Leica TL2 Review
|Full model name:||Leica TL2|
(23.6mm x 15.7mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 50,000|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 50,000|
|Shutter:||1/40000 - 30 sec|
5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in.
(134 x 69 x 33 mm)
|Full specs:||Leica TL2 specifications|
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Leica TL2 Review -- First Impressions
by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 07/10/2017
The Leica TL launched as a mirrorless camera with a sleek minimalist, but functional, design. The Leica TL2 maintains that same design philosophy but includes many improvements over its predecessor, including a higher-megapixel sensor, more powerful processor, faster autofocus, 4K UHD video recording, enhanced connectivity and an improved user experience. Let's take a closer look at the Leica TL2, its improvements and what it offers to photographers looking for an APS-C mirrorless camera.
Key Features and Specifications
- Part of the Leica TL system
- Uses the Leica L mount (formerly known as the T mount)
- 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor
- ISO 100-50,000
- Leica Maestro II image processor
- Up to 20 frames per second when using the electronic shutter
- 4K UHD video at up to 30 frames per second
- Autofocus performance as fast as 165 milliseconds
- 3.7-inch touchscreen
- Touchscreen user interface
- Milled from a single block of aluminum
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- USB 3.0 Type-C port
- HDMI Type-D port
Aluminum Leica TL2 has a minimalist, sleek design
The Leica TL2 employs a minimalist design. The top of the camera includes a pair of buttons (including the shutter release) and two control dials. Besides branding, the top of the camera also has a hot shoe with accessory port, which is located over the center of the Leica L mount. The rear of the camera is dominated by a 3.7-inch TFT LCD which has 1.3 million dots. There is also a single programmable function button. The unibody camera is milled from a single aluminum block.
While its predecessor has a built-in flash, the TL2 does not. When using an external flash, the Leica TL2 has a maximum flash sync of 1/180s. In lieu of a built-in viewfinder, the hot shoe can be used to attach an optional Visoflex electronic viewfinder. The Leica Visoflex (Typ 020) has a 2.4-million dot LCD screen, tilt/swivel capability and integrated GPS functionality. It is available for US$575.
Considering dimensions, the Leica TL2 is about 5.3 inches (134 millimeters) wide, 2.7 inches (69 millimeters) tall and 1.3 inches (33 millimeters) deep. The camera weighs 14.1 ounces (399 grams) with its battery installed. Dimensions are the same as its predecessor, but the TL2 is about half an ounce (15 grams) heavier.
Image sensor: TL2 uses a new 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor
One of the most obvious improvements Leica is introducing with the TL2 is the new image sensor. The Leica TL2 uses a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The new sensor can record JPEG and DNG images (compressed and uncompressed DNG recording options are available) plus the camera now offers a DNG-only shooting mode. With an ISO range of 100 to 50,000, the TL2 is more sensitive than the TL, which offered a maximum ISO of 12,500.
Autofocus and Exposure: Faster autofocus performance
Like the TL, the Leica TL2 uses a contrast detection based autofocus system. The AF system is still a 49-point system offering single point, multiple point, spot and face detection modes alongside touch autofocus capabilities but the TL2 offers faster performance thanks to its faster Leica Maestro II image processor. Leica states the TL2, based on CIPA standards and using a zoom lens at the wide focal length setting, can acquire focus in as little as 165 milliseconds, which is nearly 300 milliseconds faster than the autofocus performance of the TL.
The TL2 offers multi-zone, center-weighted and spot metering modes along with +/- 3.0 EV exposure compensation which is available in 1/3 EV increments. With its new electronic shutter, the TL2 can record images with shutter speeds up to 1/40,000s. When using the mechanical shutter, the shutter speed range is 30 seconds to 1/4,000s.
Leica Maestro II image processor and electronic shutter combine for faster shooting
The new Leica Maestro II image processor results in not only faster autofocus, but faster continuous shooting as well. The Leica TL2 is rated to shoot up to 7 frames per second when using the mechanical shutter for up to 29 frames. When using the electronic shutter, that rate almost triples to 20 fps. It is worth pointing out that the start-up time is said to be improved as well; the TL2 is stated to power on in 600 milliseconds.
Shooting modes, usability and video: 4K video recording
While the Leica TL2 has the standard assortment of program auto, aperture priority, shutter speed priority and fully manual shooting modes, it also includes: fully automatic, sport, portrait, landscape, night portrait, snow/beach, fireworks, candlelight, sunset and digiscoping modes.
In addition to that array of shooting modes, the Leica TL2 introduces a new MyCamera menu, which lets you customize the display by dragging specific camera settings into place. Besides this improvement to the user interface, the touchscreen itself is eight times faster than the one found on the TL.
Video performance has seen a big improvement with the TL2. Unlike the TL, which topped out at 1920 x 1080 video resolution, the TL2 is 4K-capable. 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video can be recorded at up to 30 fps. Full HD video is recorded at up to 60 fps, which is twice as fast as the 1080p video recorded by the TL. If you want an even faster frame rate, the TL2 can record 1280 x 720 video at 120 fps.
Video is recorded in MP4 format for a maximum clip length of 29 minutes (maximum file size is 4 gigabytes per clip). The max duration of video recording is also dependent upon ambient and camera housing temperatures, so it is possible that the camera would stop recording prior to its specified limits. The TL2 has a built-in stereo mic, but does not have connections for a microphone or headphones.
Connectivity and power: Improved connectivity
Like its predecessor, the TL2 comes with 32GB of internal storage. In addition to the built-in storage, the TL2 has an SD card slot which offers UHS-II support. The Leica TL2 includes Micro (Type D) HDMI and USB Type C ports. The HDMI port supports HDMI 1.4 and the USB connection offers USB 3.0 Super Speed support.
Although the TL2 comes with a battery charger, it also supports charging via USB. The camera can fully charge in 160 minutes and the BP-DC13 lithium-ion battery is CIPA-rated for capturing 250 shots on a charge. Battery life is significantly less than the TL which was rated for 400 shots with the same battery pack.
When considering wireless connectivity, the TL2 has built-in Wi-Fi which allows the camera to connect to a compatible smartphone or tablet through the Leica App (available for Android and iOS). Through the use of the Leica App, remote image transfer and capture is possible.
Leica TL2 versus the TL: What's new?
The Leica TL was announced last November, which is only eight months prior to Leica's announcement of the TL2, but a lot has been improved. Let's look at some of the biggest improvements found in the TL2 compared to its predecessor.
- More megapixels: The Leica TL2 uses a new 24-megapixel sensor versus the 16-megapixel sensor found in the TL.
- Higher sensitivity: With an ISO range of 100 to 50,000, the TL2 has a much wider ISO range than the TL's, which was ISO 100 to 12,500.
- Faster focus: Leica states that the TL2 is rated to acquire focus in as little as 165 milliseconds, which is just under 300 milliseconds faster than the TL.
- Electronic shutter: With its new electronic shutter, the TL2 can shoot images at up to 1/40,000s. This is ten times faster than the mechanical shutter, which was the only shutter in the original TL.
- Faster shooting speeds: With the electronic shutter, the TL2 can shoot at up to 20 frames per second, which is 13 fps faster than it can shoot with the mechanical shutter and 15 fps faster than the top shooting speed of the TL.
- 4K video: With 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video at up to 30 frames per second, the TL2 offers better video performance than the Full HD-equipped TL.
- High-speed video: The TL2 offers Full HD video up to 60p and HD up to 120p, versus only 30p for the TL.
- Better and faster connectivity: The TL2 has USB 3.0 and HDMI 1.4, versus USB 2.0 and no HDMI on the TL.
- Flash: Unlike the TL, the TL2 does not have a built-in flash.
- SD card: The TL2 adds UHS-II support.
- Lower battery life: 250 shots per charge down from 400 on the TL.
Leica TL system and compatibility
The Leica TL system includes the following lenses, which cover 35mm equivalent focal lengths from 17 to 200mm:
- Leica Summicron-TL 23mm f/2 ASPH.
- Leica Summilux-TL 35mm f/1.4 ASPH.
- Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm f/2.8 ASPH.
- Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-TL 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH.
- Leica Vario-Elmar-TL 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH.
- Leica APO-Vario-Elmar-TL 55-135mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH.
In addition to being fully compatible with the six TL system lenses above, the Leica TL2 is also fully compatible with Leica M and R lenses through the use of official adapters.
Leica TL2 pricing and availability
The Leica TL2 will be available starting in July 2017 for US$1,950. The TL2 will be available in black and silver colorways and comes with a carrying strap, battery, charger and USB Type-C cable.
Our first take on the Leica TL2
Despite its predecessor coming out late last year, Leica opted to greatly improve the TL series with the new TL2. It may look similar to the original TL, but as you have read, a lot has changed in nearly every facet of the camera.
We look forward to learning more about the Leica TL2, as it looks like an impressive compact, sleek mirrorless camera. While it is a bit pricier than many other APS-C cameras with similar specs, it does come with the legendary Leica branding which continues to carry weight in the industry.
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