Milled thrills – the Leica T 16.5 megapixel camera

leica-t-camera

Milled from a single block of aluminium, and designed in collaboration with Audi, the all-new Leica T is a fairly remarkable piece of kit. This is a radical departure for the German photography brand, introducing an entirely new operating system alongside Leica’s first touchscreen and their inaugural integrated Wi-Fi module.

Weighing less than 400g, the Leica T is equipped with a 16.5 megapixel CMOS image sensor that delivers a maximum image resolution of 4944×3278 pixels. Its minimalist design ensures everything is operated via four haptic controls and the 3.7-inch TFT touchscreen. The cool aluminium body has a pleasingly tactile surface, while the Wi-Fi capabilities enable wireless distribution of pictures and videos without the use of cables. An app for iOS devices is already available, enabling smartphones or tablets to serve as viewfinders and adjust the camera’s shutter speed or aperture values.

The Leica T’s shatterproof design and equally robust engineering has already won it praise from seasoned observers. Amateur Photographer complimented the “beautifully designed menu system” and its “excellent customisation”, as well as pointing out that the T’s “clean and minimal” design benefits from features like a pop-up flash and a strap that clips straight into the body shell. However, TechRadar concluded that form had been placed ahead of function, arguing that the T has been positioned “more towards the luxury end of the market, as opposed to the practical end”. As a result, “the design element is the key selling point, rather than actually using the camera.”

Rear of Leica T
Rear of Leica T

T3 described the new Leica as “a bold move in a market that’s flooded with compact system cameras”. They also acknowledged the strong accessory lineup, while pointing out that the £1,350 price tag will place it beyond the reach of many amateur photographers. Digital Photography Review concurred, saying only “well-heeled photographers are likely to get their hands on one…it is not in any way intended as a mass-market product.” However, their fulsome praise of the T’s “extraordinarily tactile and rather beautiful” design concluded with the observation that this is “the kind of camera that Apple might make, if it were so inclined.”

If the standard Leica T doesn’t provide enough functionality, it’s also possible to add accessories including an integrated high-res viewfinder with GPS. Semi-professional photographers can purchase the new Leica SF26 flash unit for greater brightness, and backwards compatibility is assured thanks to an adaptor that allows Leica’s popular M-Lenses to be attached to the T’s body.

Price: £1,350. Available from May 26th through authorised Leica dealers.

Leica V-Lux 30: A touch of luxury in a compact world

Mention the name ‘Leica’ to any camera fans and they may well start to drool. The German optics company that produces these classic cameras, has designed them to be the best, made from the most durable material and with a high class of workmanship.

In case you’re thinking that a Leica is going to be out of your budget, so you won’t bother reading the rest of this, let me tell you the price now – £550. Pricey for a super-zoom compact, but not out of this world.

Leica-V-Lux

Okay, now shall we go on?

The just-released V-Lux 30 is a super-zoom digital compact, which offers touch-screen operation and GPS recording. It boasts retro minimalist styling in matt black, and should fit easily into a jacket pocket or small bag. If you’ve got an extra 80 quid to spend, it’s worth buying the cool leather case, I reckon.

Along with a 14.1 megapixel sensor, you also get a top-notch Leica 16x lens – a pretty decent zoom in a model that measures just 33mm deep and weighs less than 220g.

May of the camera’s features can be controlled via the 3in touchscreen. There are automatic settings for pointing and shooting as well as manual options for more experienced photographers, while a fast continuous shooting mode can be used to capture fast subjects such as wildlife or sports.

And if you want to get really creative with your photography, there’s a special 3D mode, which generates 3D images combined from two photographs taken in sequence (a ‘stereo image pair’), and which can be viewed on suitable 3D-compatible screens.

If you’re thinking its specs and appearance look a tad familiar, it may be due to the fact that Panasonic products also feature Leica optics, and the V-Lux 30 and Panasonic’s TZ20 do share quite a few specs in common.

Movies are recorded in 1080i-AVCHD Full HD format, with the full 16x zoom range available while filming, and there’s an integrated stereo microphone with an electronic wind noise filter for the best sound. In video mode you can also take advantage of automatic face recognition, scene mode selection and smart exposure.

For more on the Leica V-Lux 30, log on here

Who’d Leica snap-nav?

Pro photographers and affluent amateurs on a quest to find the ultimate compact will be keen to roadtest the latest challenge from Leica, the V-LUX 20. While packing an impressive spread of traditional features that reads more like a who’s who of top-end trimmings – 12.1 effective megapixel sensor, Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.1-49.2mm f/3.3-4.9 ASPH zoom lens with 35mm equivalent focal range of 25-300mm etc – the German photographic powerhouse has looked sky-high this time around for inspiration on how to differentiate.

Leica-V-Lux

Leica’s new weapon? A built-in GPS chip that captures and stores location information on the EXIF metadata to catalogue the place and local time a scene is shot. GPS is becoming a popular addition to this particular breed of compacts and has already been seen on the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5V and Nikon Coolpix P6000. On the surface, the technology naturally presents an appeal to people who like to keep their archives in stringent order rather than those choosing to condemn their shots to a futile eternity on a heaving memory. In fact, with the web now the shop floor for many photographers’ collections, the ability to pinpoint the origins of your shots on Google Maps, Flickr or social networking sites offers more mileage for your snappy memories. If you really wanted to milk this feature, you could use the GPS coordinates to navigate back to your favourite scenes and retrace the steps of a memorable trip – now you’ve got a second shot at seeking out that once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. V-LUX 20 also stores details of 500,000 points of interest across 73 countries – ideal when you’re stumped for location inspiration.
Beyond its geographic memory, this Leica has the traditional charm its loyal fans and first-timers will love. It comes in the familiar and unassuming matte black casing that masks the heavyweight features packed inside. The other key seller is its “super-zoom”, which puts landscapes, detailed close-ups and long-distance telephoto subjects in easy reach. Not content raising the bar with its high-resolution stills, Leica’s also upped the precision on its movie mode – now shooting in 720p HD quality.

You get all the intelligent automatic features you’d come to expect from a camera firmly stamped at the £500 price point – face recognition, automatic scene modes and smart exposure – while the expanse of manual controls are kept to their simplest in a bid to attract big-budget amateurs looking to spoil themselves with a supremely indulgent point-and-shoot.

Available from May 2010