Leica T Review

May 12, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Leica T is a new mirrorless compact system camera with an APS-C sized 16.2 megapixel CMOS sensor. Manufactured from a single block of aluminium, the Leica T also offers an innovative touchscreen 3.7-inch display with 1.3 million pixels, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a pop-up flash and hot shoe, 1080p Full HD videos, 11-point AF system, full range of advanced controls from manual exposure to manual focus, sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,500, maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, JPEG and DNG RAW file support, 16GB internal memory, and a continuous shooting rate of up to 5 frames per second. Available in silver or black, the recommended retail price of the Leica T is £1350 / $1850 body only. Two "T" lenses are available at launch, the Leica Vario Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASP for £1250 / $1750, and the Leica Summicron-T 23mm f/2 ASPH for £1350 / $1850. The optional Leica Visoflex Typ 020 electronic viewfinder retails for £400 / $595.

Ease of Use

Two years in development, the new Leica T is only Leica's fourth ever camera system, following on from the M, R and T. It's a rather radical departure from the usual Leica blueprint, designed to appeal to a much younger audience who might never have considered the Leica brand before, with a sparse control layout that relies heavily on the massive 3.7-inch touchscreen display. At the same time, though, Leica haven't forgotten their roots, as the Leica T employs a solid aluminum alloy unibody design that makes it one of the most well-constructed cameras that we've ever tested, along with two high-quality lenses on launch. Priced at £1250 / $1750 body only, it's both the cheapest Leia interchangeable lens camera currently available, and one of the most expensive mirrorless cameras on the market.

The Leica T is a gorgeously designed camera literally hewn out of a solid lump of aluminum, calling to mind various Apple products that have used the same unibody process. Indeed, Leica are so proud of the T's construction that they've released a video called "The Most Boring Ad Ever Made?", which features 45 minutes of footage of the Leica T being meticulously hand-polished. Ignoring the marketing spiel, it's instantly clear upon handling the Leica T for the first time that this is as good as it gets in terms of a camera's build-quality. As you'd expect. there's literally no flex or movement in the T's body, and with only a handful of external controls, no weak-points in the overall design either. Even the large plastic flap that covers the memory card slot and USB port is substantially made.

Leica T Leica T
Front Rear

The (in)famous red Leica badge and logo are positioned top left of the new Leica T lens mount. This brand new system features two lenses at launch, the usual kit zoom and a fast 23mm f/2 prime. In addition, the Leica M-Adapter T allows Leica M lenses to be mounted on a Leica T body, fully supporting Leica T functions such as exposure metering, aperture priority mode and manual setting capability. We'd really have liked to see a few more native-T lenses announced too, especially as Leica haven't given any indication yet as to which lenses will be launched next. We were sent the Leica Vario Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASP for review, a nicely constructed standard zoom which balances well on the T body. At 56mm the lens protrudes another 2cms from the front of the housing, and we were disappointed by the maximum apertures - f/3.5 at the wide end and f/5.6 at telephoto are certainly nothing to write home about.

Given its slim dimensions (134.6 x 68.6 x 33.0 mm), the Leica T has quite a large hand-grip which, although not coated in any kind of rubberised material, makes it easy to hold the camera with three fingers. In addition the solidity and weight of the T's build - a heavier than average for a compact 384g with battery - means that it didn't feel like the Leica T would suddenly slip from our grasp at any point. There's no dedicated thumb grip on the rear, with our right thumb quickly smearing the large touchscreen in prints. A large lens release button and porthole for the AF assist/self timer lamp completes the front of the Leica T.

Leica T Leica T
Side Top

The T's sparse top-plate features a hotshoe offering full compatibility with the Leica SF 24D and SF 58 system flash units, flanked by holes for the stereo sound recording, a very neat pop-up flash that is activated by turning the On/Off button to its third Flash position. The on/off switch ergonomically encircles the slightly raised shutter release button, with a one-touch movie record button offering 1080p recording at 30fps in the MP4 format. Completing the top panel are dual aperture and shutter speed command dials, reflecting the fact that the Leica T is a intended to be a serious photographic tool. While they work well in Aperture or Shutter-priority mode, though, their side-by-side positioning makes them trickier to use in the Manual Shooting mode, as you have to use your right thumb to command both dials one after the other, rather than simultaneously.

Flick the switch to On and the Leica T readies itself for action in about 3 seconds. Squeeze the shutter release button in single shot mode to take a maximum resolution 'Super Fine' JPEG and the camera takes around 2 seconds to write the file to memory, during which you can take another picture at the same time. Take a top quality JPEG and Leica's 'DNG' file version of Raw and the camera isn't any noticeably slower, plus the advantage of the DNG format is that it can be opened directly by Photoshop without specialist conversion software required. The Leica T has a pretty decent continuous shooting mode that can take 5fps for up to 12 Super-fine JPEGs. The contrast-based auto-focus system isn't particularly quick using the kit zoom lens, though, and it occasionally hunts to find a target especially at the longer end of the range in low-light, making the Leica T better-suited to a slower, more considered approach.

The back of the Leica T is dominated by the massive 3.7-inch touchscreen display. With no other controls at all on the rear of the camera, if you don't like touchscreen interfaces, then the Leica T isn't really the camera for you. It's clear that Leica have put a lot of time and effort into this aspect of the T, as it's quite unlike any other camera interface that we've ever used.

Leica T Leica T
Front Pop-up Flash

The frame doesn't take up the whole of the LCD display - on the right-hand side are three icons for choosing the shooting mode, camera settings and display respectively. Starting from the top, the Leica T offers the usual P/A/S/M modes and 9 different Scene modes, including fully Auto, so despite being targeted at a younger audience, the T isn't really a point and shoot camera (although you can certainly use it that way). Selecting either Aperture-priority or Shutter-priority mode allows you to control the aperture/shutter with the right command dial and the ISO speed with the left command dial, with the Manual shooting mode employing both dials (with ISO being relegated to the Settings menu). Tapping the ISO icon when shooting in the Program, Aperture-priority or Shutter-priority modes displays 6 further icons - ISO, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Focus Mode, Self Timer and Flash Mode. Sadly you can't access this sub-menu in the Manual shooting mode.

The Camera icon underneath accesses a customisable menu of icons, which can be configured to include your favourite settings. If a particular icon has a number of small dots above it, you simply tap it to cycle through the available options - very neat. If it doesn't, then tapping it opens a further screen which lets you configure that setting. This system also applies to the Settings screen, which contains all of the camera settings and is accessed by tapping the Tool icon in the top-right hand corner of the Camera screen. You have to drag across the screen to scroll through a continuous list in the Settings screen, which, with 42 options on offer, gets pretty tedious pretty quickly.

The final Info icon allows you to toggle between the four different display modes. A press of this in capture mode removes icons for the shooting mode in play, number of shots remaining, battery life, focus and metering mode from the screen to provide a clear view of the subject, whilst a further press brings up a nine zone compositional grid for which to practice our Rule of Thirds, and then a useful BW or RGB histogram.

Leica T Leica T
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Amongst the 5 different autofocus modes, you can choose Touch AF, which as it's names suggests allows you to focus on your subject by simply tapping on the LCD screen, with about 80% of the screen available to use. Sadly you can't also fire the shutter using the touchscreen, which would really have appealed to the mobile generation. To playback an image, you simply drag down from the top of the screen to view the last recorded one, and then left and right to go through them.

The Leica T features built-in IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity for wirelessly connecting to other devices such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. You can easily transfer your images and also control the T remotely via the free Leica T mobile iOS app, which, amongst other functions, allows remote setting of the shutter speed and aperture. The app also allows you to send your images to social networks or email them. Sadly an Android version of the Leica T isn't available yet, so we were unable to test out this feature.

Whilst the left hand flank of the T is devoid of features save for a protruding metal lug for attaching the strap and the microphone, the right flank features a second lug and a flip open plastic door protecting two ports: one a five pin mini USB socket and the second for the SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot. Commendably the Leica T also offers a massive 16Gb of internal memory, so some users may never have to use an SD card. The base of the camera meanwhile features a centrally located tripod screw thread, with a large catch protected compartment housing both the supplied BP-DC13 lithium-ion battery. Cleverly, opening the battery compartment is a two-stage process designed to prevent the battery from inadvertently falling out - you have to move the switch through 90 degrees, which partially releases the battery, then press down slightly on the battery door cover to fully release it. The battery is good for around 400 shots according to claimed CIPA standards from a full charge.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Superfine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Leica T produced images of very good quality during the review period. This camera produces noise-free images at ISO 100 up to ISO 800, with some noise appearing at ISO 1600. The faster setting of ISO 3200 is still usable, although we'd suggest avoiding ISO 6400 and especially 12500 if possible. The 16 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting. The built-in pop-up flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The night photograph was very good, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds allowing you to capture enough light in most situations.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Leica T. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:


ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg

ISO 12500 (100% Crop)

ISO 12500 (100% Crop)

iso12500.jpg iso12500raw.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Focal Range

The Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18–56 mm f/3.5–5.6 ASPH. lens that we tested provides a focal range of 27-84mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

The Leica T has 2 different JPEG image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option, and it supports the RAW format too. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Super Fine (5.59Mb)

Fine (3.49Mb)

quality_superfine.jpg quality_fine.jpg

RAW (23.3Mb)



The flash settings on the Leica T are Auto, Auto+Red-eye reduction, Forced on, Forced on+Red-eye, Slow Sync., Slow Sync.+Red-eye reduction, and Studio first curtain. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (84mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (84mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Auto setting or the Red Eye Fix option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red Eye

Red Eye (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Leica T's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds in the Manual mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds at ISO 100.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Anti Shake

The Leica T has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than wthout it turned on. To test this, we took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/8th / 27mm antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg
1/6th / 84mm antishake2.jpg antishake2a.jpg

Film Modes

The Leica T offers 5 different film mode settings, which are applied to JEPGs only.



film_modes_01.jpg film_modes_02.jpg


B&W Natural

film_modes_03.jpg film_modes_04.jpg

B&W High Contrast


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Leica T camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Superfine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Leica T enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Leica RAW (DNG) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 28 second movie is 51.2Mb in size.

Product Images

Leica T

Front of the Leica T

Leica T

Front of the Leica T

Leica T

Front of the Leica T / Pop-up Flash

Leica T

Side of the Leica T

Leica T

Side of the Leica T

Leica T

Side of the Leica T

Leica T

Side of the Leica T

Leica T

Rear of the Leica T

Leica T

Rear of the Leica T / Turned On


Leica T

Rear of the Leica T / Image Displayed

Leica T
Rear of the Leica T / Main Menu
Leica T
Rear of the Leica T / Shooting Mode Menu
Leica T
Top of the Leica T
Leica T
Bottom of the Leica T
Leica T
Side of the Leica T
Leica T
Side of the Leica T
Leica T
Front of the Leica T
Leica T
Front of the Leica T
Leica T
Memory Card Slot
Leica T
Battery Compartment


The Leica T is a beautifully designed, incredibly well-made interchangeable lens camera that's clearly targeted at a younger generation than the company's typical customer - think the son/daughter of a Leica M user, for example. With its Apple-like unibody design, cameraphone-like touchscreen interface and huge range of accessories, the Leica T is the ultimate step-up camera for the affluent consumer. Despite its rather eye-watering price-tag, by Leica standards it's actually quite affordable too, representing the cheapest way into the Leica family without cutting any corners, so the T may also appeal to those people who have always wanted to shoot with a camera with the famous red dot, especially as the T delivers excellent image quality even with the standard kit lens.

Having said all of that, for us the Leica T ultimately doesn't offer enough to satisfy either the camera-phone upgrader or the affordable Leica camp. While Leica have clearly lavished a lot of time and attention on the T's touchscreen interface, it's still a little annoying to use for any great length of time. Having to constantly delve into the onscreen icon system just to change frequently used settings quickly becomes tiring, even if you take the time to setup the customisable Camera menu to suit your particular way of working (which we strongly recommend that you do). Smartphone users may also miss the ability to actually take a shot by tapping the screen, in addition to just focusing on the subject. While the lack of external controls makes the Leica T a thing of beauty, it does detract somewhat from the camera's overall usability, especially for more experienced users who want to take full control.

Those experienced users will also bemoan the lack of a built-in eye-level viewfinder, available only as a very expensive add-on, the side-by-side command dials that make using the Manual shooting mode a slower experience than with front/rear dials, the sluggish AF system that can't keep up with fast-moving subjects, no image stabilisation system at all, and the lack of native lens choice at the T's launch. Compared to its main mirrorless camera rivals, the Leica T doesn't offer enough features, performance or usability, even if you can afford to ignore the higher price-tag that it commands.

In summary the new Leica T is an incredibly well-built, beautiful camera that delivers excellent image quality, but it's also a camera that's frustrating to use (especially for power users), slow to focus, lacking in features and undeniably expensive. If ever there was a camera that you should try before you buy, the Leica T is definitely it...

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 3

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Leica T.

Fujifilm X-T1

The Fujifilm X-T1 is a brand new compact system camera that looks, feels and performs very much like a classic DSLR that''s been shrunk in the wash. Is this the best X-series camera that Fujifilm have released, and can it compete with the likes of the Sony A7/A7R and Olympus OM-D E-M1, not to mention DSLRs from Canon and Nikon? Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-T1 review to find out...

Leica X Vario

The Leica X Vario is a compact camera for professionals, featuring a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, 28-70mm zoom lens, 1080p movie recording and the usual superlative Leica handling and build quality. Read our in-depth Leica X Vario review to find out if it's really worth the £2150 / $2850 asking price...

Leica X2

The Leica X2 is a pocket camera for professionals, offering a 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, fast f/2.8, 36mm lens, improved autofocusing and the usual superlative Leica handling and build quality. Is that enough to justify the Leica X2's £1575 / $1995 price tag? Read our in-depth Leica X2 review to find out...

Olympus OM-D E-M1

The Olympus O-MD E-M1 is a new professional compact system camera. Targeting its DSLR rivals, Olympus are promoting the E-M1 as a smaller and more capable camera. Read our expert Olympus E-M1 review to find out if it really can beat the competition...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 is the first compact system camera to offer 4K video shooting. The exciting GH4 also features a 16 megapixel sensor, 12fps burst shooting, 3 inch swivelling touchscreen, electronic viewfinder, built-in wi-fi and NFC connectivity, a weather-proof body, and an extensive ISO range of 100-25600. Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 review complete with with sample photos, test shots, videos and more...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 is an exciting new compact system camera aimed firmly at keen photographers. With a built-in tilting electronic viewfinder, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch tilting LCD touchscreen, pop-up flash, 60/50p high-definition video, integrated wi-fi and NFC connectivity, both lens and in-body image stabilization, and a stylish design, is the GX7 the ultimate interchangeable lens camera? Read our expert Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 review to find out....

Samsung NX30

The NX30 is the new flagship model in Samsung's compact system camera range. The Samsung NX30 features a DSLR-like design, 3-inch swivelling AMOLED screen, tiltable electronic viewfinder, 1080p video recording at 60/50fps, built-in wi-fi and NFC connectivity, 9fps burst shooting, and a large APS-C CMOS sensor with 20.3 megapixels. Read our in-depth Samsung NX30 review, complete with full-size sample images, to find out if this is Samsung's best ever compact system camera...

Sony A6000

The Sony A6000 is a new compact system camera that features the fastest auto-focusing system in the world. With a 24.3 megapixel APS HD CMOS sensor, 1080p HD movies, high-res 3 inch OLED screen, electronic viewfinder and built-in flash, the Sony NEX-6 also offers 11fps burst shooting, wi-fi and NFC connectivity, and downloadable PlayMemories Camera Apps. Read our full Sony A6000 review to find out if it's the best Sony NEX camera yet...

Sony A7

The Sony A7 is the second mirrorless camera in the World to offer a full-frame sensor, but this time it's a slightly more modest 24 megapixels, rather than the A7R's 36 megapixels. The cheaper Sony A7 also offers a more innovative and potentially quicker hybrid AF system, faster flash sync and burst shooting speeds, and a quieter electronic shutter. Is the Sony A7 just as good as its big brother? Read our Sony A7 review to find out...

Sony A7R

Big sensor in a small body - that's the USP of the new Sony A7R camera. Offering a 35mm full-frame sensor inside a relatively compact body that takes interchangeable lenses, the A7R is a truly unique and genuinely exciting proposition. Is the Sony A7R the ultimate fusion of DSLR technology and compact system camera size? Read our Sony A7R review to find out...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Leica T from around the web.

stevehuffphoto.com »

A few weeks back I published a story about a rumored Leica camera that I thought for sure was a fake camera photoshop job. You can see the post here but I was not so nice with my words about the rumored camera as the images, which I thought were faked. It looked so much like a Sony NEX copy that I though Leica would never release such a thing. But as it appears, those images were indeed real and let me just state right now..IMAGES CAN BE DECEIVING and were in the case of the new Leica T.
Read the full review »

blog.mingthein.com »

Let me say up front that whilst I have been very clear that innovation has been somewhat lacking in the camera industry across the board of late, there have been a few standouts that do so precisely because they push various aspects of the game – be it image quality or more rarely, ergonomics. I’ve long had the feeling that Apple’s latest camera implementations – touch once to lock exposure and focus, again to shoot – have really distilled the essence of the camera down to its bare minimum. It uses technology not to pad out a spec sheet, but to free the photographer to concentrate solely on composition. Shame then, that none of the more capable cameras have really gotten this implementation right – until now. I believe the Leica T is the first generation of a paradigm shift in the way we control and interact with our cameras.
Read the full review »


Camera Leica T (Typ 701) black silver
Order no. 18 180 anodised 18 181 anodised
Lens connection Leica T bayonet fitting with contact strip for communication between lens and camera.
Lens system Leica T lenses.
Sensor CMOS sensor, size APS-C (23.6 x 15.7 mm) with 16.5/16.3 million pixels (total/effective), format aspect ratio 3:2.
Resolution JPEG: 4928 x 3264 Pixel (16 megapixels), 4272 x 2856 Pixel (12,2 megapixels), 3264 x 2160 Pixel (7 megapixels), 2144 x 1424 Pixel (3 megapixels), 1632 x 1080 Pixel (1,8 megapixels), DNG: 4944 x 3278 Pixel.
Picture data file formats/ compression rates Selectable: JPG Superfine, JPG Fine, DNG + JPG Superfine, DNG + JPG Fine.
Video recording format MP4.
Video resolution/ frame rate Selectable: 1920 x 1080 pixels, 30 fps or 1280 x 720 pixels, 30 fps.
Storage media 16 GB internal memory; SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, multimedia cards.
ISO Range Automatic, ISO 100 to ISO 12500.
White balance Automatic, presets for daylight, cloud, halogen lighting, shade, electronic flash, two manual settings, manual color temperature setting.
Autofocus system Contrast-based.
Autofocus metering methods Single point, multiple point, spot, face detection, touch AF.
Exposure modes Automatic program, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, manual setting. Scene exposure modes: Fully automatic, sport, portrait, landscape, night portrait, snow/beach, fireworks, candlelight, sunset.
Exposure metering Multi-field, center-weighted, spot.
Exposure compensation ±3 EV in 1/3 EV increments.
Automatic bracketing Three pictures in graduations up to ± 3 EV, adjustable in 1/3 EV increments.
Shutter speed range 30 s to 1/4000 s.
Picture series Approx. 5 fps, 12 pictures with constant picture frequency, then depending on memory card properties.
Flash modes Automatic, automatic/red eye reduction, always on, always on/red eye reduction, slow sync, slow sync/red eye reduction.
Flash exposure compensation ± 3 EV in 1/3-EV increments.
Flash synchronization Sync time: 1/180 s
Guide number built-in flash unit For ISO 100: 4.5.
Recovery time of built-in flash unit Approx. 5 s with fully charged battery.
Monitor 3.7" TFT LCD, 1.3 million pixels, 854 x 480 pixel per color channel.

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