Premiere and review: The 2015 Leica Q (Typ 116)

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It is refreshing to be surprised, for a change – and refreshing to have something that comes somewhat unexpectedly but scratches an itch that you didn’t really know existed. I have owned and reviewed many Leicas in the past, from Ms, to the S system, to the T, X/1/2/113/Vario, to various ahem…rebodies. All have excited me in some way or other, but also left me with the feeling ‘if only’. If only the M had a built in EVF…if only the S had more pixels…if only the T was a bit smoother operationally…if only the Xs had viewfinders (and were 28mm). I was disappointed I couldn’t get a M246 Monochrom to test, especially against the D810. Instead, I was offered the Q.

Images in this review were all shot with a final production Q Typ 116 running firmware 1.0. I wil be uploading additional images as time goes along with to this set on Flickr. As you can probably tell from the sample images, during the limited time I’ve had to shot with the camera, the weather/light quality has best been described as ‘hmmm, painterly’. And a big thank you must be given to the folks at Leica Malaysia for the loan camera. Images in this review were processed with Photoshop Workflow II.

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I’ll start with the main ‘if only’ and get it out of the way: if only it had interchangeable lenses. But if it did, it’d probably kill the Ms. After all, it shares a 24MP (CMOSIS?) sensor, and has a whole host of other improvements like a much better (touch) LCD and autofocus. But oh joy of joys…the lens is a 28mm!

Regular readers will be familiar with my preference for this focal length, and my devotion to the Ricoh GR because of its blend of pocketability, performance and that focal length. Though 35mm has always been viewed as the quintessential documentary focal length, you’ll also know I’ve never really gotten on with it – I’ve always thought it too long to be dramatic, and too wide to be isolating. I’d much rather have a 28/50 pair, which is what I usually do: GR in one pocket at 28mm, and D810/Otus 55 around my neck. The GR has its share of ‘if onlys’, too: mainly centered around the relatively slow lens and the high shutter speeds required to eliminate camera shake because of the lack of an EVF or IS. And then whilst pixel quality is really top notch, there aren’t that many of them. D810 companion yes, D810 substitute, not really – only because the Nikon wide options are pretty poor. In short: please sir, can I have more?

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While waiting, along comes that ‘more’: a full frame, 24MP, AA-less, EVF equipped (with 3.7 million dots, no less) camera with an optically stabilised 28/1.7. There’s also a touch panel (which appears to be inherited from the T) that can be used for focus, release or navigating playback. It even has a higher claimed maximum ISO limit than the recent 24MP CMOS M246 Monochrom. I really don’t suffer from GAS often, but I did after reading the reply to my initial email. This means that as much as I want to be objective, there is probably going to be some bias involved. Let’s get things straight, though: in 28mm-fixed-focal-large-sensor-land, you only really have four options* right now. The first is the GR we all know and love, with 16MP and f2.8 on an APS-C sensor; the second is the Fuji X100 series with the wide converter, which also gives you 16MP but at f2, with a hybrid viewfinder/EVF and significantly larger physical size; the third is the Coolpix A, and now the Q. The GR can be had for around $600; the X100T plus converter will run you $1299+$315 for the wide converter for a total of $1600 and change; the Q has the usual red dot premium and weighs in at a hefty $4,500. And yes, because some people are bound to ask, it’s made in Germany – or at least that’s what’s stamped on the bottom.

*One reader correctly pointed out there’s also the Sigma DP1M/DP1Q: yes, but they aren’t exactly documentary cameras nor do they have a large shooting envelope. And then there’s SPP and the workflow issue…

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No escape goes unseen

As nice as the X100T is in the hand, and as useful as the optical finder is, I have a hard time justifying the extra for the X100T, mainly because of the extra bulk: the lens still requires f4 or thereabouts to match the GR’s performance at f2.8, and you’re lugging around a lot of extra weight without any gains in image quality. The Q represents an even worse value proposition at 7.5 times the price, though it has a few things going in its favor: a lens that’s 1.5 stops faster than the GR, with similar performance, a full frame sensor, optical image stabilisation, an EVF, and as a result, a much larger shooting envelope. As they say, you pay your money and you get your choices.

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After work

Leica’s design gestalt is by now so well-established that you would be forgiven for thinking they’ve run out of ideas: everything seems to look like a streamlined M, from the M itself to the Panasonic LX100-based D-Lux 109. Sometimes this works, like in the X, sometimes it doesn’t work so well – like in the previous D-Luxes. But unless the touchscreen/electronic UI is really well sorted, I’ll take it any time over the buttonless T. In the hand, we know what to expect: mostly comfortable, but not always, depending on body thickness and the length of your fingers. I found the film Ms to be a lot more comfortable than the digital ones, with the M9-P being about the maximum thickness comfortable without a front grip (but still requiring a thumb grip of some sort) and the M240 is just too easy to drop without it.

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You are in the right place even if it might not feel like it

The Q is a bit thinner than the M, for which I’m extremely thankful. The difference in comfort is noticeable, though I’d still like a better positioned thumb grip. (The rear thumb divot is appreciated, but too close to the right edge of the camera to avoid cramping.) No doubt this reduction in thickness is because the 27.8mm flange distance didn’t have to be maintained, and the lens’ rear element can get a lot closer to the sensor. The camera is somewhere between the X and the M240 in size – actually, pretty close to say an M6. It’s almost bare from the front, with just an AF assist lamp and a red dot. The top plate carries the same controls as the Ms – shutter speed, power/drive, shutter, video, plus the migrated command dial for exposure compensation or program shift. The lens continues to use the excellent system from the X Vario 107 and X Typ 113 – manual focus with automatic magnification if you turn the ring, with AF at a detent past the infinity position. There’s also of course an aperture ring and a new rear toggle to move some elements for optimal performance at macro distances – a sensible solution, which we’ve seen before in the Sony RX1’s Zeiss 2/35 optic.

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Note two focusing scales and macro switch. The lens restricts you to f2.8 maximum in the macro position, presumably to increase image quality.

The rear again resembles the M – similar row of buttons down the left, D pad, oddly indented thumb notch, diopter correction and a couple of programmable buttons. There is no flash, but a TTL hotshoe compatible with Leica’s own flashes – and third party ones. The camera uses a hybrid leaf and electronic shutter; it’s mechanical up to 1/2000s, which is as fast as I could get my flashes to sync, and electronic up to 1/16,000s (you select the 1/2000+ position on the shutter dial, and use the command wheel). In fact, other than for the missing finder windows, you could easily mistake this for an M – which makes me wonder if this is perhaps Leica’s intention all along. Unlike the M (but reminiscent of the original Digilux 2 and later Panasonics and X cameras), exposure modes are intuitively controlled by overriding automatic: aperture, shutter and focus rings all have ‘A’ positions and manual settings. Use the manual settings and you go to aperture priority, shutter priority or full manual respectively; leave everything in A and land up with program (and thankfully buried deep, deep down in the menu are the seemingly unavoidable scene modes). What I don’t understand though is why none of them move in the same increments: the aperture ring is in 1/3 stops. The shutter speed dial is in full stops. ISO is in full stops. But exposure compensation is in 1/3 stops. This is both slow and confusing.

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Vertical chess

The camera is a bit lighter than it looks; it isn’t quite as dense as the Ms, which is probably due to the hybrid aluminium/ magnesium construction (no brass anywhere). It doesn’t feel hollow, but might if it were any lighter. Everything is sold and has just the right tension and tactile feel; with the exception of the thumb grip/divot and lug placement** the haptics are really quite excellent. There are other nice little touches, like the tab on the (somewhat stiff) manual focusing ring with locking AF tab integrated, and the macro switch that also moves the distance scale, and joy of joys – a proper depth of field scale, which means zone focusing is definitely possible.

**It seems that no manufacturer manages to get this right, and Leica and Olympus are the worst offenders for pinching the webbing between index and middle finger.

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Note focusing tab with AF locking button.

Not that you’ll need it. Surprisingly, autofocus is the fastest of any Leica I’ve used, and I’ll be damned if I can tell the difference in speed between this and my E-M5 II, which is the fastest of any mirrorless camera I’ve used to date. It is definitely faster than the GR. Single point AF appears to be the most reliable and speedy option, though the camera does have tracking and continuous options – like every CDAF system, they’re not really that reliable. It had no problem locking on even in relatively dim conditions, so long as there was sufficient contrast. Low contrast, even if very bright, would cause hunting. Note that the camera both views and focuses (including magnified manual focus) with the lens wide open; I did not notice any significant focus shift because of this. There is no way to magnify the frame without activating manual focus (which makes sense). There’s one final thing to be carful of with focusing: if you have a target that has significant overexposure, there’s a good chance the camera will not be able to lock on it, or worse, give a false positive. This is a common limitation of CDAF systems – it’s important to remember that blown highlights also equal zero contrast, though the Q seems a little more susceptible to this. Not a massive issue because I only encountered it when photographing neon signs (!) and could easily just swing the focusing tab to lock on manually.

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Facets

In practice, the Q is flexible enough that you can shoot it like an M – manually focused with or without magnification and/or peaking, zone focused, and with some somewhat silly digital ‘rangefinder crop lines’ that show you the whole frame but only save 35 or 50mm. It even comes with one of those screw in square hoods that has just the right number of threads always land up in the right orientation when tightened. In fact, the reason why I keep comparing it to the M is because it provides the most M-like shooting experience of any non-M Leica. The design, ergonomics and control placement fool my hands into thinking they are holding an M.

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Signs of life in the middle

Again, much like an M, it is really a simple camera – but still feels like a camera first and foremost. You can pretty much set everything in the menus once, and never have to look at them again. It is a scalpel rather than a Swiss Army Knife, and performs best when used as such. There’s almost no perceivable lag from the electronics to get in the way, including at startup, which is as fast as any mirrorless camera I’ve used (though not DSLR). Alternatively, you can shoot it with a bit more deliberation and precision, and take advantage of the 100% finder and fast AF. The Q’s leaf shutter is both extremely silent and low-vibration; better than even the best of the original film Ms and much like the GR. Suffice to say it will not be the source of any vibrations or double images. It also has the benefit of offering flash sync to 1/2000s, at all apertures. The EVF panel itself is of high resolution and good dynamic range; focusing and composition are easy, and the dot pitch is fine enough that your first instinct isn’t that you’re looking at a screen. That said, the optics of the finder itself could be better – though there’s adequate eye relief for spectacle wearers and a diopter adjustment built in, the edges are a bit smeary. Finally, I suppose you could even use it as a (god forbid) lifestyle camera; the Q also has wifi, a companion app (not available at the time of testing), touch to focus (and shoot) and scene modes.

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Gaps in the smile

All in all, the Q has to be one of the most responsive cameras I’ve used – even for menu operations, image magnification etc. – no doubt due to the Maestro II processor, which is shared with the S Typ 007 and surpasses the M240. It will sustain 10fps DNG for about 12-13 shots with a fast card, and shot to shot times are almost instant with virtually no blackout before returning to a live image. I suspect Maestro II has also had a positive effect on battery life, too – I was easily able to obtain ~600+ shots per charge without too much trouble – that’s a day to a day and a half given the way I typically use a 28mm camera. This is impressive given the other full frame cameras in live view won’t even come close – my D810 and D750 could get to perhaps 400 if used quickly; the Sony A7II being the worst offender, struggling to pass 200. Leica have come a long way since the electronics of the M8 and M9 series cameras (which would lock up if you looked at them wrongly and eat cards for breakfast – at least, all three of mine did). In many ways, it actually brings to mind the M8/21/1.4 ‘Lux combination I shot pretty much exclusively for a year back in 2009-10. I’d have given my right arm for this kind of image quality and responsiveness, though.

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Park evening

The Q 116 uses the same base sensor as the M 240 an updated 24MP 36×24 CMOS (made by CMOSIS?). There is no AA filter (and occasional moire is the result). It has a retuned ISO range of 100-50,000, which probably again has something to do with Maestro II. I would say noise is pretty much nonexistent up to ISO 800, with hints creeping in at 1600, 3200 being noticeable, 6400 usable with some work, and 12800 being strictly for emergency use only. I wouldn’t bother with anything above that. This is pretty much in line with the M240, and about 1/2-1 stop behind the D750. Dynamic range is also similar to the M240 – in practice, about 12.5-13 stops at base ISO, with some care required at clipping boundaries to avoid abrupt highlight transitions. Be careful in the shadows: not only do things block to black quite quickly, but it’s possible to create mild but high frequency banding if too much recovery is attempted. Every increase in ISO results in a corresponding reduction in dynamic range, of course. There also doesn’t appear to be any compressing going on – DNG files are larger than the D810’s 14-bit lossless compressed NEFs (!).

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Test portrait. A surprising amount of separation for a 28mm – shot at f2.

It also appears that Leica have retuned the color profile of the sensor; early M240s suffered from very strange color that made profiling an absolute must. Whilst I found profiling helped with the Q, the required adjustments weren’t enormous – that said, I think it’s too early to comment on color in detail because there is still no native ACR profile for it, nor have I had time to properly fine tune my own profile for this camera between assignments and preparation for the Connection exhibition. Note that I did find some strange behaviour with the auto white balance tags – color temperatures were 1500-2000K warmer than expected (daylight at 7.5-8k) – though this could very well be down to ACR.

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Temporary visitor to the tesseract

I was surprised by the Q’s video performance; mainly because I wasn’t expecting video to be usable at all. The good news is that there’s almost zero rolling shutter, and footage is very smooth with few compression artefacts. Auto exposure adjusts smoothly, peaking continues to work, and with the manual focus ring with hard stops and a tab, pulling focus is very easy indeed. Further praise needs to be given for the ability to set separate picture controls for video (no log profile though) and stills, and a dedicated framing screen for video alone which shows the 16:9 capture area. Stills can be captured with a brief interruption. The bad news is that whilst the screen shows you’ve changed exposure while filming, nothing actually happens. You cannot change aperture or shutter speed or exposure compensation; the only exposure control is via sensitivity and that’s handled automatically. There’s no microphone-in port…which means syncing up a separate recording. Finally, whilst stabilisation can be enabled while filming video, I saw some strange artefacts that must be either a product of the sensor’s line readout + lens moving to compensate for motion, or hybrid electronic-optical stabilisation.

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Encroachment

Let’s talk a bit about the optics. The lens is a Leica-designed, presumably Leica-produced (though with recent T lenses being made in Japan, I’m not sure) optic with an aperture range of f1.7-16, and a coy number of elements and groups which I’ve not been able to ascertain yet. At least one of those is responsible for focusing, at least one of those for image stabilisation (you can actually see the optical stabilisation element moving around if you half press the shutter and look down the front of the lens barrel; it’s disturbingly eyeball-like especially when stopped down a little), and a further one that moves into position for macro work. There are high expectations because this is a Leica lens, and it covers full frame and carries the Summilux ASPH tag.

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Detour

Results in the centre of the frame are pretty incredible at any aperture. There is a level of crispness, microcontrast and resolving power that is impressive for any lens, period. Progressing out of this centre zone to about halfway to the edges (1/4 across the frame), resolving power drops off but is recovered at f2.8. At the edges, f5.6 is needed to get close to (but not quite match) the centre levels of resolution – f8 improves slightly, and this is necessary for strong corner performance. I would say the lens peaks somewhere f5.6 and f8, with no visible focus shift and the centre performance remaining identically strong throughout. I suspect there is some complex field curvature going on, though. In places it appears as though foreground areas are sharper, but in others, background. Bear this in mind when you are thinking about depth of field coverage; I would still recommend focusing using the AF point nearest to your subject placement in final composition rather than centre-focus-recompose.

There is no visible distortion or CA with this lens; I say visible because I was told it employs software correction before even writing the raw file; as a result it is very difficult to tell what the raw performance of the lens might be. I see some evidence suggesting minor CA removal (ghosting along contrast edges at the edges) and some stretching for distortion correction; there’s definitely some distortion going on at the lens’ macro setting which is impossible to correct fully even in software. That said, the resolving power of the lens in macro mode is very impressive even down to the minimum distance, and oddly seems possible even a little better than wide apertures at distance.

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Paradise

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Torture

Overall contrast is very high, though microcontrast is good in the centre but drops off towards the edges; I suppose this would make it a good environmental portrait lens but less good for architecture and other uniform subjects. Some other testers have reported that turning the IS off improves things; I haven’t seen it make much of a difference on mine – but there’s always the possibility not all of us are running the same firmware. Bokeh is pleasant and surprisingly smooth for a wide; I can’t help but wonder if the strange field curvature is contributing here. I only encountered very minor issues with flare from peripheral light sources, which suggests the hood is effective – or more likely, the concave front element is helping (which has been my experience with all concave-front lenses). Color is neutral to cool but can always be influenced by your camera profiling. All in all, the character of the lens is remarkably similar to that of the X Typ 113.

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The boss

Fast 28mm choices aren’t exactly bountiful, so I’m going to be comparing it to the only two I’m very familiar with – the Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon, and the 18.3/2.8 in the GR. I also have some familiarity with the Zeiss ZM 2.8/28 Biogon and the Leica 28/2 Summicron M ASPH. Overall, I’d say the pecking order looks this way in terms of pure optical properties: GR sits at the top by a bit; followed by a tie between the Leica 28/2 and 28/1.7; the 2/28 Distagon is next and the 2.8/28 Biogon brings up the rear. The GR has a cross-frame consistency which none of the other lenses can match; the corners at f2.8 are only slightly worse than the perfect centre, and I’ve never seen any flare out of it. Both Leicas deliver a really great centre at the expense of the corners; but they aren’t so bad as the 2/28 Distagon’s legendary field curvature. The 2.8/28 Biogon was just disappointing and flat all around, and really isn’t deserving of being in the same company. Oddly enough, the only one of these lenses that comes close to being a good all-rounder (but with a very clinical personality that doesn’t suit every application) is the GR; the 2/28 Distagon and Leica 28/1.7 are both very good cinematic lenses – probably due to field curvature – the 28/2 Summicron is a bit flat, and let’s not talk about the Biogon. There is a surprising difference in character and rendering style amongst this group which probably suggests 28mm lenses still have some room to develop – there’s no cinematic plus clinically perfect lens like the Otuses, for instance.

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Untitled commuter

If you’ve read up to this point and felt that the review has been nothing but gushing fanboy praise, then the next paragraph should cheer you. There are definitely things that need fixing; the good news is most can be achieved with a firmware update. For starters, the EVF/LCD switching behaviour is frustrating: there’s no way to turn off the LCD for framing and use it solely for playback; it’s either all or nothing (i.e. menus and playback also in the EVF). Secondly, when you move the dial for exposure compensation, the highlight warning disappears – surely that’s when you’d expect to need it the most? The ‘frame line’ selector button should really have a few more options – ideally the same list as the function button, in case you would like to use it for something other than the virtual rangefinder-style crop or AE/AF lock. (And AF-Lock should really be renamed AF-ON-Lock). Control over the mechanical/electronic shutter switchover would be nice, too.

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Stuffed

We still don’t have live view magnification other than in the centre of the frame – though the AF system has selectable points out to the edges and there’s focus peaking, there’s still no way to determine and acquire very precise focus off-axis. There’s also the matter of the touch screen implementation – an option to go to 100% in playback would be great rather than having to click the wheel; the double tap should be configurable. I’d still like a way to set a new default filename – if you’ve got more than one Leica, everything starting L0-something is going to get messy very quickly. Whilst we have optical stabilisation, it isn’t quite as effective as you’e expect – I’d say two stops is safe, anything beyond that is lucky. Lastly, there’s the whole brouhaha about software correction for optics: I’m not going to go there, but I’d really like to see how this lens performs without it.

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On a street corner

Unsurprisingly, there’s now one more datapoint that suggests matched fixed-lens/sensor combinations are the way to go to obtain the best mix of image quality and shooting envelop/size. It is clear that the large-sensor fixed lens compacts have been outperforming pretty much all comers even including DSLRs/interchangeable lenses especially at the wide end since there are no pesky optical design issues stemming from mirror clearance; the only wonder at all is why it took the manufacturers so long to get to this point – after all, the pinnacle of the film compact era gifted us with many options of this kind – the original GR1, the Contax T series, Olympus Trips, etc. All in all, the Q has a surprising amount of design maturity given it’s a first-generation product – something we haven’t seen for a while in the camera industry, and refreshing given pretty much everything has required serious firmware updates or recalls or second versions to ‘get right’. Undoubtedly the purported 18 month development time helped, too.

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Support

The Q 116 really has quite a lot going for it – a unique combination of features that doesn’t exist in any other camera I can currently think of other than the A7II and new 28/2 FE; not having tried the latter I cannot comment on the optics other than from samples, which appear to lose out a bit to the Leica. Unsurprising, as we are talking a combination that costs about half of the Leica. We do know however the file quality of the A7II frequently leaves something to be desired due to compression, and the camera retains its AA filter. Battery life is frighteningly dire. But it does make a much better video choice due to codec support, live exposure control and audio input/ monitoring. (Stills aside, Sony really has the video thing sorted.) Is the Leica twice as good? In terms of pure image quality, definitely not. The question that remains becomes a subjective one – are haptics, shooting experience and brand worth the premium? I feel that Leica may be doing an experiment here by forcing potential buyers to perceive it not as an expensive camera, but a cheap Leica – especially relative to other product offerings in the lineup.

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Faceted arcs by night

Like the very best tools, the Q is a camera that both encourages you to use it, is enjoyable and transparent in operation and rewards you with its results. It fulfils the mission previously held by my GR for the better part of 12,000 frames – documentary, immediacy, stealth, image quality – and extends those capabilities even further. Its deficiencies could be easily fixed by firmware updates and in the meantime aren’t more than minor annoyances. This is both rare and refreshing. If you’ve gotten the impression that I really, really enjoyed shooting with the Q – more so than just about everything else I’ve shot recently – then you’d be spot on. It made me want to go out and shoot more – I think you can see this in the unusually large number and diversity of images in this review – more so given I only had the camera for a week before publication, and for six of those days I was either travelling or on assignment. Of course, bear in mind this comes from the perspective of somebody who both sees natively in 28mm and shot in the past with almost exclusively an M of some form and 28 or equivalent for the better part of two years.

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The backup getaway plan

I shot the Q on a corporate documentary job, being perhaps one of the first times I’ve violated my ‘never try new equipment when it counts’ rule. (Though in all fairness I also carried the usual full compliment of Nikons and lenses). I landed up using it far more than I expected to fulfil the wide role instead of the GR or the AFS 20/1.8 G. Overall image quality (given the better sensor in the D810) would be about the same as if I’d used the AFS 28/1.8 G, but the Leica more than holds its own because the lens is superior and we gain OIS. Did I get images I couldn’t have done otherwise? Definitely. Was it more fluid than shooting with a DSLR or compact at arms’ length? Yes. And I didn’t have to worry about the occasional focus misses the Nikon throws me with wide lenses. The real kicker is that this assignment was done under rather unpleasant conditions for both cameras and humans – 45C and 100% RH, with mud, dust and other unknown things swirling around and dripping from the roof. (I was on assignment for a client in Hong Kong, documenting the construction of a new subway line). I shot about 300 frames with it and it never missed a beat. I’d say that earns it a place in my bag – sorry about the new battle scars on your loaner, Leica. But at least you know it was actually used.

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I can’t help but wonder if the Q is the harbinger to the end of the M system in its current guise. Add a mount, and it becomes very, very difficult to justify paying quite a bit more for a body whose live view options are somewhat limited without an external EVF, and whose optical rangefinder needs careful and regular maintenance for accurate focusing – it was a good option back in the days before EVFs and AF, but honestly, I’ll take the EVF in the Q any day. Perhaps the choice of 28mm over 35 or 50mm was deliberate, too: it’s not exactly a mainstream focal length, nor is it easy to compose with for most people (though camera phones probably helped here). And whilst I’m pretty sure the new 28/1.4 Summilux-M is going to be a better lens, I’m not sure it’s going to be three or four or even five times better, by the time you add the cost of a body in, too. And it definitely won’t focus to the same 0.3m near limit as the Q. Needless to say, I’m concluding this review with one of my very rare ‘highly recommended’ ratings – now if only they’ll sort out the firmware niggles, and make one in chrome with tan leather, with a matching 50mm sibling – and I had several spare kidneys to sell! MT

The Leica Q can be obtained from the Starhill and Avenue K boutiques in Kuala Lumpur, or from B&H and Amazon. Images in this review were processed with Photoshop Workflow II. For more information, please email Johann Affendy at Leica Malaysia (Johann.Affendy@leica-camera.com). In addition, Jonathan Slack and Sean Reid have also published their thoughts today. 

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Comments

  1. Hi Ming, I bumped into you yesterday in Wan Chai close to the Art Centre, you seemed to be in a rush back to the gallery and in a sweaty shirt so I didn’t stop you to keep you any longer in the burning sun. I went to the exhibition earlier and enjoyed your many great images a lot. Great job!

  2. Thanks for such a great review!
    How do you compare leica M9 + noctilux 50mm f0.95 with leica Q? Since I think CCD outputs better leica color but the price of M9 + noctilux are also much higher than Q..

    Also if you weigh up between Q and canon 5d3 / nikon n810, considering factors like price and convenience, what suggestions do you have?

  3. Raymond says:

    Hi Ming ,

    Congratulations on a great review.. Being a M240 user , how is this Q compared with M + m28 f2 asph ? I am tossing with the idea to buy this seemingly amazing AF Leica camera . I am struggling to find reasons not to. Being a senior and retired , the AF will be a god send for a person of diminishing eye sight. The weight and thinner body also will be of great benefits . I am now using my M240 with R lens more .

    Thanks for your comment in advance.

    Yuhau

  4. dalethorn says:

    Leica seems conflicted – they want to project the concept of a full-frame compact camera, with the compromises you see, to achieve the smallest size for the sensor and lens, but then they provide only the old-fashioned and bulky carry cases for it. Note that the half-case and holster don’t protect the lens assembly. Why not have a case like the X1’s 18709, which is beautiful to look at, and very compact for vertical shoulder carry? With that, you would have a real compact camera, full frame.

  5. Thanks for the post, Ming. Quick question: I currently use a Fuji X100S with Fuji’s tiny EFX-20 flash, mostly wirelessly triggered using the built-in infrared unit on the flash. If I were to get the Q (since I’m dreaming), could you recommend a similar small flash with the same capabilities that would work with it? cheers!

    • Sorry, drawing a blank here. The Q itself has no flash, and you’d need a separate flash trigger and flash to make it work. It probably is not the best flash solution.

  6. Rastafarian says:

    Ming writes an article about the philosophy or artistry of photography, 30 comments. Ming writes an a gear review article, gear made by the most pretentious and cynical camera company around, 300+ comments.

  7. Enjoyed your review very much. Thank you.
    BTW, just got a GR (yes, very late to the party) trying to get a hang of the 28mm FOV. So far I really enjoy the button layout, direct control of main settings and small form factor. The first camera I can carry with me every day, to office, lunch, etc.

    When you say color profiling a camera, do you mean shooting a rite color checker, creating a profile and loading into PS (or LR)? and that to be done for various lighting conditions.
    Or is there another way you do it?

  8. I would love to know how the 28mm Summilux on the Q compares to the newly announced M-mount Summilux. If they are on par then technically this camera is a steal since the 28mm Summilux for M mount is beyond $6000.

    • So would I, but the M mount is in short supply and there aren’t any loaners in my part of the world. I honestly cannot see how it can justify the $6000 tag plus the cost of a body, though…

  9. It must be a good camera because you were clearly inspired. I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I think this set showed some of your strongest images for a while.

    Sounds like the Q is the Cayman to the M 911. Objectively better and more modern design, but the challenge, reputation and mystique of the older, more expensive version will keep enthusiasts coming back for more.

    • Not at all – I too felt ‘the force’ with this one. All of the images in the review come from less than 7 hours of total shooting time – between travel, weather, assignments etc. that’s all I could fit in. I feel the camera probably has more to give, but I just haven’t had time yet.

      I’ll take either Cayman or 911 – which I can’t say is the same of the M…

  10. Great Review! Thanks!

  11. Would love a Leica Q. Will have to limp along with my Nikon Coolpix A. Granted a completely different camera with APS-C sensor, it has the same FOV-28mm. And for $399 the IQ is pretty tough to beat.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/936177-REG/nikon_coolpix_a_digital_camera.html

  12. I’ll zero in on this quote from your evaluation…

    “…if only it had interchangeable lenses. But if it did, it’d probably kill the Ms.”

    Isn’t that really the message here that Leica should be taking note of? If this camera performs well, isn’t a higher-spec version of the ‘Q’ what a modern ‘M’ OUGHT to be … and where Leica should be taking it?

    Or perhaps this IS a predictor of where Leica may take the ‘M’ in the future; “beta-testing” public reaction, perhaps.

    Anyway, good to see Leica leading on some key technology and performance attributes again. That is, after all, what made Leicas so prized in the 1940s and 1950s—they were expensive because they were superlative tools for the job … not merely because of the nameplate.

    That’s where they need to go again, IMO. And this camera shows that there may be some movement in that direction. Here’s hoping…

    • Could be either. The former would be speculatory, the latter would be a very bold move for a company that has been extremely conservative the past…but yes, they have to change. You can’t sell the same fundamental product unchanged for 60+ years…

      • Porsche has. That company would be nothing without the 911.

        You think the Leica M240 from today is the same as the Leica from the ’50s? Seriously?

        • Porsche overcame the initial limitations of the 911 with technology. It certainly didn’t start with 4WD or turbocharging. The M of today still has the same limitations as the original one because the core mechanism – the rangefinder – has not changed.

    • Stephen Jones says:

      My thoughts exactly. “I’ll start with the main’ if only’ and get it out of the way..” For myself and lots of other Leica users the lack of focal length choice will be very much IN the way of making this purchase. It’s as if Leica is afraid to produce something better than an M.
      Why?
      So for me , good as this is, it’s another Leica product that still dodges around the idea of making a digital version of a Leica CL with interchangeable lenses that many really want. Leica has been almost deliberately avoiding making that camera for years!
      Maybe it IS time to kill the M and move on if that’s what it takes. Is this a step in the right direction? Sure. But why can’t they go all the way? It certainly seems like a great camera if you love the 28mm. Which brings us back to if only again. Pricing seems reasonable ( for Leica ). It’s a great camera for you Ming but I think a serious camera like this shouldn’t come with the restriction of only one focal length. The performance looks very nice indeed. Much to love.. but still an if only. That doesn’t mean I don’t want one and I’ll probably want one more, the more pictures you post!

  13. Nice article. When I first saw this camera, I was thinking: So if Leica tossed the lens, add in the mount, they could in theory sell a 3,000 USD m-mount body right? I personally think this is the way to go. Rangefinder diehards aside, unless Leica can come up with a way to make a rangefinder with the necessary accuracy for digital sensors, the EVF is the way to go.

    • That’s what I was thinking too. But it would completely kill their M business model…so my guess it is unlikely, or will be price similar to or higher than the Q.

      • That occurred to me. Which makes the pricing actually puzzling from that stand point alone. The camera is actually tad cheap and not terribly far off from how much Sony was charging for its own RX1 with EVF and all.

        • Yet people are complaining about the price…odd, huh? It’s cheap for a Leica, expensive for a camera/ piece of consumer electronics in general, and impossible to price given utility and what it can do. I’m glad I’m not the one having to figure out pricing for this – too much and you won’t sell any, too little and you harm your flagship.

          • People complain about anything! When the Sony RX1 came out, it was 2800USD. Throw in the 600 USD EVF, it goes for 3400USD. The Leica premium is just a mere 1000USD and you probably get a better lens (The RX1 35mm lens I read was a little weak on the corners). Something isn’t right here!

            • Not to mention IS…

            • According to a paid review site that’s already reviewed the Q, it’s a bit better in the center than the RX1, but the RX1 is better in the corners. They’re both awesome lenses, so I think it’s down to rendering. I tend to prefer Zeiss rendering slightly over Leica’s, but they’re both so good that it’s waaaaaaaay beyond a first world problem to have to choose!

          • Price for what? I bought a Pentax film SLR with 50mm lens in 1969 for around US 400.00. I couldn’t afford the Nikon price for a similar SLR camera (no “D” in those days). You got the new, groundbreaking Spotmatic TTL metering for the first time. Manual focusing. A mechanical shutter and a box that had device that held the film that you had to buy and insert into the camera, take out later, and pay someone to turn into a paper photograph. Using the US consumer price index to correct for currency inflation, that would have cost me $2,578.74 in 2015. That number alone is impressive enough. There were cheaper cameras in 1969, but not with the Pentax SLR or lens quality. This is about what you’d pay for a new Leica X with built-in lens today. Approximately double it and you get the new Leica Q; triple it and you’re into Leica M territory. But what do you get for $ 4,200 dollars today compared to what you got for $2,578.74 in 1969? Read Ming’s review of the Q. For starters, you get a built in computer that does things that are taken for granted today, but are truly amazing by any standards. How could the Q not be worth it’s price for what it delivers? Factor in the fact that Leica does not mass produce cameras and needs to make a decent profit [and does], and you have a price that’s worth paying for what you get. But this is true of the Ricoh GR as well. Market and technological choices. I cannot stand all the complaining about prices for new, technologically advanced and advancing cameras and lenses. Buy what you need and can afford. It will take great photographs. If you could buy the GR for say $500 today, it would only have cost you $77.56 in 1969, but I splurged for the Pentax. But alas, this is 2015 after all, so you’ll have to pay the $500.00 for the GR or $100 less for the Nikon A.

            • I think you are severely underestimating how much more complex things have gotten since. Take the silicon sensor in every camera. In the semiconductor industry, the only way to break even is to have something like 90% yield. CMOS sensors are complex devices and no doubt represent a chunk of the costs involved. 35mm sensors would be at least be 2x or more the cost of an APS-C sensor. I suspect more like 3-4x but I don’t have the numbers.

              Further, the resolution/contrast requirements in the days of Film were often less and companies could get away with having a low resolution lens. Everyone has had to up their game to meet new requirements now. Individual pixel sites have numerical apertures which dictate the incoming ray acceptances angles. With more complexity, you get more cost. Lens design costs goes up. Comparing with the “good o’ days” is rather moot.

              Now there is no doubt you will find some other reason for rejecting what I say, but quite frankly, complaining about something being too expensive is … rather a question of jealousy more than anything else.

            • You can make great photos with pretty much anything today. The photographer is and has been the core limitation for some time. However, it’s also nice to have a choice between tools…ahh, first world problems.

      • Enjoyed the review, this Leica comes close to one i will consider. You speak of business model, the great business killer (think kodak). IMO their model is wrong and they are afraid to try and fix it… The number of older companies that have gone out of business because of–[“But it would completely kill their XXX business model…so my guess it is unlikely..] is growing everyday.
        Keep up the good work.
        Bill PBrien

        • That’s the point. They would kill their M business by making an interchangeable lens Q, but that doesn’t mean the shift isn’t needed in the long run. Or now.

  14. Martin Fritter says:

    Quick question: Is the rangefinder life-sized – as in can you shoot with both eyes open, like on an M? That’s the thing that makes the M rangefinder special. Thanks!

    • Not life sized. 28mm FOV, remember…

      • Martin Fritter says:

        I expressed myself poorly. If you take an M6, for example, with any focal length lens, you can look through the rangefinder with your right eye and keep your left open. You will have something resembling binocular vision and you will see around the illuminated frame lines in the finder. You can’t do this the the Contax G1 and G2 because it zooms the finder so that whatever focal length lens your using takes 100% of the field of view so images with the 90mm lens are much lager than they appear to the naked eye. The two-eyes-open business of the Leica RF is very appealing for certain situations.

        • I know what you mean – you can’t do it with the Q because you’d need an enormous finder to have 1:1 magnification and a 28mm FOV.

        • curious about this as wel!

        • Bear in mind that you’re talking about a rare M6 with 0.85x magnification; on the other hand, the M3 had 0.9x which is more ideal for the both-eyes-open method (or, just attach a 1.4x magnifier to any modern 0.69x Leica). However, in doing so you lose the 28mm framelines. As Ming Thein says, you’ll need a really enormous EVF in order to support it this way with 28mm.

  15. That is one super review and judging by the number of comments your review has been well received among the photography fraternity not to mention the time taken for you to reply to all those queries. Me…I would love a “Q” but will have to settle with my X100s but I do know a photographer who is going to purchase one very soon…he hosts a great web site and Flickr readers pool. Keep up the good work Ming.

  16. Ming, one more question – is there any capacity for saving groups of settings sort of like Nikon’s “banks”? Maybe something deep in the menu that you could assign to the fn button or something. For a camera like this, I’d want a street/action setting with a max ISO of 12,800 and min shutter speed of 1/500 and a setting for more static stuff with a lower max ISO of maybe 3200 (although as good as 6400 looks, maybe that) and a minimum shutter speed of something like 1/60. The street/action setting emphasizes GETTING the shot in sometimes very challenging situations. The more static setting emphasizes image quality. But I’d have to be able to switch between them pretty quickly.

    Have you seen anything like this?

    • Yes there is, under user profiles.

      • Thanks Ming. Can you use one of the programmable buttons to access it quickly?

        I’m running out of reasons not to find a way to buy one of these. Other than price, of course. I’d have to sell off some stuff to do it, but if I did, this would be my primary carry and I’d probably just keep a DSLR and a few lenses around for the ultra-wide and longer stuff, which I don’t use near as much. Although I do like having something in the 20-21 range available most of the time. Not sure if I’ll actually do it, but if I was designing a camera from scratch, it would probably be this. Maybe starting at 24 with crops at 28 and 35, but that’s a quibble. I can shoot with 28 all day without any problem and the 35 and 50 crops wouldn’t get much use, if any.

  17. Ming, Excellent review. I agree a 50mm alternative would be better but I recall the Leica film compacts with the 40mm Summarit. That is an ideal compromise between the 35 and 50, in my opinion.

  18. Stephan says:

    Very interesting read and definitely a camera that induces GAS. I’m glad that it’s THAT expensive so it is totally out of the question 🙂 The same costs got me a D810 and an AF-S 24-70/2.8 + 70-200/4 VR (everything used but in mint condition) which is far more versatile although definitely lacks the “sexiness” of the Q 😉
    I’m really surprised to see a Leica with a feature that can’t be found anywhere else, yet, namely the high resolution viewfinder that other brands can not offer. Usually Leica lags behind the competition when it comes to technological progress.

    The photo titled “Signs of life in the middle” is simply gorgeous by the way. I like the burst of color very much in this monotonous environment.

  19. Hi Ming,

    is it true that you cannot shoot this lens wide open at close focus without Leica automatically increasing the aperture like they did on the latest X camera. Is this correct?

  20. The Q is a camera I must have. I also must have the new A7R-MKII – 42MP BSI sensor, 4k Internal, IBIS, EFC silent shutter, PDAF and 14 BIT RAW OUTPUT! Please put some links up Ming so I can order 🙂

  21. is the battery same as the one in X-Vario?

  22. The GR will have to suffice for me, this does look fantastic it has feature wise pretty much everything you could ask for and haptics as you say laeems great. But too rich for my blood, though this does give me GAS 🙂

    Great write up as usual Ming 🙂

    • Thanks Junaid!

      • Your reviews are really like a breath of fresh air. I’ve read many articles on this camera in the past 24 hours, but no one’s photos really captured my attention like yours. Which is to say, the case for most of my reading situations. Which is why I always come back! You may have answered this already, but what are your thoughts compared to the rx1? I know it isn’t as wide, but as a pocketable 35mm film back…the price diff makes me seriously consider the rx1 now.

        Thanks! Much love from the states.

  23. Nice pictures and intersting review. Thanks a lot. However, Ricoh will soon release the GRii that will cost around 1/7th less, will weight at least half the Leica Q does, and the loss in IQ will be minor and probably compensated by other goodies, included the main one: it can be really pocketed. Leica Q (too similar externally and by its name to the Pentax Q, by the way) seems to be a very nice camera, but with an extremely exagerated price tag difficult to justify for many if we consider the high obsolency rate of digital cameras. Glueing a wonderful lens to a prone to obsolency sensor for that price seems extremely bizarre when money is in consideration (regardless you can afford it or not). Also, what can one do five years down the road with that great glass and such an old sensor and machinery stikced to it (I’m talking from 2020)? Just some thoughts. Thanks again.

  24. Kelvin Ch says:

    Chrome and tan leather? This needs to be made in titanium and carbon fibre grip! 😛

  25. Ming, it makes little sense to ask you to review a new camera because you make very impressive pictures with *any* camera! 🙂

    • Hah – but I don’t like them all 🙂

      • Gary Morris says:

        I was thinking the same thing… every review you publish has a set (of varying quantity) of photos that have been meticulously processed, yielding interesting, gorgeous, sharp, impressive images.

        You may not have liked the reviewed camera in the end, but that makes me wonder if we’ve not become way too picky with the little details of our digital cameras?

        I bought an X1, loved the images but wanted a larger sensor. Bought the X2 and loved the images but wanted a video button. Bought the X Vario and just couldn’t warm to the overall “feel” (but again, got some pretty good images, but never felt the love). Tried the T, terrific images but quickly soured on the touch screen (plus I began to feel the whole thing is fragile and not backpack duty-rated). Not to mention all the Canons and Nikons I’ve cycled through.

        In the end I appreciate your recommendation on this camera… I suppose it’s way too easy to stress over camera details to the point of forgetting the reason for buying a camera.

        As my grandson would say… get over it, grandpa!

        • The difference is the ease with which I make the images and how much I enjoy the process. I can’t show that in images, so that’s what the words are for. On top of that, remember that reviewing isn’t my job – selling images as a professional photographer is – so there’s no way I’m ever going to post anything substandard and blame it on the camera. A poor worker blames his tools and all that…

          • Gary Morris says:

            “The difference is the ease with which I make the images and how much I enjoy the process.” Well said. I guess I’ll continue my quest for the most enjoyable process experience. No complaints… I’ve had a lot of fun and produced some nice images over the years in this pursuit.

  26. Would the 35/50 crop lines be the functional equivalent of 35/50 framelines in M cameras? I ask because I find the extra VF space and framelines helpful for composition and timing. Thanks!

  27. First of all, thank you for the insightful review. As someone shooting with the sony a7m2 system and dealing with EVFs in general, i’ve been annoyed with general blackout and slight shutter lag that, while minor, can be just that much disconnecting from the street scene. I know you mentioned the blackout is hard to notice, but can you elaborate on that, as well as how responsive the shutter is. Any issues there at all? I’ve always wanted a leica for OVF (and tempted by fuji just for that reason), but if these areas are non-issues, i may have to spring for the Q.

    Thank you!

  28. It’s a terribly handsome camera to look at, for sure. Looks like a tactile dream.

    As you have mentioned before, a dedicated lens-sensor setup is often good news when it comes to IQ (GR, Coolpix, etc). Without going out of your way to do tests, how would you say that this Leica Q compares to the DP3 Merrill (not the Quattro) for pixel level acuity? I’m sure it’s far superior at anything over ISO 200 or so, and if it’s in the same ballpark as the Foveons as regards all-out IQ, I would have to start considering the necessity of my own internal organs if they do decide to make a 50mm version!

    • The quattros are ahead of any bayer sensor on acuity – you’re never going to get the same result from interpolation. I’d say the transition point is probably around ISO 400.

      • Thanks!

      • And the DP Merrill cameras produce better files than the Quattros.

        • Having used both, I’m not entirely convinced by that…they have a different rendering. Can’t say one is better than the other for all subjects…

          • The coloring may be different, but the detail is not as good on the Quattros. Have you checked out DigiLloyds review on them? The crisp detail of the foveon sensor is what drew me into this camera, that and the 3D look to the files. When DigiLloyd compares the two cameras, you can see a lot of detail loss and he even goes on to state that the Foveon look is gone. I think the detail is gone, and the colors are different. Some people like the Quattro colors, and faster camera, but I don’t think it is worth the switch when losing those details. My opinion of what I saw in that review. Others may like the compromise.

            • I agree the foveon ‘look’ is gone, but it isn’t quite bayer, either. There are some subjects (e.g. humans) that benefit from this; others (foliage, etc) do not. Really depends on what you shoot, I guess.

              • lainer1 says:

                I think Sigma knew that skin tones were an issue with the DP Merrill, and they actually have a selection within the menus for taking photographs of people. I find this amusing. I think the Quattro series has more accurate color. My DP Merrill camera tend do have green cast depending on the lighting. I fix it in Photoshop, but I did notice it. The Monochromes are some of the best I’ve seen in any camera. If the Quattro shape wasn’t so butt-ugly, (again my opinion), I would have picked up a 28mm version. (Did they even come out with that version yet?) I chose a Ricoh GR for that focal length instead. The Sigma DP3M is lovely but I use the DP2M more for all-around use. They are not user-friendly cameras per se, but they are worth using once I saw the results. Most bayer sensor cameras that I’ve used, especially CMOS are boring. I actually miss the CCD and it is the reason why I kept my Leica D-Lux 4 even though the sensor is so small. It still surprises me. But the DP Merrill camera produce such detail that I am taken aback when I view them up close. They don’t have stabilization so there is easy blurring without a tripod or with a moving subject. Like I said, not the most user friendly. I wanted to try their D-SLR, but I use smaller cameras due to back & neck issues.

  29. snappycow says:

    When I saw the reveal on DPR I was wondering if you would review it, since 28mm puts it right square in MT territory. Love this set, especially L1000914. The Q looks like a real winner here, barring the high cost. Since it has proven to work well in commercial shoots, would you be getting one? 😛

    Value wise, I think the GR is still tops (it’s on my next-thing-to-buy list, right after the making outstanding images video series ;)), but I’ll be damned if GAS doesn’t make me want one of these

    p.s.
    wow, just shy of 12 hours after publication, this post has gotten 200 comments already 😐

  30. I don’t know if anyone mentioned this earlier (too many comments to read through), but the Q does NOT share the same sensor as the M240. It’s made by an undisclosed company (not CMOSIS).

  31. Thanks, Ming. I personally like “wordy” reviews if they contain information that I want. Yours do. But more important by far is what I would call the scoreboard: what kind of images from the camera can the reviewer “make” with it and the present it along with the review. No question that you lead the pack in this respect. But I am also always aware how good you are at finishing images in Photoshop before presenting them, and, of course, the tutorials you share to help get us up to speed. This raises an interesting question which I may have missed in your review. Some camera output requires more work in photoshop that others. I noticed that DPREVIEW rates the jpg image quality of the Fuji X100T as equal to the raw images. I like to finish photos in PS the way that I like them, but I’m curious how much work you had to do in PS on these new Leica Q images compared to your other cameras, say the GR or your Nikon DSLR. It looks like none, but on the other hand your images also look like, well, MT images, which is a big plus for the Leica Q. It’s also clear that Leica will now continue to make a profit at the price levels it is accustomed to while the mass production camera manufacturers will continue to fight it out on low profit margins.

    Your output from the GR on this site and your review convinced me to buy one. I is slowly getting me used to 28mm, to the point where it is taking the place of other focal lengths. Call it preparation for a Leica Q, but I hate the idea of a new camera taking the place of one I like so much.

    • That’s always been my feeling too, but apparently we’re in the minority. Post bad images and people say it’s the photographer. Post good ones and people say it’s the camera (or the photographer, if they don’t like you) – you can’t win 🙂

      I know where your question is going: I cannot photoshop what isn’t there; it’s for presentation, not changing content/illustration. These don’t require much work, to be honestly. No more than the GR or D810 – a curve and some spot dodge and burn.

      I felt the same degree of resistance as you against switching from the GR – oddly though, after a couple of thousand frames and carrying it slung instead of holstered…I really don’t mind anymore. Except I have to return this loan unit eventually…

      • I like wordy reviews too. Ming, you write so eloquently. It’s always interesting. I’m write pretty well but I don’t have the technical expertise. I write from a feeling good, and an artist’s viewpoint. I am always amazed when someone can do both. ming has that talent.

  32. Eric wrote “Like several commentators here, it would take a 50mm version to win me over. Produce one of those and I would happily give Leica the last laugh.” My position too. For me 28mm is just too wide for the kind of environmental portraits I make (and unlike Ming, I can make do with 35mm EFOV, like on the X-100s). I like 35; I prefer 50; for me way more flexible..

  33. There is also the sony fe28 whatever you think of sony that is a great lens for for the prize 28. As a lover of that focal length though I most admit I do. Wish I had the disposable income to consider it .

    • I’ve heard mixed reports and seen mixed results – it seems it can be good, but sample variation abounds. There’s also the Nikon 28/1.8 for about the same price, but it was no better than ‘good’.

  34. etr_brony says:

    thanks for another great review ming, really trust and appreciate your opinion

  35. Thanks Ming. That was a really great review and I’m surprised Leica has really done such a brilliant job. I’ve not been enamoured by much since the M9. I really feel this could be the future of Leica and I’m excited about the possibility of a 50mm and 75mm version.

    I’m really excited about this. Is there anyway to tether it via a grip?

    • Pleasure. The grip is a mechanical only thing, as far as I know. It does have wifi so you could always ‘tether’ that way if you’re concerned about somebody else being able to see the images as you shoot. I’m sure lots of us would love a longer FL version…

  36. Thanks for the review and nice images. This seems to be a fabulous camera; and as you say, maybe the beginning of the end for all but a couple of heritage M models. I can’t afford it, but I can afford an alternative 28mm-eq. you missed out – the Sigma DP1M. Yes, the shooting envelope is even less generous; yes, the PP is hard work; yes, it lacks an EVF. But it is capable of matching the IQ, I imagine, based on experience to date with the DP series, and it is a LOT cheaper.

  37. Excellent review but I must correct you on one point, unless I picked you up incorrectly, in that it is simple on both Leicas I own (S type 006 and M-P240) to change the first four elements of the file number to anything you want. I presume the Q will be the same.
    Bob

    • You can’t. It’s the first thing I look for because with that many cameras, I need make sure they all have different filenames to avoid the risk of overwrite. It’s not there on the Q – I just searched the menu again to be sure.

      • Strange that they (Leica) change their standard modus operandi and one which is tremendously logical.
        That would actually put me off buying the Q and, apart from the image quality and the tactile pleasure in use, is one reason why I espouse Leica – cameras for photographers, not IT geeks..!!
        Bob

  38. Kristian Wannebo says:

    This can’t happen to a Leica Q !

    ( Or, for that matter, to a GR or any fixed-lens camera. Or?)

    http://www.lensrentals.com/blog

  39. Martin Fritter says:

    Well, this sounds like a great camera. The sample pics are excellent: very Leica-like. I’m very happy for Leica – they get a lot of grief, but the company has a long and important history and I want them to survive and prosper. They’re an important part of the photographic culture. I think this is a winner. I’m not sure the current M incarnation is an appropriate platform anymore. I agree with Ming, it’s too big – and I have normal (and bony) (and old) hands.

    • I’m not even sure what ‘leics-like’ is as a visual signature anymore – PS can turn pretty much anything into anything else. But I agree that this is a winner 🙂

  40. jimtardio says:

    Very informative review..thank you. Unfortunately, I’m a 35mm man. I’ll have to stick with my X100T. I sure wish someone would make a fixed focal length camera in the 85-90mm range to accompany these 28-35mm versions. That would be ideal for me.

    One question…does the Q have built-in ND filters?

  41. This camera is way out of my league, but I’m happy to see Leica stepping up their game. I’m thinking we have a true classic here, it’s impressive that they got almost everything right. A tilting screen would make a big difference for me, it’s one of those things that I hated not having in the X100.

    • I actually use the tilt screens on the cameras that have them less than I expected to – and then almost only for video or tripod work. I actually never felt that one would be useful here other than a small handful of occasions to save my back…

  42. … sorry, forgot to mention. I’ve been shooting the new Sony 28/2 for a few weeks now, and in my opinion it’s pretty average. Serious distortion or smudged corners if you correct it, rather a lot of CA for a modern prime, and it’s not particularly sharp either (my copy isn’t anyway!).

  43. Fabulous. I’m seriously tempted, but Sony have just announced the A7Rii and the Zeiss Batis 25/2 is due to be released next month…

    • And are strangely silent on raw compression…again.

      • I know. I can’t tell you how much they’re p!ssing me off with that nonsense!! That being said, in all honesty I haven’t had a great many images affected by it, and have you seen those new Batis lenses? *Drool drool*

        • Indeed those new lenses are tempting. But the compression does affect me because it’s most visible in the extreme highlight and shadow transitions…and I do a lot of that kind of work.

  44. Great images! Haven’t seen such a positive review from you in a while..glad you enjoyed shooting with it. All the best for your exhibition! 🙂

  45. Hi Ming, and thanks for the professional review.

    I have also been enamored with my Ricoh GR. It becoming crazily enough my go to camera for professional work. I have also been using the Fuji X100t, but have been less impressed by it clunky user operation.

    A quick question for you; on the Q is there any way to switch from the EVF / LCD so that the EVF is permanently on? Similar to the EM5, or X100t.

    I always have trouble with the delay of the proximity sensor when raising the camera to my eye. That slight delay is too much for me, and I tend to miss photographs.

    • More of a ‘review by a professional’ and less of a ‘professional review’ 🙂

      I’ve used the GR a lot on assignment too, but always wished the files were a bit larger to match the D810 better – I’ve had clients ask in the past.

      You can leave the EVF permanently on but it will disable the LCD completely including for mens and playback. Firmware fix needed as mentioned in the review…

  46. Thanks for the review! (and this is to subscribe to the Q&A)

  47. I am not surprised by “test portrait” subject isolation. I use my 28 cron for these kinds of people shots in restaurant (sitting across the table) all the time. Even small 28 elmarit (f/2.8) does a decent job if the background is far away.

    • It’s not the absolute defocus or amount of DOF – those are properties of physics and the same for every aperture/FL – it’s the way the background renders, and more of a perceptual thing.

  48. Can it shoot raw with the crop frame lines? If so, are the raw files cropped?

  49. I forgot to ask: did you notice how many diopters can be corrected on the EVF? Same as on Em5MarkII?

  50. I was waiting anxiously for the official release of the Q, and then I started to find the first “reviews” and previews.
    I gave a quick look at the dogs and usual relatives on a famous blogger website: I scrolled everything in less than a minute, disappointed.
    Then I saw your review, and half a smile appeared on my face: Ming had a Q!
    I have read three times your review, enjoying the photos and the captions as usually.
    Actually, a photographer that made me buy a GR and other stuff and now I just had the permission from my wife to get this. 🙂

    Thank you for the review, really, Companies should pay you for that.
    (And welcome Leica to the 21st century)

  51. This whole set is phenomenal. Great, great colors. “Park evening” is terrific – it’s like you could walk right into the frame. The “test portrait” is wonderful, too.

  52. Fernando Cueva says:

    Hello, Ming.
    I am Fernando Cueva, from the Basque Country.
    I love your website, although heve never (until now) left any comment. Sorry the first one is a caution one.
    At 45ºC and 100% relative humidity, life is impossible. In fact it is impossible at more than 36ºC when relative humidity is 100%, as there is no possibility of dissipating (via conduction or evaporation) the heat that we humans produce inside our body.
    Again, my congratulations for the extremely high quality of the contents in your site. I really enjoy it.
    Fernando

  53. Small Typo Ming. “…probably due to field curvature – the 28/2 Summilux is a bit flat…”
    It should have been 28/2 Cron

    • Oops, now fixed. Typos happen in 5000+ words hammered out in stolen bits of time between assignments…I am not a full time blogger/reviewer, though I think I make fewer errors usually 🙂

  54. Hi Ming, and thanks for the professional review.

    Been enamored with the Ricoh GR since release, and have been using, although not happy with the X100t for the 35mm focal length.

    Have a question for you (if you have a minute): Wondering if there is anyway to cycle the EVF and LCD (ala the EM5 or x100t) so that the EVF is always on?

    I always have trouble with the delay for the EVF to activate when the camera is brought to the eye.

    Thanks.

    • Yes, you can leave the EVF always on but the LCD then stays always off (including menu and reviews). It’s something easily fixable in FW, if they ever get around to it. Activation lag isn’t an issue because it powers up fast enough and far away enough as you raise it to your eye.

  55. I think this camera is the “experiment” in right direction for Leica. I like 28mm FOV and this is like my old M9+28cron that had become my go to setup. This is better with AF. 🙂

    Although I am waiting for this camera to be criticized for being two heavy (for a compact) and two costly (always is). 🙂

    Seriously, It is good to see Leica finally going in right direction. I will excuse them for M60 (without LCD) kind of antics.

  56. Does the EVF lag (e.g. watching a second hand tick with one eye on the finder and the other eye looking past the camera)? Does it lag/blackout between shots? How does composition feel during a rapid burst? (Focusing aside.)

    • Almost negligible. Blackout time is literally a blink if you turn review off, and you’re back to a live image. Burst is like every other live view camera, it’ll show a choppy sequence. It’s far better in single shot and just release halfway then hit it again – AE/AF remain locked and response is instant. It’s impossible to cycle it too fast.

      • Would you say the EVF lags less than or equal to Fuji? (X100T, X-T1..) Have you ever done the clock test with a clock that has a discrete ticking second hand? That is how my brain can see lag even if it isn’t obvious otherwise. Any display lag greater than the competition would be the deal-breaker for me. Low lag is the only way to wean us off OVF. Also, how would you compare the peaking to Sony? I like red peaking on B&W composition with Sony because it really pops for grabbing “good enough” focus… the Fuji peaking is disappointing because “red” is actually white peaking with a red outline which doesn’t pop as much on B&W composition.

  57. Taildraggin says:

    It’s good to see Leica producing a ‘tight’ top functioning product again. I don’t care about the M “legacy” — they need to produce cameras that work for today. Thanks for the review!

  58. Admittedly, Leicas have always been out of reach to me. Still, as of late I’ve taken the liberty to smirk at the old Germans; the X, the Vario, the T, the brand stores and the special editions all seems a bit silly to me. This one wiped that stupid grin off my face, though. I never thought I’d see Leica offer class leading EVFs and Af-speeds, all in a perfectly sized body with their great ergonomics. The price point is even approaching reasonable (multiplied by two). Like several commentators here, it would take a 50mm version to win me over. Produce one of those and I would happily give Leica the last laugh.

    Thanks for the great write up, Ming.

    • I think this one caught all of us by surprise. If you look at the launch price of the RX1 plus EVF, you’re actually not far off the Q – and that plummeted in value six months later. Leica’s pricing is still higher than it should be if another brand, but not by as much anymore…and for a change, they can justify it because it has no proper competition that I can think of.

      • Yes. For once (other than M rangefinder) they have no direct competitor. Rest everything (X, T, even S when compared to D810) has competing products… even better.

      • I am confused.

        This product has no competitor?

        Really?!

        How so?

        Didn’t Sony get there first, and by a country mile?!!! I am thinking of the RX1 series of cam.

        If the combo you are referring to is being pedantically specific ( EVF + 35mm sensor + 28mm fixed lens ) then yep, this Leica is in a field of its own but I think that’s being a little too specific ( one could argue for the new Sony A7 ( EVF + 35mm sensor + advantage of lens of your choosing ) or the RX1R ( EVF (clip-on) + 35mm sensor + 35mm fixed lens)).

        This Leica may well be the best of the bunch but I don’t think it’s without competition.

        DISCLAIMER ( for readers, except Ming, who don’t know me ): I am not a cheerleader for Sony. In fact, as Ming knows, I can’t stand Sony ( so much so that I haven’t even bothered reading up on Sony’s new A7 ( I simply couldn’t give a damn )).

        • Put it this way: I’m not afraid of breaking off the external EVF with rough handling in the field on assignment, and I’m not waiting for the camera. That is not true of the RX1.

  59. I find your reviews almost unreadable. Too many asides and irrelevancies. And you must have the oddest hands of any human. Nothing in a camera body seems to suit you. You magnify TINY differences ( e.g. the minuscule difference between an M6 body and an M246 body) into gigantic issues. What an incredible thing for someone who carries around a giant, cumbersome Nikon. In years of shooting Leicas I have never encountered any of the handling issues about which you obsess so tediously.

    • Well, nobody is forcing you to read them – there are plenty of short ‘reviews’ by inexperienced ‘reviewers’ out there. It’s possible I have odd hands, but I suspect neither you nor most people shoot anywhere as much as I do. Small things do become issues after fourteen hour days with camera in hand. It isn’t size or weight, it’s how it’s distributed.

      • Maybe strange enough but I agree 100% with Ming on Leica body thickness. After many years of analog M use, every time I pick up digital M´s, they feel somewhat “fatty”. And you are right, small differences can make big difference ( try a pair of shoes half size too small or too big). I do hope Leica will make an Q-like body with M-mount.

    • Luke Johnston says:

      That’s a really rude thing to write on someone else’s blog. And why would you call a DSLR cumbersome; it’s obviously easier to hold steady unless you’re incredibly unfit or 65+ years of age.

      • Well, in all fairness I am verbose, but I think the information is relevant for context otherwise I’m accused of being biased and lacking evidence. And some people are lucky to have super-padded hands 🙂

        • i would only add that considering the range of imaging tools currently available that are more than good enough for 95% of camera users actual photographic needs (imo)….what is left for serious reviews really but obsessing on the tiny details at this point?

          • Oddly the little details make or break a product, in my experience. The difference between ‘bad’, ‘usable’, and ‘intuitive’ can often be measured in millimetres (or less, if we’re talking lens alignment tolerances) or fractions of a second.

            • I do like your verbose details. 🙂 And I excuse you for keep complaining about the lug nut placement. 🙂

            • i think when you have raised the game to the level (especially in terms of print quality) that you have such things become a different matter. however this is definitely not a typical situation to say the least.
              most of the photographing i see (and what i sometimes do myself on an “off” day) never gets to the point of matching what most mid level gear can deliver with just a bit of effort.
              then you are met with endless quibbling over the minutia of luxury goods online, most of it by folks who barely shoot and rarely if ever print (obviously not your situation). a bit out of proportion imo with more cameras sold than photos.
              there are 4 foot print adds taken with iphones plastered all over NYC at this point….not exactly ultraprints but surprisingly usable for many purposes!
              carry on….

              • I’m probably an exception here. But I just spent the last two days hanging 110 large canvases (the smallest one is 36″, largest is 90″) for my current exhibition…and yes, I could have deployed more pixels in every case – if I’d had them. Even so, the people who’ve sen them have commented very surprisingly and positively on the transparency achieved.

        • Luke Johnston says:

          While newspapers are written so 12 year olds can understand them and this prescription surely helps explain how one might maximise traffic on the world wide web; I don’t think you’re trying to maximise traffic, I am drawn to this website partially because I really like your writing style and would therefore to conclude (“in all fairness”) you have nothing to apologise for (hahaha).

    • @john: Your comment was completely rude and downright petty. Quite honestly, your entire comment comes off as ‘troll behaviour’. As far as I know, Ming is always open to suggestions and is always the first to admit if he’s wrong (or in this case verbose) but you don’t seem to be offering constructive criticism, choosing instead to be a keyboard warrior.

      • Martin Fritter says:

        I agree. And it hurts the reputation of Leica users!

      • I second you Praneeth because Ming simply IS the best reviewer out there. With his massive production of outstanding images and his heavy use of cameras to produce them, Ming discover major or minor flaws before I rush to my dealer and spill my money. I thank him for that.
        I also thank him for not being positive or negative biased to any farther extend than I can comprehend and sort out myself.
        Ming, this review as well as all your other reviews is as outstanding as your images, thank you !!

    • Ming–great work; good to know that Leica has enough confidence in its products to send you one to test, knowing that you don’t hold back. I for one find your reviews clear yet detailed, and extremely accurate, paralleling my own findings (you’ve been right about the EPM1, etc.).

      As for the occasional crass, rude commentator (aka troll), you must surely be familiar with the Pareto principle, aka the 80/20 rule–stay true to yourself and ignore the 20% (or less) as those opinions and comments are rubbish and arrogant nonsense (my humble opinion as a small business operator). Thanks again–and I am tempted by the Q….

      • Thank you – it’s more like 95/5, so I suppose I’m on the right side of the odds. But for somebody who does this as a labor of love, we still want to make everybody happy as much as possible…

  60. Luke Johnston says:

    Hey Ming. This set (of all the sets) of images speaks to me the most out of those in your gear reviews.

    As I’ve contemplated buying a Fuji XF14 2.8 or XF 16 1.4 recently I’ve realised that the 18mm is my most used lens on my X-E2 and I don’t want to get rid of it despite it not being inadequately sharp for landscape or architectural work (love the small size for candid/a general carry-around and I can think of at least images of mine from it that live in your reader portfolio). Spending money on branded sh*t is bad but far out; I think; I just discovered the meaning of GAS.

    • Thank you. The gear has to speak to me otherwise it’s difficult to feel inspired – so whatever I say with the words, the images probably say more.

      Honestly, if the Q is out of budget, I’d still recommend the GR.

      • Luke Johnston says:

        I’ve thought about the GR (and Coolpix A) a lot but one of the things I like about the xf18 is f/2 provides enough light (an6d is sm7all and unobtrusive enough) to document debauchery at parties or out on the town. From my experience with the xf27 on my X-E2 and a Sony 20mm glued to a NEX5R (previously owned), I know f/2.8 is inadequate for this purpose. Plus, I would miss the eye level finder. Maybe Sony will copy this in a RX1 successor or maybe I should start saving up. Probably both.

    • Luke Johnston says:

      *it being inadequately sharp for landscape or [typo – sorry]
      *of at least at least two images of mine from it that live [two types – double sorry it must be the wine after a 12 hour shift]. 🙂

  61. Goetz Schmidt-Bossert says:

    Most of all amazing pictures. Compliment to the photographer but the camera obviously lives up to your skill. Incredibly crisp rendering and beautiful colors. Wonderful!

  62. Frans Kemper says:

    Hello Ming, and thank you very much for this excellent review.
    One thing you did not mention about is the battery life.
    I am curious to know how many shots you get, or do we need to start buying spare batteries?
    Best regards,

    • I did – “I suspect Maestro II has also had a positive effect on battery life, too – I was easily able to obtain ~600+ shots per charge without too much trouble – that’s a day to a day and a half given the way I typically use a 28mm camera. “

      I think if you’re a casual shooter you’ll manage fine with one, but if you’re using it intensively on assignment, two is safer. I landed up buying a spare because it turned into one of my primary cameras on the last assignment (it shares the same battery as the V Lux). I’ve exhausted one in a day and just made a dent on the first one, even with very heavy use. That’s not as good as the Nikons, but they’re not running live view all the time.

      • Frans Kemper says:

        oops, my mistake, missed that one, too distracted by the excellent images. Tks again Ming.

        • No problem. As others have pointed out, I’m guilty of lots of words, too 🙂

          • Lots of words are great.

            I for one have a brain, and it likes being exercised.

            The dimwits of this world, whose short attention spans require short pithy tabloid style sentences, can’t rise to the level of you and your regular readers so they abuse you to try and bring you down rather than trying to rise.

            You are not verbose at all ( don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you are ).

            And what kinda nutter is it who wants a very short summary on a $4 purchase?! Oh sh!t, I have just answered mi own question: such a person is a nutter. :o)

            Ya probably find, that the critics calling you verbose aren’t even in the market for buying such a device and simply wanna mouth off to make themselves feel better.

            I have been a long time Ming follower; love his reviews ( they never give me all the answers/info I would like but then I can’t think of a reviewer who does, hence why I read multiple reviews of the same product ), I love his articles, I love his teaching, and drool over his images ( which sometimes make me depressed as they remind me how sh!t I am as a photographer ).

            As for Leica, I have, with the exception of one or two things, a strong dislike of the brand. But even I can see that this is a superb product, the first Leica cam for which I don’t have strong criticism ( Leica M8 ( a disgrace, I would have returned for full refund if I had bought that junk ), Leica M9 ( a bloody joke ( a primitive thing with a thin veneer of modernity and insane price tag ), and the first digital Leica S ( an unforgivable pile of junk for the money they were asking; a prototype cam if produced by any other company and not ready for show time but made commercially available coz the Leica faithful would buy Leica executives “stomach waste” as a Limited Edition, if Leica stuck a red flag in it ( the new Leica S is what the original should have been )).

            • I think my brain has a problem. I bought not one, but two M8s…because the first one was unreliable. I have been shy of Leica ever since, especially for critical applications. But the Q passed with flying colors.

  63. As someone who loved the GR and Coolpix A and then the RX1, I always felt that if the RX1 was 28mm and had just a couple of particular features, it might just have been my perfect camera. Along comes this Leica, which I can’t afford, but might have to start saving for and hope my savings and the camera’s used prices intersect at some point. BUT, one question regarding a feature that the RX1 lacked and the Nikon implements perfectly for my needs.

    I understand this Leica allows for auto ISO in aperture priority mode where the user sets both a maximum ISO and a minimum shutter speed. This is a mode I use extensively on my Coolpix A and my Nikon DSLR. Can you tell me how high the Leica allows the user to set the minimum shutter speed?

    I picked the Coolpix A over the GR largely because the Nikon allows the minimum shutter speed to be as fast as 1/1000, the GR only allows settings up to 1/250. I find myself using 1/500 quite a bit and the GR just didn’t work as well for me because of this. Thanks much for clearing up this detail…

    • Faster focusing and an EVF – which we got one of, but only for more money – not far off the Q, actually. But the Q annihilates it on focus speed.

      Max shutter in auto ISO can go to 1/2000, but you also get auto ISO in manual mode – just turn the shutter dial to override.

      • Thanks for the info – 1/2000 is way more than I’d ever need with a 28mm fixed lens, but I like the impulse to allow it! I’ve used auto ISO in manual mode (or Ricoh’s TaV) and I don’t like it as much as a good setup in A mode where I control the parameters. I set the max ISO and min shutter speed and the camera basically balances the tradeoffs exactly as I would if I was doing it manually…

        I’m not too worried about AF speed – I use zone focus for really quick stuff and for other stuff, I was always happy enough with the RX1. But I’m a 28mm guy and this camera is set up perfectly for me. Well, almost. I like an external exposure comp dial and I’d like a couple of custom settings to flip between easily, but otherwise…

        • Actually, it’s useful for high speed flash work in daylight and the ability to use the lens wide open or close to it in bright light – visually, it can be interesting. But for auto ISO…probably not so much 🙂

          The right hand command dial is exposure compensation by default.

    • Snap Focus on the Ricoh GR makes the speed of focusing moot. But yeah, the AF isn’t the fastest.

  64. harold1968 says:

    A whole review without mentioning the only other fixed lens FF camera, the RX1R. Which is sharper in the corners (seen all the data on Reid Reviews), lighter and smaller.
    Of course there are pros and cons. But Sony pretty much defined how sensor and lens designs together could be better then any interchangeable camera. Yes it’s 35mm but so what.

    • Because anything I say about it will be meaningless since I have never shot one extensively, and not for want of requesting one. Sony didn’t want to play ball. I don’t feel it’s even in the same league for usability because it focuses so slowly – that you don’t need more than a minute or two to see. And even then, it was expensive (and unfairly criticised for it) at launch.

  65. I guess I will have to sell my Sony RX1 and Leica M8.2/Summarit 35mm 2.5. And a kidney.

  66. Ming, the product shots are so good they are bound to be used without your consent on some shabby online camera stores :p

  67. Bryan Campbell says:

    Very impressive review. I’m sold and placed my pre-order within hours of the announcement. I’m curious about how loud the non electronic shutter (below 1/2000th) is? I would love to use this as my go to for street photography, documentary, and general use camera and I’m hoping its quiet. I’m really hoping Leica will offer an option to force the electronic shutter at any shutter speeds or at least be able to customize a range.

  68. Great review, as usual. Well, perhaps a bit unusual, since I can’t remember you liking any camera as much as you like the Q 🙂

    I’ve wanted a fixed lens large sensor compact since I first saw the X1. The idea makes a lot of sense to me as an everyday carry/travel companion where photography isn’t the primary goal. Sure, I could and do use my Micro Four Thirds cameras + a prime for that purpose, but a matched sensor/lens pair can make a big enough difference to be worthwhile, as you note above.

    None of the options on the market have had the combination of image quality, focal length, features, and price to get me to pull the trigger, though. At the very least, it has to be better than my E-M5 (now mark II) + 17mm f/1.8 by enough to justify the cost. I loved the images that I got out of the X2 that I rented, but hated the usability. I loved using the X100S, but I couldn’t see much difference between its images and my E-M5 + 17mm f/1.8, especially wide open. I really liked the RX1 and loved the images out of it, but the slow AF + expensive add-on EVF made it hard for me to justify the cost. The Coolpix A was really impressive and can be had at a great deal (as can the GR, but I never saw that in person), but 28mm-equivalent is too wide for me. 35mm is as wide as I’m willing to go for a solo focal length, and I prefer 50mm.

    The Q won’t work for me either because the focal length and it’s way out of my budget, but it’ll work for some people, certainly. And it gives me further hope that the right large sensor compact camera for me will come out eventually.

  69. As soon as I saw this announcement on Petapixel, I rushed over here to see if you had reviewed it. I was not disappointed! 😛

  70. Can I make phone calls with it? No, not yet!!

  71. Lovely review Ming.
    Shame about the high iso banding, but the image stab was a nice bonus I didn’t see coming.
    How robust did you find the construction, paint coating etc during your testing period, especially when underground. Any dents or scratches?
    Shame there’s no auto ND option like the GR, though the “lack” of rolling shutter seems to make the E-shutter more viable than some. I sense the GR 2 might be the better option as a second camera regarding portability, especially if the af is faster and better in low light than current model (hard to imagine it won’t be), and the sensor is a latest gen Sony 24mp unit.
    Still, a very desirable camera, I’m sorely temped and my superfluous lenses are viewing Kijiji with intrepidation (Although tellingly not my current GR…

    • The banding is when you push the shadows – not when properly exposed at high ISO. I suspect this suggests the sensor isn’t ISO-invariant.

      No dents or scratches that I can see, and it did hit a few things. More robust than it appears, but probably not as robust as the Nikons (that’s a guess based on dozens of underground outings with the D800E/D810, and a few with the Q).

  72. Wow, what a beautiful camera! As a RX1 user I’m a huge fan of fixed lens compact, and looks like the Leica Q fixed all the (minor?) problems of the RX1! (unfair to compare though, the RX1 is more than 2 y.o. after all…) If only there’s a 35 or 50mm version of the Q, you bet I’m going to sell my kidneys to grab it as well…
    4500 isn’t cheap at all, but considering what one’s getting I think it is a “fair” price. Damn, I really really do hope Leica got plans for a 35/50Q and keep the price around the same…

  73. Hello Mr. Ming. I know I could have Google it but I really want the answer from an expert. So here it is –
    What’s the difference between a DSLR and a point and shoot camera ( I think That’s what Leica is ) ???

    • DSLR = interchangeable lenses, mirror and optical finder for seeing what the lens sees. Point and shoot = fixed lens, generally small sensor, automatic only.

  74. Others are reporting that it is NOT the same sensor as the M typ 240 but from another unnamed sensor maker — not that it really matters. I’m very excited about this camera, especially after the T was such a stinker. If they made a second one with a 90mm f2, I’d dump my entire bag of lenses and just carry two Qs.

    • I can confirm that it isn’t the same sensor (maker unknown, review amended).

      As much as I would like to see at least a 50 (and a 90)mm version, I suspect we won’t because of the consequences of your previous statement: they wouldn’t sell any more Ms.

      • Brett Patching says:

        The “others” are writing that the sensor is 26.3/24.2M (total/effective) megapixels, 6 µm pixel pitch, refreshing at 120Hz for auto focus and EVF performance.

        • My images are 6000×4000 = 24M exactly. 120Hz would explain the AF performance. It also seems I’m missing a briefing paper somewhere…ah well, the technical details matter less than the effectiveness of the implementation. Suffice to say, images say it’s effective 🙂

  75. Erling Maartmann-Moe says:

    Great review, and very tempting even for those of us who already have ample other Leica equipment.
    Two questions/comments:
    1) You don’t comment on the crop function that can save a JPEG image corresponding to 35 or 50mm (while preserving the 28mm RAW). This function has been debated on the Leica Forum. I think it is a neat function, especially for the JPEG shooter (they exist!), and the lens and sensor seems to have sufficient latitude to create high quality, even as crops.
    2) Are you sure it is the CMOSIS sensor? A local reviewer said it was not, but did not know the source.

    • 🙂

      1. I mentioned it, but I honestly don’t see the point. It just seems like sloppy photography.
      2. It’s a CMOSIS but not the same one – one of the commenters here has confirmed it (review amended); he works for Leica Singapore.

  76. Thanks for a great review. Also being a 28mm fan I have to say my order is in. I do have the Sony A7II and the new FE28 which work well together with the FE 28 being a surprisingly good lens for it’s price. BUT the Q has nearly totally silent shutter, DOF scale and good manual focussing and of course the leica lens which for me look to make the near to ideal street camera

  77. Whoa, nice review. If I partner this bad boy together with the M240 and 50 lux, I’d be set for life. Now to somehow scrounge up about Rm17-20K, depending on local prices, for it…

  78. Well well well. I can imagine your excitement when you learned they’d chosen 28mm for this camera. I can’t wait to try one.

    Unusual for Leica to get so much right in one go with a new camera. As a fan and user of the M system, I’m looking closely at the Q for clues as to what they might put into the M vNext. The main trick I want them to come up with is some sort of sensor-derived focus confirmation that can be viewed within the classic optical viewfinder. (Even better, one that allows you to re-calibrate the rangefinder mechanism without having the body sent to Wetzlar!) If they can’t do that, I would be surprised if there was not at least some sort of OVF/EVF combination included.

    Anyway, the Q looks the business. Wouldn’t it be cool if they brought our a Q-50 to sit alongside the Q-28?

    • You’ll get to try it at the opening party on Friday 🙂

      Sadly though, I don’t see how they’re going to integrate any of this stuff (auto-magnify with peaking) into an optical finder…

      Agreed on the Q50: asked, requested, noted here…we will just have to see. Part of me hopes not because I can’t afford to buy one, let alone two.

      • Great!

        I don’t have the technical mind required to come up with the solution. But given liveview’s reading of the sensor via the lens does not necessitate blocking the optical viewfinder, would it not be possible to display something like the little dot we get in the Nikon Dxxx cameras looking through their viewfinders when manual focus is achieved? The M/-P240 already gives us framelines, shutter speed and manual metering information projected into the optical viewfinder. A sensor-derived focus confirmation illuminated dot seems possible at least. Again, I don’t know how they’d implement that, but it would be on my wish list.

        Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to this exhibition! All the best with the opening.

        • I don’t see why not…

        • I don’t think you can get an accurate focus confirmation dot with a pure contrast detect sensor; you’d need phase detect pixels for that.
          What I imagine possible, however, would be a “peaking level graph”, similar to audio peaking levels where you see a green bar that gets longer the closer you are to ideal contrast, plus a little peak that stays at max position for a duration before dropping off.

          • Even the PDAF ‘dot’ isn’t that accurate. If you take two images with something like an 85 Otus wide open when the dot lights and just before it extinguishes, neither one will be critically sharp…

            • That’s true, but there is also a fundamental difference which makes focus confirmation workable on phase detect but not on contrast detect.
              Phase detect works on the principle of superimposing two images, so one can arbitrarily impose a reasonably close tolerance range or threshold when the green dot lights up.
              Contrast detection, however, works on measuring contrast which can wildly vary depending on the scene. Shooting a printed sheet of paper with pure white and pure black edges can result in ideal contrast, but measuring a person’s eye may not get that much contrast, and shooting a wall with a light grey line produces even lesser contrast. Since CDAF measures where the peak occurs, this still works as part of the focusing algorithm but now you cannot arbitrarily set a threshold and say something like “any contrast that measures above 16383 enables the green dot”… because too high a threshold rejects more organic features while too low a threshold results in too many false positives.

              • It would work if you defined an area (the ‘focus point) and then lit the dot when you hit a peak in contrast – but you’d have to rack the lens back and forth for that to work.

                • Yep, I’ve thought of that. But this assumes the point never changes, though in reality the algorithm needs to have tolerance built in to account for noise as well as camera shake or subject movement. Which is why I thought a levels display similar to audio peaking levels would work — where it is not the camera that decides the peak/threshold, but the user instead.

                  • True – a little graph or something perhaps…though if you’re going to put a meaningful display in there, we might as well have Fuji hybrid system 🙂

                    • You know, speaking of Fuji, I think Fuji’s implementation on the XT-1 is close to perfect — throw in everything including the kitchen sink and let the users choose which method they prefer. Though if I’m not mistaken, they missed the “magnified center box” approach used by some Panasonics and Leicas (I know they have a separate magnified box to the side, but that’s a little bit different).

                    • I might be wrong, but I thought they did have it. They alone also autorotate the displays. I have no idea why nobody else does that.

                    • …thanks for the discussion here on my pondering. I really value the *optical* nature of the rangefinder viewfinder. I feel better connected to the scene. It’s not important for every type of photograph, but sometimes it feels quite important. Sometimes though having focus confirmation would be useful.

                      Interesting about phase v contrast detect being an issue for the ‘dot’. But yes, pressing a button to overlay the peaking might be interesting – but would there not be parallax issues in aligning this accurately to the optical scene it overlays?

                      Whatever Leica choose for M vNext, I hope it doesn’t spell the end of OVF, despite the mechanical limitations of maintaining accurate rangefinder alignment.

                      Meanwhile I’m looking forward to trying the Q!

  79. Dear Ming, great review as usual, just to clarify the sensor is not the same CMOCIS 24mp sensor, it’s a newly developed CMOS sensor exclusively for Leica Q.

  80. Hi Ming,

    Awesome, detailed review as always from you! 😉
    I am missing headphone jack for video, environmental sealing for journalists, usb 3.0, tilting lcd screen and with 1.229.000 dots ….
    By the way is the flash sync really 1/2000??? I thought “only” 1/500…
    And also I would rather have 1/4000 or 1/8000 mechanical shutter and electronical up to 1/32000 like fuji xt-1 though…

    For this asked/seeked price, I wanna have specs /features state of the art in every aspect/category…sorry but thats just me ;)!

    But Leica is on the right track at least…..I wish we could say this for CaNikon….No serious mirrorless….

    Regards!
    Sam!

    • Thanks – yes, I’m missing the headphone jack but it isn’t a video camera. I’d rather have live exposure controls before that; I can always sync audio later. The screen has 1.2m dots, I think. Certainly looks like it. No environmental sealing, but I’ve used it in rain and 100% humidity on assignment – surprisingly, it didn’t die or even hiccup…

      The X-T1 will not X-sync beyond 1/180, which makes the mechanical shutter academic. The Q will sync to 1/2000.

      I think the C/N brands just got blindsided…

  81. Another question. How good is the stabilization?

    • Always very subjective because it depends on the photographer. I have nearly a 100% hit rate at 1/fl, and about 80% at 1/0.5x. That’s quite a bit better than the GR – I get perhaps 50% at 1/2x. Not as good as the E-M5 II though, or Panasonic OIS. Probably a hair worse than the current generation Nikon VR.

  82. Is the manual focus by wire or mechanical? Sorry if I missed this in the review.

    • I honestly don’t know. It feels like mechanical because there is no lag or backlash when changing direction in small increments, but I can’t see any elements moving – that makes me think it’s either a very good focus by wire, or rear focus where we can’t see the elements.

      • I picked one up yesterday and agree; if it’s focus by wire it’s the best focus by wire implementation I’ve seen. A real pleasure to manually focus.

  83. Hi Ming,

    nice review ! Tough choices, I will wait and probably buy the Ricoh GR II (VI) which is coming very soon according to different sources (digicame-info.jp, mirrorlessrumors.com, photorumors.com etc.) but thats just me…;)!!! Simply much much better price-performance ratio for me!
    Excited on the new features of the Ricoh GR II (VI)!!

    Keep going and take care! Thanks a bunch!

    Kind regards,
    Nikolov

    • Can’t argue with the price performance ratio of the current GR or Coolpix A, but both do have a smaller shooting envelope. Still, curious to see what the GR VI brings…we will probably have to wait for the VII for a big step change though given previous trends.

  84. “in 28mm-fixed-focal-large-sensor-land, you only really have three options right now.”

    What about the Nikon Coolpix A??

    • Ah! I forgot – my bad. Updated 🙂

      • Don Moraes says:

        Well the Coolpix A has been discontinued so…

        • Plenty still floating around very cheap in the dealer channels, which suggests to me there won’t be a B or AII.

        • This is what you want: a discontinued Coolpix A, still available at a price that is less than half of the original. What once was a high value for the money is now almost a give-away if you’re looking for a pocketable camera that creates great images. I suppose the same will apply to the soon to be discontinued GR, which I own. The quality of these cameras stay the same, only the price drops off the cliff.

  85. Thanks a lot for this review Ming! I know, you don’t like doing reviews, but we do like reading them 🙂 and this time, you seem to like it too. I had high hopes for the Q (since the rumors weeks ago) and now I have to check my bank account. One question please: Do you think, a 50 mm version will be realistic or just daydreaming? Thx again for your work and always impressive pictures!

  86. Brett Patching says:

    Wow! Nice to see all those controls on the barrel instead of on the body. The control/interface design looks excellent.

  87. It appears Leica finally have done a great job on a first generation camera. Personally, I’d hate to see the M concept go away, but the Q must be leading the way. I’m certain all those clamoring for a modern Leica camera done right have had their wishes fulfilled with this little jewel. Thank you for your in-depth report. I believe you enjoyed this one 🙂

    • Yes, which is all the more impressive – I’ve tried my very best to break this one (and I usually succeed, even with ‘final’ products) but so far haven’t been able to – even under extreme environmental conditions, despite the camera not being sealed. I did enjoy this one immensely – but not so much now because I will have to buy one or miss it…

  88. Sounds like a good time was had by all….well…you MT. Glad you had an inspiring experience with it. Great review, and as always, great images to back it up.

  89. John Weeks says:

    You just had to do this…..must not reread…must not reread…
    Always dangerous to my credit when I see something you heavily favor.
    beautiful work as always…enjoy if you keep it.

  90. Very well balanced review Ming, thank you very much.
    I guess I will have to get my paws on it 🙂 28mm is also something I use pretty much all the time when travelling (18mm f/2 on X-Pro1) and am considering to get 28/2.8 ASPH for my M240. With the Q though, I could get faster lens and also extra body (price of 28/1.4 is way out of my reach and I don’t like 28/2 that much – not sure why)

    • I didn’t bond with my 28/2 either. Much preferred the 21/2.8 Zeiss on the M8’s rendering, the GR, or the 2/28 Distagon on a Nikon. The Q is pushing the right buttons for me though – and now 2,500 images and one assignment in, I’ve got to think up some more excuses as to why I can’t return the loaner yet 😛

  91. Incredibly detailed review as always. Well done. Some very cool images as well.
    That said the idea of a $4500 camera I can’t use with more than one lens….non starter. Puts it in “rich people toys” category IMO.
    Fixed focal length lens? Fine. Fixed focal length camera? No. Other than my iPhone that is.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you. I look at it this way: since I pretty much use one lens on one body on assignment anyway, it’s not a big deal if you’re getting decent performance out of it. Given a decent 28mm is going to cost the better part of $2k and still not get there (or you buy the new Leica 28/1.4 at even more) – the economics don’t look so bad.

      • I can see that perspective.
        I can also imagine being in a situation where I suddenly realize I need a long lens shot (flattering full frame portrait…whatever) and then realize how useless my 4500 camera is.
        I’ve been on a single focal length kick recently but can’t imagine being forced into that practice by my (expensive) camera.

        • I agree, but then again I’m pairing it with an Otus 85/D810… 😛

          • ah…but now it’s a 2 camera scenario.
            i really like the concept that you can go shoot with only one camera and not be limited to a single focal length. i can accept and even welcome some kinds of limitations…but not to that degree (plus factoring in price!).
            i don’t want that camera to tell me “no” (unless it’s my phone/computer/text/email/gps as well as is the case with the amazing iphone 6…then it’s totally acceptable…ha!).
            that said if there was a stellar new 28mm sigma art to pair with my d810 i would consider that for sure!

            • Sigh. I never carry a single camera anymore – too risky; either I’m going somewhere I won’t be going again, or I’m on assignment. Most of the time there are three, sometimes four. I could complete the assignment with any one of them in a pinch – but then again I’m paranoid that way 🙂

              • well if that’s the case….i can see the utility for your situation (also considering the small size of the leica and the lack of outstanding 28mm lenses for the d810).
                i also think i have a bit of a “red dot allergy”. too many millionaire tourists around here flashing their little Leica status symbols round these parts with zero serious photographic intent. ha!

  92. Don Moraes says:

    Is it available already?? The B&H and Amazon links take you to a page displaying Fotodiox adapter for Leica R mount lenses. I’m a huge fan of the image quality and portability of the Sony RX1 but have always been frustrated by shabby autofocus performance. If this is even half as fast to focus as the E-M5 M2 I would buy it in a heart beat.

  93. Well, being first in posting and also first, aside from you, being able to shoot this camera.

    A very nice camera indeed. I did see some rainbow effect in the evf. Did u see that?

    I still cannot imagine myself replacing my gr with this due to size. Can you?

    • I think I know what the ‘rainbow effect’ is: if you use the EVF with spectacles and view it at a slight angle, you get lateral CA. I see it with mine, but not with contact lenses.

      It’s already replaced the GR for me – I used it for about 50% of your images on this assignment 🙂

      • Ming, your GR replacement is more likely to be GRii which is rumored to hit the market soon. While still not hosting a full-frame sensor, I am sure it will have improved optics and improved matching of the lens to the sensor (why will anyone think of buying ~$1000 GRii if it is not in significant ways better than the superb $600 GR ?), at least 24 Mega Pixels and perhaps a EVF too. Who knows it may come with the sensor-shift true-color/super-resolution technology of Pentax DSLRs to make the tripod photographers dance with joy!

        • We shall see…but you’re right: if there isn’t a big change, it’ll be difficult to justify the price increase. That said, Ricoh has not been known for major changes every generation (typically alternate).

Trackbacks

  1. […] hours of shooting time in total, excluding bench testing etc. I’ve not got much to add to my original review other than the initial impressions are continuing to hold: this is one responsive, fluid, […]

  2. […] Ming Thein: “I can’t help but wonder if the Q is the harbinger to the end of the M system in its current guise.” […]

  3. […] Engadget: Leica Q Is A Compact And Stylish Full Frame Camera. Gizmodo: Leica Q Is Drool-Worthy. Ming Thein: Leica Q Premiere And Review. Bokeh By DigitalRev: Full Frame Leica Q. The Phoblographer: Leica Q […]

  4. […] Ming Thein sieht die Q bereits als Vorboten des Endes für das M-System in seiner derzeitigen Form. Die Gründe erklärt er in seinem Testbericht. […]

  5. […] Ming Thein wonders if the Q is the harbinger to the end of the M system in its current format. Read more in his review. […]

  6. […] Sourced through Scoop.it from: blog.mingthein.com […]

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