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Mirrorless Pro-Class Cameras with Interchangeable Lenses Sony A7, A7R and similar high end cameras that can serve as the sole cameras on Pro-event assignments.

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  #1  
Old April 26th, 2014, 12:19 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default First-Hand experience with the new Leica-T Compact Mirrorless Camera

At last, I was handed a copy of the new Leica T for a very brief test run at the 2014 ParisPhoto LA. I took advantage of a human sea of watchable beautiful people coming to see and buy photographs at a median price of $6,000. The Leica-T fits in to this class of living!

Other cameras put a protective shell on a framework of electronics. The Leica T is in this respect, revolutionary! It starts with a solid block of aluminum!

What attracts me is the sleek minimal design, solid-built on sculpted aluminum on which the electronics are mounted. Adding to the interest is that the small lenses are so well designed, that no computing is needed to correct them! It has built-in 16GB of memory for those times when one rushes out without a fresh memory card. I expect that this camera will be great from the outset, but will also get frequent updates of firmware as new features get rolled out. Exposure-bracketing is one of the first of new features one's on their way.


Don't fret if you have a load of other Leica m-glass, there's a handy minimalist adapter with contacts to detect the codings. That presumably means that it's not beneath the T's dignity to add the needed CA and other corrections to your precious M-lenses.



It's like holding a solid piece of almost smooth silver-unobatainium from an experimental art project from Porche Design. It's that minimalist, but somehow, the design does include sufficient curve for a comfortable grip. The finish is perfect, like a piece of sculpture of solid metal.



Yellow, orange red and other bright skins are available for the the fashion conscious who might fear that some people might mistake them for working photographers, LOL!




The buttons on the top are snugly recessed I used it with the new Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Lens, (with an equivalent range of 27mm - 84mm allowing for the 1.5 multiplication factor). Note that the filter size is 52 mm and the front does not rotate when focussing. That's nice when using polarizing filters. Also manual override of AF is possible!


At first, I thought that the electronic viewfinder was non-functional, LOL! No worry, a second later, it switched on and the image was very clear. The eye has to be definitely at the optic for the LCD to switch from the back LCD to the RVF. I picked on a mother and infant and she kindly obliged so I took a series of pictures. As with the Sony A7, the viewfinder also goes blank between each picture, something DSLR users are not mentally prepared for! Still, that is not a real barrier if one photographs with the other eye open, as good rangefinder practice might impose on a Leica user! The speed and aperture controls are at the back of the camera, easily adjustable by the thumb. Still, one does have to access the menu for more detailed settings.

The camera fits in my hands well, I am comfortable using the rear screen, the solidness of the unit likely cuts vibrations, but, anyway, the shutter is almost silent. The zoom lens snaps to focus and zooming in appears to hold focus too but I need to check this more. It could be that the camera detects any minor changes and refocuses as one releases the shutter.

As a reference, I also took the same pictures with the Canon 6D and a 50mm 1.2L Lens. Neither has image stabilization and both combinations are rather esoteric. Still, some observations.

The Leica camera is so light and unimposing and matches a 16MP CMOS APS-C sensor with an an apparently extraordinarily optically-corrected lenses. Here, likely as not there's a fair match. The Leica is likely to outrank the respected Canon 1.2L at the rather open apertures I generally use. The Canon doesn't appear to correct aberrations automatically, AFAIK. (At least not with the 5DII. Perhaps the 6D does make some corrections.)

I must admit, I felt more comfortable for grab-shots using the excellent rear LCD. There's a lag between each shot and the LCD being active for the next shot. At the present there's no capability for bracketing but this will appear soon, I'm assured. I am waiting for Leica to send me the files. Meanwhile, i'll post the Canon versions. I'd be willing to work a little slower with this compact enthusiasts camera and gain the advantage of the expected better quality delivered by the new lenses.

If the pictures are as good as I expect, I'd love to own this camera. For a total price of about $3,500 I'd feel comfortable that I had for myself a bit of unobtanium and a very useful tool. Still, I have to see my pictures and hope the lenses really do justice to my impulsive coveting and adoration!

Asher

Of the two lenses available, I went for the zoom as it was already on the camera. I hope to soon check out the f2, 23mm Summicron-T Asph and the flash.
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  #2  
Old April 26th, 2014, 01:23 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default First-Hand experience with the new Leica-T Compact Mirrorless Camera

As a warning, please expect at least another 13 hours before the images from the new camera come from Leica to you!

Asher
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Old April 26th, 2014, 06:05 AM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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Interesting. Nice that a hand made camera is available for those who want something different and for the Leica loyal.

Just a note - the sensor size is APS-C ,which makes for the 1.5 multiplication factor as you have mentioned The Leica Vario-Elmar-T 18-56mm zoom lens is correctly, a 27-84mm range in 35mm equivalent.


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Old April 26th, 2014, 07:01 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

What a nice essay on a nice machine.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old April 26th, 2014, 11:43 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Thank you for the review.

I really wonder why Leica is starting a new camera mount. What is the register distance of the mount? Is the clearance big enough to allow for a 24x36 sensor later?
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  #6  
Old April 26th, 2014, 12:02 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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If there are particular questions on the new camera or accessories, let me know!
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Old April 26th, 2014, 01:50 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Jerome,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
I really wonder why Leica is starting a new camera mount. What is the register distance of the mount?
Dunno. From the existence of an "empty" M-mount-lens-on-T-body adapter, certainly less than the M-mount distance (27.95 mm I think), but I can't tell by eye from the pic of the adapter:



how much (but could easily be 5-8 mm).

Best regards,

Doug
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Old April 26th, 2014, 11:36 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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I have to wait until the files are sent to me by Leica as the camera had to go back very fast. You'd think it was part of the Crown Jewels of London. I'm told that they'd want me to take my time and do the tests deliberately and with all the time to do a really good job. Yes, that's true, but I am dying to see the shots. Hopefully, I'll get my own copy soon and be able to do a thorough tests to do full justice to the camera.

Asher
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Old April 26th, 2014, 11:43 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Let me add some from some discussions with Leica reps on the philosophy behind this new camera. It's targeted to the generation of younger photographers who want the best quality in lenses and would appreciate the minimalist design that innovators such as Apple have brought to the market place with the iphone, tablets and ipads. In fact, they see the user to be not necessarily a rich dentist or lawyer or collector in Japan, but rather the kind of person who appreciates the bold simplicity and self-consistent integration expected of Apple computers. We pay more for a Macbook Pro, but do so for all the reasons that have in common fluid integration of the tools of the phone, music, movies, documents and now the camera.

It's meant to be used with Adobe Lightroom for processing the RAW files. The M-adapter will record the Leica-M lens identity and Adobe Lightroom will them make all the needed corrections. So, although the corrections don't seem to be made in the camera itself for the jpgs from the Leica-M lenses, processing in Lightroom delivers image perfection as one would expect from any Leica camera.

Consider this like the top level Macbook air. It costs more, but the design elegance, light weight and upper class quality make it worth the extra investment.

Asher
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  #10  
Old April 27th, 2014, 03:24 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Could we have some info on how the "test" was arranged? You said at first that you were handed a camera at the 2014 ParisPhoto LA. Then you write that you are waiting for the files. Did Leica approach you at the exhibition? Why you, then: did you have contacts beforehand?
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  #11  
Old April 27th, 2014, 04:35 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Could we have some info on how the "test" was arranged? You said at first that you were handed a camera at the 2014 ParisPhoto LA. Then you write that you are waiting for the files. Did Leica approach you at the exhibition? Why you, then: did you have contacts beforehand?
Simple, I was handed the camera to do some test shots, after I introduced myself and then, after the brief test shoot, I returned the camera as I had a shoot to do nearby and was promised the files, but I had no computer with me to copy the files. My plan was to get them later but the camera had already moved on...... And the files. Tomorrow I'll check that they remember to send them to me. I think they just want to make sure that the test going to a website is done with a camera they have checked out for latest QC before files get compared, but I really don't know.

Being tested ad hoc against a Canon 6D with a copy just meant for the Leica table at an exhibition of photographs by Leica photographers might be out of their planned scope of freely sharing that camera, or else they just want me to have the camera and test it with deliberation and not merely for some grab shots.

As it's an important and beautiful camera, I have no issues if either someone changed their minds or if it just got sent for the next show they are having.

Could be that one is now at Samy's Camera in LA by now to show the salesmen or else back in headquarters. In any case, they were very helpful. I think that I just should have used my own SD card! From now on, that's what I'll do!!

Asher
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  #12  
Old April 27th, 2014, 04:38 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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I am asking because on some other forum users are posting images which they took about 6 months ago.
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Old April 27th, 2014, 07:37 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Let me add some from some discussions with Leica reps on the philosophy behind this new camera. It's targeted to the generation of younger photographers who want the best quality in lenses and would appreciate the minimalist design that innovators such as Apple have brought to the market place with the iphone, tablets and ipads. In fact, they see the user to be not necessarily a rich dentist or lawyer or collector in Japan, but rather the kind of person who appreciates the bold simplicity and self-consistent integration expected of Apple computers. We pay more for a Macbook Pro, but do so for all the reasons that have in common fluid integration of the tools of the phone, music, movies, documents and now the camera.
That is a very interesting parallel.

It is interesting that Leica chose the (nominally) 24 mm 16 mm format size. Perhaps after all that gives "the best bang for the bulk".

The sensel pitch (about 4.8 m) also seems to be in a popular neighborhood these days.

I also note the stated absence of an antialising filter (again this becoming somewhat of a trend these days.)

I'll be anxious to see how its EVF is received.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old April 27th, 2014, 08:42 AM
Robert Watcher Robert Watcher is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Kerr View Post
I'll be anxious to see how its EVF is received.
A fellow that I check in on from time to time - named Steve Huff - has used the camera and written his thoughts. As someone who appreciates Leica cameras and lenses, he likes the new camera - even though he was cynical when he first heard the rumours about it.

Related to the EVF, Steve states "In use it is a joy to use ... the new Visoflex offered a nice experience. It is sharp enough to manually focus M glass without using magnification, at least for me. It is not as huge as the new EVF in the Fuji X-T1 or Olympus E-M1 but it is not small either. BTW, this EVF is IMPOSSIBLE to ever be used on the M 240 as it will l NOT fit. Impossible."

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/0...by-steve-huff/

I'm not trying to take away from Asher's observations related to the nice privilege he had to use the camera. Hopefully Leica will send him the photos that he took, before too long.



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Old April 27th, 2014, 09:15 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Robert,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Watcher View Post
A fellow that I check in on from time to time - named Steve Huff - has used the camera and written his thoughts. As someone who appreciates Leica cameras and lenses, he likes the new camera - even though he was cynical when he first heard the rumours about it.

Related to the EVF, Steve states "In use it is a joy to use ... the new Visoflex offered a nice experience. It is sharp enough to manually focus M glass without using magnification, at least for me. It is not as huge as the new EVF in the Fuji X-T1 or Olympus E-M1 but it is not small either. BTW, this EVF is IMPOSSIBLE to ever be used on the M 240 as it will l NOT fit. Impossible."
Thanks for that scoop. Sounds promising.

Best regards,

Doug
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  #16  
Old April 29th, 2014, 03:20 PM
Theodoros Fotometria Theodoros Fotometria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Thank you for the review.

I really wonder why Leica is starting a new camera mount. What is the register distance of the mount? Is the clearance big enough to allow for a 24x36 sensor later?
Yes Jerome, the mount can accept a 24x36 sensor in the future.... It has similar provision with Sony's Nex mount... (ts, ts, ts.... "dirty" mind you... you always spot the right question).
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Old April 29th, 2014, 03:53 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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I wonder who might agree that the everyday use of the iPhone, (with touch-enabled focus-point selection, could likely change our attitudes to a need the EVF? After all, this new Leica-T camera, has everything one needs in its intelligent LCD!

Or do you feel that you must have an EVF?

Asher
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Old April 29th, 2014, 03:59 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Revisiting the Leica stand, it was shared with me that the firmware is going through some revisions. So that may better explain things!

Keep the faith.

Asher
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Old April 29th, 2014, 05:18 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
I wonder who might agree that the everyday use of the iPhone, (with touch-enabled focus-point selection, could likely change our attitudes to a need the EVF? After all, this new Leica-T camera, has everything one needs in its intelligent LCD!

Or do you feel that you must have an EVF?
It's funny that you should raise this issue.

As you know, I am a big fan of the concept of the EVF (remember, we see millions of frames every day composed with an EVF), but of course not a fan of many of the EVF implementations.

But last week I suddenly realized that with both my Panasonic DMC-FZ200 (which has a "not bad" EVF) and my Canon G16 (which has a "usable" optical finder). I find myself very often composing with the back-panel display.

One time, I said to myself (metaphorically), "ohmigawd, I look like a tourist."

And I have seen a lot of "serious" video being shot with high-performance video cameras using a fold-out monitor panel.

Of course there is always the issue of sufficient monitor luminance for working in daylight. But that clearly can be dealt with.

And of course I have a nice Hoodman hood that works well on all my back-panel monitor screens!

It may indeed be that our view of when we need an "eyepiece" finder is shifting dramatically - especially for relatively light cameras.

When I get home from my current excursion, I plan to more the "finder lag" of the back-panel monitor screens of both the DMC-FX200 and the G16.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old April 30th, 2014, 11:41 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Kerr View Post
remember, we see millions of frames every day composed with an EVF
Provided we watch TV, which may not be the case for everyone.

But even if an EVF is fine on a TV camera, it may not be just as useful on a still camera. In my experience, the requirements of the two systems are completely different.

Quote:
But last week I suddenly realized that with both my Panasonic DMC-FZ200 (which has a "not bad" EVF) and my Canon G16 (which has a "usable" optical finder). I find myself very often composing with the back-panel display.
Interestingly, it has been my experience when travelling that the vast majority of people use the back panel of their cameras and not the viewfinder, especially in Asia. Plenty of people buy a SLR, apparently because they believe it will give better pictures, but only use it in live view mode (for which it is ill suited). I suppose that the manufacturers have better statistics than my anecdotical information, but if my observations are statistically relevant, the viewfinder may soon become a niche product.
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Old April 30th, 2014, 12:04 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Provided we watch TV, which may not be the case for everyone.

But even if an EVF is fine on a TV camera, it may not be just as useful on a still camera. In my experience, the requirements of the two systems are completely different.
Exactly, Jerome!

The still photographer wants to dissect movement and pick that special almost secret moment that defines something otherwise elusive to the casual observer. Rob illustrated that perfectly in his recent sequential shots in a street in Nicaragua. See post # 108 here

The optical viewfinder's continuous window on the scene is essential to being able to pick follow up moments that are simply lost in the EVF of a Sony A7 or other mirror less EVF. The use of an add-on optical eyeviewer is a great solution.

LCD "Blackout", however, really limits photography of living things for me! The reduction of blackout is something really being addressed by camera MFRS. With the latest firmware, the viewfinder for the Fujifilm's XE-2 has a blackout-lag of only 0.005 seconds. The extra difficulty with the use of the large back LCD is that one loses stability inherent in anchoring the camera to one's face to frame the shot with an optical or electronic eyeviewer. Perhaps some strap could provide adequate stability for use of the back display.

Asher
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Old April 30th, 2014, 12:31 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
The still photographer wants to dissect movement and pick that special almost secret moment that defines something otherwise elusive to the casual observer.
Not necessarily. Landscape and still life do not move.

In my experience, the differences arise from the following (in no particular order):
  • video has a relatively limited resolution, similar to the one of the EVF
  • focussing is not done in the same manner in video and rarely needs to be as accurate as in still pictures
  • in video, I tend to plan the shot, and just try to keep framing unchanged for the length of a sequence, while in stills I will try a few different framings and chose the one I find more interesting
  • I tend to film inside and am less bothered by sunlight
  • etc, etc...


Quote:
The optical viewfinder's continuous window on the scene is essential to being able to pick follow up moments that are simply lost in the EVF of a Sony A7 or other mirror less EVF. The use of an add-on optical eyeviewer is a great solution.
I tried add-on optical viewfinders, but was not convinced by the results. Maybe that is just me.

Quote:
The extra difficulty with the use of the large back LCD is that one loses stability inherent in anchoring the camera to one's face to frame the shot with an optical viewer.
Not so long ago, photographers used twin lens reflex cameras (e.g. Rolleiflex), which essentially presented the optical equivalent of a screen. They found that more stable than a viewfinder.
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Old April 30th, 2014, 02:40 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Not necessarily. Landscape and still life do not move.

In my experience, the differences arise from the following (in no particular order):
  • video has a relatively limited resolution, similar to the one of the EVF
  • focussing is not done in the same manner in video and rarely needs to be as accurate as in still pictures
  • in video, I tend to plan the shot, and just try to keep framing unchanged for the length of a sequence, while in stills I will try a few different framings and chose the one I find more interesting
  • I tend to film inside and am less bothered by sunlight
  • etc, etc...




I tried add-on optical viewfinders, but was not convinced by the results. Maybe that is just me.



Not so long ago, photographers used twin lens reflex cameras (e.g. Rolleiflex), which essentially presented the optical equivalent of a screen. They found that more stable than a viewfinder.

Great reminder, Jerome! One can pick up a used C330 Mamiya for little more than a song!

Asher
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  #24  
Old May 19th, 2014, 01:36 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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My apologies Asher, for having missed this thread.

A very concise and fair review of the product under hustled circumstances.

Excellent. I liked the statement regarding the venue and the crowd this might be aimed at.

As to the technical aspects...I am unimpressed. I maintain, not owning a Ricoh, that a M lens
Performs the best on a M camera. Other solutions are second best.

The T lenses, currently, are uninspiring, specially at the price. Even my M8 is a 1.3 crop.

But Leica does indeed have to branch out. I wish them success.

I would not bet against Leica T selling well..mostly in certain parts of Asia and Japan.

In the west...it does have an uphill task..bar the L.A crowd and the like.

Leica cannot compete on price/performance with this product.
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 12:30 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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New things. Beautiful things. Expensive things.

Leica
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  #26  
Old May 23rd, 2014, 01:30 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
New things. Beautiful things. Expensive things.

Leica
It could just be the the lenses are superb and have far better contrast and finish than competing cameras. Leica has that capability. Also, this is the first iteration. Two years ago, folk were worried about survival of the Leica brand. Now they have sold plenty of S2 medium format cameras and Leica M bodies to be able to buy Sinar, the very prestigious highest end precision large format company. This is their 100th year anniversary celebration and just one of their new ideas going forward. The new lens mount likely means a long term commitment, assuming they really meet expectations.

Asher
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Old May 27th, 2014, 11:46 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Leica has just released its first firmware update. The explanation is self-evident:

Dear Customers,


"By installing the firmware 1.1 on your Leica T (Typ 701) you will get the complete
scope of functions and performance as described in the manual of your camera."


Update Contents
Model Number LEICA T (Typ 701)
Update Version Version 1.1
Update File Name T701_TUF_V1.1.zip
T701_V11.TUF
Update Date 20.05.2014

Description
Version Description
Version 1.1 The firmware Version 1.1 fulfils 100% the scope of functions and performance of the
camera as described in the manual.


That explains everything! Now I expect it can be tested and no doubt blackout time and other fine points will be up to snuff, so to speak!

Asher
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