Leica Q

The Leica Q is the first of what could become an entirely new product line for the German manufacturer. It includes a non-interchangeable 28mm f/1.7 Summilux autofocus (!) lens coupled with a gorgeous full-frame sensor. At US$4,250, the Leica Q is hardly a camera for everyone, but that’s less than half what you’d spend for a digital Leica M plus a similar lens.

Doug and Frederick discuss the controversial lens/sensor combination: Purists are outraged that Leica is using the Summilux brand on a lens that requires processing the image, even for RAW files. Doug says, “Why not? The results are spectacular.”

For Doug, it’s a great street-photographer’s camera. (Full disclosure: He’s an unabashed fanboy and owns a Leica Q.) He says the controls and handling are terrific. Doug even uses it in full-automatic mode, overriding aperture, shutter speed, focus and ISO only when he needs to. And he says the EVF may be the best and brightest he’s ever seen.

Is the Leica Q perfect? Certainly not. And at that price one has to consider alternatives such as the almost-as-good Fujifilm X100T and Sony’s RX1R. But if street photography is your thing and you can swing the $$, the Leica Q may be for you.

Buy the Leica Q from B&H or Amazon.com.

  • Excellent discussion of the Q. I have to nitpick at one thing Doug said, simply because it’s something that I see repeated so often, and it’s simply incorrect. Doug mentioned towards the end that the ’35mm crop’ still has the ‘distortion of a 28mm’. I’m assuming, since lens distortion is corrected in camera, that Doug was referring to perspective distortion of the wider lens. However, perspective is solely a function of distance from the camera to the subject, and has absolutely nothing to do with focal length. Yes, framing a subject to fill half the frame with a 28mm lens will yield greater perspective distortion than filling the subject with half the frame with an 85mm lens, but this is because the photographer moves back significantly to frame that shot with the 85mm lens. Since the Q shows the 35mm frame lines, you will back up commensurately and the perspective will be identical to a shot with a camera with a 35mm lens on it.

  • I disagree. Consider the perspective distortion at 28mm. An object in the foreground will appear (in pixel height) to be a certain amount taller than a similar object in the distance. If I now crop that image, those foreground and background objects retain the same relative sizes. All I’m doing when cropping is removing pixels from the edges of the image. Nothing in the retained area is affected in any way.

    However, if instead of cropping I now put on a longer focal-length lens, those two objects will be closer to the same size. I understand quite well about backing up to get the same field of view, but that’s exactly the problem and it’s very easy to demonstrate. I do it for my disbelieving students all the time. I take two identical cameras at the same position. One has a 35mm lens the other has a 50mm lens. I then crop the image from the 35mm to try and approximate the look of the 50mm full-frame image. No matter what you do, you can’t match the perspective (relative size of foreground and background objects) of the longer lens. That perspective is very much due to focal length and cropping can’t change it.

    This makes sense when you think about it. A crop is just a crop, whether it’s due to a smaller sensor size or post production. And with the Leica Q it’s even easier to demonstrate. Compose a shot at 28mm, then turn on the guidelines for 35mm or 50mm. What happens? Nothing changes except the appearance of those guidelines! Objects in the background are the same size relative to the foreground objects as before. The 28mm image is still there, unchanged. All your doing is eliminating the periphery of the image, ie, cropping.

    Bottom line: Switching the Q to the 35mm or 50mm crop does not yield at all the same look as changing focal lengths, which is what I was trying to say in the review.

  • Great show and it’s obvious the Q is destined to be a great street shooter. I know I’m like a broken record but I think the Ricoh GR II is an unsung hero that gives the Q a run for its money and wins by about $3500. Snap focus, great 28 mm fixed lens, and so easy to configure for street shooting. No EVF or touchscreen but it is so easy to get close with as compared to a traditional style camera.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a Q too but I think a comparison would show very similar IQ, especially for the size of prints we might use in street shots.

    Enjoyed the show and looking forward to the Sony RX100 IV review. Hopefully, someone can get you a GR II to review in the future. I’d loan you mine if I can use your Q for a week or 2. 🙂

  • I stand corrected, Jordan! And I owe you an apology. I had to re-run my own tests to convince myself. I simply used a zoom for a test. Didn’t even need to press the shutter release, crop, etc. You can see it immediately. Now I need to re-do the tests I did last night in which I did see a difference (but with perhaps a too-elaborate setup), then I need to email those students and beg mea culpa.

    And I’m going to re-read your article after a good night’s sleep. 🙂 Thanks for hanging in there until I finally came around.

  • No apology needed. Thanks for taking the time to respond. If you’re heading to PhotoPlus Expo this year, perhaps we can meet up and have a coffee or something, as I’ll be covering the show for my site.

  • I am glad you brought Federick back and you did the review Doug. I am sorry but I never could understand Gordon well and I almost always slept thru his review. Your review, Doug, which is less technical and sometimes bias (because you admitted that you’re a fan boy) but is much more interesting and informative as well. I wish that you and Federick continue but well I should know better.

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