The Leica Sofort 2 hybrid camera lets you print before you post

Hybrid digital cameras are a great alternative to smart phone cameras for two reasons: you can theoretically store more digital photos on an SD or micro SD card, and you can print your digital photos out like a polaroid camera. The newly announced Leica Sofort 2 competes against some of the best hybrid digital cameras around, like the Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo, thanks to its versatile set of features – including built-in connectivity with Leica’s FOTOS smartphone app for seamless photo transfer between devices.

Bells and whistles aside, Leica is notorious for developing durable cameras that are easy to operate, yet produce images which immediately look great without any extra color balancing, contrast boosting, or general tweaking. At an MSRP of $389, the Sofort 2 may seem pricy compared to other hybrid digital cameras, but its secret weapon – aside from the aforementioned FOTOS app, which lets you instantly print your smartphone photos out of the Sofort 2’s built-in 86×54 mm printer – is Leica’s signature lenses that are known to produce an incredible mix of contrast, sharpness, and bokeh out of the box.

Designer: Leica

The Sofort 2 is designed for a balance of convenience and quality, thanks to its lightweight and compact design rated to weigh no more than 320 grams – or 0.7 lbs. It also features a decent array of manual controls and buttons for an intuitive, even nostalgic, analog user experience.  There are dials for digital flash and optical zoom, but there’s also a manual print lever that should make the instant photo printing experience more authentic.

Its Leica Summar 2.4 f/2 lens is rated to include a solid aperture range of f2 to f16, its shutter speeds can range between 1/4s to a blazing fast 1/8000s, and its 5 megapixel 1.5″ CMOS sensor is designed to produce 2560×1920 sRGB photos – taking up about 1.2 megabytes per shot. Its internal memory can contain about 45 photos taken by the Sofort 2 (though larger photos transferred via the FOTOS app may take more space), but that can be expanded with a micro SD or micro SDHC card, letting you store up to 850 photos internally per 1GB of external SD storage.

Despite its balance of high-quality features and ease of use, regular users of hybrid digital cameras have been openly skeptical of the Leica Sofort 2’s design on forums like Reddit – mainly because of its similarities to comparable hybrid digital cameras from competing brands like Fujifilm and Polaroid. It doesn’t help that Leica’s instant film pack costs $15 per 10 exposures on its official store, whereas it can be much cheaper to buy film for other instant cameras.

Skeptics do still seem to love the FOTOS app, which is known for being well-designed from a UX standpoint, conveniently allowing transfer between Leica cameras and any modern smartphone. This means you can post your Leica Sofort 2 photos to social media instead, or you can even download photos off of other devices or directly from social media and print them via the Sofort 2’s built-in printer.

The Leica Sofort 2 comes in three color variations: black, red, and white. All look compact and stylish, so you can’t go wrong. Important peripherals like a USB-C charging cable and carry strap are bundled with the camera itself. However, it looks like you’ll need to shell out extra for any carrying bags – an accessory you may want (for peace of mind) if you’re afraid of damaging your new camera by storing it with other items in the same bag.

You can currently pre-order the Sofort 2 (MSRP $389) and any accessories you’d like, including the aforementioned carry bags and any extra carrying straps, from the Leica web store. Pre-orders end on November 9 when the new camera begins shipping out to customers across the globe.