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
Bailey Richardson, one of the original 13 employees at Instagram, has deleted the app, saying it's lost its identity.
Fujifilm says firmware updates for its GFX 50S, X-T3, and X-H1 cameras are around the corner, with plenty of new features and functionality to boot.
NASA has shared satellite imagery of the wildfire that's been confirmed as the deadliest in California history.
Google has published a post, explaining the technologies behind its new Night Sight feature in detail, on the company's Research blog.
The new Lume Cube Air is a small, lightweight and affordable portable light source aimed at vloggers, casual photographers and other content creators.
Nikon USA has announced that its Z6 full-frame mirrorless camera will be shipping Friday, November 16th at a price of $1999 body-only and $2599 with the Nikkor Z 24-70 F4 S lens.
The Insta360 One X is the company's latest consumer 360-degree camera, supporting 5.7K video, including excellent image stabilization, as well as 18MP photos. And, in our experience, it's a really fun camera to use.
The New York Times has opened up applications for its 7th annual portfolio review. Applications are due December 10, 2018, less than a month from now.
Picfair has announced Picfair Plus, a paid version of its service that adds custom domains, template options, and more to its Picfair Store platform.
ON1 Photo RAW 2019 brings an updated interface, more powerful Lightroom migration, better camera/lens support, and more to ON1's flagship editing program.
We've just started shooting with version two of Tamron's SP-series 15-30mm F2.8 – take a look at how we're getting along with it so far.
Gear Offer is an online marketplace for selling and buying used camera gear with fees lower than both Amazon and eBay.
Experiencing life through the lens of a camera might mean you miss out on special moments, warns Casey Cavanaugh as he shoots a short film through the viewfinder of his Hasselblad 500CM
The New York Times has teamed up with Google to start the process of digitizing more than five million photos stored in a vault nicknamed "the morgue."
Lastolite has announced HaloCompact, a new collapsible lighting tool with a patent-pending design.
Ambitious goals, new challenges and looking ahead to 100 years of the Z mount – we spoke with senior executives and engineers at Nikon about what lies ahead.
After years focused primarily on landscapes, Erez Marom leapt on an opportunity to return to his roots in wildlife photography. A trip to the mountains of Uganda photographing endangered mountain gorillas yielded some stunning photos – and an experience of a lifetime.
YouTube channel I Did A Thing has shared a satirical video showing off five camera tricks for getting the most from your camera on a budget.
Digital cameras have made it incredibly easy to do time-lapse photography, thanks to the ability to take hundreds—or even thousands—of photos without interruption. This week, Chris and Jordan walk us through the process of planning and shooting compelling time-lapse videos.
Mexico City architect and photographer Moises Levy uses composition and timing to create surreal beachside street photography.
Cinematographer Casey Cavanaugh shares how he created a DIY Hasselblad XPan camera with a Hasselblad 500CM and an anamorphic lens.
7Artisans has shown off a new 35mm F5.6 E-mount lens that's specifically designed for drone photography.
The Nikon Z6 is the lower-resolution, faster sibling to the Z7, and has already shown impressive results in our preliminary testing. Take a look at how it performs outside of the studio.
A new software update allows users of the Rylo camera to squeeze more resolution out of the camera's 360-degree footage.
Photopea is a free Photoshop alternative that works directly in the browser and offers advanced features including spot removal, clone tool, layers, filters, and masks.
Since publishing our full review, we've continued shooting with the Fujifilm X-T3 here and there – sometimes on assignment, and sometimes because we just like it so darn much. Our sample gallery has been updated with fresh images.
We've updated our camera buying guides, and the Fujifilm X-T3 was selected as a top choice in three different categories.
Benro has launched a new 3-axis gimbal that has a convertible handle that can be used in upright and carry configurations.
YouTube channel Analog Things takes a look at and tries out a 20x24 Wisner Polaroid camera located in Vienna.
Flickr has announced that it will not delete images from its Creative Commons or Flickr Commons collections and is working hand-in-hand with institutions and non-profits to "keep these photos safe and available for the world to view and enjoy."