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Build and handling
- Machined from a solid block of aluminum
- High-quality finish
- Weighs 399g
The original Leica T was designed in collaboration with Audi Design, and little has changed in terms of how the TL2 looks, with some slight smoothing of the camera's edges compared to the TL it replaces.
The TL2 is crafted from a single block of aluminum, and there's no question that it's pitched towards the premium end of the market, but it does make the camera pretty heavy – especially when you attach the bulky 35mm f/1.4. The absence of any form of textured grip might not be to everyone's taste, though the camera's high-sided proportions mean you can just about wrap four fingers round it.
This minimal approach also means it's also incredibly sleek-looking. Even the lugs from which you would hang a strap have been integrated into the body itself to produce very clean lines – if you want to attach a strap you'll need to release these from the body using a pin.
Leica's pursuit of clean lines also means the TL2 is pretty much devoid of direct controls, with the large touchscreen your main point of interaction with the camera. It's not a total touchscreen takeover though, as the TL2 also sports two dials on the top of the camera. These control different parameters depending on what shooting mode you're in, and can be customized to your preferred way of working. Aside from that, you're completely reliant on the touchscreen.
It's a good job then that, as we found with both the Leica T and TL, using the touchscreen is highly intuitive; once you've got used to how it works, it's the best touchscreen experience we've enjoyed on a camera, and even those with fat fingers shouldn't inadvertently tap the wrong setting thanks to the generous size of the screen.
The camera's main menu is broken down into nine options, with sub-menus for each. Tapping a camera icon in the center-right of the screen brings up a suite of key settings, such as exposure compensation or white balance – you can customize which options are displayed.
What's kept a little bit of a secret, though, is how to review images (unless you've got Auto Review active). With no dedicated playback button, and nothing obvious in the main menu, you'll have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen or down from the top. It's a pretty novel way to work, but once you get used to it it becomes second nature.
As for the lack of direct controls when shooting, for the more traditional user it's not quite as bad as it sounds thanks to the two top dials. When you're in aperture priority mode, for instance, the right dial will control the aperture while the left offers access to a range of settings; if it's assigned to exposure compensation you can then use the dial to control this, while a quick tap of the EV icon on the rear display will let you re-assign the left dial to one of six settings, including ISO and AF mode.
- Six focusing modes
- Can struggle in low light
- Tap focus and tap shutter modes
The Leica TL2 features a contrast-detect AF system with six modes to choose from: Spot, 1 Point, Multi Point, Touch AF, Touch AF + Release and Face Detection. There's also manual focus, which when used with the 35mm f/1.4 lens we tested the TL2 with offered a nice smooth focusing experience, with the option to zoom in on the area you're focusing on.
While the autofocus system isn't the most sophisticated, for general shooting it does a solid job, focusing briskly in most situations. We found it quickest to work with the TL2's Touch AF mode, but both the Spot or 1 Point modes are certainly very useful if you don't mind recomposing your shoot for off-centre subjects. That said, don't expect too much when shooting in the TL2's continuous AF mode though – it's just not designed for fast moving subjects.
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Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.