A new firmware update for the Leica Q2 has just arrived. So yesterday, I took my own Q2 off the shelf—where it has been sitting since my return from the Lake District last month—to bring it up to date. It’s a well-rehearsed routine. Download the upgrade file, copy it to an empty (but formatted) SD card. Insert card, switch on the camera and navigate to Camera Information in the main menu.
You then have the option to upgrade the firmware (making sure the camera battery is preferably fully charged). Once you’ve pressed the upgrade button, you get the further option to save your profiles to the SD card. You perhaps should have done this before, but it’s good that Leica gives you another prod before going ahead to delete all your custom settings.
So I was pretty confident and removed the SD card in order to upload any stray images before overwriting them. Then I returned the card to the Q2 and got a shock.
When I turned on the camera, the screen showed the familiar red-framed error box which you see most often with the “No SD-card inserted” warning. But in this case, it showed “SD Card Error”, which is potentially more worrying. The camera was locked; none of the controls would work.
Easy to tackle this, I thought, as I reached for a spare SD card. I had two brand new cards sitting there, waiting for the Panasonic S5, which had just landed on my desk.
Unfortunately, the same error came up. So I tried another card, then another. Nothing would work and I was a bit stuck.
Fortunately, I was able to have a quick word with David Slater at Leica, to see if he had come across this particular problem before. He hadn’t, but he suspected some problem with the SD card slot on the Q2. He hadn’t encountered this particular recalcitrant card error with the Q, although he had encountered similar problems with makes of camera in the past.
Perhaps there was a bit of debris hanging around (occasionally slivers of plastic from the card can come loose), he suggested. Worse would be a bent connector pin. And, at the very worst, the camera would have to go back to Wetzlar. He offered to send over a packing kit, and this set me a worrying even more.
David did, however, offer a couple of suggestions which, in the event, proved spot on. Perform a visual check, he said, and it might be worth trying to puff a little air into the slot just to dislodge any debris.
Using my iPhone camera, I peered into the slot (which is easier described than done) and could see the pins clearly. But no sign of any foreign matter.
Next step was the aerosol air canister which I found sitting on the shelf. It still had a bit of puff left (must order another) and I gave the slot two big blasts with the flexible tube inserted into the slot.
Result, happiness (to paraphrase Mr Micawber in David Copperfield). I reinserted the original SD card, and all was sweetness and light: A fully functioning Q2 again.
I did think twice about starting the firmware update, just in case something went wrong mid-run and I ended up bricking the camera. But, as ever, I blundered in and hoped for the best. You’ll be glad to hear that all went well and my Q2 is now the possessor of the latest firmware. Like any proud Tesla owner after a surprise upgrade, I determined to find out what new driving experiences I could hope for:
NEW IN LEICA Q2 FIRMWARE 3.0
§ The size of the autofocus field can be modified
§ Display Settings and JPG Resolution can now be added to the Favourites Menu
§ Additional settings for Auto ISO in flash mode
§ New user profile sequence
§ Improved JPG picture quality and colour rendering
This little episode provided a lesson in making sure there is always a can of compressed air in the desk drawer. It can work wonders in cleaning up dusty cameras and, as I discovered, blowing away annoying and invisible microscopic intruders in inaccessible locations.
More detail from Leica’s installation sheet
Reflections on a camera
As I handled the Q2, I reflected on what a wonderful little camera it has become. Both this camera and its predecessor, the 24MP Q, thoroughly deserve the reputation they have gained in the past five years. The concept of a fixed, prime lens on a full-frame camera was something of a flier for Leica. And the choice of the 28 mm focal length turned out to be an ace card. Much criticised at the outset, this focal length is now par for the course. In fact, it is the focal length Apple uses for the iPhone, so it has more or less supplanted the nifty fifty of HCB’s days as the way most people see the world.
The 28 mm lens, with its f/1.7 maximum aperture, drew a clear line between the Leica and Sony’s 35 mm RX1, which had never been a great success. I think the Q succeeded because of that wide-angle, not despite it.
With the new Q2 and its 47MP sensor, we now have a camera which is ideally suited to general photographic use. It’s the camera I pick up routinely when travelling. I don’t want the added weight of even an M outfit, still less that of an SL2 and a single prime.
The Q2 perfectly mimics the versatility of the now-defunct Tri-Elmar MATE with its fixed 28, 35 and 50 mm focal lengths. A crop to 50 mm from the wide lens of the Q2 is perfectly useful for most purposes (as we will be demonstrating in the near future).
It is much smaller (14.6MP in reality) than the 47MP you get with a 50 mm lens mounted on the SL2 but it is good to go for most uses. You wouldn’t choose it for a billboard ad, but then I don’t do many of those.
Cropping to 75 mm is more problematic, of course, but I have managed very respectable results which turn out well, especially for blog use.
All round, the Q2 is my favourite Leica and, for once, Leica has the field to itself, despite challenges from the RX1 and tentative siren calls from Zeiss. If you can afford it, this is the best Leica for all-round satisfaction.
But don’t forget to order a can of compressed air from Amazon during the lockdown. Blow away the cobwebs and enjoy a bit of near-to-home photography.
What’s your view on the Leica Q2 after 18 months? Is it the perfect fixed-lens compact or would you choose the Sony RX1 or the upcoming Zeiss all-in-one wonder? Or, perhaps you prefer the lighter weight (and more manageable price) of the ultra-successful Fuji X100?