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nicci78

Leica T review in 2019

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Yes I proudly bought a T in 2019. This is why.

What's good :

  • IQ 16MP without AA is very very sharp. 
  • Ultra fast startup time, faster than Q or CL. Crazy. 
  • Full USB camera ! No need to remove SD card and battery. Everything through any USB cable : charging and downloading files. So nice to be able to use any external battery on the go. 
  • AF is fast in good light. OK in dim situations. But nothing like Q or CL. 
  • Face detect AF works well, do not hesitate to use it. 
  • The digital distance scale is genius. Therefore only T, TL and TL2 can use TL lenses in hyperfocal ! So no AF problem at, because no focusing is faster than any AF. Yeah ! CL has to use adapted M lenses to do so. APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm is now usable in MF mode. 
  • Good pop up flash (as good as such tiny flash can be) Totally usable, nice flash metering, no red eye (no need to activate red eye mode, nice) and no washout face. So high ISO problem mostly solved. I even like its results better than my SF-40, because T's flash is more consistent. 
  • Better handhold ability, thanks to 16MP sensor. Therefore you can choose confidently to shoot at 2x speed against focal length. Q 2x is possible but not reliable so I stick to 1/125sec. CL needs 3x
  • Extremely good looking and wonderful build quality. Nothing is nicer. On par with Leica M10. Way better than already superb Q and CL. 
  • Best ergonomics : easy flash access, touch screen menus are excellent, double scroll wheel are very efficient. And excellent grip design. Way better than Ms, Q, CL or SL. Within dry hands it is not slippery at all. I love it. No need for stupid optional SD+battery blocking handgrip.
  • Removable strap lugs. I can use it confidently without any strap. I also remove strap lugs for better design and ergonomics
  • Awesome battery life for a mirrorless. No need for second battery. Double battery life than CL. Even when using flash third of the time. And battery latch is genius. Battery charger with integrated plugs is the best of all Leica external charger. 
  • Huge touch screen is nice, I didn't thought I would like it better than CL, Q or M10 menus. It is different and I love it. Easiest menus in industry. 
  • Thinner and sleeker than CL. Slips more easily in jacket pocket.
  • Life saving internal memory. Though quite slow

 

What's not so good :

  • High ISO is not Q or CL level. Nice until 6400. Use flash for dimmer places.
  • Operationally it's a mixed bag. Very fast startup and wake up time. No shutter lag. But half sec blackout. Touch operations should be faster. T is very usable, but not as fast as Q or CL.
  • Can get quite cold when used in minus 0°C weather. Yes it is a pure block of aluminium.
  • Video quality is very bad in low light. Video AF hunts too much. Almost useless when light is lacking. 
  • SD card is hard to remove
  • Buffer is too small
  • Stupid no DNG mode only
  • Firmware bug : impossible to deactivate auto review
  • No exposure preview. So you have to rely on auto preview to check exposure. Left it at 1 sec.

 

T is so good, that I should have considering a TL2 instead of a CL. 

So far I happy to have the T as a backup for my CL. If you find one cheap, do not hesitate, it worths it. 

 

 This is a rolling review in progress. So more to come. 

Edited by nicci78

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The bad :

  • No internal EVF. I caught myself trying to raise the camera to my eye. CL habits...
  • Huge, plasticky Visoflex. Hopefully it is tilting up, nice for wide angle shot. 
  • Manual focusing is a bit challenging. Hyperfocal is nicer than CL. But magnification is quite noisy at 6x, making it hard to check sharpness. So less sharp than in CL viewfinder. MF really benefits from EVF. Otherwise focus peaking is not really necessary, only good magnification is reliable enough.  

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I just picked up a TL with 23mm lens too. I agree with most of your points. Perhaps we should add that horrible silicon neck strap to bad points. I'm getting a half case and leather neck strap ASAP. Also, do not rely on internal memory. I'm running FW 2.4, took a few shots yesterday but about 10 of them in a row, did NOT get recorded. It was very upsetting. Hope it doesn't happen with the SD card. Besides these, everything else has been good so far.  I love the refresh rate on Live View a lot. Much smoother that my Sony a7. I'll post some photos later. 

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Oh yes. You’re right. 

I didn’t even bother to unwrap the strap. Of course all Germans have super sleek muscular oily body with no hair. Therefore they have no issue with this super sticky silicon strap. 😜

 

I will only use the T bare. No strap at all. Got it super cheap. I do not want to overspend for this backup camera  

 

Anyway, I just found that all T/TL/TL2 accessories are completely silly  

T-covers are the worst : you need to remove it to access battery, SD and USB ! But it is not so easy to unclip. You need to remove first : the strap, yes the strap ! At least one side. Then the lens 😥 

so you need to bare down the whole camera to change the battery ! Please keep sensor cover with you to prevent dust to get inside

The first version of leather protection was not even better. You have to unscrew it with a coin, to get access to battery, SD and USB. 

The new version allows quick access to battery only. You still need to remove the whole thing to remove the SD card. Stupid. 😡

 

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The good :

wifi connection through Fotos App works better with the T than with the Q or CL. Don’t know why, but the connection is way faster.

Finally usable. 

 

So far I am very happy. I intended to use the T + Elmarit-TL 2.8/18mm instead of my iPhone, as a bring with me everywhere camera. And it works like a charm. 

What Leica T does better :

  • Way faster startup time. It is really hard to take quickly a good photo with a smartphone : unlock it, then swipe to launch camera app. T is just faster with proper  ON/OFF toggle switch 
  • Way better ergonomics. Very hard to take a photo horizontally with a smartphone one handed. Very easy with the T. Which is held like a proper camera.
  • Faster AF with the T + Elmarit-TL 18mm
  • Real bokeh. Better looking than weird fokeh 
  • Way better IQ with no AA filter 16MP APS-C 1.5x crop factor. It cannot be beaten by 7 plus dual tiny sensors 7.2x & 8.6x crop factor. Especially in low light  
  • Better flash results with the T's pop-up one.
  • Fast WiFi transfert so no worry to share a picture on the go  
  • Better looking T. Prettier than any smartphone. 

 

What iPhone 7 plus does better ? 

  • iPhone camera huge depth of field help to get more usable videos. Better encoding and AF from Apple. 
  • Sharing is of course faster. 
  • iPhone screen is bigger and better than T’s one. 
  • twice lighter than T + 2,8/18mm
Edited by nicci78

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1 hour ago, nicci78 said:

[......................................]

What iPhone 7 plus does better ? 

  • iPhone camera huge depth of field help to get more usable videos. Better encoding and AF from Apple. 
  • Sharing is of course faster. 
  • iPhone screen is bigger and better than T’s one. 
  • twice lighter than T + 2,8/18mm

Incidentally, you can make a phone call... 😂 😁

Thanks for this review and good pictures with your T

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Interesting what you say about the better performance of the T with the Fotos app. I find the speed with the CL to be annoyingly slow, but haven't tried the TL2 - I'll check it out.

Can you explain what you mean by better build quality? Is this any more than just the fact of manufacture from a solid alloy block versus a traditional construction? The CL battery cover feels a bit fragile compared to the TL2's, but I've heard no report of it breaking. Aside from that I can't see much difference.

Edited by LocalHero1953

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Everything is better built on the T than on the CL and Q. Even the battery charger. 

Solid block of aluminium is really solid and beautiful.

Battery system of the T is brilliant. Same system as SL, S or Hasselblad X1D. 

And T’s battery is excellent for a mirrorless. CL eats to many batteries per day. Q a little bit less, but still quite thirsty.

USB charging is very useful, sadly not available with CL  nor Q  

CL and Q battery cover are certainly the weakest point. Same faulty door and mechanism as all X cameras. Their springs are prone to break.  

 

WiFi is incredibly slow with CL. Radio has to be different. Really fast connection and file transfer with T.

Really usable indeed. Actually I am using it several time a day with the T. But never with the CL, I gave up on it  

 

I am considering more and more TL2. I understand now why Leica sell these two different systems. They are so complementary. 

 

Edited by nicci78

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The T should be a bit faster to download than other models, because of the smaller image size. I've just tried the TL2 wifi and Fotos app - it's the same speed as the CL and SL - 45 secs or so per image. Others have got much faster times, and I suspect the phone model has an influence. I'm not arguing about your experience with the T, though - I just wish the TL2/CL/SL were as fast.

The CL certainly goes through batteries faster than other Leicas I've had. It's worth remembering they are a lot cheaper than those for the T, if you buy the Panasonic equivalent. It's annoying to have to carry a third battery, but it's not too expensive.

I don't agree about build quality of the TL2 (which is effectively the same as the T in this context) versus the CL. Yes, the TL2 is more attractive in the hand and feels solid, but that is more design than build quality. I agree with a lot of your other points, but these are design issues rather than build quality.

In the end you can only tell build quality as a camera wears over time and when things break down. Neither the T series nor CL seem to have a particular problem with reliability or durability so far. I'm a fan of both!

Edited by LocalHero1953

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You are right about file size. Of course, the smaller the faster. It makes sense. But why Leica did not use faster radio to overcome this issue ? WiFi is capable of much faster transfer rate. 

 

T just feels more solid. 1 block of CNC aluminium VS magnesium chassis with top and bottom aluminium cover and leatherette around the belt. Time will tell. 

However Leica choose this very same 1 block of CNC aluminium construction for its professional line, the SL. Does it mean anything ? 

 

About battery life. I’ve got several cheap Panasonic and Sigma compatible batteries for the Q and the CL. It is just annoying to see the CL drains far quicker. And it is a hassle to manage how to charge all these batteries at night. One charger is just not enough.

At least the T can charge 2 batteries together: one with USB, the other one within battery charger. 

 

So far the T can manage more than a full day of shooting. With 6 times WiFi connection upload and one USB upload to the Mac. 

Something that the Q and the CL cannot dream of. 

 

Oddly the TL2 is maybe not a much better upgrade. Its 24MP sensor drains battery faster and Leica removes its nice pop-up flash. 

TL2 AF is not as fast as CL. Still weird about this. Especially with made in Germany TL lenses  

Nicer menu layout though. 

So for a quarter of the price of TL2. I got a pretty nice backup of my Leica APS-C systems. Got to invested in lenses to not have a second body. And I cannot justify to have a CL + Q + TL2. 

Actually for half the price of TL2 I got this nice combo T + Elmarit-TL 18mm. Very nice to use. Q is only use indoor for now, because it seems so heavy and big now

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About unibody CNC aluminium. Apple uses it successfully for years on their MacBooks. It proves to be super strong and at the same time allows super thin design without any sign to twisting. 

Leica also chose it for huge and heavy lenses design SL.

Unibody aluminium also has a different premium finish than traditional leatherette. It’s up to your taste. I like both  

Therefore I think that T is better built than  traditional magnesium cameras. 

Edited by nicci78

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1 hour ago, nicci78 said:

You are right about file size. Of course, the smaller the faster. It makes sense. But why Leica did not use faster radio to overcome this issue ? WiFi is capable of much faster transfer rate. 

I do not know but I suspect it may be due to the location of the WiFi antenna  behind the body shell. An educated guess is that is under the top shell where the M9 had its USB connect. Maybe Leica could make a top shell with a portion more transparent to  WiFi - oh, and to GPS as well.

Quote

 

 

Edited by pico

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5 hours ago, stephengv said:

In terms of image quality, is the T still usable? thanks. 

Depends if you're shooting for billboards or online forums but the Leica T has IQ enough for my personal use, I used one at a wedding once and the printed 8x10 looked fantastic.

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Actually, I just bought a TL as a backup to my CL. Should come in next week sometime.

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On 1/25/2019 at 4:27 PM, nicci78 said:

 

Unibody aluminium also has a different premium finish than traditional leatherette. It’s up to your taste. I like both  

Therefore I think that T is better built than  traditional magnesium cameras. 

I had a play with a friends TL2 at Christmas and the thing is brick-like. I wound up getting the CL as it was more in-line with the way I want to shoot. The CL is no slouch build quality-wise and I am a virtually 100% finder up to the eye kind of shooter so the built-in EVF made the CL THE obvious choice for me.

The digital distance scale of the T series is sheer genius and SHOULD be included on the CL.

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7 hours ago, stephengv said:

In terms of image quality, is the T still usable? thanks. 

IQ is superb. Really. 

Use it only in manual focus with fast lens or with flash. Because high ISO is not possible at all. 

AF slowness will drive you crazy. 
 

Tilting Visoflex is excellent for wide angle lens. 

Its big screen is subpar. Image is often pixelated in Liveview. 
 

Video quality is atrocious. 

You cannot trust its metering also. 

Viewfinder blackout is massive  

And the camera will hang up from time to time.

 

 

If you had a little bit of extra money, skip T/TL and buy a TL2 instead. 
 

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I'd beg to differ a little:  IQ is excellent. Autofocus is definitely slower than with the CL, but manageable.  Use it with T lenses - they're excellent and your images will be similar in look and feel to the more modern CL or TL2.

For outdoor use, you will probably want a visoflex. For manual focus you will probably want a visoflex.

Build quality is outstanding.  It may well be in a museum for its design, one day.  Truly a beautiful conversation starter!  Prices on the pre-owned market are excellent.  

Rob

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15 hours ago, nicci78 said:

You cannot trust its metering also. 

Viewfinder blackout is massive  

And the camera will hang up from time to time.
 

Actually, I found my T body to have the most accurate metering of the T, TL, and TL2 bodies that I have owned. In fact, I kept it along with the TL2 for that reason.

I also find that it hangs or blacks out from time to time, which has never been an issue with the TL2. My T also has problems with switching randomly among User Profiles, when it first happened I had no idea why the lens switched to manual focus, etc. Deleting all custom profiles is the only work around I found. 

Dust on the sensor is an issue for all of these cameras, and more so that I remember for bodies that I have had in the past without a sensor shaking dust reduction system.

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CL does not have the sensor dust issue of T/TL/TL2 cameras. 

Maike Harberts APS-C project chief, stated that CL introduced an innovative sensor filter stack. Putting the dust further away from the sensor. Avoiding it to be focused on. Watch her interview here

Very effective. I never hesitate to change lenses with my CL : 3 times a day, in average for more than 2 years. Sensor only be cleaned by my Leica store once. And even in this case, the dust was extremely tiny in the bottom right corner. And only visible at f/16. Cleaning was free, so why not. 

I really love that the CL is a real interchangeable camera, that you can actually interchange without much worries. Of course don't be careless. 

 

 

Edited by nicci78

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