Hands-on with Leica’s latest mirrorless
The Leica TL2 is a 24MP mirrorless camera with a one-piece aluminium physique and unequivocally smartphone-like touchscreen control. It has a beautiful pleasing pattern with one of a best reason interfaces you’ll find on any camera. Sadly a stratospheric cost means that few photographers will ever get to knowledge a singular charms.
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Mention Leica and I’ll gamble many photographers immediately consider of a masterfully crafted, out-of-date M-series rangefinder cameras, that have hardly altered given a days of film. But a T-series mirrorless models are about as distant private as it’s probable to imagine. They have neat unibodies painstakingly crafted from a singular retard of aluminium, with customarily a few well-chosen earthy controls complemented by a vast touchscreen that covers many of a camera’s back. They feel like a kind of camera Apple competence make – stylish, minimalist, yet still rarely functional.
Oh, and expensive. Very, unequivocally expensive. The TL2 will cost £1700 physique only, that is identical income to a best APS-C mirrorless models on a market, such as a Sony Alpha 6300 and a Fujifilm X-T2. But to indeed use it you’ll also need to buy a lens, with a matched Vario Elmar TL 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH wizz costing £1300.
Leica TL2 – Features
The Leica TL2 is an refurbish of a TL that was introduced customarily 8 months ago, that itself was a comparatively teenager rider of a bizarre Leica T from 2014. This latest indication uses a unequivocally identical pattern yet adds an array of improvements, with a many apparent being a 24-million-pixel sensor (up from 16MP). One underline that’s been forsaken is a TL’s pop-up flash, yet we don’t consider many users will skip it. Far some-more problematic, given a camera’s distance and price, is a continued miss of a built-in electronic viewfinder. You can use an appendage section on a prohibited shoe, in a figure of a £390 Leica Visoflex, yet it’s not an superb solution.
With a 24-million-pixel sensor, a Leica TL2 moves into line with other stream APS-C mirrorless models in terms of resolution. Coupled with a Maestro II processor, it provides a attraction operation of ISO 100-50,000, and a TL2 includes a well-considered Auto ISO mode that aims to keep shiver speeds high to discharge blurring from camera shake. This is utterly important, as conjunction a camera nor a dedicated TL lenses embody pattern stabilisation, that in this day and age is a unequivocally bizarre repudiation indeed.
The automatic shiver provides a operation of 30sec to 1/4000sec, with a new wordless fully-electronic shiver fluctuating this to 1/40,000sec. It also allows faster continual shooting, during 20 frames per second compared to 7 fps with a automatic shutter, with a useful 29-frame aegis even when sharpened raw. But it seems a customarily approach to name a electronic shiver is to manually set a speed faster afterwards 1/4000sec, so distinct with other cameras we can’t simply use it in situations that need a camera to make no sound – hopefully Leica will repair this with a destiny firmware update. Thankfully a automatic shiver is flattering still anyway.
Unusually, a TL2 includes inner memory for recording files, and during 32GB it’s a unequivocally decent volume – adequate to record around 400 files in JPEG + DNG tender format. Some users competence even confirm they don’t need to buy an SD label during all. The camera can duplicate a images you’ve taken from a SD to a inner memory (or clamp versa), that can be used to behind adult your cinema after shooting, or get images off a camera yet carrying to retard it into a mechanism regulating a USB-C socket. Unfortunately yet we can’t record files to both a SD label and inner memory simultaneously.
For energy Leica has used a same BP-DC13 battery as in a comparison T-series models, that deftly slots into a cell in a bottom of a camera with no need for a required battery door, as we can see in a pattern above. However where this formerly gave 400 shots per charge, in a TL2 it’s rated for customarily 250 formed on CIPA customary testing, that is rather disappointing. In unsentimental use it didn’t seem to final unequivocally long, either.
Wi-Fi is built-in for remote control of a camera and pity images to a smartphone or tablet, regulating a giveaway Leica TL app for Android and iOS. Unfortunately a app hasn’t been updated to be concordant with a TL2 during a time of writing, yet with prior models Leica’s Wi-Fi doing has worked ideally well.
Leica has enclosed 4K video recording during 3840 x 2160 fortitude and 30fps, alongside Full HD (1920 x 1080) during 60fps. There’s also a 120fps slow-motion mode, and electronic pattern stabilisation. But there’s no trickery to insert an outmost microphone, so sound is accessible utterly by a built-in stereo microphones possibly side of a camera’s prohibited shoe. However there’s an HDMI outlay for joining a camera to a TV, dim behind a tag in side along with a USB-C connector and a SD label clot.
Once we get over a core spec, a TL2 offers unequivocally tiny in a approach of extras. For instance we don’t get any kind of energetic operation enlargement collection for sharpened JPEGs, in-camera tender conversion, an intervalometer, or even built-in electronic levels. It’s also value observant that Leica customarily creates a tiny operation of matched TL lenses, and they’re eye-wateringly expensive. It’s probable to use Leica’s famous M-mount lens range, yet you’ll need to buy a £300 M-adapter L to do so.
Leica TL2 – Build and handing
When it comes to design, a Leica TL2 follows on from a predecessors in being utterly distinct anything else on a market. Other cameras use a steel framework onto that a inner components are bolted – sensor, shutter, processor house etc – with a cosmetic skin afterwards placed over a top. However a TL2 has a unibody pattern crafted from a plain retard of magnesium, into that those components are attached. This brings a singular clarity of peculiarity and reduction when we collect it up. But it also means a camera is utterly vast and heavy, measuring 134 x 69 x 33mm and weighing in during 399g, before we even supplement a lens.
The shoal yet far-reaching handhold gives a surprisingly secure hold, notwithstanding a body’s silky well-spoken finish. However if you’d like a total confidence of a strap, in a delight of character over piece Leica has used totally appropriateness plug-in connectors, and zero else will fit. Attach a granted silicone tag and you’ll find it creates a camera reduction gentle to grasp, with a connector digging in between your forefinger and center finger.
The camera’s radical pattern extends to a back, that has no buttons or dials during all. Instead there’s customarily a vast touchscreen that’s used to change roughly each setting. Unlike on other cameras, Leica hasn’t total touch-sensitivity as an afterthought by bettering a pre-existing interface designed for button-driven operation; instead it’s built a new interface from a belligerent up, with vast well-spaced buttons and a unchanging design. You get a entirely user-customisable discerning menu for your most-used settings, while a categorical camera menu is logically organized into a set of 9 sub-menus. It’s all unequivocally discerning and discerning to learn.
There are still a few earthy controls, of course, and aside from a lens recover symbol on a front, they’re all located on a top-plate. The energy switch encircles a required two-stage shiver button; as common a half-press activates autofocus, while entirely dire a symbol takes a picture. Beside it is a video record button, yet in a pierce that should greatfully precisionist photographers, this can be re-assigned to possibly enter playback mode, or switch between a electronic viewfinder and a LCD shade instead.
Twin electronic dials are used to change a categorical bearing settings while you’re shooting. In manual-exposure mode, one changes shiver speed and a other, aperture. In a other modes a left dial can be quick switched between a operation of options, many usefully bearing remuneration and ISO, regulating an onscreen emnu we can see in a pattern above. To assistance we name your bearing settings, a camera previews onscreen how light or dim your pattern will spin out, and when we half-press a shiver symbol it stops down a orifice to preview abyss of field. Overall this set-up works remarkably well.
Leica TL2 – Autofocus
The TL2 uses a contrast-detection autofocus system, that operates opposite roughly a whole frame. You can concede a camera to name a concentration indicate itself, in that box it will customarily concentration on a closest theme within a 7×7 grid. Face showing is also available, with a camera descending behind on automobile preference if it fails to find a chairman in a picture. But we elite to use reason concentration mode, in that we simply daub a shade to name your concentration point. With a 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom, focusing is fast, wordless and accurate, and with immobile subjects there’s unequivocally zero to protest about during all.
Manual concentration is also accessible with a choice of concentration aids. Magnified perspective comes with a choice of 3x or 6x, yet it’s always in a centre of a frame; there doesn’t seem to be any approach to mention an off-centre subject, that we can do on any other mirrorless camera. The TL2 also adds a peaking mode in that high-contrast edges are summarized in red; this can be total with magnified perspective if we like.
Leica TL2 – Performance
In use a TL2 is mostly flattering nimble. It turns on in a fragment of a second, and reacts near-instantly to a shiver symbol being depressed. The touchscreen is generally unequivocally responsive, nonetheless it can infrequently be infrequently demure to respond to your commands when we get deeper into a menus. About a customarily time a camera leaves we watchful is when essay a full detonate of images to a memory card, during that we can’t enter playback mode to inspect your shots.
If we leave a camera to a possess inclination it likes to arrangement images clearly brightly, that in spin risks losing prominence fact irrevocably. So it’s best to keep a tighten eye on your exposures while shooting, and we mostly found myself requesting disastrous bearing remuneration to tinge things down, aided by a live histogram display. In a shot next we had to request -1EV remuneration to equivocate losing fact on a overpass and in a sky.
When it comes to pattern quality, it’s unequivocally many a diversion of dual halves. The JPEG files constructed in a TL2’s Standard Film Mode are uninspiring to contend a least, with decidedly sickly colour delivery – we can see this in a sky and brickwork of Tower Bridge. I’m certain Leica would explain that they’re colourimetrically accurate, yet that’s not what many photographers wish to see. For bland sharpened I’d be tempted to strike adult a superfluity or nick or two. Another choice competence be to use a Vivid environment instead, that gives many some-more appealing colours, yet on a other palm a high-contrast tinge bend clips shade fact heavily, so name your poison. Monochrome shooters should during slightest conclude a camera’s BW High Contrast mode, that can give some flattering good results.
Switch to raw, though, and a peculiarity of a camera’s sensor shines through. It resolves lots of excellent hardness during low ISO settings, and there’s copiousness of range for extracting fact from low shadows yet extreme noise. The pattern above was processed from tender regulating Adobe Camera Raw, and a disproportion from a analogous JPEG is huge, with many stronger colour. High ISOs seem to be remarkably serviceable too; a pattern next was shot during ISO 4000.
With a peculiarity of stream APS-C sensors, though, this is zero out of a ordinary. You’d get identical tender pattern peculiarity (and immeasurably some-more appealing JPEGs) from a £500 Fujifilm X-A3, that costs around £500 finish with lens. At slightest with a TL2 recording a tender files in a DNG format, we don’t have to refurbish a your program on your mechanism merely to get it to recognize a camera’s tender files.
The Leica TL2 is in many ways a poetic camera, yet it’s also a mass of contradictions. With a neat aluminium physique and touchscreen-based interface, it’s simply not what you’d pattern a normal camera association like Leica to make. But it mostly works unequivocally well, and notwithstanding a blocky-looking figure is suddenly pleasing to reason and fire with. we pronounced progressing that this is a kind of camera we competence pattern Apple to make, and we can’t assistance yet consider that everybody would be vehemence about it if they had.
The thing is though, we also can’t assistance yet consider that it’s customarily not what photographers wish from Leica. If you’re going compensate a outrageous reward for that famous red dot, chances are we know a firm’s birthright and a kind of camera it does best. But distinct a M rangefinders, or a equally poetic fixed-lens, full-frame Leica Q, there’s no apparent ground for selecting a TL2 formed on a bravery as a detailed tool.
Instead, you’re being asked to flare out your income for what is, when all is pronounced and done, a sincerely elementary APS-C mirrorless camera that customarily happens to have been beautifully, yet above all expensively crafted from a plain retard of metal. And while it includes some good ideas we won’t find anywhere else, it also lacks pivotal facilities such as pattern stabilisation. To buy it, you’d unequivocally have to value pattern and character over practicality.
This is a shame, since a camera this engaging unequivocally deserves to be gifted by some-more people. But eventually a TL2 customarily costs approach too many for what’s on offer. If you’ve got £3000 blazing a hole in your slot and wish to buy a Leica, we should substantially do yourself a foster and put it towards a Q instead.