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

Professional photography goes mobile again with Leica’s Leitz 2, released in Japan
You may be wondering why the name Leica sounds so familiar. Well, if you are a geek like us, you’ve heard it from numerous partnerships on Huawei phones. But that wasn’t enough, so last year Leica entered the phone market with a device, exclusive to Japan.

The Germany-based company is a strong contender in the photography market. They produce a wide range of devices, 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 is named after the company’s founder Ernst Leitz, who introduced the first 35 mm camera back in 1924. With such inspirational roots, the new phone is sure to have some unique features beyond simple aesthetics.

What is so special about the Leica Leitz 2?

Given the topic, it’s fitting that we begin with camera capabilities. 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 increase in popularity when adoption rates start to rise.

A bigger image sensor allows more light to be absorbed, which makes photos have superior clarity and dynamic range. With a sensor this big, low-light performance is expected to be solid, and images should have an even more pleasing bokeh effect (the depth effect that results from good foreground-background separation).

The aperture of the phone is fixed at f/1.9, allowing for quick point-and-shoot action, while not creating too much of a risk factor regarding high contrast or darker settings, given the larger image sensor which will surely manage.

The focal length of the camera is 19 mm. 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).

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Usually, lower focal lengths such as 19 mm are utilized for shooting landscapes, but Leica has showcased some portraits that don’t look half bad. This is where the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 kicks in to emulate some of the company’s most iconic lenses, namely:

  • The Summilux 28, meant for action shots
  • The Summilux 35, utilized often in street photography
  • The Noctilux 50, designated for portraits

With a phone focused on exceeding photographic performance, the ability to export in both JPEG and RAW formats is essential, and that is just what the Leitz 2 is capable of. Users are also empowered to utilize full manual control, allowing them to fine-tune settings when in pursuit of that perfect shot.

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

We also must mention the phone’s unique design features. Most prominent is the knurled frame of the phone, presumably to improve grip while taking photos. A really thoughtful and fitting addition is a lens cap, which magnetically attaches to the phone.

A minimalistic case is shown too. From what we can make out of the image, it will be possible to use it with the magnetic cap, but it’s 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, plainly stated, the Leitz 2 is way less of a Leica phone and more of a Leica special edition for the Japanese-exclusive Sharp Aquos R7. Everything from the 5000 mAh battery capacity, through to the 6.6’’ OLED screen to the Snapdragon processor, and the image sensor is the same on both devices.

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

So does this phone got anything more than Leica vibes going for it?

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is also a photography-focused phone, coming from one of the leaders in the camera industry. Its price point is a bit of a woozy, but it also offers a lot more camera-centric options.

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

While the Leitz 2 definitely carries over Leica’s aesthetics to the physical body of the phone, when compared to a photography-centric phone like the Xperia 1 IV, that statement about the German company’s phone feeling like an overblown special edition starts to feel apt, to say the least.

All that being said, Leica has proven in the past that they are capable of achieving magical results with their cameras, so who is to say that some of that technical wizardry can’t carry over to their latest phone?

The Leica Leitz Phone 2 comes only in the showcased white color and is being prepped to go on sale later this month, on the 18th of November for JPY 225, 360 (~1$,540). As of now, there are no plans to bring the device outside of Japan.

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