When Leica announced the Leica T (Typ. 701) in April/May I was mostly sceptical, but also a little intrigued. I had to look twice at its specifications, especially concerning its 3.7” touch screen. At first glance it seemed extremely ‘un-Leica-ish’ but after holding one, many aspects that are suitably Leica shone through, such as its solid aluminium casing that’s been hand polished for 45 minutes. I have to give the German camera manufacturer credit for being so bold to even think of designing this camera in the first place. The T is an amalgamation of traditional Leica aesthetic and modern ‘smart-phone’ usability. Its 16 Million pixel APS-C sized sensor gives outstanding resolution across a wide range of conditions and it’s a treat to view them on the 1.3 million dot 3.7” LCD screen. With a dedicated movie record button, (one of the few buttons it has) capturing HD quality video is frighteningly simple.

The Leica T includes only 4 physical buttons on its body, including the on/off switch; therefore the touchscreen is the cameras primary interface. I wouldn’t say that the touchscreen menu system is as easy and intuitive to use as the latest smartphone and it can be frustrating trying to locate certain settings that are playing hide and seek in its vast scroll-down menu (like I found trying to change AF modes). I do, however, like the inclusion of a ‘my menu’ style interface (essentially a quick menu), where you can add additional camera settings that are personal to the user and can be quickly accessed if needed.

The Leica T is an interchangeable lens system which means it differentiates itself from its X-series brothers. Currently Leica have produced 2 lenses for the T system, an 18-56mm f3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar and a prime 23mm f2 Summicron. In early 2015 an additional 2 lenses will be available; an 11-23mm f3.5-4.5 and a 55-135mm f3.5-4.5. Considering the T-system mostly consists of zoom lenses, it offers not only the flexibility that comes with using a zoom but also the performance and quality you expect from Leica. It would be unfair to directly compare the T-system lenses with those of the M-series, however Leica have cleverly made available an M-adapter ring. So if you are lucky enough to have a variety of M lenses (or even just one) then you are able to mount them on the T. This is beneficial for those that perhaps own a Leica M film camera and want to branch into the digital domain.

Another accessory that would benefit users who are used to using a viewfinder/rangefinder is the Visoflex. This is an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that fits onto the T’s hot-shoe. For an EVF it does offer a very clear image with all the usual display settings, such as aperture and shutter speed. It is, however, not very subtle in the way it protrudes from the top of the camera (although if you want subtle I wouldn’t recommend the T in the first place). Using the Visoflex also means that whilst looking through it, you can’t use the touchscreen. This is particularly annoying when, for instance, you want to change focus points when you’re in the ‘touch AF’ mode. Changing aperture and shutter speeds is also a little tricky, as the dials that change them are situated next to each other and have the same physical feel to them. So overall using the Visoflex will take a bit of time to feel fully comfortable with.

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend coming in and holding a Leica T, because this is a camera that you need to touch, then admire and then touch some more in order to fully appreciate the design and engineering that has gone into the device. Although ambiguous in terms of its aesthetic and heritage, the T is a camera that you have to respect at least a little bit. When you pick up any Leica camera, you know you have the potential to achieve great results and using the T is no different.

Don't forget the Leica T is available to purchase now from Ace Optics!

Sample Images from the Leica T (Typ. 701) - Click for full-size version:

Leica T Sample Image: Tree

Leica T Sample Image: Park

Leica T Sample Image: Wier

Leica T Sample Image: Park 2

Sample Videos taken with the Leica T (Typ. 701):