Professional photography goes mobile again with Leica’s Leitz 2 released in Japan

You might be wondering why the name Leica sounds so familiar to you. Well, if you’re a geek like us, you’ve heard of many partnerships on Huawei phones. But that wasn’t enough, so last year Leica entered the phone market with a Japan-exclusive device.

The Germany-based company is a strong contender in the photography market. They produce a wide range of cameras, from point-and-shoot units to high-end DSLRs. But now they’re making a comeback with a camera-centric phone.

The Leitz series of phones are named after the company’s founder, Ernst Leitz, who introduced the first 35mm camera in 1924. With such inspiring roots, the new phone is sure to have unique features beyond mere aesthetics.

What is special about the Leica Leitz 2?

Given the topic, it’s fitting that we start with the capabilities of the camera. The phone is equipped with a 1” 47.2MP image sensor, making it one of the very few smartphones with such a large sensor. 1” sensors are a big deal now and are sure to grow in popularity when adoption rates start to rise.

A larger image sensor allows more light to be absorbed, giving photos greater clarity and dynamic range. With a sensor of this size, low-light performance should be solid, and images should have even more pleasing bokeh (the effect of depth that results from good foreground-background separation).

The phone’s aperture is set at f/1.9, which allows for fast point-and-shoot action, while not creating too much of a risk factor regarding high contrast or darker settings, given the sensor bigger picture that will surely handle.

The focal length of the camera is 19mm. An easy way to explain focal length is to describe it as the camera’s field of view – and it’s quite wider with the Leitz Phone 2 compared to phones like the iPhone 14 Pro (24mm) or the Galaxy S22 Ultra (23mm).

Usually lower focal lengths such as 19mm are used for shooting landscapes, but Leica presented portraits that aren’t bad at all. This is where the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 comes in to mimic some of the company’s most iconic lenses, namely:

  • The Summilux 28, intended for action plans
  • The Summilux 35, often used in street photography
  • The Noctilux 50, designed for portraits

With a phone focused on surpassing photographic performance, the ability to export to JPEG and RAW formats is essential, and that’s exactly what the Leitz 2 is capable of. Users are also empowered to use full manual control, allowing them to fine-tune settings as they hunt for the perfect shot.

Here’s a quick demo of what the Leica Leitz 2 camera is capable of at different settings.

We also have to mention the unique design features of the phone. Most important is the phone’s knurled frame, presumably to improve grip when taking photos. A really well thought out and fitting addition is a lens cap, which magnetically attaches to the phone. A minimalist case is also presented. From what we can see in the image, it will be possible to use it with the magnetic cap, but its sides are not jagged like those of the phone, which seems like a missed opportunity.

Why is the Leica Leitz 2 exclusive to Japan then?

Well, to put it plainly, the Leitz 2 is much less a Leica phone and more a special Leica edition for the Japan-exclusive Sharp Aquos R7. Everything from the 5,000mAh battery capacity to the 6.6-inch OLED display to the Snapdragon processor and image sensor is the same on both devices.

The design of the Aquos 7 is noticeably simpler than that of the Leitz 2. Naturally, the extra grip and red logo don’t appear, and we can safely assume that the full manual camera controls and the Leica camera post-processing isn’t present either.

So, does this phone have anything other than Leica vibes?

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is also a photography-focused phone, coming from one of the leaders in the camera industry. It’s priced a bit over the top, but it also offers a lot more camera-centric options.

For starters, it doesn’t rely as much on post-processing, instead offering a camera app with a steep learning curve, but rich manual control options. This philosophy even extends to separate apps for cinematography and vlogging.

While the Leitz 2 definitely conveys Leica’s aesthetic to the physical body of the phone, compared to a photography-centric phone like the Xperia 1 IV, that statement about the German company’s phone feeling like an over-the-top special edition begins to feel appropriate, to say the least.

That being said, Leica has proven in the past that it can achieve magical results with its cameras, so who’s to say some of that technical magic can’t be carried over to its latest phone?

The Leica Leitz Phone 2 is only available in the white color shown and is set to go on sale later this month on November 18 for JPY 225,360 (~$1,540). For now, there are no plans to release the device from Japan.

About Anne Wurtsbach

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