It is nice to see Leica carry the straightforward design of their cameras forward. Naturally, I've handled neither the new T nor the Summicron. And until I read Leica's "Unique pictures. Unique bokeh" marketing blurb, nothing about the T, nor its lenses, interested me.
Let's face it, the T is just another digital mirrorless camera accompanied by yet another lens mount. But this time, Leica are behind the wheel.
And that makes things different.
Leica famously draw the ire of the constantly upgrading enthusiast. Their lenses and cameras are priced way ahead of the year-in-year-out upgrade budget. (By the way, constantly upgrader, if you upgraded your camera and lenses less often, you would be able to afford a Leica camera and a fine Leica lens or two.)
Leica lenses also famously draw images in a unique way. Not all of them of course - some draw as clinically as is possible. But most are designed to capture a special look. I will go so far as to say that Leica is the only unique manufacturer left.
That is because today's camera lives in a Japanese world. Unilaterally, that means more features, more market, and more affordable. There is no more apt litmus test for customer satisfaction than more. But quantity rarely equates quality.
A quick glance across today's camera lenses reveals that lenses are manufactured with a price point, not a drawing style, in mind. There is no Summilux or Elmarit draw in today's Nikon, Canon, or Fujifilm line up. No more do we have lenses with steep corner falloff and viny/swirly bokeh. Good riddance you may say. But keep in mind, that a talented lens manufacturer should be able to build a lens for you while building a lens for someone else.
Unfortunately, price aside, there are very few differences in the draw of any modern 85mm f1,4 lens. Sharp subject, smooth OOF highlights; you can have both or you can have none.
Without a great push from non-Japanese manufacturers, that won't change. Today's Japanese lens makers think and design as a group. Divide them up into different companies and you still get the same outcome. Long ago, the major differences between Canon and Nikon became nothing more than button placement and minor interface elements.
Of course, by then the Japanese camera was the only game in town.
We don't run about the city and countryside with enlargement lenses strapped to our cameras. We shoot live, organic subjects: people, animals, nature. If a story unique to more than our personal shooting style unfolds, what can we pin it down to? Certainly not unique bokeh. Certainly not the prioritisation of the central portion of an image.
Certainly not if we shoot modern Fujifilm or Canon or Nikon lenses.
One word should inspire the photographer in all of us: unique. Each of us has a unique DNA which we push on the world in our laughter, in the stance of our shoulders, in the colour of our eyes. As photographers, we have unique aims and styles. But when it comes to lens choice, there is very little to differentiate the draw, colour, and OOF rendering of our lenses. Today's camera world is a one-trick pony.
If anyone can introduce a new trick, or better yet, a better/different pony, it is Leica.