TO Q or Q2? THE QUESTION ABOUT THE AMAZING LEICA Q
Leica recently announced and released the Leica Q2, the follow to one of the most popular and best selling cameras Leica have ever produced. This is for good reason, the Leica Q is one of the most beautifully made, fun, engaging and enjoyable cameras to use. The design and interface of the Q got so much right; its simple, understated and gets out of the way. The lens, in true Leica fashion, is spectacular, yet a little polarizing due to the 28mm focal length (many had hoped for a 35mm or 50mm). But all of this added up to a camera that is an absolute joy to photograph with and produces amazing results.
I have been shooting with the Leica Q for the better part of 18 months. It came to me in a round about way that I had not at all intended. I purchased this camera 3 years ago as a bit of a surprise gift for my Dad. He had been lusting over and reading about the Q constantly since its release around a year prior, and had always wanted to own a Leica. This extravagant gift was something I did as a bit of a thank you that in no way made up for all the support and help he had offered me over the years, but I knew would mean the world to him.
And he loved it. It went on many trips and totally replaced the Fuji SLR he was using. That year I was sent more photos than I had ever received. However, if you have been reading any of my other more recent articles, you will know my Dad passed away suddenly, and my Mom wanted me to have the camera back.
I have made it a bit of a mission to take this camera with me everywhere – to ensure it keeps seeing the world and the important moments in my life as my Dad would have done. To keep it making the memories he would have. So this camera means a huge amount to me. It’s one I will never replace and keep forever.
So the announcement of the Q2 is a bit of a strange one for me. I am, of course, excited to see any new camera released by Leica. Leica has taken something that was almost perfect and improved on it through simplification. This same level of simplification was applied by Leica from the Leica MP240 to M10 with the removal of buttons and cleaner menus, and added some significant improvements and features that should make this a huge seller.
But on the other side, there is no way I can part with my Dad’s Leica Q. The good news is, the original Q is just as good as it was 4 years ago at release, and just as good as it was a few weeks ago before the Q2 was announced.
It still takes amazing photos. It’s still fantastic to use and one of those cameras that I find myself picking up and taking everywhere. It’s still the only camera my wife truly enjoys to shoot with. And it still does all of this with the Q2 in the world.
This is something that is really great about Leica. I shoot with the previous version of the M. I know many people that happily shoot with, and continue to produce incredible photos with the M before mine, the M9, which was released 10 years ago! In a time when everything is superseded and made obsolete so quickly. there are not many cameras that users would be just as happy to use ten years later.
So this article is a bit of a comparison between the old and the new. There are a lot of people out there who have to have the latest, and of course that’s totally fine, but if you have been in the market for a Leica Q and are not sure if you need version 2, there will be a lot of great, gently used, and just as amazing as the day they were released original Q’s being traded in now the new one is out.
It could be the prefect time to finally pick up that camera you have always wanted.
To begin with, lets take a look at what’s different between the Q and the Q2:
SD UHS II:
Leica Q Leica Q2
24 megapixels 47 megapixels
640 grams 718 grams
1/16,000th sec 1/40,000th sec
3.7 megapixel Non-OLED 3.7 megapixel OLED
UHS I UHSII 50% faster buffer
So what does this all really amount to? The main areas of improvement is the weather sealing, the additional crop mode, the better EVF and overall faster camera. But what really stands out is the all new sensor that almost double the resolution of the original Q.
This, for me, would be the deciding factor between the original Q and version 2. Having the much higher megapixel sensor allows for much larger prints, but also the ability to really utilize the crop features. Shooting at 35mm means you now get a 30 megapixel image. This is a game changer for the Q. It gives you much more flexibility when you have a fixed focal length of 28mm.
What I love about the crop modes is that the jpeg image is saved in the crop you selected, but the RAW file remains the full 28mm. Lightroom is smart enough though to apply this crop which of course you can change afterwards and adjust the composition or straighten horizon lines etc. as needed.
Both the original Q and the new Q2 are built beautifully, the construction of every piece is precise, clicks perfectly into position, has just the right resistance on each button, the hood screws on just right and the dials slide ever so smoothly. The Q really spoils you.
I found a number of the M10 like simplifications of the Q2 very welcome. The reduction of buttons from five to three on the back, the way the exposure compensation dial is integrated in the top edge are definite improvements over the original.
As mentioned, the crop modes really make so much sense with the additional resolution. I could see myself cropping into 35mm and 50mm much more with this camera. You still get amazing files that can be printed large enough for most all uses.
The battery is now the same as the SL, and I would assume the upcoming SL2 which makes a lot of sense as I could see many using this as a great companion camera.
The new FVF is better, but I have to say, switching between my Q and the new one in the store, I didn’t feel like this jump was overly dramatic. When you pick up an SL, the viewfinder, still one of the best on the market, is breathtaking. The Q2 is just mildly better.
The only real downside I can see between the original Q and the 2 is the additional megapixels have certainly had an effect on the higher ISO files. I have been really pleased with the high ISO noise of the Q, its much better than my Leica M. But the Q2 takes a step back here. For me, the files are good to 3200, but really fall away after 6400 and beyond. I found on the original, I could happily use 6400 for color and 10,000 ISO for monochrome.
I have included some raw files pictured below taken in the Leica Store Los Angeles to compare between the original 24 and new 47 megapixel sensors.
The files are very large, and this also is a bit of a downside to more resolution. My Lightroom runs on both a highly specced iMac and a more modestly configured MacBook. The files are very slow to both load, process and preview on the MacBook. I could see I would need to upgrade to a high-end MacBook Pro if I was to upgrade the Q or look at the SL2 later this year.
Leica really have been on a very positive roll of late. The original Q has been a huge hit for them, with wait times of up to a year when ordering. The M10 has been hailed as the best digital M made, the SL and upcoming SL2 cameras are fantastic, and now the Q2 bring Leica to a high resolution future where we can exploit the amazing lenses even further.
I would highly recommend the Q or Q2. If you are having trouble deciding, the main questions I would ask are; How big do I need to print? Can I live with 28mm, or will I want to crop? Do I need weather sealing? If you answers are huge prints, crop often and I live in London, then you may want to grab the Q2! But if you are happy like me to print sizes less than my bedroom wall, love the wider focal length and are pairing it with other cameras that have more range and live in LA where we get rain rarely, the original Q can be a great way to get into Leica at a more reasonable price.
But no matter what, Q or Q2, this is a really great camera.