Leica has just announced its newest camera, the Leica Q2. More than just a standard upgrade to its predecessor, the Q2 takes what was already a decent compact camera and makes it a strong competitor in the compact fixed lens market.
The Leica Q2, like its predecessor, is Leica's take on a full-frame compact camera in the style of the popular M series. At first glance, you could easily confuse its minimalist design, magnesium body, and button layout for the M10, just in a slightly smaller package. I was lucky enough to get a few days to play with it last week, and having never used the original Q, I was pleasantly surprised. When I reviewed the Leica SL I was blown away by its image quality, electronic viewfinder, and overall professional features. Its biggest downside was its overall size and weight. While the M10 is a beautifully designed camera staying true to the Leica M series, it's compact and stealthy when walking on the streets or traveling. However, I'm just not a rangefinder fan and consistently found myself wishing for more modern features. The Q2 although probably not intending to easily fills this gap between the two cameras. It is every bit as stylish and has that vintage Leica look like the M10, but manages to pack in all the pro features we tend to expect these days from the SL.
The original Q was popular among travel and street photographers, and Leica listened to consumers when designing the Q2. The biggest improvement is in the new full-frame 47.3 megapixel sensor, which Leica claims is the largest in its class. The higher resolution teamed with the 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens allows for some amazing picture quality and even 4K video capabilities. The 28mm lens gives it a slightly wider focal length over its competitors' typical 35mm, but the higher resolution sensor now allows for an additional built-in crop function of 75mm to go with the 35mm and 55mm previously found on the Q.
Another improvement comes in the 3.68 megapixel OLED electronic viewfinder. EVFs in general have been getting very good on newer cameras, and I was very impressed with the quality on the Leica SL EVF. The Q2 feels right in line with the SL's higher res EVF in quality, but the OLED technology is sure to improve overall battery usage.
Video resolution gets a much needed bump up to 4K UHD at 30/ 24 fps and Cine4K at 24 fps, while 1080p now goes up to 120/60/30/24 fps. While this is a great upgrade, I would have liked to see 4K at 60 and 1080p at 240. There is a nice three-inch touchscreen like in the previous version, but I think it would have been a great opportunity for Leica to include a tilt or swivel screen in the Q2. It seems like a feature a lot of users wished for in the original model, but perhaps is something though useful doesn't work well with Leica's design.
Some other new features of note are the splash and dust weather-sealing, push-button thumb dial, and improved electronic shutter speed of 1/40,000 s. Weather sealing is always an important feature for me. I use my gear and don't baby it. Even while I had the Q2 on loan, New England was hit with a Nor'Easter, and I had to do my testing in the storm. So I was very happy to not really have to worry about it. The thumb dial which is similarly found on several Leica cameras has been updated to also be a push button. This is something that is not at all noticeable or intuitive at first however once you realize it is there it really makes a difference.
Leica cameras may be niche, but Leica seems to do a good job appealing to its audience. That being said, I would not consider myself the type of photographer Leica is targeting, and yet I definitely enjoyed using the Q2. Its overall build quality and minimalistic M series styling really appeals to me. But more importantly, its image quality and fast autofocusing capabilities really make it stand apart. It's priced at $4,995, which at Leica prices is a lot less than both the SL and M10. I can possibly see this as an entry camera into the world of Leica for anyone who has always loved the M series bodies but can't get past the price tag. For myself, this seems like a great travel and everyday carry camera. I kept it in my jacket pocket for an entire day without any issues, something I just can't do with my DSLRs. When I took it out and shot with it, I felt very invisible. This is something that I wish I had on my last trip to Gabon. It's not going to replace my work cameras, but sometimes especially on some of my travel assignments, I want to carry less gear and blend more into the background. I feel like this camera does that while maintaining the level of image quality I still need for my clients.
I plan on doing a full review soon as I didn't have time to see just how good the new 47.3MP sensor does in low light or how well the electric shutter performs at the new higher speeds. So, stay tuned for a more in-depth look with samples. You can purchase the Leica Q2 here.