2015 Roundup: Interchangeable Lens Cameras $1200-2000
Leica T (Typ 701)
16MP APS-C CMOS sensor | Touchscreen interface | All-aluminum construction
What we like:
- Beautifully designed
- Touchscreen controls work well
- Excellent image quality throughout ISO range
What we don't:
- No built-in EVF
- Limited continuous focus ability
- Poor Raw dynamic range
- Slow start up time
- Limited native lens selection, with slower apertures
The Leica T is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera based around a 16MP APS-C sensor and a proprietary lens mount that can be adapted to accept classic M-mount Leica rangefinder lenses. It's beautifully made, with a body hewn from a single block of aluminum. Though The Leica T does have twin control dials, the bulk of the camera's functions are accessed through a touchscreen interface.
The T remains relatively comfortable to hold, although the base of the grip is a little sharp. It has a solid feel, and although the lens' aperture range of F3.5-5.6 might hint at 'kit zoom', it too feels reassuringly solid and produces very sharp images throughout the zoom range. The touchscreen interface is well implemented, though there are some unintuitive gestures that may require diving into the user manual to really figure out.
"The image quality in Raw is exceptional, showing excellent detail and high ISO performance."
The Leica T's autofocus system relies on contrast-detection, and for static subjects it is competitively fast with the kit zoom. A firmware update from Leica promises to have taken care of our early concerns with camera wake-up time and autofocus point selection when using the EVF, though we haven't had a chance to test the new firmware extensively yet. It is worth noting that the Leica T is the only camera in this class that does not use a hybrid AF system. As such, continuous AF performance from the Leica T is not a strong point. And you can pretty much forget about trying to track moving subjects.
Image quality in Raw mode is very good compared to the T's APS-C competition, showing excellent detail and high ISO performance. Dynamic range lags behind the best of its peers though, and shadow banding can be a problem in high ISO images or in Raw files with pushed shadows.
The T is capable of 1080/30p video capture and has a dedicated recording button. Video quality is just OK, and video tools and features are pretty lacking. You won't find either a mic or a headphone port.
Though the Leica T isn't a cheap proposition, it is certainly more wallet-friendly than other ILC's from the Big Red Dot while offering competitive image quality in an attractively and interestingly designed package.
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