Rarely will you see me ever start a review this way but since the Leica T is likely to cause a stir on social media please read the following:
- The Leica T is not meant to be a mini-M camera.
- The Leica T was made to fill a niche opportunity in the market between the X-system and the M-system so is not targeted towards the Leica M user group, and therefore it is not an affordable Leica M alternative with autofocus.
- There will be no 100% crops as i don't want to make this a pixel peeping exercise.
- Firmware version tested was 0.0.
- No editing gimmicks were used to edit these pictures, including the 'clarity slider'. Images were kept flat, and very close to how they came out of camera.
- Some of the images were lit by either a Profoto Collapsible Reflector or an Ice Light with the goal of making the light look as natural as possible.
- EDIT: This review was put together in less than 12 hours with less than 5 hours shooting time. Other reviewers have had the better part of a year to shoot and review the Leica T so please be gentle and enjoy what I've put together.
Personally I have been a Leica M user for the last 20 years. You could say I know my way around the Leica M quite well and have a solid appreciation for the brand and its long successful history and contributions to photography throughout history to today. While it is not my first camera of choice for the majority of my work, it’s my favourite camera for its discrete low-key nature, superb image quality and amazing range of the world’s best lenses. Since 1954, it has been Leica’s only range of (35mm) camera that uses a proprietary lens mount…..until now.
Quite possibly the most anticipated Leica camera since the M9, the Leica T (Typ 701) is finally here, well almost (in stores around 4 weeks from now). Launching with two lenses – a SUMMICRON-T 1:2/23 ASPH and a VARIO-ELMAR-T 1:3.5-5.6/18-56 ASPH, the camera starts off with a very sound lens combination that works very well together, with more lenses to come later this year. With the sensor being an APS-C Size with a magnification ratio of 1.5, those lenses become 35mm f/2 and a 27-84mm f/3.5-5.6 in full-frame 35mm terms. The camera will be launched in silver with a black option to come from July.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had this camera in my possession for the last 8 days but due to a busy work schedule I only got to put in a solid 4-5 hours of shooting time, along with playing around with it at home here and there. Please keep in mind that this is more of a beta test than a review as this camera and lenses are not full production products, and it is based more so on my ‘first impressions’ than being a full review, which I never do – because if I was to do a full-blown review, it would probably never end, and there are much better reviewers out there doing those – see Steve Huff and Thorsten Overgaard.
DESIGN and CRAFTSMANSHIP
Let me state from the very beginning that this camera is not a typical traditional ‘shooters’ camera. The ultimate compact shooters’ cameras in the ‘compact’ category in my opinion are the Leica M and the Ricoh GR. Those two cameras are perfect examples of cameras designed for the shooter that wants most of the camera’s main functions available to them at their fingertips. The Leica M achieves this with simplistic style and minimal buttons, whereas the GR does this with multiple buttons that can be customised to the photographer’s choosing, making switching features and modes very simple and fast.
Looking at the Leica T for the first time, I fell in love with its simplistic/minimalistic design. While my first thoughts were “it looks like it could have been designed by Apple”, I was quickly alerted to the fact Leica had once again used a partner – Audi Design. You may recall that Audi Design worked on the M9 Titanium and more recently the Leica C compact. Immediately, a silver Audi R8 popped into my head and it all made sense. This is the Audi R8 of the camera world in terms of design. But does it perform as well as an Audi R8? Find out later…….its also important to note that this camera and its software has been entirely developed in-house by Leica is not a collaboration with any technology partner as previously done with Panasonic.
Out of the box, I was surprised but impressed by the Leica T’s sharp clean lines and modern design. When it was first placed into my eager, sweaty hands I was thrilled with the way it felt – the solid body, which is machined from a 1.6kg block of aluminium, milled, and hand polished for 45 minutes. Plus the flex-less glass back LCD was confidence inspiring. In the hands you could feel how it was not only beautifully designed, but it was ready to be used.
Immediately I noticed there are only two buttons on the entire camera. Those two buttons are the shutter button for stills and a smaller shutter activation button for shooting video. There are two dials, and I was relieved to hear they are for selecting aperture and shutter speed. While this is a far departure from Leica’s traditional aperture dial on their lenses and shutter dial on the top plate, they do work well together and users of other brands should be very familiar with this implementation.
A ring around the shutter button, just like on all of Leica’s Digital M cameras lies the OFF/ON selector, with an extra click for the pop up flash that is neatly positioned to the side. Flicking the switch to the flash option, springs the flash into position and requires manual closing with your finger to place the flash back into its ‘off’ position. Alongside is the hot-shoe, which is conveniently positioned directly on top of the lens, which means those wishing to use optical finders will be pleased as their view will be on the same axis as the lens.
On the front of the camera, there is a nicely curved grip. It does not have a lot of ‘grip’ though because there is no leather or grippy material used so it can be a little slippery if you have sweaty hands. I imagine the Leica T-Snap or leather protector case would alleviate this. Behind the grip lies a black door sitting beside the giant LCD. Inside is the SD card slot and the USB connection. Besides the red Leica dot/logo, there is the AF infrared sensor, which emits a bright infrared light to assist with autofocus in dark conditions. Having this feature on can give away a photographer attempting to be covert so it’s advisable to turn it off for general use outdoors. But in low light situations, focusing on close range subjects it will become a necessity to use.
On the bottom of the Leica T there is the typical tripod/monopod mount, a battery release, and the battery itself, which comes with a silver plate attached to it so there are no battery compartment doors to break off. This design change comes from the Leica S-Camera design, and is a very welcome addition that will eliminate the possibility of breaking a very important part of your camera in the field. I’ve had this happen previously on other cameras and it renders your camera unusable unless you use tape to keep it together. The one other thing I’ll mention about the battery is that when you release the battery lever, the battery releases only partially, so there is no chance of the battery popping out and being lost. The second step to the two-step battery release is to push on the battery lightly and a second catch releases it completely so it can be removed and charged. While this sounds quite trivial, it is a very welcome design improvement over most if not all batteries in the marketplace and kudos to the Leica/Audi design team for creating it.
Looking at the big dark back of the Leica T, you’ll notice an abundance of LCD real-estate taking over from the traditional use of buttons. This immediately implies one thing - a menu-driven camera vs the traditional button-driven camera. Going back to the whole ‘shooters camera’ thing, this is where it will all make sense. Put simply, in manual mode, most features you want to change will need to be selected via the LCD touch-screen, other than those which are programmable to one of the dials when using Av or Tv mode. This is a very simplistic camera and is clearly aimed at the newer generation of photographers that have grown up with touch screen communication tools like the iPhone and Android devices.
The final design element to discuss is the new strap/lug system that Leica have named its ‘Easy-Click System’. The Leica T’s new strap is completely rubber which is soft, strong and quite grippy, so it won’t slip off your shoulder easily. Most importantly, the way it attaches is completely different from other strap/lug systems I’ve seen to date. It uses a newly designed stainless steel pin system that is both very strong and well implemented. The strap lugs are mounted on the accessories and not the camera itself. This is a design element quite similar to the iphone’s SIM card tray release. The great thing about this new system is that you can remove the strap completely and have a flat camera side, where on other cameras, a lug would be slicking out. This is a very neat trick and makes the camera look very clean, a little like the M9 Titanium. The user can also choose to use the small covers for only one side of the camera if they prefer to use a hand strap at some point.
HANDLING and CONTROLS
In the hand, the camera feels extremely solid and well engineered. The weight is perfect and makes the camera feel substantial without feeling bulky and overly heavy. In any camera design compromises needs to be made, especially when trying to keep the size, weight and overall dimensions down. The back is completely flat so there is no where to rest the thumb other than over the top right corner of the LCD screen. The grip on the front of the camera is welcomed though as I said before, there is little to grip onto and it can be slippery to use if you have sweaty hands. I also anticipate the camera becoming very cold to use in very low temperatures, but I would assume many users in those situations would be wearing gloves. When holding the camera, I used my index finder for the shutter, thumb on the LCD, little finger below the camera for support and the other two fingers around the grip. I then used my left hand for extra support below the lens and always felt I had a secure grip on the camera.
Controlling the camera for those used to operating modern telecommunications devices will be a breeze. This is one camera where I believe 90% of people may never need to open the instruction manual. When the camera is turned on, the LCD turns on within 3 seconds. This isn’t exactly quick so always think ahead if you’re using the camera in the off position while seeking pictures. In shooting mode, there are 3 LCD options to choose from. The first is the ‘exposure mode’ icon which when pressed offers you the modes: Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual and Scene. All those modes are self explanatory except ‘Scene’ mode which brings up the following creative auto-exposure modes: Auto, Sports, Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Snow/Beach, Fireworks, Candle Light and Sunset.
The second shooting option is the ‘camera’ icon which brings up a customised menu for your most used features. Above the camera icon is a new ‘tools’ icon which shows all the setup and shooting options. By pressing and holding on an icon feature, you can then drag (gesture) that feature over to the camera icon where it will be stored in your frequently used customised menu. I won’t go through them all but some include: ISO selection, file format, format card, wifi, film mode, self timer, exposure compensation, white balance, etc etc.
The third main menu icon is the ‘INFO’ option. In shooting mode, pressing this option changes the LCD information between:
- Blank (with AF point visible)
- Basic information (including aperture/shutter, AF mode, metering mode, WB, battery, file format, file size and images remaining.
- Basic information with grid
- Basic information with live histogram
To change aperture, you will need to turn the left dial, and shutter with the right dial. During aperture or shutter priority modes, the other (free) dial can be customised for exposure compensation or other settings.
For those familiar with using gestures on smartphone and tablet devices you’ll feel at home with the Leica T. To review your last image, ‘swipe down’ from the top of the LCD with one finger. To flick through your previous images swipe left, and right to go forward. To zoom in on a picture to check for sharpness, double tap the LCD or use the pinch gesture. Additionally, the two top dials can also be used for these functions. The left dial allows you to flick through images and the right dial zooms in and out. Using the dials was a little smoother and faster than using the gestures.
Finally, the last gesture available was the lock gesture. When shooting it may be important to the user to lock the LCD from accidental touches so to lock the LCD, you swipe down from the top of the ‘exposure mode’ icon. You’ll see a faded grey down arrow, which acts as a reminder of where to swipe from. To release the LCD lock, swipe in the opposite direction – down to up.
Shooting the Leica T comes with one option – LCD shooting. Its 3.7inch LCD sports 1.3 million pixels with 854x480 per color channel so it’s quite accurate and brilliant to view. For those seeking even more accuracy you have the option to fine tune it to better match your monitor for an even more accurate assessment of colors while shooting. This is a very welcome addition and something I hope will be added to other cameras like the M…and maybe not so necessary on the Monochrom ;-) In use in bright conditions I found it to be very easy to see and read, but considering this is not the way I normally shoot I won’t comment on how effective it is compared to other products. There is 16GB of on-board memory for those times you leave your SD card at home. There’s also the ability of copying from the camera to SD card too.
As an optional accessory, there is an Electronic Viewfinder named the ‘Visoflex’. The name refers to an accessory released for the M line that converts a rangefinder view into an SLR type view. So in this case, like the LCD, you are seeing 100% of the frame and also what is in and out of focus. A nice touch to using LCDs and EVFs is the ability to see how the camera will expose the image before you take the picture. By pressing halfway on the shutter, you’re not only locking focus, but you’re also confirming the exposure in live view. This is very handy and an advantage over using an optical viewfinder.
Shooting frame rate speeds up to 5.5 frames per second (assuming over 1/250sec shutter speed) for a maximum burst of 12 consecutive pictures, depending on the type of card used as the buffer copies the pictures over. Battery life was also very good but I didn’t count how many shots I took as the battery didn’t run out while shooting.
The metering system in the Leica T offers 3 metering modes.
1. Multiple field
2. Center Weighted
As I don’t use light meters and only shoot in manual exposure mode, I did not test the accuracy of the in-built meter.
There are 5 AF modes available on the Leica T:
- Single point
- Multiple point
- Face detection
- Touch AF
While all are pretty straight forward, I’ll discuss the two I used and briefly talk about the Touch AF mode. This mode allows you to touch the LCD to achieve focus, rendering the shutter button merely as a shutter release only. It’s pretty straight forward and in my brief testing it worked as described with fast and reliable AF.
I initially began focusing the camera using the single point focus mode but quickly found that the focus area was too large to achieve pinpoint accuracy, especially when focusing on eyes at close range. I then switched to Spot focusing and achieved extremely accurate focus with a 95% hit rate at f/2 on the 23mm (35mm) lens. Autofocus speed was at the industry standard, being quite fast, but not at a top SLR speed level. It did struggle a little more when shooting into areas with bright backgrounds or backlight. I actually found that by covering the AF assist sensor, the focus was achieved with better accuracy in these situations. I’ll also just mention that I received 2 firmware updates during the week and the most recent was amazing as it improved the focusing speed and accuracy by a mile. It goes to show how well firmware updates can work when upgrading necessary improvements.
Let me begin by saying that switching from auto to manual focus on the Leica T is not as easy as turning the focus ring. You will need to go into the menu and tap the ‘Focus Mode’ icon to switch to ‘MF’. In manual focus mode a distance scale appears with a red bar. The red bar moves along the focus scale to indicate the distance of focus. The length of the red bar varies depending on what aperture you have chosen. Therefor for those of you who love to use the hyper-focal shooting technique, you’ll be pleased that the implementation is both easy to use and easy to read. Also by being an APS-C sized sensor, you have more depth of field at any given aperture making it much easier to achieve focus in situations that require spontaneous shooting without the need to waste time focusing.
To achieve manual focus accuracy, a focus assist feature engages when the lens focus ring is turned. It initially magnifies the image to 3X, with the option to see closer magnification at 6X by touching the option displayed on the LCD. Switching between the two is very fast and simple and makes for accurate focusing. Pressing the shutter will go back to full screen 1X view for re-framing before you activate the shutter. Unfortunately one downside of this pre-production camera was that there was no option for focus peaking. This feature is available on the Leica M and other competing products so it does seem strange that Leica would leave it out of the Leica T’s feature set. Hopefully it will be added to production cameras by the time it is launched.
The Leica T is the first system camera from Leica that incorporates an integrated Wi-Fi module that enables users to share images quickly via a wireless connection to their computer, tablet or phone (Apple and Android). Such features will be important to those wishing to share pictures as quickly as possible. This feature will be very useful to professionals wanting to send their work to clients as well as those wanting to share their work online through social media platforms.
The Leica T App also features a remote functionality as well via a wireless LAN connection and allows the selecting of exposure modes and setting of aperture, shutter speed and shutter release, all done wirelessly. This will come in handy for self-portraits and group photos. Combined with the new Lightroom Mobile app for iPad, mobile editing possibilities have taken a big leap forward.
Because the iPhone/iPad app was only release today (04/24/2014), I didn’t have the chance to test it, but look forward to doing so in the coming weeks.
THE BIG QUESTION – why not full frame?
By now you’re wondering when I’ll be addressing the major question about this camera. “Why did Leica NOT use a full frame sensor?”
Well its quite obvious if you look at things from Leica’s perspective. So let me give you some of my reasons why I believe Leica intentionally went with an APS sensor:
1. The camera is aimed at a new niche market - consumers who appreciate fine quality products but want something with modern design, simplistic use and a strong brand status. These customers do not ‘need’ a full frame sensor – in fact most people do not ‘need’ one.
2. The M line is Leica Camera’s staple product line and producing an auto focus camera, smaller in size with lenses equal to the quality of the M line would cannibalise the M system.
3. To keep dimensions this small, an APS-C sensor made more sense, as a full frame sensor would require a larger camera body.
4. Price would need to be increased as a result of using a full frame sensor.
I asked Leica Australia’s General manager Ryan Williams what Leica meant in their pre-release teaser promotion of the Leica T by “Essence of Leica” to which he replied: “It is actually about the essence, the essential. “Das Wesentliche”. While it is a step into a more modern direction in product design, the essence of the camera in terms of manufacturing quality is essentially Leica. The Leica T has been cut down to what is required in an APS-C Compact System Camera. Nothing More. Nothing Less. We are not targeting M customers with this product specifically, although I’m certain many of them will love using their M glass on the T. ”
So I know what you’re saying. “I still need full frame”. At the end of the day, why do you ‘need’ full frame? Sure it has better low light performance and it allows you to use lenses in their full frame glory, but will having a full frame sensor result in better pictures? I doubt it. In use, I never felt the ‘need’ for the camera to be full frame. I am asked all the time by students if they ‘need’ to buy a full frame camera and my answer is always the same – no. My advice is to concentrate on the essentials with your photography and don’t allow such technicalities to interfere with making great pictures.
The one time I felt the difference between using this APS-C sensor compared to my full frame cameras was when shooting the 23mm (35/2) lens. Being a 23mm lens with a cropped sensor, I wasn’t able to achieve the same shallow depth of field I am used to when using a Summicron 35/2 on a Leica M. So was this a deal breaker for me? Absolutely not. Making great pictures is not about what is out of focus - it’s about what is ‘in’ focus! In an ideal world this camera would be full frame but the fact is that it is not. So if you like the camera don’t let its sensor detract from its appeal. The image quality is great no matter what sensor it is, and the rest is up to you.
If you’ve used the Leica X1, X2 and X-Vario you’ll already have a fairly good idea at how well this sensor will render image/file quality. It uses the same excellent 16MP CMOS sensor, which works very well in all lighting conditions. I was a big fan of using this sensor in the X-line and happy to see they’ve employed the same sensor in the Leica T. In use, the first thing I noticed is how well its white balance performs, more specifically its Auto White Balance sensor. I achieved some of the best accuracy in auto white balance I’ve ever gotten from any camera with great consistency. In all my image samples, I barely needed to make color modifications in post. Skin tones look really nice and the file structure is quite film like, especially compared to other brands that can look a little plastic and digital-like at times.
The files themselves are very robust with quite a bit of dynamic range. While not quite as robust as the Leica M (typ 240), I found I was able to recover a fair amount of highlights as well bring up some nice shadow detail with little degradation to the image quality. This is an area where Leica sensors have an edge over other mainstream brands. While there are many people lusting after more megapixels, I think the 16MP resolution is perfectly matched to the wonderful lenses supplied with the Leica T. Fitting more megapixels into small 35mm sensors is beginning to take a toll on current production lenses as many of them have not been designed to reach such resolution challenges. The fact that the sensor is machined directly onto the aluminium frame of the camera with lenses designed for this sensor means that you’re getting maximum value from the package as a whole – and it shows in the results.
Below is a comparison of two pictures. The first is a silhouette as it came out of camera, and the second shows how much information can be pulled out. There is a little noise but it is acceptable considering who hard it must work to recover the information in silhouette.
Leica T | Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 ASPH at f/5.6 - ISO 200 | This is close to how it looked out of camera.
ISO – In low light, how low can you go?
For those familiar with the results of the X-Line there won’t be a lot to be surprised about here. The Leica T delivers good and slightly above average results compared to today’s standards, only a little behind the Leica M. Below is a comparison showing ISO 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and 12,800. Most cameras peak around ISO 1600, but I was comfortable shooting at ISO 3200. The current king is arguably a tie between the Canon 1Dx and the Nikon D4s, both of which I have compared closely up to 12,800 comfortably, and found the results to be too close to call a winner. For the APS-C sensor in the Leica T to come within 2 stops of these giant kings, it’s doing very well. Keep in mind that the outdoor lighting is mixed so achieving perfect white balance is almost impossible but the Leica T did as really great job under such conditions.
The two lenses launching with the Leica T have proven to be worthy of the Leica label. They aren’t made in Germany like the Leica T body, but they are made in Japan according to Leica’s build quality, craftsmanship and specifications, as closely as possible. Design-wise they look like larger M lenses, but with a lighter build and I expect lesser quality glass due to cost constraints, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it when using these fine lenses. They come with well made deep plastic hoods that attach very firmly to the lens and have no play at all when installed.
While you’d expect the SUMMICRON-T 1:2/23 ASPH lens to be the winner, I actually found the VARIO-ELMAR-T 1:3.5-5.6/18-56 ASPH to be the standout lens. Don’t get me wrong, the 35/2 equivalent is a great lens and is excellent at f/2, but the zoom was incredible wide open at most apertures, most specifically at f/5.6 at the long end. If you’re going to use a slow-ish zoom lens, it better be great and it comes very close to the incredible VARIO-ELMAR 18-46 mm f/3.5-6.4 ASPH lens found in the Leica X-Vario.
That lens was designed by the great Peter Karbe and has earned an incredible reputation for being an amazingly superb lens and is the highlight of the X-Vario camera. Another thing that surprised me about these lenses is how well they did against the sunlight, again, especially the VARIO-ELMAR-T 1:3.5-5.6/18-56 ASPH zoom lens. Even though its optical makeup is more complicated it handled the sun a little better than the Summicron, which was no slouch either. Other than that I haven’t exactly given these lenses are really good run through. Being the compact sharp lenses that they are at a $2300-$2500 (approx.) price point, there will be some compromises like distortion, field curvature and possibly a little CA, but overall from my brief use, I found them to deliver exemplary imaging performance.
Below are three consecutive shots taken on the Leica T with the Summicron at f/2 at ISO 800 to show the effect of shallow depth of field at the widest aperture.
M Lenses and M Adapter T
Of course you’re able to use an M adapter that will enable M lens owners to mount the lenses on the Leica T. The adapter is very well made with 5 screws instead of the typical 3 or 4 screw Chinese made versions. It has a 6-bit reader on the front side connecting to the M lens electronic contacts on the other side communicating that information to the camera. The information supports functions like exposure metering, aperture priority AE and manual settings.
One last thing to mention is that due to the sensor being APS-C there shouldn’t be any issues with corners like on other full frame Non-Leica cameras.
The following have been taken from Leica’s promotional literature…..
The fascinating protector with individual style. The extraordinary and fascinating T-Snap offers premium protection from scratches and knocks. In four stylish colours, too. Personalise your Leica T. Make a colourful splash. Bring colour into your life. Try a different colour, every day. The premium T-Snap is simply attached in an instant.
The T-Flap is the ideal complement to the T-Snap. It’s just as fascinating. Just as unique. And just as practical. A quick twist, and the T-Flap clicks into the T-Snap. And protects the screen and controls of your Leica T in those rare moments when it is not in your hands. A camera accessory that offers perfect all-around protection – in equally perfect style.
Carry strap/hand strap
The design and colours of the carrying strap and hand strap are per- fectly matched to the modern T-Snap and T-Flap accessories. Both are attached in a flash to the Leica T with the unique easy-click system. A system for connecting accessories to cameras that is unique in all the world. Just as cleverly thought out – and just as cool and innovative – the ideal balance of stretch and stability provided by its silicone mix. For safe and comfortable carrying.
Always at the ready. Thanks to the anodised-aluminium holster, you’ll have your Leica T in your hand as quick as a flash. It even slips in with the T-Snap attached. So you’re always ready to shoot. Thanks to its pat- ented multi-angle connector, it always lies perfectly flat against your body. Another highlight is its rip-resistant adjustable strap, made from a belt material also used in cars. An integrated foam insert guarantees even better protection for the Leica T.
The leather holster offers optimum protection. And optimum readiness at all times. It nestles flat against your body and offers fast and conve- nient access to your Leica T and comes complete with a patented multi- angle connector and a rip-resistant belt with adjustable fit. Perfectly matched. Over your T-shirt in the summer. Over your quilted jacket in the winter. Thanks to a safety tab, your camera always stays firmly in the holster, even when you move.
Safer. Better grip. As promised by its name, the protector protects the body of your Leica T in every photographic situation. And gives you a safe and secure hold on your camera. It covers what’s essential. And leaves access to what you need. It protects, but doesn’t hinder. Perfect- ly practical. Logically designed in every detail.
Leather System Bag
The entire system in a single bag. There’s a place for everything in this elegant, practical leather system bag – the camera, lenses, flash unit, and viewfinder. Safely bedded in lint-free micro-velour. There’s even room for a mini tablet PC. In a specially tailored compartment. In con- trast to the inside, its looks recall the good old days. With clasps in a retro design. Metal feet to protect its bottom. And metal buckles on its carrying strap.
SF 26 Flash
The powerful Leica SF 26 dedicated flash unit combines power with versatility and provides additional opportunities for flash exposures or fill-in flash to brighten your subjects. The flash unit can be tilted upwards for indirect lighting (bounce flash). Plus it even works as a constant LED light source for video recording. This compact and perfectly designed unit will impress you at first glance with both its looks and performance.
Especially designed and constructed for the Leica T. Perfectly matched in style and function. The high-resolution viewfinder for the camera’s accessory shoe. Its tilt-and-swivel function lets you photograph easily from all sorts of unusual angles. And it extends your creative horizons when taking pictures. A sensing system registers when you hold it to your eye and immediately turns off the LCD display. As soon as you take it from your eye, the display comes back to life. Just as practical: an integrated GPS positioning option.
FUTURE OF THE SYSTEM
Looking at not only the effort Leica has put into the design and craftsmanship of the body, but the amount of accessories available, it’s clear to see that Leica created the T System to be comprehensive and extensive. They have also committed to manufacturing at least two more lenses to be released within the next 12 months.
- Leica Super Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH (17-35mm)
- Leica APO Vario-Elmar-T 55-135mm 3.5-5.6 ASPH (80-200mm)
This has certainly been a long review, and I congratulate you if you’ve made it this far. While not boasting any new technologies or imaging capabilities, the Leica T is still quite unique in 2014. While I think it would make a great companion to a Leica M, there will be those Leica M users who won’t be impressed with the Leica T because it was not designed for them. To me, the decision to buy this camera or not is quite simple. If you like it, buy it, if you don’t, look elsewhere. If you keep coming back to this camera after a few weeks then give it a go. Keep in mind that this camera isn’t trying to be a Leica M and failing. Leica have created a new identity for the T-System and it is pretty clear whom they are targeting.
For those out there who have Leica lenses and enjoy mounting them on different cameras, you now have another Leica camera to use them on. Personally, if I was to buy this camera, I’d buy it to use with the AF lenses and see no reason to use my M lenses on it other than as a backup camera. I feel the Leica T is good enough to use side by side with the M as the image quality is quite close in comparison despite the lesser resolution of the T. You can talk all day about what the Leica T is ‘NOT’ but I’m an optimistic kind of guy and judge things on how well they do what they are meant to do. With such a short time with the camera, I won’t make any conclusive statements other than say that the Leica T performed at the level I expected from Leica. Build quality and design is beautiful, focus is spot on, white balance and colors are accurate. Necessities aside, the only shortcoming I could conclude about my experience with the Leica T relate more to me and my ability to take advantage of such a good camera. Any camera that inspires you to improve is a camera worthy of your purchase, whatever that may be.
I'd like to thank Leica Australia for offering me the Leica T for review. Although I didn't get long to use it, it has been interesting. So interesting in fact that I spent more time writing this review than actually shooting with the camera, LOL. Cheers everyone.
> Review pictures can also be found in the Leica T-System Gallery