens.  Mad right!

We use a window in the top left of a Leica M camera body (other rangefinder like my Mamiya 7, 6, Fuji GF670.. etc).  A rangefinder window is normally great unless you leave the lens cap on as you will not know you are not capturing photos especially if using a film camera.  At least on modern cameras the photo preview normally appears on the camera rear LCD display.

The practical reason I list this is if like me you enjoy shooting through something, say vegetation (leaves of a tree) at a subject behind you can’t tell if a leaf is over the lens (unless one big leaf is over the rangefinder window and the lens!)  With models I may ask them to tell me if they can see the lens as that means it can see them but for a wedding when working quickly I normally avoid such photos with a Leica M camera (or guess it and take a few shots).

In my Nikon D800 time I loved this style of shoot though photography as with a DSLR what you see is what you get.  With the Leica CL the EVF gives the same what you see is what you get view and that is perfect for this shoot through style.

Leica CL Wedding

5. EVF exposure preview (I love it!)

During a wedding having a visual interpretation of how bright or dark an image will look if I press the shutter with the current settings is a huge help (unless using flash then less so!).  I got into a lazy habit with the M240 of guessing the exposure on the first shot and adjusting as needed for the second.  With the Leica CL I made full use of the EVF exposure preview and really enjoyed this feature.

6. I can see in the dark!

The Leica CL EVF give an almost night vision goggles view in low light/ darkness that I am not used to.  I could see people and details to focus on in the dark easier through the EVF than through the optical viewfinder of the Leica M240.  A great new tool to have when needed.

7. No rangefinder coupling necessity (use any lens!)

Unlike the Leica M cameras which requires you to use rangefinder coupled lenses that focus via the optical rangefinder / viewfinder, the CL will accept any lens via an adapter.  I really enjoyed using different Leica M lenses but I might try some none Leica M mount lenses too going forward.  It means I am no longer limited by 0.7m closest focus distance of the Leica M cameras (*unless use close focus goggles).

Leica CL vs Leica M240
Leica CL + Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO
8. No risk of rangefinder calibration issues (Stress free!)

Unlike the Leica M cameras which are often plagued by needing rangefinder adjustment (especially older Leica M film cameras that may have taken a few knocks over the years), the Leica CL is not.  The Leica CL is not a rangefinder cameras as it has no optical viewfinder (only EVF).  This means for very important events such as wedding photography there is no added worry that the camera was knocked during the chaos that is every wedding and photos were now capturing out of focus.  I had this happen to me with a Leica M3 during a wedding and it was not until I received the photos that I saw the soft focus images.

(Luckily they were supplementary film photos to the digital Leica M photos I was taking on the day).

9. Higher ISO ability (similar to the Leica M10 & Leica SL)

I think to my eyes the Leica CL gives me 2 stops more useable low light ability verses the Leica M240.  My M240 sensor can create banding on photos at ISO 3200 so I try to use it at ISo 1600 or below.  The Leica CL seems OK at ISo 6400 which is great for a low light wedding photography which is so often the case.

Leica CL camera vs Leica M240
Leica CL + Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO @ISO 3200
10. Improved dynamic range (You will be impressed!)

I sometimes clip the highlights with my Leica M240 if rushing photos such as during a wedding (and moving from bright to dark and back to light situations).  I didn’t lose a single photo with the Leica CL yesterday!  The CL dynamic range is better than the Leica M240 and said to exceed that of a Nikon D4 and other pro level cameras.  Don’t underestimate the little guy!

11. Telephoto lenses on a Leica (and can focus easily!)

Focusing a long lens like a Leica Elmar 135mm f4 lens wide open can be tricky with the Leica M240 due to the small rangefinder patch.  With the Leica CL EVF every lens is now possible and easy.  I shot much of the wedding with a Leica M Summicron 75mm f2 APO with ease.

Leica CL Wedding Photos

12. Wide lenses on a Leica (no external viewfinders needed!)

With the Leica M240 viewfinder it only gives a view (framelines) up to 28mm wide.  Anything wider and you need to use an external viewfinder or focus via the LCD.  I tended to not use the LCD to focus and I use a 1.4x maginifer loop on the viewfinder so even 28mm is near impossible to see.  The Leica CL EVF means I can compose and focus a photo with even the widest of lenses.  The widest I have is the 15mm Voigtlander Super-Wide Heliar lens but on a crop body like the Leica CL it is not so wide.

Leica M240 vs Leica CL
Leica CL + Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 ASPH
13. Compose with new angles (up high, down low, no limits!)

Normally I use the Leica M240 optical viewfinder to focus/ compose 99% of my photos. With the Leica CL however I found I was happily switching between the EVF and rear LCD.  I tend to use the EVF if using a Leica M manual lens (via adapter) and the LCD for the autofocus 18mm Leica TL lens.  Using the LCD to focus meant I no longer need to have my eye pushed up against the camera.  This opens so many new opportunities for creative camera angles – up high, down low.

I really enjoyed this CL feature during the wedding. (When I used the Leica M240 + a wide 21mm lens for wedding photos previously I often just preset a distance on the lens.  I stopped down and guessed the composition and used the camera over my head / at waist level.(Hyperfocal distance style where you stop the lens down to higher f stop to give greater depth in focus).

Leica CL vs Leica M240 camera
Leica CL + Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 ASPH

..it’s not all one sided!

Results – 3 Reasons Why I prefer the Leica M240!

Leica M10 vs M240
Leica M240
1. Battery Life (Big is best!)

The larger size and capacity of the Leica M240 battery means you get much more photos per battery charge.  500 photos approx for the M240 battery vs around 220 photos for the Leica CL battery.  “Fat” Leica M240 cameras have their uses after all!  (*The new slimmed down Leica M10 now comes with a smaller battery than the M240).

In real terms this means the Leica CL eats batteries during a wedding.  I had 1 spare battery plus charger but for next years weddings I will buy an additions Leica CL battery.  (*Luckily the Leica CL batteries seem to charge quick).

2. Shallow depth of field (DOF)(Full frame wins!)

The Leica CL APS-C system design gives a 1.5x crop factor vs the full frame M240.  This means for portraits at a set distance of say 0.7m the Leica M240 will give a more shallow DOF.  It is not a problem for me but you might prefer the M240 if you love your creamy bokeh photos!

3. Better Ergonomics (A handful can be nicer!)

After a 9hr wedding using the Leica CL my hand was starting to cramp by the first dance.  Please note I was using larger Leica M lenses not the 18mm lens for much of the day.  The wider Leica M 240 body seems slightly easier on the hand.  I could buy the addition Leica CL hand grip which would probably ease this but i’ve spent enough money already!  (If I flex my hand for 10 seconds I was good to go again!).

Debrief – Leica CL Review vs Leica M240

Apologises if I overlooked any blindingly obvious camera features in this Leica CL review.  After the wedding yesterday and using the Leica CL vs Leica M240 this was my conclusion.  The Leica CL and I are still in our honeymoon period so this CL review may need updating going forward.  That said, many of the points listed are simply fact and no time will change that.  Safe to say I like the little Leica CL so far and much more than I ever expected!

Wedding photos.. coming soon

*Sorry I didn’t have an example wedding photo for each point made.  I have not gone through all of yesterdays weddings photos yet.  In a follow up post I will share the final selection of Adam and Becky wedding photos.  (Also on my todo list I also need to post lots of other Leica weddings from this year!)

..time to go and cook some lunch/dinner as it is 11pm!  These cameras (and related activities) are addictive! 🙂



Tempted by the Leica CL?  Treat yourself!

Check out the latest CL prices on Amazon! (UK) / (US)


Leica CL related posts / In the pipeline


You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit (2018) – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit (2018) – HERE
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Leica CL Digital Camera Review (Buying a Leica CL!)

Leica CL Digital Camera Review (Buying a Leica CL!)

…The new camera is a digital Leica CL!

Qu. Ever dreamed of an affordable Leica camera? Considered upgrading from a Leica M?  Tempted by a Leica CL digital camera, a Leica T or Leica TL/ TL2?
Qu. Can a crop sensor Leica + 18mm lens be used for portraits?
>>  In this article I answers all these questions and show example Leica CL portraits from 2 model shoots.


Leica CL (Digital)(Leica Mirrorless Camera!)

If a fellow Leica photographer friend had told me they had bought a Leica CL digital camera I probably would have replied “Oh nice!…???” to be polite. I would then need to Google it to see what it  was.  Perhaps I am a just Leica M snob (*for digital cameras only) but the Leica CL is not a camera I have read about.

Leica CL Digital

Leica M240 camera upgrade options

If I looked to “upgrade” (more on that later) from my Leica M240 camera I had only considered the Leica M10, Leica M10-P, Leica SL, and more out of interest only the Hasselblad X1D (as I have an older digital Hasselblad camera too).  I didn’t ever consider Sony such as the very well-regarded Sony A7R III (I say why later). I didn’t look at other mirrorless camera offerings either from say Fuji (X-Pro2 for example) nor larger digital cameras such as the Nikon D850 DSLR (even though I still have lots of Nikon lenses with my D800 past).

It seemed then that my future path was already well mapped out for me.  In my last post I reviewed the “Leica M10 vs Leica M240” (link below).  My conclusion was I didn’t think the Leica M10 / M10-P were a big enough improvement to pay out over £3000 for (over the M240).  You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Leica SL yet.  I think I never really considered the SL as an option for me simply because it is not a Leica M rangefinder camera with optical rangefinder. I rely so so heavily on this focusing system.  Partly as I am confident and quite quick to focus a Leica rangefinder camera but probably more so because I should where glasses to see distance but I don’t (unless driving).  It means using my film Hasselblad cameras or any SLR type camera where you look through the lens I struggle to see to focus.  With an optical rangefinder it somehow seems easier.  I line up the 2 lines and the photo will be in focus. Easy.

Leica CL Digital

Unexpected need to buy a new camera

Less than one week ago I was not considering buying any new cameras.  My last purchases were Mamiya 6 camera 150mm and 50mm lenses so they were keeping me happy and out of trouble for now.  So why the sudden need to buy a Leica CL digital camera and why that camera?

Back up camera

Although I don’t mention it a huge amount I teach photography on request.  Clients are often Leica photographers or film photographers but occasionally general “want to get into photography” requests.  A model wants to switch to being a photographer and used to use a Nikon DSLR.  To cut it short she bought my Nikon  D800 DSLR camera off me as I never use it.  I say never used but I took it with me for wedding photography bookings and left it in the car as a backup to the Leica M240 + Leica M8 camera setup I often use.  Another model then approached me as wants to get into photography more for fun and needed a little starter camera where could learn to use manual settings but the camera not cost a fortune.  I sold her my little Panasonic Lumix LX100 (aka Leica D-Lux 109).  That was my pack light backup camera for model photography trips overseas.   It was only last year that I bought the LX100 in Budapest when on a model photography photo shoot.  I thought I had forgotten my Leica M240 battery  charger so bought the camera to finish the photoshoots only to later find my charger!  I tried to use the camera after buying but never really fell in love with it like a Leica M camera.  It didn’t see much use.

No backup camera

So within the last few weeks I sold my two back up cameras.  This is unusual as I rarely sell anything!  I thought oh great, a bit more room on the camera shelf.. to move up one camera out the box below!

It then dawned on me I need a backup camera for Leica wedding photography. I also really need a small camera to back up my model photography trips abroad.  I can’t spend weeks of planning a trip with 5-6 models booked in per day to arrive and the Leica M240 not work.  Therefore I need backup.  The Leica M8 is great but I don’t think it is suitable for every occasion as it is slow to buffer and not great in low light.

Need for a new small digital camera

I wanted a camera to “support” my main camera the Leica M240 rather than an upgrade.  That means in my head it should cost less.  If not then to me it would be an “upgrade” such as mentioned in the Leica M10 vs M240 post.  First I turned to Panasonic Lumix cameras wondering if they had improved enough now to be used for professional work (for me). I have a history with Lumix with the Lumix TZ5 as possibly the camera that got me into photography then the brilliant Lumix G1 that taught me photography (using manual lenses on it via adapters).  In more recent years after becoming a Leica photographer I bought a used Lumix G3 to use with Leica glass.  I thought it would give me a nice small setup but it was far from a Leica M even with Leica glass.  I sold it.  Hence I had a brief hope that the latest Lumix cameras were better.  As part of my research I watched a few YouTube reviews on the Lumi G8 and Lumix GX85.  I liked their form and the reviews seemed positive.  I watched a few more videos and there was a comparison between the best small cameras.  In that video featured a Leica T!

Leica CL Digital

Leica T camera

I watched this small camera review and the Leica T won for the best colours.  I went straight to Flickr and searched the Leica T photos.  The T photos looked like “proper” Leica photos to my delight!  My lack of love towards Lumix in recent years is not the camera but the final image.  Leica cameras render pictures like no other brand to me and I just struggled with the Lumix “look”.  But this Leica T produces photos with a look not to dissimilar to the Leica M240 I use.  I Googled Leica T and saw the price used. £350-£450!  What!?  My eyes nearly popped out on stalks!  Why did nobody tell me you can buy a digital Leica with interchangeable lenses for under £500!?  I went straight to the website of one of the London-based Leica stockists I use to buy.  It was well after midnight (as usual)  typing with one eye open and editing a photo in another window (I don’t get much sleep).  I think I probably posted my photo to share on Flickr then forgot and fell asleep.

Things get more expensive

I spoke to my contact at the Leica Mayfair London store first thing the next morning and said words to the effect of “Hi Jimmy, I see you can buy a Leica T for under £500! That’s amazing”.  He replied in more detail that the Leica T is not perfect (which I had read about but tried to ignore because of the low-for-Leica cost!) which is why it is so cheap.  He said there are two better alternatives, the new Leica TL2  or the Leica CL.  The Leica TL2 lists at around £1,750 new and the Leica CL digital lists at £3,150 with a 18mm pancake lens.  Bye bye dream of spending £500 for a digital Leica!  I knew it was too good to be true!

Leica TL2  vs Leica CL digital

I knew of the Leica T/TL as I remember the annoucement.  “The new Leica machined from one piece of aluminium”.  When I researched the Leica T I liked the small size and smart phone like controls / display.  My biggest worry/ dislike was no viewfinder but I tried to ignore that as it was “cheap”.  With the Leica TL2 many of the Leica T “teething issues” were said to be resolved but it still had no viewfinder. A Leica TL2 is apparently aimed more at non photographers where it “drives” like a smart phone but still takes great Leica quality phones.  The Leica CL digital is said to be more for keen photographers and has a built-in EVF (electronic viewfinder).  (Leica T/TL/TL2 accept the hotshoe EVF module but it is extra).  Time for me to review the Leica CL!

Leica CL Digital

Leica CL digital camera – what is it?

So after some reading I found that the new Leica CL digital is the “rebirth” of the old Leica CL film camera, a mini Leica M. The main difference is the Leica CL film camera was full frame and the Leica CL digital is a crop sensor.  The Leica CL is a 24MP APS-C camera with 1.5x CMOS sensor.  It is a Leica mirrorless camera like the TL and SL.  It has the same “engine” as the Leica TL using the Maestro II processor.  This means the photos will look very similar to photos taken with a Leica TL2 it just “drives” differently as has the EVF and different “cockpit” (dials, buttons, screen arrangement).  The Leica CL digital uses the same lens mount as the Leica SL and Leica TL2 so doesn’t have a dedicated CL lens lineup. The Leica TL lenses are the go to lenses for the CL as they match the small form of the Leica CL but SL lenses will also fit.  Like the original Leica CL the Leica CL digital accepts Leica M lenses too but via an adapter.  The digital Leica CL was released in November 2017 so is one of the newest Leica digital cameras.

Leica CL digital spec

I wont go into the Leica CL digital camera specifics as there are already  better more in-depth reviews online.  I just cover the basics and write from the thought process angle as to why I considered the Leica CL.

Leica CL Digital

Leica CL key features (for me)

  • Built in EVF
  • Accepts Leica M lenses (via Leica M-Adapter-L)
  • Smaller size than a Leica M camera
  • Cheaper than a modern digital Leica M (M240/ M10)
  • High ISO ability (better than Leica M240)
  • Reliable
  • Leica look images
  • Closer focusing than 0.7M of a Leica M
  • Offers “something extra” to a Leica M (next blog)
  • WiFi (not a deal breaker but great to have)

Leica CL digital – ticks all the boxes (for me)

I went through my list of requirements above as to what I am looking for in a new backup camera for my Leica setup.  The Leica CL ticked all the boxes and then some extra too.  On paper at least I think I found my camera!

Leica CL used price

The same morning as I spoke to Leica Mayfair I found a camera shop listing a used Leica CL with 18mm pancake lens.  It was cheaper than buying new so I jumped at the find and the Leica CL was shipped to me next day delivery. I thought at worst if I didn’t like it CL I can return in within a few days.

“Mini M!” New Leica CL expectations

I had high hopes for my new Leica CL “mini M” camera but equally I thought it would be used as a backup.  I expected my new Leica mirrorless camera to be a lesser camera to my “proper” Leica M 240 rangefinder.  Afterall it didn’t even have an optical viewfinder so how can I take it that seriously!  Be realistic!

Leica CL Digital

Buying a Leica CL – She arrives!

The new Leica CL digital / Mini M arrived and looked good!  The little Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 ASPH lens was tiny!  This little Leica mirrorless camera seemed like the dream travel camera at first sight!  Due to the CL 1.5x APS-C crop sensor the 18mm Leica TL lens equates to approximately 27-28mm on the Leica M 240 / a full frame camera.   This means the Leica CL I bought is comparable to my Leica M240 + 28mm Leica Elmarit-M attached (but a lot smaller and lighter).

I tried the Leica CL EVF and it looked good! I wasn’t expecting an EVF to look good from other mirrorless cameras I had seen others using in the past.  Autofocus was fast and snappy.  The controls were very intuitive to use and the touch screen LCD was a nice addition.  I’m impressed with the CL so far.  After a mad few days and buying a Leica  CL it is now time to test!

Leica CL Photos -Test shoot #1 – Portraits

I had already planned a photoshoot with Latvian born Sarmite last Friday.  It was our third shoot together but only second in recent years so we had high hopes to up our game vs the last shoot.  Sarmite is not a model so it is just a matter of building confidence to get the resulting photos we wished for.  My Leica CL speedy buying process was partly so the camera would arrive in time for this photoshoot so I could try it out.

Before Sarmite arrived I thought I would try the Leica CL camera out with her but then switch to a proper camera (M240).  Afterall the Leica CL was currently fitted with a 28mm equivalent “landscape lens”.  No good for close up portrait photos in the studio, or so I thought.  I think I took 5 photos on the Leica M24o and nearly 500 photos with the Leica CL digital (..and 1 one film photo with a Nikon F5!).

Here are some of the Leica CL portraits I took (DNG files batch processed in Lightroom and some finished in Photoshop).  Sarmite received all photos taken within a few hours of leaving.  That is how many “keepers” we had. (Generally I don’t click the shutter on any camera until I like what I see).

Leica CL Portrait

Leica CL + 18mm f2.8

Leica CL 18mm Portrait

Leica CL 18mm Studio Shoot

I will add more as I get chance..

Leica CL Sample Images #2 – Location Shoot

This shoot had been planned for the spring then kept getting pushed back for whatever reason.  In the months I had to think about I had so many ideas in my head as to what cameras/ what photos we would do.  The plan was mostly film with an emphasis on the 4×5 Intrepid camera (which I still need to blog about but want to get more photos together first).  I was up til after 1am Friday night packing all the film cameras, Intrepid 4×5, Mamiya 6 + new lenses, Nikon F5, then the Leica M240 with some legacy glass (lenses) to play with and in the little space left in my camera back I packed the new Leica CL digital to try.

As always, everything I envisioned ahead of the photoshoot never plays out.  I have the same for every wedding photography shoot too!  I didn’t take a single film camera photo despite all the kit I’d carried.  90% of the photos were taken with the Leica CL and I only took our the Leica M240 so I could take some side by side photos with the 2 cameras.  I can now do a Leica M240 vs Leica CL comparison blog with real images to compare.  Thanks to Rebecca for being patient while I took 2’s of some photos!  Here are some more Leica CL sample images from the shoot last Saturday.

Leica CL Portrait

Leica CL + Leica Elmarit 18mm f2.8

Leica CL B&W - 18mm

Leica CL + Leica Elmarit 18mm f2.8 TL

New Camera - Test Shoot 2!

Leica CL + Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8

Leica CL + 18mm

Leica CL Digital!

Leica CL + Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 ASPH

Again I will add more as I get chance..

Leica CL digital – Images – First thoughts

As mentioned above, I expected the digital Leica CL to be a lesser camera than my digital Leica M240.  I therefore automatically expected the photos to be sub-par vs the M240.  I was wrong.  Yes there are differences but I am really impressed with the Leica CL.  My backup camera may well become my join main camera!  I will certainly put the little Leica CL though it’s paces in the next few months and try it for more Leica CL portraits a Leica CL wedding and the Leica CL as a travel camera.

Leica CL review (so far)! Is it the best camera on the market?

With my glowing Leica CL review  so far, you may ask is the Leica CL camera the best on the market today?  Or is the Leica SL or the new Leica M10-P better?  Well on paper and in practice too it is commonly regarded by most photographers (consensus from many online reviews it seems) that the “best” cameras are the Sony Alpha A7R III or the new Nikon D850.  Technically yes both these cameras “blow the little Leica CL out the water”.  But for me I need the “Leica look” and neither Sony nor Nikon offer that, not even as a preset!  Perfect images are not always best.  Leica rendering to me is far more pleasing to my eye that a pixel perfect image.  That’s why I left Nikon to move to Leica originally.  Even if a photographer currently owns a Sony A7R III or a Nikon D850 I would argue you would take more photos with a little Leica CL as it is small enough to carry everywhere (with the 18mm pancake lens)(for general photography).  The Leica CL camera also has the image quality to compete with some of the best cameras on the market.  I like it!

Why did I drag out this Leica CL review?

I wanted viewers to think I was using a much more expensive or well-known camera that the little Leica CL.  Flickr viewers were guessing Leica M10,  Leica M10-P, Sony, Fuji.. but no one guessed a camera lower down the Leica camera tree.  That is as I hoped/ expected. I would do the same if I view another Leica photographers pictures and knew they had bought a new camera.  You only expect people to buy a ‘better’ camera than their current model I think.  I would never have considered a Leica below the Leica M range but I was pleasantly surprised.  Thanks to Leica Mayfair London for helping open my eyes.

Many more Leica CL photos and thoughts to come plus a more in depth Leica CL review once I have time to use the camera more.  Below I listed some of the posts I plan to cover as soon as I get time!

Thanks for your patience! I hope it didn’t prove too annoying!


*All photos from photoshoot #1 & #2 taken with Leica CL + Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8


Tempted by the Leica CL?  Treat yourself!

Check out the latest CL prices on Amazon! (UK) / (US)


Leica CL posts / related posts to this article

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit (2018) – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit (2018) – HERE



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Leica M10 vs M240 Review (12 Differences: M Typ 240 vs M10P)

New Camera!!  Leica M10 vs M240 review


Qu. Are you a Leica M8, M9, M240 owner?  Like me are you very tempted by the new slim Leica M10 specs or even the super quiet Leica M10-P?!
>> In this article I summarise 9 major differences between the Leica M10 vs Leica M240, 3 extras features the Leica M10-P offers & explain my new camera decision!


The Leica M10 vs M240 debate!

As a Leica M240 owner currently, I have had my eye on a potential camera upgrade to for a little while now.  I was immediately tempted by the Leica M10 camera when it was first released back in January 2017 and now the new Leica M10-P is here!  I tried to compose a meaningful argument as to why I needed yet another camera. In particular, why I needed another digital Leica that was arguably quite similar to the M240 I already have.

Here is my Leica M10 review / Leica M10-P review vs the Leica M240 when looking to upgrade. (*When I write “Leica M10” below this also relates to the M10-P.  The Leica M10-P specs then includes a few extra new features, 3 of which I listed separately).

Leica M10 Camera 1

Leica M240 vs Leica M10 review

Leica M10 Specs vs M240 Advantages (to me)

1) High ISO – The number one reason I would upgrade to the Leica M10 is the improved high ISO for low light photography, espeically wedding photography but also for model photography when I find myself in a dark hotel or apartment overseas.  The high ISO of the M240 goes up to ISO 6400 but the Leica M10 high ISO is 50000!  In real terms the M10 has 2-3 stops more usuable high ISO depending on taste and conditions vs the M240.  This would be gratefully received!

2) Buffering – Another issue I have had with the M240 during wedding photography is buffering / camera lock up while buffering.  The M240 could take 12 JPEGS during continous shooting before buffering / stopping but the new Leica M10 can take 40 JPEG photos before needing to buffer.  I will never need more than that!  (It is worth noting the buffering on the M240 camera is lightningly fast compared to my Leica M8!) 🙂

3) Larger viewfinder – The new Leica M10 viewfinder is 30% larger so can see more when composing AND it is more magnified making it easier for critical focus (great for when I use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 for example).  Viewfinder magnification of the M10 is 0.73x vs 0.68x for the M240 (vs 0.91x on the Leica M3 film camera). The new M10 viewfinder design is also better for any Leica photographer wearing glasses as less of the viewfinder view is blocked.  I wear glasses for driving but not for photography so I have no problems using my Leica M240 viewfinder.

4) Wifi – The Leica M10 spec includes built-in WiFi.  This means I can transfer photos straight from my camera to my phone to share images to Instagram / social media without needing a laptop.  When I organise my overseas model photography photo shoots in Poland and Hungary for example, I travel light and without a laptop so this would be a great feature to have.  WiFi would also work well for sharing wedding photos after destination weddings where I am without a computer.

Leica M10 specs vs M240 Disadvantages (to me)

1) Smaller battery – I find the Leica M240 battery life very good and never a concern.  I use two M240 batteries and I have never ran out whether a full day of model photoshoots or an all day Leica wedding.  Sadly the new M10 battery is smaller meaning less photos/ capacity per battery. This would mean I would need to carry two spare batteries instead of one.  The smaller Leica M10 battery size also means I cannot use my existing spare Leica M240 battery.

2) Larger viewfinder – The new Leica M10 spec sees a viewfinder 30% larger than the Leica M 240 viewfinder.  This is great except if you use a Leica M magnifier accessory for the viewfinder like me.  I use a 1.4x viewfinder magnifier on my M240 but this will not fit the Leica M10. I would need to buy a new larger diameter Leica M10 viewfinder magnifier meaning more cost.

3) No video – Unlike the Leica M240 the new Leica M10 now has no video option.  I used video extremely rarely on the M240 but it never hurt me to have it in the camera.  Occasionally it could be fun to have but now on the M10 this is not an option.

A few more differences – Leica M10 vs Leica M240

1) Slimmer – The M10 has a slimmer camera body than the M240,  similar to the Leica film cameras such as a Leica M6.  The  M10 is also very slightly lighter than the M240.  The wider width of the M240 has never bothered me but the new M10 does look good a little slimmed down.

2) ISo Dial – The M10 now has a dedicated ISo dial on the top plate means rather than scrolling through menus on the M240.  It looks good and woudl be well received but it wouldn’t make me buy the camera based on just that.

The new Leica M10-P vs Leica M10 compared

1) Leica M10-P Quieter Shutter – The M10-P has the new quietest Leica M shutter. Great for my Leica wedding photography!

2) Touch Screen – The M10-P now has a touch screen like a smart phone. I think we are all so used to swiping on our phones I think the M10P touchscreen is a nice addition

3) Leica Dot – The Leica M10-P now has a bare screw head showing on the front of the camera  (normally covered by the famous Leica red dot).  I think I prefer it covered up by the Leica logo but I can see why they did it.

Leica M240 vs Leica M10 vs Leica M10-P Price

(Camera body price at date of writing: 25th August 2018, Leica Mayfair London)

  • Used Leica M240 price: £2,850 (My camera value)
  • New Leica M240 price: £5,550
  • Leica M10 price: £5,850 (+£3,000 to upgrade to a M10)
  • Leica M10-P price: £6,500 (+£3,650 to upgrade to a M10-P)

Leica M10 vs M240Time to hang up the Leica M240

New Camera purchase! 🙂

So after much debating and what seems like ages since the Leica M10 camera was first announced, I just bought myself a new digital camera!  I always feel a lot happier buying film cameras as I think I will lose less money if I ever sell them.  That said, the film cameras are generally bought for fun and paid work is normally mostly digital photography.  A new digital camera for me is bought as a tool to get the job done in the best way possible.  I liked the idea of the Leica M10 / M10-P high ISO ability as I found that can be a little limiting with the M240 for Leica weddings.  That was my main wish for my upgrade, better low light capability.

Leica M10 Review  – Conclusion

After considering my above mini Leica M10 review,  the problem have is I didn’t find the list of Leica M10 improvements over the Leica M240 worthy of the £3,000-£3,650 price tag. (Price based on upgrading from my M240 and the used price of my Leica M240).  It was time to look elsewhere for possible new camera options.  I did buy a new camera this week but it wasn’t the camera I expected to buy or had ever considered!  Scary really when I thought of myself as only ever a rangefinder guy.  It’s funny how we can adapt so quickly.

I will get a few more new camera test shots together and share the details soon.  Hopefully tomorrow night or Monday (a public holiday in the UK so I should have more time for blogging).

Buyig a new Leica camera – Related posts


You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit (2018) – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit (2018) – HERE



Teaser Photo – New camera sample image

Leica CL Portrait

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