Camera Tested: Leica T – Sensor: APS-C CMOS (1.6x Crop factor) – Leica 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Vario-Elmar-T Black Lens
First thing first – right out of the bag. What’s really neat about this camera is that it’s a unibody, machined from a single 1.6kg aluminium billet and designed in collaboration with Audi, and available in silver (right now) or black (ETA July). Without an external shell or panel seams to be found anywhere this camera feels built to last. It’s solid and hefty but not heavy. It’s got a huge 3.7″ screen with resolution slighter lower than you’ll find an i-phone, it’s touch sensitive and covered in Gorilla Glass. The camera feels great to hold, it’s got a neat, comfortable grip.
The only real physical drawback I found (and it’s really a minor quibble) is the proprietary strap attachments, while they are very clean and neat looking, strap options are limited – other colours of the silicon strap are available but so far there is only the one style/material available for the T System.
Enough about how it looks and feels though, onward to how it performs. I set the camera to “Super Fine Jpeg” and DNG and for the purposes of the review I’m showing the unaltered, straight out of camera jpegs.
This first shot was taken using the camera’s AE mode with centre-weighted metering and focused using the “touch focus” focusing mode. I really had to rely on the camera’s exposuring here because I was working without the optional EVF and it was next to impossible see the scene properly due to glare. Turns out trusting the camera wasn’t a bad call at all. What amazes about this shot is the amount of detail seen in the shadows. After firing off a couple shots of this mildly interesting construction site it was off to find a more interesting, people filled, location to shoot. If you’re living downtown Toronto and there’s sun in the sky and warmth enough to be in a t-shirt you can bet dollars to doughnuts (or in this case, craft beer to raybans) that Trinity Bellwoods Park will be buzzing with all sorts of activity and interesting folk to observe and shoot.
This next shot has been edited, I had just attached the EVF and got excited about finally being able to see the image I was taking that I overexposed the shot by about a stop, I also added a bit of contrast and upped the vibrance a bit, but even with a stop overexposed the camera’s DNG file was able to churn out a great image with about 15 seconds worth of work in Adobe Camera RAW.
With my newfound confidence thanks to the EVF I decided to approach this friendly looking bunch to get a shot.This camera is silent, sleek looking and not at all intimiating. Having shot with almost exclusively with DSLRS it can often become an obstacle between you and your subject but having this little Leica was freeing, in fact it quickly became a conversation piece.
Fun thing I noticed with using the EVF, aside from no longer having to deal with glare and having renewed manual focusing abilities again this camera actually shows you an exposure preview of your shot when you depress the shutter half-way. This is incredibly handy as it means you can see (not just previsualize in your mind) the final shot. I think this is my favourite feature of the camera.
With activity winding down at the park due to pending rain I hopped on my bicycle and headed off in search of fun colours and opportunities to test out more features and options. One of the things I wanted to check on this camera is how is renders colours so I headed to one place I know would be full of them; Toronto’s back alleys along West Queen West, since the light kept changing due to the rain clouds slowly rolling in I decided to try out the Auto ISO Mode.
Moving along the alleys I came across the back of a really neat restaurant and noticed the perfect opportunity to test out how the auto white balance and ISO on this camera works in mixed lighting conditions. If you look closely you’ll see me in the photo because what camera review is complete without a selfie? I think the camera handled the mixed lighting amazingly well, but it is noticeably noisier at ISO6400.
What I love about this camera is that it’s super lightweight and easy to use, so easy to use in fact you can do it one-handed from a stationary bicycle with one hand on the handlebars and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Which was the exact manner I caught this shot.
With the clouds rolling in and the evening’s light quickly disappearing it was time to head home – heavy-hearted in knowing that my 24 hours holding my first Leica was quickly coming to an end and I had to return the camera. My final summary: I didn’t want to bring it back.