Twenty Four Hours with the Leica Q
by Andrew Gemmell
I’ve been thinking of buying a digital camera suitable for street photography recently. I’ve been using film for the past 2 years and it does grow a bit tiresome after a while and sometimes it’s just nice to be able to shoot, adjust on the run and keep going knowing you won’t be up for film processing costs!
I was fortunate enough to be offered a Leica Q to borrow for a day. The owner had a window open so I grabbed the opportunity to see what the hype was about. The first thing I noticed, even though it’s not a rangefinder it was very Leica like with intuitive and simple controls. This camera really does make the process simple. Limited menu’s and certainly less controls than most other options in this class.
Control – ideally as photographers if we can control our shutter, aperture, ISO and focusing it’s really all we need. The Q lets you do this very easily for the first three of those and as for focus the AF was fast and hit the spot 9 out of 10 times. Granted I didn’t use this camera during the evening so couldn’t comment on performance in very low light. Having used the Monochrom in the past it was like using a rangefinder, minus the rangefinder!
Features – the macro I tried a couple of times and I could see it being a feature you could call on from time to time. The frame selector down to 35mm and then 50mm was easy to apply on the run and personally I could see myself using the 35mm though rarely the 50mm.
Lens – Can’t complain here. This lens is superb and at 28mm is ideal for street photography and to an extent broader documentary photography. I usually prefer 50mm as a focal length. I did find this lens does force you to move closer to your subject and with that think about that challenge more as you walk through the streets. In that respect I genuinely think it could really help people, like me, to bring yourself into the moment more than I have in the past. If I’m learning then that’s a good thing.
All in all it’s a very nice camera. I’ve used the Leica Monochrom, the original Fuji x100, the original Olympus EM5 and on pure specs, simplicity and suitability for street this would be no.2 for me behind the original Monochrom (Though even I admit that is an apples vs oranges comparison)! It’s now “getting on” in this fast paced world, so will be very interesting to see what Leica do next with the Q. I can’t comment on the x100T (improved alot from the x100 from all reports), Ricoh GR or RX1R as direct competitors and no doubt they’d all have there own strengths and weaknesses.
All images in this post were shot with the Leica Q.
Thanks Steve and Brandon for continuing to run a great photographic reference site.
Buy the Leica Q at Ken Hansen (email@example.com), PopFlash, B&H Photo or Amazon
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Andrew – lots of drama in these photos, love the use of shadows and negative space in the compositions.
How does the Q go from 28 to 35 and then 50 ? is it just cropping the sensor and making the image a lower res ?
Leica Q 35 would be v interesting
Yes, crop the 28mm image.
Great article. The q. So beutiful. Im a film shooter also. Im trying now to use more a7ii with 28f2 fe and the nifty 50 coming soon. 2 focal i prefer.
Nice work. Thanks Andy.
Simply stunning, Andy! You really do get along well with the Q. Your images and use of light are, as always, brilliant.
Thanks Ashwin. It was nice getting out with a digital camera again :-)!! Unlike some people who live in some pleasant (not so) winter locations (Toronto and Edmonton come to mind :-)) I love the light coming into and during this time of year.
Curious Ashwin on your verdict or preference in Leica world. As good as the SL and Q are have you gone back to mostly using an M?
Nice shots Andy.
On another note I have heard rumours the next M won’t be a rangefinder. EEK
Thanks Ian….REALLY! Wow, that’d be disappointing….The SL, Q and likes of A7’s and XPro’s may have caught up on sales growth!
P.S. Port of Crows fan :-)?
Port (but hiding under a rock at the moment)
I don’t believe that for a second. 🙂 I am predicting that it will have some features that will surprise a lot of people. Some will say, “I would have never thought of THAT.”
I’m also predicting that it will not have video. Let that feature be for the SL and the T.
I did not think for a second Leica would make a digital M – M with video – M with a CMOS sensor but there you go. Take the rangefinder out use a built in EVF you have a much smaller (one of the complaints with the 240) and cheaper M.
That’s a nonsensical rumor. Considering that the “M” stands for “Meßsucher” which means “combined-rangefinder/viewfinder”, an M without a rangefinder wouldn’t be an M, nor would Leica call it that.
If focussing can be done by EVF and rear LCD, then a rangefinder isn’t needed. That said, the ability to see outside the frame lines is an advantage of the rangefinder and part of the traditional M experience. We’ll have to wait and see.
Firstly nice work different images here excellent compositions so that’s a plus. The camera is super for street. Silent shutter fast focus and a 28mm lens.The wide angle would cause me to think as I am a 50mm shooter. But I must admit the photos I see from this camera impress me – so maybe 28 is better than I thought for street and reportage.
Thanks for posting.
Thanks Fergus. I also prefer 50mm as a focal length. However when using this camera (albeit for a short time!) it really makes you change your usual photographic habits based on focal length. And I think this is a good thing. If I had this as a keeper using it on the street regularly then I’d eventually and subconsciously change and hopefully break some new ground I may normally stay away from.
Andrew, thanks for your insights.. I know you and I share the same sensibilities when it comes to camera equipment so your opinion matters to me.
Thanks Peter. I’ll certainly take that as a compliment knowing your work.
As an X100S owner, I’d like to hear more about the differences. Honestly, and with no disrespect, the photos here don’t do much for me. They seem like the contrast is turned up a lot. Are these out of camera or modified in post?
Used 1/2000th on mechanical shutter most of time whilst had it Tony. Was some added in post. The light at the time was 8am Autumn light and so for me fit the “mood” at the time. I intentionally was trying use this light.
Never used the x100s. Im not going to buy the Q. Good fun and simple camera just a bit too limited for me at 28mm.
Congratulations on the post–great stuff, as always!
Thanks Mark. If one of us (photographic community) are considering options then worth letting others know what we thought to help.
As Tom alluded to these images are contrast driven due to time of day and how it made me interpret things. But that said not really my usual approach. So in that sense these images may not be useful for colour interpretations, etc. Apart from mood was a good opportunity to test dynamic range and shadow recovery and how the camera dealt with strong contrast.
great pictures, andy