I had the possibility to play a bit with the new Leica T and 35mmf2 (23mm, 35 equivalent). A very nice looking pair, well finished, solid but also quite bulky, especially with the external electronic viewfinder. The experience was somehow frustrating. The camera is… slow. It deserves for sure a faster processor. You click, the shot has some small lag but then you wait for the image appearing on the screen and for the camera to complete the writing process on the card. 1-2 seconds before the image is displayed and in the meantime nothing happens: the camera is busy. Those of you familiar with Sigma Merrills: the DP3 is FASTER in displaying the resulting image, a bit slower in writing down the file on the card, but immediately capable of operating again. The camera, moreover, is so “polished” that it’s hard to grasp. If your hands are just a bit wet, well, be cautious: you’ll have great possibilities of loose it. There are also some other quirks: the viewfinder shows always the image @f2, in a similar way an optical viewfinder works. The new breed of EVF have the ability to preview the image based on the current exposure: unless I missed some settings this is not the case for the T.
Here is a sample shot @f7.1, shot in DNG+JPG. The DNG shows some BIG chromatic aberration not visible on the JPG. Some processing is done in the JPG, as normally happens. But it’s indeed a bit shocking to see on so much CA on a 1600 euro lens.
The files are a bit mushy, not a great deal of sharpness is visible. I had with me my A7R+35mm Zeiss… In the following a RAW unprocessed, reduced in size to match the leica VS the leica internal JPG. Images are better than 1000 words… Leica on the left, Sony on the right. No CA on the Sony. The original 36Mpixel file looks great so the downsampled version, done with PS CS2014 (automatic), could only be beneficial for the image. (see Bart van der Wolf for a great write up on the argument and the ongoing evaluations by Jim Kasson). OK, small sensor vs full frame etc, not a fair comparison etc. etc., I already hear the voices. But, speaking about costs, the Sony+Zeiss is today around 2500 euros, the LeicaT+35+EVF is well over 3600…. With this price difference you may still buy a 55mm Sony or anything you wish.
Now let’s go to the monster: Leica M-P, brand new + 35 Summilux. An over 11.000 euro combo. Again, vs A7r+35Zeiss, now processing on the A7r RAW, just downsampled to the same leica size. Leica @ ISO 200, F8, 1/350. Sony @ ISO 100, F7.1, 1/500.
Sure, the Leica M+P is a wonderful object, the feeling of holding it and using it’s controls are fantastic. The A7R feels like a toy: those fancy font used in the LCD, the cluttered display, the confusing menus. But the output is indeed fantastic. We may only dream about Sony making a “pure” camera just oriented to photography, but this is not going to happen, so I would live with some usability and “look&feel” issues when I can have such a great output quality for a “bargain” compared to the current Leica offer.
The big problem in the digital era is that bodies will “never” last long. I do not think my 2,5 son will be able to use any of my current digital bodies in the future. I may imagine him using some of the premium lenses I have. So Leica is very smart in offering something as the new M-A a full mechanical piece of equipment that will last “forever”. Film of course. But I don’t grasp the idea of selling digital bodies to such a premium price. I think we should start considering digital cameras as “consumer” electronics and the premium money you put on them are for me just wasted.
If you’re interested in the RAW/JPGs click here to download them (70Mb circa).