When the Leica Q3 specifications leaked about 2 weeks before the ultimate May 25th debut date, I had my answer. There was very little in the leaked specs justifying — specifically, justifying to me — the increased price tag and long wait time for the latest and greatest Leica. It took me an additional 10 days or so to officially make up my mind. But it happened anyway: I found the best condition Q2 I could find on eBay and ordered pronto.
The camera arrived this week. It’s been a fun few days.
Side-note quickly: I’ve never had eBay let me down. This listing was inexpensive (relatively speaking), the description accurate, and the product as mint condition as I could ever imagine. It’s not just a new-to-me camera. This thing feels brand new. The extra battery in the box was still wrapped in the original packaging. It had never been charged before.
I got a steal of a deal.
After just a few days of brief play, here are my first three impressions of the popular Leica Q2.
1. The build quality is incredible.
I’m unsure if there’s any plastic to be found in the Q2 body. The lines are sharp with very, very low tolerances. Wheels click with refinement and experience. The SD card opens firmly, shuts with a snap, and provides confidence. The mechanism to remove the battery is ingenious. The metal lens hood clangs on the desk.
No detail is left unchecked or overlooked.
I’ve experienced this in other products before (I’d point at the iPhone first and foremost), but never to this level in a camera.
2. I like less auto-focus points.
Each new Sony camera comes with 2x the prior’s auto-focus points, ensuring you can automatically focus in on an individual’s nose hair if you’d like to.
It also means maneuvering that focus point with your thumb, joystick or click wheel will take a gazillion presses to move around. If there’s inertia when moving the box, you’re likely to hold in the joystick for too long and shoot right past the spot you wanted to focus on. It takes experience with a camera to jump to focus points quickly.
The Q2 doesn’t have a gazillion focus points. So far, I don’t miss them at all. At 28mm, I’m not aiming for my daughter’s right iris. I’m aiming for something around her cheek or, heck, anything on her face. If I miss a little, whatever. She moves too fast, anyway.
The flip side is it’s super fast to move that focus point around the screen/EVF when composing your shot. I’m to the point of considering this a feature, not a limitation.
(The flip-flip side: Moving the focus point back to the center is a lesson in patience. You have to double tap the touch screen with your thumb to re-center the point. This is not an enjoyable way to reset your focus point.)
3. File sizes are huge but pack a lot of data.
I know very little about the sensor. It’s 48MP I believe. I know it’s full-frame. But overall, my two impressions of the sensor are:
- It generates massive DNG files: Each photo is 85MB, meaning my measly 32GB SD cards don’t go very far. It might be time to buy some new cards and upgrade my Lightroom cloud storage account.
- The files have incredible latitude: I’m not sure if “latitude” is the right word, but for example: I published a photo on The Sweet Setup this week which I had pushed exposure +3.5 in Lightroom to be usable. You could go looking for the image, but I’m not sure you’d be able to immediately pinpoint it. There’s so much data in the shadows in these photos, it’s incredible. My former Canon EOS-R files would melt by +2.5 exposure points in Lightroom.
I’m afraid of talking about each photo’s colour or the “Leica Look”. I feel like it’s there, seriously. But I’m not venturing down the hole. For now, I’m chalking up what I’m seeing to a honeymoon period.
Will I be back to write more about the Q2? Maybe, though my track record is poor. I haven’t been active on The Newsprint at all recently and I never published an EOS-R review either. I’m quite unqualified to be talking about these kinds of devices.
But the Q2 does feel different, in a way. You’ve read it once if not a thousand times: It doesn’t feel like Leica takes part in the specification race. There’s no doubt the Q2 is a limited camera by modern expectations.
For whatever reason though, this is perfectly fine. And enjoyable, even? Where I never felt like I could contribute to a photography discussion at the Canon, Nikon, or Sony roundtables, I feel like I don’t have to be an expert with the Red Dot around my neck.
It’s still very early in the game, but I’m quite excited to see where this camera takes us. It’s been an incredible few days of fun.