first impressions of the leica Q

June 12, 2015

Though I dabble in it occasionally, I consider photography to be my husband’s domain. I attended the launch party of the Leica Q last night with him essentially as arm candy, but he keeps asking me what I think so here it is: first impressions from the plus one’s perspective.

(i.e. not this guy’s)

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Just to get it out there, the Q is Leica’s newest offering, a fairly compact digital clicky thing with a fixed 28mm lens and autofocus. I’m only stressing the autofocus part because it was stressed – many, many times – to me at the party by pretty much everyone.

I cannot fathom why.

Look, I get that Leica is known for its manual focus rangefinders, but a camera company patting itself on the back about autofocus in 2015 is like a 30 year-old wanting a reward for putting on pants.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I should have asked for a cookie after getting dressed this morning.

But back to the Leica Q. Why is it called Q? I honestly have no idea. There was a presentation at the party but it was so dry I tuned out completely and therefore will now be making things up instead.

Let’s just go ahead and pretend it was named Q after James Bond’s gadget guy.

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This makes perfect sense because the Q is totally something he would have designed for 007: it’s compact, quiet and very sexy. I’m still looking for the button that triggers MI6 facial recognition software and releases a barrage of rockets, but I’ll put that in the follow-up if I figure it out.

While I find Adam’s M240s to be heavy and clunky, this is just the right size for me. It’s as if Leica scaled down a regular rangefinder to fit my proportions. I realize that sounds pretty vapid, and also like I’m enforcing gender stereotypes, but I’m actually a feminist. A feminist who doesn’t feel the need to throw her back out to prove it.

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Aesthetically, the Q is 100% Leica. It’s got that classically boxy rangefinder shape and styling, plus it comes in any colour you want as long as that colour is black. The row of buttons down the left of the screen – oh right. The touch screen, thank you Agent Q – is comprehensive and takes the guesswork out of basic functions you don’t want to be scrolling through embedded menus for.

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Right out of the gate, it’s not hard to figure out how to use. I’m excited about its macro feature, skeptical about its 28mm focal length, and eagerly waiting to be blown away by this new fangled autofocus thing. I’m kidding. Because autofocus is obviously Marty McFly-level awesome and the next thing you know we’ll have like, 3D movies or something.

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Speaking of futuristic gizmos, the Q was clearly designed to be the smartphone-user’s gateway drug to Leica. The touch screen is reminiscent of my iPhone: you swipe left and right to browse through photos, the same pinching motions let you zoom in/out, and there’s even a tap-to-focus feature.

The odd 28mm focal length feeds right into this too.

28mm is roughly the same field of view a smartphone’s camera has, which is a deviously clever move on Leica’s part if you think about it. We’re so conditioned to seeing the world through a 28mm crop that even before picking it up, we’ve already embraced what the Q has to show us. Leica, you sneaky.

And just like a smartphone, it’s technically wide enough of a lens to take selfies with. But be warned: the distortion of selfies at a standard arm’s length away will do your self esteem zero favours unless you’re really, really into the whole alien-esque bobble-head look.

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The Q also has its own app you can download, which allows you to zap (that’s a technical term) photos from your camera right to your phone. My husband kept going on about this at the launch party. He was all, “Look honey, it’s so easy to upload the photos to Instagram!”

#LOL #no

It was more like thirtyminstagram by the time he got the photos off the demo camera and onto our phones. Apparently the app lets you take photos remotely too. This seems like a good idea in theory, but kind of gimmicky…though obviously not gimmicky enough to turn Adam off buying a Q on the spot. If I don’t get booed off the internet for this post, I’ll follow up next with photos and a slightly more detailed review after I’ve played with the camera some more.

Camera, Bond and McFly photos from here, here and here respectively.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Nice job, Emily! Very readable and open handed.
    The Q seems quite nice overall. It’s not tempting me … I have other Leicas already and I’m not done with them … but I’m sure that those who buy one are getting a very good camera.


    • Reply
      June 15, 2015 at 12:20 am

      Thanks Godfrey! It’s a great little camera, but if you have other Leicas you love, I think you can afford to give this a skip until they release a version with interchangeable lens capabilities/focal length that’s a little more practical for a wider range of applications like a 35 or 50mm. But hey, what do I know – I’m just the photographer’s wife 😉

  • Reply
    June 12, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Love it. I write all day long about car seats and this is pretty much what my wife would sound like if I gave her the keys to the blog for a while to talk about why a ridiculously expensive car seat could be worth purchasing. Made me smile. : D

    • Reply
      June 12, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      If you ever persuade her to write a review for you, let me know! Adam is definitely getting the biggest kick out of this, but I have to admit it’s been fun briefly dipping my toe in the Leica pool.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    I am a big photo hobbyist (although not very good) and even though a Leica is way out of my price range, I would still love to hear more!

    Plus I love makeup even more, so this post on your blog was like a perfect slice of heaven. Please write more about this camera!

    Also I LOVE how you say the presentation was so dry that you tuned out. Haha! I’m so used to reading raves about Leicas and the presentation of their stuff that your honesty is refreshing. 🙂

    • Reply
      June 12, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      I’m so glad to hear this has been useful to at least one of my regular readers! Hahaha

      I will be using the camera a little more today, so I’ll be following up with more detailed information and sample photos soon. And yes, the presentation was godawful. I mean, who opens a cocktail party with a powerpoint lecture?

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