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The best Leica cameras in 2021

Best Leica cameras
(Image credit: Leica)

Welcome to our guide to the best Leica cameras available now. With a long, well-established history and a plethora of cameras available, you'd be forgiven if you found yourself scratching your head when trying to decide which Leica camera is right for you. But there are clear choices for each use case and, depending on what you're intending to shoot, there's a Leica camera for everyone. 

We've chosen the best Leica cameras from a range of classes from compact to medium format, at a wide array of price points. So whether you want a cheap, waterproof point-and-shoot, or a weighty and expensive purist Leica, be sure to check out our pick below. Want more options? Try our list of the best cameras around, or for a different brand, head to this pick of the best Sony cameras out there.

Best Leica cameras: D-Lux7

(Image credit: Leica)

01. Leica D-Lux 7

The best Leica camera for beginners is compact with a deluxe feel

Type: Zoom compact | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 17MP | LCD: 3-in fixed touchscreen

4K video recording
11FPS continuous shooting
More expensive than competitors
Only 17MP stills

The first pick on our list of the best Leica cameras is the Leica D-Lux 7, a small, compact camera that's essentially a Panasonic LX100 II in Leica clothing. But it features some excellent design work that makes it ideal for beginners and those who wish to shoot street and travel photography in a small form factor. Despite the 17MP micro four-thirds image sensor the camera is paired with a bright and breezy fixed zoom lens that can shoot at a widest aperture of f/1.7 which is perfect for low light shooting indoors or out. Automatic settings are aplenty on this camera but there's also lots of manual control for those who want to have their own creative input for their photos and videos.

Best Leica cameras: CL

(Image credit: Leica)

02. Leica CL

This the best Leica travel camera due to powerful features in a small package

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3MP | LCD: 3-in fixed touchscreen

Compatible with both TL and L lenses
Lightweight and compact body
Rear screen is fixed
Not the highest resolution in class

Since the Leica CL contains a Leica L-mount, it has a wider array of lens choices available than some others on this list, with the option to switch between CL and TL lenses ranging from wide-angle to telephoto. Further that with a specialised adapter to include M-mount lenses as well, and the CL suddenly becomes incredibly flexible. This option is perfect for travel photographers who want to take advantage of a simple system that is also lightweight as the body weighs in at just over 400g with the battery inserted. Shoot stills at 24.3MP or video at 4K/30FPS and flip through controls or media using the 3-inch fixed touchscreen on the rear.

Best Leica cameras: S3

(Image credit: Leica)

Best Leica cameras: M10-R

(Image credit: Leica)

03. Leica M10-R

Massive 40MP detail makes this the best Leica mirrorless camera yet

Type: Rangefinder | Sensor size: Full-frame | Megapixels: 40MP | LCD: 3-in fixed touchscreen

Huge resolution
Excellent build quality
No autofocus (manual only)
No video recording

With classic rangefinder design with updated digital interior, the Leica M10-R is, for our money, the best Leica mirrorless camera yet. A huge 40MP full-frame sensor sits inside this outstandingly beautiful body. Capturing images with a loud clunk is a thing of the past thanks to the ultra-silent shutter, meaning candid moments can be caught without disturbing subjects. It won't bulk out your camera bag either, with its slim body design. However, for those who wish to dabble in video or save a few pennies, this is not the camera for you. There's no video capture, rather expensive, and may take some time to get used to operating it. But for those who persevere, it provides an excellent premium, hand-crafted experience like no other.

04. Leica S3

This best money-no-object Leica camera captures huge 64MP stills

Type: Medium format | Sensor size: 30x45 | Megapixels: 64MP | LCD: 3-in fixed

4K cine video
Incredible detail
No touchscreen
Eye-watering cost
Low stock in third-party retailers in the UK

Known for high-end production and innovative feature inclusion, Leica cameras are expensive for good reason. But the Leica S3 blows on the roof of the most expensive camera in this roundup, and there's a good reason for it. A medium format digital camera, the S3 has a huge 30 x 45mm image sensor that can capture stills up to 64MP and cine video at up to 4K. There's wide scope for image editing flexibility thanks to the 15-stop dynamic range and up ISO that can reach from 100-50,000. No touchscreen, an optical viewfinder, and simple connectivity means it's ideal for purists who like the ergonomics of DSLRs but want high-level performance, and certainly worthy of our best Leica cameras roundup.

Best Leica cameras: Q2

(Image credit: Leica)

05. Leica Q2

The best Leica camera for street photography thanks to its body sealing

Type: Compact | Sensor size: Full-frame | Megapixels: 47.3MP | LCD: 3-in fixed touchscreen

Full-frame image sensor
Water and dust resistant
Single, fixed lens
Expensive for a compact

Though the Leica Q2 might be a little expensive for a compact camera, it's rather unique in containing a full-frame image sensor that captures up to 47.3MP stills and a fantastic choice for this list of the best Leica cameras. Great body sealing means it's also water and dust resistant for those that need to stay out shooting no matter what the conditions are. Street photographers would do well to choose this camera body, with its plentiful ability to crop in on wider shots whilst maintaining image clarity thanks to the high resolution of the image sensor. It also boasts good connectivity by linking via Bluetooth to the Leica FOTOS app on smart devices making it simpler to edit and share images wirelessly.

Best Leica cameras: SL2-S

(Image credit: Leica)

06. Leica SL2-S

The best Leica for video because of its A 4K 60p video output and 5.5-stop IS

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Full-frame | Megapixels: 24MP | LCD: 3-in fixed touchscreen

4K 60p video
Rugged all-metal construction
Quite bulky for a Leica
Lower stills resolution

Filmmakers who need a full-frame camera that has good video output and solid construction need look no further than the Leica SL2-S. As well as standard video output, the SL2-S can capture C4k at 60p 10bit 4:2:2, which can be outsourced via HDMI on the camera body. It has no filming time limit, making it perfect for interviews, teaching classes and other long-format video sessions that need to run and run. A multi-axis image stabilisation built straight into the SL2-S means silky smooth panning for those who prefer to shoot handheld.

Best Leica cameras: X-U

(Image credit: Leica)

07. Leica X-U

Plunge into the deep with the best waterproof Leica camera

Type: Compact | Sensor size: APS-C | Megapixels: 16MP | LCD: 3-in fixed touchscreen

Waterproof down to 15m
Decent price
Only Full HD video recording
Only 5FPS stills shooting
Not widely available in the USA

Leica cameras are notoriously well-built, hand-crafted and expensive, which is one reason why you wouldn't normally leap in at the deep end of a swimming pool with a Leica attached. However, the Leica X-U is designed to do exactly this. With underwater capabilities of down to 15m the X-U opens up a new world of underwater possibilities, from capturing action at the pool to shooting wildlife under the waves. It comes in at a respectable price, too, with full HD video recording and 16MP stills.

Best Leica cameras: V-Lux 5

(Image credit: Leica)

07. Leica V-Lux 5

Leica's best compact camera has a incredibly versatile superzoom lens

Type: Compact | Sensor size: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20MP | LCD: 3-in fixed touchscreen

Breathtaking lens zoom range
Super-fast autofocus
Limited weather protection
Not widely available in the UK

Whether you want to capture a brilliantly wide vista or zoom in to the craters on the moon, the Leica V-Lux 5 can do it all. The DC Vario-Elmarit 9.1–146 f/2.8–4 ASPH lens is definitely the centrepiece of this camera, with incredible zoom reach. Pair that with super fast DFD autofocusing and the V-Lux 5 can focus for crisp images in a blistering 0.1 seconds. 4K 30FPS video and 20MP stills make it a contender for simpler full-frame models but Leica knows this which is why the price is slightly on the steep side for a compact camera.

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