...Er, well, they always sort of were, because Leica traditionally built rangefinders and rangefinders don't have reflex mirrors. But you know what is meant.
The new Leica T is a mirrorless system camera that is an exercise in modern style and a beautiful design. The back has no buttons whatsoever—it's touchscreen-based, designed to look and feel familiar to anyone who uses a smartphone. The first lenses are a 23mm (35mm-e) ƒ/2 Summicron-T (bravo—historically the perfect and most-chosen lens specification for the Leica M) and an 18–56mm (~28–85mm-e) ƒ/3.5–5.6 zoom. Two more zooms will be along for Photokina in the fall.
There are sure to be more lenses after that. And obviously this will be the best body on which to use adapted M lenses! Maybe not technically, but just in terms of karmic rightness. I'm going to guess the T lenses aren't being made in Germany. That's not any knock against them.
No word on who the electronics partner was—Sony or Panasonic, probably. Dpreview reports that the body with its 16-MP APS-C sensor will cost a bit more than a Sony A7. That's sort of immaterial, as "the higher the price, the better"—target buyers will want high style and exclusivity and be willing to pay for it.
In keeping with the present Leica naming schema the first T will be known as the Type 701.
Of course you can use an SD card as usual, but also, very interestingly, the camera has 16 GB of built-in memory along with Wi-Fi. That means it's the first important camera that you can use without a memory card if you so choose. This has seemed like an obvious potential for some while now and I've been wondering who would be the first to implement it. Figures it would be Leica. It's the only camera company with the courage to be that different.
In fact the Leica T appears to be another "newthink" Kaufmann product for Leica, like the Leica S. This is what Leica currently does best in my humble opinion—Herr Kaufmann and his staff have very good taste in camera aesthetics, operationally and as objects. Although strongly based on existing mirrorless design trends it looks like it refines that style and the experience in meaningful and appropriate ways.
All in all a smart extension of the Leica product portfolio, adding an option without cannibalizing other current products, and one that's sure to create great excitement among Leica's legions of fans.
P.S. And once again one wonders, where O where can Canikon be?
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Kenneth Tanaka: "2010 called. It wants its camera back. Another day-late-thousand-dollars-too-much product from Leica. In a day of the Sony A7/A7R, or even the current Fuji and Oly products, the Leica T is simply a dud. APS-C sensor, slow zoom lenses, no tiltable LCD screen, no integrated EVF, ergonomics that only an NC robot could love. What's to like?! Let's just move on."
Mike replies: Ken, Ken...you're being too harsh!
Derek: "Let Canikon flounder in the new space. With seemingly every other camera brand stepping up to the plate there aren't giant holes in the non-SLR space. We actually have a plethora of beautiful mirrorless and other non-traditional cameras.
"The only loser is my wallet. I used to own a single SLR and was very happy with it. Now I own three cameras and continue lusting after more."
Mike replies: About your last three sentences, I have only one thing to say..."ditto."
Sven Erikson: "Ah, but you didn't mention the prices. That red dot doesn't come cheap. $1,850 for the Leica T body; $1,900 for the 23mm ƒ/2; $1,800 for the 18–56mm ƒ/3.5–5.6. The natural comparison is going to be Fuji—similar style, also 16-MP APS-C mirrorless: $1,300 for the Fuji X-T1 body; $900 for the 23mm ƒ/1.4; $700 for the 18–55mm ƒ/2.8–4."
G Dan Mitchell: "I know, understand, and deeply respect the role Leica had in the generation of the whole small camera phenomenon...they essentially invented the 35mm photography format for still photography and their products pointed the way early on. And when SLR designs came along and supplanted the old rangefinder designs, those who appreciated the older aesthetic still found that Leica produced some of the best equipment that seemed linked with that history.
"However, I wonder how we would react to many of the Leica designs if the exact same cameras came from, say, Canon or Panasonic or Fujifilm or Nikon or Olympus. Take the one in this article. What if the nameplate on this camera was something other than Leica? Would the folks who immediately see in it the historic Leica see it in that case, too? Would they regard its extremely high price as appropriate?"
Jack (partial comment): "It's not $1,000 more than the competition, it's $5,000 less than an M."
John Brewton: "Okay, it's a Leica and all that that entails, and the price is the usual high dollar amount that is certain to appeal to the wealthy crowd as the newest 'accessory,' but I feel the design is a cutting edge tour-de-force. Bravo Leica!"
Fred (partial comment): "Why the removable finder? Olympus made that mistake already, and at a cheaper price!"
kirk: "Interesting. The Samsung Galaxy NX camera had only one dial and almost no buttons anywhere. Used a 4.8-inch touchscreen to control the camera and had 16 gigabytes of internal memory (although nearly 4 gigs went to service the Android OS). Nothing new on the Leica, just a much, much nicer design...."
Mike Plews: "The more I read about this camera the more I admire it and the less I desire it. Truth be told I'm not nearly cool enough to be sporting one anyway. It's kind of like what Warren Buffett said when asked if he wore expensive suits. He said 'Yes, but they look cheap on me.'"
Rui Silva: "All I can say it's a well polished product."