Leica TL2: Who's a pretty boy, then?
After an extended wait caused by the recent viewfinder problem, a newly firmwared TL2 was handed over to me at Leica Mayfair yesterday. I have it for a week, barely enough time to do a full evaluation, but better than nothing. Surprise was the canary yellow jacket it was wearing. This rather tasty leather confection is much preferable to the plastic snap-on wear introduced with the original T. I never liked that. But I have already taken to the new leather case for its utility, if not its colour. I think I'd probably prefer the all-black or, even, the rather bold red. This case is well made, fits perfectly and adds positively to the handling of the camera. Many people find the naked aluminium body a touch slippery and, in winter, more than a little icy to the fingers.
This case has a handy bottom flap to allow quick change of battery. But the case is screwed to the base of the camera. However, since SD card on the TL2 is not inside the battery compartment but behind a flap on the side of the camera, the case must be removed to access the card. It isn't as bad as the new M10 Leica case where both case and bottom plate must be removed to access either battery or card, but it is still a fiddle and a distraction. Fortunately, need for access might not be as often as you imagine because the TL2 possesses a rare ability to shoot for a whole day (depending on your shutter-button happiness) without a card. Yes, the TL2 has an internal memory of 32GB which means you don't have to worry too much if you forget your SD card. All cameras should have a useable internal memory.
First impressions of the camera are positive, especially for someone who owns the original slowcoach T. The chamfered edges of the body are a definite improvement and the ability to dial in 1/40,000s on the electronic shutter is welcome. Neither camera nor lenses have stabilisation built in, incidentally. Speed has been improved all round and I am looking forward to comparing startup times and autofocus speeds with the original 2014 T, even though the older camera has had performance boosts through successive firmware updates.
I have no doubt that the TL2 will prove to be a huge improvement on the TL but, when all is said, the lack of a built-in viewfinder is a disappointment. Pardon me for mentioning this, Leica, but it is a big deal. Indeed, it is the elephant on, rather than in, this camera.
All competitions have moved over to integral viewfinders and the continued need to mount the large external EVF is a negative factor that will impact potential sales. But I am sure Leica is well aware of that. They are hoping, I imagine, that the smartphone generation will take to the TL2 as an upgrade to, say, an iPhone, and that these newcomers will revel in the delights of the fast touchscreen because they are already used to this method of control. I am not so sure.
I am using my own lenses and Visoflex but I would have liked to try the well-regarded 35mm Summilux prime, especially to work with the new electronic shutter speeds. Unfortunately Leica didn't have a demo version available so I will be mounting mainly the three zooms — 11-23, 18-56 and 55-135mm. They are all excellent, especially the wide-angle which is perfect for architectural and general street photography in crowded cities, and they should not be thought of in any way of "kit lenses". The price alone will disabuse you of that notion in short shrift.
The camera will be put through its paces during the next week and I aim to discover if it is time for T.