The last week with the Leica CL and Elmarit 18mm f/2.8 lens has shown me a few things. Firstly, as beautiful and high quality as the camera is, it didn’t inspire me to shoot any more than my ‘ol Fuji X-E2. This surprised me a little bit. I wanted to hold the camera, fidget with it, feel the weight of it in my hand, appreciate the beauty of it – like a work of art. And I did. But I didn’t necessarily take more pictures with it than I would’ve without it.
There were also times when both cameras were sitting right next to each other and I grabbed my Fujifilm instead. I’m comfortable with it, and that alone makes it a more useful tool sometimes. I know this would be remedied if I purchased a Leica because eventually, I would learn it and using it would become second nature as well.
But that wasn’t the only reason I gravitated toward Bagheera (I name my cameras, remember?). The CL really sucks in low light at high ISO. And I shoot high ISO quite often. When the lighting was good, I grabbed the CL, but when the lighting was poor, I grabbed my Fuji. Much of my photography is documenting my family and that involves a lot of dim, indoor lighting. I tried to push the CL’s ISO capabilities, but the results were pretty poor. Gross even. A camera that I can’t shoot above ISO 3200 just isn’t a good fit for me, especially if it doesn’t offer IBIS so that I can shoot low shutter speeds. (The Ricoh GRIII does offer 3-stop IS so even though I wouldn’t shoot it above 3200 for similar reasons, I did have the option of slow shutter speeds to compensate).
I’m also concerned about the longevity of the CL system. Leica doesn’t seem too invested in it. It’s a beautiful camera, but almost appears as an afterthought to the company. It seems to get the leftovers from the TL system and the SL system, both of which are on their second iterations while the CL has yet to be updated four years after its announcement. Would it be wise to invest that much money into a system that looks like it may be discontinued in the not too distant future? After all, isn’t that longevity one of the reasons the M system is so beloved? One of the things I love so much about Fujifilm is that they continue to innovate and provide firmware updates, even for older models. This really extends the life of the system.
I’m glad I rented the CL because it answered a question I’ve had for a long time. But now I know that Leica is not the system for me. The M series has no autofocus. The SL system is huge. The TL system isn’t tactile enough for me, relying primarily on touch screen. And though I loved the CL in many ways, it doesn’t really meet my photographic needs.
That said, if I got one for Christmas, I wouldn’t complain. But I also might return it and get an X-Pro3.