Leica TL Review
Hand crafted objects of desire – the crème de la crème of the camera world, famously wielded by Magnum photographers navigating war zones – as well as the well-heeled photo enthusiast navigating a Mayfair parking space. That’s pretty much the public image of Leica in a nutshell. Even the box the camera arrives in plays like a bit of theatre; it unfolds like a cake box; a present that unwraps itself.
It’s not all rich man’s plaything however: the camera is naturally a component of a photographic system, being directly compatible at the time of writing with six ‘TL’ lenses; three prime lenses and three zooms, as well as ‘SL’ optics thanks to shared L bayonet mount. Leica says that via adapter it’s further compatible with its M and R series lenses. So there is no need to worry that investing in a Leica TL is going to leave us short of capable accessory options.
At the Leica TL’s core is an APS-C CMOS sensor, rather than full frame chip, but given the competitors in its price bracket that’s fair – not everyone needs a full frame sensor. Unusually for a dedicated camera these days, and doubtless with a nod to the large internal memories of smartphones and tablets, the camera sports a large-ish 32GB internal memory – with Leica claiming sufficient space for 1000 shots.
Official dimensions are 134x69x33mm and it weighs 384g.
Photography reduced to the essentials is the pitch here. Exclusively designed for the T system, this will set you back £360 alone. However it does also feature a built in GPS option as an added bonus.
In terms of accessories, Leica provided a compact 23mm f/1.2 fixed lens with our review sample, along with a slightly more versatile – but still relatively compact – 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6mm zoom. We were able to fit it into the pocket of a winter jacket with relatively compact 23mm lens attached.
So, let’s examine the Leica TL’s features and functionality. From the front, then, our silver review sample looks slick enough to prompt ‘wows’ from those in the photo trade we showed it to, the familiar Leica red logo the most prominent feature here, save for the lens mount and small window positioned top right which houses its AF assist lamp.
Design wise we guess the Leica TL is a bit of a ‘marmite’ product; it will immediately appeal thanks to its intentional minimalism, or it won’t, and a more traditional control layout and camera design will be sought out instead. We found ourselves admitting it, without outright loving it. –> User Manual Guide
|Body type||Rangefinder-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||4928 x 3264|
|Other resolutions||4272 x 2856, 3264 x 2160, 2144 x 1424, 1632 x 1080|
|Image ratio w:h||3:2|
|Effective pixels||16 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||17 megapixels|
|Sensor size||APS-C (23.6 x 15.7 mm)|
|White balance presets||5|
|Custom white balance||Yes (2 slots)|
|JPEG quality levels||Superfine, fine|
|Optics & Focus|
|Lens mount||Leica L|
|Focal length multiplier||1.5×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Viewfinder type||Electronic (optional)|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes|
|Flash modes||Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, on, off, slow sync, slow sync w/redeye reduction|
|Continuous drive||5.0 fps|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Resolutions||1920 x 1080 (30p), 1280 x 720 (30p)|
|Storage types||Internal + SD/SDHC/SDXC card|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Remote control||Yes (via smartphone)|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||384 g (0.85 lb / 13.55 oz)|
|Dimensions||134 x 69 x 33 mm (5.28 x 2.72 x 1.3″)|
|GPS notes||requires EVF|