For decades Leica cameras have been a sought after, but expensive camera, several technology Companies use Leica made lenses in their camera offerings in an effort to boost the perceived image of their own offering.
Up until now Leica’s digital cameras, have been either point-and-shoots models without that Leica unique look. I remember back in the 70″s using a Leica camera with an extended motor drive and battery pack that was almost 1 foot or 308 centimetres long, but despite this it was a truely great camera.
The new Leica Q combines the top-of-the-line look and feel the German optics experts are known for, with new technology that makes it easier to get great images out of the Q than any prior Leica models.
The Leica Q sits smack bang in the middle of the Leica camera range between their compact cameras and its professional M family of cameras which are distributed in Australia by CR Kennedy.
The former are mostly rebranded plastic Panasonic cameras meant for your pocket or backpack, while the latter have been the expensive top end camera envied by photojournalists for decades.
The core functionality of the Leica Q are built around a 24 megapixel full-frame sensor, the brand new Maestro II image processor, and a fixed (non-zoom) 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens.
The combination of large sensor and bright lens means the Q can achieve great colour fidelity and resolution, and in exchange for the trade-off of not having interchangeable lenses, the lens/sensor combo can be designed specifically for one another to optimise performance.
If you open the lens up to the full aperture and crank up the ISO light-sensitivity settings (the Q goes to a crazy 50,000, though you’ll want to keep it at 6,400 or lower).
You can shoot anywhere that’s lighter than pitch black and still get photos that don’t look like a blurry hotchpot. Colours are bright but not exaggerated, and people actually look like, people.
The body and lens housing are all metal which makes the device a tad heavy when compared with other cameras.
The biggest downside to Leica’s M rangefinder is that it lacks autofocus.
The Q adds extremely fast and accurate autofocus, but not at the expense of the manual experience.
While the 28mm lens doesn’t zoom and can’t be swapped out, Leica added adjustable frame lines to the Q’s viewfinder that mimic what you’d find on an old film rangefinder.
You fill the whole viewfinder to shoot with a 28mm field of view, but additional lines can be toggled to simulate 35mm and 50mm lenses, too.
In the USA the price is $4,250 so expect to pay over $5,500 in Australia.
The most similar camera to the Q is Fuji’s X100 T, another rangefinder-style compact with a fixed lens and manual controls, which retails for $1,500. While Fuji has mastered the electronic viewfinder, and the X100 T creates sharp, vivid images, the Leica optics and full-size sensor generate much more accurate, finely detailed photographs.
Individual blades of grass are well separated and the sweat on a cold glass of beer looks like it might drip off the photo.