Sunday, January 31, 2016

Firmware Update Review: Leica T vs Leica T

The firmware update is the future. Fujifilm made a slick marketing video for firmware version 4.0, treating it like a new camera release. Leica didn't go that far, but it was treated as an event and it should. Like Fujifilm, Leica's camera cycle is slower than other major manufacturers so the firmware update is the best way to keep a camera up-to-date and competitive within their own eco-system as well as the competition's. The Leica T has had at least 3 major firmware releases, as well as smaller in-between touch-ups. We are currently at firmware version 1.4.3, and I hope there are plans for more. On my most recent Youtube video, I tested the latest firmware against the previous version. Here are the most noticeable changes:

  • quicker autofocus
  • more reactive touch screen during image preview mode
  • quicker overall operation (faster start up, faster menu operation)

The faster operating system and more reactive touch screen is the most immediate difference from the previous firmware. This makes the shooting and viewing experience less frustrating and more enjoyable. Is the Leica T a fast camera? No it is not. It is definitely faster than the Leica X-Vario, but nowhere near the speed of the zippy Leica Q. Can Leica bring it close to the speed of the latest cameras? I hope so. Perhaps there will be one more major firmware update before the release of a new Leica T. Without getting too far ahead of myself, I hope the newest version will have a built in EVF (or at least an upgraded external one), more mechanical buttons, an articulating screen, and more lenses. However, to help keep the current Leica T more competitive, I recommend these upgrades to the next possible firmware update:

  • more manual focus options, such as focus peaking
  • a horizontal distance scale in both feet and meters, and a depth of field scale
  • virtual custom function button to the top right corner of screen for thumb access
  • a true preview-off mode (see video for explanation)

Overall I'm pleased with the firmware update but it makes me hungry for more. I hope Leica will produce at least one more update before replacing the current Leica T, and I hope an upgraded and backwards compatible external EVF is possible. This will help keep the Leica T more valuable to current owners, and fetch better prices on the used market for future owners. We've seen this happen with older Ricoh GR's and Fujifilm X100's, where firmware upgrades have kept these older cameras still sought after on the used market. This bodes well for both buyers and sellers. Please watch my video review of the the Leica T firmware update for more information and a visual comparison between version 1.3 and 1.4. 

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