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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.