Compact mirrorless cameras are improving rapidly and, even though last year's Leica TL was incredibly pretty, it didn't quite nail the formula. Enter the TL2, a more refined take on the outgoing model – both inside and out.
Although its exterior closely mirrors that of the TL, the TL2 has been treated to plenty of performance improvements under the skin. The 16-megapixel sensor has been swapped for a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS unit, paired with a new Maestro II processor.
There's a new electronically controlled shutter, too, for continuous shooting at 20 frames per second (fps). To call that an improvement over the 5 fps its predecessor offered would be a huge understatement. The new shutter also allows silent shooting up to 1/40,000 second, perfect for birdwatchers who don't want to scare their subjects with an old fashioned click-clack.
Along with the improved sensor and processor, Leica is particularly excited about the new 49-point autofocus system on the TL2. The company says the camera will focus on subjects in around 165 milliseconds using the standard zoom lens at a wide angle, making it three times quicker than the TL it replaces. Video has been given a boost in the TL2, too, offering 4K (3840 x 2160p at 30 fps), 1920 x 1080p HD at 60 fps and 1280 x 720p at 60 or 120 fps.
Like pretty much every other camera in the Leica range, the TL2 is absolutely beautiful to look at. It's actually milled from a single piece of aluminum, and eschews the usual gamut of fiddly little buttons and knobs for one 3.7-in touchscreen on the rear of the body. There are also two multifunction scroll wheels on top of the camera, but they don't take away from what is a stunning piece of minimalist design.
The touchscreen interface has been developed to feel snappy in the age of smartphones, and the camera can be hooked up to a companion app over Wi-Fi for remote viewfinder and remote control operation. Users are also able to tweak nitty gritty settings on the camera remotely, perfect for shooting in awkward situations – or for lonely bloggers with no-one to hold the camera.
As you'd expect of a Leica camera, the TL2 doesn't come cheap. The body costs US$1,950 without a lens, up from $1,695 for the TL. It's available in black or silver, and there are six lenses compatible with the standard L-mount – although adapters are available for the huge back catalog of Leica glass on offer.