According to Leica Rumors, the anticipated Leica T will launch on April 24. It is an APS-C system camera which, at launch, will boast two autofocus lenses, one a 34.5mm prime (probably made in Germany) and a 27-82mm (35mm equivalent) zoom with an f/3.5-5.6 zoom made by Panasonic. There will also be an M-mount adaptor and, presumably, firmware compatibility with Leica M lenses.
A full list of details is carried in the.me today. The Leica T, codenamed Taifun, is likely to be "exquisitely finished" , will feature limited in-camera memory and an "average" autofocus speed. Much will depend on the optics but Daniel Kastenholz of the.me has heard that the image quality is outstanding.
If the rumours are correct, this new camera is something of a gamble for Leica. Following the lack-lustre reception of the X Vario (which is actually an excellent little camera) the Leica T will have to be outstanding to succeed. As usual, much will depend on the quality of the new autofocus lenses. The rumoured zoom is slightly faster than the zoom of the X Vario but it needs to be at least as exceptional in optical quality as the unit on the X Vario.
Owners of Leica M lenses will be interested in the possibility of using their glass with a Leica camera which will undoubtedly include profiles for most modern lenses. While Leica lenses can be used on other cameras, such as the Fuji X series or the Sony A7/r, the major problem has always been in the profiling. If Leica can get it right with the T the company could be on to a winner.
One aspect which I find disappointing is the apparent lack of a viewfinder. Following the success of the Fuji X series and the new Sony A7s, a viewfinder-less camera from Leica is starting with a handicap. There will be an external viewfinder (let's hope it is based on the newer Olympus VF4 rather than on the old design used in the Leica X and M series cameras) but I am not a fan of hotshoe mount EVFs. It is my major criticism of the X Vario and X2.
The obvious competitor for a new APS-C Leica system camera is the Fuji X series, especially the acclaimed XT-1. With its class-leading viewfinder, Leica M-rivalling range of lenses and a relatively modest price tag, the XT-1 will be a hard act to follow.
Price? The T will be ticketed somewhere between the X Vario (around £2,000) and the M (£5,200) but considerably closer to the bottom of this range. If it launches at, say, £2,000 for the body I can see a good market, despite the lack of viewfinder. Like the X Vario, though, main interest will be among existing Leica fans and owners of Leica lenses.