Leica CL review

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

The Leica CL as per the YouTube Review

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

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7 thoughts on “Leica CL Review & Photos (+ Focusing Leica M Lenses) – Polish Models”

  1. Fantastic and detailed article! The photos, to me, are always top notch and looks just as good on the CL. Any reason you picked the CL over the SL? And now you need a silver CL to go with your M!

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Thank you Mike! I will have to test a SL sometime to give it a fair test but the size of the lenses puts me off more than anything else. Haha I can’t afford another CL! 🙂

  2. Hey Matt, have you written a post on your process for acquiring models for the shoot? I imagine it must be tricky to recruit models in (say) Budapest when you’re in the UK. How do you do it? Do you also use a stylist or do you rely on the models to style themselves? And how do you source a location? Sorry for all the questions, it just seems a lot of logistics!

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hi David, sorry for the slow reply. Yes it is as difficult as it sounds. I spend hours and hours in the months ahead of a trip searching for girls on Instagram and FB. Some cancel, some say yes, some don’t reply. Some models arrange makeup, I can do the basics for them if they are young and don’t use makeup. I suggest the styling, hair, makeup everything and I pick the locations, usually close to my hotel. I can make most things work. Not for the faint hearted! It’s a lot of work but I still enjoy it. Matt

  3. Does Leica CL confirm aperture value, when you use Voigtlander lenses without 6-bit encoding?

  4. Aside from a quick ‘thank you’ for this useful article, just wanted to comment on your interesting wide angle portraits. Some very skilful and creative ways of managing the distortion here! I especially like the portrait at the open door with the 18mm Elmarit – the model’s body looks fluid, in the literal sense. My husband and I enjoy watching your videos and reading your articles, and appreciate the time you put into sharing your work.

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Thank you! My CL will be back from repair soon so you’ll see it on YouTube again before too long 🙂

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