In my last post, I shared a lot of the initial things I really liked about the new-to-me Leica TL2, and promised to share things that are not so likable. After three months, we’ve gotten to know each other a little better and the list of things that I don’t care for has morphed into this:
Battery life. This is one of the first complaints I had read about, so the first thing I did was purchase a second battery. Only one extra, as like all things “Leica,” batteries are expensive. Thus far, I’ve been able to shoot for a full day using two batteries, even while on vacation in Glacier National Park, and using the wi-fi capability sparingly.
The “kit” lens (Vario-Elmar TL 1:3.5-5.6 / 18-56 ASPH) is definitely slow in a lot of situations — including situations where there is plenty of light available for other lens to focus quickly. I read a lot about this issue so I expected it, but it’s still annoying. Take the image below. he Vario-Elmar TL 1:3.5-5.6 / 18-56 ASPH hunted for focus, even in this pretty well-lit situation, and you can see the focus is not on Steve’s face.
Which leads to…
The cost of lenses. D’uh. This has led me to experiment with four inexpensive TTArtisan L-mount lenses, with varying degrees of success (more on those in some upcoming posts).
And then there’s:
- Lack of an included external viewfinder. The external viewfinder does not come with the camera, and can set you back anywhere between $450–$650 depending on if you go used or new. I know the point of the TL2 is the intentional lack of a viewfinder, however, when using manual focus, a viewfinder would be incredibly helpful.
- UPDATE 08/30/22: I bit the bullet and purchased a pre-owned viewfinder, but had to send it back as it didn’t work properly on my TL2. Having the money back, I’m really trying to make manual focus with just the rear screen work. My luck with this is still about 50/50.
- UPDATE 9/20/23: After a year, I just can’t use this camera in most situations without a viewfinder. I found another used one and am going to give it another try. With manual focus and no image stabilization, I need a viewfinder.
- The sensor is a dust/gunk magnet (either that or there’s something magical about my Olympus M43 cameras that never need to be blown off). I frequently notice splotches on my images when I stop down and have to constantly use the bulb blower to get things off the sensor. When I don’t and dust appears, I’m able to remove most of this in post-processing, but seriously. What a pain in the ass.
- The sensitivity of the touchscreen. My camera strap style is over the shoulder (sling-style), not over the neck (tourist-style). When walking, if I don’t lock the touchscreen, I find that I’ve often, inadvertently bumped the screen and changed lots of settings. I try to remember that I can lock the screen with a swipe, but obviously forget. Also, locking the screen does not lock the two dials, which can also get bumped when I’m hip-swaying my way down the street. This all means I have to remember to constantly check my camera settings if I’ve been walking for a bit, which means I’ve missed some shots.
- My final, initial complaint with the TL2 comes down to more of an issue with my expectations versus what this camera can and is supposed to do.
And that comes down to operator issues, not really camera issues.I’m getting more and more keepers as I take the TL2 out, and I forced myself to leave the Olympus home during the last two trips I was on, so I wouldn’t have a crutch to fall back on.
UPDATE 9/20/23: Initially, I thought the problem was mainly me. Poor up-close vision (to view the screen when shooting), dependent on image stabilization (to prevent motion blur), not used to a different system (internal working are different). After a year and a half, however, I’ve reconsidered this relationship and have determined that while I do have a few challenges, this camera has more. As long as I’m shooting in optimal conditions and can hold it steady using the screen, the images it produces are brilliant. Give it any challenging lighting situation, however, (regardless of the lens) and things start to go downhill fast. I’m hoping a working EVF will remedy this (again.
All of this being said, while there’s a lot that’s not so likable about the TL2, there’s just something special about the pictures when I nail it. It’s that je ne sais quoi that I’m seeing in my images that keeps me from really disliking this camera.Web-Betty 😉
Enjoy a few more images from the past three months. Hopefully you see what I mean about the “je ne sais quoi.” You can see everything I’m creating in my TL2 album on Flickr.