Leica TL2 Review
The Leica TL2 is a stylish new compact system camera with a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor. There is however a selection of body protectors and straps in various eye catching colours to accessorise with.
In terms of design and operability, official dimensions are an exact match for its predecessor, with the TL2 measuring 134x69x33mm. Weighing 399g with battery and 355g without, what we don’t get, however, is any flash neatly integrated within the camera.
Here it’s all about the large smartphone-like touchscreen, taking up the entire real estate of the backplate. Keep things simple seems to be the message here.
That’s not to say the Leica TL2 is any slouch when it comes to either features or their implementation. With its maker claiming that, despite outward appearances, it’s a very different beast when compared with its forebear, new this time around is a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor, which is once again APS-C format. This is a pixel hike when compared to the original TL’s 16-megapixel resolution, again from an APS-C chip.
As well as a new sensor, this latest Leica features a new generation processor, which has enabled the response of its touch screen to be 8x faster than the original TL.
Whilst the Leica TL2 may be light on actual physical controls, with lens attached – we had a wide-angle 11-23mm zoom to play with – it nevertheless feels substantial in the palm. Given its outward elegance, it’s a shame, then, that the first thing you do when picking it up is unavoidably leave dirty great thumb prints on its 3.7-inch backscreen (the same size as the one found on the TL). The camera doesn’t have much (if any) of a surrounding screen ‘bezel’ to otherwise provide purchase for the fingers.
Aside from shooting Full HD video, we get the new option to capture 4K video too, at 30fps. A read of the manual however suggests a swipe of the finger horizontally across the screen when in photo mode will switch the camera to video mode instead. Then it’s simply a case of squeezing the shutter release button to commerce (or end) filming.
As we noted with our review of the original TL, both it and the TL2 are directly compatible with half a dozen dedicated ‘TL’ lenses; three prime lenses and three zooms, as well as ‘SL’ optics thanks to a shared L bayonet mount. Via adapter both the earlier TL and new TL2 are further compatible with Leica M and R series lenses.
Examining the Leica TL2 more closely, from the front it resembles the very pinnacle of minimalism, with the lens mount dominating proceedings. Top left of this is the iconic red and silver Leica logo, prominently displayed, plus, top right of the lens a familiar AF assist/self timer window. Just below the lens, and slightly hidden by it, we find a lozenge-shaped lens release button.
This is, in turn, flanked either side by stereo microphones.
So pretty much everything, apart from turning the camera on, can be controlled via the LCD rather than physical buttons.
The rear of the Leica TL2, as noted, is swallowed up by its LCD screen, with a plastic flap, raised via application of a thumbnail, positioned to its far right – when viewed from the back. This covers vacant slots for optional SD card, USB and HDMI ports. The opposite flank of the camera features a built-in speaker and apart from a hole for attaching a strap, that’s it.
We wouldn’t say it’s instantaneous, but it’s swift to respond none-the-less. The back screen image reveals itself with no noticeable lag or ghosting when panning around the scene.
Half squeeze the shutter release button and after a brief moment’s pause we get the on-screen AF point changing from aqueous blue to green, signifying that the camera has found its target.
It’s worth noting, as we found with original ‘TL’ model, that the screen is impressively clear and life-like in its relay of colour and detail. So much so that after a while we started forgetting that the TL2 again missed an eye level viewfinder. In its absence you simply get on with it.
Take the shot and the screen freezes to display the photo being written to memory for a couple of seconds, before it vanishes and the real-time scene in front of the lens resumes. In line with most Leicas, the TL2 feels most apt for those with a more considered approach to image taking. After all, if you’re in the market for a Leica then you’re going to want to savour every moment of using it.
While the omission of a dedicated playback button (like the omission of a video record button) may throw the uninitiated at first, a simple finger swipe up or down on the backscreen (rather than left to right) will call up previously captured images.
With most of the Leica TL2’s operation centering around use of the LCD screen, you might expect it to be crammed with options. But here too things are kept fairly streamlined and minimalist in approach. Key options are presented in a panel at the right hand side of the screen. The top option is the shooting mode. As expected a press of this presents further familiar options in Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual priority and a fifth option – being a smattering of scene modes, which illuminate in red as you touch upon them.
Here we find a fully Auto shooting option, along with presets for shooting sports, portraits, landscapes, night portraits, snow/beach scenes, fireworks, candlelight, sunset and, most unusually, a digi-scoping preset. This selection is exactly the same as that previously found on the TL.
The next virtual button along provides access to the Leica TL2’s metering selections. Like the TL before it, the three options here are Spot, Multi Field Metering or Centre Weighted. Moving right again on screen the third button along governs exposure compensation; again, as with the original TL model, the TL2 offers a standard +/-3EV gamut.
Moving down to the next row of three menu buttons, the first denotes shooting file formats. User selections are either standalone JPEG shooting, JPEG + DNG files combined, or DNG file capture on its own. The adjacent button to the right of this controls white balance, with the usual automatic and user-customisable selections offered.
The options don’t end here however. The last button on the screen is a ‘+’ mark. The Leica TL2’s regular default option is Standard, whilst we also unsurprisingly get Vivid, Natural, B&W Natural, plus B&W High Contrast. Sub options here also include the ability to adjust Contrast, Sharpness and Saturation for each.
As noted earlier a mains charger for the lithium ion battery provided is included out of the box. A downward press on this subsequently releases the battery fully from the camera. Battery life is a respectable 400 images, or 160 minutes of video.
|Body type||Rangefinder-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||6016 x 4014|
|Other resolutions||6000 x 4000, 4272 x 2856, 3024 x 2016|
|Image ratio w:h||3:2|
|Effective pixels||24 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||25 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|
|Number of focus points||49|
|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|
|Maximum shutter speed (electronic)||1/40000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes|
|Flash modes||Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, on, on w/redeye reduction, slow sync, slow sync w/redeye reduction|
|Continuous drive||7.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 12 secs)|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Storage types||Internal + SD/SDHC/SDXC card|
|USB||USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)|
|Remote control||Yes (via smartphone)|
|Battery description||BP-DC13 lithium-ion battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||399 g (0.88 lb / 14.07 oz)|
|Dimensions||134 x 69 x 33 mm (5.28 x 2.72 x 1.3″)|
|GPS notes||requires EVF|