Leica’s compact system camera has finally arrived, but how will Leica users feel about the 16.3-million-pixel Leica T (Type 701) and its radical design and handling? We put it to the test
Leica T (Type 701) at a glance:
- 16.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
- 3.7in, 16:9 ratio, 1.3-million-dot touchscreen LCD
- 16GB internal memory
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom included
- Street price £1,350 body only
- See sample images taken with the Leica T (Type 701)
Leica T (Type 701) review – Introduction
Hands up if you want to own a Leica M-system digital rangefinder camera? OK, hands down again. Hands up if you can afford one? What about the lenses? Buy a Leica M, or even the less expensive Leica M-E, factor in two or three lenses, and you could easily spend £10,000.
Leica cameras cost as much as they do due to the use of high-quality materials and German construction. There is little expense spared. Yet Leica cameras are designed to be functional. They are not just pretty, well-constructed cameras, but tools that could last a lifetime.
That’s not to say the Leica M system is perfect. Some of us prefer the convenience of autofocus, and some would rather not have to remortgage our homes to own one. So why doesn’t Leica make a more conventional compact system camera? Well, the company finally has, with the launch of the new Leica T (Type 701).
The new system looks set to answer the needs of many different users, but the main one will be the price. At £1,350, it is far more affordable than a Leica M-system camera, but the company has cut no corners in the construction, style and quality of the camera. So, for those wanting the experience of owning a Leica camera, it has just become a little easier on the wallet.
However, as we will find out, the design is somewhat radical, and will no doubt divide many as to whether it is contemporary and forward thinking, or whether design has won over function. Let’s find out what the Leica T is actually like to use.
Leica T (Type 701) review – Features
The Leica T (Type 701) has a 16.3 million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor, with a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,500. There are no extended settings, although the standard range should be more than enough for the majority of photographers.
The 4928×3264-pixel images can be saved as JPEGs or raw files, and with the universal DNG raw format used they can be opened in most raw editing software without the need for an update. Better still is the fact that the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is included with the camera.
Images can be stored in two ways. The first is on an SD card. Second, the Leica T (Type 701) has built-in memory. We are used to seeing cameras with 16MB, 32MB or 64MB of built-in memory, but the Leica T has a huge 16GB of internal memory. This means you can happily take the Leica T away on your travels and not have to take a memory card with you. Alternatively, if you run out of space on your card, you know you still have some memory to keep shooting.
The shutter-speed range of the Leica T is between 30-1/4000sec, which is on a par with other compact system cameras of its type, and it has the usual selection of automatic, aperture and shutter priority exposure modes, as well as manual and a small number of scene modes. The scene modes are just one indication that Leica is targeting a new market with the Leica T, but the biggest indication of this is the fact that the camera uses a touchscreen.
The camera’s sleek design, scene modes and touchscreen show that Leica is perhaps aiming at a younger, less conservative audience than it is with its Leica M-series cameras. This younger market is more used to handling a camera touchscreen on a smartphone, with built-in memory, and is quite happy to spend £500 on a smartphone and £1,000 on a sleek laptop.
Wi-Fi connectivity is built in to the Leica T, making it easy to share images between the camera and a smartphone. The Leica T app is currently only available for Apple iOS, but as well as sharing images it also allows for the camera to be remotely controlled via an iPhone or iPad. This really is a modern and forward-thinking camera. In fact, many people have described it as what Apple would make if it made a compact system camera.