I imagine the team of Leica developers running down the hallway of Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar, enthusiastically yelling "We have an EVF!" And then (as they have to stop to use the keycard to get to the next section of the hall), even louder: "We have an EVF!" The enthusiasm has no end, and as it spreads throughout the offices and production halls, people stop what they are doing to smile and talk to each other about how wonderful it is.
The waves of enthusiasm spread throughout the world, and I ended up sitting with a Leica CL with a viewfinder. Not the traditional Messsucher (distancefinder, or viewfinder, in German), but a rather good EVF (electronic viewfinder).
Now, I usually have as my goal to use a new camera to the extent that I can tame it. I find ways to make it work for what I do, and then I'm kind enough to share what I do, and how I do it. It's a process of finding out, sharing and storing the knowledge. It has the effect that when I forgot how to do something, I can google myself and find out. It's true. When I dig out my Leica Digilux 2 (from 2004) and can't find out why it won't work, I google myself and read how I used to use that camera. Ah, 2GB SD-cards, that's why. I put in an 8GB SDHC. Won't work!
In the case of the Leica CL I didn't have a large purpose to get it to work. I was curious about the new camera and the viewfinder. But in all respects, the Leica CL fills the same spot in photography as the Leica Q and the Leica TL2.
I was curious though: Would it replace the Leica TL2? In many ways, they are the same, except the Leica CL has a built-in viewfinder.
The viewfinder. There we have it again. The source of the enthusiasm.
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Spoiler alert: I never found much reason to keep the Leica CL and make it work for me. I knew after two days I would not keep it. The Leica Q is cuter, and in many ways a design miracle with a big heart. It has limitations which you can embrace and love, or you will have to move onto the next one; the Leica TL2. That one you can change the lenses, and it has new ideas with touch-screen and simplified controls in ways not seen before.
Then comes the Leica CL. What to do with it? Fundamentally, it's a viewfinder with a camera attached. It's as if Leica Camera AG was so enthusiastic about this neat (and it is) viewfinder, that they decided to make a model with it.
What is interesting is the perspectives in a relatively small, high quality viewfinder, because we can always find use for one of those in a future Leica M and Leica TL2 and Leica Q.
But the Leica CL itself is not bringing any other new (or old) features to the table that can make my heart pump faster. Not a bit.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Leica Camera AG changed almost everything on the Leica CL to make it even less a camera. Now, why would they do that? I simply don't understand that part of it. It has a likeness with the Leica TL2 (in sensor, in philosophy of mechanical operations, in the lens mount), but then they didn't re-use the rather cool Leica TL2 aluminum body? Instead they made it a mix of Leica X and Leica Q, with a reference back to the original Leica M form with rounded body.
Why is it so hard to realize one's successes? The Leica Q is lovable, it has it all together. Nothing is sticking out as weird or not great. The Leica TL2 has function buttons we have gotten used to, but then the Leica CL has a new design and new function buttons ... everything is simply in the wrong place. Why would you do that when you have other models with it in the right place, you could steal from?
The Leica CL fits into the camera collection the same way as the Leica Q and the Leica CL does. It's a handy camera to have around when you want to take a picture. It doesn't give the same feeling of being a creator as the Leica M and Leica SL does. But it's a handy camera to have around, and it's great to give or borrow to a nephew, a spouse or somebody else who aren't really into photography yet but should have something better than a smartphone.
That's where it fits in for me. I have the Leica M as my daily camera, and then I have a Leica CL as the quick solution where some would use thesmartphone.
With the most recent firmware updates, all Leica digital cameras have become very easy to use for high quality photographs, and then instantly transfer them to the smartphone where you can post on Instagram and elsewhere.
The initital setup is fast, you simply scan a code on the screen and it's set up. After that, connecting to the smartphone and transfering a series of photos can be turned on, transfered and done in a couple of minutes.
Who do I have to punch in the face to get a shutter speed dial?
Granted, photography expressions and principles (such as aperture and ISO) were never easy like LEGO. It started out as a pastime for people who found a way to think higher of themselves because they mastered this new scientific subject that involved optics, engineering, chemistry, and a bit of godlike artistry with light. I'm talking 140-150 years ago, when photography was young, before it learned to walk.
Soon it was made available for the more everyday person to master the camera, though the cryptic names persisted.
Besides the technological breakthroughs that for some reason were several hundred years in the coming, before they met in a camea, the principle of photography is rather simple. The name "camera" says it, because that means "a dark room", and that is what a camera is.
Then there is a bit of optics involved, which in many ways is a reproduction of scientists’ and philosophers’ fascination with the human eye. Optics were around way before photography and is still being refined in this day and age, with lots of potential for future development. Realistically speaking, optics - along with the technology of reading what the optics bring to the sensor - is probably the only area of photography where masterminds can find a subject to excel in (Leica excels in both sensor reading quality and lens quality).
The rest of photography is simple. We have the dark room (the "camera"), and then a few fundamental controls as far as how to make sure we get the exact amount of light inside the dark room. Not too much, because then it all become a white blur. Not too little, because then it's not really a picture but just a dark mass.
The light that comes inside the camera has to be exact, so as to reproduce an image of what the lens sees outside. Also known as "exposure", which basically means to "narrow in" and to expose it to make something visible. (I love the double meaning of expose in photography. Because, on the one hand you make the light visible to your sensor. On the other hand, you also make what you see visible to somebody else.)
There is no other level of correct exposure, than exact exposure. If you take a photo of a dark street and it looks like daylight, it's is the wrong exposure. It has to look dark. If you take a photo of a beach and it looks like a snow-landscape, it's the wrong exposure. The ocean has to be the same dark blue as you see with the eye, and the sand has to look like sand.
The skin tones of people have to look like skin. That's the key to controlling exposure, at least when the subject in focus, is people.
If fewer words, exposure is the whole point of photography. If you can't get the exposure right, you cannot show anything. It's all a waste of time.
The relatively simple devices of getting the exposure right, are just three things. Sometimes referred to as the exposure triangle (which I think is invented more to confuse than to explain).
One control is the aperture, which is the "hole through the lens”. There is so-called aperture blades inside the lens, which do the same as the iris does in the eye; they open and close the hole through so as to reduce the light, if there is too much of it. On most lenses the aperture will go from f/1.4 to f/16, or from f/2.8 - f/22, which basically enables you to reduce the light from 100% (when the lens is wide open), to 1.5% (when the aperture, or iris, is closed as much as it is possible).
Only side-effect of using the aperture is that the depth of field changes. Many admire the photographs made with dSLR cameras because of the blurred background. It looks cool, and it focuses the viewer on the subject in focus.
The lens wide open has slective focus; the background is out of focus.
When you stop down the aperture to f/8, the background is also in focus.
To maintain that out of focus background, the lens must remain wide open. In other words, to use lens designer Peter Karbe's words (lens designer at Leica Camera AG), aperture is for depth of field control, not for light control.
But it's a fact that if there is sunshine, you need to reduce the light, or else the image will be over-exposed: A snowy landscape and not the beautiful wine field in France you were looking to bring home a picture of.
So what to do?
I use the shutter speed. The shutter speed is the main control of light, because it's the one light control that doesn't change the look of the image. The shutter is simply the curtain that goes down in front of the sensor so the camera is kept a totally dark room. When you press the button (the shutter release, it's called), the curtain goes up for a short moment, then closes for the light again: It can be as brief as an 8,000th of a second (1/8000), or 125th of a second (1/125), or even as long as four seconds (4s) in the case where you want to record a picture at night.
Any shutter time below 1/125th usually implies the risk of "motion blur" because things in the image might move so fast that they get blurred. A car driving with 30 mph requires a shutter time of 1/250 or higher to be frozen in the image. A walking person can usually be frozen with a shutter time of 1/125. A portrait can often be done with as slow as a shutter time as 1/60.
Madison Square Park in the rain, at 1/12th of a second, the person is walking, which causes the motion blur. Some of the leaves on the tree also seem to be blowing in the wind. If you sense that the benches are also a little unsharp, that would classify as camera shake (the photographer didn't manage to hold the camera completely still for 1/12th of a second).
So, unlike the aperture, the shutter speed allows you to control the exposure without changing the image. None of these photographs will look different if the shutter time is faster. The car frozen at 1/250 will look just the same at an exposure time of 1/4000, and the same goes for a portrait.
The last of the three light controls is the sensitivity to light of the sensor. As the sensor was originally a glass plate with light-sensitive chemistry, and later plastic with light-sensitive chemistry, that part of the exposure was determined by how sensitive the chemistry could be made. With digital sensors, to some surprise, the sensitivity is always between 80 and 320 ISO. No such sensor exists as a 3200 ISO sensor (in film there existed chemistry that was actually so sensitive to light, that they were rated 3200 ISO, but not in sensors).
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The digital sensor has a base ISO, which is what it actually sees. All other ISO-settings are predefined calculations made electronically: If you turn a sensor that has its base ISO at 200 up to 6400 ISO, you are pretending there is 32 times more light than there is. This will get the algorithms busy calculating every tone and color to be 32 times brighter, preferably without making it look too different from reality.
Turning up the ISO (or down), is usually a workable way to pretend there is more light than there is, without noticeable deterioration of the image. But change of ISO does reduce dynamic range (how wide a scale of tones from bright to dark a sensor can see and record), and introduces noise (which is basically noise of guessing, because the sensor stresses to figure out what is in the dark).
The Leica Q has a shutter speed dial
Where this leaves us is that shutter speed is the best way to adjust the exposure; or at least the one of the three controls that has the least influence on the image’s technical as well as artistic quality.
So when it is that simple, then where is the shutter dial on the Leica CL?
That's fundamentally what makes the Leica CL a camera I don't want to work with too much. If I can't control the light, then what's the point?
One of the new wheels on top of the camera can be set to adjust the shutter speed; or I can program the other to adjust the exposure (and if I fix the ISO to for example 200 ISO and keep the lens wide open, then that adjustment has only the choice of changing the shutter time when turned).
Unfortunately, the two wheels can be turned by accident by the slightest touch of the camera. They have no numbers on them, so you can't tell where they are until you touch them and read the display.
Now, this all looks neat. But why don't just keep it as it has been on cameras for eons, with a shutter speed dial on top with numbers, which would turn only when turned by the user?
If you play chess, you will know that it's always the same setup. It doesn't matter if you play chess on a small wooden board of a large, fancy one made of marble. It's always the same. Even on a computer, it looks like ... well ... like chess.
I’m annoyed that Leica cannot keep a design line. The Leica CL is not a continuation of the existing gestures of the Leica TL2 or the Leica Q. It’s a camera that seems very close to the two, yet it's not.
Don't try to make something so easy everybody can do it
If history have taught us something, it is that nothing must be made easy. I'm sure the first "scientist photographers" back when were pissed when photography became widely available to the common people (as it happened with the Kodak camera), and again in the 1990's and 2000's when digital cameras took away the fairly exclusive field from "the real professional" photographers. The camera was made digital and inexpensive to use. No more cost of film, development and expensive and argueable darkroom work. With digital, even the distribution and publication of photographs became much easier.
Why is it called a "camera"..?
The word Camera is today's short name for Camera Obscura (which originally means “a dark room”).
Origin of the word Obscura means "dark" or "covered", and the word Camera meansChambre and was used originally only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers' rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”.
In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”.
Ibn-al-Haytham mentioned Camera Obscura in his "Book of Optics" in 1021.
The concept of Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
It's never popular to take a field away from the self-righteous people who feel they own this exclusive field. Today we have mass media struggling with understanding how it can be right or fair that ordinary people can self-publish. How dare the common people say what they think! The reality of today's communication media is that my wife has the same amount of followers on Twitter as the largest Danish newspaper. Not only that, where they get 8 likes on a post, posted from a large media house with many employees, she gets hundreds of likes on something she posted while on the treadmill in the gym, or in a car.
While I am for anything that makes things easier and enables more people, it's a problem when "ease of use" tilts over. That is when easy becomes so easy that nobody knows how it happened. Somewhere the camera passed the point of making it easy, to making it automatic. Now cameras are made that do things for you, beyond your control. And the more they do things beyond your control, the larger the need seems to be to do it for you. Truth is you lost track of how it's done, so now the camera has to do it for you.
Reality is that it's simple. You need a shutter speed dial, an aperture dial and an ISO setting. Then you can control everything, with understanding.
A camera needs to make it possible to control the exposure in simple ways. The Leica CL doesn't. Even though it is a simple camera to operate in many ways, in that it doesn't have 40 buttons and 550 menu settings, it's missing the point of the user controlling the exposure.
Three Small Words
The three small words that means the most in photography
It's all about light and there are just 3 controls for you to take control of so the picture looks right.
The razor-thin metal curtain that separates the dark and the light is named after the shutters in front of windows that keep the sun out.
Shutter speed is how long the curtain is up and the sensor is exposed to the light that goes through the lens.
The rest of the time, the curtain is down and the sensor rests in the darkness.
In the beginning of photography, the photographer's hand in front of the lens acted as the shutter to keep it all in the darkness.
The aperture is a Latin word meaning “to open”. If you change the aperture ring, the ring inside the lens (made of metal blades) narrows the lens opening from wide open to small. When the aperture is wide open at 100% the maximum amount of light passes, and when “stopped down” the amount of light becomes as small as 2%. You can see the aperture blades inside the lens on the photo above.
ISO is a strange word because it is short for International Standard Organization. It's simply a measurement for how sensitive to light, something is. It goes from 100% to 50,000% (500 times more sensitive) in the Leica M10.
Below are some of the things I did with my Leica CL to make it work for me. The very fundamental thing I did was first to replace the 90cm strap the Leica CL comes with, with a 125cm strap from Rock'n'Roll Straps. Then the camera can hang comfortable across the chest, not hanging around the neck in a strap which is too short. Particular if you are wearing a jacket, you need a 125cm strap to wear the camera comfortably, and be able to use it quickly.
The second thing I did was to mount a ventilated shade (of my own design, the E39 Black Paint Shade), to protect the Leica 18mm lens, but also to make it look like a real camera.
The third thing I did was to lock the (damn) wheels on top of the camera.
The Fn button that "doesn't work"
At first, I was sure I had gotten a Leica CL with a defect Fn button. That's the one to the left of the screen that says Fn (which is short for function; which means you can program it to have a function like White Balance). Nothing happened when I pressed it! After two days of ignoring the possibility that the camera had to be replaced, I decided to solve the problem. I read the manual, and I learned that I had to hold down the Fn button for a few seconds to get the screen up where I can choose which function the Fn button should have. After that, the FN button reacts instantly; and only if I want to change the function, I have to hold it in for a couple of seconds to provoke the screen with choices to pop up again.
The Touch Screen
The Leica CL features a touch screen, which is mostly used to scroll through, and zoom into pictures you have taken. You press PLAY and you have the choices of scrolling, zooming in or out.
The screen itself is so nice I haven't noticed anything particularly about it. That likely means it simply works. It's doesn’t have wrong colors, it's sharp, it's not too dark or bright.
The Leica CL has a touch screen. If you press the button in the center to the right of the screen, you change the view of information on the screen, from no text at all, to all information (as in this photo).
On this screen you can see (clockwise from top left) that the auto focus is set to AF Single point, the white balance is set to Auto White Balance, the camera shoots in DNG format only, the light metering symbol tells one that the camera is set to Multi Field, and the next symbol of multiple frames tells one it is set to Continuous shooting. The look of the preview (and JPG files if the camera takes JPG files at the same time as DNG), is set to STD (standard; and not saturated, monochrome or other). Battery symbol tells one that the battery is full.
From left to right in the bottom, the mode is set to Aperture priority, the ISO is set to 400, the lens is set to f/2.8. The exposure white dot in the middle of the scale shows that I am not adjusting the exposure. 1/200 sec is the exposure time, and I have 1K (1,000) pictures left on the memory card.
Focus tuning with Auto Focus
The Leica CL is auto focus, and it's a really fast and precise auto focus as well. Using the Leica TL af-lenses, there is one extra feature worth mentioning, and that is that you can fine-tune the focus. When you point the camera towards a subject and focus, you can turn the focusing ring on the TL lens to fine-tune the focus.
Say you are photographing a person with glasses, the auto focus will most likely focus on the frame. You can then fine-tune the focus to the eyes.
The Leica CL has two Fn (=function) wheels on top, which means you can re-arrange their function, or that their function changes when you change the mode of the camera.
The display shows the camera is set to Aperture priority mode, and that the lens aperture is f/2.8, and the exposure compensation is 0.
Not only that, the button in the middle of each wheel is also a function button. The one to the left consistently is the one you press down to be able to change the mode of the camera (from Aperture priority to Manual, to Video, etc.) by turning the left wheel.
It only has that function when you press down the button. The rest of the time it has a different function: When a manual focusing lens is mounted, the left wheel is the one you use to adjust the zoom focus to 2X or 3X. In other cases, the left wheel is the exposure compensation adjustment.
I turned off the Function Wheels completely. There is a menu point, "Lock Thumbs Wheel in Live View", which is somewhat confusing. Is it always in Live View? Yes, it is, but it means that the Function Buttons are locked, or they are not locked. s
The first hours I used the Leica CL was in freezing cold Washington DC. Cold is always a drain on a camera battery, and I had decided not to buy any extra batteries. The Leica CL uses the same battery as the Leica Q, so I decided I had enough with the Q battery I had at home.
Walking outside in Washington DC those days was a sign of dedication; There were such strong winds, the face felt painful, it was -10 C. But I was dedicated to get out and take photos.
I didn't take many photos, so after less than an hour, when I was about to take an important photo, the camera was dead! No more battery.
The problem was simply that the camera was set to turn off after 2 minutes of inactivity. That's how I do things on all of my cameras, and that usually means a battery will last for many hours.
On the Leica CL, the wheels were turning back and forth. I had noticed that, which meant my exposure compensation, aperture and all were constantly changing. Every time I wanted to take a photo, I first had to check their settings and reset them.
What I realized now was that the constant friction against the wheels from my jacket, also prevented the camera to go to Power Off after 2 minutes!
If you, as I always do, turn off the monitor on the back of the camera and only use the EVF, you have to go all the way into the menu to unlock the wheels. This is somewhere on screen four of the menu. The other possibility is to turn on the screen again, which is also on screen three or somewhere. Once the screen is activated again, there are two symbols in the top right of the screen that shows the function of each wheel. Holding a finger onto one of the two symbols will lock/unlock that function button.
This is a familiar principle from the Leica TL2, but in the case of the Leica CL I want the screen turned off at all times, whereas the Leica TL2 is a different principle where it makes sense to have the screen turned on at all times. That's how you use the Leica TL2.
I'm not happy with the wheels on the Leica CL. As I got rid of my camera again, you could say I lost my voting rights at that moment.
I never found a way to really live with them, nor a way not to live with them.
The EVF of the Leica CL is brilliant. It really is a breakthrough. When I used to have a Nikon F3 HP camera with their brilliant viewfinder for people who wear glasses, I was always disappointed that I couldn't the same crisp look in my slides as I saw in the viewfinder. Looking through that viewfinder was like sitting in a dark cinema and enjoying a large, beautiful screen.
Something of the same happens with the EVF in the Leica CL. It's crisp, bright, contrasty, black where it is supposed to be black, extra bright where there is light.
It's something one has to get used to: Use your eyes to judge what you see in front of you, not what you see in the EVF.
EVF preview is brighter, higher contrast and more saturated. And often colder blue than the final result.
Also, the preview in the EVF is often cold looking (blue), but once you have taken the photo and seen a preview of the final picture, you will notice that the coldness is now gone and the picture's colors look right. Take a note and get used to this.
The EVF in the Leica CL is brilliant. It’s actually so brilliant that it is almost like using the best ever EVF on any digital camera, which is the Leica SL. The viewfinder is wide enough that you can see almost from corner to corner wearing glasses. It’s crisp, unflickering and has the right brightness. It’s very good.
The fairly compact EVF in the Leica CL gives hope that Leica will one day be able to integrate a high-quality EVF in a future Leica M.
The EVF is the selling point of the Leica CL. It’s the reason one would consider it over the Leica TL2 (which is very similar but with external EVF). It’s the reason one would consider the Leia CL over the Leica Q which doesn’t offer the option to change lenses, and has an EVF that is by far not as good as this one. Though the Leica Q is the cutest and most well-designed small Leica camera.
Even the diopter adjustment is perfect in that it locks in position. You set it and lock it, and it doesn't change. This is such an improvement from other cameras’ diopter adjustments. I can't remember a single camera since film SLR's where the diopter adjustment locks properly. Leica CL is the first.
The diopter adjustment on the Leica CL sits just next to the EVF. You pull it out, adjust the view so the text in the EVF is sharp and crisp, then press it in. It stays locked and doesn't turn.
Using Leica M lenses on Leica CL
If you get the Leica M-Adapter L you can use the full range of Leica M lenses on the Leica CL. For reasons not fully know, Leica M lenses won't perform as perfect as Leica TL lenses on the Leica CL.
What I do know, is this: Only the Leica M9, Leica M 240 and Leica M20 have a full-frame sensor designed to handle the narrow angle with which the light enters the sensor. The Leica M lenses sit really close to the sensor, which is the whole secret of why Leica M lenses are so compact. The M system was developed before digital, so when digital sensors arrived on the scene, Leica Camera AG had to develop a sensor with optics in front of the thousands of small sensors that would redirect the light.
Long story short, if you try any other brand like the Fujifilm cameras, you will see that the Leica M lenses do really bad on their sensors which are in no way designed for any other lenses than Fuji on lenses coupled with software correction.
While the Leica SL does really well with Leica M lenses (and most likely better than the Leica M for the 50mm APO-Summicron), the Leica CL and Leica TL don't handle Leica M lenses just as well as Leica M camera sensors - but far better than Fujifilm sensors.
The short story is that buying a Leica CL "to use Leica M lenses on a compact camera with EVF", won't result in the same quality. It'll work, but it won't be the same.
You can also get the Leica R-Adapter L that will allow to mount Leica R lenses onto the Leica CL. I didn't try that.
When you use manual focus lenses, for example the Leica M, on the Leica CL, you have the possibility to zoom in on the image by using the left Fn wheel on top of the camera to adjust the zoom-in on the picture to 3X or 3X. This does require that the Fn wheels on top of the camera are unlocked in the menu: You either go into the menu and unlock them, or if you use the review screen, you can hold your finger on the symbols in the top right so as to unlock one or both wheels).
With the Leica TL lenses, Leica Camera AG's lens designers have adapter software correction as an important part of perfecting every lens design.
It works in such a way that when you use a certain lens, for example the Leica, the camera adopts a Software Distortion Correction (SDC) software, which is a correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera. This allows the designers to make less perfect lens designs and/or correct almost perfect lens design.
Using Leica M wide angle lenses, as well as low light lenses (f/1.4 Summilux), there is no built-in correction in the Leica CL for these lenses. It's actually not so much a question about perfect lens design or not; it's more a question of how the sensor is designed or not designed to handle how the light comes in at a narrow angle from a Leica M lens (as mentioned in the section above).
In short, this often results in purple fringing in the edges of the image, and also in the center if there is much backlight and/or high contrast in the image.
Despite that I am not in awe of the image quality of Leica M lenses on the Leica CL (compared to how the Leica M handles M lenses, and how the Leica CL handles TL lenses), the small misfortune of purple fringing can easily be handled in Lightroom.
Simply go to the Defringe in Lightroom and take it all the way to 20. That will do the job:
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12,500 ISO will work on the Leica CL
The ISO seem to increase with each new camera sensor. I always test how far up I can go before the colors starts to go off. For the Leica CL, I can go to 12,500 ISO as the max. I doubt I will need it very often. Then again, if I use the 18mm Elmarit-TL f/2.8, I might need some extra ISO.
The Leica CL offers mechanical shutter speed up to 1/8000 of a second, and then electronic shutter for faster speeds up to 1/25,000. However, you can also choose electronic shutter for all speeds. As the electronic shutter is absolutely sound-less, that can be an interesting choice.
But note that in most evening light, there will be LED light, fluorescent light, or energy saving bulbs, which will all produce a flickering light; which results in stripes when you use an electronic shutter. The stripes will appear almost always when the Leica CL is set to Extended or Electronical Shutter.
In sunshine you will be fine, and electronic shutter speed was made for very bright light where you need to go above 1/8000 of a second.
The highest quality, dynamic range and the cleanest file you will get from the Leica CL at 100 ISO, which is the base ISO of the Leica CL sensor, as can be seen in this sheet from LeicaRumors:
Dynamic range decreases as ISO is increased, simply because the image is depending on algorithms calculating the colors and tones of the image. As you can see, compared to the below chart, the Leica CL does quite well in dynamic range - just as well as the Leica M10 that does 10.5 stops of dynamic range. The Leica M9 has a base ISO of the sensor of 160 ISO and performed 8.5 stops of dynamic range.
Now, be aware that these measurements are ... well, they are nice to look at, but the differences are not very visible in the image. The definition of dynamic range varies, depending on how much noise you allow in the darkest shadow areas.
The Leica M10, M240, TL2 and Leica Q are all in the almost same range (with the M10 a tiny bit above), and the Leica SL is a bit above again. The Leica S is the hands down best dynamic range, about 1.5 stops above any other Leica camera
Now, dynamic range tells a story of how detailed the sensor can see and record the sensor data as a raw file. The raw file is 12-16 bit, but once you process the image to a JPG file, you convert it to 8 bit. It's bit like talking about top speed of cars as 200 miles per hour; but then you meet real life and travel through Los Angeles with 15 mph.
You look at the photo below, which is taken at 12,500 ISO, and according the the measurements, this is done with 4 stops of dynamic range. Clearly, you can tell that the photo is more than 4 different tone. So, dynamic range is not how many tones. Each stop is a 2X of the previous, and I dont know to explain this to you (or myself), because it's a little like talking about megapixels instead of how the picture looks. But as each stop is double of the previous, a 4 stop dynamic range is basically 1) 1x2=2, 2) 2 x 2=4, 3) 4x2=8, 4) 8x2=16. So, in a way 4 stop dymanic range is 16 times more than 1 stop dynamic range.
As an illustration to how little practical use these numbers are, film was generally 8-10 stop of dymanic range, and we lived happily with that for many years.
When I stumbled over the photos by Bernd Twiest on Facebook, I had to ask if I could include them in this article.
They are stellar examples of a Leica CL user who got the camera to work. Bernd Twiest from Nijverdal in the Netherlands. See more Leica CL photos on his Facebook page and on his instagram.com/berndtwiest
If you’ve read this far, you probably know the answer better than I. For my part, I use the Leica M as my main camera, and then I use the Leica TL2 and the Leica Q as "always ready" cameras for macro, a quick product photo, or just because I feel like using that camera today.
As you can see, I have enough cameras to work with. Don't look too hard on this picture, or you might want it all.
As an entry camera into Leica, the Leica CL is not bad. It has the image quality, the lenses and simplicity beyond what Fuji and other brands presumably find imaginable. That's a Leica specialty; to make something simple, despite all possibilities to make it really complex.
The Leica CL allows you to enter into the Leica TL lenses, and even (via adapter), the Leica M lenses. It's a good point to start from, you can build on that.
Most likely you will end up with a Leica M in any case. That's just how these things go. It's not even a warning or a promise. It's a matter of fact.
Great thing is that the Leica CL and the Leica TL lenses you have accumulated will not decrease much in value the day you want to trade it all in for the Leica M. In a few years you will look back and wonder why you didn't just get the Leica M to begin with, instead of buying Leica TL lenses that won't fit on the Leica M.
The Leica TL lenses are something I understand, but then don't really understand. I don't understand how it's cool to make for example a Leica 35mm Summilux-TL ASPH f/1.4 (that acts as a 50mm on any Leica TL2 and Leica CL with their cropped sensors), that is almost the size of a 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux for the Leica M; and definitely larger than a 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 lens for the Leica M. What's so awesome about that?
However, I do understand the comfort of "having enough space" in a lens body to include auto focus and large enough glass (so that tolerance of assembling is not that narrow). But I wonder if it gets me better lenses? I still haven't found any Leica TL lens that I found so sexy I wanted to use that lens all the time. They're great, they're awesome, but they are not sexy.
The Leica CL could also be the route to the Leica SL, which is basically a mirrorless dSLR camera. The Leica TL lenses fit right onto it, though I see many more going towards the Leica M than the Leica SL. Not many people adore big cameras. It all goes towards more compact. Even in the l professional market you will notice that the guy who must have two Nikon dSLR's for some work, use his mirrorless Olympus, Fuji and so on whenever he can get away with it. dSLR is great for many things, but if a smaller camera can do the job, why carry a larger camera?
Let me not be unfair. I talk about the Leica CL and the Leica M as if it was a choice between two similar cameras. the Leica M is $10,000 for the first camera with a lens, the Leica CL is $4,000. To some of my fortunate readers, a difference of $6,000 is just the difference between a first class ticket and a standard ticket on a flight, but most people don't see that as a choice (next time you walk through first class and see a mother with her three kids eagerly awaiting take-off, know you are looking at two Leica M cameras with lenses going up in smoke).
Leica CL should be compared to what else there exists in the market of compact cameras, and in that comparison it makes complete sense to put your money on a relatively simple camera with an awesome viewfinder, great sensor and excellent lenses. I personally would choose it just for the simplicity, if everything else was the same (which it isn't).
I don't know if that answered the "Should I get the Leica CL?" for you. Maybe not, but I gave you plenty of hints that you should get a Leica; it's just a matter of which one.
June 29, 2018: Leica CL version 2.0 firmware (download link) added features:
Programming of setting dial functions: The programming of the two setting dials can now be swapped from one to the other. Button lock: Pressing and holding the left-hand setting dial activates button lock (this does not lock the on/off switch, the shutter release or the left-hand setting dial). Power Saving Mode: If required, the camera can now be set to switch to Stand-By Mode after 10 seconds. Touchscreen autofocus: The AF metering points can now also be shifted with the joystick control in Touch AF mode when using the electronic viewfinder.
To be continued ...
I hope you enjoyed my articles on the Leica CL. I will be writing more on other cameras and lenses, so sign up for my free newsletter to stay in the know. Below is the Was ist das guide to what buttons are what on the Leica CL, as well as Leica definitions.
As always, feel free toe-mail me any comments, suggestions or questions.
A walk-through of the Leica CL camera to explain what different Leica CL buttons and symbols are for.
Main switch On/Off
The Leica CL is turned on by turning the button below the shutter release button. There is only this one function of it, on or off.
Continuous shooting, self-timer and other functions that sometimes are in this place on cameras, are in the menu of the camera.
Immediately after the camera is turned on, the display shows the battery status before the display changes to show the aperture and exposure compensation. The battery status is always visible in the top right corner inside the EVF.
The top display shows what the program mode is, and the relevant information for that mode.
Self-timer alert /
AF assist lamp
The small eye next to the Leica logo on the front of the camera will light up and blink if the camera is set to self-timer.
It is also the red light that turns on in the dark, to assist the auto focus by sending light on the subject. This function can be turned off in the menu, in case you don’t want to be noticed with a blinking camera in for example a dark restaurant.
The EVF has a rubber ring so as to not scratch prescription glasses.
Also, in the top of the EVF is a sensor, so that when the eye (or a hand or anything else) is close to the sensor, the screen on the back of the camera turns off and the EVF turns on.
Flash hot shoe
The Leica CL comes with a black plastic cover that covers the flash shoe. If you remove it, you can see the contacts to control an automatic flash.
In the bottom right corner of the back of the camera is a small LED lamp that will blink when the camera is working with the memory card.
It does so when the camera is turned on (to check that there is a card in the camera, and to establish how much space is left on the card), and it does so whenever it is saving images to the card.
Stereo microphones for video
The two small sets of holes on top of the camera are for recording stereo sound when doing video on the Leica CL.
As always, those microphones will record the breathing of the user just as much as the subject in front of the camera. So put the camera on a tripod, a table, or hold it out in stretched arms.
The three small holes on the back of the camera (bottom left next to the display) is a loudspeaker for when you do playback of video on the camera.
Two Function Wheels
The two wheels on top of the camera are Fn Wheels, (or function wheels) which can have different functions, depending on what mode the camera is being used in.
The center of the wheels are also Fn buttons, which activate different functions depending on the mode the camera is set to.
The button to the left is usually pressed down to change the mode of the camera (with the wheel) from Manual, to Aperture Priority, to Video, etc.
The right button is usually pressed down to change the ISO.
When the camera is in Video mode, the shutter release button is the start/stop of video.
Diopter adjustment wheel
The small round wheel to the right of the EVF is pulled out to adjust the diopter.
The correct setting for the diopter is when the text in the EVF looks crisp and sharp.
The diopter is pressed in after adjustment, and that locks it so it doesn't change by accident.
The sensor is 24MP and is a so-called APS-C size sensor. This is a smaller sensor than "full-frame" (which is 24 x 36mm), so all lenses mounted on the Leica CL are cropped 1.5X.
This also includes the original Leica TL lenses. The 18mm Elmarit-TL f/2.8 becomes a 28mm lens, the 35mm Summilux-TL f/1.4 becomes a 50mm lens, and so on.
Lenses made for full-frame cameras, like the Leica M lenses, are also cropped 1.5X. The 50mm lens becomes a 75mm lens, the 135mm lens becomes a 200mm lens.
What actually happens is that the sensor only sees the center of the frame, so the sides, top and bottom are cropped away. Generally, that brings you 1.5X "closer" to the subject.
There is no shutter curtain visible in front of the sensor. It looks like the above when you take off the lens. This also makes it easy to clean the sensor, which is done with pads for APS-C lenses, as well as a liquid (see Page 1 of the Leica CL article).
The Leica CL has contacts inside the bayonet opening to connect with Leica TL lenses. The contacts tell the camera what lens it is, which correction software to use, and it controls and powers the auto focus and aperture mechanisms that sits inside the lens.
To take off a lens, you press down the aperture lock and turn the lens.
When you mount a lens, it "clicks in lock" when it is securely locked with the small metal part.
All lenses have aperture blades, which makes it possible to "stop down" the lens to take in less light.
On the Leica CL, using Leica TL lenses, the aperture is controlled via the camera's Function Wheel.
On Leica M lenses, there is an aperture ring on the lens. When you turn it, the aperture changes.
Lens serial number
The serial number of Leica TL lenses are inside the bayonet, on the back of the lens (dark grey engraving in the bottom of this photo).
On other Leica lenses, the serial number is usually engraved with bright white, on the front, or the side of the lens.
Camera serial number
The serial number of the camera is engraved on the bottom of the camera.
On the bottom of the camera is the attachment for tripod.
Lens model number
The number 11088 "under the belly" of this lens is the model number. This is the 18mm Elmarit-Tl f/2.8, and all lenses of that model have that number.
Each Leica camera, lens and accessory has a model number. Older Leica products have a letter code like "OUFRO", rather than a model number.
The other symbols on the lens are mandated by law, which is why they are there - and hard to remove. They have no significance for photography. CE means the product conforms with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products produced/sold within the European Economic Area.
Battery and SD card port
When you open the port in the bottom of the camera, there is space for a battery (same type as used in the Leica Q), and an SD-card.
The SD-card is inserted and you feel it locks. To take it out, press it slightly inside the camera, then it releases and jumps out.
I recommend this ANGELBIRD card, which is 300MB/sec (2000x).
The battery is released/locked with a little know in the corner.
Part of the simplicity of a Leica, is the lack of buttons.
On the back are these three buttons.
PLAY to review photos you took, or video you recorded.
FN is a button to attach a Function to this button. Mine is set to White Balance, whcih I use frequently, so when I press the FN button, I call up White Balance menu on the screen. It can be programmed to a number of different functions (one at the time).
MENU to see the menu of the camera and set it up.
Lens focal length
The lenses have their focal length engraved on top. Some Leica lenses have it on the side. Older Leica lenses don't have focal length engraved on the barrel, only on the front.
Any lens attached to the Leica CL will have a crop factor of 1.5X because it’s a smaller sensor than "full frame" sensors. The 18mm lens here will act as a 28mm lens on the Leica CL.
Almost all Leica lenses havethe vital informations engraved on the front:
Brand name, focal length, aperture and name of the lens. Leica lens names goes like this:
I have made "my own" PDF guide for the Leica CL by removing the German half of the manual so I have one that is only in English. PDF is nice because you can search the whole document. I always load the manuals of cameras, lightmeters and such onto my smartphones and computers so I can look up a question when I am in the field.
Feel free to download the English only manual here.
The Leica CL Quick Start menu can be downloaded here.
The Technical Information sheet can be downloaded here.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
AF Assist Lamp = The little red lamp on the front of the Leica CL, next to the red logo, will light up in dark places so as to help the Auto Focus to see in the dark. If you put a hand in front of the lens and press the shutter release button, you can see it in action. The AF assist lamp can be turned off in the menu.
Aperture = (also written as f/) = The metal blades inside a camera lens that regulates how much light passes through the lens. On a f/1.4 lens, the lens is "fully open" at f/1.4. At f/2.0 the aperture inside the lens makes the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/1.4 passes through. For each f/-stop (like f/4.0 - f/5.6 - f/8.0 - f/11 - f/16) you halve the light. The f/ fundamentally means "f divided with": The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (50mm divided with f/2.0 = the hole is 25 mm in diameter, or 50mm at f/1.4 is 50mm divided with 1.4 = the hole through is 36mm. ). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
The aperture blades inside the lens is clearly visible in this photo.
The camera in Aperture Priority Mode
Aperture Priority Mode. When the shutter speed dial on top of a Leica camera is set to A, it is short for “Aperture Priority” and allows the user to set a specific aperture value (f-number) while the camera selects a shutter speed to match it that will result in proper exposure based on the lighting conditions as measured by the camera's light meter. In other words, you set the aperture as priority (f/1.4 for example), and the camera calculates a shutter speed (1/250 of a second) that matches that. If you change the aperture to f/2.0 by changing the aperture ring on the lens, the camera will re-calculate the speed to 1/125 so as to get the same amount of light to hit the sensor (f/2.0 is half the light through the lens as f/1.4 and 1/125 if twice the amount of light on the sensor as 1/250).
ASPH = stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses, however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version. Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Normal spheric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Auto- means “self”. The idea is that when a camera has auto-(something), it does that (something) by itself.
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal picture (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image has vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp, which is why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). The closer you get to something, the 'more' bokeh' you get (in that the focus becomes less for the background and foreground at close distances than at long distances). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
Camera -is today’s short name for Camera Obscura (meaning “a dark room”). CamerameansChambre and was used only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers’ rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”. In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”. Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
CCD sensor (as used in Leica M8, M9, Leica S)= (Charged Coupling Devices) - The first digital cameras used CCD to turn images from analog light signals into digital pixels. They're made through a special manufacturing process that allows the conversion to take place in the chip without distortion. This creates high quality sensors that produce excellent images. But, because they require special manufacturing, they are more expensive than their newer CMOS counter parts.
Central Shutter = Some lenses, for example the Leica S lenses and the Leica Q where a shutter is located in the lens itself. In most cameras there is a shutter curtain just in front of the sensor, and in SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras there is also a mirror in front of the shutter curtain.
In the Leica T/TL/TL2 the shutter is in front of the sensor, but only acts to "refresh" the sensor. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times. A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor.
CL = Compact L(eica). Used to be the name of the Leica CL "Mini M" that Leica Camera AG and Minolta made together in the 1980's.
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica CL, Leica T/TL/TL2, Leica M 240, Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, Leica S Typ 007, Leica SL, Leica Q, Leica M10, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, etc.) = (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
Contrast - The degree of difference between tones in a picture. Latin contra- ‘against’ + stare ‘stand.’
Digital Shutter = A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor. In the "old days" this had to be done with an actual mechanical shutter curtain; a metal curtain in front of the sensor (or film) that goes up for 1/125th of a second, for example. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times.
Digital Zoom = In some cameras, there exist a possibility to enable "digital zoom", which basically means the camera can zoom closer into something than the lens is actually designed to. The way digital zoom works traditionally is that the camera simply crops the picture; so you get closer, but without resolution. In other words, it's the same as if you took a normal photo and then cropped into the center of it.
DIS = Digital Image Stabilization. This is a feature often offered in video recorders and sometimes for tele lens still photography (so as to avoid motion blur when the lens is moving during slow shutter speeds).
Lens distortion looks like this. The lines are not straight. Our eye uses distortion correction. Lens designers can design lenses so they have very little distortion, or they can make less complicated lens designs and "fix" the distortion in software.
Distortion = In photo optics/lenses: When straight lines in a scene don't remain straight because of optical aberration.
Lens designers can correct for distortion to a degree so the whole image field is perfect corrected and all lines remain straight. In modern lens design many designs rely on Software Distortion Correction (SDC).
The eye adjusts for distortion so we always see vertical and horizontal lines straight when we look at things. Even when you get new prescription glasses (if you use such), you will often experience distortion in your new glasses. After a few days they eyes have adjusted for the glasses and the distortion you saw to begin with is now gone. Software Distortion Correction (SDC) is far behind what the human eye can perform of adjustments. (Also see my definition on Perspective for more on the eye and optics)
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XLM file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XML contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computer helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image.
A raw file (or DNG) is simply the full recording of digital data (1's and 0's) from the sensor. In the computer, the sensor data is translated into the exact colors, via a camera profile.
DOF = Depth of Field. This is how much of the image will be in focus. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; for artistic reasons or for specific storytelling, like making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catch the viewers eye).
Depth - Distance between front and back. Distance from viewer and object.
Dynamic range. The grade of ‘contrast range’ (or number of tones) a film or sensor, or simply a photograph, possess between bright and dark tones. The human eye is said to have a dynamic range of 10-14 ‘stops’ (but because we scan area by area and compile a concept of the overall scene, they eye is often thought to have a much higher dynamic range), Film used to have 7-13 ‘stops’ and some modern sensors have up to 15-17 ‘stops’.
Elmarit = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.8 . The name is obviously derived from the earlier (and slower) "Elmar" designation. Not every f/2.8 lens is called an "Elmarit" though, the most obvious current exception being the 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M collapsible lens which for nostalgia and marketing reasons has kept the original 1930's Elmar name (the 50mm f3.5 collapsible Elmar, manufactured 1930-59, was one of Leica's most famous and popular lenses). Vario-Elmarit is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses.
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. The Leica T/TL/TL2 uses the Leica Visoflex model 0020.
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
The Leica TL2 and Leica CL has two Function wheels.
Fn = Short for Function. It's a button or wheel you can program.
Focus, in - Sharp and clear in appearance. Focus - “The burning point (of a lens or mirror)”. In Latin the word focus meant fireplace or hearth. The word was probably first employed outside of its Latin literal use as “the burning point of a lens or mirror” in optics, and then came to mean any central point. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler first recorded the word in this sense in 1604.
Four Thirds - Also known as "4/3" - The Four Thirds System is a standard created by Olympus and Kodak for digital SLR camera design and development.
The system provides a standard which, with digital cameras and lenses available from multiple manufacturers, allows for the interchange of lenses and bodies from different manufacturers. Companies developing 4:3 cameras and/or lenses are Fuji, Kodak, Leica, Olympus, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sigma. See www.4-3system.com
A further development in this was Micro Four Thirds Systems.
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = (also written as f-) = On the Leica 35mm Summilux-TL ASPH f/1.4 it is 35mm and originally referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focuses only in the center.
The Leica TL2 has a APS-C sensor, which "crops" the traditional focal lengths with 1.5X, reducing the angle of view of view with 1.5X.
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica TL2 sensor is around 100-150 which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make the same picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc. the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion.
Lens - A piece of glass or similarly transparent material (like water or plastic). It has a shape so that it can direct light rays. The word “Lens” is used both for single piece of glass as well as a camera lens with several lenses that works together. From ‘lentil’ because similar in shape.
Lens hood = A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
Light = Tiny particles called photons that behaves like both waves and particles. Light makes objects visible by reflecting off of them, and in photography that reflecting off of subjects is what creates textures, shapes, colors and luminance. Light in its natural form (emanating from the sun) also gives life to plants and living things, and makes (most) people happier. So far, nobody has been able to determine exactly what light is. The word photography means “writing with light” (photo = light, -graphy = writing). Read more about light in my book Finding the Magic of Light.
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica 60mm APO-Elmarit-Macro ASPH f/2.8 is both a 60mm lens for portraits, landscapes, etc. as well as a near focus macro. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’
Maestro II - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica Q has a Mestro II (Leica Q edition) processor developed by SocioNext Inc. based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture.
mm = millimeter(s), as in a 50mm lens. (Earlier in lens history lenses focal length was given in cm = centimeters; as in a 5 cm lens). For anyone used to centimeters and millimeters, it’s no wonder. But if you grew up with inches, feet and yards, you may have had a hard time grasping what a 50mm lens was. But as lenses were designed first in Europe, the metric system with centimeters and millimeters was used to describe lenses.
The reason a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens is that there is 50mm from the focus plane (the film or sensor) to the center of focus inside the lens. When photography was a young subject, it was engineers who made it all, and the users were expected to understand. The engineers were so into the making of the lenses, that it apparently never dawned upon them that today’s users would think of a 21mm lens as a wide angle lens rather than a lens where there is 21mm from the sensor to the center of focus inside the optics.
Noctilux = Also known as "King of the Night" because "Nocti" means Night and "Lux" means Light. The f/1.0 lenes from Leica are named "Noctilux". The first Leica Noctilux lens was the 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 which shortly after it's introduction was improved to the 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. In the current model the f-stop has been improved further to f/0.95.
"Noctilux" refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.0 . "Nocti" for nocturnal (occurring or happening at night; ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from late Latin nocturnalis, from Latin nocturnus ‘of the night,’ from nox, noct- ‘night.), "lux" for light. The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 is famous for enabling the photographer to take photos even there is only candleligts to lit the scene. See the article "Noctilux - King of the Night"
OIS = Optical Image Stabilization. This is used in tele lenses where blurring motion of the camera from inevitable vibrations are adjusted by the lens. At low shutter speeds and/or with long lenses, any slight movement would result in a picture with "motion blur" unsharpness. The Leica TL2 supports optical image stabilization when A) OIS is turned on in the camera menu, and B) when you use lenses with OIS (the Leica SL longer lenses has OIS). An alternative is EIS = Electronic Image Stabilization, which the Leica T has. Here the problem of "motion blur" is corrected electronically after, which might lead to image degradation. However, the larger the sensor resolution, the less one will notice small 'degradation'.
Optic = Eye or vision. From French optique or medieval Latin opticus, from Greek optikos, from optos ‘seen.’
Perspective - The way objects appear to the eye; their relative position and distance. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of perspective (also see Three-dimensional). A wide angle “widens” the perspective and makes objects further away appear smaller than they are to the eye, and objects nearer, relatively larger than they are to the eye. A tele lens will “flatten” the perspective and often objects further away will appear relatively larger than nearer objects, compared to sizes in real life. A 50mm lens is the one closest to the perspective and enlargement ratio of the human eye.
ROM = Digital code on Leica R lenses. It was made for the latest of the Leica R lenses in the 1990's so the Leica R8 and Leica R9 could recognize the lens; and each lens was fine-tuned with digital information for the camera to adjust exposure and other very exact. ROM contact could also be added to older R-lenses. In the Leica CL, if you have the R to L adapter and you are using ROM lenses then the camera will recognize the lens.
S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the camera (or in the menu of a digital camera in case it does not have this ring on the ourside) is moved from OFF to S, the camera takes only one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous (see above).
SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG file. In Lightroom the SDC of the camera file is applied automatically (and cannot be removed), in software like AccuRaw one can open the DNG file without the SDC correction. Sean Reid Reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".
SDC (Software Distortion Correction): In Lightroom the correction profile for the Fujinon 23mm is applied automatically and cannot be turned off.If you go into Develop mode in Lightroom and look under Lens Correction > Profile, you will see a message in the bottom with an exclamation mark. When you click on that, you get the message above.
Sensor = A device that detects a physical property (like light) and records it. A camera sensor is a plane plate with thousands of small “eyes” with a lens in front of each, which each individually records the amount of red, green and blue light rays that comes through the lens. together Red, Green and Blue form all colors of the spectrum. From Latin sens- ‘perceived’.
Saturation: How colorful, intense or pure the color is. Less saturation would be less colorful, more saturation would be more colorful. In today’s photography, desaturating a photo on the computer will gradually make it less and less colorful; and full desaturation would make it into a black and white photo.
Sharpness - See “Focus”
Shutter speed dial - The dial on top of the Leica M where you can set the shutter speed manually. It can also be set to A which stands for Aperture Priority (where the camera suggests a shutter speed; or when you move the dial away from A, the camera will show arrows in the viewfinder, suggesting which direction to change the Aperture to, to get the correct exposure).
Shutter speed dial set to 1/1000 of a second.
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. The Leica Q has no traditional viewfinder and no mirror. the image seen in the EVF is what the sensor sees.
Summicron = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/2.0 . There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one being that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour). Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the orignal Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens anno 1933). Vario-Summicron is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses f/2.0 as the one that is on the Leica Digilux 2.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens.
Three-dimensional = Having the three dimensions of height, width and depth. In photography and lens design, three-dimensional effect is also the perception of even small micro-details; the texture of skin can appear flat and dead or three-dimensional and alive. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of depth. Also see Perspective.
Vario- is the Leica Camera AG name for zoom lenses. Vario-Elmarit and Vario-Summicron and so on.
Viewfinder a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens. Also known as the German word "Messucher" (or Meßsucher).
1) A built-in viewfinder in a camera that simply show the frame you get when you look through the viewfinder.
2) A rangefinder viewfinder which is also used to focus the lens. In Leica M cameras two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.
3) An external viewfinder, usually on top of the camera in the flash shoe, so as to show the field of view of lenses vider than what the built-in viewfinder can show (15mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm etc viewfinders exist)
4) Very simple "aiming-devices" on top of a camera that is simply a metal frame without any optics. Just a frame, as for example very old cameras (the original Leica), or when using cameras in diving where you can't look through the camera.
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator.
Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.
I am in constant orbit teaching
Leica and photography workshops.
Most people prefer to explore a
new place when doing my workshop.
30% of my students are women.
35% of my students do
two or more workshops.
95% is Leica users.
Age range is from 16 to 83 years
with the majority in the 30-55 range.
Skill level range from two weeks
to a lifetime of experience.
97% use a digital camera.
100% of my workshop graduates photograph more after a workshop.
1 out of 600 of my students have
asked for a refund.