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Leica TL2 review

Leica’s newest mirrorless camera is making a style statement

Leica TL2 reviewv

Digital Camera World Verdict

With most Leica cameras you can at least see how they could appeal to a very specific kind of user and style of photography – but it’s different with the TL2. The camera body is slim, minimal and attractive in its own way, but the quirky controls and front-heavy handling with a lens fitted make it really rather difficult to use as a photographic tool.

Pros

  • +

    Sharp images

  • +

    Stylish exterior

  • +

    4K video

Cons

  • -

    Lacks a viewfinder

  • -

    Awkward weight distribution

  • -

    Quirky controls

Leica might be best known for its old-school M-series rangefinder cameras, but it also makes full-frame mirrorless and medium-format DSLRs for the professional market. The TL2 is at the opposite end of the range: it’s a style-conscious fashion statement that’s also intended to be a serious photographic tool.

All the advantages of the TL2’s super-slim body are lost when you attach a lens like Leica’s excellent – but bulky – Summilux-TL 35mm f/1.4 ASPH
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Leica TL2 features

  • 24MP APS-C sensor
  • L mount (plus support for SL lenses) 
  • Maestro II image processor
  • 4K video up to 30fps, Full HD video to 60fps and 720p video to 120fps 
  • 3.7in touchscreen, 1.23million dots
  • 49-point contrast-detect AF system
  • 7fps (up to 20fps with electronic shutter)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • 32GB internal memory
  • SDHC/SDXC memory card slot

Machined from a single block of aluminium, the TL2 has a slim, minimal look. There’s no viewfinder, although you can purchase a clip-on Visioflex for a further £350/$575. The twin dials on the top are unmarked, and adjust different settings according to the shooting mode.

Inside there’s a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor teamed up with Leica’s Maestro II image processor. The TL2 has a new 49-point AF system and an ISO range of 100-50,000, and can shoot 4K video. It can also shoot stills at up to 20fps with its electronic shutter.

The rear touchscreen offers responsive access to the camera settings – once you’ve figured it out, that is
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Leica TL2: Build and handling

Unfortunately, the slim and elegant body is overbalanced by the Summilux-TL 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens supplied for our test, and the most common ‘bundled’ lens for this camera. 

It’s fast and sharp, but costs even more than the TL2 and produces a front-heavy combination that doesn’t sit well in your hands. The TL2 really needs a less optically ambitious but smaller, pancake-style lens.

The minimalist controls look beautiful but take a little figuring out; some common adjustments are harder to get to than you expect. The 3.7in touchscreen display is bigger than normal and works well.

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Leica TL2: Performance

When everything’s perfect, the camera and aforementioned 35mm f/1.4 lens can turn in some super-sharp results. However, there’s no image stabilisation and the autofocus is not particularly fast, and the latter also threw us a curveball a few times by focusing on the wrong thing, despite what it showed on the screen.

The auto white balance system does a good job, but most TL2 users would probably shoot Raw files and adjust colours in post production. The TL2’s metering system, however, gave us reliable exposures throughout our testing, and has judged the scenes shows on this page very nicely.

The image quality is likely to leave the TL2’s buyers perfectly happy, but it’s the camera’s body/lens weight distribution, quirky controls and sometimes sluggish responses that we’re worried about.

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Colour error

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The TL2’s colour error is higher than its key rivals, although our test is made more complicated by the fact that the TL2 does not shoot Adobe RGB JPEGs.

Signal-to-noise ratio

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The TL2’s noise performance is generally good. However, while it stretches ahead of the Olympus Pen-F, it can’t match the Fujifilm X-Pro2 or the full-frame Sony A7 II.

Dynamic range

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The Sony A7 II is the winner for dynamic range, but only just. The TL2 is a close second at low-medium ISOs, and starts to ease ahead at high ISO settings.

Leica TL2: Specifications

Sensor    24.3MP APS-C format CMOS

Lenses    Leica-L

Memory    SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS II)

Viewfinder    Optional

Max video resolution    4K (UHD) at 30p

ISO range    100-50,000

Autofocus points    49

Max burst rate    7fps mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic shutter

LCD screen    3.7-inch touchscreen, 1,23million-dot LCD

Shutter speeds    1/4,000 to 30 sec, Bulb; electronic shutter to 1/40,000 sec

Weight    399g (with battery and memory card)

Dimensions    134 x 69 x 33mm

Power supply    BP-DC13 lithium-ion battery, 250 shots

Leica TL2: Verdict

With most Leica cameras, you can at least see how they could appeal to a very specific kind of user and style of photography – but it’s different with the TL2. The camera body is slim, minimal and attractive in its own way, but the quirky controls and front-heavy handling with a lens fitted make it really rather difficult to use as a photographic tool.

Read more: 

The best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab)`
The best Leica cameras (opens in new tab)

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