Leica TL2 camera vs Leica TL Camera
Leica Philosophy in Camera Design
I am a Leica TL2 camera owner. There is no denying that Leica has a different approach than other camera and lens manufacturers in the market. When the debate is about megapixels and auto-focus or buffer size, Leica stands apart with their quality before quantity approach, and for this reason, at times it was difficult to explain the reasons for my choice for Leica camera. Coupled with higher prices than most competitors cameras, I often have to answer most of their questions as a choice of a philosophy of perfection that Leica places in each of their products.
At a certain point, the numbers lose meaning because it is no longer getting the biggest bang for your buck but about buying a camera or a lens that will last a lifetime with proper care. In another word, it is challenging to make comparisons to other camera manufacturers’ cameras, more like comparing apples to oranges. In that regard, this is most evident in Leica’s T/TL2 line of camera and lenses.
Who would polish a camera body by hand for 45 minutes? And who would really care for that perfectionistic approach to manufacturing a lens or a camera by hand? That is the point at which explanation of philosophy is necessitated. I often prefer not to explain. In the same way, one would not want to explain, whether a Pata Negra Jamon or a hand-stitched handbag warrants its value to be appreciated.
Introducing Leica TL – A Trip in Time
Leica TL camera is a compact camera with a 16MP APS-C size sensor and because it is not full frame or medium format camera some would not consider it suitable for professional. But, I differ from that point of view; Leica TL is a very suitable for professional use which I will explain my reasons in this review and in the other Leica TL reviews to come. Let’s first talk about the design of this camera.
In 2014, when Leica announced their T line of cameras, I was very excited because it was innovative and almost revolutionary concept in camera design. At its launch, Leica T did not have many native lenses for its new mount, but Leica had made a commitment to creating a new line of cameras which meant new lenses would be coming out in the coming years to support the T line which is now referred as TL.
Leica was prudent to offer an M to T-mount adapter which made it possible to mount any of the Leica’s M mount lenses. That was enough of a reason for me to purchase this camera. I also wanted to own the new native lenses that they offered. My first choice was the Leica 23mm Summicron-TL lens and it
Now, we are into 2017 and Leica has announced the second version of their T cameras simply called TL which stands for the mount that this camera has, identical to the previous generation but only renamed to suggest that it shared the same mount characteristics with Leica’s SL line of cameras.
What is New
If you look at the new Leica TL2 camera it is an upgraded version of Leica TL camera. In terms of design it looks identical to the T camera with only minor differences in design, for example, microphone location on the body has been changed which is unnoticeable unless you were deliberately looking for it. The menu, that too is the same, in fact, cameras sensor size and megapixel has also remained the same. But with the change in the specification, it is clear that Leica has switched their sensor supplier. For the end user, Leica TL2 camera has 24MP sensor while the previous versions featured a 16.3MP APS-C size sensor.
So what is exactly new with Leica TL2 camera from the earlier Leica TL, you might ask. Basically, it is a 24MP sensor camera with 4K video capability. Since the renaming of Leica T camera is now called Leica TL, the features have changed or upgraded but the design elements remain virtually unchanged with the exception of the omission of flash. he same camera “renamed.” Then why the new name? Because the mount is renamed and for all intents and purposes it is more reasonably priced than ever. When
For those who are wondering on the reason for the name change, Leica Camera wanted to offer the Leica T mount in a Leica SL line up compatible design. If you do recall the time when Leica T was announced it was extremely expensive to own, almost twice the price of Leica TL which made a lot of Leica owners shy away from owning it. Now, Leica TL2 camera is more modestly priced, allowing for new generation of buyers to have access to it.
The new generation of consumers would be the younger generation that has not know the day’s pre-smartphones. Hence, they are already used to using touch screen menus and tapping and customizing their menus. This is what the new Leica TL2 camera is, Leica T and TL cameras are, modern touchscreen smartphone like cameras that offer far superior image quality.
The exterior of the Leica TL2 camera bears a minimalistic, simple design. While some prefer to have a multitude of buttons on the back of a camera, Leica has left the back of the camera without any buttons since the first version of Leica TL2 camera which was Leica T. No button even on the first version? Why would Leica T not have what all other manufacturers have done? The simple answer would be to simplify functionality. A minimalistic approach to functional design is what Leica T was all about. The legacy of that iconic design continues on with the Leica TL2 camera.
But what about the lenses, would not they be too far out of the reach of these younger consumers? Apparently not so, unlike other Leica lenses, these are made in Japan. Lighter, plastic exteriors but superior quality nonetheless on optics. So, what if they are made by a third party. Quality is still Leica quality.
If you think of the end user for this camera, it appeals to amateurs as well as the professionals. Why it would appeal to professionals I will get into in a bit, for the nonprofessionals who have limited knowledge of photographic equipment, tips, and techniques; this camera works very much like a smartphone, simple to operate and personalize for customized used.
Leica has also incorporated complex software within the camera to “correct” for distortion and other issues for lenses that are attached. Generally, physics of lens design only afford a certain amount of excellence in lens design, what can’t be removed via lens engineering can be done through Softwares like Adobe Lightroom or pre-computed software within the camera. Leica TL2 camera offers the same “lens “correction” capabilities found on Leica TL, hence, your photographs are “corrected” for you before you even view them.
The new Leica TL2 camera continues on the same path set by the earlier version Leica TL and Leica T in providing built-in Wi-fi connectivity to send these images to your smartphone for easy sharing. Wi-fi connectivity will be something all cameras will have to offer shortly. We have seen this feature in all cameras released in 201.
The menu layout on the Leica L2 camera simple as well. Intelligently laid out boxes that let you select different camera options that let you make your own menu by choosing your favorites. This way you would have access to your most favorite functions arranged in the way you would like to use them. As far as I know, there is no other camera manufacturer that offers this type of flexibility. Considering that iPhone and other smartphone manufacturers have been offering this type of menu for almost a decade now, I think it is about time that cameras get “smart” as well.
It is important to remember that the ease of use with such features like the customisable menu has made Apple a leader in the smartphone market. Leica T and TL and the latest Leica TL2 camera, in my point of view, have embarked on the next generation of cameras that are easy to use and customize as our smartphones.
Since the release of Leica TL camera with all the innovative design has also caused some camera users to shy away from owning one. Understandably, change is not easy, since the invent of cameras, dials and buttons were the way we have used them. Now, times are changing, and touch screens and easy menus will be the next leap forward for cameras. Leica Camera prudently has chosen to keep the minimalistic design characteristic as the cornerstone of their design in the new Leica TL2 camera as well.
I believe in the next five years all cameras will have touch screens. That is why Leica Camera has incorporated them into their Q and SL models as well. Remember those smartphone manufacturers that refused to yield to logic, like Blackberry – erased from the market. This, again, comes down to understanding the vision and philosophy that Leica Camera believes in touch screens will shape the future of camera design.
Of course, a professional would need to access certain functions of a camera, often, these are ISO, shutter speed, aperture. Again, clever engineering has placed two easily accessible thumb dials on the back of the camera near the shutter which allows the photographer to dial in his or her settings without having to take his or her eyes off the subject. What a refreshing idea!
Then there is an issue of compatibility. I own just about all the lenses that Leica produces on their M series. It goes to reason that I would want to utilize them in my new compact Leica TL2 camera as I did with my Leica TL camera. Some may feel it is overkill to place a Leica Noctilux on a Leica TL or Leica TL2 camera. But I say why not if you have it? It gives you what no other lens in the world would give you, a 75mm f/0.95, an incredible portrait lens to say the least.
Also, when the time is right, a photographer may feel the need to take control of his camera and use it in manual mode which makes Leica M lenses a viable option on the new Leica TL2 camera. This is why Leica has built Leica TL2 camera (Leica TL as well) with manual override for the focus.
On the auto-focus, Leica Camera also has made significant strides by implementing a “contrast-based-focus” which is as Leica Camera calls it a more “accurate focusing” system. When the camera was first version of the Leica TL2 camera launched, Leica T had significant issues with it auto-focusing. Many reviews had pointed this out clearly. They were right too! Then… Leica Camera answered back with the firmware update that has double Leica T’s auto-focusing capabilities. Kudos Leica Camera !!
Now, Leica TL2 camera is on the market, what would be happening with the Leica TL in the market is the question that has been asked by many Leica camera enthusiast. Leica camera will eventually phase out the older design but for now, the earlier and the new Leica TL2 camera are both available for purchase online. Beautiful design with a new color option, offering the same functionality. Autofocus, touch screen autofocus is faster than ever. If you are a compact camera user, you already know that this is perhaps the most important function of the camera. In fact, with an efficient auto-focusing coupled with excellent lenses pretty much, everything comes down to the photographer.
Leica TL2 camera has the same beautiful sleek design with a new color option, offering the same functionality with improved video capabilities. When I compared the older version with the new Leica TL2 camera, the autofocus, touch screen focus were both faster with the new camera. If you are a compact camera user, you already know that this is perhaps the most important function of the camera. In fact, with an efficient auto-focusing coupled with excellent lenses pretty much, everything comes down to the photographer.
If you are a compact camera user, you already know that autofocus is perhaps the most important function of any point and shoot camera. In fact, with an efficient auto-focusing coupled with excellent lenses pretty much, everything comes down to the photographer.
In a certain way, I think of the new Leica TL2 camera like the earlier Leica TL is comparable to a sports car with the best combination of characteristics that would enable anyone who knew how to use it well to achieve amazing results. In another word, Leica Camera provided a versatile tool for a photographer to produce incredibly good photographs.
Some argue that a full frame or medium format is the only way good photographs can be attained. I disagree. Great photographs can be had with an APS-C size sensor. Some say it is the number of megapixels that count and that 24MP is not high for a camera. The truth is in Canon’s top of the line full frame camera has 24MP and if that is sufficient for pros so should the Leica TL2 camera. It is important to remember that megapixel count is not the name of the game in photography nor should it be the determining factor for the quality of an image.
Recently, I have had a chance to compare Leica TL2 and Leica TL cameras’ images with Sony’s A7 R II. What I saw surprised me. Sony images despite their incredibly large megapixel count failed to produce as sharp and accurate images as Leica TL , could not match the performance of Leica TL2 in color rendition and accuracy. There a multitude of reasons for this which I will delve into in my next article. But, I simply like to point out that large megapixel count is just a trend, in the end, what counts is how good of an image your camera and lens combination along with your talent is created that makes the day.
There a multitude of reasons for this which I will delve into in my next article. But, I simply like to point out that large megapixel count is just a trend, in the end, what counts is how good of an image your camera and lens combination along with your talent is created that makes the day.
Leica TL2 Camera – Functions and Features
The new Leica TL2 camera has the same sleek body design as the Leica TL which has continued on since the Leica T. When you hold the Leica TL2 camera in your hand you immediately feel that you have a firm grasp on the camera. This is particularly important to take into consideration because with almost all compact cameras additional accessories need to be purchased to be used efficiently for everyday use.
While there are remarkable design characteristics, Leica’s Q and SL models don’t have nearly as well thought out designs, particularly in terms of grip and sleek, futuristic design. Even the famed Leica M camera devoid of any design characteristics that help the user get a firm grasp. In this regard, I think Leica TL2 camera like the Leica TL has the edge over many cameras in the market because most compact cameras don’t even offer any groove to grip the camera firmly.
Leica TL2 camera (Leica TL) has a natural groove that allows your fingers to hug the camera and due to its light weight can easily be used single-handedly. Whether you prefer to use it with both hands or not, you can rest assured that it has better than grip than any other compact camera in the market.
When you take a closer look at Leica TL2 camera you will see how the battery compartment is neatly designed. The way the battery release is so ingenious, I often wonder why the other camera manufacturers have not thought of changing their design for a better battery placement.
Leica TL2 camera’s (Leica TL) battery can be easily removed via simple operation, by press on the release lever. This design is also the same design used, on Leica’s top of the line S model cameras. Again, a very good idea applied across product designs that make Leica Camera’s approach to engineering unique among the camera manufacturers.
Leica TL2 camera continues its tradition of featuring a large LCD screen on the back of the camera as it did in the previous version Leica TL. While the large screen size on the back of the Leica TL2 camera considered being “too big” by some, it is a definite plus for use in many challenging circumstances. Again, like Apple’s design for their smartphones, Leica Camera knew that people would want to see the image they are going to capture on a larger screen. This also goes to explain why iPhone comes in 2 sizes because some people prefer to have larger screen despite added size.
On the Leica TL2 camera viewing your images is simple, you just swipe up or down to start the playback function to view your pictures. This allows the user to see clearly what they have captured without having to need to enlarge the image on the screen.
The screen on the new Leica TL2 camera is a high quality 1.3M LCD. If you think that this is not so important for the end user, I kindly remind you to view an image on the back of a Leica M9, you would be hard pressed to tell if what you have actually captured is in focus or not.
In short, I welcome a large screen on the Leica TL2 camera for both amateurs and professionals. On my professional work, I use a large screen to view the images as I capture them, allowing me to make on-the-spot decisions for my next shot. When large screens are not available, having a large back screen is always a nice welcome whether you are a pro or an amateur.
As for the image quality, I have shot with numerous cameras that are called competitors “versions.” While their price tags are much lower than Leica TL2 and Leica TL, what I found was that the images were not as sharp, in this regard, I am referring to both Sony A6500 and Canon Powershot G16 and Nikon Coolpix. Yes, the price tag of a Leica TL2 or Leica TL is higher, but you are getting a better camera both in its design and functionality.
M to TL Adapter
What I like most about Leica TL2 camera is (also available for the Leica TL) is the M adaptor. I have had much fun putting on a variety of lenses from my collection and enjoying the way the images have turned out. I have even placed Leica’s 50mm APO Summicron f/2.0 which has yielded some amazingly accurate images which I think rival any full frame camera.
Image stabilization is also another feature that makes Leica TL2 camera fun. As much as we attempt to avoid camera and shutter press shake, it is sometimes unavoidable. Since the introduction, Leica T has helped photographers to capture better images with image stabilization feature which continues with Leica TL2 camera. Same can be said for Leica TL2 and Leica TL’s video stabilization function when a native TL lens is used. More on that in a later article.
The pop-up flash was a nice feature with the older version of the Leica TL2 camera. The flash was discreetly hidden in Leica TL’s body but I never use it. For some circumstances the use of flash becomes obligator but Leica Camera decided to omit the flash from the new Leica TL2 camera design. Although I disagree with this choice, it is a decision with which we must all live with.
I have used Leica TL2 camera with Leica T 23mm Summicron F/2.0 lens. Images are superb, for this reason as a prime lens, it stands as the most logical choice as the first lens purchase for this camera. This lens is more compact than Leica’s 35mm and 60mm TL mount lenses. In fact, I have used this lens exclusively for the photographs that I shot for my photography book, “Doors” which is available on Amazon and iBooks. I invite you to look at the photographs to come to your own conclusions about the capabilities of this new Leica TL2 camera. As I have observed, you will see the beautiful rendition of colors and contrast. I could not have been happier with the images that I got from Leica TL2 camera. For those who are looking to upgrade from the earlier version Leica TL camera, I think the 24MP plus the 4K video of the Leica TL2 camera makes it a worthwhile trade.
Onwards to the Future
What would I most like to see in Leica TL2 camera lineup? More prime lenses especially wide angles. Remember the crop factor makes the 23mm to function as a full frame 35mm. It ‘d be good to have 24mm full frame equivalent and perhaps a 21mm.
While Leica TL lineup has zoom lenses with varying focal lengths 11 – 23mm, 18– 56mm, 55 – 135mm all featuring f/3.5 – 5.6 apertures. While these lenses cover just about all focal lengths that most people would ever imagine using it, they are slow lenses and not the best choice for low light situations. It would be great to have some of the focal lengths be offered at f/2 or f/2.8 apertures.
Although in low light, having a f/3.5 aperture can be very limiting, on a sunny day, you are going to get accurate and sharp photographs with the new Leica TL2 camera should you choose to go with the zoom lens route. The bokeh will be lost for the most part in wider angles because the aperture will be at f/3.5 while the higher f stops for the longer focal length will not serve to isolate the subject sufficiently to get that three-dimensional pop most Leica M users are used to seeing with their Leica M lenses. Price wise, these zoom lenses can be considered bargains because they feature a superb design with low weight for travelling.
I understand that Leica Camera has attempted to make these lenses as compact as possible while keeping them fairly affordable. If I had a choice of getting one of them, I would probably go for Leica T 11mm – 23mm which will give you the option to photograph relatively wide angle.
For the most part, I prefer using my Leica TL2 camera with Leica 23mm Summicron and Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm f/2.8 ASPH lens because they give me the most versatility. They are both fast lenses with the capability to turn out some great results in low-light circumstance in dimly lit places and at night. The Leica 23mm Summicron, can create a very shallow depth of field (bokeh) if dialed to the aperture of f/2.0 which also works wonderfully in low light situations. I can use Leica 60mm Macro to do macro photography or shoot portraits.
Would I recommend Leica TL2 camera for anyone? Yes, I would. Both as a backup camera or as a first-time camera, as was with Leica TL, the new Leica TL2 camera is a pleasure to hold and to own. There is a sense of quality and refinement that comes with Leica TL2 camera that makes you like and appreciate the camera as you use it.
The best part of using these compact lenses is that Summicron, for example, on Leica TL, will easily fit in my coat pocket and be discreet in crowded places allowing me to photography without drawing attention.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. In my next article, you can see and read about the image quality that Leica TL renders. As always, I appreciate all your comments and input. I look forward to receiving them.
For my upcoming 2018 photography workshops, here are the links
We offer numerous workshops around the world specializing in Leica cameras and lenses. You are invited to take part in one because what you gain from a dedicated a photography workshop for Leica cameras and lenses. The tips and techniques you will learn in these workshops will take your photography to the next level also will stay with you for a lifetime. We look forward to hearing from you.
Here is a link for the best prices I have found online for the Leica TL2 camera.
OZ YILMAZ – Leica Review Team
PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP OUR REVIEWS INDEPENDENT AND UNBIASED BY MAKING A SMALL DONATION. EVEN A SMALL AMOUNT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE. THANK YOU!