Body & Design

Full 360

Body overview

The Leica Q looks similar to the Leica M Type 240, but with a lens attached. The obvious difference between the two is the Type 240 is a proper rangefinder, while the Leica Q is a rangefinder-style camera with an electronic viewfinder. At first glance, the Leica Q may look like an interchangeable lens camera, but the 28mm F1.7 lens is in fact fixed.

In hand, the Q also has the heft and build-quality of a Type 240. The lower portion of the body is made of magnesium alloy, while the top plate is made from a single piece of milled aluminum. Buttons and dials are also made of metal, and are laser engraved. The front portion of the Leica Q is wrapped in a leather-like material.

According to Leica, the camera was designed along the principle of 'reduction to the essentials.' And as such, the body of the camera offers a minimal amount of physical buttons and dials. It also worth noting that unlike the Leica T, which was designed in conjunction with Audi, the Leica Q was designed completely in-house by Leica engineers.

Top of camera

The vast majority of controls are located in one of two places: on top of the camera, and around the lens barrel. Looking up top, you'll notice just how simple the basic functionality of the Q is. The on/off switch, which is wrapped around the shutter button, doubles as a drive mode selector. The 'S' puts the camera into single shot mode while the 'C' puts it into continuous mode. The Q is capable of bursts up to 10 fps in continuous mode without continuous autofocus.

To the right of the shutter is a dedicated movie record button. Below it is a control dial that by default adjusts exposure compensation. More on those two later on. To the left of the control dial is the shutter speed dial, with the camera's hot shoe directly to the left of it. The Leica Q uses a standard hot shoe.

In between the shutter and exposure compensation dial you can see the indentation on the back of the camera for one's thumb. The placement in between the two dials makes accessing either of them quite easy.

Around the lens

Not surprisingly, the aperture is set on the lens. As is the case on the shutter speed dial, the 'A' stands for auto. Switching both dials to 'A' puts the Leica Q into a fully automatic setting. Just setting the aperture to automatic puts the camera into a shutter priority mode, while setting the shutter speed dial to automatic puts the camera into an aperture priority mode.

The aperture ring offers 1/3-stop increments ranging from F1.7 to F16. Below the aperture ring is the focus ring. You can't see it in the above image, but the bottom of the ring offers a contoured tab to rest your finger on while focusing (see below). Directly below the focus ring is the focus depth scale. Below that is a ring to toggle the Leica Q into macro mode, though the maximum aperture is reduced to F2.8. Line up the lowest white dot with 'Macro' and the Q mechanically slides out a new focus depth scale for macro shooting.

The 28mm F1.7 lens comprises 11 elements arranged into 9 groups, and includes 3 aspherical elements. The lens itself is image stabilized. It's also worth noting that during autofocus, the Q moves only one lens element, leading to almost no motor noise and fast acquisition times. Like both the Sony Cyber-shot RX1R II and Fujifilm X100T, the Q's exposure is taken care of courtesy of a leaf shutter for nearly silent operation and avoidance of shutter shock.

Back of camera

The back of the camera is also quite simple in design. Along the left of the 3" 1.04 million dot touch-sensitive display you'll find the usual buttons, including a dedicated ISO button as well as a customizable button. To the right of the LCD is a four-way joystick-style controller with a selector key in the center. This four-way controller can be used to move one's AF point in '1 point' AF mode. Above the joystick-style controller is the indentation for one's thumb, with a zoom/lock button directly to the left. 

Key body elements

The bottom of the lens reveals a finger rest (also known as a focus tab) that gives you more precise control over the manual focus ring. To switch the Leica Q into autofocus mode, move the finger rest all the way to the left, and push down on the small tab (on the left side of the finger rest). By doing so, you'll hear a 'click,' which means you've effectively locked the Q into AF mode. Pushing the tab down and sliding the finger rest the opposite direction switches it back into MF mode.

The electronic viewfinder on the Leica Q is a Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) display and has an effective resolution of 3.68 million pixels. LCoS technology, which is a field sequential system, 'only' shows you 1.04M dots at any given time, as it cycles between red, green, and blue. While the image on the screen looks great, some may find 'color tearing' to be an issue when blinking or panning the camera.