Leica T - the new NEX competitor

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Poki, Apr 25, 2014.

  1. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Leica announced the new T system yesterday. It is a camera with a form factor similar to Sony NEX cameras, built from a solid block of aluminum in a way comparable to Apple's unibody enclosures used in MacBooks. The control scheme is simple - two dials (for aperture and exposure compensation) as well as a 3,7" high-resolution touch screen on the back. The screen offers instant access to all functions, including changing shutter speed, ISO, drive mode and so on.

    The camera body features a very simple and innovative design. It's beautiful and the build quality should be a step above the competition. It features a built-in flash, a standard hot shoe, auto focus (about as fast as a first generation NEX-5) and click-in strap connectors which allow you to connect a strap by just clicking it in - much faster than the traditional way of connecting a strap. There is no battery door, the batteries simply use an aluminum plate at the bottom to be flush with the body.

    The Leica T features 1080p and 720p video, both at 30 frames per second. The body retails for €1800, an external electronic viewfinder is available for €700.

    The camera uses a new mount with a 16 MP APS-C sized sensor. Currently, there are two lenses. A 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom for €2000 which seems similar in quality to the lens of the Leica X-Vario and a 23mm f/2 prime for €1700. It's smaller than the Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 and I expect it to offer better control for chromatic aberrations and better corner sharpness wide open than the Zeiss lens. Two more zoom lenses - a wide angle and a tele one - are currently under development.

    More, including samples and videos, on the Leica website. http://de.leica-camera.com/Fotografie/T-System/Die-Leica-T-Geschichte

    Why do I think it is a serious NEX competitor? Simple: Because there is no high-end APS-C NEX body currently. If Sony decides not to replace the NEX-7 within the next two years, I might as well consider to switch to the Leica T system - if they have some more primes by then, of course. The control scheme seems better than any NEX until now, except the NEX-7. The build quality and the design are superior too, and it has no pointless buttons like most NEX cameras. I love the E-Mount Zeiss lenses, but if Sony won't offer a matching body when I ever need a new one, I strongly consider this system as a worthy replacement.

    How do you feel about the Leica T system?
  2. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Real Name:
    Well, it seems a decent enough camera for, say, €1000 with the kit lens and viewfinder. But €4500? I don't mean to sound derisive, but I have a very hard time understanding the appeal. Perhaps as a collector's item, if you never took it out of the box. But as a device for capturing images? No.
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  3. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 9, 2013
    Bellingham, WA (displaced Canadian)
    Real Name:
    I'm not sure. I think I'd be more inclined toward Fuji if I were to change my smaller-than-35mm system. My frustration with NEX has always been lens options more than anything else and for the time being Leica T doesn't really fix that. And the price doesn't really help things at all.

    At least for me, that's where things stand. Of course, time can resolve this issue for either NEX or Leica T.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    1) Sony have abandoned the 16MP sensor
    2) Sony have abandoned EVF-less designs in all but one entry-level camera
    3) Sony have abandoned the touchscreen

    In short Sony have positioned the feature-set of Leica T to be below even their entry level models.* Sony's recent moves are so convenient in this regard that I suspect they got an early leak of the Leica T because this is just way too convenient for brand positioning.

    Yes, they will never get Leica's ultra-rich market (they have Hasselblad to compete for that). But they have assuredly swept up the (affluent) enthusiast segment that actually cares about the internals and featureset by having the Leica T features not exceed their lowest model.

    * Note that I disagree that a touchscreen is a low-end feature and would have loved it in my A7, but Sony think it is a low-end feature.
  5. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    I value design and build quality VERY high. Even my TV is built off Aluminum and real glass (and a TV not made at least partly of plastic is hard to find ...), my speakers, my computer, my screen - heck, except some Nintendo stuff and my Apple TV I don't own anything not made of aluminum and glass. And the user interface seems fantastic too. The price of the body is worth it to me, although I'd say they should offer it closer to €1200 for the body only. But yeah, they built a factory in Germany just for manufacturing this camera (in low volumes, I guess), that's why they probably have to charge that much to cover their expenses.

    As for the lens - it's the same as on the Leica X-Vario. Have you seen some test shots? The quality is impressive! It's no comparison to any other kit lens. Heck, even the 16-70 f/4 Zeiss lens is no comparison. The slow variable aperture is a problem, though, as it makes that lens not very versatile in bad light. Again, a little overpriced, sure, but not totally insane.

    The viewfinder ... Well, even Sony rips us off with the EVF for the RX1, so I don't think Leica wouldn't.

    Not a great deal for sure, but still the most beautiful and best built APS-C camera on the market, which is worth something.
  6. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    1 - Yes, but this is not a Sony sensor. It's a sensor designed specifically for the Leica system and lenses, and it has no AA filter. A lower resolution sensor is not necessarily a bad thing, just look at the A7s or the Nikon D4.

    2 - Nope. What's with the RX1? I'm not a fan of that decision by Leica, but still, it doesn't make the camera lower end - just more expensive.

    3 - Which is the integral part to the new control scheme of the Leica T. I don't need a touch screen on any other camera, but with the Leica, it's a different story. Finally a camera company takes advantage of modern technology to realize a *potentially* better control layout.

    Also, the Hasselblad Lunar / Stellar / whatever are just rebranded Sony cameras, while the Leica T is a completely new development with a great design and some truly great features.
  7. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Well obviously I meant system cameras on (2). And the RX1 is made to sell an overpriced EVF that costs more than the NEX-5 EVF for no reason. But anyway, since you place such a high importance on design and happen to like aluminum I'll look forward to seeing your photos from it!

    But yeah, for me there is nothing about that camera that looks remotely appealing.
  8. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Oh, I won't buy it while my NEX-7 still works and until the lens selection is bigger. I was just saying that it depend on Sony whether I'll stay my life with E-Mount or switch to the T system.
  9. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Even at those prices, I have difficulty seeing them outdoing EOS-M's 22/2. And a variable aperture kit lens with f3.5-5.6 for APS-C is just never going to excite anyone, no matter how good it is, when you can get zooms like the FE 70-200 or 24-70 for less.

    For me, the sensor is more limiting than what you can do with the lenses. I've seen tons of Summicron pics on NEX-5s (I used to really really want a 35 summicron) and they're nice of course, but you always get the feeling the sensor itself is what is the limiting factor.
  10. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Real Name:
    My first thought? Perhaps I was a little too hard on Canon when I said their EOS-M body was overpriced at first. ;)

    I know, it's a bit of an apples to oranges comparison but there are some uncanny similarities, not the least of which are the touchscreen and the initial lens offerings. (I'll be curious to see a direct comparison between the two systems.)

    I do admire certain aspects of what Leica does (still rocking my R-series macro lenses) but I simply can't ignore the value factor. Especially when Canon is so digitally mature and Sony is so innovative.
  11. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Real Name:
    Since you asked....:D

    I've seen it a few days ago and honestly it didn't do anything to me. On the contrary, personally I found it very ugly but its simplicity. I prefer "loaded" with buttons (and options) cameras such as the Nex6/7, A6000, A7/R or Fuji XT-1 etc.. I guess "beauty" is subjective ?

    So, for me the build quality might be there but the design definately isn't comparable with the beautiful Nex 6/7 ( I do like the click-in strap connectors though but does it mean you're limited to oe straps? If its good ok...). Also, I would never buy a camera without a build-in viewfinder again and the touchscreen just isn't an option high on my list

    I agree with everybody that its price is very high and as such an expensive camera I don't think its a serious Nex competitor for most out there (you obviously feel different :D )
    2K for a variable aperture kit soom lens???
  12. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Simplicity is the way to go for good designs for me. As for the user interface and controls - I really have to try it to say whether that's a good or a bad thing. I don't think it's better than a Tri-Navi, but it looks to be handily on par with the other NEX cameras. That said, I do think that the NEX-7 is a beautiful camera, but it's no longer in production, unfortunately.

    As for the strap connectors - I don't know if there are adapters for third party straps. But let's be honest, if you don't use Leicas own straps, you probably would go for Blackrapid's system anyway, and that uses the tripod socket for connection.

    To the price - can you remember this awkward Touchscreen-based Android NX system camera offered by Samsung? If I recall correctly, it was about €1500 last year. Compared to this, the Leica T is a great deal! Compared to anything else, well, not so - from a pure performance and feature standpoint. Then it all comes down to just how much design and built quality is worth to you.

    Still, justifying the price of the zoom lens is hard. It's a fact that the quality is awesome, and it got better 3D rendering than most lenses out there. On the other hand, it's two grand for a slow, variable aperture zoom lens, which is very limiting in low light conditions. I probably wouldn't buy that, but I'm sure better lens offerings will come.

    By the way, the only reason I am considering this system is because the offerings in the high-end APS-C market seem to diminish by the minute. Sony went all full frame and nobody knows for sure if there will be new high-end APS-C E-Mount bodies and lenses in the future (and no, the A6000 doesn't cut it for me). Now Fuji is rumored to go full frame too. Who else is in the APS-C mirrorless market? Samsung and Canon aren't even worth a good laugh, and that's pretty much it. So for the better or worse, in a few years, the Leica T system might be the only contender in the high-end APS-C mirrorless market.
  13. NkedFatWhiteGuy

    NkedFatWhiteGuy TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 28, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    I definitely have to agree with you here. I personally have no desire to move to full frame, and the possibility that Sony and Fuji could be moving away from APS-C has me just a tad bit bummed out...

    My photography doesn't warrant an expenditure of Leica caliber (no matter how much I think I want an M) nor does it warrant FF. What works best for me are "semi pro" kits that are "good enough". I have a NEX 6 right now with a fairly spartan selection of native lenses that may grow if Sony stays with APS-C beyond the a6000, or I may go over to Fuji... the one sure thing for me right now is that I have no desire/need to go FF or to invest in Leica (even though it is beautiful and I really think that I want it!)

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
  14. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    My brother and I discussed the Android NX a lot last year. It looks like a camera made by app developers to look like what they think photographers want, rather than one made by photographers. Still, the potential of Android in a camera is something I'd be very excited about, just that Samsung really executed it terribly (and on top of that at a ridiculous price point, I agree). But basically the Leica T is a blinged out NEX-5. I know exactly how that level of button control would make me feel: craving for more.
    I agree APS-C only users have been a bit neglected, but I wonder what must-have lenses you consider missing still for this market? Given you are seriously considering Leica prices, you could also use FF lenses on APS-C, only at a crop. Arguably you'll get better performance out of them because you'll be sticking to the central portion of the frame, and they'll be cheaper than their equivalent Leicas, maybe by a factor of 2. The only thing you'll miss are wide angle lenses but you already have the two best wide angle lenses for NEX.
  15. mattia

    mattia TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 13, 2013
    It's not interesting to me personally, but I do wish Sony would get on the touchscreen train. Changing autofocus points on the A7r is absurdly slow and cumbersome once you're used to something like the e-M1 (which in turn should take a page from Panasonic and allow the touchscreen to be used while using the EVF).

    I want levers and dials and buttons AND a good touchscreen. They're complementary. Dials and buttons I can use to operate the camera blind, eye to the viewfinder and on my subject, not finding settings on the camera.
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  16. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    I am really not sure about how the user interface of the T feels when actually using the camera. On paper, it looks nice enough, especially since I shoot most of the time in aperture priority. Could be a problem when shooting landscapes at winter though, as those touch screens have a habit of not working properly in cold temperatures.

    Which lenses I miss? To call the system complete, I need a 85 1.4, a 100 2.8 macro and a 70-200 2.8 or 4, all optimized for APS-C sensors. Why don't I want to just buy them full frame? Well, there are essentially two reasons for that. First, at those focal lengths, you can lenses substantially smaller and lighter. A 70-200 f/2.8 for APS-C could be roughly the same size as the f/4 version for full frame, or a f/4 APS-C version could be half the size and weight.

    Second, a lens optimized for smaller sensors delivers a better resolution-per-mm. This is a topic I once discussed with a Zeiss employee, and he told me that the best lenses they build are the lenses they stick into smartphones. I don't recall all the details, but lenses optimized for smaller sensors can resolve the light better on the corresponding sensors smaller pixels. So basically, a high-end lens optimized for APS-C sized sensors should theoretically outperform a lens optimized for full frame sensors on an APS-C sensor. Not sure how big this difference is now, but I'm sure it will come into play once we get to 36MP+ APS-C sensors.
  17. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Assuming you mean FF equivalent, it looks like Fuji is the only one who's going to be able to provide you those lenses any time soon. If you want those exact lengths in APS-C only format, I think you're bang out of luck.
  18. G.Webb

    G.Webb TalkEmount Rookie

    Oct 22, 2013
    Phoenix, Az.
  19. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Seems like a very niche camera. Can't comment on whether it's overpriced as it does have some unique selling points for Leica hardcore fans. And I did mean to say "niche".
  20. BlueBill

    BlueBill TalkEmount Regular

    Jan 6, 2014
    Thought the Leica T was using the same sensor as the 3N.