April 24, 2014

The Leica T System

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann: About the Essence from Leica Camera on Vimeo.

Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG, introduces the Leica T System and speaks on its design, real craftsmanship and ease of use – a symbiosis of the best. Leica – “das Wesentliche.”  I have a few observations.

So what is the Leica T System? It is a new APS-C size sensor camera system, long ago rumored to be in development. I can’t say much on the Leica T System ability to take photographs, as I haven’t actually seen anything yet save for the press release. But then this is a Leica so I can be assured it will have an excellent lens. I use Leica lenses on all of my cameras and have for many years. I guess given that this is a Leica means something more to me. Not so cult like as many of the rabid forum fans, or as pedestrian as a luxury emblem of success, worn like a piece of expensive jewelry. A Leica for me is a memory of many adventures. Adventures of my own, created with Leica cameras. I want this new Leica to be everything it claims to be. Because if it is, it is going to make my life as a hybrid storyteller much simpler going forward.

So I called my old friend, David Farkas, at Leica Store Miami to ask his opinion.  David has been a friend and my own Leica dealer for several years.  David and I have even gone shooting together a few times.  Outside of a Leica employee, David is the most knowledgable person I know about the Leica system cameras.  Like Leica themselves, David is obsessed with all things Leica.  So as expected, David has an early copy of the Leica T System and has been shooting it in the Arizona desert the past week.  I won’t steal his own thunder as he is finishing up his own review of the Leica T System (with actual image samples!).  As soon as it is posted, it will be available here: http://www.reddotforum.com

David did tell me:

“Arizona was “hot light.”  Very bright sun….  Not a great place to be testing a new camera….  The Leica T System did exceptionally well….  I tested several of my M lenses on it against the two T lenses, and found the T lenses to be remarkably close to the M lens quality…. I am impressed with the depth of the files in post processing…. I am not so caught up in number of f stops of dynamic range, I am more concerned with how does the overall image look, is it pretty?….”

I guess, in the end, that sort of says it all.  If it can produce pretty images, then it is a worthy Leica camera.  Leica claims in their marketing material The Leica T-System follows its own unique principle of reduction to the essence – and complete dedication to the joy of photography.”  My friend David Farkas agrees.   The T System in his opinion is not only the first Leica camera with Autofocus, it is one of the quietest autofocus systems out there, and a nearly silent shutter.  He compared my A7R shutter to the sounds of a canon going off across the room.

 

 

The New Leica T System, In Silver, With Optional EVF & Optional Lens.

The New Leica T System, In Silver, With Optional EVF & Optional 18-56mm Zoom Lens.

I smile as I watch Dr. Kaufmann tell us of his pride in the creation of the Leica T System. I can feel his words. I’ve also enjoyed many happy years of visceral, tactile sensations in the field using my own “R” and “M” system cameras. I’ve owned every Leica Digital system made in 35mm format, from the original DMR to and including the M9 and loved every one of them in their day. I’ve also a mature life’s perspective and a long set of experiences using my own Leica’s in harsh conditions. They have never let me down, I always got the picture I was capable of shooting, and without the camera getting in my way while doing it. The Leica way of working is my way of working. Simple. Direct. In Control of everything, as precisely as possible. Very German, and very Leica.

Leica T Camera In Black, With Optional T-M Adapter & Optional 50mm Summilux M.

Leica T Camera In Black, With Optional T-M Adapter & Optional 50mm Summilux M.

When you add in the fact that Dr. Kaufmann has added his brand and voice so effectively to the launch of the Leica T System, it also becomes a whole new concept in luxury. Forty five minutes to hand polish a camera body is ridiculous, right? Go feel it. Nothing feels as good to the hand as a finely crafted, hand finished object. Leica gets this, use the machines for the roughing out, but hand finish it for the polish and craftsmanship. Wow. Who can argue with that? They even go so far as to SHOW us it is true!

The Most Boring Ad Ever Made? from Leica Camera on Vimeo.

Is this the most boring ad ever made? Not if you appreciate obsessive craftsmanship. Or you’re looking for a job as a Leica T System camera polisher.   It could be a VERY long lived career.  Leica Camera employees spend 45 minutes polishing the new Leica T by hand. Watch for yourself and decide. Boring or not?  Life lived, 45 minutes at a time.

This is a brilliant piece of “personalized” promotional storytelling. Without a question, this is one of the best promotional branding pieces I have ever seen. Since promotional marketing is my own field of expertise, I fully understand of what I speak. If this new Leica T System is anywhere near as good as this new Leica movie story of how it is made, then it is going to be once whale of a great camera, and something we all will need to own.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.  That 23mm lens is all I would need.  Most surprisingly, the cost is also right in the ballpark with the premium APS-C size sensor cameras and the lenses are also competitive.  From Leica – “das Wesentliche!” Fuji:  Justin Stailey, be afraid… be very afraid!

Leica T (Typ 701) Black or Silver $1,850 USD.  Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56 f/3.5-5.6 ASPH $1,750 USD.  Leica Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH $1,950.  Leica M-Adapter-T $395 USD.

Key Features:

‣ Easy, instinctive use with touch screen control

‣ 3.7” high-resolution touch screen

‣ 16MP APS-C Sensor with outstanding picture quality

‣ 16GB of built-in memory

‣ M adapter accepts more than twenty M-System Lenses

‣ Unique customizable menu interface

‣ First system camera with integrated Wi-Fi

‣ Leica T iOS App

‣ Leica uni-body chassis milled from a single block of aluminum

and hand assembled in Germany

‣ Range of classic and timeless accessories

Camera Description:

The new Leica T offers a minimalist design that’s crafted from a single block of aluminum.  Made in Germany and assembled by hand, this 16.3 effective mega pixel camera is easy to use.  With a massive 3.7″ TFT LCD intuitive touch screen control, the user is able to configure and save their own menu system.  The Leica T has outstanding image quality and also has 16GB of built in memory.  This is Leica’s first system camera to use Wi-Fi.  Add the T-App to your portable iOS device and be able to transfer and share your images (free download from the Apple App Store)

There are many accessories to accompany the T-system.  Personalize the system with a colorful T-SNAP, T-FLAP, Carry strap, Hand strap, Holster, Leather Holster, Leather protector or Leather system bag.   Using the quick release pin system, you can use a neck strap or switch to a wrist strap fast and easy.

One of the hottest accessory items this system will offer is the the M-adapter.  This adapter will let the camera accept more than 20 Leica M lenses.

Technical Specifications:

Lens ConnectionLeica T bayonet fitting with contact strip for communication between lens and cameras
Lens SystemLeica T lenses
SensorCMOS sensor, size APS-C (23.6 x 15.7 mm) with 16.5/16.3 million pixels (total/effective), format aspect ratio 3:2
ResolutionJPEG:4928 x 3264 (16 megapixels), 4272 x 2856 (12.2 megapixels), 3264 x 2160 (7 megapixels), 2144 x 1424 (3 megapixels), 1632 x 1080 (1.8 megapixels), DNG: 4944 x 3278 pixels
Picture data file formats / compression ratesSelectable: JPG Superfine, JPG Fine, DNG + JPG Superfine, DNG + JPG Fine
Video Recording FormatMP4
Video resolution / frame rateSelectable: 1920 x 1080 p, 30 fps or 1280 x 720 p, 30 fps
Storage media16 GB internal memory; SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, multimedia cards
ISO rangeAutomatic, ISO 100 to ISO 12500
White balanceAutomatic, presets for daylight, cloud, halogen lighting, shadow, electronic flash, two manual settings, manual color temperature setting
Autofocus systemContrast based
Autofocus metering methodsSingle point, multiple point, spot, face detection, touch AF
Exposure modesAutomatic program, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, manual setting, scene exposure modes: Fully automatic, sport, portrait, landscape, night portrait, snow/beach, fireworks, candlelight, sunset
Exposure meteringMultiple field, center weighted, spot
Exposure compensation3 EV in 1/3 EV increments
Automatic bracketingThree pictures in graduations up to 3 EV, adjustable in 1/3 EV increments
Shutter speed range30 s to 1/4000 s
Picture seriesApprox. 5 FPS, 12 pictures with constant picture frequency, then depending on memory card properties
Flash modesAutomatic, automatic / red eye reduction, always on, always on / red eye reduction, slow sync, slow sync / red eye reduction
Flash exposure compensation3 EV in 1/3 EV increments
Flash synchronizationSync time: 1 / 180 s
Guide number of built-in flash unitfor ISO 100
Recovery time of built-in flash unitApprox. 5 s with fully charged battery
Monitor3.7’ TFT LCD, 1.3 million pixels, 854 x 480 per color channel
Self timerSelectable delay time 2 or 12 s
WLANComplies with IEEE 802.11b/g/n standard (standard WLAN protocol), channel 1-11, encryption method: WiFi compatible WPA / WPA2, access method: Infrastructure operation
Power supplyLeica BP-DC 13 lithium ion battery, rated voltage 7.4 V, capacity 1040 mAh (based on CIPA standard); approx. 400 pictures, charging time (after total discharge); approx. 160 min
ConnectionsMicro USB port (2.0 High Speed), Leica flash interface with integrated connection for optional accessories; battery charging via USB connection with possible with max. 1A
ChargerLeica BC-DC13, input: AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz, automatic reversing, Output: DC 8, 4V 0, 65A, Weight: approx. 90g, Dimensions: approx. 96 X 68 X 28 mm
BodyLeica unibody solid aluminum design, two removable dummy plugs for carrying strap and other accessories, ISO flash shoe with center and control contacts for connection of more powerful external flash units, e.g. Leica SF 26 or for attaching the Leica Visoflex electronic viewfinder
Tripod threadA 1/4 DIN 4503 91/4”)
Dimensions134 x 69 x 33 mm
WeightApprox. 384 g / 339 g (with / without battery
Items suppliedCamera body, carrying strap, 2 carrying strap release pins for detaching the carrying strap, battery (Leica DP-DC13), charger (Leica BC-DC13) with 6 adapter plugs, USB cable
SoftwareAdobe Photoshp Lightroom (free download after registration of camera), Leica T app for iOS (remote control and image transfer, free download from Apple App-Store
Warranty2 years

 

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  1. Cannon or Canon?

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About Chuck Jones

Digital Media Producer, Photographer, Video Storyteller, Cinemagraph Master. Only Semi-Reformed Hippy. Managing Editor of http://TheCameraForum.Com

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Cameras, Leica T System

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