Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Welcome to our big Leica Camera Test 2021. Here we present all the Leica cameras we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best Leica Camera for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a Leica Camera.




Summary

  • A Leica Camera, apart from its heavy weight, has only positive arguments, because its compact and small design and its light equipment make it unique. It has a wide range of lenses and a very quiet shutter.
  • Leica offers both analogue and digital cameras such as: SLR cameras, mirrorless system cameras, rangefinder cameras, compact cameras, outdoor cameras and instant cameras.
  • The Leica Cameras are very easy to use with only four buttons on the back, making them ideal for professional photographers, advanced photographers and beginners.

The Best Leica Camera: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a Leica Camera

What are the advantages of a Leica Camera over conventional cameras?

Leica came in the Mart with the S-System and went further with the digital M, followed by the X-series and the Q-series. Last but not least, Leica introduced the SL (mirrorless system camera) and the APS-C in the market.

The Leica SL seems to be one of the best Leica Cameras, as it has all the positive features of a Leica Camera. It offers image quality, performance and versatility. The autofocus of the Leica SL is fast and clear, and you can choose between point, field and full-area.

Did you know that Leica cameras, their lenses, accessories and sales literature are collectors' items?

There are dozens of Leica books and collector's guides, especially the three-volume Leica, an illustrated history by James L. Lager. Early or rare cameras and accessories can command very high prices. For example, an anonymous buyer bought a rare 1923 Leica camera for 2.6 million euros at an auction in Vienna.

The advantages of a Leica SL are, firstly, that its electronic viewfinder shows and produces a very clear and natural image, thanks to a sensor with a stately ⅔ inch and a resolution of 4.4 megapixels. In addition, a Leica SL is very easy to use, as it only has four buttons on the back that you need to know how to use, which takes very little time to learn.

The 24-megapixel CMOS sensor, the size of a 35mm negative (24×36 millimetres), is also remarkable. It also has a buffer memory for the Maestro II series image processor, which is two gigabytes in size, so if only raw data has been saved in dng format, it can manage 33 shots without pausing. A Leica SL includes Wi-Fi and GPS, which is used to transfer images from camera to mobile phone.

Kamera von Leica

The small red logo with white lettering is world-famous. (Photo: FlannelCamerasFilm / pixabay.com)

How much does a Leica Camera cost?

Leica offers cameras in different types. However, the prices of the new Leica models are significantly higher than the older ones, so high in fact that many people consider this a negative point of criticism. The cheapest price starts at 299 euros, while the most expensive goes up to 30,000 euros.

Leica Camera systems Prices
Leica S system From 3,000 to 20,000 euros
Leica SL system From 5,000 to 11,000 euros
Leica M system From 4,000 to 30.000 Euro
Leica Q-System from 4.100 to 5.000 Euro
Leica APS- C from 500 to 4.000 Euro
Leica X-Systems from 3.000 to 3.500 Euro
Leica Kompakt from 990 to 1.200 Euro

Decision: Which Leica Camera models are there and which is the right one for you?

Leica Camera has been on the market since 1913 and has introduced new camera models throughout the years. Models that have already been explained in the guide section: the Leica M-System, the Leica S-System, Leica Camera Kompakt, the Leica APS-C-System, the Leica X-System and the Leica SL-System.

Here you can get an overview of the new models from Leica and compare which one meets your requirements better by presenting all Leica Camera systems below.

The Leica M-System

The Leica M models are 35mm cameras that are very flexible and easy to use.

The Leica M system offers both analogue and digital camera models and is known for its very long life and weather resistant construction. The M system also offers cameras without colour filters, such as the Leica Monochrom, which is designed for black and white images only, and timeless cameras in extremely compact bodies, where the top and bottom covers are machined from solid aluminium.

For professional photographers, Leica M (type 262) is perfect, offering excellent image quality and high light sensitivity with its 24 megapixels. The CMOS full-format sensor has a wider angle, which means it covers a larger part of the image circle of a lens. With its operating concept, this camera fulfils everything that demanding photographers expect from a Leica M.

Leica M digital models include the Leica MP, the aforementioned Leica M Monochrom and Leica M Type 262, Leica MD, Leica M Type 240 and the Leica M10.

A Leica M-D, for example, has ISO, aperture and time settings, plus digital rangefinder photography at the highest level. But it has no display. It records its shots exclusively in DNG format.

If you attach a lot of importance to the video function, you should get a Leica M (type 240) because it has a 1080p Full HD video function.It has a powerful lithium-ion battery (1800 mAh) which significantly extends the time for taking photos.
But if you're more concerned with the size and width of the body, you'd be better off buying a Leica M10, which is only 38.5 millimetres thick by design, making it the slimmest of all the other Leicas, and thanks to the new sensor design, it has a wider range of ISO values.

Kamera, Film, Zubehör

Old film technology with classic films keeps making a comeback. (Photo; FlannelCamerasFilm / pixabay.com)

The Leica Q system

The Leica Q is available in three colours: black, titanium grey and silver. Its new design with a classic combination of black and silver is a real eye-catcher.

In March 2018, it launched a new special edition called Leica Q "Snow", which is made of high-quality leather or white genuine leather.

It has a classic 28mm focal length and is very suitable for street, architecture and landscape photography. It has a fast lens that is matched with a specially tuned 24 MP CMOS full-frame sensor to deliver images of unsurpassed quality up to ISO 50000.

The Leica SL system (perfect for professional photographers)

The Leica SL is a mirrorless system camera with an electronic viewfinder and electronic shutter. It features innovative technology and is versatile, easy to use and very robustly built. It has an outstanding and consistently high image quality with high ISO values that can be set up to 50,000. It is constructed from high quality, weather resistant machined aluminium body. The Leica SL is particularly distinguished by the electronic viewfinder called EyeRes©.

The Leica SL system has two camera types, the Leica SL (Type 601), body and the Leica SL (Type 601), DEMO with Vario-Elmarit-SL 1:2.8-4/24-90 mm. They feature a 24 MP full frame CMOS sensor, a Leica Maestro II image processor with 11 fps and a 0.66"4.4MP 0.8x EyeRes electronic viewfinder.

In the touchscreen, they have a 2.95"1.04M-dot LED backlight with a 49-field contrast AF system and they manage up to 11 fps.
They also have Two SD card slots and a 1.3 "top LCD screen with machined aluminium body. There is also Wi-Fi and GPS.

The Leica APS-C

The Leica APS-C includes the Leica CL and Leica TL camera types.

The Leica CL has three camera types Leica CL, black, Leica CL Prime KIT 18mm and the Leica CL Vario KIT 18-56mm.

Leica CL Kit is a model that Leica launched in November 2017. It has 24.2 megapixels, an APS-C CMOS sensor and a Maestro II image processor. It has a 2.36m-dot Electronic View-Finder and the 3" LCD touchscreen, plus it has a 49-point Contrast Detect AF system and also UHD 4K30. It has a Full HD with 1080p60 video, and it has a Wi-Fi, a USB 3.0 Including Elmarit-TL 18mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens.

Leica TL has one model, the Leica TL2 which is available in black and silver.

It has 24 megapixels, a unibody design made of solid aluminium alloy and ISO values from 100 to 50,000. In addition, a processor Maestro-II series in addition to Full HD also 4K recording
and can shoot up to 20 frames per second.
It is an APS-C system camera and in addition to 32 GB of memory, it also has Wi-Fi & a Leica App.

The Leica S- System (SLR cameras)

Leica builds their SLR cameras very compact and classy. The SLR is a DSLR model with a sensor size of 45 x 30 mm, which is between 35 mm and medium format. The Leica SLR camera is very popular for its uncomplicated handling, great image quality and extreme robustness.

Other essential features of the Leica S are the Maestro II image processor
3.0"921.6k dot LCD monitor and its Pentaprisma 0.87x mag optical viewfinder.
It has 4K video at 24 frames per second with 4:2:2 colour. It can shoot up to 3.5 frames per second and its ISO can be set up to 6400. It has a DNG file format with 16-bit colour depth. It also has Wi-Fi and GPS. What makes it special is its weather-sealed magnesium alloy body and its Live View function.

Leica Compact

Leica's compact cameras offer the best speed in lenses and the most powerful CMOS sensor. Their small size also makes them stand out, as you can take them almost anywhere and transport them over long distances without any problems.

They are great for beginners or amateur photographers as they have an automatic snapshot mode.

The Leica V-Lux and Leica D-Lux belong to the compact family and record video in the digital high-definition video format 4K, where the resolution of the videos is four times higher than with Full HD.

Their various manual settings make them easy to use, whether you are an experienced photographer or a beginner.

The Leica X- System

The Leica has a special camera model, the Leica Camera X-U. It's perfect for even the weirdest adventures because it's shockproof, dustproof and waterproof.

It is very easy to use thanks to its intuitive operating concept and offers you freedom and the chance to react to even the fastest situations. The Leica X-U is equipped with an extra-large 16 megapixel CMOS sensor in APS-C format and the first-class Leica Summilux 1:1.7/23 mm ASPH lens with the angle of view of the 35 millimetre focal length.

It also includes a 3.0" 920k-dot LCD monitor and can record Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps.
For divers in particular, it is a gift from Leica, as it also has an underwater shooting mode.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Leica Camera?

The advantages and disadvantages of the Leica M

A Leica M is practical and very suitable for travellers, as it has a compact design and can be used for many purposes. However, in the following we will list some advantages and disadvantages of the Leica M so that you can decide to what extent a Leica M is suitable for you.

Advantages
  • Compact design
  • Lightweight equipment
  • Versatile use
  • Excellent viewfinder
  • Fast and precise focusing
  • Wide choice of lenses
  • Quiet shutter
  • Stable value
Disadvantages
  • Very high price
  • Manual focus
  • Difficult image composition at longer focal lengths
  • 35mm format
  • Rewinding not ergonomic
  • Impractical film changing

The advantages and disadvantages of the Leica S

Even a Leica S has strengths and weaknesses. It seems that the S system complements the rangefinder camera, as it should be noted that the Leica S scores through the Leica M's weaknesses.

SLR cameras are more suited to those who have photography not just as a simple hobby, but for those who want to really get to grips with a camera and see photography as more than just snapping around.

Advantages
  • Viewfinder image matches sensor image
  • Excellent autofocus
  • No "extra viewfinders" for short focal lengths
  • Longer battery life
  • Very good image quality
Disadvantages
  • Size and smear
  • Shallow depth of field
  • Maintenance/Cleaning

The Leica S offers countless adjustment possibilities, and it is important to get to grips with them. Its lenses can be changed, so you can adapt it to your field of use.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate the Leica Camera

In the following, we will show you which factors you need to pay attention to in order to compare and evaluate a Leica.

These criteria are important to consider when buying a digital Leica Camera:

  • ISO values
  • Resolution
  • Size and blur
  • Zoom
  • Focal length
  • Aperture values

In the following, we explain the criteria in more detail so that you can judge for yourself in the end.

ISO values

ISO values refer to the light sensitivity of the camera. The lower the ISO value, the more suitable a camera is for places with sufficient light, such as outdoors with sunlight. For places with low light, cameras with high ISO values are therefore more recommendable.

The Leica M system and the SL system, as explained above, have ISO settings from 100 to 50,000, which means they are very suitable for taking pictures in places with very low light. The Leica S, on the other hand, has lower ISO values that can be set from 100 to 6,400.

Resolution

The resolution of a camera is also important, it is what makes a film, sensor and lens capable. For digital cameras, resolution is given in line pairs per millimetre. A resolution is given in megapixels, this refers to the reproduction of the smallest structures of a camera. However, this is not only dependent on the megapixels, but also on the size of the camera's sensor.

The Leica M works with a high-resolution CMOS full-format sensor. Its 24 megapixels ensure its great image quality. Its Maestro image processor is used for fast processing of the images and the camera also always remains ready to shoot.

Did you know that Leica's first 35mm cameras revolutionised photography through their many uses?

In 1945, for example, Yevgeny Khaldey used a Leica to photograph two Red Army soldiers raising the Soviet flag at the Reichstag in Berlin. And the photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt pressed the shutter release when Japan had just surrendered and an American sailor was heartily kissing a nurse in New York.

The Leica SL has a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor which contains 4000 x 6000 pixels with a 6 µm pixel pitch in an active area of 24 x 36 mm. To ensure maximum sharpness, the Leica SL has no low-pass filter.

Meanwhile, the Leica S system features an innovative Leica Max CMOS image sensor in Leica Pro format measuring 30 by 45 mm. This means that the sensor is more than 50 percent larger than that of a 35 mm camera.

It is important to know that the megapixels in a camera are important for the sharpness and clarity of your image.

Size and weight

Size and weight are also important factors that can influence your decision to buy a camera.

For events that last longer, it makes more sense to carry a lightweight camera. Although Leica cameras are very compact and small, they are not the lightest.

If you are looking for weight and size in a Leica, you should know that a Leica M is 139 mm wide, 80 mm high and 42 mm deep, and weighs about 680 g.

A Leica SL is 147 mm wide, 104 mm high and 39 mm deep and weighs approx. 847 g.

In contrast to the Leica M and SL, the Leica S is even heavier with a size: 160 mm wide, 80 mm high and 120 mm deep and weighs approx. 1,260 g. The Leica Q (type 116) is also slightly smaller and lighter than the Leica S. Its dimensions are 130 x 80 x 93 mm (W x H x D) and it weighs approx. 660 g.

The latest model from Leica, the CL is a little lighter and almost the same size as its other family members. It weighs only 396 g and is 131mm wide, with a height of 78 mm and a depth of only 45 mm, it is definitely smaller than the other Leica models.

Zoom

The zoom function is used to enlarge the subjects in the picture without having to move the camera. A distinction can be made between an optical and a digital zoom.

The difference between an optical and a digital zoom is that with the optical zoom it is possible to take pictures of different focal lengths by not degrading the picture quality. With the digital zoom, only a section of the image is stretched to the full size, but the image quality deteriorates considerably.

The Leica cameras have their own lenses for the respective camera model. They form a well-rehearsed team.

For example, with the M camera models, the sensors have been specially optimised for the use of lenses. The modern M cameras recognise the lens used by means of 6-bit coding and evaluate this information for further processing. So you can be sure to get the best out of your subject in the picture.

Focal length

The focal length of a camera is the distance between the lens and your focal point. It always depends on the lens of the camera, which consists of several lenses and/or mirrors.

The focal length determines how large the image section should be. The choice of focal length depends on your preferences and your subject and is entirely up to you.

There are three categories of focal length:

  • Wide angle < 40 mm
  • Normal focal length > 40 - 60 mm
  • Telephoto focal length > 60 mm

The smaller the value of the focal length, the larger the angle of view. A distinction can be made between variable focal length (zoom) and fixed focal length. If you need more flexibility then you should opt for the variable focal length, the fixed focal length fits very well for certain motifs such as portraits, landscapes, etc.

Aperture

The aperture determines the depth of field of a photograph and is the most important design tool in photography. Lenses with a large aperture are particularly fast. A good example is the LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm / F1.4 ASPH wide-angle lens, which has an aperture of F1.4, allowing it to emphasise subjects by blurring those in the background and achieving beautiful images even in low light conditions. It is very suitable for landscape pictures or for sports and action.

It can produce more depth of field at an aperture of F4.0. For example, if you want the foreground as well as the background to be equally sharp, you should use lenses with a speed between F8.0 and F11.0.

Facts worth knowing about the Leica Camera

Who invented the Leica Camera?

Leica Camera AG is a German company in the optical industry that was founded in 1986 by Ernst Leitz and has its headquarters in Wetzlar.

Did you know that Henri Cartier-Bresson - the father of photojournalism - only used Leica cameras?

He considered Leica cameras an "extension of his eye".

In 1913 Leitz founded Leica Camera AF in Wetzlar, where he also abbreviated the name LEItz CAmera, thus creating Leica.

In this year, the first Leica camera was invented by Oscar Barnack, the original Leica. It is probably the most expensive camera in the world, it is considered the prototype of all small-format cameras and has an insurance of 2 million euros.

Only a few kilometres from Wetzler is the town of Solms, where Leica Cameras are produced today. So if you want to see how a Leica is built, you can see how they are made, as they are still to a large extent made by hand, where a visit would be well worthwhile.

What accessories are available for a Leica Camera?

Adapter

Every Leica Camera has a matching adapter. An adapter is used for the imaging ratio, shortens the closest focusing distance and increases the distance from the lens to the sensor.

Battery

A second battery, especially for travellers, is not such a bad idea. For example, a lithium-ion battery can offer a capacity for around 400 shots, and can be recharged in 200 minutes.

Flash units

A flash unit is very useful for portrait photography, for example. It is necessary to use a flash when the ambient light is not sufficient and/or when you want to have more control over the lighting situation.

Lens cap

Leica offers intelligent lens caps that do not need to be removed when taking a picture, as the lens cap flaps open as soon as the lens is extended.

Filter

A filter is used to block ultraviolet light from the camera, as UV light can have a disturbing effect when taking photographs, as a high proportion of UV light can cause the image to become blurred.

Handholds

A handgrip is highly recommended, as it provides a secure hold for the camera and has the advantage that you can use it to take photographs yourself. It is also very compatible with optional finger straps.

Cables

Leica offers cables with remote releases that are suitable for Leica SL digital cameras. They prevent unwanted camera shake and are very suitable for long exposures.

Chargers

A power cable comes with the purchase of a Leica M. However, Leica also offers the BC-SCL2 battery charger, which is suitable for BP-SCL2 lithium-ion batteries for the Leica M digital cameras. It runs on 100-240 VAC power, so it allows the battery to be charged anywhere. It only takes 2 hours to fully charge.

Viewfinder

The viewfinder is an optional Leica accessory that simply plugs into the hot shoe of the new Leica M camera and connects to the camera. It is for X2/X-E/X-Vario/M models and has a resolution of 1.4 megapixels. It can be tilted 90° without affecting the image quality and helps with image composition before shooting.

Carrying strap

The strap is designed to make carrying the camera more practical by attaching it to the camera's metal clips. It is a nylon strap that has a non-slip rubberised shoulder pad.

Memory cards

Leica offers a range of memory cards from 32GB to 128GB.

Image credit: Gwen24 / pixabay.com

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