The “Q” … My First Experience with a Leica

The Leica Q has been on my wish list since I first read about it when it was announced on June 10, 2015.  Why?  Well first, it’s made by the renowned German camera maker, Leica, plus it has a full frame sensor, fast Leica Summilux lens, excellent EVF, and for me the image stabilization is important.  I kept trying to get the same general features but at a lower cost by using different cameras, and I thought maybe the Ricoh GR would scratch that itch since it had the 28mm lens and an excellent APS-C sensor.  It didn’t.  In the end, I think it came down to the fact that I had never used a Leica and I just wanted to …

Shortly after I placed the order, I really started feeling the buyer’s remorse and almost cancelled.  It is an expensive camera and while I know I’m fortunate to be able to afford one (just barely, and it’s a stretch), I thought maybe I’d just cancel … but I didn’t, and it arrived four weeks ago.  Then I thought, “What harm can it do to at least use it a little bit.  You know, just a few short days to see if it lives up to the “Leica hype”.  Yeah, yeah, that’s what I’ll do, and then I’ll return it …”, but I haven’t yet.  To tell the truth, I’m actually a little bit embarrassed that I bought a Leica.  After years of (inwardly) thinking that all the talk about incredible Leica IQ was nothing more than people justifying the exorbitant prices they paid for their camera gear, and now I own one … the “Q”.

Until recently, I’ve always viewed Leica cameras as a niche product, with a cult status intended mostly for the elite … elite in terms of either wealth or professional level.  When I’ve read articles about Leica and the photos coming out of Leica cameras, I’ve often looked and thought, “So what, I really don’t see any difference between them and what typically comes out of a Sony Nex.”  It’s occurred to me though that maybe it’s more about the cameras themselves and not so much about some mythical image quality they produce.  Solid, perfect build, and simple ergonomics (UI) that just gets out of your way and allows you to capture an image.  And then there’s that Leica lens.

The Q comes with a Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens that to me is just amazing.  It is so sharp yet the bokeh is very smooth.  It also seems that tonal and color transitions are smoother … I don’t know, maybe that’s just the “Leica Kool-Aid” talking.  Or maybe, just maybe, there’s some kind of “secret sauce” that Leica applies to their lenses to extract some different kind of special light for the sensor to capture?

Aside from the excellent image quality that I’ve seen so far, what I’m enjoying the most is the ease of use of this camera.  Utter simplicity is a beautiful thing.  Oh, the power is there if you want (or need) it … automatic panorama, time lapse, auto-exposure bracketing, and more if you dig a bit in the menus.  But that’s another part of the beauty with the Q … the menu system is much simpler and easier than the other cameras I typically use, like Olympus and Sony, so the “dig” will be a shallow one.  In fact, I think there are only 34 primary menu items.  🙂  I’ve loved the depth of the Olympus menu system because of the sheer power of configuration that it gives you, but this Leica paradigm that I’ve read so much about is actually quite appealing.

Like all cameras of course, the Leica Q is not perfect.  I have some of the same little minor complaints that you’ve read about in many of the excellent reviews around the web.  For instance, it’s very easy to accidentally end up in continuous shooting mode instead of single shot when you turn it on, since those functions are on the power switch.  On the other hand, it’s “very easy to switch to continuous shooting” if the need arises.

Bottom line:  I just really enjoy “using” the camera.  Personally, I don’t think the IQ is a quantum leap better than say the Olympus PEN-F (micro four-thirds), but it is a bit better.  And while it may not be truly worth the high cost … maybe, just maybe, it is.

Three exposure HDR, processed with Aurora HDR and Capture One Pro 9

 

 

 

 


I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the Leica packaging.  First you open a plain grey box that is perfectly filled with a black box.  This black box opens a bit like a clam shell and the four sides literally fall away to reveal the heavy duty, “real” Leica” box.  Inside of that is a small box with the camera inside, and below that are a couple of cardboard drawers that pull out for access to the documentation and accessories.  Oh, and of course the accessories all come in their own little black bags with draw strings.  Of all the “unboxing videos” I’ve witnessed on various websites, this is the one that really deserves it.  🙂

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Author: Mike Hendren

Photography is a way for us to express how we view the world around us. It can reveal how we see things - our perception of reality. At times, it provides a creative medium that allows us to alter that reality. Photography also provides a way to capture time and then travel back there whenever you wish. Every time you look at a photo, it can transport you back to that moment, allowing you to relive and remember …

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