Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica Q2 arrives at Macfilos

Leica Q2 arrives at Macfilos

Resistance is futile, lust and reason coincide as the Q2 is unboxed

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This morning I was at Red Dot Cameras in Goswell Road to pick up my own Leica Q2. Yesterday I got to examine it at Leica’s breakfast press conference in Duke Street and I liked what I saw. So I was pleased I’d had the foresight to get myself high up on Ivor Cooper’s ever-lengthening waiting list.

Mike's new toy, the Leica Q2
Mike’s new toy, the Leica Q2

In June 2015, just under four years ago, I collected my original Leica Q and it was a camera that put a big smile on my face. It became my constant companion over the next eighteen months and I decided it was one of the best cameras I had ever owned.

Q2 with one of Evris Papanikolas's fine leather straps from https://rocknrollstraps.com/shop/camera-straps/nevada-camera-straps/
Q2 with one of Evris Papanikolas’s fine leather straps from Rock n’ Roll Straps

Sceptical

Initially sceptical about the wide 28mm fixed lens, I soon adapted to it, often using the 35mm crop and, occasionally, the 50mm crop, although the resulting images were relatively small. But the camera was just so right, ergonomically and functionally, that I came to love it.

The first shot on the new camera — Ivor Cooper in his lair at Red Dot Cameras, taken using the 75mm crop. The result belies the mere 6.6MP of this image
The first shot on the new camera — Ivor Cooper in his lair at Red Dot Cameras, taken using the 75mm crop. The result belies the mere 6.6MP of this image

It’s not surprising, then, that I was in the market for the Q2 when it arrived. Reading Jonathan Slack’s review yesterday only confirmed my initial thoughts, that this is a camera I could live with and use as my go-to device for the rest of 2019 and longer.

When processing cropped images the crop opens as shot (in Lightroom in this instance). But the rest of the frame is there if you want to revise the composition. Nothing lost.
When processing cropped images the crop opens “as shot” (in Lightroom in this instance). But the rest of the frame is there if you want to revise the composition. Nothing lost.

Extravagance?

The 47MP sensor is, on the face of it, an extravagance that will result in cluttered storage. I’m with Jonathan Slack and many readers, including Brian Nicol, who loves his original Q, that 24MP is the sweet spot. I wouldn’t say that the bigger sensor is the main reason to choose the Q2. Yet whatever the pros and cons, Leica can’t afford to stay behind the times and a higher density sensor is now a must — as it will be with the SL2 when it arrives later this year (the same sensor as that in the Q2, I imagine) and in the M11, although that camera will sport a completely different sensor.

But a 47MP sensor it does have one big advantage when it comes to cropping.

Whereas the 50mm crop on the original Q was only marginally useful, the Q2 offers a substantial 30MP 50mm crop. The new 75mm crop now sits where the 50mm crop was on the Q — useful on occasion, but, at only 6.6MP, sure to lose out to an optical zoom.

Window dressing

The existence of the crop lines is window dressing, of course. Some might say it is a nice gimmick. Take any 28mm prime on a forty-something full-frame sensor and you can perform exactly the same magic in post processing, frame lines or no.

It is, however, somehow reassuring to have those frame lines on the Q and Q2 to guide you in composition. Yet as Jonathan pointed out yesterday, whatever digital crop you choose, youare still left with the depth of field of a 28mm lens, thus restricting the bokeh possibilities in relation to a genuine optical zoom.

However many pictures you see and however many times you handle the camera in a showroom, there is no substitute for unboxing your own toy and getting to grips with the handling.

"I've decided, we'll risk it", said Ernst Leitz II when backing Oskar Barnack and his team with the first Leica camera. Some risk, some decision. Some 95 years later, the Q2 is no risk, it is a sure-fire winner
I’ve decided, we’ll risk it”, said Ernst Leitz II when backing Oskar Barnack and his team in producing the first Leica camera. Some risk, some decision. 95 years later, the Q2 is no risk. It is a sure-fire winner for the newly energised Leica Company

Sensible improvements

The Q2 feels (and looks) exactly like the Q. There is no change for change’s sake here. All the improvements are aimed at performance and image quality. The three-button layout, easily overlooked at first glance, replicates the successful order of service seen on the CL. Indeed, the menus are almost identical and CL owner will be immediately at home. You could almost copy your CL settings across and you’d be in business straight away. This would be a useful feature to add to the FOTOS application — a back-up of your profiles and settings that could be replicated across all your cameras

The CL-style adjustment dial on the top right of the top plate is less endearing, with its central push button for function selection. This will take some getting used to, despite experience with the CL. On the other hand, he push-in diopter adjustment is a big improvement since you can now set it and push in the dial out of harm’s way. In effect it works in a similar fashion to the Fan button — a long press brings up a menu of options. You can choose one which then becomes the default setting for the control.

A curious layout: The SD slot sits behind a sliding door on the opposite side of the camera to the pop-out SL battery
A curious layout. The SD card sits behind a sliding door which opens to reveal one slot. There is surely space here for a second slot. Or, perhaps, a USB port for in-battery charging. The new battery, which forms an integral part of the bottom plate is identical to that on the SL and similar to the arrangement on the TL

Curious arrangement

It is the underside of the camera that differs markedly from that of the original Q. Instead of the combined batter/SD door we now have a separate door for the SD card, on the opposite end of the bottom plate from the battery. This is a curious confection that I haven’t seen elsewhere. A flush plate slides back and forth to lock and release. When released, it springs open to reveal an SD slot to one side and a blank area to the left. There is surely room here for two SD cards. I would even suggest putting a USB port here to allow in-camera charging. But that’s now wishful thinking because the die is cast until the Q3 arrives.

On the other side of the bottom plate, the battery fits flush with the surface. It’s the same battery — and the same mechanism — as on the SL. There’s a release lever which allows the battery to pop out by about 8mm. A slight push then allows it to be removed. It is a good arrangement, similar to that on the TL (but not the CL, which has a conventional door covering both battery and card). The larger SL battery is a welcome improvement which offers up to 350 shots, although it does contribute to the greater 734g overall weight of the Q2 (without the battery, the camera weighs 652g).

Another curious fact is that the Q2 is completely portless. No opening doors on the side of this camera, and no options to transfer images other than by removing the SD card or using the FOTOS app. Incidentally, the FOTOS app is not currently compatible with the Q2. An update will come in April. The lack of ports means no in-camera charging, something that I will miss. In fact, it is my only major complaint about the Q2.

Lust-worthy but flawed

While I was at Leica yesterday I got the chance to examine the new half-case protectors for the Q2. They are very high-quality items that fit to perfection. They are eminently lust-worthy. But, no doubt because of the two doors on the bottom of the camera, there are no convenient flaps to change supplies. Instead, the protector has to be unscrewed and removed, a fiddly process that I couldn’t tolerate. So the two-door layout, whatever its advantages, will make the life of case manufacturers much more difficult. It means many owners, who would otherwise be attracted by the luxurious half cases, will choose to use the camera naked. There is an opportunity here for my friends at Arte di Mano or Classic Cases.

The new OLED viewfinder, although providing the same 3.68MP density as the unit in the original Q, is very impressive and, although smaller overall, gives the same sort of satisfaction gathered from using the SL’s class-leading finder. In fact, during yesterday’s Leica press conference I had taken along my D-Lux 7. After taking a few shots with the D-Lux, I put the Q2’s finder to my eye and was staggered by the overall impression. It makes the EVF of the D-Lux seem positively antediluvian.¹

One thing that hasn’t changed is the superb f/1.7 Summilux lens. It is identical to that of the Q and why change when it did such a magnificent job?

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¹ In retrospect, I have been too hard on the D-Lux 7 viewfinder here. During subsequent testing in daylight, the 2.7M-dot LED sensor on the 7 is good, although obviously not as impressive as the 3.68M-dot OLED unit fitted to the Q2. On reflection, the VF of the D-Lux 7 is well matched to the camera.

So far so good; these are just very immediate first impressions. The camera is fresh out of the box and it will be my camera of choice for the next few months. I will be reporting on my experiences in due course.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I will be interested to see your longer term review, once you’ve had time in the wild with your new acquisition. I am mildly curious as to how much Hard Drive space gets chewed up by the images out of it. I suspect they could be bigger than the Sony A7RIII.

    Dave

    • Early days yet. But I did love the Q and the Q2 is better in every respect. So I don’t think I will be disappointed. Alongside the M10-D, the Q2 gives me almost everything I need. I do wonder now where the CL fits in, but we shall see.

  2. Mike, Also am excited to read your full review. When I had the Q, one thing that bothered me was Leica’s insistence on limiting the ISO/Shutter combinations. For example, if I was going to shoot a 30 second exposure, the ISO was limited to something like 400. I could not figure out how to get the camera to shoot at 3,200 ISO for 30 seconds so I could get a wonderful Milky Way shot over Lake Tahoe. With that 1.7 lens, this seemed like a reasonable capture. Would you be able to check whether the same limitation exists in the Q2. When I pulled up the manual, it hinted at a limitation like this, but was not explicit in describing the limitation. Thanks in advance

    • Rudiger, this isn’t something I’ve ever thought about. But when I’ve got familiar with the camera I will give it a try and let you know.

      • Thank-you. I found it would not let me shoot at ISO 3200 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds. Very common setting for capturing the milky way. I appreciate your consideration.

  3. Dear Mike, congratulations on the Q2! I wish you many happy productive outings and look forward to more articles on it. I am really enjoying my Q-P for street photography.

    • Many thanks, Brian. Handling the Q2 is just like returning home and it reminds me of all the happy times I had with the Q, especially in Switzerland and in China.

  4. Could you comment on how the Q2 viewfinder compares with the CL’s please?
    Also what is the JPEG quality like compared to the CL? This would help those considering one or the other. I think it was the DP Review site that said it was pretty awful on the Q2. I ask because I don’t usually use RAW, ( Yes, I know i should! ) because I don’t like post processing much. Congrats on your new camera!

    • I will bear three two points in mind, Stephen. I tend to have jpg turned off and it’s therefore something I don’t pay much attention to. I also saw the DPReview comment about the Q jpgs. I’m not sure if this is a universal impression or just one person’s view.

      The EVF issue is easier to address and I will let you know when I’ve gained some experience.

  5. I look forward to seeing how you and all the other early adopters get on. My concern is hand holding 47megapixels. I know it was difficult on some cameras unless a fast shutter speed was used. The slightest camera shake is displayed for all to see!

    • This is true and since I haven’t used a 40-plus MP camera before I’d overlooked it. Yesterday I was shooting wide open, thus ensuring a fast speed in daylight. It is definitely something to bear in mind.

  6. Congrats on the recent purchase Mike! I had a good play with the camera in the Leica LA store on the event launch and again over the weekend. The overall feel is wonderful and the small adjustments to layout of buttons etc. per the M10 is very welcome.

    How are you finding the much bigger files in Lightroom? I downloaded 45 images from the Q2 on my Macbook and very quickly realized that I would be upgrading my laptop if I bought this camera. My iMac did much better, but was a still a noticeable slow down still in previewing and editing.

    Look forward to seeing more of your images from the new toy! 🙂

    • Mike, I am finding that I don‘t like the large files from the Q2, as much for processor overload as for storage clutter. A full-size DNG file is 86MP and an accompanying jpeg can take it over 100MP. So, ten shots, one gigabyte and lots of spluttering of the computer‘s processor as the files are uploaded into Lightroom. I am working on a little feature on this, so what this space….

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