I think it’s time I stopped deluding myself about how I’m not going to talk about gear as much… Because I like gear. And this is my blog so I can talk about whatever I want!
So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I rented a Leica CL with the Elmarit 18mm f/2.8 lens. Yep, sure did. Why? Well, why not? I’ve had a lot of fun playing with gear this year and while I have never been interested in the full frame Leica M series (No autofocus! In 2021!), the APS-C sensor in the Lecia CL is still plenty big enough and sports a wide range of L mount lenses. Not just Leica glass either. The L Mount Alliance is a partnership between Leica, Panasonic, Sigma, and Leitz which ensures a much broader range of options when it comes to lenses, some of which are more affordable than Leica lenses.
Though I’m certainly not going to be purchasing a Leica anytime soon, I realized I could either keep wondering what the hype was all about or I could take advantage of the awesome deal from http://www.lensrentals.com and take it for a week long spin.
My first impression was, ”Wow.” It’s just so beautiful. The classic styling is really appealing to me and the build quality is just as you’d expect. It’s a small camera, smaller than my X-E2 even. The lack of a grip is a noticeable defect in my eyes (the Leica Q series at least has a beveled out section for your thumb) but I imagine this could be remedied easily with a thumb or hand grip attachment.
It has a moderate amount of buttons, only a few of which appear to be customizable, but they all make sense. Everything is intuitively where you’d expect it to be. The menu system is easy to navigate as well. I’ve never used (or even held) a Leica before and I was able to navigate the menu settings (the camera had been factory reset prior to being sent to me) and get shooting within 5 minutes. It is really quite simple. Another plus in my book.
The real piece de resistance is the image quality of course. I have never used a camera with such beautiful straight out of camera images (I’ve been shooting RAW). I’ve got to give props to the tiny Ricoh GRIII because I think I’d rate it second in image quality next to this Leica (also shot RAW). Both easily produce more pleasing images in my book than any of the Canon or Fujifilm gear I’ve owned. Not that those images weren’t good, because they were beautiful as well…but next to the Leica images (and Ricoh), anything else I’ve used comes up second. My daughter noticed it right away as well and she’s only been interested in photography for about a year – very much still learning. I don’t know how else to describe it except to say that next to the Leica and Ricoh files, my Fujifilm files seem so flat.
I find this fact especially interesting because while most camera manufacturers these days maintain their own proprietary RAW file format, both Leica and Ricoh use standard dng for RAW. And both are stunning. The images are so crisp: detailed but not overly digital feeling. I know the glass comes into play there as well and I’m sure the Leica Elmarit 18mm f/2.8 is much better than the my Fujifilm 18mm f/2.8, which is what I’m comparing it with.
This is of course, all my own opinion and I’m sure there will be plenty who disagree. This is also just my initial reaction (the camera just arrived today), after only a few dozen shots. I have, however, already noticed that it’s not the best in low light. Noise above ISO 3200 is awful. But I’m also shooting with an f/2.8 lens so I can’t compensate by opening up the aperture further. We’ll see how it stacks up over the next week.
In the meantime, here are a few sample images I snapped around my house this afternoon. Leica on the left, Fujifilm on the right.