Leica T (Typ 701) My favourite camera just got better - Firmware update and new lenses.

It's a strange thing. Any Fuji X series camera gets a firmware update and owners fall over themselves in their haste to worship their chosen brand. Kaizen, everybody says, an example of Fuji's largesse towards their customers. 'Thank you Fuji, we're not worthy of your kind gifts to us.' Is the usual response. Leica do it and this is what you get. 'Overpriced junk. Why did they release a camera with these bugs anyway.'

OK, so it's my usual whinging about how unfair the photographic internet is to us poor (!!!) Leica owners. But some of the nonsense written about the red dot cameras is usually above and beyond what other camera brands have to put up with.

There has been all sorts of Internet chatter about the Leica T's apparent lack of sales and it's imminent demise. However, Leica have just released a significant firmware update and have announced two new lenses, a 35mm f1.4 'standard' lens (in APS-C terms) and a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. Not bad for a 'dead in the water' camera. 

When the SL was announced with the same mount as the T, it did occur to me that this would benefit the latter, as it has now become part of an interchangeable lens mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L system. And knowing that Leica, unlike most other camera companies, don't simply write off cameras and the people who buy them, even if they don't prove to be best sellers, I hoped that the T might get a wider audience, particularly as it has now reduced in price. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case, but the firmware update has certainly helped. 

So how is it? Well good. Even one of the T's most loyal fans (i.e. me) would not have ever claimed that it had fast AF.......until now. It is greatly improved. Locks on to low contrast surfaces in a darkened room with no problem, though like many mirrorless cameras it struggles when there is very little light. Twice as fast as claimed? Well yes probably, but more importantly it's now very positive and very comparable with the best mirrorless cameras out there. The firmware is updating all my lenses as I fit them to the camera, so it's obviously a combination of the lens and the body that makes this improvement.

As to the touchscreen improvements, that is actually quite dramatic. I had no real issue before as I always set the camera up how I wanted it before starting to take pictures, but there is a noticeable and significant speed increase in the menu items popping up and being adjusted. So it seems that this is a very useful update and I'll give it a thorough testing 'in the field' tomorrow

It is of course encouraging to see Leica supporting the T in this way and with new lenses. They now have a genuine interchangeable lens mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L system with this and the SL, covering APS-C and 'full-frame.' The new lenses would also seem to indicate that there will be more cameras coming, though Leica are no 'speed freaks' when it comes to getting products to their dealers. These lenses and the SL lenses are going to take some time. Not great, but then it has to be remembered that they are, in global terms, a very small company. The original four lenses for the T are rumoured to be made by Sigma under strict Leica guidelines and that may well be happening with the new ones as well. But how much spare capacity Sigma have, who knows.

However, I'm pleased to see investment (both financially and in terms of long term support) heading in the T's direction. I still think if more people had a chance to try one, that the wonderful live view screen and EVF (and of course the image quality) would attract more interest. I'm going to push the AF the next time I take the camera out to see just what it can cope with and I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do. Because it is a small, light camera with incredible colour rendition that should be suited to a lot of people's requirements. And those lenses are really impressive and enable significant upsizing.  So all in all a very welcome update.