Hands On: The New Leica TL2 Camera! In hand first look!

Hands On: The New Leica TL2 Camera! In hand first look!

By Steve Huff

(Full review in the next two weeks, this is just a 1st look)!

Leica is a brand that some of you love, some of you adore, some of you worship and some of you even dislike. Some see them as works of art that take amazing images in the right hands while others see them as a gimmick, using a red dot and the name to charge obscene amount of cash for the bodies and lenses. My take? Well, anyone who reads this website knows I love Leica. While I have criticized a couple of their cameras in the past (Leica X Vario to name one), and raved about others in the past (M and SL system)  there is one area where they never let me down. Image quality. Say what you will but Leica usually has something about them that is special in the IQ when using their fantastic lenses, no matter what system they are made for. The M, the SL, the TL and even the S and old R have some gorgeous lenses available, that is without question.

While their bodies have always lagged behind in speed, features and pizazz compared to the big guns like Sony, Fuji and Olympus, Leica has always worked on and improved their digital cameras. What they have today in the line up is astonishing compared to what they had just 8 years ago ; ) They have come quite a ways in digital imaging. While they will always remain small scale and niche compared to the big guns, that is OK, and how Leica shooters like it. It gives us something special and unique to work with, to shoot with or to just enjoy casually. Pride of ownership is high with Leica and while not for everyone, no one can say Leica makes bad cameras. They are all gorgeous from the M to the SL to this new TL 2 Leica just announced today (July 10th 2017).

LEICA TL2 AND 35 1.4 SUMMILUX (TL MOUNT) – Click image for larger! The Leica Color and Crisp “Pop” is here!

This is a gorgeous lens for the TL2 – See my review of the lens HERE. 

BUT IS IT FOR YOU? Maybe, maybe not. When I write my full review I will talk about that and other models. that are similar in price from other manufacturers. One thing though, there is no other digital camera made today like the TL2. I am speaking of the design, and touch screen interface that you will love or hate, and the unique solid chunk that is trimmed down to be slim and sexy unibody.  

YEP, Leica announced the new TL 2 today which is the follow up to their APS-C TL and T cameras. I have had the camera for only 3 days with a slew of lenses and was just getting into the test of it all. Again, THIS is a first look will and not the full review, that will come in a week or two as I am still using the camera and three days of use is not enough to test everything I need to test. So later on, soon,  I will show some ISO tests, comparisons and video shot with the camera. I will also have a video overview in the coming days as well. But the TL2 has been announced and is in hand here at the Huff Household!

Still carved from that solid block, and finished by hand. 

So for now, the specs, my 1st thoughts and some images from the new TL 2 are below. 

If you remember when the original TL was launched I reviewed it in a lengthy review. At the time I enjoyed it for its unique style, outside of the box usability and the IQ, which to me was pure Leica. If you missed that now three year old review, SEE IT HERE if you like. The funny thing is, during my 1st three days of use of this new TL2 I am not seeing a huge difference from the original T I reviewed back then. YES YES YES there are improvements but how do they convey in use? More on that in a bit…but remember, this is with only three days of shooting with the new camera. I have it for two more weeks so will dig in deeper for the full review.

 

ISO 16,000 on the new Leica TL2. High ISO is one of the major improvements over the previous TL. Yes this is 16,000 and she was in a dark cave like area. 

Before I get into my very 1st thoughts on the TL2,  here are the specs and some info on the new camera from Leica.

New 24MP sensor vs the 16MP of the older model. Higher Dynamic Rage and better high ISO over the older TL

4K Video 30FPS, 1080P 60FPS, Slo Motion features

AF Speed of the TL 2 is as fast as 165MS vs 460 MS of the older model – Nearly 3X quicker. 

The TL2 now has 49 AF fields vs 9 of the older model

Start up time now at 600mms vs 750ms of the older model

ISO now up to ISO 50,000 vs 12,500 of the older model

The TL2 now can do 7FPS with Mechanical Shutter or 20 FPS with electronic shutter

The Touch screen is now 8X faster than the previous TL 

The TL2 now has focus peaking, DNG only mode, Slo Mo Video, FN button

Focus peaking now an option. 

The TL2 is made in Germany, assembled and finished by hand and still hand polished.

There are now six lenses for the TL2 

The TL2 has slightly larger dials 

NO MORE BUILT IN FLASH. (No one really used it)

Can use M lenses via the adapter (sold separate) and the adapter is also now available in SILVER. 

The TL2 is available in Silver or Black just as before and uses the Leica EVF/Visoflex (sold separately) 

The TL2 comes in at $1,950.00 for the body only. Visoflex EVF is $575. 

A couple of shots with the gorgeous 35 1.4 Summilux Lens for the TL. My fave lens for this system and one of the two lenses for this system made in Germany. Click images for larger!

My VERY 1st Thoughts on the TL2!

So when the camera arrived from Leica I opened the packaging box (which is the same as the old versions) and it looked, at 1st glance, just like the previous model. In fact, Leica sent me both a black and silver version and if I did not know it was a new model, by looks, I would have assumed it was the old one. So those expecting a new design or look or even a built in EVF…nope. The TL2 retains the design cues from the original and for some, this is welcome as the TL and TL2 are very unique in the camera world. Nothing is quite like it.

With the huge touch screen that spans the entire backside of the camera, we have tons of real estate to use our our fingers that have been trained so well from our smart phones. The TL 2 has greatly matured in the touch screen response and speed. Leica claims 8X faster than the previous models, and going by memory of the original T, I believe them. The back screen is now fast, fluid and lag free. Good news there.

The dials and buttons have had slight changes. No more flash! To me this is welcome, very welcome. I know of no one who used the flash on the original. So Leica was able to save space inside, and this helps reduce heat as well. The new 24 MP sensor is beautiful and so far, from what I have seen, puts out great color and has improved greatly at high ISO.

ISO 10k shows noise, as one would expect but the color stays vibrant. 

A couple more…1st with the 23 f/2 Summicron and the 2nd with the 35 1.4 Summliux

It feels the same in my hand as the old models, the EVF still sits on top like a wart and the camera does indeed start up faster and is more responsive than it used to be, but man, it had to be because most cameras in this price range today are VERY fast. The LCD on the back is gorgeous and in the sun I was actually able to frame my shots but my preference was with using the EVF, which when on will automatically switch on when your eye is lifted to the big porthole style viewfinder. One thing is I really wish this camera had a built in EVF. As I used the camera just yesterday, I was imagining a built in EVF and a built in fast 23 f/2 lens. THAT would be a Fuji X100 killer in my opinion as the Leica has that Leica snap to the IQ. But hey, that was just my imagination going wild. THE TL 2 is a system camera, meaning you buy lenses for it.

I was using the 23 f/2 Summicron, the 35 1.4 Summilux and the 60 Macro. The 60 Macro was giving me serious AF lag and troubles in the simple shot above of the orange. Why? Well, my guess is that we were in low light. The shot was taken at ISO 10,000 when using AUTO ISO. While it was not “dark” by any means, sit was not bright at my table. Still the AF was pretty slow with the macro lens, and had trouble locking on. I think it took 3-4 tries with the AF to get it to lock. Coming from using the Sony A9 for the last few weeks this felt weird to me, but I remembered that A: I was using a macro lens up close and B: The TL2 is $2500 LESS than the Sony. CRAZY right? A Leica for less than a Sony. What has the world come to? Lol. BESIDES, Macro lenses should be used in manual focus anyway when shooting macro shots ; )

The TL2 retains the same strap system from the original which includes a rubber strap (which sticks to my shoulder) and the unique proprietary fastening system, which I LOVE. Only problem, no use of 3rd party straps here unless 3rd parties make T straps. Leica will have a full range of accessories for the TL as well from half cases to straps BTW.

From indoor low light to outside bright light the TL 2 seems to be the same IQ machine as the previous TL and T


More 1st Thoughts…

With the 23 f2 summicron (which gives us a 35mm equiv), the AF was FAST and MUCH better than the previous models. The 35 1.4 was also very quick and never gave issues (and man what a gorgeous lens). So I will chalk up my 1st focus hunting issues to the 60 Macro. I will also do more tests with it over the next week or two, and follow up in my review.

Overall the TL2, so far, appears to be a very nice upgrade to the TL that came before it. It’s faster, has a new sensor, has a touch screen that is MUCH faster and more fluid, and has no real lag associated with it. It’s not lightning fast but it is faster and more responsive than I expected it to be. It’s a strange camera, and again, nothing like it exists. I remember thinking the 1st “T” three years ago was something that Apple would make. Same here. It feels like an Apple Camera ; ) All it needs is iOS.

Also, this is not a “revolutionary” product but an “evolutionary” product from Leica. It’s basically the T but souped up to 2017 standards and better than ever, and in just about every way (besides having a built in EVF)

But in all seriousness, the TL2 may look the same, feel the same and still use the EVF/VISOFLEX but the improvements to the system are very welcome and I look forward to testing it more and more over the next two weeks. I may take it to San Diego for a few days and have some fun with it.

In my full review that will be coming up, I will have ISO tests, comparisons and video tests. My video 1st look will be up later today or 1st thing tomorrow so check back here or my YouTube!

Availability

The new TL2 will be available THIS week at Leica dealers for $1,950. I recommend the dealers BELOW:

Leica Dealer Ken Hansen – Email him at [email protected] 

PopFlash.com 

B&H Photo  – BLACK or SILVER

 

Thank you all!

Steve


 


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49 thoughts on “Hands On: The New Leica TL2 Camera! In hand first look!

  1. Steve, I would like to know with the lens set to the widest Aperture in A mode, say 1.4 on the 35mm, under the bright sun light, would the shutter automatically switch to electronic shutter at higher speed, e.g. 1/10000s? Or would it still top at 1/4000s like the old models?

  2. Personally I think the Visoflex manages to look both retro and futuristic at the same time! (I’m an owner of a Leica T system), and it’s a really nice panel too (as good as the XT1 I used to own). There is a compromise for flash use, but my main gripe is that with the standard zoom lens and Visoflex mounted the camera won’t fit into a compact bag. I used to buy gear based on reviews and specs, but after some costly mistakes decided to rent before buying. I think that’s doubly true of the T. It’s surprisingly comfortable to hold – it ain’t slippery, neither are the edges “sharp” (IMHO). I like using my iPhone, and I like the touchscreen interface on the T, but I hope it’s responsiveness is improved in the TL2.

  3. On advice after reading into your site I bought a Olympus E-M1 II plus 12-100/f4 to replace my Nikon D3/D700 plus 24-70/70-200 combo. Great choice for traveling so far. But for popping snap and fine background rendering is there anyting that comes close in the m43 arena?

  4. While there seems to be a lot of kitchy Leica mystic about this camera, with the single molded body shell and huge rear LCD et al, there are still two basic problems about the camera that make it very unsuitable to a person like myself. I am an older enthusiast who loves to take outdoor landscapes. First, the grip is almost non existent and very unaccommodating to a person like me who tends to have a bit of a shaky hand. Second, out in the open with sunshine or bright cloudiness, I have not found a single mirrorless camera, including Canon mirrorless, Fujifilm, Olympus or Sony that would allow real focus and composition on the LCD under these conditions. I need the eye level optical viewfinder for this.

    One final note. I don’t know why anyone except a forgiving Leica addict would want to pay the steep price for this camera. $1900 will buy a heck of a lot more capable camera than this one is.

    1. Have you tried one out? I was surprised at how well it fits in my hands (I don’t have large hands, though). It may look quite simple but I think Leica must have spent a long time getting the exact dimensions on the grip right. More capable for what? I’ve bought gear based on specs & reviews in the past and it rarely worked out well, so now I rent before buying. Which is how I ended up with T. I don’t think you can judge until you’ve used it, the same way you can’t tell what a car is like to drive simply based on reading other people’s opinions.

  5. Might this use the same base Sony sensor as found in the current 24mp Nikon/Sony/fuji APSC cameras?

    (The Leica X Vario and other APSC Leicas used the 16mp Sony chip)

    It seems to me (FWIW) that you’d need to love the form factor and design to want this. Otherwise you can get a similar (same?) sensor’d camera with more lens choices elsewhere for an awful lot less

    Buying into this system new and a couple of lenses, won’t be far off a secondhand M240 and ‘rit (maybe even ‘crons if you get a bargain) lenses either…

    But if this seems sorely designed as the way you like to use a proper camera (like a phone) then there’s nothing quite like it I guess…

  6. Thanks a lot for your first review.
    I am an owner of the first generation Leica T. For me it is nearly the perfect camera. Buying and reselling many cameras from Canon, Sony and Olympus over the last years, I ended with the Leica T. I found out myself that I want to have the Leica quality and the Leica colours in the images. For me the only way to get this quality is to buy a Leica. The Leica M system does not fit me because of the manual focus and the Leica SL is too big and chunky. Therefore, the T gives me what I want. I am not sure if I will upgrade to the TL2 but I will keep the T system.

  7. Looked at the body. Nice. Checked out dpreview DNG raw files. Great.
    Looked at lens prices.. hmm .. er. no.

    Sure, they are nice, but at those prices I can get top of the line lenses that are also super nice on almost any system. I saw that it would net me near $7k for just body + wide pancake + telephoto. At that price, I rather buy a Fuji GX50. Or just something else at literally 1/4th to 1/3rd of the price that is pretty darn good.

    Too bad, I do like Leica’s responsiveness in UI, though I dont’ think this would beat Panasonic’s AF.

  8. I like it but with the body, lenses and evf you’re getting close to Q prices. Very interested in Q/TL2 image comparisons.
    Thanks

  9. Steve, I’m not sure the TL2 would be an “X100” killer if it had a viewfinder. After adding a viewfinder, it would certainly be more than the $2K current price, which would make it almost twice as expensive as the Fuji. That’s a big issue for a lot of people, including me.

  10. One small 18/2.8 TL lens, (that is ~28mm equivalent — Leica, hope you are reading these replies), that is thinner and cheaper than the 23mm TL Cron, and this can be used as a perfect street / vacation / pocket camera, that surpasses all competition.

  11. May I ask how this camera with the 35 compares with the 25/1.2 on an Oly? I know this a stupid question. But I inherited a T with summi and a couple other lens. I have only used the 35 and carry it all the time for just the look I get from that lens. Someone in my photo club wants my T lens and will trade some Oly Pany lenses. The T forced me to learn to approach photography in a different manner. But once I accepted it for what it is, I actually enjoy the slower pace and love the IQ from that 35. I kinda want to trade, but then I do not want to be disappointed with the 25 on an EM1.
    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    1. The T and 35 1.4 will give you different IQ than an EM1 and 25 1.2. The original T is much slower, has average high ISO (compared to today) and is laggy a bit. Opposite of the EM1. The EM1 has a smaller sensor, and probably worse in low light than the original T. But you will not get the same IQ or look. Both are nice but very different. If you want that Leica color and snap, you will not get that from the EM1 and 25. But the 25 1.2 will give you a nice rendering as well. Just different colors and the way the image is rendered. The EM1 will be larger, faster and more responsive in use. I’d prob keep the T and 35 1.4.

      1. Thank you. I will do that. The T with that plastic case on it looks like a toy and I can take it in places a “real camera” is not allowed.

  12. It’s such a pretty camera!
    Whether or not it’s practical to use a camera without any buttons, just a touchscreen…well once I bought a cheapo Panasonic “GF” camera, and I didn’t like that you had to use the touchscreen to do everything. So I would say that this camera is not for me.

  13. Wow, I was decided for a Q and now this happens. Steve, I am very curious to your further testing. In particular focus speed and low light performance between the Q and the TL2.
    Thanks!

    1. Well, right off the Q seems quicker in AF than the T and 35 1.4 or about the same when using the 23 f/2. The T is smaller and a MUCH different interface. If deciding between a T with 23 f/2 or a Q, I’d take the Q. It has the EVF built in, and is a gorgeous camera with traditional controls and feel. The T is more for those who are into the more modern smart phone type of interface. But if you want too use lenses other than that 23, you’d be better off with a TL2 as you then have options for lenses. Both will offer similar color and IQ. As for low light, I would guess the TL2 would be a tad better as its newer. But who knows, I do not have a Q here to test side by side.

      1. Many thanks for your expert opinion Steve.
        I am very happy with 28mm fixed, but a little scared in relying on a screen interface for most of the functions. So, the Q it is!
        Greetings,

      2. Just my opinion, but I’d take a Leica Q any day over the Tl2 and save the ILC system for another maker with more affordable and interesting lenses.

        1. All depends on if you want interchangeable lenses. Some need that, so the Q would be out as all it has is a 28mm equiv lens. That’s it. It’s also 2X the size. But the Q is awesome for its purpose. The TL is an interesting little camera. Not sure where it really fits in.

  14. Such beautiful image quality! And then I compare it to my Fuji with Fujinon 23mm f1.4 ASPH. That Leica 23 f2 lens comes in at $1.8K alone, and the camera has no EVF. Hard to justify. But, it sure makes pretty pictures.

  15. Steve, how does this camera’s IQ compare to Sony a6x00 or even the smaller/cheaper a5100?

    I have the a5100 and use it with vintage Leica lenses…its small and great for outdoor sports…but sometimes terrible without an EVF/OVF!!

    1. Well, the IQ will surpass most APS-C cameras but usability maybe not as this is nothing like we are used to. The IQ is typical Leica. Sharp, with snap and pop and great colors. The Leica T, TL and TL2 as well as X series offer a quality not seen in most APS-C cameras but Imo it still will lag behind to the Q or M or SL. Vs the 5100, this will give you nicer output but I’d wait for my review as I will also list off some quirks.

  16. Quick, name one camera maker who has begun producing cameras for the world-leading iPhone generation? Not too many names will come to mind, but Leica will surely be on that list. Not perfect, we wish for this, we wish for that, but you cannot argue with the consumer power of the iPhone generation, the most used camera in the world. Nor with the social media power of the iPhone. Not professional? Don’t tell that to the incredible amount of people out there making a living off that imperfect iPhone camera and its creative capabilities. Leica, with the TL2 follow-up has begun carving a position in the future. Not there yet, but like electric cars, they are setting the foundation for a future that will not involve clunky camera rigs with lenses that require a chiropractor’s warning. Exciting stuff.

    1. At the risk of speaking for the entire generation x and gen Y/milenials:
      This is not the camera or brand for us. They make & market cameras for people with disposable income.
      Our generation- we’re overly informed consumers and we research heavily before making big purchases. We’re also very, very tech savvy.
      The price alone makes this camera a deal breaker. It’s also not that attractive- nothing like an M, a Q, or a film Leica. And even if it was, that’s not enough a reason to buy into a brand. We make smart purchases. The features on this camera can be found in almost any brand.
      Those of us who buy a camera because of ‘the cool factor’ buy old film cameras.
      If there’s a camera brand that appeals more to generation X & Y than other brands, It’s Sony & Fuji.
      In fact, I’d probably put every brand ahead of Leica in that department, even RED.

      Just my 2 cents.

    1. I think you make an excellent point but there’s no way that Millenials/iPhone generation are going to be buying this camera when it effectively costs half their month’s gross salary.

  17. Too small, too thin, too slippery and at two grand, too expensive. Takes lovely photos though, I’ll give that 😉

  18. I had the original Leica T, as a second camera to my M240. Finally sold it because it lacks a built-in EVF. Having said that, the images were plenty sharp.

  19. While not full frame, I am very curious how this sensor/IQ compares to the ones in the 1) Leica Q and 2) Leica M10. I would love the Q in different focal lengths, so perhaps this is another way to get a similar look at different focal lengths and AF in a Leica (or is the SL really needed to get similar quality)…

    1. Well, this is an APS-C and will not provide the same overall vibe but it does look very Q like, the sensor here in the way it renders colors. The best native lens for it is the 35 Lux IMO.

  20. This camera is, perhaps, the closest we can get to a camera phone while having much better image quality. In some ways, it is the most persuasive of Leica cameras for the average public. It certainly looks like it was designed by Jonathan Ive or Marc Newson. It’s achilles heel: No built-in viewfinder. Not having one is a deal breaker for me.

    1. Totally agree, it really captures what a digital camera should be like in the smartphone era, it even got internal storage

      1. Make it about 75% cheaper and you’d be onto a winner.
        That said, someone recently commented that Leica’s pricing strategy is not based on selling volume, it’s based on selling their production capacity, which is pretty small relative to the market.

    2. “No built-in viewfinder. Not having one is a deal breaker for me.”

      It DOES have an add-on viewfinder for only $575 extra. However, there appears to be no way to use both a viewfinder and a flash at the same time, which puts a severe limit on the TL system as a professional system. (Or even as a system for an amateur who wants to take flash pictures and use the viewfinder for framing.)

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