Follow Up! Using the Leica 55-135 T Lens on the T! Latest firmware 1.5, more
By Steve Huff
NOTE: All images here are straight from RAW without any PP
How lucky am I?!? I like to say I am blessed as I have the opportunity to do what I love to do every day, at my own pace and my own style. I even go to work in my Pajamas on many days 😉 I have no complaints but this post is not about me working in my PJ’s…
Last week I received a giant box from Leica Camera and inside was a Leica T and a few lenses. Leica asked me if I wanted to check out the T again since it has been a long while since I last used it. My original and LONG review is HERE. Since then Leica has vastly improved the firmware, so I wanted to take a peek again. I really enjoyed the T and found it, at the time of its release, to be a VERY unique and stunning image maker. Many found it odd with its iPhone style of navigating the menu. The T has no buttons on the back. Just a huge wide touchscreen where all settings are made. Of course we have the two control dials up top to set your aperture and shutter speed. A video button and the shutter button also reside up top.
“Sleeping Beauty” – Click for larger, the T with the 55-135
The T was launched to what seemed to be a lukewarm response. I really enjoyed it but many thought it was too pricey or a gimmick. The reality is that the T is a powerful camera if you can deal with its control and layout, as well as body shape.
Unlike the super hot Leica Q, the T never really took off though. I feel this is due to a couple reasons…one of course, which is always a Leica thing is COST. The T which does not have a built in EVF or VF and is has an APS-C sensor (not full frame) comes in at $1700 for the body only. NO lens. The EVF that is an external model and sits on top of the T is over $500. The lenses, most of which are zooms are also quite pricey. The 18-56 Zoom which has an aperture range of f/3.5-5.6 is $1500. Ouch. This is what I feel slowed the sales of the T, the slow lenses and the cost of the lenses. It also had slower AF when compared to todays cameras. Not full frame, but APS-C…. makes it a tough sell TODAY at this price level. BUT, look at the Fuji X-Pro 2. It comes in at $1699 and is also an APS-C. Which would yield better IQ?
“Trapped” – Leica T with 55-135
Id go for the Leica T but the cost of the lenses is WAY out there when compared to Fuji glass which is also VERY good. So you would spend less on a Fuji X-Pro 2 and three lenses over a T with three new lenses. But the T offers a uniqueness some Leica fans will appreciate, but not all. 🙂
So how does Leica plan on continuing the T line? By improving it via firmware, creating new lenses that we want, like a 35 Summilux and others. Hopefully, eventually they will update the camera itself with a built in EVF, at which point it will be like an APS-C Interchangeable lens Q. You can not dispute the performance of the T. Or the Build. Or the company behind it, as they do know Photography.
Onto using the T..again
So after a few days of the big Leica box sitting in my office I finally was able to get around to checking it all out. One lens that grabbed my attention was the 55-135 F/3.5-5.6, which seemed like a versatile zoom range for this camera. This lens comes in at nearly $1800, so I wanted to see if it performed up to the normal Leica level I have grown accustomed to. One thing many will never dispute is that Leica glass is TOP notch. I wanted to see how the AF speed was, how the camera reviewed images on the LCD and I wanted to make sure there was no lag or glitches. The early firmware did have some slowdown and glitches here and there. I have not used the T since the original launch firmware, so will be seeing all of the improvements from all updates including nearly DOUBLE AF speed to improved touch sensitivity, to faster wake up, etc.
With FW Update 1.5 Leica has increased data transfer speeds with external hotspots as well.
Also, the T now creates its own hotspot, for use with the Leica T app.
I am happy to say that the latest firmware since launch makes the T much snappier and quicker than ever before. In my use this week, I noticed MUCH faster AF, MUCH snappier all around response, touch screen was VERY snappy as well, no glitches. Start up time was much faster, under 1 second for sure. This is much quicker than when it was launched. So bravo to Leica for improving the T so those who own it can continue to grow with the camera without frustrations.
Leica did not send me the EVF for this (re)Evaluation which is a bummer as it kind of sucks shooting a $3800 camera rig like a tourist, holding out the camera at arms length…even so, never had one issue. The T was quick, and the touchscreen was smooth as silk. The IQ? Lovely, just as I remembered but this 55-110 lens is a stunner. Worth the cost? Up to you, but I enjoyed shooting it.
This shot – I love the color, the look and feel..reminds me of the look of the latest cameras from Leica like the Q which put out stunning IQ – click it for larger
The T with 55-135
The way the lens and sensor capture light is very LEICA
Quick, fast AF was no issue and locked on very quickly, even with the 55-135 maxed out at 135.
The Leica T of today is much better than the Leica T of yesterday but only you can decide if the T fits your groove, your mojo, your vibe. Plenty of competition is out there but for the Leica fans, this may be worth a new look with the new firmware updates as it does indeed make it much snappier, faster and the IQ is still delicious. I find it to be a fun, capable, original and quality camera throughout. It is made from a solid block of aluminum after all! 😉 The IQ is pure Leica.
If you are interested in the T, I recommend the dealers below:
Ken Hansen – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks Steve for this update. After reading the update, I ordered a MINT condition (used) T at Popflash for $858! Comes with the full 2 year Leica warranty as well. At that price/warranty it is now worth buying! B&H Photo is also discounting their new one for $1095 as it appears that a new T is coming out soon.
It seems that we have forgotten that the Leica T also can accept R lenses through the adaptors . I have been using a Summicron R90/F2 with it and the result is amazing .
Just jumped on board with a gently used Silver T and the 55-135mm. Sold off my Olympus gear to do so. Now, the bundle came with the M to T adapter, but no Visoflex or normal range lenses.
For my normal range should I buy the 18-56 for it’s versatility, 23 for it’s autofocus and fast F2 speed, or use the adapter and get something like the manual Voigtlander 35mm F1.2? I’ve always been a prime user so the 18-56mm specs are not especially “exciting”, but all the reviews praise it for it’s sharpness and micro-contrast.
With no Visoflex are manual lenses pretty tough to use? Can the 18-56mm be used indoors?
So, just an somewhat unrelated question, how do you guys carry cameras with optical viewfinders if they aren’t your primary?
I ran around with a single camera rig strapped to my hand for a really long time and it was basically fine to mount anything on there without stressing the mount, and any time couldn’t I quite literally dropped it baseplate first into my backpack.
But I ran into this a problem a few weeks ago as I needed a spare primary with lights and film for a case specific build featuring a optical finder.
Namely how do you stow it to alleviate horizontal stress on the mount?
I carried it finder out/facing the bag wall or if possible finder up which only worked if I stowed most of everything else on top of the camera, neither of which really solved the theoretical problem. 😛
I considered a similar path with an X and XV, but instead I went down the road to the T without regret.
Faster autofocus; no AA filter; accepts M lenses; available other prime and zoom lenses; better EVF (than XV); better LCD; remote smartphone app.
These features of the T all won me over, despite the touchscreen interface which is much better than I thought and I like.
My wallet is a little lighter because I have been buying other Leica T & M lenses, but it’s all good. Very good…
I think I am it is time to let go my M8 in order to fund a silver T-18-56-Visoflex. However for the same money basically I can get both an X 113 and an X Vario so I haven’t make up my mind yet. -I guess the IQ would be very similar: Absolutely beautiful.
Do any of the T lenses have IS?
Is the lack of IS a problem at the long end of the 55-135?
I wouldn’t consider this camera. I am all Leica, but not this one. I just bought an olympus and love it as well as the a7r2 and cant wait for the leica autofocus adapter.
I bought a Leica T a few weeks ago and love it. The IQ is fantastic. If blows away my Fuji XT1 and Leica M3. The colors are great too. What I see is what I get! It has become my “go to” camera. Adjustments are easy to make on the camera, and more important than that, easy to remember!
The three zoom lens provide images that are tack sharp from corner to corner throughout the zoom range. The dynamic range of the sensor also exceeded my expectations.
I am glad it isn’t very popular because the prices have really come down since its introduction in April 2014.
By no means is the T ‘ideal’ (e.g. it lacks a tilting LCD) but then I’d choose it over any APS-C DSLR. I think a lot of people underplay the importance of quiet shutters in the T, the M and the SL (not that all DSLRs are unbearably noisy). Then again, will we see a purely electronic shutter from Leica as we do from Sony?
I also wonder about digital sensors without AA filters. Some lenses are not sharp enough to cause moire but it’s not easy to get rid of if you do get it. I don’t think it matters for b&w but for colour it certainly does. I chose the A7 instead of the A7r for many reasons, one being the inclusion of an AA filter.
Also, Leica needs to update its cameras more often. We could say it doesn’t need to, but I’d like to see a slightly more aggressive Leica – a Leica which is number one in its industry. People used to say that there was nothing Apple or anyone could do to surpass Microsoft in the IT industry. I think we all know what happened to that hypothesis.
I am so glad that Leica has a longer product cycle compared to Sony and some others. If you get the improvements slice by slice you loose much more money (and time). If I see how many models and updates the A7 has gone through in just a few years, no thanks. But thats just my opinion. I think the world has become too fast allready anyways for us human beings.
Always good to hear your opinion Steve , BUT – what we really want is a dedicated post showing how the M lenses work on the SL! Hoping…
I already posted TONS of SL and M images. I do not own or have access to Leica M lenses I do not own or have on hand, so what I have shown is all I can show. Every M lens I have tried on the SL has been gorgeous and beats using them on the Sony.
Thanks for the update. You can pick up the T a lot cheaper these days new. I was thinking it could be a way of starting a collection of M lenses with the adaptor until I can afford an M. Shoot now pay later sorta scenario.
I am very pleased with the T. The firmware update greatly improved the camera’s startup time, autofocus speed, EVF cutover speed, and overall handling. It’s like a different camera now.
Leica designs their T lenses to a 60 line pair/mm standard (versus 40 lppm) so this somewhat compensates for having only an APS-C sensor. This, and the fact that the camera has no AA filter make the image quality really outstanding.
The T zooms and prime lenses produce the rich colors, edge to edge sharpness and that special Leica micro contrast that Leica’s are famous for, making the T “expensive, but worth it”. The lenses are somewhat digitally corrected, explaining why T lenses are priced less than the optically perfect (analog) M lenses. The final image does not suffer from this built-in digital correction so I’m not sure why that even matters to some.
The bottom line is, a full frame sensor can pull in a bit more dynamic range – but the T is more than adequate with ISO that’s very usable up to 3200 (6400 with NR works in a pinch). This suits me fine since it’s all in a sleek, small package that also works great with M lenses.
I can’t wait for the 35mm/1.4 TL Summilux (50mm equivalent) for less that $2k.
I believe the T now shares the same L mount as the SL – so Leica now provide a path from APSC to FF for users who need/want this.
@Steve : while this is a crazy thing to ask you to do , for a bit of fun, would you mind mounting your SL 24-90 to the Leica T to see how it performs?
TT has been boxed up and shipped back to Leica. The T lenses can be used on the SL in CROP mode, so you lose your full frame character. As for the 24-90 on a T, that would be a waste IMO, MUCH MUCH too large for the T, and you would be cropping the lens. T works fantastic with the T lenses 😉
I have the T and love it, glad to see the new FW update