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Leica T (Typ 701) System Full Review

Leica T (Typ 701) System Full Review - Read our full review of the new Leica T (Typ 701) System, and find out what this premium aluminium camera offers.

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Category : Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
Product : Leica T (701)
Price : £1,350
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (1)

The Leica T (Typ 701) is a new mirrorless camera with a 16.5 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a new Leica T lens mount, built in Wi-Fi, 3.7inch touch screen and 16GB built-in memory. The Leica T is available for £1350 body only, with the Leica Vario Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens priced at £1250, and the Leica Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH lens priced at £1350.

Leica T Typ 701 Features

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (2)

The Leica T is introduced with a Summicron 23mm f/2.0 ASPH. (35mm equivalent in 35mm terms) prime lens, as well as a Vario-Elmar T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. zoom lens, equivalent to 28-85mm in 35mm terms. The camera has a 1.5x crop factor, and an adapter to allow the use of Leica M-mount lenses will be available.

Leica plan to introduce two additional Leica T lenses at Photokina 2014, the Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH. super wide-angle zoom lens (equivalent to 17-35mm), and a Vario-Elmar-T 55-130mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH. telephoto zoom (equivalent to 80-200mm).

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (4)

The camera is introduced with a Leica T app for iOS devices (with an Android app to follow), allowing live view remote control over Wi-Fi, as well as the ability to view, download and share images from the camera to social network sites.

Key Features

  • 16.5mp APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Leica T lens mount
  • 3.7inch, 854x480 resolution touch-screen
  • FullHD, 30fps video recording with stereo sound
  • Wi-Fi built in
  • Built in pop-up flash
  • 5fps continuous shooting
  • ISO100 - ISO12500
  • 16GB memory built-in
  • Flash hot-shoe
  • 400 shot battery life
  • Bundled with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Leica T Typ 701 Handling

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (6)

The Leica T features a stylish bare metal aluminium body, machined from a single block of aluminium. The camera will initially be available in silver, with the black version to follow. The camera has a minimalistic design and the classic red Leica dot on the front of the camera.

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (10)

On top is a flash hot-shoe, stereo microphones, the shutter release button, surrounded by the on/off switch (which has a third position to activate the pop-up flash), a dedicated video record button, and two control wheels. The two control wheels can be used to set the aperture and shutter speeds in the relevant manual modes, or alternatively you can customise the left wheel so that you can change your most used options and settings, such as ISO, exposure compensation, white balance, focus mode, self-timer and flash mode. The camera has full manual modes, P/A/S/M, as well as scene modes for those that want to use the camera as a point and shoot camera.

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (8)

The rear of the camera features a large 3.7inch touch-screen with a high resolution of 1.3million dots (854x480), which is where you can alter a number of settings, as the screen acts as a live viewfinder, as well as a large control panel. The rear is also where you'll find the memory card slot and USB connection, meaning you can upgrade the memory if you want to, or use the USB connection to transfer images from the camera. Manual focus lets you view a 3x or 6x magnified view of the subject.

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (38)

The options available on the control panel can be edited, letting you put your favourite settings within quick reach. There is no playback button, and instead to access the playback mode you simply swipe your finger from the top of the screen down. To remove items from the control panel, you simply hold your finger on the item and drag it to a rubbish bin icon and to add you simply go into the setup screen and drag the icon to the home screen, in a similar way that you can add and remove icons from Android smartphones. 

The camera feels extremely well built, and the camera has a good sized hand-grip, although the smooth finish on the camera does make an optional leather case feel useful for additional grip. The optional grip may also help if you find the corners of the design too sharp, as the carner has quite hard edges. 

The new electronic viewfinder (EVF) is available with built-in GPS, for £400. The viewfinder features a high resolution of 2.4 megapixels, and with dioptre correction as well as a rubber eye-piece is comfortable to use. The camera body weighs 384g with the battery and has a reassuringly solid feel to it. 

Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (9)

Battery life is rated at 400 shots according to Leica / CIPA testing, and the battery locks into place flush with the camera. If you unlock the battery it will not fall out, and instead is kept in place until you gently press it with your finger.

Leica T Panasonic Lumix Gx7

The camera is a similar size to the Panasonic Lumix GX7, shown here for comparison, although with a solid aluminium body, and no built in viewfinder.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response 0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 3.3secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.5secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.6secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
4fps (12 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW (and JPEG) 4fps (12 shots)

Shutter response is quick, and the focus speeds are reasonable, although not as quick as many other mirrorless cameras and Digital SLRs. The switch on time is a little slow, and we were only able to get 4fps continuous shooting from the camera, instead of the expected 5fps. There is no option to shoot just raw.

Leica T Typ 701 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Leica T (Typ 701) Sample Photos


Sample Photos - The camera produces images with good colour, although some may find them a little muted on default settings. Exposure is reliable and images show very good levels of detail. Portraits with flash show no red-eye and good skin tones, although the flash was a little bright in the photo shown above.

Leica T Typ 701 Pink Dots Jpeg

JPEG vs AdobeDNG - We noticed pink, green and blue dots (chromatic aberrations) in some of the JPEG images from the camera, in some specific circumstances where there were high levels of contrast, although it was quite rare. We then compared this to the AdobeDNG raw files opened in Adobe Photoshop CS6 / ACR 8.4beta (no chromatic aberation correction added). This in an enlargement of the "Park Bench" photo above. We would expect this could be fixed with a firmware update, as it appears to be to do with the camera's own image processing.

Leica T (Typ 701) Lens test images


Lens Performance - Images taken with the 18-56mm lens are sharp and detailed at both the wide-angle end as well as the telephoto end of the lens, with sharp detail into the corners of the frame, as you would expect with a Leica lens. Some purple fringing and chromatic aberration is visible towards the corners and edges of the frame when shooting high-contrast subjects. There is barrel and pincushion distortion that is automatically corrected in the JPEG images, so shouldn't cause any issues, although there is slight vignetting visible at the wide-angle end of lens. The lens is quite resistant to flare, even with the sun in the frame. The level of detail recorded is very good and images are sharp and detailed, with pleasing detail in grassy areas for example. Macro performance of the 18-56mm lens isn't great, with the closest focus distance around 32cm from the front of the lens at the telephoto end of the lens.

Shooting with the Vivid film mode increases contrast and saturation which in turn reduces dynamic range in JPEG images, so care will need to be taken to shoot on the standard film mode, although some may find the low colour saturation disappointing. For best results, you can customise the film modes to your own preferences, or shoot raw AdobeDNG images.

Leica T (Typ 701) ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO3200 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced.

At ISO6400 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO12500 is best avoided as noise is at its highest, and detail is low. You can get better results by applying additional noise reduction to the raw files using something like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, as the noise reduction applied to JPEG images from the camera is quite low. 

Leica T (Typ 701) White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs very well under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving an accurate result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights. There are no fluorescent white balance presets available, which shouldn't be a problem as the auto white balance performs so well. 

Leica T (Typ 701) Digital filters


Digital Filters - Film modes available are shown above. You can alter the sharpness, contrast, and (on the colour modes) saturation. 

Video - The camera records full HD video with stereo sound. Video options are quite limited, with a choice of 1080p or 720p resolution, image stabilisation (electronic) on or off, and wind elimination on or off. Video quality appears to be quite good, with the electronic image stabilisation doing a reasonable job. 


Value For Money

The Leica T is available for £1350 body only and comes with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, a one year Leica Passport and a two year warranty. The Leica Vario Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens is priced at £1250, and the Leica Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH is priced at £1350, making it quite a premium compared to other mirrorless compact system cameras, particularly due to the price of the lenses available. Other premium compact system cameras available include the following: 

Samsung Galaxy NX, 20.3 megapixel, Android, Wi-Fi, £949 body only.
Sony Alpha A7, 24.3 megapixel, Wi-Fi, Weather-sealed, £1199 body only.
Olympus OM-D E-M1, 16 megapixel, Wi-Fi, Weather-sealed, £1249 body only.
Panasonic Lumix GH4, 16 megapixel, Wi-Fi, Weather-sealed, £1299 body only.
Fujifilm X-T1, 16 megapixel, Wi-Fi, Weather-sealed, £1049 body only.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Leica T Typ 701 Verdict

The Leica T (Typ 701) is an interesting new take on the mirrorless compact system camera, from one of the most traditional camera companies in the world. Yet the Leica T has been designed with a large 3.7inch touch-screen and built in Wi-Fi to enable instant sharing with the connected world. A Leica designed for a younger generation, and it has a much more wallet friendly price than the £4000 you'd need to buy a Leica M-E Digital Rangefinder (body only), making it one of the cheapest Leica interchangeable lens cameras available. However, you do need to add a lens, and that'll bring the total price to £2600 if you add the 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens as tested here. 

The body of the camera is quite heavy and larger than some other APS-C mirrorless cameras, but with a hand-crafted aluminium body you would be forgiven for thinking the price is justified, as the camera feels extremely well built. The Leica T is not particularly slow, but it is slower than many other mirrorless cameras, with slower continuous shooting, and the camera doesn't feature the fastest focus available. The touch-screen is quite large at 3.7 inches, but also has quite a large frame around it, so it seems a shame that it's not a 4inch screen. The touch-screen is reasonably responsive, but unfortunately doesn't feel as responsive as a modern smartphone.

Thankfully the camera delivers high quality images, with plenty of detail, good colour, and images look good on the touch-screen. To get the best results out of the camera's 16.5 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, we would recommend shooting raw, and processing the images yourself, as there were occasionally a few issues with the JPEG images that come straight from the camera, although for the most part images looked good. If you are in the market for a unique camera, and have the budget to spend, then the Leica T Typ 701 is certainly capable of producing good results, however we'd be tempted to wait for additional lenses to be released before committing to the system, particularly when there is a much larger range of lenses available for alternative systems. 


 
Leica T Typ 701 Aluminium (1)  
  "The Leica T has the feel and look of a premium camera, and delivers sharp detailed images, although there are a few issues we'd like to see resolved before we could whole heartedly recommend the camera. We'd also recommend trying the camera in person to see if the camera feels right for your hands."

Leica T Typ 701 Pros

Hand-crafted aluminium body 
2 year warranty
1 year accidental damage cover
Adobe Lightroom included
Good image quality, sharp images
Wi-Fi connectivity
3.7inch touch-screen
16GB memory built in

Leica T Typ 701 Cons

Multi-coloured dots when shooting JPEG images
Low noise reduction may be too low for some
Switch on time is quite slow
18-56mm lens doesn't focus very close
Maximum magnification for manual focus is 6x
You can only customise the left control dial
Touch-screen not the most responsive

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Leica T (Typ 701) Specifications

ManufacturerLeica
Image Sensor
CCD pixels16.5Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4928
Pixels (H)3264
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.6mm
Sensor Size (height)15.7mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3.7in
Screen resolution854x480
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 12500
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo Data
Interface
HDMINo Data
USBUSB 2
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
CIPA Rating400
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight384g
Width134mm
Height69mm
Depth33mm

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Comments


25 Apr 2014 1:14AM

Quote: which should mean very good noise performance

Looking at the ISO 3200 example the noise performance isn't very good at all, there's a lot of noise in that image

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pablophotographer 3 455 181
25 Apr 2014 1:49PM
21rst century camera with 20th century thinking...
I would like to see it having the ability to shoot in more aspect ratios like 1:1, 4:3, 16:9.
These changes can be done by software ... so the ball is back to you Leica.
26 Apr 2014 5:44PM
As it comes "Bundled" with Lightroom, can it be WiFi "tethered" to the watched folder ?
27 Apr 2014 11:57AM
A pretty thing, sure. But I was a little confused by the Leica press release which said: "The T-System opens up a new target market for Leica a market that applauds craftsmanship."

I'm not sure what they're saying about all those who bought M and X series. I thought people chose Leica over other makers partly because of craftmanship?
joshwa e2
4 600 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2014 9:23AM

Quote: which should mean very good noise performance

Looking at the ISO 3200 example the noise performance isn't very good at all, there's a lot of noise in that image

This has been updated, and we will be able to fully assess noise performance when we have the camera in our office for review,

Thanks

Josh
kodachrome 2 471
29 Apr 2014 12:40PM
If I'm not mistaken, this camera is almost the spitting image of a Samsung NX 200, I wonder?

This surely is more to do with people who want the Leica name hanging round their neck.
Come on Leica, you can do better than this.
joshwa e2
4 600 United Kingdom
8 May 2014 2:24PM
Added ISO test shots taken in our studio, with downloadable raw files.
joshwa e2
4 600 United Kingdom
13 May 2014 11:22AM
Full review now live.
franken e2
12 3.1k 4 Wales
13 May 2014 12:00PM
Fine if the badge is more important than photography.Wink

Ken
Niknut e2
4 542 60 United Kingdom
13 May 2014 4:33PM
2600 for body & 18-56 ????????...........GrinGrinGrinGrinGrinGrin !!!!
18 May 2014 3:58AM
At the risk of drawing the ire of the other commenters here, I have to say I saw the camera at the Washington DC Leica shop. My only disappointment was that it was slightly larger than I had imagined. I have ordered the body, the zoom lens, the M adapter and the accessory viewfinder.

Now the wait for a couple of weeks.
lemmy 7 1.9k United Kingdom
18 May 2014 4:11PM
This is one for Leica aficionados only I'd say.

My disappointment would be that so much money does not seem to provide any better IQ than cameras at a fraction of the price. It is obviously beautifully made but you should expect class leading IQ for this money. With the film Leicas like the M series the lenses were expensive but very special. The lenses for this seem expensive but average. I had a brace of film Leicas but with their rangefinders and quiet shutters they did something that others did not. This seems to follow the herd.

Leica know their market and I expect they will do well with this with their Middle Eastern and Russian clientele for whom that svelte body will be more important than out and out performance.

Certainly if I were sitting on my yacht in St Tropez this summer one of these would be on the bar for my celebrity guests to admire and use. As it is, sitting on my deck chair on Bognor beach, I'll stick with my Tesco point 'n shoot.

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