Leica’s newest camera might finally live up to its low-end luxury promise

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Two years ago Leica released the T, the luxury camera company’s take on an entry-level digital mirrorless camera (unsurprisingly pricey). It was nice to see Leica trying to cater to a slightly different crowd, but the camera offered a poor shooting experience thanks to things like slow autofocus and shoddy smartphone pairing. That (hopefully) changes today with the announcement of the Leica TL, an update to this particular line of Leica interchangeable lens cameras.

When it’s released later this month, the new TL will still cost about the same as the T did at launch — $1,695 for the body, at least $3,200 when paired with a lens. It also has the same size (APS-C) sensor inside, the same giant touchscreen panel on the back, and a similar look and feel (though the edges have been softened a bit).

FASTER AF AND WI-FI THAT ACTUALLY WORKS

The first big difference is a supposedly revamped autofocus system that will be much faster than the original, “particularly in AF-C [continuous autofocus] mode” according to Leica. Of course, where most other camera makers are moving to phase-detection autofocus systems, the Leica TL will still employ the increasingly outdated contrast-detection AF.

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The other big change is to how the camera pairs with your smartphone. The Leica T only let you transfer images to your iPhone if both were on the same external Wi-Fi network, which meant you were out of luck when shooting in the wild. It was one of our biggest hangups with the T, so it’s relieving to see that Leica’s gone and fixed this problem. The TL, like most other digital cameras these days, can create its own Wi-Fi hotspot, meaning you can transfer images (and videos) to your phone without needing to be near some other Wi-Fi network. There’s even an Android app this time around!

 The TL will go on sale at Leica stores and registered dealers. If the $3,000 and up price tag is too much for you to stomach, but you’re still desperate to own something with that famous red dot, Leica still sells a few fixed-lens compacts for about $1,000. Or you could always buy an official coffee mug.

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