The Leica Q is a compact, full frame, fixed lens digital camera which came out in 2015. It comes equipped with a Summilux 28mm 1.7 lens and unlike the digital M cameras, it has auto focus. The full spec and details are easily found across the web, but I wanted to share my experience of using one for the last 3 months. If you’ve been thinking about a Leica Q, hopefully you will find this real world usage review useful.
Why the Leica Q?
I’ve been after a more compact, point and shoot digital camera for a while. I’ve the fuji X100 range 3 separate times, and always ended up selling them on. I did find the size of the X100 range just a little too small to be comfortable. I know my friend Andy loves his X100T and he’ll never part with it, but I just never felt the lure to pick it up.
I looked at a few others, such as the excellent Sony RX1 series. The 35mm F2 lens always had excellent reviews, but the size of the camera was again, problematic for me.
In the end, my friend Chris got me to thinking about the Leica Q. The spec looked good, and the reviews were all very positive. It was also physically bigger than the Fuji and Sony offerings. Similar to the X100 user base, it seemed that if you clicked with this camera, you were hooked. That was it. A Q user for life.
As a previous M6 owner, I knew roughly what to expect from the quality of Leica cameras, but I was still very impressed with the Q once it arrived. It is a good size for me, has a ‘good’ weight to it. It feels like it will a battering and still keep going. The focus ring is smooth and precise, and the aperture ring has nice positive clicks to it.
What do I like about the Q?
The 28mm 1.7 Summilux lens. I really like the characteristics of the lens, whether I’m shooting wide open or stopping down. It’s very sharp without being too clinical and retains the ‘Leica look’.
The Auto Focus is snappy and accurate. I also like the small switch on the focussing ring that allows you to quickly switch to manual focus without having to move your hand away from the lens. It also locks back into Auto Focus mode just as easily.
The macro mode is activated by rotating the macro dial on the lens. The focus scale switches at the same time. Similar to how you switch from Auto Focus to Manual focus, it’s a simple solution that been implemented very well. Having the features available on the lens make the camera very practical and easy to use with very little, if any, menu diving.
The macro mode allows you to focus as close as 15cm and increases the overall versatility of the camera.
Due to the layout of the camera, with the majority of the controls accessible from the lens, I rarely touch the menu’s once I’d set the camera up how I needed it. However, unlike some camera systems, the menus are very easy to navigate, and the inclusion of a favourites menu in the latest firmware release make it even easier. I have 2 user profiles set up on my camera – one for BNW and another for colour - and that covers about 99% of what I need.
It’s also worth mentioning how good the EVF is. It’s bright and clear, and the resolution is great when zooming in for critical focus. Given that the camera is a few years old now, the EVF is still one of the best I've tried.
What would I like to see improved/included on the Q?
From an ergonomics perspective, I would like to have seen a more pronounced thumb grip on the body. I’m using the brilliant thumbs-up grip to compensate, which makes the grip feel very solid.
A built in ND Filter, similar to the X100 range would also a very welcome addition. It would allow more flexibility and experimentation with longer exposure times, as well as the ability to shoot wide open on bright summer days. This is easily circumvented with some screw in filters of course, but it would have a very nice feature to have included.
The Leica Q in use
I’ve been using the Q extensively since I got it, and have been shooting landscapes, people, street, indoors and outdoors, and it’s handled itself brilliantly throughout. 28mm is wider than I normally, and has taken some getting used to. However, it has also forced me to get much closer to my subjects and consider compositions I wouldn’t have with my usual 75 – 200mm range lenses.
It has particularly excelled when using it indoors to take pictures of my 2 daughters, and as an everyday camera. Unlike other cameras I’ve used, it’s rarely out of reach and whenever I pick it up, I’m inspired to shoot.