Lens Performance

By Rishi Sanyal

One of the selling points of the Leica Q will undoubtedly be its lens: a fast, wide prime that should be excellent for anything from environmental portraiture to street photography to landscapes. We shot a detailed scene to get a real-world idea of its sharpness across the frame, vignetting, and other characteristics at different apertures. Have a look in our widget below to see how the lens performs. You can drag the box around in the large image at top to see various portions of the scene, or simply click-and-drag on any crop below.

Lens sharpness is impressive even wide open, and appears to reach peak sharpness in the center around F4 to F5.6. But even by F2.8, you're most of the way to the sharpness of F5.6.

Even wide open, the resolving power of the lens is enough to induce aliasing with the AA-less 24MP sensor. Corners, however, are notably less sharp wide open compared to the sharpest they get (at F5.6) and never quite reach the impressive levels of sharpness achieved by more centrally-located objects. As we show further down the page, the lens design involves some digital correction and we suspect this stretching of the image this entails is causing this softness. However, we consider it a small cost, given the rather spectaculat performance across most of the field, especially if it helps keep the size of the camera down.

For this test, we focused the camera wide open at F1.7, on a central building in the scene (the crop shown when you first loaded this page). We then switched the camera to manual focus, and shot an aperture progression. We also attempted runs where we focused at each aperture, or manually focused, but results were generally consistent - indicative of a well-designed lens.

Compared to the RX1R II

Lens corrections

The Leica Q, like many modern digital cameras, uses a combination of optical and digital correction as part of its lens design. If you use a Raw converter that isn't fully compatible with the camera you can remove this element of the lens's function, but we believe the results to be of academic interest only. Instead we assess the output of the lens with all its elements in place and look at corner sharpness and consistency, rather than how they have been achieved.

You can read more on our view of software corrections here.

Fully corrected image Image with corrections removed