Leica turns to aluminium for the next camera you can’t afford

Often, the best devices are those that feel like they’ve been made to survive, well, anything. Forget the plastic, we’re talking materials designed for strength, like magnesium, titanium, and aluminium, and it’s in that last one that Leica is turning to for a new camera.

Built from a brick of aluminium, Leica’s T is a newer and more modern camera for a camera company that’s been around longer than most out there, possibly all.

Designed in collaboration with Audi, it’s a cleaner looking device, with a build closer to that of the solid aluminium Apple MacBook Pro and HTC One (M8), with a focus on simplicity thanks to less buttons, a 3.7 inch LCD touchscreen, and support for Leica’s T mount lenses, a new system for Leica which looks to deliver more portability for Leica.

In fact, it’s pretty much solid aluminium, because the Leica T — this one is called the Typ 701 — has been built from a single block of aluminium, making it stronger than pretty much any other camera out there, while keeping the weight down thanks to the material employed.

“The Leica T-System embodies the highest expression of design and craftsmanship,” said Ryan Williams, General Manager of Leica Camera in Australia.

“From the very beginning, the guiding principle behind the design, the use and the handling of Leica T was the creation of the absolute enjoyment of photography.”

Inside the camera is a 16.5 megapixel CMOS sensor (capable of shooting 16.2 megapixels) in both JPEG or Adobe’s Digital Negative RAW format (DNG), with video able to be captured at Full HD’s 1920×1080 format. Some of the other neat specs include low-light sensitivity ranging from ISO 100 to 12500, a built-in flash, 5 frame-per-second shooting, and a curious one based on storage, with 16GB storage found inside the unit and support for more over an SDXC card slot.

WiFi is also built into the unit, supporting 802.11b/g/n and relying on a Leica app for smartphones to send images straight from the camera to the phone or tablet when you need them. Interestingly, iOS is the only operating system supported at release, with no news on Android or Windows Phone at this time.

And then there are accessories, of which there will be quite a few, including bags, cases, and straps.

Oh, and lenses, and there’ll be two of these to start with, including the Leica Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH which is roughly equivalent to a 35mm full-frame lens, and the Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH acting as the kit lens.

More lenses should be along eventually, and while we haven’t seen if a converter for Leica’s other lenses will be made, we can only imagine that’s around the corner, also.

Now to the part you’re probably dreading: the price.

As you can expect, the Leica name carries a fair amount of dollar signs, and the Leica T Type 701 is no different, retailing for $2300 body only in either silver or black. A lens with that will cost you at least $2300 more, which is what the Leica 18-56mm retails for, while the fixed 35mm f2 weighs in at $2500, with a retail availability date of May 26.

One of these days, when we’re rich and have money to throw away, we’ll get one.