Leica have just launched a brand new camera, the Leica T. At the launch event they told us all about how they were aiming at a younger photography loving audience than with the M, which appeals to a more established photographer. The Leica T is extremely modern in how it looks and functions and in my view the most revolutionary and innovative parts of the product are in the way you control the camera through the large touch screen. So let's break down some of the main features.
This is a 16 megapixel APS-C camera that can shoot at ISOs up to 12800. On any other system I wouldn't even mention that it includes autofocus but with Leica that's news. And of course it also means a new range of T system lenses. At launch there are two T lenses, a useful 28-85mm equivalent zoom and a 35mm equivalent f/2.0 prime. Two more lenses are coming but there's also an adapter that lets you attach your existing M lenses.
There is a pop-up flash built in and there are a range of accessories including a rather neat electronic viewfinder that includes a GPS module. There's Wifi control through an iPhone app. The Leica folks at the launch tell me there's also an Android app available to download from the Leica website. Presumably that is coming to the Play store as well. The Leica T also shoots full 1080p video at up to 30 frames per second.
A lot is made of how the body of this camera is milled from a solid block of aluminium - like an Apple Macbook. This makes it very strong, very pretty and a pleasure to hold in your hand. So much so that I found myself wondering if they'd hired Jony Ive to design it. There are Apple-like touches all over from the distinct lack of physical buttons to the rather neat attachment points for the neck strap that won't leave protruding lugs on the side of the camera if you decide to use it without a strap. That design innovation extends into the user interface as well.
The Leica T is almost exclusively controlled using the touch screen. There are two wheels at the top right and the function of those changes depending on what shooting mode you're in. But in addition it's extremely fast and natural to change the function of those wheels. Turn a wheel and buttons appear on screen. Click the button and choose the new function. Simple as that. This makes configuring the camera to suit your shooting style super easy. All the settings in the camera can be accessed through an app-style icon grid and there's a personalised icon grid as well so you can place just the ones you use most often within easy reach.
Playback is also extremely intuitive. Swipe up or down on the screen and you're viewing the last photo taken. Swipe left or right to move between shots - just like on a camera phone. Everything about this interface is extremely well thought out. I've never seen a user interface so intuitive on a camera. It puts Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus and Sony to shame with their cluttered, confusing and inconsistent interfaces.
So the big question is.. How much? This is a Leica after all and they position themselves as the prestige brand in the camera space. So of course it's expensive but not so much as some of their other products like the M. The body-only camera is expected to sell for £1300 and lenses should be about the same. So all-in with the body, a lens and a viewfinder I'd guess you're looking at around £3000. That makes it one of the most affordable Leica cameras, believe it or not.
I had a very pleasant time at the Leica Mayfair store playing with the camera and learning from the staff. This felt like a camera that I would seriously consider owning. I've lusted after a Leica M for ages but the cost has always been prohibitive. This time I'm wondering what I could sell to afford a Leica T.