A quiet Friday lunch in central London and in came a call from Vijay Sebastian at Leica Store Mayfair: My review camera, the new Leica Q, had arrived from Germany. This was somewhat unexpected since it is barely two days since I attended the press launch in the conference room opposite the store. Of course I had to do a quick scuttle in the direction of Bruton Place.
I came away half an hour later with a big smile on my face, bumping into Jimmy Hughes and Robin Sinha on the way out. I am sure they thought I’d dropped a penny and found a pound. We all agreed that this is the camera we have been waiting for. On paper it is impressive, in the metal it looks and feels even better.
Didn’t have a chance to put it through its paces before getting back to base. But I will be toting it for the next few weeks to gain background, and pictures, for my review. It will do service at my nephew’s wedding in York on Saturday.
Sitting at the desk in front of the iMac, I had a closer look at the Q and I have confirmed the initial impressions gained on Wednesday. The design and control layout—especially the really rather wonderful lens rings—are just what any Leica owner will cherish. As for size, I made the comment following the press launch that the Q is about the same size as an M film camera. The M6 which I acquired at Bièvres last weekend was sitting nearby so I grabbed a couple of shots.
I wasn’t too far out. While the M6 and M3 are both about 8mm longer than the Q, the depth and height are more or less identical. In the hands, the Q feels like any M film camera but is considerably lighter. The test model weighs 650g, including hood, SD card and battery. Ready for the road, in fact.
The hood is something of a masterpiece; it is one of the nicest I have seen on any camera. Normally I am not a hoodie fan and I try to avoid them in all but the most glaring conditions. In London that isn’t too difficult. But the Q’s screw-on device actually enhances the appearance of the camera and lengthens the lens by only one centimeter. The thread is so precise that the hood always ends up with the words LEICA CAMERA WETZLAR centralised precisely on the white aperture dot. Try that with a £3.50 hood from eBay.
Feels like a true M
Comparing the Q and M6, with its 50mm rigid Summicron, side by side emphasises the plumpness of the autofocus lens. But it is by no means a big lens when the 28mm focal length and f/1.7 aperture are taken into account. All in all, the Q looks and is well balanced. It feels like a true M, which is a considerable achievement for the wizards of Wetzlar.
Technically this camera ticks all the boxes: Full frame, no AA filter, magnificent EVF, electronic shutter to 1/16000s, highly usable and accessible macro facility, 50000 ISO sensitivity, and superb attention to detail—detail such as the thumb détente just in the right place in line with the shutter release. Incidentally, it is good that there is a depression for the thumb because the Q will not accept any of my extensive stock of Thumbs Up grips. They all cover the function button below the shutter dial.
It is the simplicity of controls, the typographically outstanding and uncomplicated menu system and the direct access to all the major functions that impressed more than anything. This is a true Leica, an M without the optical rangefinder.
Tomorrow I shall be out snapping in earnest.