Leica T (Typ 701) First Impressions Review
This year marks Leica's 100th birthday as a camera maker and, to celebrate, the venerable German manufacturer has launched an all-new camera system. Perhaps unexpectedly, though, Leica hasn't taken the obvious route and embraced the current fashion for 'retro' design with an interchangeable-lens version of its X Vario APS-C compact. Instead the Leica T is an innovative camera that combines photographer-friendly twin-dial control with a bang-up-to-date touchscreen interface.
Before we go any further, though, let's get the pricing out of the way. The Leica T is going to set you back £1350 for the body alone - a fraction more than the original X1. Two lenses will be available at launch; the 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom (27-84mm equivalent) will cost £1250, and the 23mm f/2 prime (which offers a 35mm equivalent angle-of-view) will be £1350. This places it in the same price bracket as the 36MP full frame Sony A7R as one of the most expensive mirrorless camera systems on the market, and means that only well-heeled photographers are likely to get their hands on one. Leica exists in a particularly rarefied space and, while the T is designed to appeal to a different type of buyer than either the X compacts or the M system, it is not in any way intended as a mass-market product.
This is a pity, because the Leica T turns out to be a really attractive camera. Its body is hewn from a single block of aluminum, which makes it an extraordinarily tactile, and rather beautiful object. It has five controls on its top plate - shutter button, video record button, power switch and two dials - but absolutely everything else is controlled via the large 3.7", 16:9 touchscreen. This, you can't help but feel, is the kind of camera that Apple might make, if it were so inclined.
Leica T key features:
- 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-12500
- 3.7" 1.3M dot 16:9 touchscreen LCD
- Twin top-plate control dials
- Approx 5 fps continuous shooting
- 1920 x 1080 Full HD movie recording at 30 fps; built-in stereo microphones
- Built-in Wi-Fi for easy image sharing, and remote control by smartphone or tablet
- Optional 2.36M dot electronic viewfinder with built-in GPS unit
- Built-in 16GB memory
- Brand new Leica T mount
- 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 and 23mm f/2 lenses
- 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 and 55-135mm f/3.5-4.5 coming later in the year (at photokina 2014)
- Available in anodized black or natural aluminum finish
The back of the T is dominated by its large, 16:9 aspect ratio touchscreen, with no physical buttons whatsoever. The main exposure settings are controlled by a pair of top-plate dials, but almost everything else (settings and menus, playback and so on) is operated though a generally well-thought-out touch interface. The back of the camera also proudly proclaims 'Leica Camera Wetzlar Germany', celebrating the company's recent return to its spiritual home. The lenses, by the way, are made in Japan (apparently because Leica doesn't have sufficient capacity in Wetzlar), although contrary to pre-launch internet rumor, they're not made by Panasonic.
The T uses a 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor, with an ISO range from 100-12500. It offers 5fps continuous shooting, and Full HD movie recording with stereo sound. The camera uses an all-new, fully electronic 'T mount', but Leica will also be offering an adapter to allow use of M mount lenses. This has an optical sensor to read the 6-bit code used to identify modern lenses, and electronic contacts to pass this information to the camera.
Naturally the camera has built-in Wi-Fi; this allows both image transfer to a smartphone or tablet, and remote control of shooting (complete with live view feed). It has 16GB of built-in memory, meaning you don't even have to buy an SD card if you don't want to. The battery can be charged internally via the camera's micro USB port, but Leica includes an external charger in the box too, giving the best of both worlds.
Leica is very proud of the T's unique 'unibody' design. Most cameras are built around an internal chassis, with all of the electronics fixed to it and a body skin finally added over the top. Leica has done something completely different; instead the body is formed from a solid block of aluminum, with all of the electronics attached to it directly. The result is an extraordinarily tactile, solid-feeling object.
Lenses and accessories
The Leica T launches with two lenses, a zoom and a prime. The Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 is a compact zoom that offers a 27-84mm equivalent range, while the Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH is a small prime that offers a classic 35mm equivalent moderate wide-angle view. Both use a thoroughly modern design approach, with a fully-electronic mount, near-silent internal focusing, and electronically-coupled manual focus.
Not unexpectedly these lenses are seriously pricey, at around $1500 / £1300 each (or roughly half the price of the camera / lens kit). The zoom doesn't even have optical image stabilization - Leica says it imposes too large a compromise on the optical design - which means the T is about the only system on the market with no image stabilization at all.
There's also a new optional electronic viewfinder, the Visoflex (Typ 020), which slides onto the hotshoe. It uses a new interface on the hot shoe itself, meaning that that it's not cross-compatible with the unit used for the X2, X Vario and M (Typ 240). Leica will also be offering a range of straps and covers in two distinct styles; either traditional-looking leather, or brightly-colored silicone rubber. We'll look at these in more detail later.
Color options and pricing
The T will be available in either a natural aluminum finish, or anodized black. Prices are as follows:
- Leica T body (Black or Silver) - £1350
- Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 - £1250
- Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH - £1350
- M-Adapter T mount adapter - £300
- Visoflex (Typ 020) EVF - £400
|2014_1211_140657AA by old shutter bugger|
from The Bride
|Overloaded by NZ Scott|
from Your City - Delivery Boy
|Petals by Flor Tempra|
from Petal Portraits
|Barley by Will B Milner|
|APPLE & ROACH by TX Photo Doc|
from Delicious - Unpalatable
Take a quick tour of Nikon's new D850 in our 'First Look' video and find out what makes this new pro-level DSLR so exciting. Hint: a lot of things.
Nikon appears to have pulled out all the stops for its D850. It combines high resolution and speed: a full-frame 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor capable of 7 fps bursts. The D5's 153-point AF system, a tilting touchscreen and 4K/24p video are also on board. It arrives in September for $3300.
The Nikon D850 is a 45.7MP full-frame DSLR that can shoot at seven frames per second. Supporting this is an autofocus system lifted wholesale from the company's pro-sports D5 model. Add in a bigger viewfinder and full-width 4K capture and you've got a lot more than a warmed-up D810.
Cinema equipment powerhouse Arri has introduced a new line of full spectrum neutral density filters that drawn on its years of experience creating internal filtration systems for its ALEXA Mini and the AMIRA movie cameras.
The 'pocket powerhouse' Godox Wistro AD200 flash just got a new accessory. Now, you can swap out the speedlight or bare bulb heads for a 3.6-watt LED lamp.
Photographers Andrew Studer and Ted Hesser captured some of the most iconic images of this week's eclipse, showing a climber standing in the middle of the glowing corona. This is the story behind those images.
Intrigued by those ultra-cheap, fast lenses coming out of China? This video review of the $550 Sainsonic Kamlan 55mm F1.2 lens points out some of the performance you sacrifice to save an almighty dollar (or $800).
Canon has expanded its PIXMA TS-series Wireless Inkjet printer lineup with five new models, two of which contain an improved ink system that adds a sixth color ('Photo Blue') to help reduce graininess and improving overall quality.
Oprema Jena is on a roll. After a wildly successful Kickstarter to bring back the legendary Zeiss Biotar 75mm F1.5 lens, the company is sweetening the pot by resurrecting the Biotar 58mm F2 as well.
Nikon has issued a delay and apology regarding their 100th Anniversary D5, D500, and Triple Lens sets. Due to a logo issue, the company is being forced to delay shipments until October.
Yet another reason to always shoot Raw. These two shots are actually the same photo, photographer Dan Plucinski simply pulled up the shadows in post.
The Galaxy Note 8 is the first Samsung smartphone to feature a dual-cam setup. The 2x tele lens allows for a background-blurring portrait mode and comes with optical image stabilization.
Cloud backup service CrashPlan has announced that it will permanently shutter it's "for home" service by the end of October. If you use CrashPlan to back up your photos, you'll want to find an alternative ASAP.
Equivalence is much-discussed, but still often misunderstood. Here's a simplified explanation of the concept of equivalent apertures, which is just another way of talking about light received by your camera.
Try your hand at this blind portrait shootout between the Canon 1DX Mark II, Nikon D5 and Sony a9. With all bias removed, you might just rank your favorite camera brand worst.
Photo sharing site 500px has just added support for wide-gamut color profiles such as AdobeRGB and ProPhotoRGB, even allowing users to filter their searches by color profile.
DJI just released a mandatory firmware update for the DJI Spark. If you own a Spark and don't update your firmware by September 1st, DJI will remotely ground your drone.
Affordable flash manufacturer Godox has updated its smartphone app so that it can be used to control all of its wireless X flash units, not just the A1 smartphone flash.
Western Digital's new My Book Duo external desktop storage system offers up to 20TB of storage capacity, and comes with RAID-optimized WD Red hard drives.
Version 1.04 of the Sony a6500 firmware can be downloaded from the Sony Support website now.
Not sure how to choose your first drone? In this article, the second of a 3-part series, we discuss what factors you should consider when deciding what drone is right for you.
NASA photo editor Joel Kowsky didn't just capture the solar eclipse from his vantage point in Wyoming, he also managed to capture the ISS buzzing across what remained of the sun.
In these videos, talented photographer and filmmaker Daniel DeArco breaks down several tips that will help flash photography newbies start experimenting with artificial light.
Photographer and master potter Steve Irvine makes incredibly intricate, functional ceramic pinhole cameras that look like robots and monsters.
Chinese gimbal manufacturer Gudsen has released a firmware update for its Moza Air that lets you control the direction and angle of the head remotely just by moving a small handlebar-mounted control unit.
Curious how the Sony a9 performs underwater? Our friends at Backscatter took the camera diving off the Baja California coast, to find out how it handled shooting great white sharks.
While most of the DPReview crew put away our cameras and just watched the celestial event, Rishi decided last-minute to hack together a rig and capture a few shots.
Defunct Russian camera maker Zenit is making a comeback, and they're planning to release a full-frame mirrorless camera in 2018.
The days where you're more or less locked into premium or first-party flash units has gone. They're less than $50 now, so there's one less excuse not to get one. Here's our case for adding one to your kit, and a few pointers to get you going.
If you're shooting the solar eclipse here's a hint: don't fry your camera's sensor. Use a proper solar filter that offers at least 16 stops of light filtration, along with UV and IR filtering. More important? Don't look at it unless you've got solar filters. Sensors can be replaced, your retinas can't.