Leica’s TL2 mirrorless camera gains stronger tech, but design is still its soul

There is a fair chance you have never used a Leica camera, but you have probably heard of the company. In the camera world, Leica is the closest thing we have to a Ferrari — a name that all have heard of, many covet, but few actually get to use. With the original T (and a slight update in the form of the TL), Leica looked to expand downward into the market with an approachable — if not altogether affordable — APS-C mirrorless camera, but slow performance held it back. The new Leica TL2 looks to fix all of the old issues, all while adding in much needed new tech and features to the same physical format.

As is common for any announcement from the company, the first paragraph of the Leica TL2’s press release was dedicated to the design and engineering of the camera body. Calling the manufacturing process “unique in the history of camera construction,” the TL2 is milled from a single block of aluminum, yielding an elegant and minimalist design that will look as good as any other Leica sitting on your camera shelf. While some minor changes have been made, it looks very similar to the TL and T before it.

It is what is on the inside where things start to get really interesting, however. The 16-megapixel sensor of the TL has been replaced with a 24MP unit, a significant boost to the resolution that puts the TL2 in line with other high-end APS-C mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-T2  and Sony A6500. Speed is another area that has seen a lot of attention, with the TL2 able to hit a maximum of 20 frames per second when using the electronic shutter. Leica also claims improved startup times and states that autofocus performance is three times faster than the TL.

Much of that new speed is thanks to the Maestro II image processor, which also helps push the maximum ISO up to a respectable 50,000. But perhaps the most surprising new performance feature is that the TL2 can now shoot 4K video. Leica has never been known for its video functionality — the company even removed the feature from the latest M10 rangefinder after experimenting with it briefly in a previous model — so to see 4K video in the TL2 is rather impressive. Video likely will not be a major selling point of this camera but we certainly won’t complain that it is there.

The TL2 also sees some connectivity improvements in the form of HDMI out and a USB Type-C connector for fast image transfers and in-camera battery charging. An integrated Wi-Fi module allows for remote control and image transfer to an iOS or Android device.

If there is any bad news, it’s that the Leica TL2 retails for $1,950. In truth, that is not too much of a stretch over the $1,600 Fujifilm X-T2, a premium that Leica fans are likely OK with. Fortunately, anyone eager to get their hands on the camera will not have to wait long: The TL2 is available now from select Leica retailers. The only question is whether you want it in silver or black.