Quick Leica T camera hands-on preview

Leica T camera with EVF1
Leica T camera with M adapter
Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 1
Last week I had a chance to play with the new Leica T at the Leica Store in Palm Beach. Here is my quick hands-on preview (for more in-depth reviews, check my previous Leica T coverage). Keep in mind that this was a prototype camera and the firmware was probably not final (click on images for larger view ):

The Leica T has only two camera controls, an on/off button, video record button and a shutter release, everything else is touchscreen (I guess this was the surprise I mentioned before the announcement):

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 2
The flash is triggered by selecting the third position of the on/off button and it actually stands pretty high up:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 6
The Leica T looks bigger than the press images online. The grip was very smooth and it felt comfortable in my hands:

Leica T typ 701 camera with Leica M lens
Here is a size comparison with my Leica MP camera and the Ur-Leica:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 7
Leica-T-vs-Ur-Leica
And another size comparison - the new Leica T vs. the Sony RX1:

Leica T vs Sony RX1 cameras size comparison1
Leica T vs Sony RX1 size comparison1
Size comparison between T and M lenses:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 8
Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 9
The new Leica 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 T lens is pretty big compared to the camera's body (manual focus is by wire):

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 11
Leica-T-camera-with-18-56mm-f3.5-5.6-lens
Leica will announce two new T lenses - 11-23mm and 55-135m (most likely at Photokina):

Leica-T-11-23mm-and-55-135mm-lenses
As we all know by now, the Leia T camera body is made out of a single piece of aluminum:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 14
The battery pops out directly upon releasing the lever - there is no cover:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 3
The EVF did feel plasticky (made in Indonesia):

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 10
As previously reported, the camera's body is made in Germany and the lenses are made in Japan (either by Panasonic or Sigma):

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 4
Leica introduced a new strap attachment with the T camera - you attach the strap by just pushing the pin until it locks. The strap can be removed/released with a pin:

Leica-T_silver_strap
Leica-T-camera-strap
Leica-T-camera-strap-2
The back LCD is touchscreen and it was pretty easy to navigate, change settings and customize it  - it works similar to a smart phone:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 5
The new Leica M-T adapter:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 13
The EXIF data does contain the information of the M lens but without the actual focal length (this will probably be fixed for the final release):

Leica-T-prototype-camera-EXIF-data
Under the hood the Leica T camera has only a SD memory card slot and USB connection:

Leica T typ 701 mirrorless camera hands-on review 15
Few random sample images are available on flickr and include few high-ISO samples (JPGs straight out of the camera):

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L1010131

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Leica T pre-order options

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  • Carlos

    lots of CA in the corners. Why pana and sigma for the lenses? why not tamron? why not…? why pana, when leica says it’s not?
    the only new thing of this is photos made with T and seeing a M-lens compared/attached, that’s news, could have saved the noise, the brochure pictures of the camera seen in the thousands of other presentations already.

  • Pantechnicon

    That chap in the fourth sample: his expression does not read ‘impressed’.

    • Simon

      LOL! He must be an M shooter. But I look like that if I need coffee!

  • Pantechnicon

    “The Leica T has only two camera controls, an on/off button and a shutter release, everything else is touchscreen”. (Did you forget the ‘record’ button?)

    • Vivek

      One more if you count the pop up flash. The rest menu diving via touch screen that does not tilt. Totally not a Sony NEX!

    • I did 🙂

      • TechUser2011

        And there are obviously two dials below the shutter button, right?

  • Origamy

    Hmm. Interestingly, Leica seems to have addressed the main design bones I had with the compacts I am keen on.

    –Sony RX1 (too cramped on the right hand side)
    –Canon EOS-M (would have preferred just a touchscreen with no buttons whatsoever; also too cramped on right hand side, but I bought one anyway and still love it)

    From comparison photos, the T actually has the bigger body size of the Pana GF1 and Oly EP1 I used to have, which I felt was just right.

    I started out skeptical but now I see it’s really closer to the superb GXR design than atrocious NEX. Had the GXR, didn’t like the colours out of it, but found it quite comfortable to hold for one-handed shooting. Though the T is missing the GXR’s superb rubber skin – opportunity for someone to produce a rubberised wrap for the T’s grip, I suppose.

    Now I’m intrigued. Once one arrives in the stores I’ll give it a benefit of the doubt.

    • Pantechnicon
      • Vivek

        The Sony NEX-7 has a built in EVF and still is much smaller.

        Also, unlike the Sony NEX, the bottom of the T is an eyesore with so many certificates – not an Apple like product either.

        • Pantechnicon

          Finally, the ‘elephant in the room’: certification logos on a camera’s bottom plate.

          Respect, Vivek: nobody else here had the chops to confront this.

    • I was also surprised of the size – I was expecting the T to be smaller.

    • EnPassant

      For those who don’t like the pure metal feeling Leica supply both a grey leather half case and T-snap plastic covers in four different colors.
      I imagne it would be easy for the handy to glue any grippy/comfortable material on the grip or preferably on a T-snap of choice.

    • One More Thought

      You bring up a good point: which is once a camera manufacturer decides to use a touchscreen, why not go all the way like Leica did?

      I agree that it seems a bit of a confusion to have a touchscreen with some other buttons around it on the back. Kind of defeats the purpose.

      Either go all in with a touchscreen or not…Leica got this right.

      • mavfan1

        I like being able to flip through some settings with touch but when I have the camera to my eye and I’m moving the focus point on my X-T1 I need the tactile 4 way d pad. I couldn’t do that with touch-only.

        • Origamy

          Good point. Couldn’t the two spin wheels be used for that instead? They can be assigned any control parameter, it seems.

  • hexx

    Just came back from Red Dot Cameras here in London. They have one demo model so I got my hands on it. It feels really, really, really nice in hand. It has the right size and heft for my hands and felt secure which I didn’t expect considering there’s no rubber or any other material than aluminium. It feels very solid and just joy to use, the balance with the zoom was just right.

    I tried it with the zoom lens and inside the shop it didn’t have any problem to lock focus (dimly lit shop). The MF ring, although not mechanically coupled, feels nice – not M-like nice but nice. Haven’t tried the 2/23 but they have it too.

    The touch interface is really transparent when you want it to be (you can lock the screen by simply swiping – like on iPhone) and very simple to use when you want (tried touch to focus and various settings). Customising left dial is very simple and intuitive, just type on it’s icon which is shown when you move the dial and choose the setting you want to assign from given options – that’s it.

    The EVF seems pretty standard in terms of performance. The only downside (still beta FW on the camera) was lag between switching from back LCD to EVF – there’s 1s delay which can be quite annoying (I’m coming from X-Pro1 where switch is instant).

    I noticed that in Manual shooting mode, one can’t switch the default assigned controls of the dials, left is for aperture and the right is for shutter speed.

    Another thing -> in manual focus mode, the distance scale is displayed only when you turn focusing ring, otherwise it’s not shown – it would make more sense to have it displayed all the time in manual focusing mode.

    • Pantechnicon

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts: ‘in the flesh’ opinion makes all the difference.

      Have you used the EVF on Fuji’s XT-1? I think I know the answer, but would you care to comment?

      • I have used the X-T1 for a short period of time (I do not own one) and I think it has the best EVF available today (better than the Sony a7 and Leica T).

        • Pantechnicon

          Thanks for that.

          • mavfan1

            I’ve had the X-T1 for a month. The EVF is huge and can make you forge it’s not optical. However the feature I like most is that because the EVF is so large you have the option while manually focusing of the dual screen more where maybe 80% is the standard view and 20% is a 10X view of what’s in the center of your image to allow you to manually focus more accurately without needing to zoom in.

          • Origamy

            Panasonic cameras have had that feature since at least the Digilux 2 they made. That was, hmm, 8 years ago? I never liked that feature though, it was distracting.

      • hexx

        Nope, haven’t tried it – X-T1 just doesn’t interest me. X-Pro1 is what I use.

  • MJr

    Would definitely look better in black !

  • Heinrich

    Are you ever going to learn how to take pictures?

    • mavfan1

      well imagine that, an asshole on the internet!

      • Mama Jones

        He likely gave himself all 5 upvotes too

  • Josh

    If/when Leica makes a full frame auto focus camera, will the lenses be a T or M mount? What are your thoughts?

    I think they would leave the M mount alone and move forward with the T mount like Sony using the E mount for their crop and FF cameras. There are benefits in IQ having a reduced flange distance.

    • EnPassant

      The T-mount is actually wider than the M-mount and would work fine with a full frame sensor.
      If/when Leica will make a FF T-camera is another question. Such a camera would compete with the M-system.
      With the current digital FF sensors used in Leica M and Sony EF mount there are NO benefis in IQ compared to Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony A mount.
      While symmetrical or near symmetrical lens constructions for wide angle lenses in theory can provide the best IQ on film those function very bad on digital sensors because they can’t handle the steep ray angles.

      • Ken Elliott

        The T-mount has another advantage – Leica can develop lenses for both T-mount and Micro 4/3, or other APS-C (or smaller) bodies. This scales nicely over time, and gives Leica the option of developing more modern cameras without losing their classic customers.

  • B*#_!!&*Y^&zzzt

    That’s actually a pretty good looking phone. Ooops, I meant camera.

  • Simon H.

    Why do you have the optional sun shade lens hood attached on the RX1 in the size comparison ? Makes it look quite a lot bigger than it is :/

    • Pantechnicon

      The injustice of it.

  • Neopulse

    I like the camera, I think it’s nice as hell.

  • fjfjjj

    Leica M lenses look like they belong in a scientific laboratory or museum. Leica T lenses look like they belong on a Panasonic.

    • Paul Metcalf

      The comparison really shows how much bloat is added by the autofocus system…

    • Pantechnicon

      I wonder which is optically superior….

      LEICA SUMMICRON-T 23mm f/2 ASPH @ £1350

      Or

      Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH Leica DG Noticron O.I.S. Lens for M43 @ £1199

    • Pantechnicon

      I wonder which is optically superior….

      LEICA SUMMICRON-T 23mm f/2 ASPH @ £1350

      Or

      Panasonic 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH Leica DG Noticron O.I.S. Lens for M43 @ £1199

      • EnPassant

        Comparing a wide angle with a tele lens is an apples and orange comparision. More interesting would be to compare with the Canon EF-M 22/2 STM lens.
        I dare say the biggest difference between the Leica and Canon lens will not be the optical performance but the cameras they can mount and the difference in price.

  • Paul

    What material are they using for the cover glass?

    • I am not sure.

    • MJr

      Definitely think i heard them say it’s really tough stuff in some video.

  • andre

    Unbelievable Leica manufacture the EVF in Indonesia, truly unbelievable

    • Pantechnicon

      Leica are unlikely to manufacture the EVF: more likely that It is made for them by a specialist.

      Mind, I think Leica can take the blame for the ‘sautée pan’ aesthetics.

  • Pantechnicon

    Reading the DPReview headlines today, I wonder what kind of weekend the Leica marketing people are having.

      • Origamy

        The way I understand it, it’s DPR’s words against Leica at the moment. More likely, against that particular Leica rep’s. Will this turn out like the “he said, he said” between L and the two British mags previously? Remains to be seen.

        • I am actually surprised that dpreview posted that online. I believe dpreview, but like you said – maybe it was a Leica rep who did not know the details.

          • Pantechnicon

            Hard to believe that Leica can be this naive in their marketing. Be as ‘prestige’ as you like, but ultimately you must be seen to tell the truth.

          • I do not think Leica did this intentionally – somebody just screwed up.

          • Origamy

            I’m inclined to think ‘message lost in translation’.

            I would be really surprised if the rep had indeed said, “T lenses are ONLY corrected optically”. Meaning that no software correction is applied whatsoever.

            Surely he/she would know even the mighty M has software correction, which is why you need to do all that marker pen somersaults to code lenses?

          • Pantechnicon

            I believe in the Moon landings, but ‘lost in translation’ would be stretching credibility too far for me.

          • Origamy

            We’ll know soon enough if Leica landed on the moon, once they respond to DPR, and DPR shows proof Leica actually said it like Amateur Photographer and BJP did.

    • Origamy

      I wonder how it affects uncoded M lenses, then? Should be interesting to investigate.

  • James Maier

    How was the resolution of the EVF? Decent?

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