PetaPixel

Leica Steps Into the 21st Century with the Apple-Esque Leica T Mirrorless System

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


 
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  • http://www.richardfordphotography.com/ Richard Ford

    Aluminium. I think it was made in the EU….

  • http://www.richardfordphotography.com/ Richard Ford

    I will never understand the fetish for 35mm equiv lenses. Not wide enough to be wide and not long enough to double as a 50. They should have made the prime a 50 or a 28 equiv. Not this middle of the road good at neither compromise. For all their lack of compromise in all that they do – what a eft up on focal length choice.

  • http://www.richardfordphotography.com/ Richard Ford

    Yes they are.

  • http://www.richardfordphotography.com/ Richard Ford

    It is not justified – given the price of stuff like an Audi – which is actual real German engineering. Not this jewellery.

  • ms

    The speed of the lens is only one aspect. If you concentrate on speed, then the lens (by design) is going to have to be much larger. Leica compromised on speed in favor of size and optical quality. Fortunately, these cameras (including the X Vario) have great high ISO capabilities. I have shot after dark with mixed street lighting and the X Vario is much better than you would think in situations like this. The resulting image is much cleaner (and much more malleable for PP) than I can get with my Fuji. Im not trying to take anything away from the Fuji X system as they are excellent cameras. But if you are going to compare iQ, Leica has the edge. About the supermodel joke, relax! All Im saying is that I am glad these things exist. Just because I don’t want something, or don’t want to pay for something does not make me hate on it for existing. Diversity is a great thing! want my Leica, a Carrera GT and Kate Moss. Maybe I’m only going to get 1 of those things haha, But for you to tell me my wants are invalid is ridiculous.

  • Tobias W.

    You are right, the lenses are not Panasonic made. However, they are neither Leica made. The lenses are manufactured in Japan, not in Germany. DPreview reported on this in one of their posts on the Leica T, stating that while the lenses are made in Japan, Panasonic is not the manufacturer. I trust they check their facts accordingly.

    Since the lenses are made in Japan, not by Leica, only to Leica’s specifications, I stand by my initial point. Why buy Leica lenses at Leica prices when they are in fact not Leica lenses other than inheriting the Leica optical formula? In that case, one can just buy the much cheaper Panasonic Leica lenses and get most likely the same optical formulas, manufacturing quality at a much lower price. If I spend north of EUR1500 on a lens with Leica label, it better be manufactured in Wetzlar or Solms under the scrutiny of someone who otherwise would waste 45 minutes brushing an aluminium T body.

  • RonaldMcFuckingdonald

    I agree, it does seem farcical. But, holding a Leica in one hand and Canon in the other, there’s no disputing which one trumps in craftsmanship.
    An analogy may be that a hollow door serves the same purpose as one made of solid timber. The value of which is is subjective.