Leica has just announced its newest camera, the TL2. When Leica launched the original T (Typ 701) just over three years ago (you can read my review here), it’s machined unibody aluminum design and minimalist touchscreen interface was revolutionary. Build quality was impeccable. Image quality excellent. And, an expanding TL lens line that lives up to the Leica name has continued to make the system more attractive. But, many have wondered when Leica would update the now long-in-the-tooth 16MP APS-C sensor that had been the mainstay of the T/TL and X lines since the X2. Well, the wait is now over.

Leica TL2_emo_v2

The Leica TL2 maintains, and slightly refines, its attractive and sleek modern design, focusing mostly on changes under the hood. Now packing a cutting-edge 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and backed up by a speedy Maestro II series processor, the Leia TL2 should offer a significant performance boost, while keeping true to the original design aesthetic.

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The Leica TL2 comes in at $1,950 for the body, and will be offered in silver and black finishes. Let’s take a look at the changes in more detail.

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Design

On the design front, the camera body stays mostly the same. The edges get chamfered a bit to smooth out the sharp edges of the original T and the rarely-used pop-up flash goes away. Both top control dials and the shutter release/on-off switch have been enlarged for easier operation and there is a new customizable function button. The 1.3 MP 3.7” touchscreen still graces the entire back of the camera, but now features up to 8 times faster responsiveness for touch operation.

Leica TL2_emo_v4_RGB-2

EVF and Battery

The TL2 will continue to use the same Visoflex 020, as well as the same battery. For existing T and TL owners, this should come as welcome news. For M10 owners looking to add an AF body that can take M lenses, they will only need one EVF for both cameras. The Visoflex is a great EVF and has built-in GPS so no complaints here.

I know some might be disappointed that the new TL2 doesn’t have an integrated viewfinder like the Q, but in order to keep the size as small as possible and the rear screen as large as possible, an internal EVF just wouldn’t have been possible.

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Autofocus

Leica has implemented a new autofocus system on the TL2, upgrading the original 9-point AF to a more capable 49-point AF, and more than doubling the AF speed with TL lenses.

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Interfaces

Startup time has been decreased, the original USB 2.0 interface has been brought up to the latest USB-C 3.0, and HDMI has been added. With the adoption of the USB-C connection, in-camera battery charging is now available. WiFi is still built-in, letting you control the camera remotely and review images, care of the TL app for iOS and Android.

Charging over USB-C

Charging over USB-C

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TL App

ISO range

ISO range has been expanded from 100-12,500 to 100-50,000. I’ll be very curious to see just how much of an improvement we’re going to see at higher ISO in lower light conditions, but I’d expect a noticeable jump.

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Shutter and Framerate

While the mechanical shutter spec stays the same, at 1/4000s, a new electronic shutter offers up to a whopping 1/40,000s. Not sure when you’d even have enough light to put it into use, but it sounds incredibly impressive nonetheless. The frame rate has been improved as well. In addition to upping the maximum mechanical frame rate from 5 fps to 7 fps, the TL2 adds the ability to shoot a 20 fps burst using the electronic shutter. Clearly, the new 24MP sensor has an extremely high readout rate. This also should mean a very smooth live view experience.

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Video

On the video front, 4K recording at 30 fps is now available, with 60 fps at Full 1080 HD and a Slowmo 120 fps mode at 720 HD. While the TL2 video specs are a nice jump from the original TL, it looks like the SL will remain the king of video in the Leica lineup.

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New Functions

The TL2 now has the ability to shoot DNG only, a request I’ve been making since the original X1 and will offer focus peaking. With the high performance of the sensor and quick refresh rate, the peaking implementation should be excellent.

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Full Review Coming

This is just a quick overview of the changes and new features of the TL2. I’ll be taking the camera with me on a trip this week and putting the TL2 through its paces. Check back for a full in-depth review in the coming weeks for my impressions and images.

The TL2 camera is available at Leica Store Miami in both silver and black, for $1,950.

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FEATURES

  • Faster Auto Focus performance with a new 49-point AF system
  • Brand new 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Maestro II generation processor
  • Expanded ISO range of 100-50,000
  • Significantly faster touch and gesture responsiveness/speed
  • New electronic shutter function with a maximum shutter speed of 1/40,000s
  • Quicker burst shooting with 7 fps via mechanical shutter & 20 fps electronic shutter
  • Focus peaking for manual focus aid
  • DNG-only mode
  • 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • Slow-motion video
  • Refined and reduced menu UI
  • USB Type-C 3.0 port for faster transfers and in-camera battery charging
  • HDMI 1.4 port
  • Updated design with chamfered edge, new on/off switch and shutter button and larger control dials
  • New customizable multifunction button
  • Faster start-up time
  • Made in Germany

BENEFITS

  • Faster performance in all parameters
  • Improved image quality in every way, particularly in low-light
  • Selection of extraordinary autofocus TL-Lenses, offering a wide range of focal lengths and speeds
  • An innovative modern system that also permits access to the legendary M and R lenses via adapters
  • Outstanding craftsmanship – unibody aluminum design in black or silver
  • Fast, easy and instinctive use with touch screen control
  • Easier menu navigation thanks to new UI layout
  • Minimalist design with new curving chamfered edges for better handling
  • User-friendly and user-customizable menu
  • 32 GB built-in storage
  • TL-App on Apple App Store and Google Play makes it easy to share pictures via Wi-Fi hotspot feature
  • Wide range of additional accessories including flashes, filters, camera protectors and carrying straps available
  • Charge on the go with USB-C

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Side-by-side comparison of the TL and the TL2

Leica TL

Leica TL2

Resolution

16 MP @ max 5fps

24 MP @ max 20fps

Video

Full HD@30fps

4K @ 30fps, Full HD@60fps, Slomo

AF Speed

> 460ms (CIPA)

>165ms (Wide Angel CIPA); >190ma Tele CIPA

AF Fields

9

49

Start-UP

750ms

600ms

Display

3.7”, 1.3 million pixels

3.7”, 1.3 million pixel s

Storage Memory

32 GB Internal, SD cards

32 GB Internal; SD cards

ISO

100-12,500

100-50,000

fps

5 fps with mechanical shutter

7 fps with mechanical 20 fps with electronic shutter

Shutter speed

Mechanical up to 1/4000s

Mechanical up to 1/4000s;

Electronic up to 1/40,000s

EVF

Optional; 2.4 MP

Optional; 2.4 MP

Interfaces

USB 2.0; WiFi

USB-C 3.0; HDMI; WiFi

Touch Responsiveness

Depending on function (swipe, tap, etc.) up to 8 times faster than T/ TL

New Functions

Focus Peaking, DNG only Mode, Slomo Video Mode, FN Button

Full Press Release from Leica

LEICA CAMERA PRESENTS THE LEICA TL2: PERFECTED FEATURES AND PERSUASIVE PERFORMANCE MEET UNIQUE DESIGN

Based on the Leica TL-System, which has been continuously advanced in terms of speed, ease of handling and flexibility since its market launch, the new Leica TL2 embraces all the perfected features and leads the innovative camera concept into a new generation with additional innovations and new design aspects. The particular hallmark of the Leica TL2 is the unusual design of its compact body. Each camera body is precisely machined from a single block of aluminium in the Leica factory. The use of premium materials and their engineering in an elaborate manufacturing process are unique in the history of camera construction and lend the Leica TL2 an unmistakeable look, feel and solidity.

Brilliant still pictures and video footage

The Leica TL2 is equipped with a newly developed, 24-megapixel CMOS sensor in APS-C format that, in combination with an equally new, Maestro II series high-performance image processor, guarantees outstanding picture quality with impressive dynamic range, excellent contrast and colour rendition, exceptional sharpness and finest resolution of details. However, the Leica TL2 impresses not only with its still picture performance, but also with its video capabilities. The camera’s various video recording modes, such as 4K (3840 x 2160p at 30 frames per second), full HD (1920 x 1080p at 60 frames per second), HD (1280 x 720p at 60 frames per second or slow motion [SLOMO] captured at 120 frames per second), leave absolutely nothing to be desired.

Fast and almost silent

One of the highlights of the Leica TL2 is its enormously improved AF speed and precision. For instance, the camera focuses sharply on subjects in around only 165 milliseconds (CIPA standard; Leica standard zoom lens at its wide-angle setting), and thus focuses up to three times faster than the previous model. The new Leica Maestro II series image processor not only plays a significant role in its faster autofocus, but also to the considerably shorter start-up time. Another new development is an electronically controlled shutter that enables silent exposures at shutter speeds up to 1/40,000 s and an increase in the continuous shooting rate from 7 to a maximum of 20 frames per second.

Connectivity with and without a cable

Thanks to the integrated Wi-Fi module of the Leica TL2 and the function for setting up a mobile hotspot, pictures and video can be conveniently transferred by wireless to smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs from anywhere and then, for example, be shared by email, on Facebook, Instagram or other social media. Data can also be transferred lightning fast by cable with the camera’s integrated HDMI and USB 3.0 ports. The USB port also enables recharging of the Leica TL2 without a battery charger – for example from a laptop computer or an external power bank.

With the TL App available for both iOS and Android devices, smartphones or tablets are transformed into electronic viewfinders and offer remote control of various exposure-relevant parameters such as the shutter speed and aperture. The TL App also makes it much easier to capture photos and video from unusual angles, with a self-timer or with longer shutter speeds.

Modern, intuitive and versatile

By grouping menu items according to related functions, the menu of the Leica TL2 is now more clearly and logically structured and makes camera handling easier and even more intuitive than before. With the MyCamera menu, the user interface can be further personalised to meet the photographer’s preferences or particular needs. This means that the photographer always has fast access to all frequently used features and presets. Thanks to significantly increased reactivity and up to eight times faster response when using the touchscreen, camera handling is now even more efficient and intuitive. At the heart of this is a bright and clearly laid-out 3.7″ LCD touchscreen display that enables both composition and reliable and convenient assessment of subjects before and after exposure. The only other controls are four ergonomically positioned haptic control elements that are intuitive in their operation. This ensures that camera users can concentrate fully on composing their pictures – without any unnecessary distractions.

The best in its class

The comprehensive portfolio of lenses in the Leica TL-System offers an ideal range of focal lengths for all situations and types of photography. The system currently comprises six lenses – three prime lenses and three zooms – that meet the needs of every photographic situation. The two fast prime lenses, the Leica Summicron-TL 23 mm f/2 ASPH. and the Summilux-TL 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH., are classic focal lengths for reportage photography, and the APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60 mm f/2.8 ASPH. complements them ideally as a lens for finely detailed close-up photography. The three compact zoom lenses, the Leica 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., cover an entire range of focal lengths equivalent to 17 to 200 mm (equiv. in 35 mm format) and deliver exposures with rich contrast from corner to corner of each frame.

All Leica TL-Lenses impress with exceptional imaging performance at all distances from  closest focusing distance to infinity and deliver pictures with the inimitable ‘Leica look’ and unique bokeh. Developed by optical design specialists in Wetzlar (Germany), they offer the exceptional imaging performance for which Leica lenses are famed. The combination of optical and precision engineering expertise and the use of finest materials in their construction ensures their constant quality and reliability in use.

Sustainability guaranteed by cross-system compatibility

Thanks to the L-Bayonet mount shared by the Leica TL and SL cameras, SL-Lenses can also be used without an adapter on the Leica TL2. With this, Leica once again carries forward its fundamental principles of cross-system compatibility and sustainability, which is now also reflected in a uniform product designation. Dedicated adapters are available for using Leica M and R lenses on TL-Cameras – the Leica M-Adapter is available in a choice of black or silver finish.

New design in two colour options

The Leica TL2 will be offered in a choice of two different colours from the start. The design of both the silver and black versions of the camera has been slightly revised in comparison with its predecessor. In addition to chamfered edges the body also features redesigned control elements that have been modified not only in visual style, but also provide a new haptic experience.

Functional camera accessories, such as high-quality protectors in Nappa leather, which can stay on the camera when changing the battery, and colour-coordinated carrying straps in stone-grey, black, red, yellow and cemento, are ideal complements to the TL system portfolio.

About The Author

Profile photo of David Farkas
Leica Specialist

David Farkas is a self-admitted Leica junkie and an avid photographer since he was seven years old. He also owns and operates leading Leica dealer Leica Store Miami in beautiful Coral Gables, Florida with his wife Juliana. David has years of experience shooting with just about every Leica camera and lens made within the last few decades.

5 Responses

  1. Bernard

    David,

    Can you test the external video recorder that you use with the SL?

    It look like the TL could make a great “B Cam” if you already use the SL for video, provided it can match the SL’s look. Does it do S-Log and 24fps?

    Reply
  2. James Evidon

    The one change that should have been included, even at the expense of a slightly thicker or longer camera body would have been a battery with a longer charge life. The need for a larger battery is the only real complaint I have with my Leica T. The other changes are very welcome, but battery life remains the Achilles heel.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of Jack MacD
      Jack MacD

      James,
      Regarding battery life:
      I agree with you but…
      With the USB-C, I would just charge now through the cord to an external battery that I always carry for my phone anyway.

      ReplyReport user
      • James Evidon

        Jack,
        I am carrying one now. Still, since I shoot with a leather half case to preserve the body finish, it is still a pain even with an external battery.

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