Review: Leica T-Series
It’s not a surprise that camera company Leica has succumbed to societal demands, not so much giving up on analogue photography, but more of giving in to “consumer” digital cameras.
Leica has always been a pioneer in the world of photography providing top quality cameras and lenses. The famous photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square was shot with a trusted Leica, known then as the camera of choice for street photography?
Fast forward to today’s age of mass-market consumer cameras, Leica is shedding its traditional image and celebrating its 100th birthday in style with the release of the Leica T Series, a mirrorless compact camera CEO Alfred Schopf deemed as “contemporary interpretation”, which basically means it’s a casual shooter.
The 16-megapixel camera has an APS-C sensor, and shoots 1080p video at a fixed 30 frames per second (fps). Its extra 16GB of internal memory eliminates the problem of forgetting to bring SD cards, especially on outdoor shoots. It also sports a convenient pop-up flash to cater to amateur photographers.
Carved from a shiny rigid 1.2 kg rectangular hunk of aluminum to just a 94 grams frame, you can already tell that the sleek T Series is going to be pricey.
The German manufacturer is more lenient with price this time though, clearly targeting at the premium consumer willing to splurge just a little. Set to be more affordable than the M and S series (SGD $5,000 cheaper than an M series digital rangefinder, and a whopping SGD $25,000 less than an S series medium format camera), the body for the T Series is about SGD $2,300.
Still, that astronomical figure makes it one of the most expensive mirrorless compact cameras in the world at the moment.
When you’re holding the camera’s handsome heft in your hands for the first time, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the camera to be a product designed by the team at Cupertino, rather than one birthed by an Audi-Leica collaboration, thanks to the smooth aluminum finish.
With only two buttons (on/off and recording video), and two dials (shutter and aperture control), the camera looks deceptively simple to use at first glance. However, the interface on the massive LCD at the back of the camera is very confusing.
Entirely in a shade of blue with small similar-looking icons representing different actions, longsighted users will have a hard time just trying to switch modes. It does however, feel more like a phone than anything else.
The autofocusing is also much slower as compared to Sony and Olympus mirrorless compacts. However, just like the new Canon cameras, Leica T Series comes with an iOS app to easily transfer photos to your phones through its built-in Wi-Fi function. 2 more T-mount lenses are currently in production, and electronic viewfinders are speculated to be added to newer versions of the T Series.
However, we have yet to address the elephant in the room – “Is the T Series really worth SGD $2300?” We compare its usability with another similar camera. The Fujifilm X-E2 shoots more frames per second and has twice the amount of ISO range. Plus, it comes with an electronic viewfinder and is able shoot slow motion video at 60 fps. And the best part? It’s half the price of the Leica T.
But hey, Leica did warn you that they have reduced the T Series to its bare essentials. And sometimes, being bare can be beautiful too.
The T Series will be available in Singapore from May onwards at Leica Boutiques