Leica cameras are some of those interesting luxury products that also serve as daily workhorses to professionals in various fields. Think of Porsche and Mercedes, prized both for sheer gorgeousness and as patrol cars for the German Autobahn police; Omega and Rolex watches, used by yachtsmen and, in the day, astronauts; and Apple computers, of course, impeccable in design and manufacture, but also toiling round the clock for a huge range of professionals.
And it is Apple that comes to mind when handling this, the latest German-made Leica T, which takes its place midway between Leica’s pocketable X series and its fully professional M range. It has a new mirrorless, interchangeable lens system and its body is carved from a single block of aluminium, just like Apple’s MacBooks. This new Leica, however, seems to surpass even Apple for craftsmanship, precision engineering and exquisite finish.
Now I admit to a passion for Leica, and I’ve always had one on the go. But the Leica T is genuinely the most beautiful, the best-made and the most functionally excellent camera of any make that I have ever come across. In bald technical terms, it’s not that spectacular: the sensor is a 16.5-megapixel APS-C format, which is smaller than the 35mm-film-frame-sized sensor on top DSLRs. And it was launched with just two lenses, expanding to a modest four in early 2015.
But beyond the fact that it has Leica lenses, which produce photos of inimitable quality, I will highlight four reasons why I love this camera so very much. Firstly, the feel and the balance in the hand is simply joyful; it cannot fail to inspire you to take better photos. Secondly, the new touchscreen operating system is both simple and supremely elegant, albeit less smooth at launch than I would prefer – though I am sure Leica will quickly upgrade any bugs out of the picture. Thirdly, the clip-on electronic viewfinder (not shown in our photo) is prettier than most and has the best screen of any I have tried. And lastly, the rubber carrying strap and fixings are the best designed on any camera I’ve seen – a small point, possibly, but a snapshot of the extraordinary care and talent that have gone into this amazing product.