A Leica Q2 User Report.
By Martin Czarnecki
My name is Martin Czarnecki. I’m an architect, based in Hamburg, Germany. In the early 90s I finished an apprenticeship in photography (industrial photography mainly with large format cameras). I’m still engaged in photography but make my living with architecture.
Steve Huff gave me the opportunity to write about my experience with the Leica Q2. In November – December 2019 I traveled to Mumbai for two weeks. I was curious about India and wanted to take portraits on the street. I had environmental portraits in mind with the photographed person in her or his context. So I just took a Leica Q2 in a small Billingham 72 bag, a second battery and that’s it. – small, lightweight, fast and discreet.
Before I come to the camera and why I did choose it and if I think this was the right decision, some words about my impression of Mumbai:
Mumbai is a place of extreme contrasts. On the one hand it is the financial metropolis of India with corresponding wealth and on the other hand it is the most densely populated place in the world (Dharavi with approx. 300,000 people / km2) with precarious living conditions. My hotel was located in the new business district Bandra Kurla Complex, just north of the Mithi River. Dharavi, Mumbai’s largest slum, is located just south of the Mithi River. Every morning and evening a tuk-tuk journey between the worlds. In Dharavi and other slums I met poor, hard working and very friendly people. The curiosity about me was just as great as my curiosity. I was very impressed by the serenity of people across religions. In the slums, living and working lies side by side or one above the other. Small factories and workshops recycle and repair. The population density in Dharavi is about as high as if the entire world population would live in the area of Belgium. There is a lack of clean drinking water. The wastewater is led into the river.
You won’t see women on my photographs except the two student nurses in Dharavi. I have perceived Indian society as patriarchal. It was practically impossible to photograph women.
So, why did I choose a Leica Q2 as the only camera for this journey and did it work?
As mentioned I had environmental portraits in mind. A classic portrait lens with 85mm f/1.2 or so or even 50mm wouldn’t show enough surrounding and the background would be too blurry. I thought that even 35mm could be too narrow. So 28mm could fit well. But to separate subject and background it should be at least f/2. I prefer fixed focal lengths instead of zoom lenses. It’s just a different way of seeing. After 2 or 3 days with one focal lengths you have that frame in your mind without looking through the viewfinder. And, as Joel Meyerowitz said in an interview, photography is all about framing.
So the Leica Q2 was an obvious choice. With a focal lengths of 28mm at f/1.7 I could get a good separation of the photographed person to the background, but not too much. The surrounding and situation is still visible and not blurred away. To me it’s the sweet spot for street portraits. A camera like this, mirrorless with the viewfinder at the upper left, lets you stay in contact with the person you photograph. You don’t disappear behind the camera if you have your right eye at the viewfinder.
I won’t repeat here what Steve Huff wrote in his review about this camera but point out what I like most:
– very good lens, even wide open
– simple menu layout and few buttons make it fast and easy to work with
– silent and discreet, not intimidating
– weather and dust sealing
– light enough to carry it around a whole day
– 47 Megapixel for large prints with rich details and a usable 35mm crop (I wouldn’t use the 50 or 75mm crop)
– high resolution viewfinder
– sturdy build quality
A bit of critic to Leica:
The new firmware 2.0 brought a lot of improvements but I would like to see a possibility to use just the right upper area of the screen for moving the focus point while looking through the viewfinder. It’s difficult to move the thumb to the left border of the frame using the whole screen while having your eye at the viewfinder. In Mumbai I had firmware 1.1 and moved the focus point with the arrow keys. That’s a bit slower but it worked.
The pro version of the app “Leica FOTOS“ should be free of charge or it should be possible to load the DNG-files and not just the JPEGs to your device as a backup, at least for a camera with just one cardslot. In Mumbai I just transferred the JPEGs of the day to my phone every evening as a backup – better than nothing.
Image editing was made with DNG files and DxO Photolab, that supports the Leica Q2 raw-files since version 3.2, released in March 2020.
Finally I can say that I’m satisfied with my decision, according to travel to Mumbai for street portraits and according to the choosen equipment. This year in October I would like to travel to Usbekistan and Kirgisistan with the Q2 as my only camera. But I’m not sure if the COVID-19-pandemic is overcome by then.
I hope you like my thoughts about the camera, just my opinion and not meant to be a review. And I hope you like my photographs.
More photographs can be seen on my page at visura: https://visura.co/martin
I published a printed book at blurb: https://www.blurb.de/b/10011716 and an eBook (free of charge) at the blurb bookstore for Amazon Kindle Fire®, Apple iPad®, Android devices and Mac or PC computers: https://www.blurb.de/ebooks/719725-streets-of-mumbai
An eBook at Apple’s iBook Store (also free of charge) is in revision at the moment. This might take some time. The Apple staff is working in home office at the moment I suppose.
Thank you, take care and stay healthy,