Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Good image quality
  • Excellent Raw performance
  • Sharp, stabilized lens with good Macro performance
  • Simple, pared-down body
  • Weather sealing
  • Effective, utilitarian user interface
  • Pretty fast autofocus
  • Joyous manual focus expereince
  • Good 4K video quality
  • Reasonable battery life
  • Simple Bluetooth-mediated Wi-Fi connection
  • Flat JPEG color
  • ISO 50 JPEGs appear to throw away highlight data
  • Rear screen can preview full composition or show exposure settings, but not both
  • Continuous AF is prone to distracting fluttering
  • No in-camera Raw conversion
  • Limited control in video mode
  • No USB charging
  • Er, no USB port

The Leica Q2 is Leica's best camera. Or, at least, it's the easiest to justify. It's objectively very good at what it's trying to do, and doesn't have the kinds of omissions or shortcomings - such as the omission of the rear LCD, as an example - to risk inducing cognitive dissonance. In fact it's rather lovely.

A combination of a good sensor and excellent lens means the image quality is frequently extremely good. The JPEGs are its Achilles' heel, with dull color and the inclusion of lots of dynamic range making them look rather flat in most situations. Or perhaps 'naturalistic' if you're trying to rationalize a $5000 hole in your bank balance. The prematurely clipped ISO 50 JPEGs just look like a mistake, and one I hope can be fixed. Overall though, the picture quality is impressive.

Overall image quality from the lens and sensor combination in the Q2 is fantastic - but we vastly prefer the Raws over the JPEGs.
Processed in Adobe Camera Raw | ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F2.8
Photo by Richard Butler

The autofocus isn't up with the greatest sports cameras but it's more than sufficient for a photographers wide-angle compact. The user interface, while a little spartan, is actually well-matched to the task at hand: it wouldn't work on a camera trying to do a bit of everything, but it does pretty much everything you need it to do. And, while I found the manual focus tab was always in exactly the wrong place, the manual focus experience is one of the best I can remember having on a digital camera.

The Q2 is beautifully built, fits nicely in the hand, looks sensational and takes good photos (really good ones if you're willing to process the Raws). Its all-in-one package means it won't incite a potentially ruinous addiction to lenses, or commit you to lifetime of talking-down the value of autofocus.

The Q2 is beautifully built, fits nicely in the hand, looks sensational and takes good photos

The premium pricing strategy that Leica uses makes it essentially impossible to be objective about value, since the high price is itself part of the justification for the price being so high (yay, dismal science!). But, if we use the approximation that each extra stop usually doubles the price of a lens, then the Leica's larger sensor and brighter lens would lead you to expect it to cost around 7x more than the Ricoh GR III. It's a knowingly crude (though only slightly facetious) way of looking at things, but it does suggest that the brand value of that little red dot and 'Made in Germany' lettering isn't inflating the price to an unreasonable degree.

All in all, it's something a bit special.


What we think


Dan Bracaglia
Editor
Had Leica told me they were coming out with a Q2 and asked what I’d like to see improved, my list would have included: weather-sealing, a better EVF, more resolution and improved JPEGs - in that order. Leica hit the first three of those wishes, which I feel amounts to a tempting update, as long as you’re not a JPEG shooter.

Carey Rose
Reviews Editor
When I reviewed the original Q, I remember thinking that it was a really fantastic camera with enough quirks that I didn't really want one (my spending habits wouldn't allow it anyway). But Leica took their time with the Q2, and the sum total of its updates make it, to me, a far more 'complete' camera that I could see myself using for both casual and paid shoots alike. Maybe I'll have to revisit those spending habits.

Compared to other large-sensor, fixed-lens cameras

As mentioned above, an obvious point of comparison is the Ricoh GR III. Yes, the Leica is vastly more expensive and comes with a larger sensor, but they're both focused, carry-everywhere photographic tools with a 28mm field of view (and they both have JPEG engines we aren't big fans of). In use, they are vastly different, and the rift in image quality - particularly regarding background blur and low-light performance - is likewise, vast. But the fact remains that the GR III is a really likable little camera for those seeking a fixed-lens camera that won't break the bank.

Sony's aging RX1R II is another natural point of comparison, though of course, the 35mm field of view means most users will shoot a bit differently with it. But it's another premium-priced compact, fixed-lens camera with a ton of megapixels. Sure, the Leica is still far more expensive, but you get weather-sealing, far, far better battery life and a higher-quality viewfinder. You give up some dynamic range / high ISO performance with the Q2, but for most people who have the funds, the Q2 is going to be the more rewarding and practical photographic companion.

That brings us to Fujifilm's X100F. The X100-series has often been referred to as the 'poor-man's Leica,' and though the Fujifilm can't hold a candle to the Q2's resolution, lens quality or build quality, it is a satisfying camera to use that has its own charm. Plenty of physical dials give you a lot of control, and for those that want an optical viewfinder experience, the X100F is the way to go. Again, the 35mm-equivalent lens may be the most important difference between the two for most users, setting aside the significant price gap.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Leica Q2
Category: Enthusiast Large Sensor Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Optics
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Leica Q2 is nearly as competent as a fixed-lens digital camera can be. It's built very well, it handles very well, it's capable of excellent image quality and it's a joy to use. We wish Leica would address the lackluster JPEGs, but the Raw files are excellent. It all comes at a price, of course, but the Q2 really is a wonderfully engaging photographic tool that will appeal to photographers of all kinds.
Good for
Street, travel and casual photography as well as landscape photographers that make use of medium wide-angle lenses.
Not so good for
Sports and action photographers that require longer focal lengths, and those that require a more robust video feature set.
84%
Overall score