Leica's announcement of their new mirrorless camera, Leica T (Typ 701) ($1,850), presents both attractive and challenging features for the nimble photographer. I thought that I would provide a quick overview of both.
On the plus side, the design and production of the camera looks top-drawer. To take a chunk of high-quality aluminum and sculpt a camera from it is very impressive - not to mention the hour of hand-polishing that ensues.
I haven't held the camera myself, but even looking at it in pictures and knowing what I know about solid aluminum design, it's not much of a leap of faith to understand that this camera is special.
I also like that they chose to go with a very modern design, instead of the retro look that's currently popular. My regular readers know that I absolutely love the retro look featured in the OM-D and the Fujifilm X20. But those cameras already exist. Leica is creating a whole new design aesthetic in the mirrorless space.
I have some inside information about the internal workings of the camera as well. Image quality will be outstanding. And the Wi-Fi interaction with the iOS app should be solid. I think Leica has done an excellent job here, creating not only a modern classic in terms of looks, but also in terms of mobile functionality.
In terms of red flags, there are a few. First, the choice not to include image stabilization in either the body or the lenses, I think this is a bad decision. I read that Leica felt optical stabilization would compromise the quality of the lenses. I'm not qualified to know either way. But I do know, that for me, image stabilization is important, And I would miss it on this camera.
I think the price is a bit steep, not so much for the body, but for the 18-55mm kit lens - $1,750. If it were $500 or $600, then we could get started with the T-System for less than $2500, and I think that would attract more well-healed nimble photographers.
And finally, I do like buttons - and there aren't any on the back of the camera. So it remains to be seen how this plays out in real-time use.
Those concerns aside, I welcome the Leica T-System to the mirrorless camera space. I know more lenses will follow, and I think we will see interesting variations on this initial body. I'm going to enjoy watching this story play out.
If I can get my hands on one, I'll definitely follow up with a field report.
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