The new Leica Q2 - is it worth an upgrade?

© Leica Camera AG

© Leica Camera AG

Im am shooting with the Leica Q since it was released in 2015. In the beginning it was more like a love and hate relationship. Coming from the Leica M I had some problems with the AF of the Q. With time and patience I mastered my issues and learned to shoot in nearly any situation with the Q. The amazing 28 mm Summilux lens with the fantastic sensor made it the perfect match for me and since then it is my main camera.

The Q is perfect for street/reportage, architecture and landscape photography. There are a few quirks on the Q and so I was very curious about the upcoming Q2.

Leica Munich, was so kind to loan me the Q2. I just had 30 minutes for testing the Q, but it was enough time for me to figure out if it is worth for an upgrade.

These topics I wanted to test:

- EVF

- Contrast in Focus Peaking

- AF

- Speed

- File Size

- Extended digital zoom

- Image Quality

When I read the specs of the new Leica Q2 I was a bit disappointed. Like many - I have wished for a Leica Q with 50 mm. The 28mm and 50mm would have been the perfect set up for many photographers.

Reading about the 47MP sensor didn't make me too curious. 47MP on a full frame sensor?? Would the image quality be the same? What about the speed of the camera and would I need a new computer to edit the huge files?

Leica Q2_ f5,6, 1/50, ISO 100
All images below are shot with a Leica Q2 and processed in Capture One 12. All pictures are NOT color corrected, some have minimal corrections in shadows, highlights and exposure. Click on the images to enlarge.

Here are my first impressions of the Leica Q2.

EVF

The newly developed, high-resolution OLED viewfinder with improved image depth and higher contrast makes it a lot easier to see through the viewfinder, especially in sunny/bright light. For me this is a huge plus. It is now such a joy to compose images through the EVF.

Don't get me wrong - the EVF on the Q is already amazing. It might be just a matter of age, that my eye sight gets worse. Especially for photographers who have general eye sight issues the new EVF is a big plus. I also love the new redesigned push-button diopter setting dial on the back of the camera.

Manual Focusing

Even so that the Q has AF I do a lot of manual focusing. Leica has improved the contrast of the focus peaking which makes manual focusing much easier and especially quicker.

AF

The AF of the Q2 is much quicker and very precise. Over all I have the impression that the Q2 is a much more snappier camera. Overall the speed of the Q2 with 47MP surprised me. I thought the camera could have some issues dealing with such an amount of data. But there is nothing to worry about. No lag, quick and snappy and a joy to photograph...

File Size

47MP is a lot. The DNG files are double the size of the Q - around 88 MP. I shot around 240 pictures with the Q2 - and it made shrink my HD 16 GB! Uploading the files from my SD card to the computer didn't make any issues - it just took double the time to upload the files.

One issue, that some might have is, that photographers might need to upgrade their computer system. I compared the upload time to my MacBook with an SSD HD and the latest iMac with Fusion Drive. Even so, that my iMac has a better processor and is the better computer, it took nearly 6 minutes to upload the files from the SD Card to the iMac. With the MacBook with less power it took around 3 minutes! My suggestion would be to have at least a computer with a SSD HD and minimum of 16GB RAM. I didn't have any issues with the speed editing the files on both computers.

Extended digital zoom

The new high sensor resolution of 47MP expands the flexibility for subject composition. The newly digital zoom enables you to choose subject framing corresponding to focal lengths of 28, 35, 50, and 75 mm. This makes it interesting, cause with such an amount of size you easily could crop the image without loosing image quality. The file size would be still enough to get excellent detailed prints in 28, 35 and 50mm. For me the 75 mm is nice to have, and 7MP is still enough to get good small prints, but most important for me was, that I now could shoot excellent 50mm portraits and have enough resolution for proper prints. Don't get me wrong, there will always a difference to shoot with a 50mm lens and a cropped sensor.

Image Quality

This was one of the main questions I wanted to get answered. The image quality of the Leica Q was already amazing. Could the Q2 top the Q?

Both cameras have a full frame sensor and putting 47 MP on the same size of sensor could squeeze the amount pixels. I wasn't so sure if this would improve the quality. But Leica did a great job. I compared the images of the Q and Q2 - both cameras have incredible image quality and I couldn't find any main improvements - images from both cameras are crisp and detailed. I just noticed, that the Q2 renders the images a bit less saturated and gets a bit of a colder look - which I prefer. I also had the impressions that the Q2 renders a bit better the shadows and highlights - but I also could be wrong. Overall, both cameras have a superbe image quality and complaining would be just on the pixel peeping site ;).

The big question Q or Q2!

Should I upgrade of not - that will be a huge questions for most of Leica Q photographers.

The Q2 has many improvements which makes it a bit more fun to shoot with. The big BUT is - is it worth the money to upgrade? I would suggest yes, if you like to print large images and if you would like to shoot 50mm besides 28mm and still have a proper file size for your prints. One issue you should have in mind is, that you will need lots of HD space and you might need to upgrade your computer system - which would mean an investment on top of buying the Q2.

Leica Q - 100 % crop All images below are shot with a Leica Q and processed in Capture One 12. All pictures are NOT color corrected, some have minimal corrections in shadows, highlights and exposure. Click on the images to enlarge.

Leica Q - 100 % crop
All images below are shot with a Leica Q and processed in Capture One 12. All pictures are NOT color corrected, some have minimal corrections in shadows, highlights and exposure. Click on the images to enlarge.

Is the Q still a great camera?

Hell, YES! The Q is still and will be a wonderful camera with an amazing image quality. The 24MP is still enough to get wonderful large prints in A3. Consider that also the printing technology develops and that u already get wonderful prints from an iPhone which has less MP!!!

Overall, I guess that NOW it is the time to buy a used Q in good condition for a great price! You can get a Q in good condition for around 3000 € - which still is a loooooot of money. But around 1800 € less than the Q2. For example with that money you can pay a vacation with your new Leica Q!

Will I upgrade?

My inner voice and I are in constant dialogue :). My current feeling is yes. The reason why is, that I like a lot the improvements of the EVF and manual focusing. It improves my workflow a lot - also the larger sensor size mean that I could crop into 50mm with a decent file size for large prints. But I also consider the investment I have to make to upgrade my computer system.

Also, the Q2 could give me a complete new workflow from the artistic site. The files are now big enough and a bit more forgiving when you didn't compose very well. With this files like that you always have the freedom to correct the composition on the computer.

Final thoughts!

I didn't get into details with more improvements of the Q2, like 4K video and that the Leica Q2 features protective sealing against dust and water spray. There are many more small improvements of the Q2, but for me this was a bit of a site job.

Both, the Q and Q2, are amazing cameras and I would suggest anyone, who is interested in buying one - if you can afford it. If you never experienced shooting with the Q - go and test it. For those who consider buying a Q and have enough money - go and get the Q2. For those, who always wanted to buy a Q, but don’t want to pay so much money for a fixed lens camera - now it is time to get a great price for a used one!

But finally I would like to say, that with any camera u could take amazing pictures. The brand doesn't matter! You don't need a Leica to become a great photographer. Don't forget the camera doesn't make the picture, it's the one behind the lens :).

I hope I could help u with my personal impressions of the new Q2. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to answer. I would be happy to help! Cheers, Nicole

FEATURED ON WOMEN OF LEICA

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Thanks a lot to Women of Leica for featuring my work. Women of Leica is a project founded from the Leica Store Miami, dedicated to bringing visibility to leading women in the photography industry in the Leica world

This summer the Leica Store Miami is introducing the first ever Women of Leica Exhibition and Festival Weekend. The Line up will include:

  • Maggie Steber | All Women Workshops

  • All Women Photography Exhibition

  • Multiple Leica Lounge Features

  • Paneled Discussions

  • Photo Slam

More details will be announced soon on the Website and Instagram.

Leica CL - First look and thoughts...

Clooney_Overview_FullWidthImage_2400x840_teaser-2400x787.jpg

As Oskar Barnack began the development the first Leica in the early years of the last century, his goal was to construct a camera that would unite compact size, easy handling and superior picture quality without any compromises. A bit more than one week ago, Leica presented the digital version - the Leica CL, an APS-C system camera with 24 MP. 

When I heard of the new CL I was very curious. How would the image quality compare to the Leica Q? Would it be interesting to change my system? I love the Q but from time to time I wish to have the advantages of using different focal lengths. With the new CL you can attach all Leica TL, M, SL & R lenses - which is fab!

I was very delighted when the team of the Leica store in Munich offered me to test the new Leica CL with the brand new 18 mm Elmarit 2.8 ASPH lens for the weekend.

Here are my impressions and thoughts of the brand new CL. This is not a technical review, it is just about my personal thoughts about the handling and output of the camera. Getting to know a camera needs much more time - one weekend is not enough, but it helps to figure out if the camera would be interesting enough to consider a purchase.

Leica CL

Leica CL

First impression

Like any Leica camera the CL has a superb build quality. The body is smaller than the Leica Q and slightly thinner. The camera with the Pancake lens is so small that it fits easily into a pocket. For my opinion the CL is a bit to slim - sometimes I had had the feeling the CL would slip out of my hand. My recommendation would be to get a grip.

Viewfinder & AF

The viewfinder is fantastic. Bright and responsive - no lag of time. The autofocus is snappy and precise. My impression was the the AF was slightly snappier than my Leica Q.

Controls

The worklow of the CL is totally different of the Leica Q. On top of the CL you have two new control dials and in between a small display which shows the shooting mode. 

With the left dial you set the shooting mode. Depending on the shooting mode you can see also the aperture set, the time or the exposure compensation.  Pressing the control dial on the right activates a function you can configure. It is like a second FN Button of the camera. It may sound a bit complicated but it isn’t. Once you understood the workflow of the CL everything makes sense. 

I sometimes had some issues with the control dials. I must have changed the right control dial a few times without noticing it and so my settings changed. It would have been better to put kind of a click wheel on the right site. I didn't have an instruction manual of the CL, but I have heard that there must be a setting in the menu to change it.

Manual Focus

The CL will be most used in AF mode, but as with my Q I prefer to have full control and so I use the manual focus a lot. The downside of the CL is, that you have to get into the menu to change the settings for MF. I wished that there would be a possibility to change this setting with the control dials. But maybe this will come with a software update in the future...

Manual focusing works perfect. Like with the Q, the CL provides a 3x and 6x magnifier and focus peaking as focusing aids. I had the feeling that the focus peaking had a bit more contrast than with the Q. In the Leica Store we added a M lens on the CL and the focusing was easy and smooth.

Image Quality

I shot in DNG & Jpeg (B&W) Mode - The CL performs very well and the Image quality is very good, but not superbe like with the Leica Q. The images of the Q are much more detailed and sharper, which might come from the full frame sensor and the excellent 28mm Summilux lens. 

However it was no problem to restore the shadows and highlights in Capture One. I am sure there would be a difference while using other lenses on the CL.

Leica CL, 100 % crop(click to see full size)

Leica Q, 100% crop (click to see full size)

Final thoughts.

The CL is a great little camera and fun to use. It is small, responsive and you can use all Leica lenses. For me the workflow was a bit to „complicated“. For me Leica stands for craftsmanship and focusing on the essential. The CL is a beautiful, a very well made modern camera but with to many setting possibilities. When I photograph I want to concentrate on the essential, the picture and the composing. I know exactly where I need to change my settings without looking to the camera. That is why I love to shoot with a Rangefinder or the Q.

I am sure you will get used to the workflow of the Leica CL, but for me the CL didn’t fit to my personal workflow. However, there is also a price fact. The CL without a lens costs 2.490 €. Add the 18mm Pancake lens for 1190€ you pay 3.680 € for this combo. This is a lot of money for a camera with an APS-C sensor. Of course you get a very well build camera, a good image quality and the red dot on top, but I have to admit I wouldn’t pay so much money for it. 

I’d rather add 500 € for the Leica Q, with the superbe Image quality, the 28 mm Summilux and the full frame sensor. 

If this is to much money for you, I highly recommend the Fuji X.series with the APS-C sensor. Fuji has a lot of good lenses and the systems are more affordable. At the end of the day, you must be happy with your camera and the image quality and then it doesn't matter which brand you choose ;)...

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. I am happy to help!

5 reasons why I stick with my Leica Q - instead buying the Leica M10

The last few weeks I received more and more requests from you asking " Should I get the new Leica M10 or stick with the Leica Q?". I decided to write a blog post for you, which may help you to decide.

I have a Leica Q since day one. The people who read my blog, know that the Leica Q and I haven't been in love at first sight. But with time and lot of patience, the Leica Q became a unique camera for me with a brilliant image quality.

In the beginning of this year, I had some sensor issues with the Q. Leica Wetzlar was so kind to lend me the brand new M10 with a 35mm Summilux while my Q was being repaired. I was in heaven and enjoyed every second shooting with the M10 - on the same site I started missing the Leica Q. The M10 with the 35mm Summilux is magic and so I started to be caught in a dilemma. Should I sell my Leica Q and get a M10 instead? 

Shots with the Leica M10 and 35mm Summilux

Here are 5 reasons which helped me to make my decision:

#focal length & Image quality
I love to shoot 28 & 35mm. The Leica Q with its fixed 28mm lens gives me both possibilities. I don't mind if the 35mm is in cropped mode. I do shoot mostly architecture, documentary or street photography. For this, the Leica Q is the perfect match. I can get very close to my subjects or use perfectly the wide angle lens. The image quality is superb - and the colour and B&W rendering of the Q is top of the notch! 

#lens
The 28mm Summilux fixed lens is the perfect match on the Leica Q. I have shot with many different Leica Summilux lenses on the M Body. But I never have been happier with the result like the one of the Leica Q. I don't know what Leica has done! This lens is magic, fast and sharp! The colour and B&W rendering are so aesthetic and there is no need to do a lot of post-processing.

Of course, a 35mm or 50mm Summilux could give you the same result - but just the lenses cost around 4000€ ...

#silent shutter
There is not much to say about the silent shutter. Compared to the Leica M10 it is so silent, that in nearly any situation you wouldn't be noticed while taking a picture.

#Manual & AF
I am a big fan of shooting with the manual focus on a Rangefinder. I always get really fast and precise results. But shooting all day long with a Rangefinder can make your eyes pretty tired. Then it is helpful to have an autofocus. Shooting with the Leica Q gives you both possibilities. It took me a while to get used to the manual focus of the Q, but with some patience it works really good. Most of the time I use the Zone Focusing, but if I am too lazy, the Q gives me the possibility to switch to the AF mode, which is fast and precise.

#prize
Last but not least - the prize! Shooting with a Leica is pure luxury. With a Leica camera, you will not make better pictures like with any other camera from another brand. But if you have the money and want the Leica experience you should first ask yourself what kind of images you want to shoot and do you need to shoot with different focal lengths. 

The new Leica M10 is a brilliant camera, but the body already costs 6.850 €! With one Summilux lens on top, you have to invest around 10.000 €! This is a lot of money! The Leica Q costs already 4.190 € with the 28mm fixed Summilux. 

Shots made with the Leica Q

Final thoughts
After a lot of thinking I decided to stick with my Leica Q. The Q is the more modern camera with an amazing image quality and a fantastic lens. So why should I change my system? The Leica M10 might have one or two stops better ISO, but for me, it is not worth to pay around 6000 € extra. With the Leica Q I am able to get nearly the same results. 

Another important reason for me is, that travelling with a combo of 10.000 € makes me feel very attentive that nobody steals my camera. With the Leica Q, I don't have that feeling. The Leica Q is a light and trusty travel companion. This camera helps you to grow as a photographer. Even after owning the Q around 2 years - I still learn new things about using the camera and I really enjoy this experience.

Finally, I hope that I could give you some aspects to make your decision. Both cameras are amazing and if money doesn't matter, I am sure you will be very happy with both cameras.

If you have further questions, just get in touch with me. I am always happy to help. Best, nicole