The Leica T has a sparse, utilitarian design with very few external controls. There's a prominent, although shallow, handgrip on the front, and the rounded ends pay homage to the traditional Leica M body shape. The front of the camera features only the lens release button, an autofocus illuminator lamp, and Leica's famous red dot. The T doesn't even have traditional strap lugs; they're replaced by little sockets on each side, which in this shot are concealed by plug-in covers.
The back of the camera is dominated by the large touchscreen. It's a 3.7" unit with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and 854x480 pixel RGB resolution. The result is an exceptionally clean, stylish design that is unashamedly intended to make the camera an object of desire, as well as a photographic tool. In keeping with the emphasis on style, the black LCD surround wraps round to the sprung plastic door that covers the camera's SD card slot and micro USB port.
Top of camera
Here you can see the T's pretty sparse top-plate. The hot shoe for mounting either the electronic viewfinder or an external flash is placed on the lens's center-line (it's covered here), with tiny grilles for the stereo microphones on either side. There are just five physical controls - two dials for changing exposure parameters, shutter release and movie record buttons, and the power switch. Pulling the latter past the 'ON' position releases the pop-up flash, which can be pushed back down flush with the top-plate when not in use.
The T uses an all-new mount, called (appropriately enough) the T-mount. It's unusual in having a four-pronged bayonet - most mounts have three. This means a relatively small rotation angle is needed to attach and remove the lens.
Sitting centrally in there is the same 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor used in the X-Vario zoom compact. We don't expect to see a full frame 'T' anytime soon, but there certainly seems to space to allow for one in future.
The built-in flash pops-up out of the top plate, released by pulling the power switch to a sprung position beyond 'ON'. It has a guide number of 4.5m at ISO 100, which is pretty typical for this kind of unit.
The T also has a top-plate hot shoe for attachment of an external flash, including the co-announced SF 26 unit which features a bounce head and built-in LED video light.
The hot shoe is also used for the optional electronic viewfinder, and in this shot you can just about see the gold-colored contacts that make up its interface.
A sprung plastic door on the side provides access to the SD card slot, although the 16GB internal memory could well make this redundant for many users.
Underneath this is a micro USB socket, which can be used not just to transfer images to a computer, but also to top-up the battery.
Oddly, for a modern camera, there's no HDMI output, though.
The T's decidedly sparse design extends to its baseplate, which is more-or-less plain metal. There aren't embellishments at all - just the battery compartment and release catch, and the noticeably off-center tripod socket.
The unconventional, but eminently sensible battery design is borrowed from the Leica S medium format SLR. There's no battery door; instead the battery has an integrated cover that fits flush with the baseplate.
The battery is released from the camera using the switch alongside; a clever secondary catch means it won't fall out, but needs to be pushed back in slightly to release it fully (a bit like removing an SD card).
The BP-DC13 battery is a 7.2V, 985mAh unit that provides 7.1Wh. According to CIPA standard tests it's good for about 400 shots per charge. Leica says it will charge in about 160 min, using the supplied external charger.
In your hand
The T is on the large side for a 'rangefinder style' mirrorless camera, but this isn't bad thing; if anything it makes it easier to hold. The smooth surfaces don't provide much purchase though, so we'd advise adding the security of a strap. If you find yourself inadvertently operating the touchscreen, it can be temporarily deactivated by swiping down the right side of the screen.
The T's handgrip may look strange but it actually works quite well - the final joint of your fingers wraps around the edge to give a reasonable hold.
There's plenty of space on the camera back for your thumb, simply because there are no buttons at all. The top-plate dials are well-placed for operation by your thumb.
Here's a quick size comparison between the Leica T and two retro-inspired, enthusiast-orientated mirrorless cameras, the Olympus PEN E-P5 on the left and Fujifilm X-E2 on the right. It's in the same ballpark in terms of overall dimensions, but the contrast in control layout and design philosophy couldn't be more marked. The Leica is also very much more expensive then either of these competitors, indeed you could buy several additional really nice lenses for the difference in price.