Leica’s luxurious $2300 T camera (Typ 701) reviewed

Good cameras aren’t cheap, and better cameras carry heavier price tags than good cameras, so what does a new Leica system aimed at the mirror-less market cost, and is it worth its weight in gold?

Features

There are plenty of mirror-less cameras out there, but how many have the German Leica stamp on them?

The answer to that isn’t many, but with the Leica T in the mix, one of the oldest camera companies is at least trying to change that, releasing its own mirror-less camera with some high-end internals, a body made of premium materials, and a desire to be touched.

Also called the Type 701, the Leica T fits in with Leica’s T system, hence the name, which his a new system designed for smaller lenses. As it’s a new system, there are only two lenses made for this system, with an 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 and a 35mm prime set to f/2.

The Leica T Type 701 relies on a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor developed by Sony (which is also used by Nikon, from what were understand), capable of shooting a sensitivity range from ISO 125 to 12500 in either JPEG or RAW (Adobe DNG), or a combination of both.

Video can also be shot on the Type 701, recorded at Full HD 1920×1080 or High Definition (HD) 1280×720, depending on what you choose.

Like many other cameras, the Leica T relies on SD cards to record images and video, but unlike other cameras, you’ll even find memory on the inside, with 16GB of storage built into the body.

Using the camera, you’ll find a 3.7 inch touchscreen reliant mostly on gestures, but there are a few buttons on the camera to take advantage of, with a power switch which can also flip the internal flash up, a video record button, and two control wheels along the back which will change aperture and shutter speeds if needed.

A hot-shoe mount is also included along the top, as is a tripod mount below and a battery compartment.

The body is made out of a block of aluminium, and in our review model, was silver, but you can find a black model, also.

Performance

Mirror-less shooters are everywhere these days. Panasonic and Olympus have them, as does Samsung, Sony, Nikon, and Canon.

Given that all the big players do them, it makes sense for a big camera brand with only a few digital interchangeable lens cameras to do one itself, and that must mean Leica.

Yes, one of the original camera brands is giving the world of the smaller interchangeable lens system a go with the Leica T, a new system developed for smaller bodies, taking an APS-C sensor and throwing into a body that will make you believe you’re carrying something premium, and marrying it with a 3.7 inch screen.

Does this result in the ultimate mirror-less shooter? Let’s find out.

In the hands, the Typ T is one of those cameras that elicits a mixed response.

On the one hand, it’s impossible not to notice how well built this thing is, because frankly, it’s a tank. It is the MacBook Pro of the camera world, with Leica literally taking a block of aluminium and crafting a camera out of it, hollowing elements from the single brick and making it feel as close to perfect as possible from a build point of view.

Seriously, this is one impressive block of a camera, and you have to marvel at the simplicity applied to its design.

Then there’s the feel, and that’s where things get weird.

It’s not that the Leica Typ 701 is uncomfortable, but it’s odd, feeling too sharp at the corners, and heavy for a small body thanks to the 384g weight. Leica hasn’t applied any coatings to this, so it can also get a touch slippery, making you wonder if or when the T/Typ 701 will slip out of your hands.

Thankfully, there’s a strap included, and it even comes with a proprietary locking mechanism to keep the strap connected to the camera (we say proprietary, but really it’s just like the pin-hole SIM ejector tools used on the iPhone, except applied to a camera). That strap, however, is rubbery and feels cheap in comparison to the high-end camera it’s connected to, making these two items strange bedfellows.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re delighted to see such a solid strap attached to the camera, but we’d have preferred something with a little more leather or fabric, and not something like rubber, which feels cheap in comparison to the rest of the package.

Once you get over the feeling, you can get straight down to shooting, so grab a lens and get going.

Switch the camera on using the toggle up top and the camera switches on, not terribly quickly, but fast enough for most, with a three second gap between off and on.

From there, you’ll find a screen showing your view through the lens, as well as some of the settings you might need to take a picture, with aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus type, white balance, and how many photos you have left from the storage.

It’s all very clear, and credit to Leica has to be given because it’s unlike any other camera, with a wide display that shows the information you need in small details. If you have eye sight problems, you might have issues seeing these, mind you, as they can be relatively small, but we like the look here, as it’s a huge change from the screens that are usually littered with information.

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