On December 18th last year I received an email from Peter Kruschewski asking whether I was interested in testing a new and promising concept:
“It will be a full frame compact camera with a f1.7 lens with fixed focal length and a full feature package”.
As you can imagine, I was intrigued: The prototype camera arrived on Christmas Eve 2014 and was immediately put to work for our family celebrations. A production model turned up in March (greatly improved on a number of levels). The camera has been a constant companion for six months, it’s been up the Alps skiing, it’s been to pubs and parties, on long country walks and business trips and most recently it’s heading for China (I’m writing this article on the flight to Hangzhou).
My role with Leica is to test the cameras, not to write reviews of them, and it’s important to understand that this is not intended to be a critical review. If I find something wrong with a camera, then I tell Leica. Having said that, this is my work, nobody has suggested what I should write, and I certainly wouldn’t say anything that I don’t believe to be the case or omit anything that seemed to be an issue. Please note, these images were taken with a pre-production camera and in some instances a prototype, so you should not consider them to be representative of the final image quality.
I’m intending to go into a little more detail than usual as I feel this is a particularly interesting camera and a real step forward for Leica and certainly the best digital camera they’ve produced outside the S and M ranges.
The Leica Q is a relatively compact autofocus camera with a 28mm f1.7 Summilux lens. It has a built in EVF and traditional manual controls for shutter speed, aperture (on the lens like the M system) and manual focus (complete with distance scale). It has hardware based image stabilisation and a full frame 24mp CMOS sensor designed and built exclusively for Leica which was not made by either CMOSIS or by Sony, (at the moment they are not releasing who actually made it) .
Unlike some recent cameras the Q was not designed by the Audi design team, but is an in-house Leica design by young designer Vincent Laine.
The Q has clearly been developed with the successful features of the Leica X cameras in mind. However, this is a very different camera with great improvements both technically and ergonomically. It has obviously been thought about very hard, it hasn’t lost any of the traditional features of the X, in fact, in many respects it feels even more traditional, but it’s right up to date in terms of features, performance and image quality.