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
|My Garden by Mitchmeister|
from The Secret Garden
|Crowded Skies by Rushlin|
from Seven types of aircraft - lighter than air
At Sony's press conference at Photokina the company announced that 12 more E-mount lenses will be arriving over the next two years. In addition, the company is working to put artificial intelligence into their cameras, with one application being Eye AF for animals.
Sigma has said it will create a full-frame Foveon camera and will adopt the Leica L mount for its system. It will be able to adapt or convert SA mount lenses to the L mount, for existing users.
Hasselblad is expanding their X System with their announcement of three new lenses: the XCD 80mm F1.9, XCD 65mm F2.8 and XCD 135mm F2.8, along with a teleconverter. The 80mm F1.9 is the fastest in the system. Get all the details and check out Hasselblad's official sample images here.
Sigma has announced the 56mm F1.4 DC DN lens for Micro Four Thirds and Sony E mounts. The compact 56mm lens becomes the sixth DN lens for mirrorless cameras and will make a handy portrait lens on both systems.
Sigma has announced the 28mm F1.4 Art, 40mm F1.4 Art, 70-200mm F2.8 Sport and 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 Sport lenses for several full frame lens mounts, including Canon, Nikon and, in the first two instances, Sony E.
ON1 has announced the impending launch of ON1 Photo RAW 2019. The new version, due out in November, brings a handful of new tools and features in a revamped interface.
Fujifilm has said it is developing a 100MP GFX medium format camera that will include both phase detection autofocus and in-body image stabilization. The 4K-capable camera will sell for around $10,000.
Leica has announced the S3 medium-format camera – an S2 successor with a 64MP sensor capable of 4K video.
The GFX 50R is a 50MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. It borrows heavily from the existing 50S model but in a smaller body and at a lower price. How does it differ?
Fujifilm has announced its GFX 50R, a rangefinder-styled version of the company's GFX 50S medium-format camera. The 'guts' of the two cameras are the same, with the difference being the design, weight and Bluetooth, all at a considerably lower price.
In this episode of DPReview TV, we get our hands on Fujifilm's GFX 50R which hides a medium-format sensor in a new, more compact body. Watch to get Chris and Jordan's first impressions on image quality, video and more.
Fujifilm is adding a trio of new medium-format lenses to its G-mount roadmap. GFX owners will soon be able to get their hands on 100-200mm F5.6, 45-100mm F4 and compact 50mm F3.5 lenses. Pricing and availability have not been announced.
Micro Four Thirds users will soon get a super fast, constant aperture wide angle zoom.
Panasonic has announced it is developing two full frame mirrorless cameras: the 47MP S1R and the 24MP S1. We've been shown fairly advanced-looking but non-functional prototype cameras, and have been able to squeeze a few details from Panasonic.
Panasonic is developing a pair of full-frame mirrorless cameras that use Leica's L-mount. The S1R will feature a 47MP sensor, while the S1 will be 24MP. Both cameras will support Dual IS shake reduction 4K/60p video capture and will have XQD and SD card slots.
Leica, Panasonic and Sigma are teaming up. Expect L-mount cameras from Panasonic as well as L-mount glass from Sigma.
Ricoh has announced the development of the GR III enthusiast compact, due to ship in early 2019. The camera gains sensor-shift image stabilization and an updated 24MP sensor with phase-detection. The 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens has also been redesigned and a touchscreen added.
The 'I'm Back' is now available for a range of old film-SLRs, such as Nikon's F-Series, the Olympus OM10 or the Canon AE-1.
IRIX has announced its latest lens, the 150mm F2.8 Macro 1:1. IRIX claims the lens features 'close to zero' distortion and stands out with its 150mm telephoto focal length.
The RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is one of four lenses to launch with Canon's new full-frame mirrorless system, and it boasts the longest reach of the range. Take a look at some of the samples we've gathered thus far as our EOS R testing continues.
Nikon's Sendai factory in the Tōhoku region North of Japan has been churning out cameras and lenses since 1971. We had the opportunity recently to visit Sendai during events to mark the launch of Nikon's new Z mount.
There's no mistaking the Nikon Coolpix P1000 – with a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom, it really is in a class of its own. It's a conspicuous-looking superzoom with one main job: getting you really close to far away subjects. We've put together a gallery showing the kind of results you can expect from it.
A new report from The Verge claims Instagram is currently testing a feature that allows users to re-share posts to their own account feeds.
GoPro has announced its HERO7 camera lineup. The updated action cameras feature new HyperSmooth and TimeWarp modes, as well as improved video and photo specs.
The latest Samsung midrange smartphone offers a super-wide-angle lens in its triple-camera setup.
The Sony 24mm F1.4 is the latest lens to join the company's premium G Master lineup. We've been shooting with one for a couple of days - here's what you need to know.
Apple released iOS 12 a few days ago and some iPhone X users are less than happy with how the new operating system has made their phones look.
Camera bag manufacturer Lowepro has introduced mark II backpacks for its ProTactic AW range with models that are said to feature an improved handling experience as well as a collection of accessories that can be attached to the outside.
Canon has announced its latest superzoom camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS. Compared to the SX60 that came before it, the SX70 has the same lens but offers a higher resolution EVF, 4K video capture and support for Canon's new CR3 Raw format.
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.