Before the Leica Q, I have never considered owning a Leica. I have been 100% loyal to Nikon for film SLRs and DSLRs (I am now on my 4th generation – the Df), though that isn’t the case when it comes to compact cameras, where I’ve typically used Canon ultra compacts like the Canon S120. Recently I started to wonder about getting a large sensor compact camera which would be more suited to street photography than my DSLR or the Canon S120. This interest was triggered by a friend of mine purchasing a Sony RX1 which packs a full frame sensor into a relatively small package. Initially I didn’t consider the Sony due to cost – at £2,700 this was no trivial purchase and instead looked closely at the The Fujifilm X100T and Olympus OMD 5 Mk II. Both of these cameras have retro looks and plenty of external controls, which personally I prefer and were far less expensive than the Sony.
The Fujifilm X100T resembles a Leica range finder, is competitively priced and is equipped with an APS-C 16.3MP sensor, a 23mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent) and a hybrid electronic/optical EVF. Its image processor is effective in low-light and at high ISOs and there is a well regarded film simulation mode. If you do a search for ‘best camera for street photography’ it features well and so looked like a strong contender. The OM-D E5 Mk II is a rather different camera, as it offers a choice of lenses with a 16MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor. It has an electronic EVF and is also equipped with a tilt screen, 5 axis stabilisation and environmental sealing, none of which are present on the Fujifilm. It also had its fans when it came to street photography, not least because of its tilt screen and image stabilisation. Lastly, the f2.8 APS C Ricoh GR II (one of the few fixed 28mm equivalent cameras) is also viewed by many (notably Erik Kim) as an ideal street photography camera.
Then I read started to read reviews of the Leica Q. Pocket-Lint described it as “the best fixed-lens full-frame compact ever made” but it was Craig Mod‘s blog that really got me thinking. It was a six month field test in Asia and was one of the positive and compelling reviews I have ever read of a camera.
“Make no mistake: The Q is a surgical, professional machine. It pairs best-of-class modern technology (superb autofocus, an astounding electronic view finder, workable isos up to and beyond 10,000, a fast processor, beefy sensor) with a minimalist interface packed into a small body, all swaddled in the iconic industrial design for which Leica has become famous. The result is one of the least obtrusive, most single-minded image-capturing devices I’ve laid hands on.”
“If the gf1 so many years ago set in motion an entirely new genre of camera with micro four-thirds, the Q epitomizes it. If the iPhone is the perfect everyperson’s mirrorless, then the Q is some specialist miracle. It should not exist. It is one of those unicorn-like consumer products that so nails nearly every aspect of its being — from industrial to software design, from interface to output — that you can’t help but wonder how it clawed its way from the r&d lab. Out of the meetings. Away from the committees. How did it manage to maintain such clarity in its point of view?”
I believe that in hindsight… the Leica Q will be seen as one of the greatest fixed-prime-lens travel photography kits of all time.”
After reading that review I realised I wanted a Leica Q quite badly – but at close to £3,000 could I justify the purchase? Continue reading “A Game Changing Camera: The Leica Q”