Leica isn’t known for modern styling and innovative design. For the most part, the company sticks with what works, branching out here and there to release a special edition that is sold for an even more outrageous price than the standard version.
But today Leica steps outside of the box with the new Leica T: a APS-C sensor, aluminum unibody camera with surprisingly few physical controls, a large touchscreen and a whole new lens mount.
Maybe it’s unfair to immediately tag the Leica T as “Apple-esque,” but when you create a camera out of one solid block of aluminum you sort of set yourself up for that one. That being said, the amount of attention to detail and care that goes into every single one of these cameras is on par with the absurd Leica standard.
The cameras are manufactured in a brand new factory in Germany that was built specifically for it, and each body is hand-polished for 45 minutes by a Leica employee before they even add electronics. As for the design itself, while it might seem Jony Ive-ish, the camera was actually designed by Audi (like the Leica C before it).
But it’s not just the design where the Leica T sets itself apart from most of its rangefinder and fixed-lens counterparts, the specs are different too. Inside you’ll find a 16.5MP APS-C sensor (not MFT as many thought given the Leica/Panasonic relationship), built-in WiFi, GPS connectivity (via the optional EVF) and a very large 3.7-inch 854 x 480-pixel touchscreen LCD that acts as your main form of control.
The only dials to be seen are two thumb dials, a shutter button (which is surrounded by the power switch) and a movie record button that will let you capture 1080p at 30fps.
The camera is being called, by many, a departure from Leica’s traditional style, and yet it fits with the Leica aesthetic quite well. The only thing that will trip Leica up with this camera is the fact that it uses a brand new lens mount that is still very short on glass (although there is an M-Mount adapter available, which certainly helps).
Only two lenses will be supported at launch: a $1,800 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar zoom and a $1,900 23mm f/2 Summicron-T prime. Other lenses that are in development include an 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 Super-Vario-Elmar-T and a 55-135mm f/3.5-4.5, both of which are scheduled to arrive before Photokina in September.
Other notable features of the Leica T arrive in the accessory department. Because there’s no viewfinder you have to use their electronic version and the strap system features an innovative click-in mechanism that aims to check off both the “stylish” and “functional” boxes.
You can learn a lot more about the Leica T over on the company’s website, where there are plenty of videos, photos and a whole lot of hyperbolic press speak to mull over.
The silver version of the camera is set to ship at the end of May for $1,850, with the black version following soon after.