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Well - it's a long time since a love affair was so brief.  I've been interested in working with the CL, but after a month or so of playing I've come to the conclusion it's not for me.  I've tried the TL 23 18-55 and 55-135, but in the end didn't really enjoy them.  I can see how some will love them, but they just don't meet my needs. 

 

Part of the issue is that the camera with lenses mounted ends up being BULKIER than my Ms. OK I know they're mostly zooms so you have many FLs in one lens, but even the 23mm (especially with a hood on) feels huge compared with the M10 + 35 summicron asph.  The other issue is that compared with full frame I just wasn't subjectively satisfied with the image results from APS-C.  High ISO was no where near what I can get with the M10 and I wasn't happy with the results I was seeing on screen or paper.  Good, but not quite good enough. After experimenting, I also didn't feel there was any point in putting M lenses on the CL - it seemed beside the point, and if I need EVF focusing I use either LV or the Visoflex 020.  If I want longer I'll use the R 80-200 f4 or I'll use my Canon system.

 

So, current plan is they're all going off to Ffordes and I'm getting a used Canon 70-300 f4-f5.6 (£760!!) to go with the 5D3 for those occasions when I know I'll need reach and IS.

 

Bye-bye CL forum - back to the M10

 

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I'm tempted to say you were warned, Chris but you've at least put your money where your mouth is and tried the system out (which is more than I've done).

 

Interesting what you say about the similarity in size with the M. I've been tempted a few times by the APS-C mirrorless system: first with the T, more recently with the CL but have ultimately concluded that I might as well just use the M cameras that I prefer. I've largely come to the conclusion that there are three types of camera that are useful to me: a modern DSLR for routine jobs that I turn up to and get paid for, my Leica M system and iPhone for everything else. As much as I like the idea of the CL (a smaller alternative to the M, etc.) it just isn't as convenient as an iPhone for casual photography or as satisfying to use as a good RF for when I'm feeling less casual/lazy. If I'm going to the trouble of carrying a camera, I might as well bring my M camera. If I don't won't to carry a camera, the iPhone will more than suffice.

Edited by wattsy

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Yes - it is a fine camera, and I gave up the M240 for it happily. But it must suit your needs.  To me, the image quality is very close to the M series, but I don't go beyond 3200 normally and am I usually below 1600 anyway. Furthermore, I am very much taken with the rendering of the Summilux 24 on this camera as the weaker corners are gone - but that is not a small/light lens on any camera . CL, 18-56, 55-135 and Summilux M fit in the small Billingham for Leica bag and it is not as heavy as the M240 with appropriate primes - and more versatile.

The integration with the GX8 and Vario-Elmar 100-400  is perfect:) and the GX8 makes a fine backup camera. Plus the same batteries makes this an excellent travel combo, only the bag needed is an old Hadley Press-top.

But your use is clearly totally different. See you on the M forums!

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What did you want it for in the first place, Chris? If it doesn't satisfy your needs, then this is obviously the right decision, but I'm curious what those needs were/are.

 

Personally I never saw it as a substitute for the M, for sensor size reasons if nothing else. But as a compact, light system it fulfills a need that the M cannot satisfy. I don't use the zooms, just the tiny 18mm and the 60mm. There is just no comparison in size/weight with the M equivalents* - which is why I use them. 

For me it is complementary to the M (and SL), not a replacement.

 

 

* After concentrating on the CL for the last couple of months, I picked up the M240+Apo50 again recently and was startled by its weight and bulk in comparison. Nothing I can't live with, of course, but definitely noticeable.

Edited by LocalHero1953

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Part of the issue is that the camera with lenses mounted ends up being BULKIER than my Ms. 

 

Yes, this is why I lost interest after the first day. As soon as I clocked the dimensions of the 35 Summilux TL on the CL compared to my M240 and 50mm Summicron (having equivalent depth of field), I realised I wasn't going to gain anything. I'm waiting on that 50mm Q ;-)

Pete

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Yes - it is a fine camera, and I gave up the M240 for it happily. But it must suit your needs. To me, the image quality is very close to the M series, but I don't go beyond 3200 normally and am I usually below 1600 anyway. Furthermore, am very much taken with the rendering of the Summilux 24 on this camera as the weaker corners are gone - but that is not a small/light lens on any camera . It fits in the small Billingham for Leica bag and is not as heavy as the M240 with appropriate primes.

The integration with the GX8 and Vario-Elmar 100-400 is perfect:) and the GX8 makes a fine backup camera. Plus the same batteries makes this an excellent travel combo.

But your use is clearly totally different. See you on the M forums!

If you can, try the Elmar 24 mm f/3.8, even if it is so close to the Summicron 23 TL. It is a fantastic combo. Not exactly light-weight (745 g with body, adaptor and leather strap), but compact and well-balanced. Edited by EUSe

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I hear you, but I'll stick with the Summilux. It is one of my dead-clammy-hands lenses

I will be trying out the Super-Elmar 18 though.

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I hear you, but I'll stick with the Summilux. It is one of my dead-clammy-hands lenses

I will be trying out the Super-Elmar 18 though.

We want them all:-)

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Thanks for comments. Why did I start the journey? Curiosity, a recent well paid assignment, a tax rebate and miserable weather in December! Hopes? I thought it might give me a compact, light setup for walking and travel - but found this wasn’t the case both for form factor and IQ reasons.

As an instrument I really liked th CL, and if you’re not heavily invested in the M, it could be a great tool. For me, however, I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with Ian and will stick to M for personal and professional, Canon DSLR for professional and some personal projects, and iPhone for the rest!

But best wishes to all who are using the system. It has a lot of potential and is great value.

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Yes - it is a fine camera, and I gave up the M240 for it happily. But it must suit your needs.  To me, the image quality is very close to the M series, but I don't go beyond 3200 normally and am I usually below 1600 anyway. Furthermore, I am very much taken with the rendering of the Summilux 24 on this camera as the weaker corners are gone - but that is not a small/light lens on any camera . CL, 18-56, 55-135 and Summilux M fit in the small Billingham for Leica bag and it is not as heavy as the M240 with appropriate primes - and more versatile.

The integration with the GX8 and Vario-Elmar 100-400  is perfect:) and the GX8 makes a fine backup camera. Plus the same batteries makes this an excellent travel combo, only the bag needed is an old Hadley Press-top.

But your use is clearly totally different. See you on the M forums!

How do you like the 18-56 mm zoom lens? I never quite trusted it and put off the purchase. On the other hand, for travelling it seems a practical solution, given its low weight. I did not give up the M 240 and I am glad I didn't. But I hate the weight. Can you manage the 55-135 hand-held? I am afraid I would not be able to without stabilization.

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I found the 18-56 a bit slow overall, though, as Jono Slack says, it resolves remarkably well.  The 55-135 does work very well - but any 200 lens will at least need a mono-pod if it's not image stabilised - and it's not a fast lens so you're forced to use higher ISO's pretty quickly if hand held.  One of the reasons why I'm going back to Canon for long telephoto is that IS is excellent and the long zooms are pretty damn good - and affordable.  I'll use the 70-200 f2.8 L IS for stage / performance and the 70-300 f4-f5.6 for the great outdoors...

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How do you like the 18-56 mm zoom lens? I never quite trusted it and put off the purchase. On the other hand, for travelling it seems a practical solution, given its low weight. I did not give up the M 240 and I am glad I didn't. But I hate the weight. Can you manage the 55-135 hand-held? I am afraid I would not be able to without stabilization.

I know that the 18-56 is marketed as a kit lens, and that was the reason I got it -only a kit available, normally I wouldn't have- but it is really, really good; full Leica quality. I find it so good that I gave up my original plan to use the CL with M lenses.

As for the 55-135, I find it no problem to shoot hand-held, but I use it outdoors and I am used to shooting (very) long lenses freehand. Quality is superior as far as I can see now - we have miserable shooting weather at the moment.

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I am a bit in the same situation as the OP. I knew that the CL would not beat the M and Q as it comes to image quality, but I am not as good focussing with a rangefinder as I used to be and was tired of changing lenses. Apart from that, my fingers now tend to make problems with large and heavy cameras and I felt that the EVF for the M was not good enough. On the other hand the XVario zoom simply was a bit too short. So I decided to give the CL a try. The body is heavier than one would think given its size. The EVF is very, very good. I could try both at a local presentation before buying. Using M lenses I can see that without magnification I almost always get the manual focus wrong. The implementation is quite good. What I don't like about the CL is the tiny high ISO (= higher than 800) grain it produces - it is hard to fix, although Topaz Denoise does a good job. It is not that obvious viewed at 100 %, but I don't  like it. The camera needs short exposure times in order to avoid blur ( I set it to 1/3f) and you quickly reach 1600 ISO and much more. Now I am not regularly shooting in the dark and the weather has been atrocious since I got the camera, so any final judgement would be too early. I do like the bokeh I am getting with M lenses and the 23 mm summicron. But up to now I am missing the mind-blowing effect opening Q or M files for the first time. These two still surprise me again and again. I find that processing CL files is not easy (white balance, noise management) and as someone who above all does landscape photography I am missing the sharpness of small branches at the horizon. Now one storm is chasing the other over here, so nothing is final. I am getting used to the handling although it takes some effort. For me, it is not at all intuitive. So I am still sceptical about this camera. I found that I need a lot of light with a 75 mm Summarit attached. It seems that my hands are not too steady. Would I bring the CL on a holiday? Not sure yet. The learning curve is still shallow.

Edited by EUSe

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I sympathise with Eva - Given that so many aspects of the CL experience are positive, what I think I'd like is a full-frame version - but smaller than the SL and designed for MANUAL focus lenses. 

Without IS, 135 is at my safe limit for telephoto, so the 200 reach of the CL is less attractive than I thought it would be.  What would would be great would be an MF EVF full frame for M lenses.  This I would buy in a heart beat, using it with longer lenses or wide glass like the WATE. It would make a wonderful companion for the M10...

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I agree with everything Chris said and yet I find myself beginning to like the CL, so far with the 23mm-TL and 18-56. Also having tried it with the 35mm-M FLE and some longer M lenses.

 

That said, I don't have an M10. If I did, perhaps I'd also be finding that that body makes the CL unnecessary.

Edited by erudolph

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I am a bit in the same situation as the OP. I knew that the CL would not beat the M and Q as it comes to image quality, but I am not as good focussing with a rangefinder as I used to be and was tired of changing lenses. Apart from that, my fingers now tend to make problems with large and heavy cameras and I felt that the EVF for the M was not good enough. On the other hand the XVario zoom simply was a bit too short. So I decided to give the CL a try. The body is heavier than one would think given its size. The EVF is very, very good. I could try both at a local presentation before buying. Using M lenses I can see that without magnification I almost always get the manual focus wrong. The implementation is quite good. What I don't like about the CL is the tiny high ISO (= higher than 800) grain it produces - it is hard to fix, although Topaz Denoise does a good job. It is not that obvious viewed at 100 %, but I don't  like it. The camera needs short exposure times in order to avoid blur ( I set it to 1/3f) and you quickly reach 1600 ISO and much more. Now I am not regularly shooting in the dark and the weather has been atrocious since I got the camera, so any final judgement would be too early. I do like the bokeh I am getting with M lenses and the 23 mm summicron. But up to now I am missing the mind-blowing effect opening Q or M files for the first time. These two still surprise me again and again. I find that processing CL files is not easy (white balance, noise management) and as someone who above all does landscape photography I am missing the sharpness of small branches at the horizon. Now one storm is chasing the other over here, so nothing is final. I am getting used to the handling although it takes some effort. For me, it is not at all intuitive. So I am still sceptical about this camera. I found that I need a lot of light with a 75 mm Summarit attached. It seems that my hands are not too steady. Would I bring the CL on a holiday? Not sure yet. The learning curve is still shallow.

I must say that I am a bit surprised at the remark about post-processing the files - I find them a lot easier than M240 ones, about the same amount of work as the M9 - I don't have an M10. The noise is quite good for an APS-C sensor in my experience, as expected about a stop behind good full-frame ones that are not afflicted by heavy in-camera denoising. Fortunately it is more film-like than most cameras; I would not expect any trouble in prints up to at least ISO 3200 at any sensible print size.

And yes, steady hands are a blessing - but it can be trained - I have to  have them, professionally

 

As always, one camera does not fit all, and some users may need a bit of time for a final judgment.

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I must say that I am a bit surprised at the remark about post-processing the files - I find them a lot easier than M240 ones, about the same amount of work as the M9 - I don't have an M10. The noise is quite good for an APS-C sensor in my experience, as expected about a stop behind good full-frame ones that are not afflicted by heavy in-camera denoising. Fortunately it is more film-like than most cameras; I would not expect any trouble in prints up to at least ISO 3200 at any sensible print size.

And yes, steady hands are a blessing - but it can be trained - I have to  have them, professionally

 

As always, one camera does not fit all, and some users may need a bit of time for a final judgment.

 

Yes, as I said, this is no final statement. I have not yet given up and am in the state of testing. For me, it's a bit the Taming of the Shrew. We all have our workflows we are used to and every camera has its own character that one should perhaps simply accept. The image quality is far from bad. The difficulties also come from dealing with various M and R lenses (Summarits, Summiluxes, Summicron-R) that all have their own colour cast. I almost never print, so I am a confessing pixel-peeper! 24 MP on APS-C are a lot. Maybe too much, I wonder? By the way - you wrote about the sharpness of the 18-56 zoom. What about colour and (micro-) contrast compared to other lenses? It seems that the 55-135 is particularly good.

Edited by EUSe

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I sympathise with Eva - Given that so many aspects of the CL experience are positive, what I think I'd like is a full-frame version - but smaller than the SL and designed for MANUAL focus lenses. 

Without IS, 135 is at my safe limit for telephoto, so the 200 reach of the CL is less attractive than I thought it would be.  What would would be great would be an MF EVF full frame for M lenses.  This I would buy in a heart beat, using it with longer lenses or wide glass like the WATE. It would make a wonderful companion for the M10...

 

Exactly.

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I find the CL to be complementary to the M10 and SL, with areas that it handles very nicely, and areas where there are clearly better answers.  The zooms (as somebody quoted Peter Karbe on) really do prove that if you don't insist on large constant aperture, you can have excellent quality at a reasonable price.  None of the zooms cost as much as the two high quality primes (35, 60), and they do surprisingly well outdoors.  I just put up a 135mm shot as a pixel-peeping test over in the image thread as an example.  Indoors, I find the 23 to be quick and about fast enough with ISO 3200 as my current limit.  I grew up on Tri-X with Rodinal, so I am highly grain-tolerant.  I have the 18-56, but haven't given it a fair shot yet.

 

Purely from looking at MTFs, I see the 35/1.4 CL as an effort to design a lens with the rendering and handling of the 50/1.4 SL, only a little bit smaller.  I still think an M10 with the APO 50 SC is a better solution than either SL or CL.

 

But I'm delighted with what all three cameras can do in their niches.

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Yes, as I said, this is no final statement. I have not yet given up and am in the state of testing. For me, it's a bit the Taming of the Shrew. We all have our workflows we are used to and every camera has its own character that one should perhaps simply accept. The image quality is far from bad. The difficulties also come from dealing with various M and R lenses (Summarits, Summiluxes, Summicron-R) that all have their own colour cast. I almost never print, so I am a confessing pixel-peeper! 24 MP on APS-C are a lot. Maybe too much, I wonder? By the way - you wrote about the sharpness of the 18-56 zoom. What about colour and (micro-) contrast compared to other lenses? It seems that the 55-135 is particularly good.

I have no complaints about the 18-56

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