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
|Well Hello There by evancj|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Normally Amsterdam by Rudolph Arnstein|
from Your City - Biking
|laboratory glass by bombelpl|
|57 BelAir Chevorlet by TexasGal|
from Car Shows 2018
Nikon has posted another teaser video for its upcoming full-frame mirrorless system featuring some classic Nikkor lenses. Perhaps the most notable thing about the video is the lens that's shown first...
Following the CES 2017 announcement of its revival, Kodak Alaris has started shipping test rolls of its new Ektachrome to photographers for beta testing.
Take an inside look at the work that goes into testing Nikon cameras from drops, dust, water and debris. There were definitely cameras harmed in the making of this video.
In a press release issued this morning, Sony announced it has sold more full-frame cameras than any other brand in the US over the past six months, measured both by units sold and by value.
Yuneec has introduced the Mantis Q, a consumer drone with an integrated 4K camera, electronic image stabilization and voice control.
The new 3 Legged Thing Patti is a compact tripod that doesn't break the bank.
Alex and Kathryn are photographers, friends and Tokyo residents who love exploring Japan's hidden cultural treasures. They each brought a Canon EOS M50 on a recent trip starting in bustling Tokyo and ending in the peaceful riverside town of Gujo Hachiman.
The triple-camera in Samsung's 2019 Galaxy S10 smartphone is expected to use three sensors with varying pixel counts.
Net SE, the parent company behind the likes of Oprema Jena, Meyer Optik Görlitz, Emil Busch, C.P. Goerz, Ihagee and A. Schacht products has filed for bankruptcy and removed itself from the German stock exchange.
Canon's latest 70-200mm F4L comes with a five stops of image stabilization, a new coat of paint and impressive sharpness. We've been shooting with our copy for several weeks now - see how it stacks up in our sample gallery.
Special 4K and 6K Photo modes may be one of the most under-appreciated features on recent cameras. In this week's episode, Chris and Jordan take a closer look at these modes and explain why – and when – you'll be glad to have them on your camera.
Ten years ago this month Panasonic and Olympus announced a new concept called Micro Four Thirds. We're now on the brink of full-frame mirrorless from at least one major player, so perhaps it's a good time to take a look back at where it all started – and how far we've come.
Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography breaks down five 'hacks' for organizing your camera equipment.
The City of Redding has published a series of aerial images showing the devastation caused by the ongoing Carr Fire in Shasta County, California.
Sigma full-frame Art lenses are finally available in Sony E-mount. Here's how the 85mm F1.4 Art looks on an a7R III and a7 III.
Sigma is now shipping the FE versions of its 14mm F1.8 DG HSM, 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO, and 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lenses that were announced in February.
We got some quick hands-on time with Samsung's newest, biggest Galaxy smartphone at the company's launch event. Here are the most noteworthy camera features we uncovered.
Leica has released the Elpro 52, a close-up lens adapter that works 3with more than 20 Leica M and TL lenses.
Nikon has released yet another teaser video for its full-frame mirrorless camera set to be announced August 23rd.
At a high-profile launch event in New York, Samsung took the wraps off its next Note device. The Galaxy Note 9 borrows the S9+'s 12MP dual-aperture dual-cam, with OIS in both cameras and an emphasis on AI-enhanced shooting modes.
One of the most keenly-awaited lenses for a while, the new Pentax D FA* 50mm F1.4 is finally here, and we've been using it for a few days. In this article, we're updating our initial impressions on the basis of our recent shooting with the K-1 II.
AirSelfie2 boasts longer flight times, a higher resolution camera and more built-in memory than its predecessor.
In 2016, Samsung launched a prohibitively expensive 4TB SSD. This week it revealed that it has started mass producing a less expensive variant.
At max speed, the Epson FastFoto FF-680W can scan a photo every second at 300dpi.
Lighting manufacturer Cactus has officially launched its RQ250 bare bulb wireless TTL flash unit on the Kickstarter crowd funding website, and says it will be ready for delivery in October.
Lensbaby's Sol 45 fixed-aperture selective focus lens is aimed squarely at photographers new to the manual, in-camera creative effects possible with Lensbaby's lineup. We took it out for a spin.
Android 9, also known as 'Pie,' will add support for the HEIF image format and will allow third-party app developers to access multiple camera streams simultaneously.
DJI has partnered with messaging app Line to launch a special-edition version of its Spark drone that's made to look like an adorable little character affectionately referred to as Brown the bear.
We all know what ISO means, or do we? The truth is that ISO probably doesn’t mean what you think it does, and it might be holding you back from getting the most out of your camera.