At last, a “Mini M”? Leica’s New Mirrorless System Camera, the Leica T, to Be Unveiled on April 24

Our regular readers know that we have a pretty good track record as to future Leica products. Now Leica Forum posted Leica’s official invitation for the unveiling of the German boutique camera maker’s latest addition: the long expected mirrorless system camera with interchangeable lenses. This wouldn’t be THEME without giving you a bit more meat on the bone. I’ve seen the proper EXIF with lens information. The camera will be called Leica T (Typ 701) and no, it doesn’t come with the M8’s 1.33x crop factor. The T’s CMOS sensor will use APS-C’s 1.5x crop factor that has become most brands’ digital standard by now.

The mirrorless system camera Leica T is about to see the light of day. Expecting a "mini M"? | Leica Forum
The mirrorless system camera Leica T is about to see the light of day. Expecting a “mini M”? | Leica Forum

As mentioned in earlier articles on Leica’s future mirrorless system camera with autofocus (!), the Leica T is a further development of the X Vario (which is, in essence, a Panasonic concept). The T is, as the X Vario, designed in collaboration with Panasonic. The Leica-branded T camera and zooms will be made by Panasonic, albeit better expect a “Made in Germany” engraving. Leica builds the prime lenses.

Looks like one of the standard primes is a reasonably fast 56mm (84mm equivalent in 35mm), but this has yet to be confirmed.

Disappointed about the sensor size? Absolutely want full-frame? An A7R with red dot? The T’s most likely the size allowing the system to be as compact as possible. Lenses will already be bigger than the M glass you’re used to. Electronics and possibly a (hopefully ultrasonic) lens motor have to be built in.

Will the T be EVIL? Doubt it. Again, it’s an X Vario offspring. Expect a third-party accessory viewfinder. Branded as Leica.

Price? Expect something in the range of $3-4k for starter kits. The X Vario was initially listed for $2,850.

More to follow. Stay tuned on THEME for when I’m in a position to give away tidbits about form factor, etc. Let’s hope for true mini M: a compact M philosophy in design, functionality and operability. I however doubt this’ll happen. Don’t forget. It’s a Panasonic with a red dot.

  • Last time….we got an X vario. Hope they learn hype without backbone backfires…

  • streetshooter

    Don’t sweat that….geeeze….after a month or so if ya don’t like it ya can buy the Panny model for 1/2 price….

  • One More Thought

    it’s not so bad that Panny is involved; they make some interesting stuff and some of their technology Leica could not have developed on their own, without creating R&D departments for stuff they don’t have. For instance, Panny has come up with some great AF on their m43 cameras. They are doing interesting stuff with sensor tech.

    As for everyone always wanting FF…well, with Leica you already have that in the M series.

    And let’s not forget that no matter how small the body, you still have the problem of lens size for FF mirrorless. Sony is running into this with their A7 series. You either have a large lens, which defeats the purpose, or you have a slow lens, or you have a manual focus lens only. There are always tradeoffs.

    The X Vario is not a bad camera; it has an incredible quality feel to it, and for what it is, it does it well. It’s just that it occupies a weird niche in the market.

    This camera will most likely be judged like any Leica: very high quality build, great optics, but overpriced compared to competition. Now for those who like the Leica feel and are willing to pay for it, it will most likely be a hit.

  • Just don’t expect immaculate ISO performance…

  • B. D. Colen

    Have to say…so what? As someone who shot with film Ms – 3 and 2, and at one point 3 M6 TTL bodies and aspheric glass, I firmly believe everything electronic Leica has produced has been, for its price, a disgrace. What was a great camera company has for some time been a producer of neck jewelry, worn, with some obvious but rare exceptions, by people who think that owning a “Leica” makes them a great photographer. So now it will be a line of mirrorless Panasonic cameras, with Red Dots – at the price point of other good manufacturer’s full frames. Yawn. And the Red a Dot? Just one more thing to cover with black tape. Yes, Leica still produces the world’s best 35mm glass- no argument. But the rest of it? :-)

  • Even though I am only and firmly forever (hopefully) shooting film Ms, I hope that Leica gets it right this time. The “Mini M” moniker was in hindsight an incredible misleading of the customers last time around. It would be great if Leica produced something to be proud of, rather than some glitzy gadget for those who care more for style than substance.

  • Bengt Nyman

    Leica makes excellent lenses but has never understood what we need in a camera. Panasonic does.
    This will force Leica (and hopefully trigger Zeiss) to make autofocus lenses.
    Whereas the Sony-Hasselblad re-branding with zero Hasselblad content was a sure flop, a Panasonic-Leica hybrid could make some sense. What it has to offer over and above a Panasonic with a Leica lens, other than a predictably higher price, remains to be seen.
    What both Leica and Zeiss should have done a long time ago is to offer autofocus primes for Canon and Nikon.

  • Yes, I subscribe to all. and still think it will be an X-Vario ILC.

    Then perhaps, who knows, at Photokina, an M with AF lenses.

    The true revolution would be if they started to sell much better and lowered the prices.

    I saw ‘the Girl wt Leica’ of Rodcenko, 1930. I can hardly believe that at the time Leicas were so expensive.

    They were revolutionary in that their small size allowed Rodcenko impossible angles. That is what m4/3 allows today.

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  • EJPB

    5 years before this will be a true usable, inelligent camera concept. Look at all those that went before Leica: Olympus, Fuji, Sony. Some are still not there where they should be, and Leica has the size of a microbe versus the other ones. Leica X and M are still at the beginning of the digital era, so? Stupid investment, buy a real camera, not an adventure.