Brief History of the Leica CL
The Leica CL is the brainchild of German-based optics and camera company Leica and the Japan-based camera and electronics manufacturer Minolta in the early 1970s. Historically, the Leica CL marked the first instance of Leica licensing their famous M-mount system to any other company for production, and was the only time in Leica’s history that it collaborated with another company in the creation of one of their cameras.
Introduced to the European market as the “Leica CL” in April 1973 and as the “Leitz Minolta CL” in Japan in November of the same year, the CL sold for three years, being discontinued in 1976. All Leica CL cameras were manufactured in a Minolta factory in Osaka, Japan.
Rumors have swirled about why the Leica CL production was ceased, such as a belief that the CL’s sales were undercutting the sales of the rest of the Leica line (which was more cost prohibitive to the average individual) or the belief that Minolta’s production costs were too high, which resulted in lost profits for Leica, despite high sales figures. None of these rumors have been confirmed.