Leica Q is an Experience

I am, on a good day, an adequate amateur photographer. My technique isn’t professional, nor do I have an artisan’s astute eye for composition. I am okay in every measurable, meaningful way. But what I lack in skill, I compensate with enthusiasm.

Photography is fun for me—and I am an original digital shooter, going back 20 years. Anyone remember the crappy Sony Mavica that saved photos to floppy disks? I owned one, in the late 1990s. My first camera of consequence was the Canon PowerShot S20, the first commercially available digital compact to top 3 megapixels; I used it to document Steve Jobs introducing Apple Store, in May 2001.

My first dSLR was the Digital Rebel. I’ve used or owned cameras from Canon, Fujifilm, Kodak, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, and Sony. None improved my technique; that was more a consequence of practice. Features—bells and whistles—are no substitute for a good eye. I most recently shot Fuji, because of compact size, high IQ (image quality), and manual control dials.

Last Winter when looking over my photos, I could see consistent patterns. My best work is with a Prime lens (e.g. fixed focal-length). Two kits produced the most pleasing photos: Canon EOS 20D and attached EF 135mm f/2 USM lens; Leica X1. The Canon kit brought street photography from a distance close in and (deceptively) intimate, when cropping. The Leica, and its fixed 24mm f/2.8 lens, made intimate portraits through proximity to the subject.

The X1 shots shared an indescribable look that pleased my eyes. Consistency, with respect to IQ, color, contrast, and cleanness from artificats, was evident among the photos. I also enjoyed using the high-end compact more than any other. More importantly, I regretted selling it, during Christmas season seven years ago.

Love in Hands
In March 2017, I started researching Leica cameras, with no expectation to buy one (mainly for budgetary reasons). But a model intrigued, being mirrorless, and packing fixed lens (28mm f/1.7); full-frame sensor (rather than APS-C); manual control dials; fast and accurate autofocus; and dedicated manual focus. On May 6, a Sunday, I drove over to Nelson Photo, which is a local Leica dealer, and asked to see the Q.

The salesman presented the demo unit and encouraged me to try it out, and I liked the camera almost immediately. Photography isn’t about device features, or even technique, but relationship, finding a camera that makes you want to shoot with it—that is a joy to use. That’s how I had felt about the X1. Likewise, the Q immediately beckoned me.

There was something seemingly irrational about the appeal, in a tech climate where the next new thing—and fancy feature additions—is esteemed to always be the best choice. Leica launched the Q in mid-2015. Who buys a two year-old release? Answer: Somebody actually thinking rationally about the purchase. Benefits matter most. How a camera feels, how comfortable it is to use—these are immeasurable benefits that matter.

Snag: The store sold two units that week and had none in stock. No problem. You pay, the dealer orders another, and you walk out with a loaner—the demo unit I already had in hand. My camera wouldn’t be available for 25 days. But the loaner made waiting lots easier and afforded time for Leica Q and I to become acquainted.

Stolen Heart
To be clear, I wasn’t dissatisfied with my two other digicams, the Fuji X100F and X-T1. Both are exceptionally fine, mirrorless cameras. But I couldn’t afford to keep three, not with the Leica’s bulky price. So I sold each Fuji, and some other gear, including three lenses, to cover the Q’s cost while waiting for mine to arrive from Germany. That was after a few days use, seeing that the Leica could be shooter enough for me.

A fixed-lens camera defies convention, which is why the selection of models available from major manufacturers is so few. The easy, reasonably affordable, single focal-length option is a smartphone. Even so, Fuji, Ricoh, Sigma, and Sony all produce digicams of similar non-interchangeable lens limitation. But the combination of features and benefits derived from the right ergonomics and Prime can make the fixed-lens mirrorless an outstanding choice for street photography. That said, most enthusiasts or professionals would use this kind of kit as their secondary camera. I am atypical for making it primary—and only.

I never considered a Leica rangefinder, like the M10. Cost is prohibitive, and I prefer the option of auto and manual focus, rather than just the latter. I did seriously wonder about keeping the X-T1 or moving up to the X-T2. Both offer dials for all major functions, including exposure compensation and ISO. But with the older camera, the bright San Diego sun consistently made seeing the electronic viewfinder (EVF) next to impossible. That remained a problem, even with larger eyecup attached.

The X100F has a hybrid viewfinder, with optical option, that solves the washout problem, and conceptually is closer to Q in purpose. I enjoyed shooting both but Leica stole my heart from Fuji, which wasn’t easy. I loved using the X100F.

Leica Q and matching Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones

Whom and Why
Before continuing, let’s dispense with whom Leica Q isn’t best choice:

  • Everyone who needs to use more than one lens.
  • Photographers looking for flip rear LCD screen or water-sealed body.
  • Budget-minded shoppers who don’t mind lugging around a larger body and lens(es).
  • Anyone who hears terms like aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO and goes “Huh?”
  • Shooters who don’t want to be locked into wide-angle view; the lens is 28mm film equivalent.
  • Videographers wanting 4K; the Leica tops out at 1080P (and even then isn’t necessarily better than iPhone).

By contrast, the Leica could be right if you want to:

  • Solely shoot a Prime lens; you are the telephoto.
  • Get fast, accurate auto-focus and superior image quality.
  • Have fully manual Macro and focus options that are sensible.
  • Use a compact camera with manual dials and full-frame sensor.

In November 2017, or about seven months after I started using Leica Q, National Geographic picked the “Top 10 Cameras for Travelers“. The X-T2 begins the list, as the “best model overall”. Two fixed-lens cameras join the others: X100F and the Q. Tom O’Brien sums up top-line benefits better than I could:

For the traveler who demands the best in a camera in regards to build quality and optical excellence they need not look farther than the Leica Q. The Leica Q is a German engineered and built full frame, fixed-lens camera. Leica products from the Wetzlar plant have a heritage performance and quality. The camera is remarkably simple to operate, with little in the way of bells and whistles but from this we are presented a camera that is nimble and quick, allowing the photographer to focus on composition and emotion. Sporting a quality EVF the camera hails to its historic roots of the heralded M series of film and digital rangefinder cameras. I had a fantastic time with this camera; if you can handle the cost of this camera you will simply not regret your decision to own a Leica Q.

My user experience mirrors that of DL Byron, writing in December 2017 for Digital Photo Pro magazine: “The Leicas are not the fastest, don’t have the highest-resolution sensor, or really any of the normal stuff that’s marketed to camera buyers. Instead, they immerse you in the process of taking a photo—and, that process can be very rewarding”.

“French Resistance” f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/60 sec, 28mm

Some recommended reviews from people with more photographic chops than me:

This list is deliberately exclusive. Many of the best reviews are from the camera’s release year of 2015, and they are excluded (but some are quoted from herein). The five spotlighted are either more recent or reflect many months of usage.

Top-line Benefits
Leica Q, as I have previously stated about the X100F, is an acquired taste—kinda like World Market 99-percent cocoa dark chocolate. The sensory experience is satisfyingly rich but not without giving up some sweetness. The mirrorless shooter can be operated in auto-mode, but the real benefits come from adjusting dials to get what you want from each and every shot. This ain’t Hershey’s chocolate. But with the bitter bar comes robust flavor—and simplicity. Leica doesn’t overwhelm with unnecessary features. The Q presents what you need, where you would want it. Among the features and their benefits that matter to me (and hopefully to you):

1. Ergonomics. The simple, straightforward, and practical design delivers exceptional ergonomics. Little touches tell the story. For example, single- and continuous-focus modes are part of the on-off switch. That’s so hugely useful; you aren’t compelled to fudge around with the other hand to change the setting elsewhere and miss the shot. One notch-click is single, or pull one more for continuous. You’ll know when grabbing the camera, if you want to capture action. I will discuss other ergonomic benefits, separately (see numbers 7, 8, 9, 10).

2. Amazing balance. In good design, balance is everything—and Leica Q delivers in the two ways that matter: How the device feels/handles and the way features combine together—the aforementioned ergonomics.

“Monkey” f/1.7, 1/125 sec, ISO 3200, 28mm

Physical balance is hugely important to digital cameras, because of how they are handled. Leica Q is remarkably balanced, and surprisingly so, since it isn’t a small compact—mostly because of the size of the lens. Overall dimensions: 130 x 80 x 93 mm (5.12 x 3.15 x 3.66 inches). For comparison, the X100F is 126.5 x 52.4 x 74.8mm (4.98 x 2.06 x 2.94 inches).

When I picked up Leica Q in the store, it immediately felt good; proper balance is major reason. Heft is significant from the magnesium alloy body and the lens, which extends, with hood attached, about 65mm (2.6 inches) from the body (figure is based on my own inexact measurements). The kit weighs 640 grams (1.41 pounds); for comparison, the X100F is 1.03 pounds.

3. Full-frame sensor. Physical size is 36mm x 24mm—that’s 35mm format, or film equivalent. Images coming off the sensor are 24 megapixels (measuring 6,000 x 4,000 pixels). For anyone counting them (and you shouldn’t), number of megapixels matters much less than does sensor size.

Photos are artifact-free across the entire range. The captured detail and vibrancy of the colors are breathtaking. This is a super IQ shooter, but the sensor is only part of the reason why.

“Summer Santa” f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 28mm (95% crop)

4. Fixed lens. A sensor is only as good as the lens, and the Q’s  f/1.7 Summilux delivers super sharpness across the focal range. This is a prime’s Prime that gives great clarity regardless of shooting conditions. I am simply amazed.

One advantage of a Prime lens matched with a full-frame sensor: There is so much captured clarity that you can close-crop without losing detail. That affords some of a telephoto’s get-in-close benefits without imposing the typically, accompanying photographic aberrations caused by the mechanical elements.

5. Wide-angle perspective. The 28mm, which is film equivalent, won’t win over everyone. But, hey, if you shoot anything with an iPhone, its puny sensor also puts out 28mm film equivalent. The perspective should be familiar. Honestly, I needed to adapt, but it wasn’t as difficult as expected.

If you’re shooting people, particularly on the street, the 28mm lens demands getting in closer to the subject. This is an intimate street shooter. A camera with attached telephoto can create sense of intimacy but keep you discreetly away. Leica Q wants you to close the distance with the subject.

6. Electronic viewfinder. When given the choice between an EVF or optical viewfinder, I invariably would choose the latter option. But few mirrorless cameras offer it. Exceptions are the Fuji X100 and X-Pro series, which pack both. User can choose digital or optical VF and quickly interchange between them.

As previously mentioned, I had trouble seeing Fuji EVFs in the San Diego sunlight. Leica Q’s 3.68megapixel LCOS EVF is plenty bright and viewable, howerever, and satisfying. More importantly, digital rendering is smooth. Meaning: No troublesome lag. What you see is what you get.

In summer 2016, because of cataracts, I had the natural lenses in my eyes replaced with implants. My distance vision is excellent, but reading glasses are needed. I can completely see Leica Q’s EVF contents with or without eyeglasses, which is convenient and helpful when wearing sunglasses. I can get them out of the way and still shoot.

“Pooky” f/2, ISO 500, 1/60 sec, 28mm (manual focus, 100% crop)

7. Fast, accurate auto-focus. Every time I use Leica Q, the auto-focus amazes me. It is super speedy and precise. I have fewer bad captures with this camera than any other, and that includes when shooting in low-light situations.

One word describes bringing together the sensor, lens, auto-focus, and overall consistency of colors and contrast among the photos: Reliability. Leica Q is the most reliable camera that I have ever used. As such, I can trust that most images will come out as my eyes see them and that nearly all will be usable. Trust isn’t a word often applied to digital cameras, but it must to Leica Q. Trust/reliability is the single biggest benefit that wouldn’t be if not for precision of the design and ergonomics and how these and other attributes balance together.

This quality, when married to the 28mm perspective, means that I can focus on composition, whether thinking about the shot in the moment or how to crop-in later on.

8. Dedicated dials. Fuji and Leica share in common ergonomics that emphasize manual controls. Leica Q has dedicated dials for shutter speed (on top of the body next to the power switch); the aforementioned single- and continuous-shooting modes built into the on-off button; and f/1.7-f/16 aperture ring around the lens barrel.

There is no ISO dial, like on Fuji X series shooters (such as the X-Pro2 and X-T2). The Q instead has an ISO button to the left of the rear LCD screen that brings up an on-screen menu for changing the number. I am more inclined to just leave the camera in auto-ISO mode than I was one of the Fujis.

Exposure compensation is adjusted from an unmarked dial (because it can serve other functions) behind the on-off switch. The dial is easily manipulated with the right thumb, when shooting.

“Pirate” f/4, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm (close-crop)

9. Manual focus. The dedicated controls don’t stop there. Borrowing design heritage from Leica rangefinders, the Q provides pinpoint accurate manual focus from a ring around the lens barrel. (There are three rings. Aperture is closest to the glass and Macro to the body.) Manual focus is controlled from a knob, with a notch that when pressed unlocks the feature. Turning the knob magnifies the subject object in the viewfinder so that you can fine-tune the focus before pressing the shutter. Focus peaking aids the eye’s perception by visually shimmering around the subject.

When I have the most time to compose a shot or when capturing crowded scenes where auto-focus might lock onto something not wanted, I will go manual. The value of manually focusing when shooting fast aperture cannot be overstated. The 28mm f/1.7 lens gives great bokeh, but with shallow depth of field the focal point must be just right—especially if you plan to close-crop, in post production.

Leica rangefinder photographers are accustomed to manually focusing, because there is no other option. I see the appeal to them. The more often I use manual focus, the less likely I am to go auto. Auto-focus increasingly is for the immediate moment that I don’t want to miss. Manual is for more deliberate, thoughtful composition. But, as I get more proficient, manual focus’ appeal increases.

10. Meaningful Macro. Leica Q puts you in control of closeups. A ring around the lens barrel activates the feature; you can get as close as 17cm to the object. I typically use it with manual focus for precision, but auto works well, too. Macro mode is a joy to use and functions like no other camera I have ever used.

11. Framing selector. This isn’t an option I use often, but it is handy—and I suspect that many people struggling with 28mm being too wide would welcome the fallback choice(s). On the back of the camera below the shutter speed dial—easily and comfortably reachable with thumb when looking through the EVF—is a button that changes the frame lines to 35mm or 50mm perspective. Think of it as a pseudo-digital zoom by way of cropping the field of view (also reducing size of the file).

“Electric Sunset” f/2, ISO 100, 1/2000 sec. 28mm

12. High ISO. I don’t use flash. Ever. If there isn’t enough available light, I don’t make the moment. As such, low-light-shooting capability is a top priority—and Leica Q comfortably delivers up to about 10,000. But with noise-reduction applied post-production, even photos shot at ISO 25,000 are usable. I haven’t tried the max of 50,000.

13. Optical Image Stabilization. The feature is common among many cameras but, not as I understand, from Leicas—like auto-focus. The OIS built into the lens gives you about 3-stops of leeway, which is a great utility for a camera that focuses accurately in low light, while producing usable photos at high ISO.

The feature’s benefits circle back to the aforementioned topic of physical balance. Leica Q is hefty for a fixed-lens mirrorless compact, which risks ruined images from camera shake. My number of shaken images from this phenomenon in about nine months using the Q: None. I kid you not. The amazing physical balance coupled to OIS produces sharp images easily at 1/8 sec. Granted, your subject should be still.

14. Silent shutter. Like the Fuji X100 series, Leica Q serves up a rare treat: Leaf shutter, which by design must be part of the lens. For street photographers, the feature is one of the primary advantages shooting with a fixed-lens camera, because leaf shutters are nearly silent—for Leica Q, through 1/2000 sec (for faster shutter speeds, the Q is truly silent; digital shutter takes over).

“Leica Q’s leaf shutter is one of the quietest shutter I’ve ever used”, Richard Wong writes in his review of the camera. “Street photographers would love the Q as the super quiet shutter combined with the black understate body make it perfect for capturing some sneaky stealthy street photos”. Let me once again use the “I” word, intimate, and add another: Paparazzi.

15. Flash sync. If, unlike me, you use flash, the leaf shutter enables flash-sync up to 1/2000 sec. However, Leica Q does not come with built-in flash (like the X100F) or attachable one (like the X-T2). You will need your own for the hot shoe.

“Two Broads” f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec (edited for taste)

16. Lens cap. Simply stated: The thing fits over the attached lens hood, which allows me to keep on the hood all the time.

17. RAW format. Like other Leicas, the Q saves files as JPEG or Adobe’s DNG (Digital Negative) format—or both together. I can open and/or manipulate DNG in more applications and on more devices than the typical camera manufacturers’ RAW files; I typically only shoot RAW. Ubiquity and compatibly mean something. Save-to-DNG-only option has been available on Leica Q since release of Firmware Update 2.

There also is a presumption, whether or not true, that there should be some post-production benefits to DNG when editing with Adobe products (like Lightroom Classic CC).

18. Rear thumb indent. Many photographers will want a hand-grip, but I find Leica’s design choice to be most appropriate. A more traditional hand-grip would diminish the camera’s aesthetic charms. But if you must have one, the German manufacturer has your back—for $125.

The rear thumb indent doesn’t look like much to grab but it works for me. The camera has never once slipped from my fingers. Even if there was such mishap, Leica Q is always attached to the Hard Graft Atelier Hang Camera Strap that I got for Christmas 2015.

For all the ways Leica Q satisfies, some shortcomings make an imperfect kit.

  • Video recording disappoints, particularly considering that photography is spectacular.
  • The lens cap tends to become loose over time, meaning it no longer snuggly fits and can fall off.
  • The touchscreen is okay, which makes it sorely out of place on a camera where so much attention is given to minute ergonomic details.
  • The rear-LCD screen doesn’t flip up, and should, thinking of the Q as a street camera and opportunities shooting from the hip would present.
  • The diopter knob for the EVF too easily is knocked out of place. Particularly before going out street shooting, I feel obliged to check that the viewfinder is readable and to make any needed adjustments.
  • The Exposure Compensation dial switches to adjusting shutter speed when you manually choose your own rather than shoot auto. I see benefits of both methods but would prefer something more flexible.
  • Weather sealing makes so much sense for a fixed-lens camera, particularly one that is rugged and capable of taking hard knocks in the field. But, alas, you want to be mindful of serious rain or snow when using Leica Q.

“Maxine” f/2, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec, 28mm

And Finally…
Quickly, some features I skipped over, because I rarely or never use them:

  • Wireless capabilities. The Q supports WiFi and NFC, and Leica makes a supporting app.
  • Customizable buttons. Several can be assigned new functions, such as the one for 35mm or 50mm framing.
  • Menu system. Leica Q’s menu system is among the best I’ve used. But relying on manual controls, I rarely need to access it.
  • Video recording button. You will find it conveniently placed to the right of the on-off switch. The thing would be handy if Leica Q was anywhere as good shooting videos as photos; it’s not.

The 2015-release Leica Q is designated Typ 116. Two color variants can be purchased,  but at different prices: Black anodized—the one I own—for $4,250; silver anodized for $4,495. Titanium grey is no longer available.

Leica Q isn’t for everyone, and likely isn’t for most people. The camera is costly but could save you money over the long run. You get one lens and won’t be tempted to purchase any more, because you can’t interchange them. The single piece of glass won’t be enough for the majority of shooters, though. That’s okay. Leica Q is a precision instrument ergonomically designed for precise photography.

I love mine. Leica Q is one of the best investments—it’s more than a purchase—that I have ever made. Yes, there are times that a zoom lens would be useful, if not necessary. But the balanced benefits and how the full-frame compact inspires me to photograph more are what matter most.

Leica Q isn’t a camera, it’s an experience.

28 thoughts on “Leica Q is an Experience

  1. Have you ever shot with a Sony s7? I’ve been saving my pennies for a Q, but a Sony s7 iii with their 28mm lens is still about $1,000 cheaper. I assume the Sony has some technical advantages, and the IBIS is probably better. But the Q Summilux lens is probably quite superior. What do you think? A used a7 ii or a new a7iii, with the Sony 28mm, versus the Q?

    1. The new Sony a7 III is very compelling. Lots of value. Your answer is all about shooting style. The a7 III costs less and lets you swap lenses. You get a compelling full-frame body, with the latest tech, which checks big boxes for the camera. But the system is also mostly menu driven.

      Leica Q is about the physical knobs and dials to take more immediate control of the photographic experience. But you pay more out of pocket for a camera released three years ago. That said, the lens and full-frame combo are superb, as are manual focus and Macro modes.

      Would you rather have more direct control and pay more for it? Or would you rather spend less, get a different ergonomic experience, and have some money left over to invest in other lenses? If you shoot mostly in auto mode or can live with personal presets from the menu system, the Sony is compelling. But, there is a joy I can’t describe using the Leica.

      Personally, I find Sony’s best lenses so large that they negate the main benefit of a mirrorless body: Smaller size compared to dSLR. If not for that, I might have ordered the new Sony full-frame for myself.

      I suggest handling both at a camera store. You’ll quickly see which appeals more to your style.

  2. Great blog, just found your website… Great stuff. I have been the proud owner of the Leica Q silver anodized addition for several weeks and am loving it.

  3. Hi, recently missed a lot of shots with my X100T due to slow af performance. Thinking about a X100F or a Leica Q. In terms of AF, I think the Q will be much quicker, but I prefer 35mm and I’d much prefer to be able to keep the camera in a coat pocket. Any advice you could give me? I am also considering the CL with a 23mm but it seems expensive for what you get. Thanks, Pete

    1. The X100F autofocus definitely is faster than the T, and if you’re looking for the coat pocket fit, it’s the better choice over the Q. But the Leica’s AF is quicker and, in my experience, spot-on accurate more often than the Fuji. The manual focus and Macro modes are magnificently useful. The Q’s EVF is much crisper, but the X100F packs the useful OVF that you would be familiar with from using the X100T.

      Much depends on your needs and budget. The CL and lens costs nearly as much as the Q, which would give you more options for the future. You could get similar benefits buying the X-Pro2 and use the extra money saved to purchase additional lenses. Trade-offs are about the benefits that matter more to your shooting style.

      I really enjoy shooting with the Q, but the X100F satisfied, too. In different ways. Both are quiet because of their leaf shutters. I used “experience” in this review’s title for a reason. The combination of benefits—including the fast and accurate autofocus, fantastic IQ, and manual controls—make Leica Q the better choice for me. The camera and and I just clicked (no pun intended) soon as I started handling it.

      Can you try one out somewhere? I think you will see within a few minutes whether the Q is the right choice for you. Handling the CL would be good, too. Please let me know what you decide, or if I can answer any additional questions meanwhile.

  4. Joe, nice summary review of the Q. I have been considering a major shake-up in my photographic approach and this camera keeps coming to top of mind.

    Once question I have is about the images posted. I find them to look a bit washed out or maybe better described as hazy. Are these straight from camera images or simply a processing style you prefer? For -my- style, this is not a look I particularly care for. Nothing wrong with it, just a different preference. Curious on your thoughts in this regard.

    1. I need to investigate, Mike. The photos do look hazy–kind of low contrast–which isn’t how they were when uploaded and displayed in the post. Something isn’t right with WordPress or the theme.

      However, click any photo to see the original size uploaded. These look super sharp, with vivid color and contrast. You’ll want the Q after seeing them.

      As for the smaller versions on the actual page, I have to figure out the problem and thank you for pointing it out.

    2. Fixed, Mike. The wrapper for the caption was the problem. Theme is designed to do that, I guess. I removed and changed.

      1. Thanks Joe! It does look a lot better now. I need to really give this some consideration. I am at a point with my photography that I usually don’t enjoy lugging all the big gear around. So much of the work I was doing has ended so it gets harder and harder to hold onto the legacy stuff.

        1. What are you using now, Mike? What are your needs?

          I love the Leica Q so much that I bought a rangefinder and lens. There’s a precision about manual controls and focus that gives great satisfaction. But here’s no justification for the cost of that kit, just a lunch diet of peanut butter sandwiches for the next 10 years. 🙂

          Question: Are you thinking of changing systems soon? Q2 could come this year. There are also other compact systems, like the Fuji X series, that are compelling and more affordable. But they’re not fullframe or give that Leica look.

          I’m still of the opinion that Leica Q is the best all-around full-frame choice for anyone who doesn’t need to swap lenses. Leica Store Miami could put you into a used Q for relatively reasonable price; just a suggestion.

  5. Thanks Joe. This could get longer than I’d like, but I’ll try to keep it short.

    My needs and attitude towards things is in transition right now. I’ve got a background in a lot of sports, live events, concerts, travel journalism and other mixed commercial and personal. As those projects and priorities in life have shifted my photography has been entirely personal and some volunteer sports coverage for organizations like Special Olympics. Even that has unfortunately fell aside due to other commitments and life getting in the way.

    Decent kit of Canon pro gear (1dxxx and large primes) and a smaller kit of Fuji with the X-pro2 and XT2 and assorted glass. An unfortunate side effect of the “smaller” Fuji kit is they it’s grown into a bigger kit and the bigger lenses are still, well, the bigger lenses and thus negated some of the benefits of going to mirror less.

    The Fuji stuff is great. I’ve also come to enjoy the EVF is most cases, but I find something lacking most of the time. Technically good product, but something is missing. Also, while I find it significantly better than other systems I’ve tried like Sony (might as well be a game system myriad of menus) and Olympus (similar, but not as bad as the Sony interface). The ‘tech’ just gets in the way.

    I desire highly capable but simple. I cut my teeth in the film days and there is an absolute purity to that approach. I know there are also limits to that approach. The capabilities of modern camera is simply stunning. My needs are general. Family, personal and business travel. Walk around details and street. I think I might miss the longer focal lengths that I use frequently but I won’t miss the bulk of weight that comes with it.

    I’m leaning towards a consolidated Canon kit for for specific needs and converting the Fuji kit into something like the Q. The Canon kit remains optional if I’m honest.

    Sorry for the ramble. I donsuspect im not the only one to overthink this process. The days of a Pentax K1000 and a single 50mm 1.2 were so very uncomplicated but productive. 🙂

    (Apologies for any typos as I add this response from my phone)

    1. You’re not rambling, Mike.

      As you can see, I switched from Fuji—and if I had never handled the Q in a store, Fuji likely would be my system today. The camera felt right and truly came to be over time. That said, as fantastic as the Q’s EVF may be, optical viewfinder is better—for my style, anyway. You may miss the X-Pro2’s OVF. That said, the Leica’s autofocus is fast and accurate and the Summilux lens produces dreamy photos with the aperture wide open.

      I considered Sony full frame, but the lenses are enormous, which defeats the point of shooting mirrorless.

      Something else about Fuji: The company has done a magnanimous job building a photographic community around its products (if you don’t go the websites, take a look). I almost returned to the system just for that. But now I’m committed to Leica, because of the enormous investment getting one of the rangefinders.

      Let me add to your confusion, or maybe relieve it: Do you want to shoot for utility or enjoy shooting? If the latter, Leica Q could be the one. The camera is fun. But I could say something similar about the X-Pro2. They’re different kinds of fun. Those Fuji filters and OVF on one and the Macro and fantastic manual focus on the other.

      Good Luck! Please don’t hesitate to ask me any specific questions, and I highly recommend trying the Leica before buying—if you can.

      1. Great info and perspective Joe. Thank you again.

        I guess I’m leaning towards the macro and great focusing at the moment, along with the full frame isolation and ‘look’. (I know it’s entirely possible to get close to the look with less than full frame, but it’s still different)

        I could honestly care less about the different filters. I absolutely never use them. I know they serve a purpose but I have no need. And as much as I love the OVF of the xp2, it mostly sits now days as I grab the xt2 for the (in my mind) better performance. I -really- like the RF-type physical layout as a right-eye shooter.

        I’m thinking this conversation is going to cost me! Haha

        1. I had the X-T1 and loved the performance. DSLR-like without the weight and bulk.

          While the right is my dominant eye, I am a left-eye shooter, because vision is better in the one versus the other. Do you shoot right-eye with X-Pro2?

          Full frame gives shallower depth of field at most apertures compared to APS-C. If you like that blurred background look, you’re more likely to get it. But if you prefer clarity across the photo, cropped sensor might be better.

          1. I do tend to shoot with the right-eye, but I’m also left handed so everything is always weird. lol. I will at times also use the left just depends on the situation.

            Clarity across the frame is over-rated most of the time 🙂 I’d like to think I do get-it as you say. Subject isolation is a powerful tool at our disposal.

            While I do know a lot of people will not agree and like to ague against what I think, I am of the opinion that there are certain body/sensor/lens combinations that have a very distinct ‘look’ to them. And while you can sometimes get close in post-processing, there is that process itself which needs to be considered. Much of the processing and color grading will get you close, but it’s still not there. I’m nowhere near the wizard of someone like Joe McNaly or countless others with great mastery of their tools, but I do like to get it right in-camera if I can. To me, there is a “Leica look” that is very real to me, and within that even more distinct variations.

            Speaking of post processing, I will also add that I think the Fuji files, while offering great flexibility in what you can do, getting there is not so fun. The time to ingest and render RAF files is painful at times. The latest updates to Adobe CC have helped a great deal but every time I ingest Canon RAW files it’s a reminder just how much more efficient they are. I’ve brought in a few native DMG’s from the Q and they are so much easier to work with.

            A friend of mine thinks I’m crazy to think about a Q over the more traditional Leica M, but tI’m not sure I’m ready to dive that far in. The one body that keeps calling me however is the MM, or Monochrom.

            1. Fuji now has its own RAW converter software, which might solve your Lightroom problems. I haven’t used and so can’t confirm.

              I really don’t like post-processing, and sympathize with you there. Recomposed cropping and minor tweaks of the RAW take as much time as I would spend. And I agree with your reasons and the Leica Look.

              DNG is convenient; I never shoot JPEG.

              Unless purchased used, Leica M is a huge commitment, which is why I started with the Q. Then, a few months ago, Leica offered a kit with M (Typ 262), 50mm lens, and fancy bag–that I really don’t need–for about the cost of the body. I like the M262 so much, but also struggled with the viewfinder, that the M10 tempted me. The May 1 price increase pushed me to buy. I still need to sell the M262 to balance out the expenditure, which is more than I’ve spent on anything other than a car (that has electronic parts).

              I like the M10, the Q got me there, and I will keep both. There are times that autofocus is useful, and buying an equivalent Summilux lens would cost as much as the Q.

              If i wasn’t in a professional shift from writing to photojournalism/storytelling, the M10 would be too extravagant a purchase. But as an-all-around shooter that fulfills several needed photographic roles well, the Q is an unbeatable value.

              1. Thanks Jim. Lots to consider in this process for sure. -Mike

                PS: sent you an email with a couple unrelated questions

  6. Hey Joe 🙂 Just read your blogg here for the second time and now browsed your comments below and decided to comment. First of all i liked reading about your experience of getting the Q and falling in love with it.
    Its funny but i had almost the same exact road to the Q as you had. But from the beginning i shot and still shoot Nikon and came from the likes of F100, D700, D810, D4 and the D4/DF etc. Then i fell into Fujis wonderful world just as you did and had both the X100F and the X-T2 with some magnificent lens system around it. Also had the X-T1 and upgraded to the X-T2. When i got the X100F i had my first run in with the Q because of a friend that owned it and almost made me buy it back then.
    In the end i settled for the X100F since i wanted to save some money for another Nikon lens but also because i thought the X100F too big. Also i was a bit scared i would baby the Q too much and be scared almost taking it around people considering the price and the allure of the brand for some thieves and people.
    So i had the X100F for a while and liked it a lot. I actually was not too keen on the 23 lens in comparison to many other people. I always wanted wider lenses and thought the 35mm a bit boring at times.
    Otherwise it was a fun camera to use for sure. I thought the AF a bit slow at times and also the lens a tad soft. Still a great camera.
    But somehow the Q got stuck inside my brain from the first time i considered it and read all the reviews , and the more i thought about it and spoke to my friend i wanted to get it after all. So after a lot of thinking it through and reading up and comparing and asking on forums i made the plunge. I sold my Fuji gear and bought a Titanium grey version.
    I absolutely loved it. Had a similar feeling to the one you have described here.
    This was a year or so ago now, and i still love it. I think its one of those cameras i will always remember and have fond memories from.
    I also have some minor complaints like not being able to choose touch AF from a function button or other Af modes for example. Other than that i think its a perfect camera in many ways, and most of all it makes you want to take photos and its simplicity makes it perfect for exactly that, just bring it everywhere and document everyday life and in style and great IQ doing it. Like you said the pictures you get( colors, sharpness etc) is amazing for such a small camera.
    One other thing that sometimes makes me wonder sometimes about selling or trading would be that high price, like i feel i cant justify that amount of cash being tied up into one small camera.
    I still shoot with a Nikon DF and a D4 and have some great lenses for that. I use the DF the most except the Q and that is also an amazing camera which have something similar when it comes to allure and being unique.
    Anyhow, enough with the wall of text, but i wanted to share my love for this great camera as well, and felt compelled to do so after reading about your fondess for it:)
    Happy shooting!

    1. Apologies, Martin, I only just saw–eight days after your comment–that it waited in the approval queue. You made a good choice, contending that I might be a tiny bit biased about the Q. 🙂

  7. Joe… anyway possible to see the uncropped pirate image. Seriously considering the Q and LX100MK2 or the Leica version.

  8. Now, the recent comment to this thread reminded me I should probably follow-zip and let you know what I ultimately did.

    I decided against the Q. Sold the X-Pro2 and a a couple others items. The W is a really special system no doubt, but…

    I landed on a M262 with a Summicron 35 ASPH/1.

    Still learning it, getting connected and frequently failing but man oh man when it comes together there really is something special about the created images. The simplicity has been refreshing as well.

    Hope all is well.

    1. There is much to really like about the M262. You’re right that the simplicity is refreshing and the shutter has a pleasing, soft sound.

      Something about my aging eyes had me missing too many shots. I couldn’t nail the focus, something the M10’s slightly larger viewfinder remedies.

      If not for that, I would use the M262 today. You made a great choice, and that Sumicron lens is an excellent compliment.

Leave a Reply