I can honestly say that I refrained from this Leica Q field test for a long time. It was almost a year ago that a reader suggested testing the Leica Q. Basically, I didn’t get the camera. I continuously thought – who in the world would want a $4500 camera with fixed 28mm lens. Is this thing the most expensive point and shoot ever produced or what?
Fast forward to today. The day I am writing this review. I spent a month using the Leica Q for this field test and it had to be physically pried from my fingers to put it back in the box to ship it back.
Now I know you are already thinking that I have lost the rest of my marbles or that I am some kind of sponsored up Leica rich kid. I will tell you that I am neither. I am just a professional photographer looking for answers. One who is studying the history of photography more and more. I am paying close attention to the details within my photos and I want a device that highlights the craft of photography. Basically, give me a device that makes me feel like I am taking photos that are deep and contrasty and have some tooth to them. Forget this mamby pamby HDR crap.
The Leica Q Does Just That
While I didn’t get the concept of the Leica Q on paper, when I got it into my hands, it was love at first site. Once you unbox the camera you get it. The Leica Q is set up as a lightweight, go anywhere camera, without any of the bullshit of a massive 35mm camera kit. In addition, Leica has managed to give this camera features from many of their cameras. It’s as if they crossed a Leica M, with Leica SL, and threw in a dash or two of a CL and TL.
The Leica Q macro lens switch.
Leica Q Specifications of Note
The Leica Q shoots full-frame 24MP files at 10FPS! It has the autofocus of the Leica SL. Runs the same Maestro II processor as the Leica SL as well. It includes actual aperture and focusing adjustment rings on a 28mm f/1.7 lens. Want to lock the lens into autofocus only, yeah that happens right on that focusing adjusting ring too. There is also a switch on the lens to engage it into a macro mode, which allows you to get within 17cm of your subject. Video is a little lacking – full HD at 60FPS. While it would be cool to have 4K, I basically only shoot stills so what do I care! Oh, the viewfinder is 3.68 million dots, yet again, better than Sony’s BEST.
Leica Q Construction
The Leica Q is made from aluminum and magnesium with classic Leica craftsmanship. The camera/lens/battery weighs a meager 640 grams – just over a pound. It also fits into just about any size backpack or bag.
This camera, unlike my recent test of the Canon EOS R, is surprisingly easy to use. I didn’t need to open the manual once to figure out settings. The autofocus is basically the same as the Leica SL, though adjusting the location of the pick up point is a bit harder. The Leica Q does not have the amazing joystick that the Leica SL has, so you either need to touch the back screen or use buttons to move the auto focus point around your screen. Changing between auto focus and manual focus is a snap on the fixed lens. Focus peaking in various color options is present for manual focus as well.
Changing shutter speeds or entering aperture mode is as easy as setting the main top dial or lens aperture ring. The Q also has button customization options, though they are not as extensive as the SL.
The thoughtful design layout of this camera had me at hello. It was the usability that immediately had me understanding why Leica created this camera. It is the perfect tool for the photographer on the go. The fixed lens keeps you from having to clean a dust-covered sensor. The fact that the lens is a 1.7 aperture gives you great low-light capabilities too.
The 28mm f/1.7 lens
The 28mm lens isn’t a 28mm f/1.4 M mount lens, but it really isn’t that far off either. It’s sharp and I absolutely loved the old-school nod to a classic M lens. Yet auto focus and aperture priority are just a lens click away. The 28mm focal length is perfect for most street, travel and adventure photography. I would love to bring this camera/lens combo on EVERY mountain bike ride that I take. I would only need to throw it into my daily riding pack and start pedaling.
Auto crop function on file in Lightroom.
Leica Q Crop Function
One cool factor to add in here regarding the fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens. Leica has builtin a “Digital Frame Selector”. It is similar to a digital zoom, but not as destructive to your original image files. This function activates a digital crop frame in your viewfinder to help you compose around a 1.25x (35mm) or 1.8x (50mm) rectangle. When you import your photos into Lightroom Classic CC, the software automatically recognizes this setting and auto crops the original DNG to the 35mm or 50mm rectangle.
Using this feature does obviously delete pixels out of your 24MP file, but there is one other cool factor here. If you need or want the original full-frame 24MP image back, you simply reset the Crop Tool in Lightroom Classic CC and the full file is there to work with! There is never a complete file destruction scenario at play with this process.
Like mentioned earlier, the viewfinder has 3.68 million dots putting it on par with the Canon EOS R and Fuji X-H2. The Leica Q is still below the flagship SL’s 4.4 million dots, but still has great resolution and contrast. Leica has also included a diopter adjustment for people like me who have been wearing glasses since they were 6 and cannot see the broad side of a barn if it hit them in the face.
Leica Q photo- 1/6400 Sec @ f/1.7 ISO 6400.
Image quality is as good as the Leica SL! I only shot photos up to ISO 6400 and they only needed 35 points of Luminance Noise Reduction in Lightroom Classic CC to smooth everything out. The Leica Q shoots a non-proprietary DNG, which seamlessly imports into Lightroom Classic CC and includes built-in Lens Profile adjustments.
Who is This For?
The Leica Q is for any photographer who wants a simple, light, professional grade camera that fits in a jacket pocket. It is probably the best travel camera ever created. You definitely don’t want the Leica Q if you shooting wildlife, but it is an effective tool for just about any other type of photography.
The billet aluminum and magnesium construction hold true to Leica’s high level of craftsmanship. Even the included lens hood is metal and smoothly screws on to the lens barrel. The Q serves up a 24MP file at 10FPS, guaranteed to satisfy even the pro photographer shooting action. I want one. Leica please send to…
durable all metal construction
great noise suppression
classic and modern design features
fixed lens has optional crop modes up to 50mm
great image quality
price – but know that you won’t replace this camera after 18 months either
no 4K video option
Get You Some of This.
Get your very own Leica Q from B&H Photo/Video.