If the price, however, is too much to swallow, I shall not fault you dear reader and wish to commend you on your, “ignorance is bliss,” approach and cease your reading here and move on to something else. For those of you still with me, let’s go through what this camera means to Leica and the rest of the photo industry.
This is one of Leica’s most ambitious cameras yet. The Leica Q is a full-frame compact camera with what Leica makes best, a gorgeous fast 28mm Summilux (f/1.7) lens.
Summilux is what Leica calls any of their lenses that go from f/1.4 – f/1.7. “Summi,” means Highest and, “Lux,” means light. Essentially it’s a nicer, more branded “35mm f/1.4.” A bit like how your tall, grandé, vente, trenta coffee could just be called, small, medium, large, and “please help me get diabetes type 2.”
Leica has always been considered a very conservative company by most. They love and adore their flagship camera lines, the M Rangefinder line, and their medium format S line. Anything Leica released below those lines did not excite the Leica faithful. Now that the Q is here, that has changed. This is a camera the faithful are very excited about.
What makes the Leica Q most exciting is that this is the first fixed lens camera that is not a compromise in sensor size. The only other way to get a full-frame sensor camera from Leica is buy an M rangefinder. Those bodies start at $7,450… Without a lens. If you want a 28mm Summilux lens like the Q has, you need to cough up another $5,995. If you’re keeping score that’s $13,245. The Leica Q is one third that price. Helluva’ steal if you want money-is-no-object quality.
Leica also put in a world class leading image/video processor. The Maestro II. Which is currently only found in their newest medium format camera body, the S Typ 007. That body goes for $25,400 brand new.
The sensor seems to be the same kind as made by CMOSIS. A 24mp variant found in the Leica M line. But I own that sensor and the ISO performance in the Q is better than my M by 3 whole friggin stops. Hell, when I upgraded my old M9 to the M240, I was ecstatic with the 2 stop increase. Leica is going balls to the wall here.
The EVF is the currently the highest megapixel EVF shipping in the world. I thought that the EVF on the Fujifilm XT-1 was a best in class leading 2.36m dots, but the Q rocks 3.68m dots with a very healthy high refresh rate.
The shutter…. oh my goodness the shutter. The Q gives you the option of an electronic shutter of up to 1/16000 (who needs ND filters? Not this camera), or using a leaf shutter in the lens that can sync any flash up to 1/2000 sec. Others in this segment also have leaf shutters but having the electronic shutter is nice for shooting in direct sunlight. Continuous shooting of 10fps is a really sweet nice to have. Leica’s are not known for being speed demons (the M only sports 3fps), but this is just icing on the cake now. All this and the Q is deadly silent. Like an Ninja assassin.
Lets talk ergonomics. I’ve not held this in my hands, but going on what regular Leica M users have said in their reviews that this handles like a smaller, svelte Leica M, which is perfect. Being able to physically handle and change the aperture and shutter and focus if you want to take it out of auto mode is ideal. It’s like having the option to shift gears like a manual transmission in your automatic car, but you get to do it via the gear stick, the same way a manual transmission car would behave.
Leica also has Wi-Fi and NFC built-in but can’t speak much about that as the app isn’t out yet. Good to know it’s there and will offer complete control of the camera via your phone or tablet!
On top of all that, everyone remarks how much they just love shooting with the Leica Q. This is the purest essence of why I believe people like buying and owning Leicas. It’s the experience you get when using one. It’s second to none. It can’t be told or parlayed or passed on. You just have to experience it.
Leica is not fucking around here and I respect and applaud them for it.