Ok, Leicaphiles, let’s this out of the way first: it’s not an M, it’s a Q. Sounds like a couple of Bond movie characters, with M being the model of stiff upper lip restraint and Q the fun one with all the gadgets. The Leica Q (Typ 116) is certainly a product that is forward-thinking. Quite surprising really, especially given the fact that Leica has seemed reluctant in the past to offer the full-frame technology in anything other than their iconic M-series cameras.
Despite what some people may think, Leica Camera is a modern-thinking company with Dr. Andreas Kaufmann at the helm, and this 24-megapixel compact camera with built-in EVF and fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens proves it. The M is not for everyone so why should full-frame be for the elitists? Sony can bring full-frame to the masses and Leica is not limiting it to the upper echelons of their catalogue either.
Sure, it is priced at $4250, which doesn’t exactly make this accessible to people who don’t bathe in Beluga caviar (I assume that’s what rich people do, right?). But this camera is essentially offering those who simply can’t get used to the old-world rangefinder function meets modern technology of the M, the same camera but with all the convenient useability of any digital camera today.
It is well-specced too: the 3.68-megapixel LCoS (dunno what it means) EVF should be detailed; the 24-megapixel CMOS sensor is the same as the one found within the Leica M Type 240; although the lens is fixed, it is a 28mm f/1.7 Summilux with stabilisation and the 3″ 1.04-million dot LCD screen on the back is a touch sensitive one, which you can use to select focus points. Then you have the standard features that you need in a modern camera – hotshoe, HD video mode, wi-fi functionality – and some surprises: it’s a Leica that shoots 10-fps DNG bursts!
It’s not completely perfect, however, as the fastest shutter speed it will go to is 1/2,000s. This is the limit with the mechanical shutter, which is very Leica, but the Q also has the ability to use an electronic shutter for shutter speeds up to 1/16,000s.
Shutter speeds and aperture settings are set using the dedicated dial on top and the ring on the lens, respectively. Dare I say it again, it’s just like using an M. Sort of. You can take that wishful thinking further with the focusing tab for manual focusing (can be zone focused or done with magnification and/or peaking) and a ‘digital frame selector’, which, like with the M, allows you to preview other focal length frame lines in the finder. So, with the Q, you can preview what you’re missing without a 35mm or 50mm lens when you have a fixed 28mm lens. Still, it’s kinda cute.
Although there will be parallels drawn to the M, the Q is part M, part X, part T, part Fuji X100T. It’s a greatest hits collection mash-up of all the best bits of those cameras, but there’s nothing tacky about it. I think Leica has created a camera that is exciting and one that looks to the future, not protecting its past. Like the Bond movie namesakes, you can’t disrespect the M but, for now, the Q seems like the more interesting one.
For more info on the Leica Q, visit Leica Camera’s website.