Leica T vs. Hasselblad Lunar
If you're looking for an inexpensive mirrorless camera, look away now! With the addition of the Leica T, which we recently took for a spin, there are now two luxury offerings on the market for photographers with deep pockets and a desire to own a mirrorless camera which stands out from the crowd. Here Gizmag compares the specifications (and substantial price-tags) of the new Leica and the Hasselblad Lunar, to see how they stack up.
Before we start, let's get this out of the way. If you want the absolute best quality camera in terms of features, performance and image quality, these cameras are not for you. As we'll see later, the specs of the Leica T and Hasselblad Lunar are not groundbreaking. Instead they're products which focus on brand heritage, design, construction and craftsmanship.
Leica and Hasselblad have approached the task of designing a premium camera in very different ways. Everything about the Leica T is high-end minimalist, from the fact it's milled from a single block of aluminum, to its button layout and new touchscreen user interface. However, while unapologetically modern it somehow retains a sense of Leica heritage ... and obviously that famous red dot.
Meanwhile, the Hasselblad Lunar is anything but minimalist and has a love it or hate it, extravagant design aesthetic. Design options include the ability to have things like Tuscan leather, carbon fiber, mahogany and olive wood on the grip. Its chunky knobs are made from titanium, and some buttons feature embedded red jewels for that extra bit of luxury bling. It's by no means a camera that aims to blend in.
The build quality of both cameras is very high. The milled aluminum of the Leica T, which is painstakingly hand-polished for 45 minutes, gives an instantly solid and sturdy feel, and every aspect of the camera, from the shape of the dials to the way the flash pops up, feels purposeful and considered.
With the Sony NEX-7 at its core (the Lunar is the result of a partnership between Sony and Hasselblad) the Lunar features an equally solid magnesium alloy body. Its adorning features, while certainly not to everyone's taste, are undeniably of an exceptional quality and show a high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Both of the cameras feature large APS-C CMOS sensors (23.5 x 15.7 mm) which means they should be capable of producing high quality images which rival all but full frame offerings.
While the Leica T has the lower megapixel count at 16.3 to the Hasselblad's 24.3, it should still be plenty for most users, unless they want to crop heavily or produce massive prints.
Hasselblad and Leica have both opted to equip their premium cameras with arguably less than premium autofocus systems. The luxury duo use contrast detection autofocus which means they'll be slower to hit focus than rivals like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 or Sony A7, which use a hybrid phase and contrast systems.
The APS-C sensors of the duo mean that they should both be capable of performing well in most lighting conditions and both have a wide ISO range, though the Hasselblad edges it by reaching up to ISO 16,000.
Though clearly not designed for sports shooters, both cameras are capable of shooting a burst of photographs at respectable speeds. However, the Hasselblad wins the speed race with its maximum burst speed of 10 fps. The Leica can only manage 5 frames per second (for a total of 12 pictures) before slowing down.
Either camera can be used to shoot Full HD video, though only the Hasselblad Lunar can do this at 1080p 60/50 fps. The Leica T maxes out at 1080p 30 fps.
The Hasselblad Lunar is the out-of-the-box winner here as it boasts a built-in electronic viewfinder with 2.3 million dots while the Leica T only has the rear LCD monitor for composing and reviewing shots.
However, Leica introduced an optional EVF with the T, which attaches via the hot-shoe. While adding considerable bulk, the Visoflex (Typ 020) has a tilt-and-swivel function to make it easier to use from all sorts of angles, boasts 2.36 million dots, and features integrated GPS.
While the tilting 3-inch LCD with 920K dots on the Hasselblad Lunar is perfectly respectable, it's dwarfed by the 3.7-inch LCD with 1.3 million dots of the Leica T. The Leica offering, though fixed, is also a touchscreen which can be used to set a focus point and change settings. It also benefits from a redesigned intuitive and customizable interface.
A lack of wireless connectivity shows the age of the Hasselblad – though only released last year, it's based on a camera from 2011. Meanwhile, the Leica is up to date and has built-in Wi-Fi for sending content to smartphones, tablets or computers. There's also a free Leica T app for iOS devices that also enables remote shooting.
With its chunky grip and built-in EVF, it's no surprise that the Hasselblad Lunar is a fair bit larger than the minimalist Leica T in every direction. In fact, while the Leica T is comparable in size to many mid-range mirrorless cameras, the Hasselblad Lunar is closer to that of an entry-level DSLR.
As you'd expect, all the wood, leather and jewels add a bit of weight to the Hasselblad Lunar. When loaded with a battery and memory card it comes in considerably heavier than the Leica T.
With 16 GB of internal storage the Leica T should have you covered for a day of shooting even if you've forgotten your memory card. Both cameras take SD cards, though the slot in the Hasselblad can also accept Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
As you would expect of this caliber of device, both cameras can shoot JPEG and more post-production friendly RAW files. Interestingly however, the Leica lacks the ability to shoot its DNG RAW files on their own, and is restricted to doing so while also shooting JPEGs.
The Hasselblad Lunar again shows its Sony core by using E-mount lenses. This means there are a good selection on offer from small primes to telephoto zooms, and from a variety of manufacturers. Converters allow the use of lenses with some other mounts.
Options are a lot less varied for Leica T users. The T uses a new mount which the firm currently only makes two lenses for, a 23-mm F2 and a 18-56-mm F3.5-F5.6. Other lenses due to land in 2015 include an 11-23-mm F3.5-F4.5 and a 55-135-mm F3.5-F5.6. An optional M-Adapter T allows the use of most of the lenses of the Leica M-System.
While the Leica T is sold body-only, with lenses sold separately, the Hasselblad Lunar comes bundled with a 18-55-mm F3.5-F5.6 lens. Though this gives a 35-mm-format equivalent of 27-82-mm, it's variable aperture means it's arguably nothing like the quality lens you would expect to see on an almost US$7,000 camera.
These cameras are not cheap! The Leica T – the less expensive of the two – still costs more than something like the mirrorless full-frame Sony Alpha 7, one of the best mirrorless cameras currently available. And even if you add the cost of a comparable Leica lens and the optional EVF, you still aren't that close to the astronomical asking price of the Hasselblad Lunar, which costs more than a top-of-the-range full-frame DSLR like the Nikon D4S.
No-one on a budget, or who wants the best photographic bang for their buck is going to be considering buying either the Leica T or Hasselblad Lunar. There are much better deals out there on other high-end mirrorless cameras which can match or beat this duo in a battle of the specifications list. Between the two, the Hasselblad Lunar arguably slightly edges it in core photographic terms, because of its specifications and available lenses. Meanwhile, the Leica appears the better rounded and more modern camera with its large touchscreen, integrated storage and Wi-Fi ability.
However, it's likely that those who see these cameras as a justifiable indulgence are going to be swayed more by how they look and feel than their specs, and there's nothing wrong with that. Both Leica or Hasselblad are admired brands with a well deserved reputation for outstanding design and craftsmanship, so it really comes down to existing loyalties and personal taste – are you drawn to the minimalist Leica T or is the blinged-out Hasselblad Lunar more your style?