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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.