The Leica CL – a compact rangefinder camera built between 1973 and 1976 – has developed somewhat of a cult following due to the circumstances of its design and manufacturing, alongside its uniqueness in comparison to other cameras in the Leica line. The CL is the smallest M-Mount camera ever designed and manufactured, giving it a special place in Leica’s long history.
Designed by Leica and Minolta and manufactured by Minolta in Japan, the Leica CL is often considered a “mutant” camera, even sometimes being labeled as “not an actual Leica” by Leica purists, but the truth is that this unconventional pairing of camera manufacturers has been a primary reason for the camera developing a close group of admirers.
The CL was marketed as the “Leica CL” in Europe by Leica, and as the “Leitz Minolta CL” in Asia and the United States by Minolta. The CL outsold Leica’s “M” cameras 2-to-1 during its lifetime.
The Leica CL‘s sleek and modern design surprises many as being vintage in origin, as it echoes many of the design aspects seen in today’s top-of-the-line cameras, and to this day continues to catch the eyes of individuals on the street or the most dedicated of camera collectors.
Additionally, the lenses crafted specifically for the CL are a treat in and of themselves. Paired with either a Leitz Summicron-C 40mm f:2 (Leica CL) or a Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm f:2 (Leitz Minolta CL), both lenses are highly regarded as being crisp, compact, and certainly worthy of mention. 28mm and 90mm options were also available that are also essential to “complete” the CL package.
This website’s purpose is to bring together information to serve as a depository for those who utilize a Leica CL/Leitz Minolta CL, or are looking into purchasing one for the first time. As film photographers, we have much appreciation for these machines – many of which are older than ourselves. We try to take great care of our cameras and cherish their abilities to capture special moments, and I hope that this website can be of some assistance to those who wish to prolong the lives of the charming Leica CL.