Leica’s new TL mirrorless camera has faster autofocus and more storage

Leica unveiled its latest TL mirrorless camera with several improvements over the original model (previously known as the Leica T) that was introduced in 2014. Leica claims a vastly improved contrast-based autofocus system, specifically in AF-C (continuous) mode, which should allow the new TL to better track moving subjects and shoot action scenes.

Design-wise, the TL looks nearly identical to the predecessor – it is minimalism at its best. On the back is a large 3.7-inch touchscreen that handles all the controls, in conjunction with the two scroll wheels on the top and an onscreen graphical user interface that’s easy to understand. The camera uses a similar 16.5-megapixel APS-C sensor that “guarantees exceptional image quality and delivers brilliant photos with outstanding contrast, fine detail resolution, and natural color rendition – even in unfavorable lighting conditions,” according to Leica. If the TL is anything like the T, then we expect it to produce very good image quality with high levels of detail in both shadows and highlights.

While faster continuous autofocus should also be a plus for shooting video, resolution remains at an unremarkable Full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second.

In addition, the internal storage has been upgraded to 32GB, which will be handy when the SD card is maxed out. Beyond the camera itself, Leica has updated its mobile app (Android and iOS) with new features that extend the capabilities of the TL beyond what you can see on the rear LCD, like remote operation and photo transfers. Hopefully the TL’s Wi-Fi has improved, because the wireless implementation in the T isn’t great, based on our experience.

The TL will come in three colors: black, silver, and a new titanium option with a beveled edge. Like its predecessor, each camera is built out of a solid block of aluminum in Leica’s factory in Wetzlar, Germany.

Besides TL lenses, of which there are currently six (three zooms and three primes, including the new 60mm f/2.8), the camera is compatible with other Leica-system lenses, including the SL-system, as well as R and M lenses through the use of new adapters. The caveat with R and M lenses is they remain manual focus lenses, so you would lose the AF capabilities. Overall, the camera should operate similarly to the original T, but faster.

The new TL camera will be available in November 2016 and retail for $1,695 (body only). TL lenses start at $1,650 for the VARIO-ELMAR-TL 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH lens, and go all the way up to $2,995 for the aforementioned APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm f/2.8 ASPH. While the body itself isn’t extremely expensive (for a Leica, at least), adding lenses will set you back. Optional accessories include Nappa leather cases and straps, as well as flashes and viewfinders.

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