Watchonista’s Guide To Leica
While mobile devices allow moments to be captured with greater ease, composing a photograph remains an individualized artform. And to help the photographer within all of us, Watchonista presents its guide to Leica.
Whether it’s mastering the use of aperture and shutter speed, or the muscle memory of raising the viewfinder to one’s eye, there’s an inherent romance to DSLR photography.
Here at Watchonista, we understand how a good picture can transport – from that macro, bokeh bezel shot to the lifestyle moments that encapsulate a feeling – and have created a definitive list of Leica cameras that will elevate your daily snaps.
Leica D-Lux 7 with Built-in 24-75 mm Lens
Affectionately referred to as the professional’s point-and-shoot, the D-Lux 7 is an incredibly intuitive camera with a built-in mid-range zoom lens. It’s possible to shoot in full automatic, for the beginner enthusiast, or full manual, for those always looking to experiment.
As one of the more compact Leicas, the D-Lux 7 remains remarkably inconspicuous; it easily slides into a small bag or coat pocket. With a large, 4/3 sensor, it performs excellently in low light locations – after dusk, at night, or indoors, to name a few – and thrives in on-the-go situations.
Like a well-crafted timepiece, there are no extraneous knobs or buttons. Mastery is inevitable. Equipped with 4K video capability, the Leica D-Lux 7 is a robust albeit accessible machine.
Leica SL2 with Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90 mm Lens
Although there is a lens for every occasion, sometimes the versatility of a single piece of glass excites. The 24-90 mm is, admittedly, not the most compact lens. But its bulkiness is offset by its adaptiveness. With a 47 megapixel sensor, the SL2 can secure a close-up watch shot as well as a wide landscape, with no lens change needed. It is important to note that it cannot go macro, but it’s certainly macro adjacent.
Weather-sealed, this camera can and will travel. Known as the Swiss Army knife of the Leica lineup, the SL2 also boasts 4K video options and an impressive number of focal lengths.
Body from $6,595. Lens from $5,595.
Leica Q2 Monochrom with Built-in Summilux 28 mm Lens
The first 35 mm camera was a Leica from 1914. And when the Leica Q debuted in 2015, it was the first compact full frame camera. With the premiere of the first Monochrom camera in 2020, the Leica Monochrom series remains the only camera series of its kind, a full frame camera with a specialized monochrome CMOS sensor that has had its color array omitted.
Considered to be the street photographer's camera, the Q2 features fast autofocus with an electronic viewfinder and built-in lens stabilization. At 47 megapixels, it is possible to crop in-camera with the built-in crop button, and the macro mode is easily accessible via a control ring on the lens.
The Monochrom system (meaning shooting singularly in black and white) allows photographers to refine their eye, focusing on luminosity and tonality as opposed to color. Think of it as a different way to view the world.
Leica M10-R with APO-Summicron-M 35 mm Aspherical Lens
As the longest-running system in the brand’s history, the legacy of Leica lies in the M line. Launched in 1954 and digitally converted in 2006, the rangefinder is exclusively manual focus. Featuring a relatively large 40 megapixel color sensor, the M10-R gives you even more control over your images in post-production.
Think product shots, portraits, and thoughtful, slowed-down scenes. Plus, Leica’s backwards compatibility allows decades of lenses to be used with this body.
Body from $8,995. Lens from $8,195
Leica S3 with APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120 mm Lens
Medium format continues to flourish, in part because of this machine. From studio to field, the S is diametrically opposed to the M. Where the M was created for traditional film; the S was designed for digital. Specialists rely on this model, while enthusiasts often use it to propel their craft forward.
Interestingly, the macro expertise of the 120 mm lens indicates it can perform as both a portrait lens and a telephoto landscape. Considered the flagship product at Leica, the S3 also vaunts 4K video and a weather-sealed body.
Body from $19,995. Lens from $7,895.
Leica CL with APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60 mm Lens
Intricacy abounds with the CL. And pairing the body with a macro lens, the closest focus allows for an unparalleled level of detail. Picture all the incredibly sharp watch faces and fast focusing portraits.
As a true 1:1 macro, your subject is faithfully represented on the camera’s sensor without magnification or distortion. The viewfinder is large for such a compact camera, so much so that Leica coined the phrase “dream big, pack small” to sum up the CL experience.