Leica Q In-depth Review
Once you've had some time to get comfortable with it and your preferred settings are dialed-in, the Leica Q functions as expected for a no-nonsense, stills-focused digital camera. Once it's set up for you, it just works, and it works well. Here's a closer look at some of the additional standout features for this 'basic' high-end shooter.
Optical image stabilization
The Leica Q's 28mm F1.7 Summilux lens comes stabilized (but you do have to enable it in the menus when you first use the camera, which seems odd). When we ran the Leica Q through our standard studio IS test we found that the IS system in the Leica Q is pretty robust, giving us an average of 2.66 stops of added hand-hold-ability. With the fixed 28mm lens, this indicates that shutter speeds as slow as 1/8 sec can reliably give you sharp results if you're careful with your technique.
|Shot using the Leica Q's Auto ISO setting. Photo by Dan Bracaglia, cropped slightly in Adobe Lightroom. F5.6 | 1/250 sec | ISO 250|
Leica's Auto ISO feature works well, providing an automatic shutter speed functionality while also allowing you to specify your upper ISO limit. If you crave more control, you can specify a maximum acceptable shutter speed as well.
It may not work for everyone, but as we've said elsewhere in this review, you can override the Auto ISO shutter speed setting with the shutter speed dial, and still utilize exposure compensation via the 'Fn' button to dial in your exposure to your liking (the rear dial will revert to 1/3 stop increment adjustments of shutter speed, which we hope is customizable on a future firmware update).
|The Leica Q app is fairly intuitive and easy to use. The right side of the screenshot above shows the basic shooting screen, while the screenshot on the right shows the various parameters that can be adjusted from within the app's main menu.|
The Leica Q has a dedicated app for Android and iOS devices. Pairing the Q with a device is fairly straight forward (we tested it using an iPhone 6). From within the camera's menu, select 'WLAN,' and set the connection to either 'Remote Control' or 'Backup.' Doing so will present a QR code on the back LCD of the Q. To pair the camera, simply open the Lecia Q app on your device, click 'Connect by QR code,' and follow the on-screen instructions.
Once connected, the Leica Q app offers quite a lot of direct remote shooting control over the camera including the ability to adjust all exposure parameters, shooting mode, field-of-view and white balance, for both stills and video. Stills-specific options include the ability to adjust the drive, self timer, focus mode, focus area, metering, bracketing, file size and JPEG resolution. You can also adjust your video resolution from within the app. By the way, the camera's settings within the app will default to what they were left at before you paired the Q to your device.
Users can also view and download images and video from the Q's memory card directly to their device, delete media off the card, or backup the entire contents of the card.
While the Q isn't really a video powerhouse, and we wouldn't expect it to be, it does have decent quality if you take the occasional clip. As far as connectivity goes, there is no microphone port for external audio, nor a headphone port for audio monitoring. The Leica Q doesn't offer 4K video capture, but neither does any other large-sensor fixed-lens compact.
|In this screengrab, note the softness of the video output despite locking AF before beginning video capture.|
The 1080/60p video quality is smooth and free from compression artifacts, but as you can see from the samples, the output is rather soft. The optical image stabilization system is somewhat effective, but won't reliably smooth out shake from something as vigorous as walking while shooting. Lastly, avoid Continuous AF as the Q will hunt incessantly and ruin your footage. Thankfully, peaking is available in manual focus (but magnification isn't).
Despite the touchscreen, there is no touch-to-focus in video mode. In fact, beyond framing your shot, there isn't much the screen (or viewfinder) offers you in video mode. You can't see or adjust your shutter speed or ISO (even if you set your shutter speed on the top dial). You can choose your aperture before you start filming, but you don't get an aperture preview unless you half-press the shutter, nor can you adjust your aperture mid-clip. And once you're done taking your clip, there's a lengthy two second delay from when you hit the record button to when the clip stops recording. You'll get used to it eventually, but at first, you may hit that button more than once and inadvertently start an additional clip. Lastly, and this is more of an annoyance than anything else, audio comes in abruptly after 15 frames of video in every clip you take (edited out in the sample clips). With internal microphones, the audio wasn't going to be stellar anyway, but its a strange behavior nonetheless.
In the end, the Q will work fine for casual clips (say, a light-traveling photojournalist who needs 1080p video clips alongside stills), but it's clear that the camera is really meant for still image capture.
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