Saturday, June 13, 2015

First thoughts on the new Leica Q (Typ 116)

Leica's latest surprise is its new, full frame, 24.2mp "Q" model with a fixed 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens. Although it may look like a typical Leica M 28mm, this lens has been specifically designed for the Q camera and has the extra niceties of autofocus, and optical image stabilization unusual for a wide angle lens. Couple that with the fast f/1.7 aperture and 100-50,000 ISO range and this baby should be able to take handheld shots in almost total darkness. The lens also has a macro mode that focuses down to 6.60" (17cm).

The lens is very obviously modeled after the typical Leica M lenses. Given its advanced specs, we can always dream that Leica would make an interchangeable version to fit the the M.
It looks great with that understated classic simplicity of design that is quintessentially Leica. And, in case you miss the point, there is the distinguishing Leica red dot to remind you. 
Some photographers, including me, might find a 35mm lens on a fixed lens camera to be more of an all-around practical tool. Leica gets around this objection by providing two crop modes, one of 1.25x for 35mm framing, and the other of 1.8x for 50mm framing. The appropriate cropping frames are visible in the viewfinder. A drawback to this system is that it effectively reduces the sensor size down to about 19.4 megapixels for the 35mm crop, and 13.4 megapixels for the 50mm.  I suppose that a a little like having a Fuji X100T with both the TCL and TWL built in.

The rear of the camera is as exciting as the front, especially when we see that large viewfinder window with its best-of-class high resolution 3.68 MP electronic viewfinder, and the  3.0" 1,040k-dot LCD touch screen below it.  I also like the recessed thumb area on the right to help with quick orientation to the nearby controls. 

The full-frame 24MP CMOS sensor, is powered by the Maestro II image processor borrowed from the S camera series to provide sharp, high-resolution images and full HD video with exception low noise and ISO speeds up to 50,000.  The Q camera can shoot a continuous burst rate up to 10fps.

The nearest other full-frame, fixed lens camera out there for comparison is Sony's RX1, although that is getting a little old and will probably be replaced with an update soon. Surprisingly, Sony did not introduce a model II to replace the RX1 when it announced its latest A7R II and RX100 IV recently. As they now stand, the newer features of the Leica Q run circles around the RX1, but in terms of weight and size the RX1 is a much smaller package. In fact, the Q is less that a half inch shorter than an M.

Other features:

The camera is sturdy enough with its solid machined aluminum top plate and a magnesium alloy body. 

The built-in Wi-Fi module allows linking the camera to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The Q also has an NFC chip for tap-to-connect functionality with certain devices. There is a free Leica Q app that further allows remote control of the camera for adjusting exposure while shooting from difficult or inaccessible locations.

Flash sync is up to 1/500 second. There is an auxiliary hot shoe for accessory flashes. 

The Q can record full HD 1080p video at 60 or 30 fps, as well as 720p at 30 fps.
The top and rear control layouts look a lot like those of the Leica M 240, although I don't see any screw-in cable release socket in the shutter release. 
The $4250 price tag appears typically Leica expensive, but the Q includes a built-in viewfinder and 28mm Summilux lens. The lens alone is probably worth the price if we compare it to similar interchangeable lenses for the Leica M series.

I will be posting a full, hands-on review of the Leica Q once I have put it through its paces.

Even going back to this first Leica I of 1930 we can see the roots of the classic Leica body design in the current Leica Q. 

The Leica Q Typ 116 is available for pre-order now with delivery expected after June 16th.

You can pre-order one here: BH-Photo   Adorama    

1 comment :

  1. Logic tells me to get a A7r mk2 and 28mm lens, but my heart says get the Q.