Leica CL vs Leica Q Review & Photos (+ Q2 / QP)
Have you ever wondered how these 2 cameras compare!? Here is a short Leica CL vs Leica Q review including a Leica CL vs Q model shoot photo comparison, Leica Q wedding pictures, pros of both cameras and a quick Leica Q vs Q2 vs Q-P overview.
Leica Q camera – quick overview
I’ve never owned the digital Leica Q camera but had the opportunity to try it out to see what it could do. The full name of the Q is the Leica Q (Type 116) and it was first released in June 2015. It is a 24MP full frame digital camera with a fixed 28mm f1.7 ASPH Leica lens. The Leica Q offers touch screen and autofocus and has an electronic viewfinder. All very modern compared to a traditional Leica M rangefinder camera that uses manual focus lenses.
Leica CL camera – My go to digital camera
The Leica CL camera is currently my main digital camera body that I use day to day. I bought the Leica CL last year as the backup camera to my Leica 240 for Leica weddings. (The older Leica M8 camera is great but it can be too slow for fast paced client work). As it happens the Leica CL impressed me more than I expected and it took over from the Leica M240 as my primary digital camera. I was interested to see how the Leica CL images compared to the fixed lens Leica Q camera.
Leica CL camera – quick overview
To recap my previous Leica CL reviews and blog posts, the CL is a 24MP APS-C (crop sensor) digital Leica camera. The Leica CL was first released in 2017 so it 2 years newer than the original Leica Q. Like the Q the CL offers autofocus (with compatible lenses), touch screen, focus peeking and EVF.
Leica CL vs Leica Q size comparison
Leica M240 vs Leica Q size comparison
Thank you Leica Mayfair!
Jimmy and Yumi at the Leica Mayfair store kindly made this review possible by letting me borrow a Leica Q camera for 24 hours. I was extremely grateful and wasn’t expecting them to say yes when I asked so thank you! If you ever visit London I highly recommend that you stop by the Mayfair Leica shop to say hi and check out the latest Leica cameras and lenses.
The Leica Q vs Leica CL test conditions
My visit to London was to be a busy 48hrs. I had three model shoots booked and a Leica wedding photography booking at The Dorchester hotel in Mayfair. The plan was to test the Leica Q both in the controlled environment of a model photography shoot and also in the uncontrollable conditions of a real wedding. (For the wedding I was using my own Leica cameras too. There was no risk to the client that using the Leica Q could result in me not getting wedding photos). Of the three models I used the Leica Q with two of them and then tested another Leica camera for a future review for the third model.
Leica CL vs Leica Q Shootout! (Side by side)
28mm focal length
For my usual non scientific style of camera shoot out test I shot the Leica CL vs Leica Q during my normal pre-booked model photo sessions. The 2 Leica cameras were shot side by side both with 28mm equivalent lenses on. (The Leica CL 18mm Elmarit-TL f2.8 lens equates to the 28mm fixed lens of the Leica Q).
You may not realise but we are all quite used to seeing the world via a 28mm lens as that is the view an iPhone camera gives! For anyone that takes a lot of photos with their iPhone the Leica Q or Leica CL option should prove to be an easy transition.
Shot wide open – f1.7 vs f2.8
Both camera lenses were shot wide open so the Leica Q at f1.7 vs the Leica CL at f2.8. If I bought the Q I would use the lens wide open so I wanted to see how it would perform. The Leica CL only offers f2.8 so I used that aperture.
Raw format + LR preset applied
All photos were shot in DNG format and the Leica RAW files were processed through Lightroom. I applied my Leica M8 LR colour preset to all the images to apply the same amount of contrast, sharpness and saturation to the files. Any variation would then be due to the camera or lens.
Why Leica M8 LR preset?
Why did I apply a Leica M8 preset to Leica Q and Leica CL files? I have Leica CL LR presets but I was shooting in colour and my Leica M8 preset is the most saturated. I tend to use the Leica M8 presets the most at the moment regardless of what camera i’m shooting with.
Interestingly when I applied the same white balance settings to the Leica Q and Leica CL files the photos looked very different. More pink of the CL vs green-yellow of the Leica Q at the same WB. I’ve never seen this with any of my other Leica cameras so perhaps something was set wrong on the Q. I manually adjusted the WB of both camera files by eye to get the images as close as I could.
Thank you to models Danush and Sandra for letting me use both these cameras during the photo shoots. In all honestly I normally have 2-3 cameras on any shoot anyway so it was normal practice for me. The only difference being I didn’t shoot much film (Danush) or any film (Sandra) as I wanted to concentrate on the digital photos. It was that but more so the fast pace of the shoot with Sandra didn’t give me the opportunity. I regretted not shooting film immediately afterwards of course so hopefully next time.
Leica Q portraits vs Leica CL
Photoshoot 1 – Male model shoot
All the photos of Danush were shot at 28mm for the Leica CL and the Leica Q. I even shot some 28mm colour film with a Nikon FM!
Photoshoot 2 – Female model shoot
For the shoot with Sandra I was using the Leica CL with different lenses as I needed to get the shots we wanted and 28mm wasn’t always the best choice. To recap the Leica Q is full frame so the 28mm lens gives a true 28mm focal length in 35mm terms. The Leica CL has a 1.5x APS-C crop sensor so the standard 18mm kit lens equals 28mm. For other lenses used I put the equivalent focal length in brackets.
Leica CL lenses used:
- Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8
- Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii
- Leica Summicron-M 28mm f2 ASPH
- Leica Summilux-M 50mm f1.2 ASPH
Leica Q wedding photography
Congratulations Jo and Mo! Just a few sample Leica Q wedding photos from The Dorchester hotel in Mayfair, London. I will share the full wedding at a later date.
Leica Q macro photography
Macro photography or more specifically, close up and detail photos using the Leica Q macro mode setting.
My first impressions of the Leica Q?
As a Leica M photographer my first impressions of the Leica Q were (1) it is very lightweight vs a Leica M, (2) The Q is similar in size to a Leica M but bigger than a Leica CL, (3) The Leica Q menus remind me of the Leica M and CL.
Leica Q image quality
I used the Leica Q 28mm f1.7 lens at it’s widest aperture for all photos. I also used the camera in autofocus mode for all photos (single spot focus). Using these two settings I feel that I can get sharper images using manual focus lenses on either the Leica M240 or Leica CL (in most cases)(especially subjects greater than 1m away). Scanning through three cameras worth of photos in Lightroom the sharpest photos that jumped out at me were normally not the Leica Q. That may have been user error but I get more ‘keepers’ shooting with manual focus than I do with autofocus. That is one reason why I love the Leica M system (and Leica CL with Leica M lenses). I would expect the CL to be sharper in this test as the lens is f2.8 vs f1.7 for the Q.
28mm fixed focal length of the Leica Q
Generally speaking I am a 50mm lens kinda guy so I was not sure how useful the fixed 28mm lens of the Leica Q would be. I also love to experiment with my photography such as using a wide range of different Leica M lenses on the Leica CL (via an adapter). (Everything from 15mm – 135mm). Having only a 28mm lens keeps things simple but it also means that you would probably need a second camera to use longer lenses on. If you are a wide lens only kind of person then you would probably want a 21mm lens for wider shots, and so on.
28mm model photography
For the first model shoot with Danush I wanted a wider angle look so the Leica Q 28mm lens worked well for me. For the second photo shoot with Sandra it was quite handy to have a 28mm focal length indoors. That said as the shoot progressed I gravitated more to the Leica CL with longer lenses on. (See examples below). For female model photography especially a longer lens tends to be more flattering. I was using a 35mm and 50mm lens on the Leica CL crop sensor giving me roughly 53mm and 75mm approx.
28mm wedding photography
For Leica wedding photography I am a big fan of using wider angle lenses. In the past my most used lens at a wedding was often the Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 or Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8 (on the Leica M9 then Leica M240) (both full frame cameras). The fixed 28mm of the Leica Q camera seemed to be perfect for the wedding in Mayfair and it was nice not to have the temptation to keep swapping lenses!
Leica Q or Leica CL? Pick one!
If you could only have one of these two cameras which would be best suited to you? Leica Q or Leica CL? Both cameras have their pros and cons and there are already plenty of reviews online. For this article I will just bullet point the three main advantages and disadvantages of each camera for me. This will be based on me using various Leica M cameras and other non Leica cameras over the last 10 years.
Leica CL vs Q – Leica CL pros x3
- Lighter: CL, 483g (with 18mm lens + battery) vs Q, 640g (with battery)
- Smaller: The CL with the 18mm kit lens attached (28mm equivalent)
- Interchangeable lenses + will accept Leica M system lenses w/adapter
Leica Q vs CL – Leica Q pros x3
- 24MP Full frame sensor vs 24MP APS-C sensor
- Fast 28mm f1.7 fixed lens vs most wide lenses that are f2-f2.8
- Macro option is great for detail photos (0.17m close focus vs. 0.3m CL)
Leica CL and Leica Q – similar features x5
- Leica Q battery and Leica CL battery are the same
- Both cameras are said to have ISo 100-50,000
- Leica CL and Q both have the autofocus option
- Leica Q and CL both have touch screen LCDs
- The CL and Q both have similar menu systems
Leica Q review (vs CL) summary
The Leica Q camera impressed me more than I was expecting. If I did a lot of Leica wedding photography, street photography or travel photography the Leica Q is a great option. Yes the Leica CL with 18mm kit lens is a lighter more compact setup but the 18mm lens is only f2.8. Also if like me you use the Leica CL with Leica M lenses attached it soon becomes heavier than the fixed lens Leica Q.
For portraits and fashion photography it depends on your style. Some fashion photographers love the wide angle look but traditionally a longer lens tends to be more useful. Personally I usually chose lenses more than 28mm wide for my model photography so the Leica Q would not suit my day to day portrait work.
Leica Q2 vs CL?
You could ask why I didn’t review the newer Leica Q2 vs Leica CL instead. It was for the simple fact that the weekend I was in Mayfair, London, the only Leica Q camera available to test was the original Leica Q camera. If I get chance in the future perhaps I can review the Leica Q2 vs CL to see how it compares but the Q gave me a good appreciation of using a fixed 28mm lens.
Leica Q-P vs Leica Q2?
In addition to the mentioned Leica Q and Leica Q2 there is also the Leica Q-P camera version. The Leica Q-P is pretty much identical to the Leica Q camera except it is missing the famous Leica red dot and has an engraved top plate.
Leica Q vs Q2 (price)
One advantage of the release of the Leica Q2 camera is that the price of the Leica Q is now cheaper. At the time of writing the Leica Q was roughly £750 cheaper than the Leica Q2 in the UK (July 2019):
- Leica Q – £3500
- Leica Q-P – £3590
- Leica Q2 – £4250
Latest prices – Amazon
More digital Leica camera reviews
- Leica CL vs Leica S2! (New – coming soon)
- Leica CL
- Leica CL vs M240
- Leica CL + Leica M Lenses
- Leica M10/ M10-P vs M240
- Leica M Typ 240
- Leica M9
- Leica M8
- Leica S2