This year marks Leica’s 100th birthday as a camera maker, and to commemorate this momentous occasion, the venerable German brand has introduced an entirely new camera system.
With an interchangeable-lens version of its X Vario APS-C compact camera, Leica has chosen not to follow the straight path and embrace the current trend for “vintage” design. This decision may come as a surprise to some.
Instead, the Leica T is a forward-thinking camera that blends a user-friendly touchscreen interface with a control scheme that caters to photographers in the form of twin dials.
However, before we go any further, let’s clear the air on the cost structure, shall we? The body of the Leica T is going to cost you £1350 by itself, which is a little bit more than the price of the original X1.
At the time of launch, two lenses will be made available: the 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom (27-84mm equivalent) will cost £1250, while the 23mm f/2 prime (which gives a 35mm equivalent angle-of-view) will cost £1350. Both lenses will be available for purchase.
This places it in the same price range as the 36-megapixel full-frame Sony A7R, making it one of the most costly mirrorless camera systems. As a result, only well-heeled photographers are likely to be able to get their hands on one of these cameras.
Leica occupies a highly exclusive market niche, and even though the T is aimed at a different demographic of customers than either the X compacts or the M system, the company does not plan for it to be a product aimed at the mainstream market in any manner, shape, or form.
It’s a shame because the Leica T ends up being a camera that has a lot of charm. Its body is hewn from a single piece of aluminum, which makes it an exceptionally tactile object that is also pretty lovely to look at.
The Leica T was designed to be simple and functional, and it includes a minimal number of controls on the outside of the camera. There is a large handgrip on the front, although it is quite shallow, and the rounded ends give respect to the conventional body style of the Leica M.
The only thing that can be found on the front of the camera is a button to release the lens, a bulb that illuminates the focusing area, and the iconic red dot of Leica. Even conventional strap lugs are absent from the T; in their stead are two rows of tiny sockets on either side, which in this image are obscured by plug-in covers.
The big touchscreen takes up most of the real estate on the camera’s rear. It’s a 3.7 “device that has a resolution of 854×480 RGB pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:9. The result is a design that is incredibly sleek and fashionable, and it is unabashedly aimed at making the camera an object of desire in addition to being a tool for taking photographs. In line with the camera’s overall emphasis on aesthetics, the black LCD surround extends all the way around to the spring-loaded plastic door that conceals the camera’s micro USB connector and SD card slot.
Leica T (Typ 701) Image Quality
The DNG Raw files that are produced by the Leica T have a very high image quality, with plenty of detail and a lot of information in both the highlight and shadow areas. This allows for a great deal of flexibility when it comes to post-processing the images.
The noise is handled extremely effectively, partly because of the reasonable resolution of 16 megapixels, and the pictures are completely usable up to an ISO of 3,200. ISO 6,400 can be used when there is no other option, but ISO 12,500 is considered to be pushing things too far and requires so much noise reduction that every little detail is preserved in the final image.
The two lenses we utilized with our review unit, the Summicron-T 23mm f/2 and the Vario-Elmar-T 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, produced outstanding results in every scenario, even though they exhibited considerable color fringing in conditions with strong contrast.
What we weren’t extremely thrilled about within the Leica T is the autofocus, which, to be quite honest, was not something we expected to perform exceptionally well, to begin with.
The autofocus on the T is relatively sluggish (particularly so when light is scarce), and it frequently fails to latch onto the subject that the photographer wants it to concentrate on. This is similar to the autofocus on prior Leica-exclusive digital cameras such as the X, X2, or X Vario (again, especially when the light gets sparse).
Therefore, if fast and dependable focusing is an absolute must for how you like to picture, the Leica T is probably not the camera you should be searching for. If, on the other hand, you place a high priority on unadulterated image quality, you will fall in love with the camera’s output very soon.
Leica T (Typ 701) Video
We weren’t expecting much from the video recording quality, which was Full HD 1080 at 30 frames per second. To begin recording the video, choose the red-dot movie button at the top of the device. Because of the camera’s fully automated nature, it does not come with many options for customizing the camera’s settings.
You can change the resolution from 1080p to 720p and toggle on or off the video stabilization. The video quality is acceptable, and the focus is quick. The colors, on the other hand, have a dull appearance, and the camera has issues with noise and pixelation as well as judder while panning. The Leica T excels in still photography, so if you want to take casual films, you’re probably better off using your smartphone than the Leica T. Having video capabilities, though, is a great bonus.
As for Wi-Fi, Leica has to adjust how it is implemented in practical use. The issue is not with what it has to give (although it is quite basic when compared to what Samsung or Sony can provide), but rather with how well it performs. The T Typ 701 was able to search for and log onto a Wi-Fi network without any problems; but, when it attempted to connect with an iPhone 5S, it ran into some difficulties.
Despite being on the same network as the camera, the Leica T app could not locate the camera. The two could become linked together once both devices were reconnected to the network and the app was restarted. However, the camera could not maintain a consistent connection, and when we tried to access Live View to do the remote operation, the connection would fail every time.
In addition, it took some time for the camera to connect to the phone. We attempted a different connection by going onto a Wi-Fi network used far less often. While this resulted in faster pairing times, the camera continued to have problems with being stable. We hope Leica will resolve this problem with a firmware update, but if you decide to spend on this camera, you should know that wireless networking is not the camera’s strong suit.
Leica T (Typ 701) Lenses and accessories
At launch, the Leica T will be accompanied by two lenses: a prime and a zoom. The Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH is a tiny prime lens that delivers a traditional 35mm equivalent moderate wide-angle view. At the same time, the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 is a compact zoom lens that offers a range comparable to 27-84mm.
Both of these cameras have a design philosophy that is completely up to date, as seen by their electronic mounts, their near-silent internal focusing, and their electronically-coupled manual focusing. Its top plate is equipped with five controls: a shutter button, a video record button, a power switch, and two dials; nonetheless, the big 3.7-inch touchscreen is responsible for controlling every single other feature “touchscreen with a ratio of 16:9.
Leica T (Typ 701) Specs
|Body type||Rangefinder-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||4944 x 3278|
|Other resolutions||4928 x 3264 (max JPEG), 4272 x 2856, 3264 x 2160, 2144 x 1424, 1632 x 1080|
|Image ratio w:h||3:2|
|Effective pixels||16 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||17 megapixels|
|Sensor size||APS-C (23.6 x 15.7 mm)|
|Sensor size notes||No anti-aliasing filter|
|Color filter array||Primary color filter|
|White balance presets||5|
|Custom white balance||Yes (2 slots)|
|JPEG quality levels||Superfine, fine|
|File format||JPEGRaw (DNG)|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterSelective single-pointSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||Yes|
|Lens mount||Leica L|
|Focal length multiplier||1.5×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Viewfinder type||Electronic (optional)|
|Viewfinder magnification||0.7× (0.47× 35mm equiv.)|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec|
|Exposure modes||ProgramAperture priorityShutter priorityManualScene|
|Scene modes||Sport, portrait, landscape, night portrait, snow/beach, fireworks, candlelight, sunset|
|Flash range||4.50 m (at ISO 100)|
|Flash modes||Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash on w/redeye reduction, slow sync, slow sync w/redeye reduction|
|Flash X sync speed||1/180 sec|
|Continuous drive||5.0 fps|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Resolutions||1920 x 1080 (30p), 1280 x 720 (30p)|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC card|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g/n with smartphone control|
|Remote control||Yes (via smartphone)|
|Battery description||BP-DC13 lithium-ion battery and USB charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||384 g (0.85 lb / 13.55 oz)|
|Dimensions||134 x 69 x 33 mm (5.28 x 2.72 x 1.3″)|
|GPS notes||Built into optional EVF|
Leica T (Typ 701) Conclusion
The Leica T, much like other Leica goods, maybe something of a hit or miss. Its gleaming metal casing and high retail price give the impression of unrivaled quality. Still, when it comes to the most fundamental features, like the absence of an exposure lock button or the sluggish and inaccurate focusing, it soon disillusions users.
On the other hand, the camera is very comfortable to use and to hold, particularly when combined with the Visoflex viewfinder and the 23mm prime lens. Additionally, it is capable of producing photographs of exceptional quality, including a great deal of detail, beautiful colors, and a very good dynamic range, which will satiate the requirements of even the most particular photographers.
Leica T (Typ 701) Pros & Cons
- and FHD at 30fps Video Recording
- Built-in Wireless (Wi-fi)
- Touch Screen
- 2360kdot Viewfinder Resolution
- 384g Light Body
- 0.7x magnification – Large Viewfinder