domingo, 27 de abril de 2014


Leica has just presented its new Leica T (Typ 701) camera, with which it starts the third system of CSC mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses throughout its history and the first digital one in APS-C format and featuring AF.

The huge experience of Leica in the scope of mirrorless compact system cameras which it began 83 years ago between 1931 and 1932 with the screwmount and interchangeable lenses Leica 1 (Model C Standard Mount), Leica Standard (Model D) and Leica II (Model D) along with the amazing know-how acquired after its full transformation, integration and consolidation as a photographic firm at the forefront of the digital sector (a great success accomplished by Andreas Kaufmann, who took the reins in 2005 and had the insight and historical perspective of foreseeing its great future), have brought about the genesis of a further very small camera:

The Leica T (Typ 701) with which thanks to its new bayonet, its huge capacitive and intuitive 3.7 inch iPhone style touchscreen (occupying the whole back area of the camera) boasting great viewing quality and response optimization, its top-notch Sony CMOS APS-C 16.3 megapixel sensor, its new image DSP and manufacture parameters following the track of the golden analogue period of Leitz Wetzlar (Germany) and Midland (Ontario, Canada) during Twentieth Century, Leica has become on its own merit already in XXI century the currently most versatile digital concern in the world, with nothing less than three different reference-class photographic systems: the 24 x 36 mm format Leica M mirrorless system with rangefinder embodied by the Leicas M9, M9-P, M9 Titanium, M (Typ 240) and M Monochrom, the medium format reflex system Leica S2 and the just born Leica T-System with its smart new bayonet that highly probably will mark a turning point in the sphere of APS-C mirrorless cameras without rangefinder.


The appearance between 2012 and 2014 of excellent CSC mirrorless and rangefinderless professional cameras made by a number of firms highly respected by Leica featuring very good interchangeable lenses and last generation digital sensors  in APS-C (Fuji X-Pro 1, Fuji X-T1, Sony Nex-6, Sony Nex-7, Samsung NX300, Samsung NX30) and Micro Four Thirds (Olympus OM-D E-M1, Panasonic Lumix GH-3, Panasonic Lumix GH-4) formats has made possible the strengthening of a technologically very interesting domain of digital cameras and thereby the fulfillment within the digital era of a dream whose pioneers were during the analog epoch Oskar Barnack, Adam Wagner, Yoshihisa Maitani, Walter Mandler and Günther Leitz: the making of very little cameras sporting a smaller than 35 mm captor, an assortment of great quality interchangeable lenses and that enabled to do praiseworthy enlargements on photographic paper with no image degradation up to sizes of 50 x 70 cm and even larger.

But it couldn´t be implemented during XX Century because of the limitations inherent to the surface of chemical negative reduced a 50% in size of half frame mirrorless cameras  featuring 18 x 24 mm analog captor like the Leica 72, made between 1954 and 1957 (of which 183 units were manufactured, 150 in Midland and 33 in Wetzlar) which delivered a lot of grain on enlarging beyond 20 x 28 cm size, as well as diminishing the sharpness and contrast, something that has utterly been fixed by the digital era, which has made possible the development of the key factor for the attainment of such a yearned after goal: the design and manufacture of incredible digital sensors that in spite of their small or very small size, include a staggering technology enabling to get great image quality and the chance of creating top quality enlargements up to 50 x 70 cm and even more on photographic paper.

While all of this happened and after the advent of the Leica X1, X2 and X Vario with Vario-Elmar 18-46 mm f/3.5-6.4 ASPH (cameras featuring very good image quality and APS-C format digital sensor but limited regarding versatility on not sporting a bayonet for coupling interchangeable lenses), the photographic market has greatly been on tenterhooks, since it was fair to assume that Leica (after all the pioneer in the manufacture of CSC mirrorless cameras featuring a very small size and a comprehensive system of interchangeable lenses and accessories since the beginning of thirties of XX Century) would create a mirrorless digital camera without rangefinder and able to be coupled to interchangeable lenses either for full frame or APS-C format (Leica has already explained for the recent years that it isn´t interested in the production of Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Leica T is not a Panasonic camera at all, but Made in Germany at the new factory in Wetzlar and the lenses with which it has been introduced are Leica ones made in Japan with German optical glasses of the highest performance, according to exceedingly stringent specifications and tolerances set up by Leica, and they haven´t been made by Panasonic).

And among the feasible formats (either full frame or APS-C), Leica has opted for the APS-C 15.7 x 23.6 mm digital sensor lacking anti-aliasing filter with this new Leica T (Typ 701) camera whose highly reduced dimensions and weight are 134 x 69 x 33 mm and 384 g battery included, with which the year of its Centenary it adds a new photographic system to its already wide array of digital products.


To my humble understanding, Leica has made a master move with the design, manufacture and presentation of the APS-C format  mirrorless CSC Leica T (Typ 701), which hoards very significant attributes far exceeding its very small size and weight and the superb image quality it achieves through the synergy between its Sony CMOS APS-C 16.3 megapixel sensor (the same included inside the Leica Vario X2, though the image DSP is new) and its Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH lens (equivalent to a 35 mm f/2 in 24 x 36 mm format, the streeter objective par excellence) together with the also unveiled Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH professional zoom and two likewise professional further zooms for this camera which will be introduced during the next Photokina 2014):

a) Its gorgeous minimalist design, oozing class and elegance on all four sides,

with lines being pervaded by Oskar Barnack conceptual DNA and a more than remarkable resemblance with the front area, lateral borders and top zone of the Leica Ur made by him in 1914.

This is absolutely amazing and above all fascinating, 100 years after the creation of the the Leica Ur, and confirms once again the immense talent, resourcefulness and vision of a genius called Oskar Barnack, who anticipated ten years to some Bauhaus approaches and shapes and a hundred years to the design of cameras like the Sony RX1 full frame (making up a synthesis between on one hand the contours of the Leica UR 1914, the Leica ´0´ from 1923-24, the Leicaflex 18 x 24 mm designed by Helmut Müller in 1962 and the Leica-H 18 x 24 mm - of which two prototypes were made in 1965 – designed by Adam Wagner in 1964, and on the other hand the top area of the 24 x 36 mm format mythical Nippon Kogaku Tokyo rangefinder cameras from fifties) or this Leica T (Typ 701).

b)  An exceptional building and qualitative level, with massive use of noble metal, having been chosen a sturdy aluminum billet 

from which the camera body shape is created by means of abundant and very accurate milling done by state-of-the-art high performance CNC machines which treat the metal following an electronic exact path with numeric control.

After it, a skillful Leica expert makes a manual 45 minutes polishing, removing the slightiest hints of sharp edges of a camera body boasting great beauty of lines, outstanding grabbing convenience, very little size and scarce weight,

with the added benefit of an unusual resistance to the elapse of time and the hard professional use as to possible scratches, all kind of stains, protection of the inner electronic components, etc.

c) The back area of the camera doesn´t feature any button, since every function is controlled by the user through the 3.7 inch and 1,3 megapíxel LCD large touchscreen being so sharp and brilliant that the photographer can see it under the sun light.

It seems clear that the inception of the Leica T (Typ 701) is a relevant global knowledgeable decision from a conceptual, design, general appearance and user interface viewpoint, with a back area in the shape of a tactile touchscreen in the purest iPhone style, without any buttons, dials or controls whatsoever.

And it isn´t by chance.

As a matter of fact, the genius Steve Jobs commented different times that the great beauty of lines and rounded contours of the old screwmount Leicas exerted a noticeable influence in the design of his MacBooks and iPhones.

And this is a significant distinctive trait of the new Leica T, in which both the mythical German photographic firm and the Audi Team Design (which also took part in the creation of the Leica M9 Titanium) have scored a hit, with remarkable levels of adaptation to the time being, refinement and breakthrough technology inspired by Steve Job´s creative and functionality imprint, managing to integrate in this camera a number of sides inherent to high end consumer electronics in full synergy with other exceedingly classical features of the camera and whose roots date back to the second decade of XX Century.


As often happens when Leica presents a new product, some voices have already expressed their opinion that ´ The Leica T isn´t more than a camera for wealthy capricious persons and the only thing it provides is the red dot and being seen with it ´.

In my humble understanding, reality is very different.

The Leica T is a very small great camera that maybe doesn´t offer a huge number of novelties in the scope of CSC mirrorless cameras featuring APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensors (in which competence is fierce and there are a lot of firms that have made and go on making excellent models with increasingly better performance), but the ones it provides are indeed meaningful enough to make a difference:

- Its very well thought through and advanced touchscreen user interface in the purest iPhone style, enabling the very easy and fast communication between the photographer and the various inner electronic devices activating the different camera functions.

- The superb mechanical unibody building of the camera, made from a milled special aluminium solid billet, which provides the body with an impressive structural strength and resistance (in spite of the fact that of its 384 g only 94 correspond to its framework of that metal).

- A professional Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH (equivalent to a 28-85 mm in 24 x 36 mm format) that becomes the new benchmark in both resolving power and contrast within the sphere of CSC mirrorless cameras sporting smaller than full frame 24 x 36 mm format sensors, as well as boasting very good mechanical quality and being manufactured in metal.

- A Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH lens (equivalent to a 35 mm f/2 prime in 24 x 36 mm format) featuring 9 elements in 6 groups -two of them being top-notch quality aspherical ones- designed for the 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS APS-C digital sensor and which delivers a splendid image quality, even superior to the very good Fujinon XF 23 mm f/1.4R featuring 11 elements (one of them being an aspherical one) in 8 groups of the Fuji X-Pro 1 between f/2 and f/5.6, which turns it into the new yardstick as to resolving power and contrast in center, borders and corners among the lenses equivalent to 35 mm existing in this field of CSC mirrorless cameras without rangefinder including under 24 x 36 mm size sensors.

- The possibility of coupling through adapter the vast assortment of reference-class Leica M lenses (specially the aspherical ones which due to their impressive optical excellence only need very scarce quantity of software correction).

- A 16 GB internal memory together with the slot for SD cards.


Therefore, this camera has first and foremost been designed and manufactured to work with it and get pictures.

That´s its main aim and the most important purpose for which it has been conceived, since currently a product basing its selling chances only on its design and beauty of lines over its usefulness (however conceptually trend setting it may be, exquisite its shapes and details and fairly high the quality of materials used in its making) would be little short of doomed to failure, even more in the field of APS-C and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless rangefinderless, in which competition is huge and the aforementioned brands have already in the market some very high level cameras, full-fledged flagships featuring very advanced technology along with professional fixed lenses and zooms delivering excellent image quality, in my opinion particularly standing out the Fuji X-Pro 1, the Fuji X-T1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1.

Though it doesn´t seem that Leica wishes to enter into direct competition with those firms respected by the German concern, but rather trying to create a new product niche (the price of approximately 3,000 euros of camera body + professional fixed lens or zoom is evidently high, albeit what is offered in exchange is very interesting, innovative and different), Leica has put its utmost effort, knowledge and experience in the design and manufacture of two utterly professional autofocus lenses: the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH (equivalent to a 35 mm f/2 in full frame format) and the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH (equivalent to a 28-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 in 24 x 36 mm format) which can be chosen to be attached to the Leica T and whose image quality is so high that Leica confirms once more its hierarchy in the optical domain, this time within the APS-C and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless sector, although it´s apparent that the excellent top quality AF primes and zooms made at the moment above all by Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic offer such an image quality that it is more than enough for any professional assignment, as well as sporting a quicker AF than the Leica T-System of Lenses and a more advanced electronics.

The Leica T (Typ 701) is a very capable camera, specially in streeter and travel photography, its two optimal contexts for creation of images, though it can also be successfully used in other genres like landscapes, portraits, etc, thanks to its great versatility and ability to be coupled to either professional top quality AF primes with different focal lengths and luminosities or professional AF zooms of the Leica-T system, they all providing top-notch optical and mechanical excellence, with the added bonus that albeit the lenses don´t feature image stabilizer, the photographer can take great advantage of the very small size and weight of the camera (only 384 g battery included) to shoot handheld without any trepidation at very low shutter speeds up to 1/8 sec, specially if it is used with the accessory electronic viewfinder Visoflex and the camera very near the face.


Leica has made a great bet with the introduction of its new Leica T (Typ 710) with which it has given birth to its T-System of cameras, lenses and accessories, in the nowadays probably most disputed territory in the photographic market: the CSC mirrorless rangefinderless, in which a number of firms have already both in APS-C and Micro Four Thirds formats the previously quoted very high level quality cameras, featuring a comprehensive range of functions and top quality lenses and zooms.

To name only three examples, the Fuji X-T1, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Panasonic GH-4 are cameras sporting forefront electronic technology, with highly developed sensors and very good professional fixed lenses and zooms, besides providing a very fast AF speed, outstanding levels of compactness and a very interesting quality / price ratio.

In such a context in which some already very grounded firms in the mirrorless APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sector have acquired a great know-how, the Wetzlar firm had to match its new Leica T with wholly professional primes and zooms able to synergize with its excellent 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS APS-C sensor and the new image DSP featured by the camera. 

And it has managed to do it.

Obviously, Leica huge experience in the design and manufacture of M lenses for 24 x 36 mm format boasting an amazing degree of miniaturization, exceedingly small weight and dimensions if we bear in mind the sensor big size (it´s much more difficult and expensive to make very little and light optically and mechanically second to none lenses featuring an exceedingly reduced diameter of front lens and very low weight for large sensors than for small or very small ones - not to say the assembling of the metallic barrels and focusing helicoids holding their elements and optical groups - like the Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH, the Summilux-M 24 mm f/1.4 ASPH, the Elmar-M 24 mm f/3.8 ASPH, the Summicron-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH and many others, along with the quantum leap in digital medium format which has meant the development of S-System lenses for the Leica S2 - the most perfect ones ever made together with the Apo-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH for full frame- ) provide the Wetzlar photographic firm with a fundamental previous background and expertise when it comes to tackling any possible downscaling of optical and mechanical concepts aimed at the manufacture of professional primes and zooms for smaller than full frame sensors, in this case for a 16.3 megapixel digital CMOS APS-C sensor made by Sony.

In this regard, 

the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH featuring 9 elements (two of them being aspherical ones) in 6 groups and a weight of 154 g is superb and delivers a splendid image quality even at full aperture and at the nearest focusing distances, with a praiseworthy performance uniformity between f/2 and f/8 turning it into the new benchmark in resolving power and contrast of the mirrorless APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras sector as to this type of fixed lenses equivalent to a 35 mm prime in 24 x 36 mm format.

Both its exceptional optical performance in center, borders and corners and the homogeneity of results obtained on the whole image surface place it from a qualitative viewpoint between Walter Mandler´s Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 versions 4 and 5 and Peter Karbe´s Apo-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH, which is an unprecedented optical exploit, because manufacturing a 23 mm f/2 ASPH lens for APS-C format equivalent to a 35 mm f/2 in 24 x 36 mm format and that it delivers an image quality approaching the best Leica M full frame 50 mm lenses is something posing immense difficulties, since the 24 x 36 mm sensor of a digital Leica M has a 864 mm2 surface with a diagonal of 43.3 mm, while the Sony CMOS APS-C sensor featured by the Leica T has a 370 mm2 surface and a 28.4 mm diagonal.

And there are powerful reasons for it, because the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH is equivalent to a 35 mm f/2 in full format, id est, the photojournalist, reportage, streeter and travel lens par excellence.

On the other hand, the performance of the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH shooting handheld outdoors or indoor under low or very low luminous conditions, daytime or at night, is simply superb and the reference-class lens in this kind of dim available light photographic environments among the equivalent to 35 mm objectives within the mirrorless CSC scope with smaller than full frame sensors.

It also stands out the fact that spherical aberration, field curvature and astigmatism often inherent to a greater or lesser extent to very luminous lenses, have been reduced to negligible levels between f/2 and f/8, with such a high level of optical perfection that there isn´t any presence of astigmatism between the center and corners of the image, with a really commendable uniformity of exceptional contrast and resolution on the entire surface of the frame.

Nevertheless, the Fuji XF 23 mm f/1.4R featuring 11 elements in 8 groups (one of them being aspherical) and a weight of 300 g, aside from being very good and getting an excellent image quality, beats the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH in ability to beget selective focusing, because of its larger maximum aperture.

Bearing in mind the 9 elements (two of them aspherical) in 6 groups configuration shown by this Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH, a highly laudable miniaturization and reduction of weight (only 154 g) has been attained.

On the other hand, unlike the manual focusing Leica M wideangle lenses for full frame, a breed apart in themselves because of the brutally high opto-mechanical qualitative parameters with which they´re designed and manufactured (enabling them to synergize with the current full frame and APS-C sensors and the ones that could appear in future and are much more difficult and expensive to build due to the larger size of the 24 x 36 mm sensor), the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH autofocus has also been formulated and built following optical and mechanical criterions of maximum self-imposed standards of excellence, but specifically optimized for the 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS of the Leica T, with which a perfect symbiosis sensor + lens + image DSP has been fulfilled, resulting in the images produced by this dream lens.

As to the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH professional zoom (equivalent to a 28-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 in full frame), 
it´s true that it could have been more luminous, but a constant widest aperture of f/2.8 would have considerably increased its dimensions and weight, compromising the great innate compactness of the Leica T concept. And of course, it would have been larger, heavier and the price tag much steeper.

Even somebody could think that taking into account its discreet luminosity, this is a normal or simply good zoom lens.

But the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH zoom features such a level of mechanic construction and above all such high resolving power and contrast that turn it into the new benchmark both in mechanic engineering and very specially in image quality among the standard variable focal length zooms presently available in the CSC mirrorless APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sector, above all under normal daylight conditions, both outdoor and indoor.

Nevertheless, the Olympus Zuiko Digital 12-40 mm f/2.8 Pro featuring 14 elements in 9 groups (1 aspherical, 1 double sided aspherical, 1 ED, 2 HR, 1 EDA and 1 HD, 382 g and equivalent to a 24-80 mm), the Fujinon Super EBC 18-55 mm f/2.8-4 LM-OIS sporting 14 elements in 10 groups (3 aspherical and 1 anomalous dispersion, 330 g and equivalent to a 27-84 mm f/2.8-4) and the Panasonic Lumix GX Vario 12-35 mm f/2.8 featuring 14 elements in 9 groups (4 aspherical, 205 g and equivalent to a 24-70 mm) are more luminous and superior in contexts of low or very low ambient light and night photography shooting handheld, as well as taking advantage of efficient image stabilizers, though the excellent f/2.8 profesional zooms of Micro Four Thirds cameras get at full aperture a depth of field equivalent to f/5.6, so they have more difficulties than the professional zooms Samsung f/2-2.8 (cameras Samsung NX300 and NX30), Fujinon f/2.8-4 (camera Fuji X-T1) and Carl Zeiss f/2.8 (cameras Sony NEX-6 and NEX-7) for APS-C sensors when trying to obtain selective focus.
The Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH is a small and light zoom (it only weighs 256 g) for the range of focal lengths it covers, though inevitably, because of the great miniaturization of the Leica T body and the optical scheme intrinsic to a zoom featuring more elements and optical groups than a fixed lens, it is larger than the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH, albeit differences in size are not excessive at all, and it is smaller than most zoom lenses featuring f/3.5-5.6 luminosities of this sector made by different firms.

Coupled to the camera it makes up a very balanced combo resulting in outstanding compactness and remarkable convenience to use, keeping the beauty of lines and tiny dimensions of the Leica-T System concept, with an optical formula of 10 elements in 7 groups (four of them top level aspherical ones with the standard of huge accuracy Leica does them) which is a statement of intent and delivers a superb image quality between f/3.5 and f/11 on its entire range, with the exception of the extreme wideangle 18 mm in which the optical performance falls a bit, something inevitable in the design of high performance zoom lenses, since it is impossible to optimize a zoom for each and every one of its focal lengths.

The designer must choose to specially foster the wideangle, middle or tele stretch of the zoom (having opted in the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/2 ASPH for the zone between 35 and 56 mm), striving after reducing as much as possible the differences in image quality between the wideangle and tele extremes, which has greatly been achieved in this Vario-Elmar-T 18 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH, that likewise exhibits a first-rate mechanic building for the movement of the optical elements, with an accuracy of assembling of them comparable to the static mounting of a prime (featuring fewer elements and optical groups), so its design complexity, manual craftsmanship assembling guidelines by highly specialized employees and use of nothing less than four high end aspherical surfaces, bring about a steep manufacturing cost, so in my viewpoint the price of 1,400 euros is high but not exorbiting considering its virtues and the customary Leica prices with lenses of this level, along with the fact that it is entirely made in metal, a much pricier material than polycarbonates or plastics.

With this Vario-Elmar-T 18 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Leica has managed to create a rather compact and versatile professional standard zoom covering the most frequently used focal lengths between 28 and 85 mm, without being bound to change of lens and displaying a resolving power and contrast along its whole range from wideangle to tele typical in first-rate prime lenses, though regarding microcontrast, bokeh and performance under dim light conditions, it is inferior to the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH (equivalent to a 35 mm f/2 in 24 x 36 mm format), albeit the excellent professional image quality generated by the 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS APS-C Sony from ISO 100 up to ISO 3200 and the smoothness of triggering of the Leica T shutter release button enable it to defend very well shooting hand and wrist between both sensitivities in most photographic contexts that could come up, unless they´re dimly or very dimly lit locations, environments where due to its relatively low luminosity, the AF has more difficulties to nail the focus on every shot, something minimized on shooting subjects from near distances by the AF assisting infrared beam (being emitted from the little black round window placed on top right of the front area of the camera), which is efficient fighting against any possible AF hunting in low light conditions shooting handheld up to around 4.5 meters.   

Whatever it may be, and whilst acknowledging that the manufacturing in a milled aluminium unibody, the beauty of lines, the futurist and simultaneously classic appearance inspired by the deepest roots of Leica and the very well devised back touchscreen working as a smartphone are certainly noteworthy traits of the Leica T (Typ 701), in my standpoint this Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH  also makes a difference, providing high level prime quality of image along its whole range of focal lengths and at every diaphragm, including the shortest focusing distances, except at its 18 mm extreme wideangle where performance drops slightly, so taking into account the very small size and weight of the binomium Leica T + Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH, the very good behavior of the Sony CMOS APS-C sensor at low, medium and high sensitivities up to ISO 3200 and the great speed and efficiency of the new image DSP, in spite of lacking any image stabilizer, this fully professional zoom could only be sometimes operationally limited or showing a bit erratic AF when shooting handheld  in low or very low luminosity environments where the aforementioned likewise professional zooms made by Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic and Samsung, sporting larger maximum aperture in their focal ranges and image stabilizers, are evidently a better choice.


The Leica T is also able to use the very comprehensive assortment of manual focusing Leica M lenses through a special adapter

Leica T with Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 ASPH, equivalent to a 52 mm f/2 with APS-C sensor.

Leica M-Adapter T which detects the 6-bit coding of Leica M lenses featuring aspherical surfaces and other older ones that though not being so perfect, yield a beautiful and distinctive vintage aesthetics of image.

The Leica T peerless robustness in the smaller than full frame 24 x 36 mm sensor mirrorless CSC sector, its very reduced dimensions of 134 x 69 x 33 mm and weight of 384 g (very similar to the very small CSC mirrorless full frame with rangefinder Leica II from 1932 -133 x 67 x 33 mm and 406 g-) and the chance of connecting the Leica M lenses enhance significantly the CSC mirrorless APS-C Leica T-System, always understanding that the key factor to get a good picture will be the person behind the camera and the image itself will always be over its technical aspects.

The Leica T needs approximately 3 seconds to elapse from the moment you turn the power switch from "off " to "on", in my opinion too much time and it should be fixed as soon as possible by means of firmware or any technological resource that could be used by Leica to achieve that aim.


As well as delivering superb levels of sharpness, contrast and colour rendition, the DNG RAW archives generated by the Leica T are of very high quality and if necessary enable the photographer to recover detail aplenty in highlights and shadows, and make possible a wide margin of maneouver applying focusing mask in postproduction without image degradation.

The DNG RAW archives generated by the Leica T are of very high quality and enable the photographer to recover detail aplenty in highlights and shadows, as well as delivering superb levels of sharpness, contrast and colour rendition.

The image of these DNG archives is special and shows a filmic appearance, very in the Leica tradition. We enter here in subjective and personal preferences terrain.

In my opinion, they are very real and vivid colours with which the Leica T follow in the wake of the Kodachrome film, for reality is not so contrasty and chromatically saturated as other kinds of image more related with the Fuji Velvia emulsion and with which the aim is to get a great saturation of colours and very high contrast impacting as much as possible, a perfectly valid route liked by many people, above all in the sphere of landscape photography.

But in my opinion, Leica opts for following the trail of the maximum possible realism in the reproduction of colours, the very faithful capturing of lavish detail and the enhancement of the visual sensation of sharpness as fundamental sides of the type of image it wishes to obtain.

Accordingly, the performance of the new image DSP of the Leica T is very high and makes up an exceedingly efficient trio with the excellent 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS APS-C and the very high resolution (both the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH and the Vario-Elmar-T 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6) which in very satisfactory synergy with them get the most of their optical projection.

The upshot of it all is that Leica has made a toilsome effort to attain with the DNG RAW archives of its Leica T camera a kind of image as much similar as possible to the Leicalike one that along with a number of other seminal factors has been one of its main hallmarks throughout its history.

And it has made it, getting a very filmic sort of image, nothing to do with image appearances often resembling porcelain or plastic.


Accessory 2.36 electronic Visoflex viewfinder boasting a very high resolution of 2.36 megapixels, excellent dioptric adjustment and a GPS.

It stands out because of its new method of being attached to the camera through connections on the internal border of the hot shoe placed on top of the camera.

It also sports an ocular sensor, and its industrial design profile matches well the gorgeous beauty of lines of the camera.

On the other hand,  its swivelling function up to 90º makes it particularly useful to shoot from different unusual angles, above all turned upwards, which enables the photographer to look vertically through the viewfinder and get pictures with utmost levels of discretion, holding the camera at waist level.

In addition, it features a built-in Wi-Fi interacting with the new Leica iOS applications for camera wireless remote control and transmission of images.

In symbiosis with the Leica T it considerably fosters the possibilities of making photographs handheld at very low shutter speeds up to 1/8 sec, thanks to the exceedingly reduced dimensions and weight of the camera, its great balance of masses and the very small size of both the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH prime and the Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH zoom lens.

Evidently, it´d have been even better to provide the Leica T with a built-in electronic or hybrid viewfinder, a side in which three great professional cameras: the Fuji XT-1 (with its superb high resolution and large size EVF), the Fuji X-Pro 1 (with its excellent opto-electronic hybrid viewfinder) and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (with its also top quality electronic viewfinder featuring praiseworthy levels of brilliance and sharpness) are the benchmarks of the CSC mirrorless and rangefinderless sector of cameras sporting APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensors.

Anyway, the EVF Visoflex Typ 020 (whose handling is a a cinch) makes up with the Leica T a highly efficient duo exuding awesome appearance, keeping very significant levels of compactness and above all delivering a great quality of observation to the photographer from every conceivable angle.


The Leica T offers a choice of sensitivities between ISO 100 and ISO 12500, obtaining a great professional image quality up to ISO 3200 (albeit at ISO 3200 there´s a bit of visible noise, compensated by the admirable sharpness of the DNG RAW archives), as a result of the very satisfactory synergy of the 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS APS-C sensor with both the Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH and the Vario-Elmar-T 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH, along with the new image DSP.

Rather than striving after getting operative stratospherically high isos without noise, Leica gives top priority to the obtention of the purest feasible images, so unlike what is currently usual, the Leica T doesn´t feature any in camera noise reduction software that though eliminates the grain to higher or lesser degree, often degrades nuances in high key and low key areas. Hence that the Leica T shows a very slight quantity of visible noise at ISO 1600 and at ISO 3200 it can be appreciated a bit more. 

But the association of this philosophy with the great quality of the DNG RAW archives of the camera enables a remarkable preservation of textures and acutance, so the very slight presence of noise at both isos is compensated, and what´s even more important: a good level of detail in lights and shadows is guaranteed. 

On the other hand, it is interesting to see that the Leica T begins with a sensitivity of ISO 100 instead of ISO 200 (which is the most common trend) with the aim of boosting the use of selective focusing at the widest apertures with the most luminous lenses of the T-System (both the just presented Summicron-T 23 mm f/2 ASPH and the ones that will appear in future), controlling the depth of field as a pivotal side in the field of creative photography, highlighting the focused subjects with respect to the out of focus backgrounds and getting the most of the characteristic beautiful bokeh of the f/2, f/1.4 and 0.95 Leica lenses.

The aforementioned range of sensitivities of the Leica T is more than enough to successfully solve the very wide range of photographic situations this camera is able to deal with, thanks to its image quality, great ease of handling and conspicuously reduced dimensions and weight.


The Leica T is among other many sides a compendium of small details which have thoroughly been taken care of.

The camera feels metallic and sturdy in hands, despite its very little size, weight and dimensions, with an exquisite finishing in aluminium polished for 45 minutes and generating an indescribable smoothness of touch and robustness wherever it´s grabbed.

There isn´t any irregular area or imperfection, because this professional photographic tool is to great extent a handcrafted product manufactured with a lot of hours of strenuous effort, according to the highest level of miniaturized engineering.

Such a simultaneously functional prowess is applied even to the exotic and original locking contrivance for the transport strap,

There aren´t any protruding lugs for carrying straps that could compromise the hugely attractive design of the camera, and instead of them there are two little circular sockets for the straps which are integrated and located on the upper area of each one of the lateral borders of the aluminium Unibody of the Leica T, above the microphones (as can be seen in the image on the left), while after pressing with a tiny key designed for such effect the very small hole just under the cavity in which the locking socket is, the stainless-steel shaft at the extreme of the carrying strap must be pushed into the hole placed in the middle of  the cavity (as can be seen in the image on the right) until click is heard.

Leica has had an experience of almost seventy years in the design and making of lugs and locking systems for the transport straps of its CSC mirrorless cameras since thirties. In the beginning, the lugs were made in brass which was either chromed or black lacquered, but the development of highly luminous Leica M lenses from early fifties brought about the manufacturing start of much more resistant and durable stainless-steel lugs which were connected to a number of models of straps by means of different semicircular stainless-steel attachment rings, which meant an extra production cost, in such a way that it was necessary to set up design teams devoted to this task, in which there were prominent experts like H.J.Uellenberg, who developed from 1977 to late nineties new models of carrying straps made of synthetic fabrics featuring new metallic coupling rings and Ernst Rühl, who from late eighties modified the shape of the stainless-steel rings of the carrying straps in such a way that they greatly secured the clamping to the lugs by means of its combination with small plastic sheaths conceived by him. But with this smart and sophisticated locking system without lugs for its transport straps the new Leica T (Typ 701) has taken a giant stride forward in this scope.

featuring a special highly resistant and durable stainless-steel tip that must be inserted (after pressing with a tiny Leica key on the small hole located just below, which draws the metallic shaft of the socket working as a cover in case you don´t want to use any carrying strap) in a hole inside the cavity milled on the upper area of each one of the lateral sides of the camera and makes possible its transport hanging from the neck or shoulder with utter reliability.

On the other hand, the right top zone of the camera 

The two fluted rounded dials - located behind the on/off button and the small one aimed at the video recording- enable the photographer to choose the sutter speed and diaphragm.

is the only one in which there are control dials (specifically two grooved big ones, inserted in two round gaps milled in the aluminium body and sporting openings on their backs to be handled by the photographer), a small button with a red dot in its center, just in front of the right big dial, and whose mission is to start the HD video recording and a larger on / off  button just on its left.

The mechanizing of every one of these components is simply gorgeous, as happens with the flash cover, located a bit on the left, sporting an elongated shape with bends in its extremes and wholly integrated on the surface, with uncommon elegance and subtleness.

And regarding the receptacle for the battery, it´s also made in aluminium and seamlessly forming a part of the camera body, sporting a special mechanism preventing it from falling to the ground if its holding door opens inadvertently.


The Leica T is the first mirrorless APS-C Leica camera featuring specific bayonet with ability to be coupled to AF interchangeable lenses.

It´s a contrast detection autofocus, rather quick, silent and exceedingly accurate, more than enough to fulfill its photographic tasks with very high levels of reliability and consistency of results.

Nevertheless, it´s far from reaching the lightning AF speed of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (the current world benchmark in this aspect, with its Dual Fast AF System boasting exceedingly advanced electronic technology, which can use both contrast detection AF and 37 AF points through phase detection taking advantage of pixels devoted to it and located in the image sensor itself, according to the chosen focusing mode and the attached lens), the Fuji X-T1 (sporting a likewise exceedingly quick and hugely accurate AF, specially in synergy with the internal focusing LM OIS zoom lenses, as well as providing a continuous autofocus of 9 central AF points – interacting with the area of phase detection of the sensor- which attains an impressive accuracy while shooting in high speed burst mode) or the Panasonic GH4 boasting a 49 areas AF enabling the user to personalize the most interesting areas for him to use and features DFD technology analyzing the scene contrast in two out of focus points to faster help calculate the correct focusing point and is able to focus static subjects in 0.007 seconds.

But it doesn´t present any problem for the Leica T, which evidently is not a camera optimized for the making of sports photography, high speed action, nature pictures with animals running, etc, which doesn´t mean that an experienced photographer couldn´t defend well with it in such contexts.

The Leica T contrast detection AF isn´t obviously as swift as the one featured by the aforementioned cameras from Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic, but it´s fast enough to do its job with competence, since what has been sought above all is the utmost feasible AF accuracy and reliability, and it achieves it in a very high percentage of situations, with eight different types of AF being available:  Center, Multi Area, Selective Single Point, Continuous (up to five frame per second), Single, Touch, Face Detection and Live View.


Shutter release button of the Leica T. On pressing it, the shutter triggering is generated with remarkable smoothness and rather abated noise. Leica engineers have made a great effort in this regard, enhanced by the very silent AF of the professional primes and zooms of the T-System alike.

It´s a horizontal travel focal plane shutter begetting very low sound intensity when shooting, clearly outperforming in this side to dslr professional full frame and entry-level and semiprofessional APS-C dslr cameras.

Logically, it doesn´t reach the exceedingly low noise level, almost imperceptible, of the mechanically controlled horizontal travel rubberized cloth focal plane shutters of the screwmount LTM39 analog full frame Leica cameras from twenties, forties, fifties and early sixties (still nowadays the benchmark as to this aspect and which enabled Peter Magubane to get indoor pictures in South Africa with his CSC mirrorless full frame Leica IIIG stuck into a piece of bread without been detected) or the one brought about by the analog CSC mirrorless full frame Leica M cameras manufactured since 1954 (whose level of mechanical excellence in driving by means of springs, control cams and gear trains operating as delay devices creating the shutter speeds, and the vibrationless working attained by Ludwig Leitz, Willi Stein and Friedrich Gath in early fifties and progressively improved from late seventies by Otto Domes and Peter Loseries hasn´t been surpassed to date) or the one featured by the digital CSC full frame Leica M cameras produced from 2009.

But the Leica T shutter release smoothness and very low noise are laudable and instrumental for attaining discretion on making photographs, particularly in the travel and streeter sphere.


The Leica T enables two modes of video recording in MP4 format:

- Full HD 1920 x 1080p.

- HD 1280 x 720p.

Both at 30 frames/second, with stereo sound recording.

In spite of the outstanding precision and steadiness of results of the AF featured by the lenses of the Leica T-System, the best choice – as always happens in the field of professional video recording- is to use manual focusing.


The mirrorless CSC APS-C Leica T (Typ 701) boasts a very reduced thickness of only 33 mm, identical to the one sported by the mirrorless CSC 24 x 36 mm format Leica II (Model D) from 1932 designed by the genius Oskar Barnack, whose screwmount models were and go on being the smallest full frame cameras ever made having the possibility of coupling interchangeable lenses and for many experts the most beautiful cameras in history, a prodigy of miniaturization, opto-mechanical engineering and manufacture with noble metals. And the Leica T follows in that wake, 

featuring exactly the same amazingly small body depth, currently unrivalled in the sector of mirrorless CSC cameras both in APS-C format (Fuji X-Pro 1 -42.6 mm -, Fujifilm X-T1 -47 mm -, Sony NEX 7 -42.6 mm - , Fuji X-M1 - 39 mm - , Samsung NX300 - 41 mm - , Samsung NX30 - 58 mm -)  and Micro Four Thirds (Olympus OM-D E-M1 - 63 mm -, Panasonic Lumix GH-3 - 82 mm -, Panasonic Lumix GH-4 - 84 mm -). 


The Leica T (Typ 701) features four basic modes of exposure: Program, Aperture Priority, Manual and  Scene: sports, portrait, landscape, night portrait, snow/beach, fireworks, candle light and sunset.

The exposure metering modes are three: Multi Field, Center-Weighted and Spot

The range of available shutter speeds is 1/4000 s – 30 s + B.

And the highest shooting burst is 5 frames / second.

It´s apparent that regarding maximum continuous drive, there are other cameras of the mirrorless APS-C and Micro Four Thirds segment clearly beating the Leica T: Fuji X-T1 (8 fps), Sony NEX-7 (10 fps in speed priority continuous), Olympus OM-D-M1 (10 fps), Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 (12 fps).

And the same happens as to shutter speeds available: Sony NEX-7 (1/6000 sec + 1/30 sec + B), Olympus OM-D-M1 (1/8000 sec- 60 sec + B), Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 (1/8000 sec-60 sec + B).

Anyway, in my opinion the specs of the Leica T in both aspects are more than enough for the photographic tasks it has been conceived.


The Leica T (Typ 701) offers a further singularity certainly unique among the professional cameras featuring this superb level of mechanical building, use of first-class materials and top-drawer primes and zoom lenses both in this CSC mirrorless without rangefinder domain and the rest of sectors and formats (full frame 24 x 36 mm, medium format and large format): its full adaptability to all kind of users, whether they´re persons starting in photography, advanced connoisseurs or professionals with a lot of years of experience.
And it is feasible thanks to the huge potential of its very well devised user interface, making possible the configuration at will of the large touchscreen (3.9 inches and great image quality), with an exceedingly comprehensive variety of options encompassing from the easiest ones for people beginning in photography to the most complex ones for pros, because it is by far the photographic camera made hitherto enabling a greater degree of personalization by the photographer, which facilitates very much its handling and works like a high end Smartphone to a great extent.


As a consequence of the great personality of the just presented Leica T (Typ 701) camera, attention has been mainly paid to its very small size, its attractive and simultaneously futurist and classic design, the quality of the materials and craftsmanship manufacturing standards used in its production, the high grade of miniaturization of the fixed lens and standard zoom with which it has been introduced, etc.

But there´s another pivotal side of this camera meaning a both synchronic and diachronic turning point in practice: the new large size Leica T-System bayonet, fruit of a very painstaking previous study of three years and which is arguably one of the most decisive breakthroughs made by Leica throughout its history along with the mythical four component Leica M System bayonet for interchangeable lenses designed by Hugo Wehrenfenning, patented in 1950 and optimized for the maximum light quantity coming from the optical system of the lenses to arrive at the image corners, activating the corresponding luminous frame in the viewfinder of the camera.

Such Leica M bayonet (whose first CSC mirrorless full frame camera was the Leica M3) has been and goes on being, 64 years after its design, one of the most important technological achievements in the whole history of photography, in flawless synergy with a high precision rangefinder (whose production cost is rather steep - since it´s a masterpiece of engineering made up by 107 components-, approximately equivalent to the price of a CSC APS-C or Micro Four Thirds camera + professional lens or zoom), it all well gounded on the keynotes of integrated rangefinder and the very deep studies on the effect of viewfinder magnification on the effective measuring base developed by Willi Stein, Ludwig Leitz, Willi Keiner, Heinrich Schneider, Robert Eckhard and Erich Mandler and a new Leica M focal plane shutter product of 20 years of research carried out by the genius of miniaturized mechanics Ludwig Leitz (who as early as 1934 patented the basic concept with non rotating dial of shutter speeds and an improvement of its mechanism in 1936 with Willi Stein), complemented with the supervision and some ideas by Friedrich Gath and Willi Stein developed from 1950.

With all of this previous background, it´s no wonder that the new Leica T-System bayonet 

is giving rise to so high levels of expectations, in addition to faturing some conceptual affinities with the Leica M bayonet.

As a matter of fact, in the same way as Hugo Wehrenfenning had the brainstorm of reducing 1 mm the flange to film distance of the Leica M bayonet to enhance its versatility to the utmost and that the LTM39 screwmount lenses of the firm could be used with it, the new Leica T bayonet makes possible to use the extensive assortment of available Leica M lenses  through the special adapter sporting 6-bit coding contacts, thanks to the extremely short distance between its flange and the 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS APS-C sensor.


Therefore, the new T-System is born from the merging between the Leica optical, mechanical and beauty of lines great tradition and the conceptual and intuitive philosophy of the iPhone environment and its highly advanced digital interface, it all in symbiosis with an excellent 16.3 megapixel Sony CMOS APS-C boasting very high performance and a new image DSP, without forgetting the fact that it has been conceived for its use by both amateurs and professional photographers, thanks to its great handling ease, and it inaugurates a new T mount.

Regarding the price, a camera featuring this level of building construction and opto-mechanical excellence, along with the availability of Leica professional primes and zooms can´t be cheap any way, but it seems apparent that such as has been explained by Stefan Daniel, Leica has made a strenuous effort to offer with the Leica T (Typ 710) an interesting quality/price/durability/beauty of lines to make it affordable to people wishing a kind of camera between the mirrorless full frame with rangefinder M cameras (featuring a much higher price tag in bodies and lenses) and the X series cameras, above all if we bear in mind that the greatly manual manufacture of a very advanced and at the same time minimalist camera like this, made of metal through milling from a solid aluminium billet, means a very important design and production cost.

José Manuel Serrano Esparza