Leica TL2: A professional camera that is as simple as an iPhone
The Leica T was announced in 2014 as a totally new camera concept. Leica Camera AG had made up 10-12 concepts internally for a future camera not based on any previous ideas, but an entire re-invention of photography.
The idea obviously was to see what a new take on photography would look like; but also to stop adding to 100+ year-old concepts and instead ask themselves, "How would we make a camera if this was the first we ever made?".
With the introduction of the new Leica TL2 (2017), the whole Leica T (2014) concept has been turned upside-down and equipped with enough power to run a small island. In short, the Leica TL2 is an extremely well-working camera.
Here is my first video-review, my two months’ hands-on field test:
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The concept was promising when it came out in 2014, but the downside of the concept (that otherwise had waxed enthusiasm worldwide) was that the camera was slow in responding and had a slow and sneezing auto-focus. Not even the next 'generation', the Leica TL, addressed those issues. But the Leica TL2 does.
With other successful concepts being presented, the Leica SL and the Leica Q, some even predicted that the Leica T series was a dead-end. Not so, apparently.
A needed intervention was done in the headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany, and in all secrecy a team have been addressing all the issues needed to turning the Leica TL into a slick, fashionable real camera.
I was not a big fan of the Leica T. Actually, all in all, I never paid any serious attention to it. But two things made me consider to try to take on the Leica TL and make it work:
One was that the optical designer at Leica, Peter Karbe, would always mention the Leica T lenses as great lens designs. Great lenses for a "small consumer camera" – that made me curious. Why would they make such great lenses for a camera that didn't matter?
Leica Camera AG wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the innovative Leica "small camera" (the current Leica M) that was introduced back in 1925, which came with the world’s best lenses. In fact, the Leica M was so innovative that that camera concept shaped the photography industry all the way until present time.
The current Leica M10 is perfectly close to the original 1925 invention. Despite many other successes at Leica Camera AG, the Leica M camera and lenses still stand for 60% of the overall income.
So here comes the second reason I wanted to use the Leica TL: Back in January 2017 the CEO of Leica Camera AG said in an interview that the Leica T concept camera is very important to the future of Leica Camera AG.
The first model of what is today known as the Leica M was introduced in 1925 and officially became the Leica M with the "M bayonet" lenses that replaced screw-mount lenses in 1953 (Leica M3). In the photo above is Stanley Kubrick with his Leica III. All the Leica lenses (screw-mount and M mount) can be used as manual focus lenses on the Leica TL2 with an adapter.
There are many innovations inside the Leica TL2 that would impress if one knew about them. The uni-body aluminum design that makes a sturdy body that allows for effective production, a light camera, and the aluminum body allows heat from the sensor and electronics to distribute easily (always a problem in digital cameras).
But the truth of the matter is that I'm not very interested in the inside of a camera. What I see is a slick black body that doesn't have any unnecessary buttons or features. It's easy to use, and it makes great photographs.
The Leica TL2 changes everything. Forget the Leica T and the Leica TL. When I had people try my Leica TL2, they asked me what was so great about my Leica M10 that I didn't ditch that one and just kept using the Leica TL2.
If you have a Leica M you will know this is an insult to the entire evolution of man. It's like asking NASA why they make rockets.
The Leica Tl2 doesn't have a built-in flash. There was a small built-in flash on the Leica T (2014) and Leica TL (2016), but that is gone now. In my opinion there is no need to have a flash in a camera that goes to 50,000 ISO, and also the Leica lenses are traditionally very lightstrong.
Should you want to use a flash to soften up shadows, or just because you want to, the Leica TL2 has a flash shoe that communicates with Metz and Leica flashes (so the camera measures the light through the lens while shooting; and adjusts for any changes), but any flash will of course work on the Leica TL2.
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The menu of the Leica TL2 is very simple, and there are no complicated or hidden buttons on the camera itself. This is all there is to it.
The whole Leica TL2 concept is touch-based. You can compose your own menu of 3, 6 or any number of main menu items that will be the only ones you see on the main screen.
Touch screen on the Leica TL2
The Leica TL2 menu as diagram. A maximum of 43 menu items (with 108 choices) which you can reduce to as few as you need in the main menu (for me that's 6 items). To put it in perspective, another APS-C format camera as the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 has 57 main menu items and 575 sub-menu choices!
There is a neat feature in the Leica TL2 in that you can remove any item from the menu. You simply hold your finger on it for half a second, and then you will see a waste basket to the right of the screen. Drag and drop and it's off the screen.
It's not that the item is not there anymore. On the screen there is always a plus symbol (+) which is the access to the complete menu.
When you change the mode of the camera, the two thumb function wheels change function. There is a default set of functions with each setting, but you can change the functions. Simply tap the square just below the thumb wheel on the screen (visible in the beginning when the screen turns on) and you will see a selection of other functions you can dedicate to it in that mode. Click the function you want, and that's how it is then.
The number of methods to focus is a little overwhelming at first, but after a while you settle with one that is comfortable for you and forget the rest.
My Leica TL2 is set to auto-focus with 1-point and AFs (Auto Focus Single) which means that the center of the frame is the focus point and I can lock the focus on any subject in front of me by pressing the shutter release slightly down and then recompose the frame. For example, if I want a face to the left in the frame to be in focus, I point the focus point to that face, lock the exposure and then re-compose the frame so the face is in the left side of the frame.
With 1-Point Focus, the auto focus puts what is in the center frame in focus. You can move the focus point in the menu, but I find it easier to move the camera to the area I want in focus, lock that focus by pressing the shutter release half down, and then recompose the frame.
There is also a Spot Focus, which is the same as the 1-Point focus, but a smaller point. In both modes the spot/point is in the middle of the screen, but you can set the camera up so the spot/point is anywhere in the frame you want it (you have to go into the menu to do that).
A great feature of the Leica TL2 is, when using 1-point AF, that when you focus to get something in focus, you can fine-tune the auto focus. By continuing to hold the shutter release button slightly down, you can adjust the focus with the focusing ring on the lens. This works with all Leica TL and Leica SL lenses on the Leica TL2.
The second-best option, in my opinion, is the Touch AF + Release which is where you use the screen to point at what you want to be in focus: The Leica TL2 then focuses on that subject and takes a photo the same instant it has gotten the focus. Handing the camera over to children or anybody else who are not familiar with a camera, that is a very easy principle to explain. It works!
I gave the Leica TL2 to my friend's kids and they loved it! (Clip from my Leica TL2 video class)
Manual Focusing with Focus Peaking
he third method I use for focusing, is Manual Focusing (MF). If it becomes too complicated to make the AF find the focus, I turn on the MF. With a TL or SL lens, I can then focus using the focus ring on the lens. I can zoom in 3x or 6x to focus ("Focus Peaking"), for example on a person's eye.
The same manual focusing steps in automatically if I mount any other lens, the Leica M lenses for example.
Manual focusing is also helpful in cases where you want to focus on a particular spot in a street or room, but you are waiting for a gesture or some action. In that case the focus stays where you put it and you can react without delay when the awaited gesture happens. Unlike with AF where you have to get the focus first and there will be a slight delay (or a long delay if the AF picks the wrong spot for example behind the person).
Focus Aid / Focus Peaking for Manual Focusing on Leica TL2
In the menu you will find Focus Aid which I have set to enlargement and red outline. This means that whenever I mount a manual focusing lens onto the camera, I can zoom in to focus and will also get a small red outline showing what is in focus. The red outline is not always stable (as it requires high contrast to show up), but the zoom function to see sharpness always works for me.
This is something the Leica T and Leica TL didn't have (unknown if Leica Camera AG will be able to enable it with a Firmware update now that it is in the Leica TL2).
A method of AF that I don't like myself is setting the focusing to AFc, which is continuous. When the Leica TL2 is set to AFc, the focus will try to follow the movement of the subject. For me, that makes me feel that I lose control.
I can think of cases where the idea that the AF is "follow-focus" is a great idea, but I just don't have any of them.
If a person is walking towards me (in street photography for example), I will set the focus to a spot on the street and wait for the subject to walk into focus before I take the photo. That way I control where the focus will be, as well as the frame. Remember, the AFc is not a heat-seeking missile that locks onto the face you had in mind; it will lock onto any subject it seems reasonable to get in focus. Too weak control for the photographer, in my opinion.
Follow-focus is very popular, for example, during the Olympics where you want to photograph continuously on a runner performing a sprint. That's basically what it was made for.
This is a mode where the camera "throws out" as many (multiple) points of focus as it thinks is necessary. It doesn't make much sense to me. You point the camera at a flower and it throws 16 points up on the flower. You point it at a group of people and it throws a spot on a face to the left; and when you move the camera to the right, the spot stays with that face until it changes its mind and throws 12 spots on a group of people to the right. It seems very intelligent, but it's a hit and miss until you see that the camera picked what you actually wanted in focus.
The Face Detection seem the most sure focus method for casual tourist snapshots, and when others use the camera. When Face Detection doesn't work, it works like Multi Point Focus and simply throws out some focusing points to paintings on the walls, patterns that looks like faces, etc.
A face can be too small in the frame, or dark perhaps, and the camera won't recognize the face. But when the face is well lit and the person is as close as 2.5 meters (8 feet), the camera recognizes the face and focuses on it. This must be the most idiot-secure method to get faces (or at least something) in focus. I never use it, and I will put my Leica TL2 to touch-focus when I give it to somebody else who's not used to cameras.
The Leica TL2 has an Auto White Balance feature which in many ways is the default way to photograph to get natural colors. In most daylight AWB will work pretty well, because most daylight scenes are dominated by one light source (the sun) and the camera can manage to get the colors right.
The way AWB works is that the camera (magically) picks a spot in the scene that is neutral grey or white, and which has the type of light that lights that scene. It's not a process you can see, but if you did, it would look somewhat like this in slow motion:
1. A scene with colder light than daylight
2. The camera picks a neutral spot (the white in the eye) and calibrates the entire image based on that spot.
3. The image adjusted to "daylight" and natural colors.
Light has different colors, but the eye adjusts for all light so it seems "daylight white" to us. But in reality, light has a "temperature", which is normally expressed in "Kelvin temperature."
Overcast daylight is the "daylight white light" we generally use as the standard for all colors. In sunshine the light gets warmer, and the shadows are colder than overcast daylight.
This type of light is so close to natural that when photography was always with film, the film was based on the idea that all light there would ever be, would be daylight scenes. In worst case, the colder shadows and the sometimes warmer sunshine only added colors and atmosphere. All was good for most photography. Professional photographers dealing with fashion, or similar subjects where the colors had to be accurate, would dive into using color filters and all that to get the colors 100% precise - or as close as possible.
The trouble sort of starts when we turn on electrical light, because even though the eye adjusts all light to "daylight white", the actual color of light differs quite a bit. Tungsten light (old-school light bulbs) are yellow-orange warm light. Halogen lamps are mostly orange-red light. Fluorescent is mostly green light. Energy-saving light bulbs are mostly very green.
Electrical light has changed quite a bit over the last 10 years with attempts to save energy. 20 years ago a light bulb was a light bulb, but today a light bulb can be energy-saving of any quality and make, which results in everything from "tungsten-like" colors to "really green" colors.
The real difficulty starts when you enter a scene where there are mixed light sources. A Hong Kong street around sunset is quite a challenge to get right: The sky is going into the "blue hour" which is the hour after sunset where the light is extremely blue (but also pleasantly soft), and the street vendors have turned on all sorts of light bulbs and fluorescent light sources.
To the eye it all looks "white light," so imagine your surprise when you see that the camera sees something entirely different than you.
The scale of light temperature is given in Kelvin values and here are some of them, as the camera sees them:
Open shade at noon.
6500°K On-camera flash.
Hazy to overcast day.
4800°K - 5600°K Daylight (average clear day 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Also known as White Light.)
2700°K - 3400°K Tungsten lamps and 1000W Halogen lamps.
1800°K Candle light.
The pest of our time is LED light. You visit an Indian restaurant and think they have halogen lamps in the ceiling. But when you come home and load your computers onto the screen, you realize it is all LED lamps acting as halogen spots. One problem is that LED light is ice cold light; but then that there is no standard for LED light. So spread throughout an Indian restaurant you will see different brands of LED bulbs being applied as they went out and the owner bought new ones. The variety of LED colors will go from warm to green to cold blue.
Also in the theater, or on the concert stage, you look up and you see old-school theatre lamps. But when you get home to the computer you realize that they might look like the ones from the 1980's, but they have been replaced with LED lamps with a ice cold blue or greenish tint; and sometimes a sort of white light with too much red ("dirty Hollywood" is the name of it, because it actually has a name). Of course, a lot of colored light is LED light as well; so it's not actually red but LED-red or LED-blue. It can look really strange, and it's hard to calibrate for.
Modern light sources often flicker as well. Most people won't notice, but when you photograph for example a portrait in an office or mall, you will notice that the light changes in three photos taken within one second. In one it all looks good, the next one the left side of the face is in shadow, in the third photo the shade has moved to the right. It's because the light flickers, and when it's ceiling light, for example, it simply means that in the instant you took the photo, one of the lights were out, and the next photo it was another one.
It is very disturbing when you measured the light with a light meter, and then half or 2/3 of your photos are in fact under-exposed.
There are two things to do about it. One is to simply recognize that this is that type of light and make sure to take some extra photos so you have enough to choose from.
Another possibility is to slow down the shutter speed so you don't take photos in-between the flickering, but across them. If light flickers with 50hz (blinks 50 times a second), an exposure time of 1/30 should do the job. But I personally prefer to take more photos and not risk motion blur (the person moves as the photo is taken at slow shutter speed).
The way to get 100% accurate colors is to set the white balance in the camera manually. I do so whenever I want to get the colors right; for example, a portrait or architecture where the colors are important for the understanding and/or the overall aesthetics. Most of the time, doing street photography, I use Auto White Balance.
In most cases Auto White Balance on the Leica TL2 will do a great job. But when I want precise colors, I set the White Balance manually using a WhiBal card.
In most cameras Manual White Balance is wrongfully called "Greycard". It comes from a common misunderstanding between a greycard for light metering (where you measure the reflections of light from a mid-tone greycard so as to measure the exact amount of light) and a white balancing card that sometimes is light grey.
I use a WhiBal card whenever I want to make sure I get the colors right.
However, manual white balance is simply to have the camera's sensor read a white or grey card that is neutral in colors (no warm or cold tones) so the camera can determine the color temperature. Once the camera has got that, it can calibrate the sensor so the light becomes neutral white.
I use a WhiBal card the size of a credit card because it is easy to always have with me, and it doesn't require batteries or software.
In shadows as seen here, the light is cold blue.
With the WhiBal card the camera can calibrate the overall scene to natural "white light" colors, and that's how skin tones, eye color, the color of a dress, hair color, a painting and all come to look like it does for the eyes.
In the Leica TL2 you set the White Balance Manually by going into the WB menu and selecting Greycard 1 and then pressing the arrow > to the right.
Then you see a yellow frame in the center, and to have the Leica TL2 read the card and calibrate the colors, the WhiBal card has to be within the yellow frame. Once you press SET on the screen, it's stored. It can be a little hard to hold the WhiBal card in one hand and the camera in the other and press SET with the thumb at the same time. With some training it can be done!
As you are calibrating the camera to the colors of the scene, the WhiBal card has to be in front of the subject. It is not an air sample, so you cannot just do it wherever. If you hold the card flat you pick up the blue sky. If you tilt it too much down, you pick up too much shadow. How does the light fall on the subject (for example a face)? That's the light you are measuring. Think of it as an artistic decision rather than a scientific thing, then it's easier.
If you don't have a WhiBal card, a piece of white paper can do. Just pay attention that white paper is not always the same white. Some is a little yellow, others have chemicals in them that make them blueish in daylight. But it will work pretty okay despite all that. I've used many white walls and pieces of paper over the years.
Pick White Balance in the menu and scroll down to Greycard1 and pick the arrow > to the right.
Scroll down to Greycard1 and pick the arrow > to the right.
You now see a yellow frame in the center of the screen. Point the square towards a WhiBal card or white piece of paper (that is in the light you want to photograph in), then press set on the screen (by your thumb).
Point the square towards a WhiBal card or white piece of paper (that is in the light you want to photograph in), then press set on the screen (by your thumb).
The manual white balance has been set and stored as Greycard1. You can do the same withGreycard2 and scroll between the two.
Remember to go back to Auto White balance when you are done with the scene you set the Manual White Balance for.
The presets in the Leica TL2 represents a Kelvin value. Here you can see what I measured them to:
Auto = Measures a neutral point in the scene and calibrates the overall picture before taking the photo. Daylight = 5200 Kelvin Cloudy = 7500 Kelvin Shadow = 7000 Kelvin Tungsten = 2850 Kelvin Flash = 6450 Kelvin
Setting the Kelvin number manually in the Leica TL2
You can also put in a Kelvin value manually in the Leica TL2. Some always set their Kelvin for outdoor to 5600 ir similar, and for 3200 in the evening (where the most light are Tungsten lights).
You can also get a color meter, which is a device that measures the temperature of the light and gives you a Kelvin number. They are a little bulky and also expensive, mainly used on film sets where one would balance each light source with colored filters to get the right light and atmosphere in a scene. Msot color meters gives a code for which filters, and the Seikonic C-700 also analyzes the light and gives a read of which color tones that light type is composed of. Yes, a little overkill, but fun.
The Lumu Power just came out spring 2017. That is the lightmeter for the iPhone/smartphone, and as a new thing it doesn't just work as a light meter, but now also as a color meter. Compacy and much more economical than any color meters available. The round side of the bubble is for light metering, the flat side is for color metering.
Here you can see my small collection of color meters. I love to experiment with colors and light, and I guess that is the only excuse to get the "real" color meters like Sekonic C-700 SpectroMaster ($1,500) and Kenko Color Meter KCM-3100 ($800) to the left. The new Lumu Power does the same job ($300) when attached to a smartphone. But frankly, the WhiBal card will work for almost everything ($30).You can read about some of my color experiments in my article "White balancing for more beauty [PART III]".
I mostly have the Leica TL2 set to Continuous mode even though it results in "too many photos" some times. The Leica TL2 takes somewhat 5-8 pictures a second (20-29 with electronic shutter). It's very difficult to press the shutter release so it takes only one photo. But in some cases I want a series of photos, so there is really no other choice.
If a person is walking, kids playing, a person walking across the street, that's where I want to take a series rather than just one.
A series of pictures, three in a row. Three different images; now you've got something to choose from.
As the selection of single vs. continuous is in the menu, it takes too long to change before each event, so I keep it mostly on Continuous (unless I want the camera to be as quiet as possible).
It would be nice, for example, if I could set the Leica TL2 to 2-3 frames per second, so it would be possible to just take one; or to hold the shutter release button down in the cases where I want to keep photographing.
You can check which firmware the camera has by going into the menu "Camera Information" on the Leica TL2.
To update the Leica TL2 to the latest firmware, simply put the .LFU file you downloaded onto the SD card and then start the camera up while holding down the Fn button (Fn=Function button, the black button on top that is usually used to record video with). The camera battery should be fully charged to update.
Clip from my Leica TL2 video class. Photo by Dare Cinema.
Cleaning the Leica TL2 sensor
Cleaning the sensor is likely necessary more often than with a sensor protected by a shutter curtain. The Leica TL2 sensor is visible when you take off the lens. So it collects dust, and if it rains when you change lens, drops are likely to hit the sensor. And so on.
Sensor dust isn't really visible at f/1.4 and f/2.0 but when you stop down, it starts to show. On stills you can remove dust spots on the computer in Lightroom, but for video a spot will follow in every frame and there is no way to get rid of it.
I have sensor cleaning swabs I travel with, and you need special liquid that resolve spots and evaporates from the sensor after cleaning, without leaving spots or stripes (No, you cannot use water. I tried it!). I use this $15 kit from Amazon.
If you use Adobe Lightroom, the version 2015.12 released on July 18, 2017, it includes a camera profile for Leica TL2. And so does every version aftrer this date.
Do I need Lightroom?
If you wonder what Lightroom is, it's a workflow tool to edit photographs. With the Leica TL2 you can photograph in JPG and/or DNG.
DNG is short for Digital NeGative, which means it's a file that contains all the data collected by the sensor. What you see on the screen using Lightroom is the photo as you took it, but the DNG file contains all data the sensor "saw", which enables you to edit and manipulate the photo.
After you have worked with the photo in Lightroom, you can export it in JPG (for print or screen) or TIFF (for print). The DNG format itself cannot be used on websites, for print or anything else. It's purely a format for editing a photo in a workflow software like Lightroom, Capture One, etc.
JPG is a compressed image format, intended to look perfect while as small a file as possible. The pictures you see on websites are in JPG format (72 lines per inch, which is screen resolution of the web), and for print you use JPG in 300 (or 150 - 400) lines per inch.
When you photograph JPG format in the Leica TL2, the camera takes the sensor data and converts the data into a final JPG image and trashes the rest of the data. While you can still edit the JPG image in Lightroom, the possibilities to do so without loss of quality are limited. You could say that a JPG file is one layer of picture information, whereas a DNG is 8-16 layers of information from bright to dark, from warm to cold colors, etc. So when you edit a DNG file, you are scrolling up and down in the information layers.
If the photo is as it should be when it comes out of the camera, the JPG will do the job. No need for further information. But if the photo needs editing, the DNG offers the best possibilities to do so.
Using DNG format (or raw as it is called sometimes) allows me to edit a photograph towards the exact look I want. While I do actually like the "Natural" version of the Leica TL2 color photos, I prefer to get the DNG file and do my own look.
I don't use Lightroom to "fix things". I use Lightroom to adjust the shadow details, the contrast, the exposure and the colors to make the photo 10-15% more "sparkling".
At the same time Lightroom (or Capture One) is a "workflow tool", which means that it's a software that allows you to import for example 200 photos at the same time, select the ones you like, work on them, keyword them and then export it all as one batch in different sizes, ready for use on Facebook, print, etc.
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Out and about with the Leica TL2 in Denmark.
The alternative to a "workflow tool" is to use a software or picture viewer and deal with each picture, one by one. Obviously it's much more effective and faster to deal with photographs in an organized fashion.
The whole "workflow" and "editing" thing is a learning curve with a number of continuous challenges, and technology changes (some would say evolves). That is why deciding to use the DNG is opening up for a new bag of confusions and things to learn. I have made the "Lightroom Survival Kit" to help photographers deal with all the things in setting up a "workflow". It was originally a workshop I did for photographers over three days, but as everybody was so overwhelmed and bored to death dealing with workflow for three days (particularly myself as teacher), I made it into a do-it-yourself kit with checklists to get it all to work flawlessly.
Look at your photo rather than read what others think
Technical things aside, you can simply decide what to do, and how to do it, based on what you like. Look at the photo, and if it looks good, it is!
There is arguably more shadow details in a DNG file the Leica TL2 makes than the JPG the Leica TL2 makes. But that doesn't mean that you have to use the DNG. More is not always better, for everybody. Some people love to spend time and energy by the computer, others prefer to use the camera and get things done without spending much time by a computer.
If you set the Leica TL2 to DNG+JPG, the camera will make a DNG file and a JPG file of each photo. That's a way to see what you like; and with the advantage that both files are stored in case you decide to work more – or differently – with it later.
The Leica TL2 can be set to take black and white photos in camera.You camn choose the JPG files to be B&W Standard or B&W High Contrast.
I tend to use the DNG from the camera and convert them myself to get the black & white tones I like, and I have made a Leica TL2 preset for this that you can buy in my store.
Black and white from the Leica TL2
DNG converted with my Leica TL2 preset
Black and white from the Leica TL2
DNG converted with my Leica TL2 preset
Color JPG from the Leica TL2
You can choose different styules of colors in the Leica TL2, in the menu under Still Image > Film Format. This only applies to the JPG files as the DNG is always the full set of data from the sensor, unchanged.
I find the color preset Natural to be really nice for many things. It's a slightly desaturated look.
So I have set my Leica TL2 to do DNG and JPG at the same time, and hen the JPG will be Natural tones and I have the DNG for most things. But some times I just want so skip right to the beautiful tones of the JPG in Natural.
Especially in tricky light or other situations where the "real" colors are not what you want them to be, the JPG version in Natural can be a life-saver. Or just a quick way to get the job done.
DNG straight out of camera
JPG straight out of camera
Slightly darker JPG's than DNG's
When the camera takes DNG and JPG ast the same time, the JPG is slightly darker - or perhaps more heavy in the shadows would be at more correct expression. This, by the way, is not unsual as many cameras does this.
DNG straight out of camera
JPG straight out of camera
Which Lightroom profile to use?
When a new digital camera comes out, it has a built-in profile. After a while, Adobe Lightroom comes with their Adobe Standard profile that works for that new camera model. As it is often the case, the Adobe Standard iis less saturated than the built-in profile. Here are two examples of how the blue and the orange tones get a more natural look using the Adobe Standard profile in Lightroom.
There is no doubt that a large percentage of the Leica TL2 users will be fine with using the screen of the camera. After all, that's the concept. A smartphone with a real camera and the best lenses in the world attached.
For me who grew up with viewfinder and SLR cameras, the idea that you can take photos without looking through a viewfinder of some sort, is very unfamiliar. But I must say that I have been at events where the majority of people actually used their camera screens. It came as a shock to me, I hadn't noticed before. But now that I have, I notice that when you see a fashion show, most of the people who sit along the catwalk in fact use their screen.
Another indicator that Leica Camera AG saw right when they made the Leica TL2. Whilst us from the old school would never do such a thing as using the screen, that's how it is done by a new generation of photographers. You could say they are living in the event, they are not just photographing it.
Fashion week front row: Jessica Hart, Molly Sims, Melonie Diaz and Brad Goreski. Photo by Stephen Lovekin for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
For tradition and many other reasons, I prefer to use a viewfinder also on the Leica TL2. So my Visoflex EVF is attached all the time, and that's the one I use.
It gives me an isolated view of the frame I am making, and there is no distracting reflections or light. In the dark EVF I can have a private view of focus, framing, colors, tonality and all. That's how I want it.
I think that in the Leica T and Leica TL you can set the Auto LCD to off and then the picture will always be in the EVF. This cannot be done (by me at least) in the Leica TL2.
By default, the camera is set up so the LCD screen is on, and then the moment you light the camera to the eye, two small "invisible" eyes on the EVF sense that someone is having the camera in front of their face, and the preview is now in the EVF and not on the LCD screen. There is a short delay in this.
I don't like the LCD to be "alive", so I have set up the Fn button on top of the camera (that by default from factory is set to start video recording), such that when I press that Fn button, the EVF turns on. So I will turn on the Leica TL2, then press the button.
My power save is set to auto power off after 5 minutes, and in case that happens, I have to turn the camera on again (by pressing the shutter release gently) and then press the FN button to get the view in the EVF. It's a little extra work, but it works.
An electronic viewfinder has the advantage that you can preview the image's depth of field, the exposure and tonality/colors like if it was a final image. Further, by looking through a viewfinder rather than on a screen of a smartphone or the back of a camera, the image fills the viewing field as if it was a cinema screen. It is very easy to work with.
I don't depend on the EVF or LCD to tell me how the final result looks. It's impossible - in my opinion - to judge sharpness, composition, potential, colors and all on a camera. That is done when you get it onto a computer screen (and sometimes you even have to make a print to see what to think of it).
But what I see in the viewfinder is enough to judge if the settings are right, and if the crop is right.
The Leica TL2 has three methods of helping you measuring the light to get the exposure correct:
Measures the center of the frame and adjusts the exposure so as to make the average of all included in the center circle mid-tone.
Measures just a single spot in the middle and adjusts the exposure so as to make what is seen in that spot mid-tone.
Measures a number of fields of the overall image, and based on how many highlights, and where they are, the Leica TL2 tries to choose the correct exposure.
I've been using Multi-field the most because it works well on the Leica TL2. I generally prefer Center-weighted but it doesn't make a lot of difference for the Leica TL2.
The advantage with Center-weighted is that it's simple and logical. If what is in the center is dark, you know the camera will over-expose to get it mid-tone, so you have to adjust to get it right.
The advantage with Multi-field is that when it works, it works really well. When it doesn't, you don't really have total control because it's the camera trying to figure it out, with algorithms you don't know.
In the Leica TL2 I find the Multi-field to make the most sense for the type of work I do with that camera. If it gets really advanced, I simply go to Manual mode so I can control everything.
A note on light metering:
As can be seen here not all subjects are an average of middle-grey. With this rather simple subject, but tricky lightning, the Spot meter hitting the shadow part will light up the whole thing to make that little spot look middle-grey. A lightmeter is always set so that what it thinks it measures, is a mid-toned scenery. So if you look into a camera’s brain, what it is thinking is "if this is middle-grey, then I better set the time to 1/125 and the f-stop to f/2.0." The camera never thinks, "oh, I see a red wall darker than middle-grey, and with a highlight crossing [oh my!], so I better set time to 1/250 and f-stop to f/4.0 so as to get good contrast and both shadow detail and highlight detail." The camera doesn't think that way; that is what you are there for, the photographer.
The closest you get to this are "intelligent" metering methods such as Multi-field metering, "matrix metering," "multi-zone metering" and such metering methods where someone tries to implement this type of reasoning.
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There is one thing in the Leica TL2 Aperture Priority mode that I fail to understand how it works (or rather, why it works the way it does). First I found it very annoying, but then I started knowing how it worked and it has become one of the things, "that's how it is". Like a telephone stops ringing after 8 rings, or when the sun goes down the street lights turns on.
You expect that the picture you see in the EVF or on the screen of the Leica TL2 is how the final picture is going to look. In most daylight situations, that is also how it is.
But in dark light or bright light, the preview is not what you get. There is a short glimpse in the beginning when you press the shutter release button to get the focus; and then the preview adjusts to what actually looks very right. But once you have taken the photo, you will see that the actual photo is brighter than the preview you were looking at. Sort of over-exposed.
Once you get used to this special quirk, you know how it works and can think with it. In dark light you know that to get it to look actually dark, you have to go to Manual and set the aperture and shutter time manually.
In darker than daylight subject, the preview looks like this. But there is a very short "electronically glimpse" when you first press the shutter release where you actually see an exposure preview that shows the final picture.
But the photo looks like this. Sometimes that's ok, but often you wanted it to look darker; and the only way to do so is to go to Manual and set aperture and select the shutter speed manually.
You are trying to make a cozy night photo ...
But the Leica TL2 makes it into a daylight photo.
So far I have gotten used to this, but I would love for a firmware update that makes the EVF and screen WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). I don't know if it is possible, because the Leica SL also works like this, and apparently it has to do with the way the sensor works. I'll get back with more on this if I get an explanation that makes sense at some point.
Given that the lightmeter in a camera works as it does (in all cameras), it's no surprise that the result is like this. It's that the preview shows something else that needs to be changed.
The shutter speed in the Leica TL2 goes from 30 seconds long exposure to 1/40,000 second. In Aperture Priority mode, the camera figures out the appropriate shutter time by itself.
In Manual mode, you decide Shutter time (and Aperture) by using the two black thumb wheels and judge in the viewfinder/on the screen what is right. There are no numbers on the wheels, so you look in the top left corner of the screen for the setting.
The Leica TL2 has mechanical shutter up to 1/4000 second, which makes a small click when you take photos. Above that, all the way to 1/40,000 it is an electronic shutter, and that one is completely soundless.
The Leica TL2 goes from 100 ISO to 50,000 ISO, and the 25,000 actually does work. Maybe the 50,000 also in some case. That's not very common in photography where cameras will usually state a high ISO, but mostly be able to perform one or two stop less. Here are some ISO samples taken in actual dark (which is when you would use high ISO and where noise would enter the scene. Doing high ISO test when there is enough light doesn't stress the sensor the same).
Here are some crops showing the (lack of) noise
Leica TL2 at 6400 ISO
Leica TL2 at 12,500 ISO
Leica TL2 at 25,000 ISO
Leica TL2 at 25,000 ISO
Here is the full picture at 25,000 ISO:
Rome in 25,000 ISO at 1/250 second. Leica TL2 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.
Battery life of the Leica TL2
The Leica TL2 is able to do about 400 images on one battery. I always have two batteries for any camera, and more if I plan to do video.
Considering that the Leica TL2 depends on a screen or EVF for all work, it's pretty good.
My setting in the menu is that the Leica TL2 goes into auto power off mode after 5 minutes.
The "Leica Glow" and the Leica philosophy on lenses
An important feature of the Leica TL2 is the Leica lenses. The "Leica Glow" is something you hear spoken about from time to time. When you use Leica every day, you don't notice it that much. If you use other lenses and then see a Leica photo, most people clearly notice that something is "glowing".
In 2005 I was editing my book "After the Tsunami" and used two scanners to scan, an Imacon and a Nikon scanner.
I have one explanation that I usually give: When I was scanning slide film photos for a book some years ago, I used a Nikon scanner ($1,200) and an Imacon scanner ($14,000). I used the Nikon for the less important ones as it would scan images in less than a minute. The Imacon I used for the images I really wanted to sing, because the Imacon takes 8 minutes to scan one image.
Same size of scan, different scanners. Imacon has been known for making the world’s best scanners and still does (they were bought by Hasselblad some years ago).
I decided to test the quality, so I did a scan of the same image on both scanners. When I zoomed in to 100% I was horrified: The Nikon scanning was sharper than the Imacon scan!
But then when I zoomed out a bit, the Imacon suddenly appeared sharper, more alive and more 3D. Fresh, I would say. And when I zoomed out to the actual size of the image on the screen, the Imacon was so much more alive, clearer, better colors and more sparkling details.
We tend to focus too much on edge sharpness in photography. What is more relevant is the clarity of the image.
Imacon and Leica are the only two optics/photography companies where I have seen this "philosophy" on light rays. If I look at a Zeiss image, I see extreme sharpness but an image that overall is less alive and less clear. For me, that is optics designed by a computer. What I think distinguishes Leica and Imacon, is that some human makes decisions on the road to the final design.
A computer can figure out the sharpest lens, but only a human can figure out a lens that makes things look right.
This might be an accurate, or less accurate description of the phenomena. If you are into Leica lenses, you know of the Mandler era: That is lenses designed by Dr. Walter Mandler who was lead designer and CEO of Leitz Canada and whose lens designs are characterized by a soft look, but at the same time very detailed. He did the 75/1.4, the 50/2 version II, the Noctilux f/1.0 and many more lenses. If you said his lenses didn't focus on sharp edges, but on many details, you would be on the right track.
Since then, Peter Karbe has taken over and is the one in charge of the design of Leica lenses these days. The new lenses have much more control of micro-details, light-rays and the overall result is higher contrast, more accurate colors and an overall apparent sharpness. One other thing that distinguishes Leica lenses from other brands is that they cut no corners in lens design and production. This is why - surprisingly - new lens designs are better than older ones. "They don't build them as in the old days" is true for many things in life, but not for Leica lenses.
Sharpness is not a sharp edge, but is perceived sharpness; meaning that the idea that something is sharp and detailed due to the light conditions. It comes down to the control of light rays (Red, Green and Blue) and how they meet on the sensor plane.
If one has tried different binocular brands, one will know that Leica binoculars make you see almost better than with your own eyes. Bright, colorful, contrasty, well-defined and relaxed. Same philosophy.
During an interview in 2013 with Peter Karbe on the Leica lens design and the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0, he said something that might lead us to the human factor in lens design:
Peter Karbe: "At Leica we aim to reduce and minimize aberration within each element itself, with each surface and so forth. That is the concept and thinking behind everything we do."
"Look at the M system. We aim to keep it compact and each element has a certain task and this needs to be selected carefully. That is the general description and the reason we try so hard."
So any other lens designer could do this, or do you have an extra secret?
”They need to understand why, and they need to know how to do that. That is our history of ideas at Leica. We have a history of ideas for photographic lenses. Max Berek (1886-1949) designed the first Leica 50mm f/3.5 lens for the Ur-Leica that Oskar Barnack made in 1911. That is our heritage. We learned from that."
"Everybody at Leica tries to learn from that which others did before us,” he smiles. “It’s not learned at a university. We learned from them. Our first lens designer was Max Berek. His concept was to reduce the aberration of each element, or of each lens surface.“
With increased resolution of sensors, Leica Camera AG seems to have decided some time ago to make it possible for even more resolution. For many reasons, one could hope we get spared for 100MP sensors in “full frame” (24 x 36mm) cameras, because the human eye will usually be able to resolve just up to 18MP, so anything above that is just need for more computer power and storage space in order to process the images.
What lens designer Peter Karbe and his team of optical designers decided was to increase resolution of the Leica lenses and resolve, from the usual 40 lines per mm (1,000 lines per inch) which is the usual resolution for Leica M lenses, to 60 lines per mm (1,500 lines per inch) on Leica L mount lenses, as well as the Leica Q, so as to make cropping possible.
This doesn’t translate directly to web or print sizes, but to give an idea, images on the internet are 72 lines per inch in resolution, and print is 300 lines per inch (with some exceptions of high definition print using 400 lines per inch).
In the Leica Q this extra resolution of the lens was made to enable digital cropping, which means that the camera has a 28mm lens. But the digital cropping allows you to crop the image to pretend you are using a 35mm or 50mm lens. It’s a great idea, because you get “three in one”, and the 24 MP sensor with a high resolution lens, makes the result just right. However, this was a little more than you can easily explain to most users who are accustomed to calculating success in life with how many megapixels you get!
In other words, despite that the lens and sensor resolves plenty of resolution, the general user wants “all 24 megapixels to be used for one image”.
But it does work, though.
In the Leica L lenses, the increased resolution has resulted in some ridiculously sharp and detailed photographs that makes the Leica TL look like a medium format camera. That is if you look at the images and not the specifications.
In any case, what Leica Camera AG has done in the L lenses is to prepare for cropping of existing sensor size images, as well as filling the demand any future sensors could require in terms of resolution.
I can add sharpness in Lightroom, even to this little crop. Generally I wouldn't add more sharpness to an image as it will make faces look older (more visible wrinkles) and the natural look of things tends to be lost in an attempt to impress the audience with sharpness. A great thing with Leica lenses and sensors is that they are designed to capture the natural texture and details; which means that you can add sharpness on top of that. The alternative would be that the lenses and sensors were tuned to get edge sharpness but not texture and details.
The same photo again, with the sharpness applied in Lightroom. Not a big diference when shown on a computer screen as here, though you can notice the change in texture on the wood and brass behind. In a print it will be too much sharpness – in my opinion.
Resolution and sharpness
But let’s get it straight, resolution is not the same as sharpness. Resolution is simply how much information it is possible to resolve. You can have a very fine, excellently made print of 300 lines per inch on the finest paper, but that doesn’t means that an unsharp image will look sharp. However, if the image is actually sharp, the higher resolution makes it possible to see everything.
Leica makes the special Leica TL2 straps in rubber and funky colors that "sticks" into the special strap-attachment that is unique for the Leica TL2.
Leica Camera AG made the Universal Strap Lug for the Leica TL adapter (order no 18.807) that adds normal strap-lugs to the Leica TL2 so you can use any camera strap.
I've used a few different ones. TheTie Her Up black leather strap is a simple strap of black leather with the right length. I've also used the colored camera straps made for the Leica X by Leica Camera AG, which are colored leather.
The Leica TL2 somehow invites to simplicity, so I started out with buying a Goyard keyring with strap and used that one as wrist-strap. It works well, but when traveling and "always wearing a camera", a handwrist strap is not so practical because it takes up one hand.
I believe in always wearing a camera, and I do so no matter where I go. So obviously, if the Leica TL2 is my main camera, I will use a strap that goes across the body so it's always there, always ready. If the Leica TL2 is just the extra camera I take from the table to the restaurant and such, the handwrist works.
I have found Leica M photographers considering the Leica TL2 as an extra camera, and I have found Leica SL users asking if it would be a good backup camera for the Leica SL (as they both have 24MP sensors and can use the same lenses), and I've had children loving the Leica TL2 to bits.
I think the ease of use is what attracts, and not what camera system (or which smartphone) you come from.
There are the cameras that enable you to take photographs, and there are the ones which do not.
I think - looking at it in retrospective - that if you can pick up a camera and the pictures you take come out so well that you are surprised and feel accomplished, that is a great camera. But reality is that most cameras that are supposed to make quality pictures are so complicated, so heavy, and demand so much prior knowledge of the user, that the result will always be depressing.
The Leica TL2 is basically a really good 24-megapixels digital camera, operated as simple as an iPhone (1st generation when they were actually simple and intuitive to operate).
The Leica TL2 skips all the traditional photographic controls and features and cuts straight to the chase. It's so minimalistic that after two months of use, I find even the elegantly designed Leica Q looking complicated! (No, I didn't expect that!).
The Leica TL2 sums up the image quality experience that Leica Camera AG has gained since first introducing a 24MP sensor on their main camera, the Leica M, in 2013. The whole lineup of Leica cameras (except the medium format Leica S) currently feature 24MP sensors, which is a relief because 18MP basically is enough, and anything above 24MP is overkill that slows down the necessary computer editing accompanying any digital camera.
My unexpected odd experience using the Leica TL2 is that it's "just as good" as the Leica M. The feeling of the Leica M10 is different, the feel of the camera, and the lens choices is a part of that. The Leica TL2 is different than the Leica M, the feel of the camera, and the choice of AF lenses is part of that.
Did you notice that I made no particular preference to which is the best? The reason is that I actually don't see a technical difference between the two. It's the feel and the handling that is the difference. Very unexpected, the smaller 24MP sensor in the Leica TL2 compared to the full frame 24MP sensor in the Leica M10 doesn't show in the pictures. If you didn't know, you wouldn't think the sensors had different size. In other words, it's a non-issue.
That said, a Leica D-Lux or Leica X is an entirely different story in terms of quality and handling and all. While I will some days take the Leica TL2 out and use that, and other days I will take the Leica M10 out and use that, I would never take a Leica D-Lux out and use just that. The same for the Leica X. I own the Leica D-Lux, but it's always been just for video or to give to somebody to put in a bag.
The Leica Q is a different story again. With its overall great design, built-in macro, as well as video, it's a very handy camera to use. The built-in 28mm lens makes it a specific camera to use, and while I would sometimes take that camera out and use it for the day, it is limited compared to the Leica M and Leica TL2. But when you limit something - as it is the case in the Leica Q - you also decide to focus on something essential. And that is the strength of the Leica Q. In terms of image quality, the Leica Q is on par with the Leica TL2 and Leica M10, though slightly different feel of the files when you edit them in Lightroom (some like it that way, others like the M10 files better).
All the sensors in the Leica cameras are different, but they follow the same philosophy and aim for the same look. When Leica started making sensors back 15 years ago, they aimed at having sensors that emulate the look of the classic Kodachrome film: "The last known standard for great colors we know," as they said. An unusual approach in digital photography where most seem more occupied with the electronic parts than the images the sensor is supposed to make.
Children loves the touch screen and the overall simplicity of the Leica TL2. If you plan to let your kids use the Leica TL2, be aware that it can be heavy for children under 10 years. The 35mm Summilux lens mostly will give the camera weight in the front so it requires some strength in the hands to hold it up. Especially if you have to use the other hand to touch-focus the screen.
I would recommend the 23mm on the Leica TL2 for smaller children.
Be aware that the larger the lens, the more front-heavy the Leica TL2 becomes for children. Get the 23mm for smaller children.
Made in Germany
The Leica TL2 is likely to some degree made in the Leica Camera AG factory in Portugal, as well as the factory in Wetzlar, Germamy. To be a "Made in Germany" product, more than 83% has to be made in Germany, so that gives an idea. Some cameras like the D-Lux are made in Japan/Germany, and the Leica X supposedly is made in Vietnam/Portugal/Germany.
Much of the optics used in the Leica lenses come from many different facilities around the world. Some types of glass used is specified by recipes from the "Leitz Glass Laboratory" (1940-1980) and only two suppliers in the world can make glass that fulfill the rigid quality demands and special specifications set by Leica. It says a lot about the knowledge Leica Camera AG possesses, as well as how unreasonably ambitious their lens designers are. That narrow specification also greatly limits the possibility to use "the cheapest possible product" or have it "Made in China", which is the reason many Leica products seem to live in a parallel universe as far as pricing goes.
The Leica factory in Portugal is one Leica bought in the 1973 when they needed more capacity and had the chance to take over a watchmaker factory with 1,000+ staff that was trained to assemble precision mechanics. Since then the factory has been expanded and rebuilt to a state of the art facility.
The entrance to Leica Camera in Porto in Portugal featue this large Leica M camera that houses the security.
The Leica TL lenses
One of the reasons I decided to dive into the Leica TL2 was the lens designer Peter Karbe's constant praise of the TL lenses. The Leica 35mm Summilux-TL ASPH f/1.4 is enough to convince me.
I've never been a big fan of zoom lenses, though I have used the 35-70/2.8 quite a bit on the Leica R system when I used that system as my main camera.
The Leica TL lenses comes in black and silver to match the camera. But it is of course the optical quality that makes them stand out. More is coming, but in the picture you see the 23mm ($1,499), 35mm ($2,395), 60mm ($2,995) and the three zoom lenses, 11-23mm ($1,795), 18-56mm ($1,650), 55-135mm ($1,895).
Using Leica SL lenses on the Leica TL2
The Leica TL and the full-frame Leica SL are able to share lenses from birth. It's called the L mount. The TL lenses are crop lenses that cover only the size of an APS-C sensor (25.1×16.7mm), whereas the SL lenses are full-frame lenses that covers the full frame of that (24 x 36mm).
The Leica SL lenses started out with a 24-90mm f/2.8 and continues with 50mm f/1.4 and 90-280mm f/2.8-4.0. In near future also 35mm f/2.0, 75mm f/2.0, 90mm f/2.0, and a 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5.
The AF works similar on either camera, with TL and SL lenses. When you use TL lenses on the Leica SL, the file size will be reduced because the Leica TL lenses are cropped lenses (for APS-C sensor size) and the Leica SL lenses are full-frame lenses. A full-frame SL file is 6000x4000 = 24MP; a full-sized shot on the SL from the cropped lens is 3936x2624 = 10.328MP while a file from the TL2 is 6000x4000 = 24MP (on the Leica T the same lens was 4928x3264 = 16MP).
OIS in the Leica TL2
The Leica TL has OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), but only when used with lenses that has that. The Longer Leica SL lenses has OIS, where the optics compensate for camera shake, which is natural with longer lenses, especially at sloer shutter speeeds.
The Leiac T had EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) which works for all lenses (when turned on) as it's a digital process in the camera.
There exist quite a few adapters for the Leica T lenses (which means they work for both Leica T/TL/TL2 and Leica SL).
Adapters for the Leica TL2: from left for Leica M lenses, Leica S lenses, Leica R lenses and Leica Cine Lenses and other PL mount.
On the Leica TL2, any lens made for Leica M or Leica SL will have a crop factor of 1.5x, so a 50mm lens becomes an 80mm. The lens covers a larger area than the sensor, so the 24MP sensor of the Leica TL will only record the center of the image. But it will of course be a 24MP file size.
The options not shown in this, are the possibilities of combining adapters. Once you mount a Leica M adapter, you may add the M-to-R adapter (to use Leica R lenses) or the M to M39 adapter (to use Leica screw mount lenses) or some of the third party adapters on the market, for example M to Sony E, M to Canon or M to Nikon adapters!
You can get an overview of existing Leica lenses since 1925 until today here in my "Leica Lens Compendium".
Once you mount the Leica S adapter, you may add the other adapters on top of it, made for the Leica S. This enables you to mount Hasselblad V (Adapter no. 16024), Hasselblad H (Adapter no. 16030), Mamiya 645 (Adapter no. 16025), Pentax 67, Contax 645 (Aadapter no. 16038) and other lenses! Only consideration is that the crop using a Hasselblad 80mm on a Leica TL2 camera makes it a 300mm lens!
On the Leica TL2 I found that the look and balance of the camera was best without any lens shade. The one that comes with the 35mm Summilux-TL ASPH f/1.4 is quite big. So no, not for me.
I could add my own designed E60 ventilated shade, which is metal and would offer good protection against bumping into things. But no, I just like the Leica TL2 as simple as possible.
I generally don't use UV filters (or protective filters) on any of my lenses. I find it is often an "up-sell" in many camera stores, and I don't really see a reason for it. Firstly, it adds another two sides of glass that needs to be cleaned, and with some small chance for picking up unwanted reflections. Secondly, the UV glass is softer than the front glass of the lens; so the UV filter is easier to scratch than the actual lens.
I (almost) never had any lenses damaged or scratched. Except a 35/1.4 that took a hard hit on the front glass. I sent it to Leica, and they quoted me a repair of 250 Euro to replace the front lens. Not very expensive, and that is the point: Every Leica lens is handmade, and that also means that repairs can be done.
The 32GB internal memory in the Leica TL2 and the SD card tends to start with the same file numbers, starting from L000001. This can cause some confusion when trying to copy files into folders on the computer because the computer doesn’t recognize them as different files.
If you import into Lightroom, that program does recognize them as different files and will add an 000001-2 to the end of the file so they don’t overlap or overwrite.
You can rename the internal folder in the Leica TL2 for example to 109LEICA, which will cause the camera to start the numbering from 1090001 and onward.
WiFi on the Leica TL2 (WLAN)
You can download the Leica TL app for smartphone and iPad and connecti directly to the Leica TL2.
This error was fixed in Firmware 1.01 that was released July 26, 2017: In the week aftet the release of the Leica TL2, four users reported that their Leica TL2 simply stopped working. It turned out the error was that when the GPS was turned on in the camera's menu and the camera then powered off automatically, it simply stayed off and couldn't be woken up again (non-responsive or "dead").
If the internal contact on the lens is not properly connected with the camera, the Leica TL2 will guess there is no lens attached and the camera will stop responding. In that case, the screen goes black and you will notice that the f-stop in the upper left corner becomes f/0.0. The camera simply registers it as if there is no lens attached. To remedy this, try to move the lens a bit from side to side until the camera responds again. If the screen is black and you turn off the camera, there will be no response until the camera registers the lens again (if you turned it off, it will then turn off when it registers the lens again). Send the lens and/or camera to Leica Camera AG for adjustment/repair.
With a Leica TL lens but it's not recognized by the Leica TL2 that states the lens is an f/0.0 and stops responding. Simply just move the lens a little until there is contact between the camera and lens. When the contact is back, the camera responds again.
Can't find my pictures
The internal memory of the Leica TL2 and the SD-card are two separate memories. When you connect a cable to the camera, you can access the internal memory only when the SD-card is removed.
When you photograph with the Leica TL2 without SD-card, the images are stored in the internal memory and the only way to download them, is to take out the SD-card and connect a cable.
Pictures taken without SD-card are visible on the screen as long as there is no SD-card in the camera. As soon as you insert an SD-card, that overrules the internal memory and you will not be able to see the stored pictures in the internal memory. They are still there.
The Leica TL2 connects with USB-C cable to computer, so here’s a reason to finally have some advantage of having bought the new MacBook Pro.
Copy time: USB-C table to computer: 7.5GB/268files = 114 seconds. SD-card dongle to computer: 7.5 GB/268 files= 92 seconds.
Note that when the SD-card is inserted in the Leica TL2, only the SD card is visible for computer and on the screen of the camera. When the SD-card is taken out, the internal memory is available for preview on the screen and for the computer to copy.
I have made "my own" PDF guide for the Leica TL2 by removing the German half of the manual so I have one that is only in English. PDF is nice because you can search the whole document. I always load the manuals of cameras, lightmeters and such onto my smartphones and computers so I can look up a question when I am in the field.
Feel free to download the English only manual here.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
AF Assist Lamp = The little red lamp on the top right front of the Leica TL2 that will light up in dark places so as to help the Auto Focus to see in the dark. If you put a hand in front of the lens and press the shutter release button, you can see it in action. The AF assist lamp can be turned off in the menu.
Aperture = (also written as f/) = The metal blades inside a camera lens that regulates how much light passes through the lens. On a f/1.4 lens, the lens is "fully open" at f/1.4. At f/2.8 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/1.4 passes through. For each f/-stop (like f/4.0 - f/5.6 - f/8.0 - f/11 - f/16) you halve the light. The f/ fundamentally means "f divided with": The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (50mm divided with f/2.0 = the hole is 35 mm in diameter). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
The aperture blades inside the lens is clearly visible in this photo.
ASPH = stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses, however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version. Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Normal spheric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal picture (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will be obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image has vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). The closer you get to something, the 'more' bokeh' you get (in that the focus becomes less for the background and foreground at close distances than at long distances). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
C = Continuous shooting. The Leica TL2 offers two possibilities in the menu: 1) Single, where the Leica TL2 takes one picture when the shutter release is pressed, and 2) Continuous, where it takes 7 - 29 photos a second as long as the shutter release button is pressed down. (7 fps at shutter times 1/125-1/4000 where it uses mechanical shutter, and 20-29 fps at 1/4100 - 1/40,000 where it uses digital shutter.
Camera -is today’s short name for Camera Obscura (meaning “a dark room”). CamerameansChambre and was used only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers’ rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”. In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”. Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
Central Shutter = Some lenses, for example the Leica S lenses and the Leica Q where a shutter is located in the lens itself. In most cameras there is a shutter curtain just in front of the sensor, and in SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras there is also a mirror in front of the shutter curtain.
In the Leica T/TL/TL2 the shutter is in front of the sensor, but only acts to "refresh" the sensor. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times. A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor.
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica T/TL/TL2, Leica SL, Leica Q, Leica M10, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, etc.)
= (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
Contrast - The degree of difference between tones in a picture. Latin contra- ‘against’ + stare ‘stand.’
Digital Shutter = A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor. In the "old days" this had to be done with an actual mechanical shutter curtain; a metal curtain in front of the sensor (or film) that goes up for 1/125th of a second, for example. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times.
Digital Zoom = In some cameras (but not the Leica TL2), there exist a possibility to enable "digital zoom", which basically means the camera can zoom closer into something than the lens is actually designed to. The way digital zoom works traditionally is that the camera simply crops the picture; so you get closer, but without resolution. In other words, it's the same as if you took a normal photo and then cropped into the center of it.
DIS = Digital Image Stabilization. This is a feature often offered in video recorders and sometimes for tele lens still photography (so as to avoid motion blur when the lens is moving during slow shutter speeds).
Lens distortion looks like this. The lines are not straight. Our eye uses distortion correction. Lens designers can design lenses so they have very little distortion, or they can make less complicated lens designs and "fix" the distortion in software.
Distortion = In photo optics/lenses: When straight lines in a scene don't remain straight because of optical aberration.
Lens designers can correct for distortion to a degree so the whole image field is perfect corrected and all lines remain straight. In modern lens design many designs rely on Software Distortion Correction (SDC).
The eye adjusts for distortion so we always see vertical and horizontal lines straight when we look at things. Even when you get new prescription glasses (if you use such), you will often experience distortion in your new glasses. After a few days they eyes have adjusted for the glasses and the distortion you saw to begin with is now gone. Software Distortion Correction (SDC) is far behind what the human eye can perform of adjustments. (Also see my definition on Perspective for more on the eye and optics)
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XLM file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XML contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computert fact
helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image.
DOF = Depth of Field. This is how much of the image will be in focus. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; for artistic reasons or for specific storytelling, like making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
Depth - Distance between front and back. Distance from viewer and object.
Dynamic range. The grade of ‘contrast range’ (or number of tones) a film or sensor, or simply a photograph, possess between bright and dark tones. The human eye is said to have a dynamic range of 10-14 ‘stops’ (but because we scan area by area and compile a concept of the overall scene, they eye is often thought to have a much higher dynamic range), Film used to have 7-13 ‘stops’ and some modern sensors have up to 15-17 ‘stops’.
Elmarit = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.8 . The name is obviously derived from the earlier (and slower) "Elmar" designation. Not every f/2.8 lens is called an "Elmarit" though, the most obvious current exception being the 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M collapsible lens which for nostalgia and marketing reasons has kept the original 1930's Elmar name (the 50mm f3.5 collapsible Elmar, manufactured 1930-59, was one of Leica's most famous and popular lenses).
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. The Leica T/TL/TL2 uses the Leica Visoflex model 0020.
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
The Leica TL2 has two Function wheels, as well as one Function button.
Fn = Short for Function. It's a button you can program. On the Leica TL2 it is the Fn/video button on top of the camera that can be set to do one of three things when you press it: 1) Start video recording 2) Show the image in the EVF only, or 3) Play preview of images in the memory. The Leica TL2 further has two Function wheels on top, which can be programmed to various things in different exposure modes. For example in Manual focus, the left wheel could be focus zoom 3x/6x and the right wheel could be f-stop. In other modes such as Aperture Priority mode, the left wheel could be ISO speed and the right wheel could be f-stop.
On the screen you will see two boxes below the two Fn wheels in each mode, and if you tap with a finger, you will see a selection of possible other uses you can choose. Click on the feature you want for that wheel, and it changes to that (and stays like that until you change it). If you hold your finger longer on one of the boxes, you can lock/unlock that setting (for example if you want the F-stop to stay at f/1.4, you can lock that wheel so it doesn't accidentally change.
Focus, in - Sharp and clear in appearance. Focus - “The burning point (of a lens or mirror)”. In Latin the word focus meant fireplace or hearth. The word was probably first employed outside of its Latin literal use as “the burning point of a lens or mirror” in optics, and then came to mean any central point. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler first recorded the word in this sense in 1604.
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = (also written as f-) = On the Leica 35mm Summilux-TL ASPH f/1.4 it is 35mm and originally referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focuses only in the center.
The Leica TL2 has a APS-C sensor, which "crops" the traditional focal lengths with 1.5X, reducing the angle of view of view with 1.5X.
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica TL2 sensor is around 100-150 which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make the same picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc. the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Summicron = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/2.0 . There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one being that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour). Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the orignal Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens anno 1933)
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - normally f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In the Leica Q the lens is a Summilux even it is a f/1.7 and not f/1.4.
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion.
Lens - A piece of glass or similarly transparent material (like water or plastic). It has a shape so that it can direct light rays. The word “Lens” is used both for single piece of glass as well as a camera lens with several lenses that works together. From ‘lentil’ because similar in shape.
Lens hood = A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
Light = Tiny particles called photons that behaves like both waves and particles. Light makes objects visible by reflecting off of them, and in photography that reflecting off of subjects is what creates textures, shapes, colors and luminance. Light in its natural form (emanating from the sun) also gives life to plants and living things, and makes (most) people happier. So far, nobody has been able to determine exactly what light is. The word photography means “writing with light” (photo = light, -graphy = writing). Read more about light in my book Finding the Magic of Light.
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica 60mm APO-Elmarit-Macro ASPH f/2.8 is both a 60mm lens for portraits, landscapes, etc. as well as a near focus macro. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’
Maestro II - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica Q has a Mestro II (Leica Q edition) processor developed by SocioNext Inc. based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture.
mm = millimeter(s), as in a 50mm lens. (Earlier in lens history lenses focal length was given in cm = centimeters; as in a 5 cm lens). For anyone used to centimeters and millimeters, it’s no wonder. But if you grew up with inches, feet and yards, you may have had a hard time grasping what a 50mm lens was. But as lenses were designed first in Europe, the metric system with centimeters and millimeters was used to describe lenses.
The reason a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens is that there is 50mm from the focus plane (the film or sensor) to the center of focus inside the lens. When photography was a young subject, it was engineers who made it all, and the users were expected to understand. The engineers were so into the making of the lenses, that it apparently never dawned upon them that today’s users would think of a 21mm lens as a wide angle lens rather than a lens where there is 21mm from the sensor to the center of focus inside the optics.
OIS = Optical Image Stabilization. This is used in tele lenese lenes where blurring motion of the camera from inevitable vibrations are adjusted by the lens. At low shutter speeds and/or wit long lenses, any slight movement would result in a picture with "motion blur" unsharpness. The Leica TL2 supports optical iamge stabilization when A) OIS is turned on in the camera menu, and B) when you use lenses with OIS (the Leica SL longer lenses has OIS). An alternative is EIS = Electronic Image Stabilization, which the Leica T has. Here the problem of "motion blur" is currected electronically after, which might lead to image degradation. However, the larger the sensor resolution, the less one will notice small 'degradation'.
Optic = Eye or vision. From French optique or medieval Latin opticus, from Greek optikos, from optos ‘seen.’
Perspective - The way objects appear to the eye; their relative position and distance. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of perspective (also see Three-dimensional). A wide angle “widens” the perspective and makes objects further away appear smaller than they are to the eye, and objects nearer, relatively larger than they are to the eye. A tele lens will “flatten” the perspective and often objects further away will appear relatively larger than nearer objects, compared to sizes in real life. A 50mm lens is the one closest to the perspective and enlargement ratio of the human eye.
S = Single image. In the menu of the Leica TL2 you can choose between single image at the time, or Continuous where the Leica TL2 will shoot series of 20-29 pictures per second as long as you hold down the shutter release. In Single mode it takes only one photo, no matter how long you hold down the shutter release.
SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG file. In Lightroom the SDC of the camera file is applied automatically (and cannot be removed), in software like AccuRaw one can open the DNG file without the SDC correction. Sean Reid reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".
SDC (Software Distortion Correction): In Lightroom the correction profile for the Fujinon 23mm is applied automatically and cannot be turned off.If you go into Develop mode in Lightroom and look under Lens Correction > Profile, you will see a message in the bottom with an exclamation mark. When you click on that, you get the message above.
Sensor = A device that detects a physical property (like light) and records it. A camera sensor is a plane plate with thousands of small “eyes” with a lens in front of each, which each individually records the amount of red, green and blue light rays that comes through the lens. together Red, Green and Blue form all colors of the spectrum. From Latin sens- ‘perceived’
Saturation: How colorful, intense or pure the color is. Less saturation would be less colorful, more saturation would be more colorful. In today’s photography, desaturating a photo on the computer will gradually make it less and less colorful; and full desaturation would make it into a black and white photo.
Sharpness - See “Focus”
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. The Leica Q has no traditional viewfinder and no mirror. the image seen in the EVF is what the sensor sees.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens.
Three-dimensional = Having the three dimensions of height, width and depth. In photography and lens design, three-dimensional effect is also the perception of even small micro-details; the texture of skin can appear flat and dead or three-dimensional and alive. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of depth. Also see Perspective.
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator.
Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.
I am in constant orbit teaching
Leica and photography workshops.
Most people prefer to explore a
new place when doing my workshop.
30% of my students are women.
35% of my students do
two or more workshops.
95% is Leica users.
Age range is from 16 to 83 years
with the majority in the 30-55 range.
Skill level range from two weeks
to a lifetime of experience.
97% use a digital camera.
100% of my workshop graduates photograph more after a workshop.
1 out of 600 of my students have
asked for a refund.