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Leica CL as main camera

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Ummm... Voigtländer offers 10, 12 and 15 mm lenses.And Leica Summiluxes and the Noctilux. Part of of the usability of the CL is the possibility to adapt external lenses, something Leica (and not only Leica) has incorporated into their cameras since the M240.

 

I think I am one photographer who specializes in long-lens hand-held photography. Yes, I would like IBIS, in fact, the potential of using an 800 mm equ. lens @ 1/60th handheld on MFT is quite liberating, however, over the years I have developed enough shooting technique to be able to work around a lack of IBIS and OIS. Having said that, I agree that the 55-135 would have benefited greatly by OIS. And my 105-280 R by IBIS.

 

Those are all wide but not fast. Or fast but not wide. I am referring to lenses that can be used on the CL that are wide AND fast. There are none. As I said, the closest is the TL 18/2.8, which has a 28mm FOV.  There are no other options that are faster AND wider.

I still consider the M10 to be more versatile camera in that regard.  Don't sleep on the Visoflex 020.

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I agree that wider and faster  than the Summilux 21 does not exist in lenes that one can buy new.. 21 mm is about the shortest focal length where shallow DOF makes a difference, so there is not much rationale in building them. Camera shake becomes less of an issue too.

 

I have a 9.8 mm 1.8 Kinoptik lens for use on the CL, I bought it for the M8, and only used it once or twice.

DOF is from the front element ot the horizon , even wide open.  The problem with lenses like that is that the front lens is a bit of a soup plate. You don't want to see the size of the lens hood; it is twice the CL.

 

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Buying a camera for the small size. Fattening it by layers of thick leather and huge bumps. I don't get it.

 

 

I may have the fatter case, but this lens does not quite qualify for an inconspicuous outfit 

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OK, here is an example of why I believe the CL is an excellent "daily use" camera.  Here is a shot I took this morning under overcast skies here in my back yard.  I took it from the same location with:

 

Hasselblad X1D with 45mm f/3.5 XCD lens at f/5.6, 1/25s, ISO 100, tripod mounted;

Leica SL with 24-90 Vario Elmar lens @ 35mm, f/4, 1/60s, ISO 100, handheld OIS on;

Leica CL with 23mm Summicron lens at f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 100, handheld (no OIS available, of course).

 

In other words, all three were used as they typically would be, at least by me.  The medium format camera was on a tripod to maximize resolution and the exposure was taken at a moment with minimal wind.  The SL used the workhorse 24-90 with its built in OIS.  The CL was used with a compact "carry around" lens.  The dynamic range of the scene was not a challenge for any of the three, so it would be easy to unblock the shadows if I wanted.  I didn't bother for this example. f/stops were chosen to give similar depths of field in all three.  

 

I used the automatic white balance and exposure out of the Hasselblad as the "reference" for the SL and CL and adjusted to match as closely as possible.  There was only a 1/4EV difference from the darkest to the brightest, so nothing that would "push" any of the three at all.  The embedded color profile on the Hasselblad is more saturated than the Adobe Standard profile I generally use on the SL and CL so an adjustment of +10 was required to saturation to get the SL and CL to roughly match the Hasselblad.  Sharpening was minimal in all three.  Luminance noise reduction was zeroed out in all three and chrominance noise reduction was set to a value of 10.  No clarity or curves adjustments in any of the three.  On the CL exposure I had to apply a -10 highlight adjustment and +5 contrast adjustment to get similar saturation levels in highlights to the SL and X1D exposures without significantly adding to saturation in other areas.  These adjustments basically brought the SL and CL tones and colors to the closest match I could get for the X1D.

 

I then exported the images to Photoshop so I could up-sample the SL and CL to the same image scale.  The aspect ratios are slightly different (4:3 vs 3:2), so the SL and CL had to be up-sampled by a factor of about 1.5 to get the same scale.  

 

Here is the full frame from the Hasselblad...

 

 

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Compression doesn't do wonders for that image... Still, you get the idea.  The images from the SL and CL at this scale look the same.

 

Now, here is a 100% crop from the Hasselblad from the flower I used as the point of focus...

 

Edited by Jared

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And here is the shot taken with the CL... The point of focus was clearly a touch closer than with the X1D since the stem is blurry, but the near petals are a touch sharper.  Also, you see some jagged edges on diagonals from the up-sampling, but taking a 24 megapixel camera all the way to about 57 megapixels is going to yield some artifacts... 

 

Edited by Jared

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Yes, the medium format crop is better than the other two.  It manages to present more detail while still maintaining a smooth progression from highlights to midtones, and it has some real pop and saturation in the blue center of the flower that is lacking in the SL and CL--and that was after I did what I could to get the SL and CL images to match.  In particular, look at the details in the stem from the X1D shot vs. the SL.  I would discount the CL when looking at the stem since the AF clearly choose a focus point that is a touch closer than the other two cameras.  Still, I think the SL and CL held up pretty well, and for most purposes I find the CL more than adequate.

 

To those who say the differences as you move from APS-C to full frame and even larger formats are substantial, I would say, really?  Certainly they exist, but for general use?  I can't tell a difference on most subjects under most lighting conditions and most output sizes.

Edited by Jared

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Guest VVJ

Those are all wide but not fast. Or fast but not wide. I am referring to lenses that can be used on the CL that are wide AND fast. There are none. As I said, the closest is the TL 18/2.8, which has a 28mm FOV.  There are no other options that are faster AND wider.

I still consider the M10 to be more versatile camera in that regard.  Don't sleep on the Visoflex 020.

 

I loved the Fuji 14mm f2.8 when I shot Fuji.  I also regret selling the SEM 21mm when buying into the SL system.  

 

It is clear to me that the TL 11-23 alone (around f4 at 14mm) does not cut it, especially without OIS.

 

The TL lens line-up is obviously limited and the total absence of image stabilization completely mind-boggling as far as I am concerned.

 

All of that being said though the CL remains a very good compromise between cost, size/weight and image quality and IMO probably a better compromise than the SL and the M10.

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Hasselblad X1D with 45mm f/3.5 XCD lens at f/5.6, 1/25s, ISO 100, tripod mounted;

 

Slightly off topic but is the X1D really a tripod only camera?  I was reading a thread on LL and it seemed to say that the electronic shutter was not very forgiving for the slightest form of movement?

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Slightly off topic but is the X1D really a tripod only camera?  I was reading a thread on LL and it seemed to say that the electronic shutter was not very forgiving for the slightest form of movement?

 

 

No.  First, you don't need to use the electronic shutter--the leaf shutter works just fine.  In fact, with native lenses it is arguably an improvement over a focal plane shutter as it allows flash synch at any shutter speed without the need for HSS.  

 

Any camera using the Sony 50 megapixel 44mm x 33mm sensor, though, is going to suffer from bad rolling shutter effects in electronic shutter mode since the readout time for that Sony chip is roughly 300ms.  That's why, ideally, you don't want any motion for a third of a second.  A tree brach waving around a little bit probably isn't an issue since nobody expects a tree brach to be perfectly straight, but a person walking or a car moving would look "bent" by the rolling shutter.  It's more a Sony chip issue than a Hasselblad issue--the Fuji GFX and some of the Phase One backs would have the same problem.  

 

No reason you can't use the regular shutter, though.  It won't be silent, of course, but for most situations that won't matter.  And the regular shutter has no rolling shutter issues.  Plus, it would help you avoid the banding issues you can see with electronic shutters and some artificial light sources such as fluorescent lights and LED lights.  It's kind of loud and clunky and a bit disconcerting since you get a "clack" when the shutter and diaphragm close in preparation for the image, a second "clack" perhaps a tenth of a second later when it takes the actual exposure, and third "clack" 300ms later when the readout is finished and the camera can re-set to live view.  For that entire 1/3s process your viewfinder is blacked out.  You only need to be motionless, though, for the duration of the second "clack".  That's when the actual exposure is made.  This would be similar on any camera using this chip.  It's a proven chip from an image quality perspective, but has incredibly poor usability compared to any modern DSLR, rangefinder, or smaller mirrorless camera.  Lots of blackout, some shutter lag, and a very low FPS rate.  None of these are relevant for landscape work or for certain types of studio work, but if you are used to 5-10 fps with almost no viewfinder blackout and essentially zero shutter lag, it's a very different experience.

 

As far as tripod only... Since I intend to use the camera primarily for landscape work, a tripod is preferable to handheld shots.  Both in terms of composition and in terms of image quality.  The camera works fine handheld, though.  I can detect no signs of shutter shock at any reasonable exposure length, and I can handhold it more easily than most cameras.  That being said, if I don't want to waste those megapixels, either the shutter speed needs to be fairly high (1/3x focal length?) or camera motion is going to erode resolution.  Frankly, the margin for error on any modern camera is actually quite small if you want to extract all the details the camera can provide.  The higher the megapixels, the more this is true.  

 

I'm only a couple days into it, but the X1D seems like a great compliment to an SL, an 'M', or a CL.  It's not a substitute, though.  Frame rates are low, responsiveness is low, autofocus is slow, and image quality is extremely high.  For some situations that is a good set of compromises.  For others?  Not so much.  Most of that I was expecting having done a fair amount of reading on the X1D and GFX.  The only thing I'm really missing so far?  No ability to set focus to a particular distance (such as a calculated hyperfocal distance) and no ability to see what the camera thinks my DoF is going to be for my chosen aperture and focal length and focus distance.  On a landscape camera, that seems like a serious oversight.  Man, the colors, though, are astonishing.  Smooth transitions, too.  So far I'm enjoying it a lot.  I expect I'll get a lot more use out of it than I was getting out of the M10.  The rangefinder was really caught halfway between the SL and the CL for me.  Not as small and light as the CL, but without some of the more advanced features of the SL, and little difference in image quality among the three.

Edited by Jared

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Forgot to mention... If you are going to adapt your 'M' glass to the X1D (or any other lenses that don't have a leaf shutter), you do need to use the electronic shutter.  Then you've got the rolling shutter issues that require stationary subjects.  You can still shoot handheld since no given row is exposed for very long, but straight lines can bend if there is any motion in the picture.  Does that make sense?  Non-issue with native lenses, but definitely an issue for adapted lenses without a leaf shutter.

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Yes, the medium format crop is better than the other two.  It manages to present more detail while still maintaining a smooth progression from highlights to midtones, and it has some real pop and saturation in the blue center of the flower that is lacking in the SL and CL--and that was after I did what I could to get the SL and CL images to match.  In particular, look at the details in the stem from the X1D shot vs. the SL.  I would discount the CL when looking at the stem since the AF clearly choose a focus point that is a touch closer than the other two cameras.  Still, I think the SL and CL held up pretty well, and for most purposes I find the CL more than adequate.

 

To those who say the differences as you move from APS-C to full frame and even larger formats are substantial, I would say, really?  Certainly they exist, but for general use?  I can't tell a difference on most subjects under most lighting conditions and most output sizes.

 

For most of us, the differences of interest between the three images would be if all were reduced to 24 MPx or, say, 6 MPx.  How does the tonality differ under those conditions? I generally save a 50% reduced jpeg of images that I like, and when I link to them here, the mods object that this is still too much.

 

Given the cost and the effort (and the fact that I have 39 MPx on an old PhaseOne back for an older Hasselblad), I haven't been tempted by the X1D.

Edited by scott kirkpatrick

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Down-sampled to a 500kb file? 1024 x 768 or similar? The differences in tonality are simply not visible between the CL, SL, and X1D. No reason at all for the larger formats if all you need is something for Facebook or for this kind of forum. I assume that’s what you would have guessed.

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Down-sampled to a 500kb file? 1024 x 768 or similar? The differences in tonality are simply not visible between the CL, SL, and X1D. No reason at all for the larger formats if all you need is something for Facebook or for this kind of forum. I assume that’s what you would have guessed.

I agree, nothing matters at the size (0.5 MB) that allow direct upload.  So no, my interest was if better color quality and tonality still shows when the X1D files are reduced to 24 MPx  (6000x4000) or to 6 MPx, both of which are sizes in which I keep my work prints on Flickr.  I don't like to make many versions of a picture if I can help it, so I save them at the largest size likely to be used and Flickr does the rest.

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I loved the Fuji 14mm f2.8 when I shot Fuji.  I also regret selling the SEM 21mm when buying into the SL system.  

 

It is clear to me that the TL 11-23 alone (around f4 at 14mm) does not cut it, especially without OIS.

 

The TL lens line-up is obviously limited and the total absence of image stabilization completely mind-boggling as far as I am concerned.

 

All of that being said though the CL remains a very good compromise between cost, size/weight and image quality and IMO probably a better compromise than the SL and the M10.

 

I agree, it's a good compromise IF most of your photography is in broad daylight.

Forget about astro photography or any kind of low-light shooting that requires a fast+wide prime.

Or what about shooting volleyball indoors (gymnasium) that requires fast PDAF and F2.8 zooms?

It's hard to make the CL/TL a main camera (or even a secondary camera to the M) with such limitations to it's features and lens selection.

 

-----------------------------------

 

As for the comparison that Jared posted, the difference will be negligible in such conditions. 

Any modern camera + lens combo (even a P&S) would look good in broad daylight at base ISO stopped down in the center of the frame.

The real challenge of sensors are high ISO and high dynamic range

The real challenge of lenses are wide-open performance, corner performance, distortion, CA, flare, coma, etc etc

I'm sure my RX100 would look similar to those pics (which look soft imo) in similar conditions.

Edited by Mr.Q

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I agree, it's a good compromise IF most of your photography is in broad daylight.

Forget about astro photography or any kind of low-light shooting that requires a fast+wide prime.

Or what about shooting volleyball indoors (gymnasium) that requires fast PDAF and F2.8 zooms?

It's hard to make the CL/TL a main camera (or even a secondary camera to the M) with such limitations to it's features and lens selection.

 

No offense but not everybody is into astro photography or volleyball... and not everybody requires PDAF either...

 

I therefore don't agree with your conclusion (quite a few people here on the forum have traded in their M10 for a CL) but that being said you make a good point with regards to broad daylight shooting.

 

Contrary I believe to most people on the forum here I am a very cool lover of the TL zooms.  They are my 3 least used TL-lenses.  Too slow IMO without image stabilization.

 

For my own personal use I would require a 23mm Summilux (with same IQ as the 35mm) and at least the 18-56 (preferably 16-56) with OIS to make the CL my main system.

 

But then again that is just my own personal use based upon my own personal needs...

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I agree, it's a good compromise IF most of your photography is in broad daylight.

Forget about astro photography or any kind of low-light shooting that requires a fast+wide prime.

Or what about shooting volleyball indoors (gymnasium) that requires fast PDAF and F2.8 zooms?

It's hard to make the CL/TL a main camera (or even a secondary camera to the M) with such limitations to it's features and lens selection.

 

-----------------------------------

 

As for the comparison that Jared posted, the difference will be negligible in such conditions. 

Any modern camera + lens combo (even a P&S) would look good in broad daylight at base ISO stopped down in the center of the frame.

The real challenge of sensors are high ISO and high dynamic range

The real challenge of lenses are wide-open performance, corner performance, distortion, CA, flare, coma, etc etc

I'm sure my RX100 would look similar to those pics (which look soft imo) in similar conditions.

Ummm... I suggest you have a look through the CL image thread. A fair proportion of the shots are at night or in bad weather. Rather sharp too.

Very few Astro images though. A rather specialized application I would say, with few suitable Leicas around.

As for volleyball indoors, I can't find any example with any camera in this forum. I rather doubt that that would count as " main camera" use except for a professional sports journalist.

 

Regarding the quality of the present lenses, I would like to note that the APO-55-135 -ASPH on the CL clearly outperforms the 135 APO on any M camera, for instance.

Yes, for fast wides it clearly falls short, but then again, how many M10 Summilux 21 combos are on the road as main camera? The M dapter for  M lenses goes a long way to providing fast primes.

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Very few Astro images though. A rather specialized application I would say, with few suitable Leicas around.

 

.

A bad example of an Astro image here, Milky Way over Sydney.

 

Leica Camera AG Leica CL

APO-SUMMICRON-SL 1:2/75 ASPH.

ƒ/2.0 75.0 mm 32sec ISO 100

 

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