Leica Unveils Compact CL Mirrorless Camera and TL 18mm Lens


Leica has seen fit to expand its mirrorless ranks, this time by creating the CL, a compact and intuitive APS-C camera with a built-in electronic viewfinder. Compared to its APS-C sibling, the TL2, the CL changes things up with more tactile controls and dials that will appeal to photographers who desire a more classic look and feel. It features an aluminum top and bottom, along with a magnesium-alloy chassis for a combination of durability and light weight. The camera has a leather wrap that provides a feel more reminiscent of Leica’s flagship M series. Alongside this new camera is a new lens: the Elmarit-TL 18mm f/2.8 ASPH. This ultra-compact pancake lens provides a 27mm equivalent focal length that will pair wonderfully with the versatility and size of the CL.

The main and most obvious differentiator of the CL is the built-in 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder with 0.74x magnification, providing intuitive and fast operation for photographers. It also takes steps to provide more physical controls, including two dials on the top, each with a separate customizable button, and a top display for checking settings without needing to bring the camera back up to eye level. Beyond this, the CL is equipped with the latest tech for creating sharp images, including a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and the Leica Maestro II image processor, delivering fast shooting at up to 10 fps with either the mechanical or electronic shutter and the ability to record UHD 4K video at 30 fps. Another benefit of this imaging system is a 49-point contrast-detection AF system and a sensitivity range of ISO 100-50000. That isn’t all, since the camera also offers shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 second with the mechanical shutter and 1/25000 second with the electronic shutter.

Adding to ease of use, the rear of the camera is equipped with a four-way directional pad for navigating the menu and controlling your focus points. There is a large 3" touchscreen LCD with 1.04m-dot resolution for operating the camera through touch and gesture controls. The CL features a UHS-II-compatible SD card slot for quickly unloading the buffer during continuous shooting and there is a USB Type-C port for connecting to a computer. Additionally, the camera features built-in Wi-Fi for near instant sharing and remote control via a dedicated app.

Claiming best-in-class performance, the Elmarit-TL 18mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens is a remarkable pancake option for APS-C Leica mirrorless shooters that is only 0.8" long. It offers a 27mm equivalent focal length and respectable f/2.8 aperture in a compact package weighing just 2.8 oz, perfect for maintaining a discreet and lightweight kit. Aspherical glass is used in the design to ensure optimal image quality and it features a built-in autofocus motor for quickly locking onto your subjects. The lens will be available in black or silver, and since Leica recognizes the lens is an ideal companion to the CL, the company has decided to create a kit with the camera and 18mm lens. Or, for those of you who prefer a zoom lens a kit with an 18-56mm lens is available, as well.

As with all its releases, Leica has developed plenty of accessories to outfit your camera. The major items include the Handgrip CL for those looking for a more substantial hold on it and a Thumb Support CL, which will provide a perfect spot for your thumb to rest on the rear of the body. Also, for users looking for more style and protection, you can pick up the Protector-CL Leather Case in either black or brown. Additionally, you can get a Display Protection Foil for the touchscreen, as well as Vintage Leather and Lifestyle Neck Straps.