4700 Miles With the Leica TL2

I’m not much an of a digital shooter, in fact, I almost exclusively shoot film. When I do shoot digital, it’s mostly for weddings/professional work. When it comes to everyday life, I don’t find my bulky DSLR to be that inspiring or fun to shoot with. In contrast, the film cameras I shoot with are not only compact by comparison, but classic. For me, it’s much easier to connect with and feel inspired by a 35mm rangefinder from the 70’s than the most advanced digital cameras of today.

That is, until I got my hands on the TL2.



As soon as I opened the box, the TL2 piqued my interest. It wasn’t bulky and boring. It was sleek, compact, and I was excited to shoot with it as it had arrived in perfect timing. Just a few days later, my wife and I would be taking off on our cross-country road trip from California to Ohio for Christmas. In total, the trip would be 4700 miles of road covered—three days there and three days back. Needless to say, it was the perfect opportunity to test drive the TL2. 

When the car was all packed and ready to go, the only two cameras I had within reach were the TL2 and a Leica M4 with a Summilux 50. Since I had the M-mount adapter, I planned to mount my Summilux 50 onto the TL2 here and there. (I had the 23mm f/2 Summicron which is the 35mm equivalent.)

We left Sacramento at 9pm and drove straight through the night. Nine hours later we watched the sunrise in Yucca, Arizona as we stretched our legs beneath an iconic, abandoned motel sign before continuing east. We decided to follow most of Route 66 on our way to Ohio, and the Grand Canyon was first on our list of things to see. 



No surprise, it did not disappoint. The sky was clear, the weather was perfect, and we ended up spending hours there drinking in the miles and miles of canyon views and, of course, taking photos. 



Day 2 on the road brought us to the famed Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. In a wide open field just off the freeway, ten Cadillacs stand half-buried, nose-down in the dirt. Since 1974 they’ve been there hooking tourists and morphing under thousands of layers of spray paint. It’s a graffiti wonderland well worth the stop in the middle-of-nowhere Texas panhandle.



Our total of six days on the road to Ohio and back exposed us to a lot of incredible sights. But the most amazing thing by far was the Bonneville Salt Flats. When you pull your car out on to the 30,000 acre stretch of salt-covered earth, it’s as if you’ve landed on another planet. The colors, the landscape, it’s all foreign and unbelievably real. We were all smiles there—the dog too—and it’s one of the coolest places I’ve ever photographed.



All in all, the TL2 turned out to be a pro on the road. Here’s why:

  1. Design. It’s compact and well-built using one solid aluminum chunk. It felt tough, which gave me (and my wife) confidence as we toted it across the country. And it looks super sleek.
  2. No viewfinder. The TL2 harnesses the ease of framing with a smartphone, but couples it with the unparalleled quality of Leica glass and the full control of a professional-grade digital camera.
  3. Functionality. There’s no fluff with this camera. Its functionality is streamlined and straightforward. It sticks to its Leica roots and gives you what you need and does it well.
  4. Convenience. Lightweight, compatible with M-glass (via adapter), and fits in nearly any bag. It also charges lightning-fast with a USBC cable, which in our case, was perfect for charging on the road.
  5. Image quality. It goes without saying that Leica glass is incredibly sharp. Partner that with the incredible sensor built into the TL2, and you’ve got sharp images with real-life color that require little to no editing in post. 



About Trev: 

Trev has come to learn that beauty isn't meant to be seen, it's meant to be experienced, but with that being said, Trev tries his hardest to capture the beauty he experiences for others to view and enjoy. Trev is the the primarly content creature for the Darkroom Lab in San Clemente, CA as well as a full time photogrpaher. He primarly focuses on his photography work with various films, and analog cameras.