A Few Moments with the Leica CL Hands On First Look

Much like the outdoor sports products I review on other publications, I can usually and accurately tell how much I’m going to enjoy a product within a few minutes. That important first impression is set when I push the pedals on a ride, pull on a pair of winter tights, or snap pics with a new camera. And, the Leica CL impressed me just like their other models I’ve reviewed because it’s another, even more, compact variation of their “in the moment” design aesthetic.

Here’s a pic I took with it from seat 10a on the flight to Park City. Above the clouds, looking out the window, I noticed an interesting cloud formation and grabbed the CL out of my backpack. A few frames later, I had that….

Leica CL

That was my first moment with the Leica CL

The dials on top and tiny LED screen intuitively put all the essential photographic functions on the camera’s top plate. The aperture, shutter speed, ISO value, and exposure compensation are intended to be changed without taking the camera from the eye and when you do the relevant settings are seen at a glance.

The second “moment” happened when this goofy dog found us on the trail. We had ridden up one of the thousands of trails around Park City on fat bikes to catch the golden hour but the light was terrible from a hazy, overcast sky. So I set the CL to Black and White Natural mode and was composing the shot when the dog passed me, stopped, turned around as if to say, “Is that the new Leica CL?!!”

Catching a moment with the Leica

Sure, I anthropomorphized the dog, but he’s looking right at the camera like he knows what it is.

The third moment happened with this action shot.

Leica CL I’ve found that you can often push a premium compact camera to do something unexpected and the CL responded with that frame. Again, the light was crap and it didn’t help the bike was white and I was dressed in black, so my colleague John Shaffer took this sequence of me riding past in B/W.


Just one, maybe two frames were in focus and usable, but I got the shot and despite the bummer about the light.

Leica CL Sundance JPG

Considering where the CL fits in Leica’s line, it’s like their other APS-C camera the TL with a viewfinder and it costs $2795. The Leica Summicron TL 1:2/23mm ASPH lens attached to it costs $1850.

While I prefer full frame cameras, I cannot argue with the shooting experience. For me, that’s even more important than a long spec list. For the purchaser, I can make a strong argument it’s worth the $5K price, even on a millennial’s budget, and I encourage you to try one out and find your moments.

I can definitely say the Leica CL makes a good first impression.

I’m in Park City to cover camera tech at Sundance and once I find the good light will have much more to share, including street shooting.

Here’s a burger and fries moment from the hotel bar last night.

Leica CL Sundance DNG

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