Leica Q2 Review

I’m really grateful to Leica Camera for issuing me the first Q2 in China last Thursday night (they had someone deliver it to me at 10pm local time - I guess to match the global launch events). Leica releases new “full” models (as opposed to their “P”, and many custom finish and packaging versions) only every 4-5 years, so it’s always a major event in the photography world, and something I’d been looking forward ever since hearing about it at Leica Rumors.

I’ve used a Q (and recently a Q-P) as part of my regular setup along with my M’s since it was launched back in June 2015, as it is a great backup/complement to an M. Although cheaper than a Summilux-M 28mm lens, it still has a great f/1.7 lens, a light but solid magnesium-alloy body, fast auto-focus, and macro functionality. The EVF and real focus ring also allow for precise manual focusing.

The Q2 now improves on the original in many ways: higher sensor resolution (47.3 megapixels vs the original 24) - which allows for “digital focal length” (in-body crop) options of 35mm, 50mm, & 75mm, a much longer battery life (it uses the same very nice quick-release battery as the SL), weather-proofing (though my Q survived 45 deg C in the Afar Desert to minus 25 deg C in Vladivostok even without this), ISO 50-50000 (the Q had a base of 100), 10 fps, and a much clearer OLED EVF. My favorite fix is the removal of the C-Continuous shooting mode from the power-on/shutter release - I can’t tell you the number of times on the Q I accidentally had it set to C instead of S-Single mode, and ended up with numerous duplicate shots! Another great fix is the diopter-correction knob next to the EVF is now recessed, so that it won’t easily be accidentally nudged - which happened a lot with the Q in my case, requiring almost daily adjustments.

Leica Q2 vs Leica Q: Physical Comparison

I’ve posted physical comparison shots below, of the Q2 vs the original Q (almost identical, with small differences, such as a longer lens, and separate battery and SD card compartments, and a displaced thumb depression - the Q ThumbsUp is usable but doesn’t fit snugly, and my Arte Di Mano half case slips on without any problems, but of course the cut-out at the bottom for the battery compartment now doesn’t fit the new shape and location of the SL quick-release battery and SD card compartment), and also one against the M10-P.

Leica Q2 vs Leica Q: Indoor (and Enlargement) Comparison

Here are also a couple of indoors comparison shots I took using the Q2 vs the Q-P - part of my bookshelf from about 5 feet away. Both cameras were set at ISO 1600, f/8.0, 1/8 sec. The second image is the blown up portion from the center of the bookshelf image, where I attached a name card sized WhiBal grey card. As you can see, at the normal magnification it is really hard (with the naked eye) to tell the two images apart. When blown up however, you can certainly see that the Q2 image is quite a bit less fuzzy than that of the Q.

Leica Q2 Photowalk Experience and Test Images

Finally, I took the Q2 along with me on a few photowalks and while with my family this past weekend. I’ve posted a selection of the images here below. Subjectively I found the tones in the images seem to benefit from the wider dynamic range, and without too much additional noise, compared with the original Q.

In actual use I certainly found a few small differences, as pointed out above, between the Q2 and the Q. Firstly, manual focusing seemed easier, with the very sharp and responsive OLED EVF. The auto-focus seemed to be faster - even when the IR assist lamp was turned off. Although I much prefer manual focusing I have to say that the AF was really useful when I was taking that shot of our baby son - as I had to use one hand to play with him!

I did miss the dedicated ISO button on the left of the screen - as I change ISO pretty frequently for my low-light photowalks (depending on the illumination of each location). Not a big issue though, as I was able to map the middle button for ISO, but it did take a bit of getting used to. The other (small) issue is that the thumb dial is now very recessed to prevent accidental shifting - but perhaps a bit too much for my half case - as it was not so easy to flick it with my thumb while holding the camera single-handed as before. I’ve mapped zooming (for photo review) and also exposure compensation to this dial, and use it a lot, so it annoys me a little (I guess I’m going to have to contact Sejun Kim for a new half case if they can’t adjust my Q one for me). On the plus side, this thumb wheel now has a new button set within it that allows one to change its functionally on the fly.

Battery life was really much better than with the Q. Certainly felt like the 30 percent or so longer time as promised. And I really like the quick-release compartment. And with the SL battery the Q is now truly the perfect companion/backup camera for someone who already has an SL. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes that Leica also implement this battery system for their other cameras soon!

It was raining most of the weekend, so it was comforting to know that the camera is now weather-sealed. However I have to say I miss the nice “non-slip” feel of the matte finish on the Q-P - which I’m 100% sure is on the horizon (but maybe 3-4 years away, as per the Q-P!).

The Leica FOTOS iOS App (which allows for direct wireless transfers (and some control) with Apple devices) hasn’t been updated for the Q2 yet, so there’s currently no easy way to directly send images to your iPhone/iPad - but Leica have promised to do this by the end of this month/early next month (April 2019). One thing I am looking forward to is potentially faster transfer times with the new Bluetooth functionality - which is the main gripe I have with using Lightroom Mobile on my iPad/iPhone before this!

Speaking of (Adobe) Lightroom - you’ll be glad to hear that RAW processing for the Q2 files went without a hitch. Of course, given that the files are up to 88mb each (up from the original Q’s 45mb ones) import and processing times are a tad longer now (this might justify a computer or hard drive upgrade, or both).

Conclusion

In summary I really do think Leica have cemented the Q’s position as the leading choice for photographers who want a full-frame, weather-sealed, all-in-one camera that can do double-duty as an extremely easy to use point and shoot travel/family device, and also as a camera for professional use with full manual controls. That it retains and improves upon the original’s understated and ergonomic design elegance is just icing on the cake!

The Q2 will now accompany the M10-P in my regular bag (I sold my backup M10-P yesterday). In fact, for social events and family vacations it may very well be the only camera I need to carry!

I will be posting more Q2 images over the next few days at my Instagram at @jon.she.

Shanghai / Hong Kong, China. © Jonshe 2019.

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