Leica Q In-depth Review
The Leica Q (Typ 116) is a high-end, fixed-lens compact camera with a 24MP full-frame sensor and a 28mm F1.7 Summilux stabilized lens. It represents a new product line for Leica, and was the first full-frame Leica to incorporate an autofocus system.
Leica - one of the most traditional of traditional camera manufacturers - has been pretty innovative in recent years, bringing us the luxuriously black medium-format S-series, the full-frame mirrorless SL, and the innovative, stylish (if not particularly likable) Leica T.
The Q is styled in a similar way to Leica's high-end M-series rangefinders, but with the addition of a high resolution electronic viewfinder and touch-sensitive LCD screen. Unlike the Leica T, where Leica made the touchscreen absolutely central to the handling experience, the Q's touchscreen is essentially optional, and works in concert with several conventional (physical) control points. This combination of classic and modern is central to the Q, which melds manual control with electronic assistance fluidly in its ergonomics.
The Q's full-frame image sensor and fast wide-angle lens are its two most important features. In combination, our tests show that they are capable of extraordinarily sharp images. It also turns out that shooting with the Q is just, well, a lot of fun. A lovely mechanical manual focus ring makes focusing a pleasure, but fast and accurate autofocus is on hand if you'd prefer. Likewise for manual aperture and shutter speed control; both have dedicated dials, but both can also be left on 'A' for auto. Images can be composed on the rear LCD if you like, but a built-in EVF offers a bright and detailed view of the world beyond the lens. While the design of the Q is reminiscent of the Fujifilm X100T, philosophically its closest match is the Sony RX1R II.
Leica Q key features
- 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor
- Fixed 28mm F1.7 ASPH lens with image stabilization
- ISO 100-50000
- 3.68M dot-equivalent LCOS electronic viewfinder
- 3" fixed touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dots
- 10 fps continuous shooting
- 1080/60p HD video capture
- Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity with dedicated Leica app
- Magnesium-alloy body
- Mechanical (leaf) and electronic shutter
Leica may be known for making cameras that help photographers slow down their process, but the Q also has the ability to help speed things up. It offers 10 fps bursts, even when capturing full resolution DNG images. The camera is 'smart', offering both Wi-Fi and NFC, and has a dedicated app for remote shooting and viewing images. Video is captured at 1080p at either 30 or 60 fps.
If the 28mm lens feels too wide, there is a feature called 'digital frame selector' that drops frame markers in the field of view, equivalent to your choice of 35 or 50mm. Of course you will lose some resolution cropping in. And for street shooters, options like face detect and touch-to-focus/touch-to-shoot (using the LCD) can be very effective, especially when shooting from the hip. Of course you can always pre-focus manually using the focus depth scale, if you prefer.
Compared to Sony Cyber-shot RX1R II
As mentioned above, in terms of specification, the Leica Q's closest competitor is Sony's Cyber-shot RX1R II. On paper, the main differences between the Leica and the Sony involve their sensors and the different lens specifications. You'll find a detailed breakdown of key specifications below.
|Leica Q||Sony RX1R II|
|Sensor||24MP Full Frame CMOS||42MP Full Frame BSI CMOS|
|Lens||28mm F1.7||35mm F2|
|ISO range (expanded)||100-50,000||50-102,400|
|LCD specs||3" touch LCD with 1.04M dots||3" tilting LCD with 1.2M dots|
|Burst||10 fps||5 fps|
|Wi-Fi enabled||Yes, with NFC||Yes, with NFC|
|Weight||640 grams||507 grams|
Pricing and Availability
The Leica Q retails for $4250 and is available now.
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