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Guest VVJ

Leica CL as main camera

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had my cataracts done two years ago, in about a month when both eyes are done and healed you will be amazed at the return of your vision and color sense.....best thing that a doctor every told me to do ... good luck with ... doesn't take away from a CL vs M or whatever, just making a vision point 

 

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I hope I am eventually able to do a reasonable job focusing via the RF (although I don't think I'll EVER be able to see the 28mm frame lines, and I don't wear glasses).

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As my only camera?  No.  There are still things I can do with the M10 and/or SL that I just can't with the CL. 

 

Because of missing glass?  Or because of  characteristics of the CL body itself?

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It's a mix of a couple things.  First, it doesn't have the same dynamic range at base ISO as the SL or the M10 and that matters for my landscape shots.  Second, it doesn't handle as well with the big SL lenses as the SL body does, so the SL is still the better camera for sports and birds (though the extra focal length of the crop can help with certain birding situations).  Third, the viewfinder is not nearly as good as the SL's so when I really want critical manual focus with an 'M' lens I'll take the SL any day.  Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, I can't get the narrow depth of field on a crop factor body that I can on the SL or M10 when using 'M' glass.  Fifth, I occasionally shoot video and seem to get much better results out of the SL, though that may come down primarily to the native lenses being stabilized (and I could use the SL glass on the CL, I suppose).  Sixth, the high ISO performance is not as good as the M10, and there is no such thing as a fast 14mm prime for the CL, so the M10 with a 21mm Summilux is my go-to camera of choice for wide field astrophotography.  Seventh, it isn't weather sealed so for certain outdoor photography it wouldn't be my first choice.  For example, I had a trip a couple years ago to Patagonia including Tierra del Fuego.  No way the CL would be the camera I'd grab for that.

 

Obviously, these are mostly things one could work around and probably get very similar results.  But there are still things for which my other cameras are just better suited.  Since I already own the other cameras and lenses, I'm going to use them where appropriate.  

 

To answer your question more directly, it's generally not the missing glass since I can mount my 'M' and 'SL' lenses on the CL and I'm only really losing wide angle options.  It's more about limitations inherent in any APS-C body, lack of image stabilization except in SL lenses that just seem to handle better on the SL, and lack of "robustness" compared to the SL.

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It's a mix of a couple things.  First, it doesn't have the same dynamic range at base ISO as the SL or the M10 and that matters for my landscape shots.  ...

All good points, but I question the first.  The CL has essentially the same dynamic range as the SL, and a half-stop less than the M10, according to Bill Claff's analysis. 

http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm#Leica%20CL_14,Leica%20M10_14,Leica%20SL%20(Typ%20601)_14

 
 
 
 
 

Its noise level is the lowest background among the current products, which may be relevant for your astrophotography.

http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/RN_e.htm#Leica%20CL_14,Leica%20M10_14,Leica%20SL%20(Typ%20601)_14

Edited by scott kirkpatrick

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The SL will remain my main go-to camera. Apart from the size and weight it is better in every department.

 

If I was forced to choose it would be the CL and its lenses that would go.

 

However ..... I'm off to Poland at the weekend for a few days on business and it will be the CL that will go with me. I'm happy that I won't be compromising image quality or Ryanair's wonderful new baggage restrictions...... where no doubt you will soon have to put your wallet and sandwiches in the hold and travel in your underwear ...... 

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My CL is my main camera - I sold my M10 to buy the CL and 3 lenses. 

 

While the CL doesn't give the same lovely experience as the M10, the benefits in other areas outweigh that disadvantage. I really enjoy mine, and it proved its worth with some excellent pictures from north west Scotland a few weeks back (full write up here). 

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All good points, but I question the first.  The CL has essentially the same dynamic range as the SL, and a half-stop less than the M10, according to Bill Claff's analysis. 

http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm#Leica%20CL_14,Leica%20M10_14,Leica%20SL%20(Typ%20601)_14

 
 
 
 
 

Its noise level is the lowest background among the current products, which may be relevant for your astrophotography.

http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/RN_e.htm#Leica%20CL_14,Leica%20M10_14,Leica%20SL%20(Typ%20601)_14

Indeed:

At ISO 100 it even has the highest dynamic range of all cameras discussed here. Note that Bill Claff measures the photographically usable dynamic range, as opposed to DXO, which shows the theoretical DR.

 

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Guest VVJ

It's a mix of a couple things.  First, it doesn't have the same dynamic range at base ISO as the SL or the M10 and that matters for my landscape shots.  Second, it doesn't handle as well with the big SL lenses as the SL body does, so the SL is still the better camera for sports and birds (though the extra focal length of the crop can help with certain birding situations).  Third, the viewfinder is not nearly as good as the SL's so when I really want critical manual focus with an 'M' lens I'll take the SL any day.  Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, I can't get the narrow depth of field on a crop factor body that I can on the SL or M10 when using 'M' glass.  Fifth, I occasionally shoot video and seem to get much better results out of the SL, though that may come down primarily to the native lenses being stabilized (and I could use the SL glass on the CL, I suppose).  Sixth, the high ISO performance is not as good as the M10, and there is no such thing as a fast 14mm prime for the CL, so the M10 with a 21mm Summilux is my go-to camera of choice for wide field astrophotography.  Seventh, it isn't weather sealed so for certain outdoor photography it wouldn't be my first choice.  For example, I had a trip a couple years ago to Patagonia including Tierra del Fuego.  No way the CL would be the camera I'd grab for that.

 

Obviously, these are mostly things one could work around and probably get very similar results.  But there are still things for which my other cameras are just better suited.  Since I already own the other cameras and lenses, I'm going to use them where appropriate.  

 

To answer your question more directly, it's generally not the missing glass since I can mount my 'M' and 'SL' lenses on the CL and I'm only really losing wide angle options.  It's more about limitations inherent in any APS-C body, lack of image stabilization except in SL lenses that just seem to handle better on the SL, and lack of "robustness" compared to the SL.

 

Thanks for elaborating on this!  Most areas mentioned are not a big concern to me personally and can mostly be worked around as mentioned.

 

The absence of image stabilization is the only one that is actually.  At the very least I would like to see OIS in a new version of the zooms...

 

Besides that I have no doubts that my SL is a better camera offering much more capabilities but the CL is a much more manageable size at a much more affordable price.

 

Image quality wise I am not looking for anything beyond what the current CL/TL2 sensor and a lens like the 35mm are already offering. 

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All good points, but I question the first.  The CL has essentially the same dynamic range as the SL, and a half-stop less than the M10, according to Bill Claff's analysis. 

http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm#Leica%20CL_14,Leica%20M10_14,Leica%20SL%20(Typ%20601)_14

 
 
 
 
 

Its noise level is the lowest background among the current products, which may be relevant for your astrophotography.

http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/RN_e.htm#Leica%20CL_14,Leica%20M10_14,Leica%20SL%20(Typ%20601)_14

 

 

Thanks for posting those links.  

 

The noise level at higher ISO's is accounting read noise but not thermal noise.  Even with the automatic dark frame subtraction, thermal noise is likely the larger concern in an astro image.  I haven't done any testing of my own yet, but Bill Claff's analysis won't/can't account for thermal noise--it just evaluates read noise as a percentage of full well capacity.  Without access to manufacturer's spec's on the sensor or doing separate tests with dark frames there is no way to tell for sure, but I'd be shocked if the SL and M10 didn't have a sizable advantage in long exposures.  They are physically larger and therefore likely have better heat dissipation/heat sinking.  I've been using the M10 for astrophotography due to its lower read noise, and I should probably compare it with the SL in real world exposures as it may benefit from lower thermal noise. In any event, I'm pretty confident the CL will be the worst of the bunch in a long exposure, even after seeing Bill's graphs. 

 

As far as the dynamic range goes... I hadn't seen Bill's measurements on the CL till just now.  I was assuming (apparently incorrectly) that the larger pixels and therefore larger full well capacity of the full frame cameras would more than offset any improvements in read noise from the newer chip in the CL.  It appears that is not the case--they are essentially a wash based on Bill's measurements.  So dynamic range at base ISO is essentially the same in the M10 and CL, and a touch better in the SL, but not really enough to make me choose one over the other.  DxO had previously noted on their M10 measurements that Leica seems to be overcorrecting the pedestal value which may be robbing it of a touch of dynamic range by clipping blacks.  If that's the case, I hope they fix that with a firmware update.  In practice, I have noticed very little difference in dynamic range between the SL at ISO 50 and the M10 at ISO ISO 100.  They are clearly all very close, and at least a full stop behind the best in class.  

 

One other interesting side note for landscape photographers interested in big prints... The SL and M10, even if they don't in practice have an advantage in dynamic range, should still have a slight advantage in resolution.  All three cameras have the same megapixels, and the lenses for all three cameras may be able to resolve the same number of line pairs per millimeter, but the full frame cameras have a larger sensor (by definition), so a given MTF at 40 LP/MM could yield a slightly sharper result with a bigger sensor.  You are simply magnifying a given resolution from the lens less with a full frame camera.  Of course, you'd need to be printing large (or cropping a fair amount), you'd need to minimize other sources of blur such as diffraction, motion blur, or mis-focus, and you'd have to enough megapixels that you aren't significantly under sampling what the lens can provide.  Based on my empirical testing, the differences are very small but might be visible with a large enough print.  Hard to be sure--they are pretty close.  With an 8"x10"?  Or a 13"x19" 'Super B' print? I can't tell the difference at all.  Really hard to control enough variables to be confident in a result.  Especially since the CL gets an advantage from needing a smaller well corrected image circle.

 

As I have mentioned in quite a few posts recently, the differences in ergonomics and features seem to outweigh any small differences in image quality at this point.  This is true whether you are comparing an M10 to a Sony A7R II or the CL to an SL. Need weather sealing?  Forget the CL.  Want to hike up a tall, rugged mountain with a camera and lenses?  I've done it with the SL.  I don't think I will again.  Rather have something smaller and lighter.  Architecture?  I want that EVF for careful edge of field composition--either the SL or the CL.  None of these scenarios have a thing to do with the quality of the images the camera can produce.  They would all be equivalent or very nearly so.  But I still have very clear preferences based on use case.

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the Leica T was my primary camera few years back, was really satisfied with it! now The CL have a lot more capabilities, I would be glad for this to be my main Camera if I dont own SL yet.

note that I used the T as an event photoshoot camera, like weddings etc.

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I had many sleepless nights over my decision to sell my M9 and tri-elmar E55, and other bits of RF system. I was nervous. (I sold my SL system a while back as it is way too heavy for me with native lenses, even carrying a bag of M primes around with it instead. I also kept my Leica Q

 

In the end I went for it, I traded my M kit in for the CL and have since added 11-23 / 35 Lux / 18-56 / 55-135 lenses.

 

The whole kit fits into a small bag, takes the same batteries as my Q (this was a big deal for me not having to have a bag full of different chargers and batts)

The kit is light and manageable for general use and for trips (Landscape). The camera with the 35 Lux is very good for portraiture, even with the relatively slow 55-135 it can make wonderful portraits.

 

I am not a pixel peeper or tech tester, I take photos, and this little system from Leica has certainly kept me as a customer, I was all good and ready to switch to Olympus system but thankfully I found something within the Leica system that works for me. The 2 systems work perfectly together.

 

Now, I guess the big question is, could I use it as a main camera, an ONLY camera? ..... Absolutely, it's very capable of that, however, the Q is just too damn sexy for me to consider selling it, it also fits seamlessly into my lifestyle of Photography. So, for now, I will happily keep them both.

 

I think I agree that with some faster glass options it would be a system that can be used for professional use as well as casual.

 

One thing for sure is that I, for one, appreciate the light weight and exceptional IQ that the CL can produce. I regularly print A2 size prints and the CL delivers without issue (as did the M9, Q, etc). Travelling around with a single bag of kit is a relief for my poor old & bent back, and the AF system is a big relief for my poor old & bent eyes.

 

I have not tried it with M glass as I no longer own any, but I imagine it is a wonderful experience and similar to the SL in that respect. 

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Thanks for posting those links.  

 

The noise level at higher ISO's is accounting read noise but not thermal noise.  Even with the automatic dark frame subtraction, thermal noise is likely the larger concern in an astro image.  I haven't done any testing of my own yet, but Bill Claff's analysis won't/can't account for thermal noise--it just evaluates read noise as a percentage of full well capacity.  Without access to manufacturer's spec's on the sensor or doing separate tests with dark frames there is no way to tell for sure, but I'd be shocked if the SL and M10 didn't have a sizable advantage in long exposures.  They are physically larger and therefore likely have better heat dissipation/heat sinking.  I've been using the M10 for astrophotography due to its lower read noise, and I should probably compare it with the SL in real world exposures as it may benefit from lower thermal noise. In any event, I'm pretty confident the CL will be the worst of the bunch in a long exposure, even after seeing Bill's graphs. 

 

As far as the dynamic range goes... I hadn't seen Bill's measurements on the CL till just now.  I was assuming (apparently incorrectly) that the larger pixels and therefore larger full well capacity of the full frame cameras would more than offset any improvements in read noise from the newer chip in the CL.  It appears that is not the case--they are essentially a wash based on Bill's measurements.  So dynamic range at base ISO is essentially the same in the M10 and CL, and a touch better in the SL, but not really enough to make me choose one over the other.  DxO had previously noted on their M10 measurements that Leica seems to be overcorrecting the pedestal value which may be robbing it of a touch of dynamic range by clipping blacks.  If that's the case, I hope they fix that with a firmware update.  In practice, I have noticed very little difference in dynamic range between the SL at ISO 50 and the M10 at ISO ISO 100.  They are clearly all very close, and at least a full stop behind the best in class.  

 

One other interesting side note for landscape photographers interested in big prints... The SL and M10, even if they don't in practice have an advantage in dynamic range, should still have a slight advantage in resolution.  All three cameras have the same megapixels, and the lenses for all three cameras may be able to resolve the same number of line pairs per millimeter, but the full frame cameras have a larger sensor (by definition), so a given MTF at 40 LP/MM could yield a slightly sharper result with a bigger sensor.  You are simply magnifying a given resolution from the lens less with a full frame camera.  Of course, you'd need to be printing large (or cropping a fair amount), you'd need to minimize other sources of blur such as diffraction, motion blur, or mis-focus, and you'd have to enough megapixels that you aren't significantly under sampling what the lens can provide.  Based on my empirical testing, the differences are very small but might be visible with a large enough print.  Hard to be sure--they are pretty close.  With an 8"x10"?  Or a 13"x19" 'Super B' print? I can't tell the difference at all.  Really hard to control enough variables to be confident in a result.  Especially since the CL gets an advantage from needing a smaller well corrected image circle.

 

As I have mentioned in quite a few posts recently, the differences in ergonomics and features seem to outweigh any small differences in image quality at this point.  This is true whether you are comparing an M10 to a Sony A7R II or the CL to an SL. Need weather sealing?  Forget the CL.  Want to hike up a tall, rugged mountain with a camera and lenses?  I've done it with the SL.  I don't think I will again.  Rather have something smaller and lighter.  Architecture?  I want that EVF for careful edge of field composition--either the SL or the CL.  None of these scenarios have a thing to do with the quality of the images the camera can produce.  They would all be equivalent or very nearly so.  But I still have very clear preferences based on use case.

40 lp/mm was indeed the criterium for film, but I think that modern Leica lenses are far in excess of this number. It should not make a discernible difference in prints smaller than A2. And any other print at normal viewing distance.

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40 lp/mm was indeed the criterium for film, but I think that modern Leica lenses are far in excess of this number. It should not make a discernible difference in prints smaller than A2. And any other print at normal viewing distance.

The MTF charts that come in the Leica tech specs show contrast above 50-60% over the entire field, but only down to 40 line pairs/mm.  Secret charts that Leica keeps to themselves contain results at 60 lp/mm.  The charts that Imatest produces show MTF contrast as a function of lp/mm down to the Nyquist spatial frequency of 1/(2*pixel spacing), where the contrast should have gotten small, or there may be artifacts.  The Nyquist frequency for 24 MPx on a full frame sensor is 80 lp/mm, and for APS-C is 120 lp/mm.

I'll bet these lenses can handle that.  The informal test for resolution down to this level is -- can you make them produce Moire?

To push Imatest this far may require a special target, not just bringing up a test chart on a big screen whose pixels may corrupt the test, but I'm tempted to try it.

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The MTF charts that come in the Leica tech specs show contrast above 50-60% over the entire field, but only down to 40 line pairs/mm.  Secret charts that Leica keeps to themselves contain results at 60 lp/mm.  The charts that Imatest produces show MTF contrast as a function of lp/mm down to the Nyquist spatial frequency of 1/(2*pixel spacing), where the contrast should have gotten small, or there may be artifacts.  The Nyquist frequency for 24 MPx on a full frame sensor is 80 lp/mm, and for APS-C is 120 lp/mm.

I'll bet these lenses can handle that.  The informal test for resolution down to this level is -- can you make them produce Moire?

To push Imatest this far may require a special target, not just bringing up a test chart on a big screen whose pixels may corrupt the test, but I'm tempted to try it.

Doesn't the lens matter in all measuring all this? I understand the absolutes in terms of the sensor itself but the lens greatly impacts the results within the parameters of what the sensor can do.

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You need to see the lens and the sensor in terms of mutually influencing one another, and judge the total output, as resolution, (apparent) sharpness and microcontrast are related throughout the image chain.

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Doesn't the lens matter in all measuring all this? I understand the absolutes in terms of the sensor itself but the lens greatly impacts the results within the parameters of what the sensor can do.

Taking pictures of a test chart or a brick wall (or looking for Moire in shots of fine-grained blinds on a distant building) test the lens and sensor together.  They answer whether the lens delivers detail on the scale that the sensor can resolve (two pixels per edge transition).  The Bill Claff site, while rather technical and sparse of explanations, gives comparisons of sensors alone, since he asks his contributors to shoot only out of focus smooth images with varied intensities, or dark frames at various ISOs.

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This is a 100% crop of an image from the CL+ 55-135@135 wide open. No Moiré. Not even on the structure of the sail, which is just resolved.

 

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I plan on using the CL as my primary travel companion.

 

I have added the CL to my Q. I love the Q and the 28mm lens, but there are times when I do need a longer focal length. I wanted a camera with inter-changeable lenses that I take on vacation. Before the CL came out, I tested the TL2 against the Q for photo quality and color, and found it surprisingly similar, even though the TL2 had a smaller APS-C sensor. I just was not sold on the TL2 for a number of other reasons (one of them being the attachable viewfinder).  Then the CL came out and I was went for it.  I now have 4 lenses - 2 zooms and 2 primes. In my testing, I am ready and excited to take the CL with me as my primary camera when I travel. It is small, light, the photos are wonderful. And if you use the 35mm f/1.4, the f1.4 compensates well for the smaller sensor and it gives me beautiful bokeh.

 

So for my next trip to Europe, I plan on only taking the CL with 3 lenses -  18mm, 35mm and 55mm-135mm zoom.

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I plan on using the CL as my primary travel companion.

 

I have added the CL to my Q. I love the Q and the 28mm lens, but there are times when I do need a longer focal length. I wanted a camera with inter-changeable lenses that I take on vacation. Before the CL came out, I tested the TL2 against the Q for photo quality and color, and found it surprisingly similar, even though the TL2 had a smaller APS-C sensor. I just was not sold on the TL2 for a number of other reasons (one of them being the attachable viewfinder).  Then the CL came out and I was went for it.  I now have 4 lenses - 2 zooms and 2 primes. In my testing, I am ready and excited to take the CL with me as my primary camera when I travel. It is small, light, the photos are wonderful. And if you use the 35mm f/1.4, the f1.4 compensates well for the smaller sensor and it gives me beautiful bokeh.

 

So for my next trip to Europe, I plan on only taking the CL with 3 lenses -  18mm, 35mm and 55mm-135mm zoom.

 

Couldn't agree more, only difference for me is that the CL replaces my M for travel.  We are off for a short trip next week, carry on baggage only,  and my only issue is the wonderfully performing, but badly formed 35mm.  Mine may have to stay home in favour of a 46 year old M 35mm - because even with adaptor it takes up so so much less room in the bag.  Would really like Leica to come up with a smaller 35 1.4 for the CL, I was when I used it, a big fan of the Fuji 35mm 1.4 much friendlier form.  

 

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If size was the only criterion, I would still be using my Fuji X-Pro2 with 23 and 35mm f/2 lenses (each about the size of the CL's 23/2.0.  Optical VF plus EVF!  But the small fast Fuji f/2.0's do not compare with the Leica Summicrons for CL and M, and the Fuji 1.4's, although much better, are not small and not as good as Leica's best among the faster lenses.  Fuji also has a macro AF lens, which I never tried and have heard complaints about, but the CL has basically put that set of gear on the shelf, perhaps waiting for an EBay outing.

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