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) review – Noise, resolution and sensitivity
It may sound quite obvious, but to get the best from the Leica T you really need to shoot raw images. While the JPEGs are sharp from both lenses used with the camera, the JPEG compression, noise reduction and image processing can just take the edge off the camera to reveal what is a staggering amout of detail for a 16.3-million-pixel camera.
The raw files reveal much more detail. A quick tweak to the sharpness and local contrast of the DNG raw images improves the detail resolution, and applying just a tweak of luminance noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw goes a long way to taking the edge off any noise that begins to appear at ISO 400.
As can be seen in our resolution charts, the Leica T only really resolves detail up to around 26lpmm at ISO 100. This is about the same as most other cameras with good 16-million-pixel sensors. However, looking at the raw images it is clear to see that the camera still recognises lines right up to the maximum value of 40lpmm. Not all the lines are present, so unlike the Nikon D800E and the Sony Alpha 7R, it doesn’t outresolve the chart, but it does register some lines and detail. Most other cameras of this resolution would simply produce a blur by this point.
We conducted our resolution chart tests with both the 23mm f/2 and the 18-56mm f/3.6-5.6 lenses, set to a focal length of around 35mm. Both lenses showed a very similar degree of detail in the centre, with little to pick between the two.
Colour noise is very well controlled in JPEG images throughout the ISO sensitivity range, although there are some hints of purple and magenta noise at ISO 6400 and above. Luminance noise reduction does reduce the level of fine detail, but overall it leaves enough texture on most surfaces so the image is not obliterated. Knowing these limitations, I would happily shoot between ISO 100 and ISO 1600, but I would make sure that I was shooting raw+JPEG to really get the most from the camera.
DNG raw files are easily edited in Camera Raw and it is possible to remove virtually all colour noise from even high-sensitivity images. Luminance noise can be reduced, and again, far more detail can be resolved in comparison to the JPEG files.
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the 18-56mm f/3.6-5.6 s set to 35mm and f/5.6 . We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.