Leica Q: First Look

I’ll confess to being a Leica fan but not a fan boy. (If you look at the Gear section you will see that I own a Leica M6 TTL.) To be honest my interest in looking at the Leica Q was stimulated by its relatively (for a Leica) affordable prince point—$4250. And like a real Leica, it’s not a lightweight weighing in at 1.4 lbs. By comparison my Leica M6 weighs 1.3 lbs for the body only. And while the Leica D-Lux is less expensive, at $1051, it’s a really just a gussied-up Panasonic but still a camera I nevertheless really liked shooting.

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The Q is a real-jumping-up-and-down full frame (24x36mm) digital camera. It has built-in WiFi, extremely fast autofocus and a fixed Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens, which some Internet pundits have decried because it was not the sacred 50mm preferred by would-be Cartier Bressons around the globe. The camera’s Digital Frame Selector setting lets you crop 1.25x for a 35mm equivalent or 1.8x for a 50mm equivalent field-of-view, both of which are visible on the EVF and LCD. Maybe that will make these people happy; probably not though.  JPEG image files are saved in the selected framing, while the RAW files in DNG format preserve the entire field captured by the 28 mm lens.

I think the 28mm with it’s wider angle-of view (65 degrees horizontal, compared to the 50mm’s 40 degrees) is more useful for almost everything but portraits but I’m going to try shooting some of them in the future. If I do, I’ll post the results here. I also like the fact that the lens offers optical image stabilization that when combined with ISO settings up to 50.000 make it a great available light camera.

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Internet rumors abound that the Q is made by Panasonic; the battery and charger do look like many of the Lumix batteries and chargers I own. Leica says it’s “Made in Germany” using traditional Leica build techniques including a top plate crafted from a solid block of aluminum with a body constructed of magnesium alloy. In the “I could care less” category the Leica Q shoots video (I’m guessing because everybody needs it to shoot YouTube clips of their cat) in HD. Depending on the scene, users can choose between 30 and 60 frames per second for video recording in MP4 format. The video setting also features a wind-noise filter that should somewhat overcome the lack of an external mic jack.

And to keep millennials happy, there’s a free Leica Q on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. The app lets you remotely control settings such as aperture and shutter speed from your smartphone or tablet. The Q is bundled with a free downloadable Adobe Lightroom 6 to open DNG RAW files.

The big deal to me, anyway, was the fact that the Leica Q looks and feels like a real camera—and a real Leica.

To be continued…

Author: Joe Farace

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