Professional photography goes mobile again with Leicas Leitz 2 released in Japan

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

You might be wondering why the name Leica sounds so familiar. Well, if you’re a geek like us, you’ve heard it from many 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 competitor in the photography market. They produce a wide range of devices, from point-and-shoot units to high-end DSLRs. But now they’re back with a camera-centric phone.

The Leitz series of phones are named after company founder Ernst Leitz, who introduced the first 35mm camera in 1924. With such inspirational roots, the new phone is sure to have some unique features that go beyond simple aesthetics.

What makes the Leica Leitz 2 different?

Given the subject matter, it is appropriate to start with the capabilities of the camera. The phone is equipped with a 1 inch 47.2 MP image sensor, which makes it one of the very few smartphones that have such a large sensor. 1-inch sensors are a big deal now and are sure to increase in popularity when adoption rates start to rise.

A larger image sensor allows more light to be absorbed, making images with superior clarity and dynamic range. With the sensor, such great low-light performance is expected to be solid, and images should have a more pleasing bokeh effect (a depth effect created by a good foreground background separation).

The phone’s aperture has been fixed at f/1.9, allowing for a quick shoot and capture action, while not creating too many risk factors in terms of high contrast or darker settings, given the larger image sensor that will surely be managed.

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

Low focal lengths like 19mm are usually used for landscape photography, but Leica offered some photos that don’t look half bad. This is where the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 begins to emulate some of the company’s most popular lenses, namely:

  • Somilox 28, intended for shooting action shots
  • Summilux 35, often used in street photography
  • Noctilux 50 is for selfies

With the phone focused on going beyond photographic performance, the ability to export in JPEG and RAW formats is a must, and that’s exactly what the Leitz 2 can do. Users are also enabled to use full manual control, allowing them to adjust settings when in pursuit of that perfect shot.

Here’s a quick rundown of what the Leica Leitz 2 can do in different settings.

We should also mention the unique design features of the phone. Most notable is the phone’s knurled frame, presumably to improve grip while taking photos. A really thoughtful and convenient addition is the lens hood, which attaches magnetically to the phone. Minimalistic case is also shown. From what we can make of the image, it will be possible to use it with the magnetic cover, but its sides are not as rough as those in the phone, which seems like a missed opportunity.

Why is the Leica Leitz 2 exclusive to Japan then?

Well, honestly, the Leitz 2 is less of a Leica phone and more of a Leica special edition of the Japanese-exclusive Sharp Aquos R7. Everything from the 5,000mAh battery, to the 6.6-inch OLED display to the Snapdragon processor, and the image sensor are the same on both devices.

The design of the Aquos 7 is much simpler than that of the Leitz 2. Of course, the extra grip and the red logo don’t appear, and we can safely assume that the full manual camera controls and post-processing of the Leica cam doesn’t exist either.

So did this phone get anything more than Leica’s vibes?

The 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 shaky, but it also offers plenty of camera-focused options.

For starters, it doesn’t rely much on post-processing, but offers a camera app with a steep learning curve, but rich manual control options. This philosophy extends to separate applications of cinematography and vlogging.

While the Leitz 2 certainly carries Leica’s aesthetics to the physical body of the phone, when compared to a photography-focused phone like the Xperia 1 IV, this statement about the German company’s phone feeling like an overrated special edition starts to feel fitting, to say the least.

All that said, Leica has proven in the past that they can achieve magical results with their cameras, so who would say some of that tech magic can’t carry over to their latest phones?

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