Leica TL Review
|Full model name:||Leica TL|
(23.6mm x 15.7mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 12,500|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 12,500|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 seconds|
5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in.
(134 x 69 x 33 mm)
|Full specs:||Leica TL specifications|
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Leica TL Review -- First Impressions
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted 11/08/2016
Two years ago, Leica launched its brand-new T-mount with the clumsily-named Leica T (Typ 701). Two years later, the branding has all changed -- gone are the confusing "Typ XYZ" model numbers, and the mount itself has been redubbed the Leica L-mount, a nod to the fact that it's shared with the full-frame Leica SL -- but in other respects, there's not been a whole lot of change.
The Leica TL takes over from the T (Typ 701) as the company's sub-frame L-mount offering, and brings with it a subtly restyled body with chamfered edges for greater comfort, one new body color choice, and a couple of functional tweaks.
The only significant hardware change is a doubling of the camera's internal storage from 16 to 32GB. At the same time, Leica also notes that it has improved autofocus performance -- especially in continuous autofocus mode -- but the company doesn't provide any indication of the scope of this improvement, nor does it indicate whether the Leica T (Typ 701) has already received these same improvements in firmware post-launch.
In other respects, the Leica TL looks to be near-identical to its predecessor, sharing the same 16.3-megapixel APS-C imaging pipeline, 3.7-inch LCD monitor, optional electronic viewfinder / GPS accessory, and much the same overall configuration as the Typ 701.
Available from November 2016 in black, silver or titanium body colors, the Leica TL will ship for around US$1,700 body-only.
Leica TL Technical Info
by Mike Tomkins
At the heart of the Leica TL is a 16.3-megapixel, 3:2-aspect APS-C CMOS image sensor, just as in the preceding Leica T (Typ 701). Total resolution of the chip is 16.5 megapixels.
Maximum resolution is 4,928 x 3,264 pixels when shooting in JPEG-compressed mode, or 4,944 x 3,278 pixels in DNG raw format.
Burst capture performance is unchanged since the Leica T (Typ 701): The Leica TL is capable of shooting at around five frames per second for a total of 12 frames before the capture rate slows, according to its maker.
The Leica TL's sensitivity range, likewise, is unchanged: It spans everything from ISO 100 to 12,500 equivalents.
The Leica TL's sensor sits behind the same Leica L bayonet mount -- originally called the T-mount -- which made its debut in the Typ 701, and has since been featured in the Leica SL. As in that camera, the mount includes electronic connections to allow communication between camera body and lens. Since the Leica T and TL have APS-C sized crop sensors, while the Leica SL is a full-frame camera, the company now instead distinguishes between the two types with a "TL" designation in the names of subframe lenses.
As of this writing, six Leica L-mount lens models for subframe bodies are available or expected to ship soon, a full four more than were available at launch of the earlier Leica T (Typ 701). Three are zoom lenses: The Super-Vario-Elmar-TL 11–23 mm f/3.5–4.5 Asph., Vario-Elmar-TL 18–56 mm f/3.5–5.6 Asph. and APO-Vario-Elmar-TL 55–135 mm f/3.5–4.5 Asph. The remaining three are primes: The Summicron-TL 23 mm f/2 Asph., Summilux-TL 35 mm f/1.4 Asph. and APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm/F2.8 Asph.
As well as these, there are also several full-frame Leica L lenses available or shipping soon: The Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8–4 Asph., APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8–4 and Summilux-SL 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. And from 2017 thru 2018, Leica is forecasting that these will be joined by the Summicron-SL 35 mm f/2 Asph., APO-Summicron-SL 75 mm f/2 Asph., APO-Summicron-SL 90 mm f/2 Asph. and Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35 mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH.
Of course, you can also shoot using adapters. Leica offers adapters allowing use of Leica R-mount and M-mount lenses. Third parties, too, offer adapters for use with L-mount bodies.
Just as in the original T (Typ 701), Leica has opted for a contrast-detection based autofocus system in the Leica TL, rather than a hybrid system as in many mirrorless cameras these days. It provides a choice of single-point, multi-point, spot, face detection, and touch autofocus.
Although the autofocus methodology hasn't changed, Leica says that the TL will offer better AF performance than its predecessor. Continuous autofocus, in particular, is said to be faster. With that said, Leica hasn't indicated the scope of the improvement made, nor whether the Typ 701 has seen similar performance improvements through firmware updates post-launch.
Just as in its predecessor, the Leica TL sports a roomy 3.7-inch rear-panel LCD monitor, which has a high resolution of 1,229,760 dots (854 x 480 pixels). And it's not just for framing and reviewing your photos and movies, it's also topped with a touch-sensitive overlay that allows it to double as an input device. You can touch to focus on a specific subject, or touch your way through setting changes, just as you're used to doing with your smartphone.
Although it lacks a built-in viewfinder, you can mount an optional Leica Visoflex electronic viewfinder accessory on the Leica TL's hot shoe, if you're not a fan of shooting at arm's length. It has a resolution of around 3.7 million dots, a 90-degree tilt and swivel function, adjustable brightness, a +/-3EV diopter correction function, and most unusually, adds GPS geolocation functionality to the TL camera body.
All of the exposure modes an experienced photographer would expect are to be found in the Leica TL, plus a few that will cater to those with less photographic knowledge. Traditionalists will stick to the Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual modes, while less experienced shooters can opt for fully automatic, sport, portrait, landscape, night portrait, snow / beach, fireworks, candlelight, or sunset scene modes.
Exposures are metered using the image sensor, and a choice of multiple field, center weighted or spot metering modes are available, as well as +/-3.0 EV of exposure compensation in 1/3 EV steps. You can also bracket three frames, with a step size of up to +/-3.0 EV, again in 1/3 EV increments.
Shutter speeds offered by the Leica TL range from a maximum of 30 seconds to a minimum of just 1/4,000 second. White balance modes include auto, a selection of five presets for daylight, cloud, incandescent light, shade, and flash, as well as two manual settings and a color temperature setting. And if you want to get into the picture yourself -- or just avoid camera shake when shooting on a tripod -- you'll find the optional two or 12-second self-timer handy.
All of the above is unchanged from the Leica T, incidentally.
If you want to throw a little more light on your subject, the Leica TL caters to your need with a built-in popup flash and ISO hot shoe, both found on the top deck. The stadium-shaped popup flash has a guide number of 14.8 feet (4.5m) at ISO 100, and recharges in around five seconds with a fully-charged battery.
For more power, you'll want to use an external strobe such as the Leica SF 26 -- so long as you don't want to use the optional electronic viewfinder accessory. (Both share the same hot shoe, so can't be mounted at once.)
The Leica TL has a choice of six flash modes: automatic, forced, and slow sync, each with optional red eye reduction. As well as its exposure compensation, it also offers flash exposure compensation within the same range of +/-3.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps. The Leica TL will sync with strobes at up to 1/180 second.
Again, this is all unchanged from the Leica T (Typ 701).
Although its focus is clearly on stills, the Leica TL can also capture video clips at up to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution. You can also opt for a lower HD (1,280 x 720 pixel) resolution, but regardless of that choice, you'll have a fixed 30 frames per second framerate and an MP4 file type. Recording length is capped at 29 minutes.
To help get your photos off the camera and online, the Leica TL includes Wi-Fi wireless networking capability. It can connect to 802.11b/g/n wireless networks running in infrastructure mode on channels 1 to 11, and supports both WPA and WPA2 encryption.
The wireless connection is available not only for image and video transfer, but also for remote control with live view streaming and the ability to adjust aperture and shutter speed, among other functions. The required Leica TL app is already available for iOS devices, and an Android version is planned as well.
As well as Wi-Fi, the Leica TL also offers a wired data connection, just as you'd expect. Specifically, it's a USB 2.0 High Speed port, and it also allows for in-camera battery charging at a maximum of one amp.
The only other connectivity offered by the Leica TL is its top-deck hot shoe, which doubles as a connector for optional accessories such as the Visoflex electronic viewfinder which has integrated GPS and can tilt and swivel.
Batteries charge courtesy of an included BC-DC13 charger, and you can expect around 400 shots on a charge from the Leica TL's BP-DC13 7.2V, 985 mAh lithium-ion battery pack.
(Both of these numbers are lower than was specified at launch of the Leica T, but we're guessing that difference comes down to how the values are measured, given that the model number of the pack itself is unchanged.)
Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCard memory, and the Leica T does support both the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC card types. 32GB of internal memory is also provided, which is twice as much as in the original Leica T.
For still images, you have a choice of JPEG-compressed files at one of two compression levels, DNG raw files, or both at once. Videos are saved as MP4 files, and have a choice of either Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels; 1080p) or HD (1,280 x 720 pixels; 720p) with a fixed frame rate of 30 fps.
The Leica TL ships with a BP-DC13 battery pack, BC-DC13 charger with six adapter plugs, a USB cable, carrying strap, and two carrying strap release pins.
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Also lacks viewfinder