First impressions: since the moment I held the display model at the Leica Store in Bologna I felt I was holding in my hands a camera that it’s meant to last.
The weight is just right, perhaps a tiny bit balanced to the front, but you can notice it only when the camera is sitting on a table and the lenshood touches the surface.
Actually, in hands it’s just right: not too heavy, not too light to feel like a “toy”.
Size is also right to me: it’s smaller than a digital M.
Handling: the concave thumb rest (about 3mms deep) is such a simple and smart idea that I wonder why other Companies don’t use it.
I would not swing the camera around by just holding it with one hand, but that grip comes really helpful while using the camera.
I was curious to try the “official” optional thumb rest, but it’s only available through the LFI online store: talking to a Leica guy, I was told that an accessory like this cannot be officially sold in Leica Stores, because it would be like to admit that there’s something wrong with the Q design.. It makes some sense, but I don’t see it as a problem: people are different and simply need different options.
Next to the concave thumb rest there’s a button, you can set it to Exposure/Focus lock, or digital zoom (cropping to a 35mm or a 50mm angle of view).
The camera comes with a classic leatherish looking neck/shoulder strap: I still have to try it, because I have put on the Q what I believe is the most comfortable and cool looking strap: a silk one made by Artisan&Artist.
Note: I switched to the official leather strap after I realized that the rings were slightly scratching the edges of the camera. More about that later, when I’ll write about the only big issue I had with my Q.
Use: the 28mm lens is not the most easier focal lenght. I have heard so many people complaining about that, saying that it’s too wide.
I usually prefer the 35mm focal lenght, but I got used to the 28mm angle of view thanks to the tiny and great RicohGR.
As I mentioned above, the camera allows a JPEG crop of the 28mm angle of view, letting choose from 35mm and 50mm framelines.
These are shown on the huge and bright clear electronic viewfinder (as today the best available), offering (almost) the experience of a rangefinder.
Basically you can see the scene “happening” and the subject entering the framelines, but of course there’s no ghost image on the EVF because there’s no real rangefinder mechanism.
The DNG files will always show the 28mm image, allowing a crop, if needed, in post production.
You can rely on a fast auto focus or on 3x or 6x magnified view and focus peaking, when using the lens in manual mode: to activate the manual mode (or better, to de-activate auto focus) just press the little button on the focusing tab and you’re done.
You can happily make a good use of the depth of field scale.
The camera applies some corrections to the lens, you can read it in Lightroom, but I can tell you that the lens is great, both in image quality delivered and feeling while using it: after one day of use the focus ring was smooth and now offers the right resistance.
Aperture ring is really similar to those on 15mm and 42.5mm Panasonic/Leica lenses, but it offers a little more resistance when rotating it.
Despite being a 28mm, the fast lens gives pleasant subject isolation: just don’t expect the wall of bokeh of a 90mm f2 Summicron.
The third ring on the lens, near the “mount”, activates the macro mode, and a macro depth of field scale appears.
It allows the camera to focus from the minimal distance of 0.17 mts.
The widest aperture available becomes f2.8, perhaps to achieve the best image quality.
I would say is good for close-up photos, but I would not use it for macro photography (unless you are the kind of person who loves cropping the image to the limit..).
In these summer days I have found myself walking around in nature with the Q and an Olympus em5 mark2, with the 60mm macro on it, just in case I needed a good macro set up.
Every day use: the Q is always by my side, it begs to be used, be it on assignment or just for fun (granted, you can have fun also during assignments).
On the streets it’s unobtrusive, and if wanted you can set it similarly to the TaV mode on RicohGR: set in the menu the minimum shutter speed wanted, choose the aperture on the ring, use the depth of field scale on manual focus and go.
The flying man. That guy jumped from the container on the left: I raised the camera and snapped the shot without looking into the EVF or at the screen. Cropped at 16:9 ratio because the lower part on the right was too empty.
Food fotography: The Q with its macro mode is great at this kind of photography, here’s some example.
Torture test: dark clouds, silver lines and heavy rain. The Q is not weather sealed: I was on a bridge in Venice, I quickly grabbed the camera from the bag and took the picture with one hand, while covering the camera with the other.
More photos can be seen at higher resolution in my Flickr account www.flickr.com/MarcoSartoriPhoto in the LeicaQ album.
I mentioned an issue I had after a month of use of the camera.
I realized that in some pictures there were spots, I thought the UV filter had some dust on it, I cleaned it carefully, took again the photo and the spots were still there.
Dust was on the sensor.
I have no idea how it entered the camera: the lens looked perfect, I supposed it entered the microphone holes on the top of the camera.
I called the Leica Store in Bologna, and after a couple of hours I was asked to send them a DNG of a cleared sky or white wall at f16.
In a couple of weeks I received, to my surprise (and to Ming Thein surprise too!) another Q to use while mine was in Germany, to be dismounted and cleaned.
In a month I received another email from Luca (thank you again!) saying that my camera was waiting for me at the Store.
I drove there the day after, and SURPRISE! A brand new Q was there for me.
They said they insisted with the customer service, saying that a Q should not have similar issues, even if not weather sealed, and they sent me a brand new Q.
I just added a piece of black tape to cover the microphone holes on the top plate, and bought a nice Protector half case.
I can say that I’ve experienced the Leica philosophy at 360 degrees: from the moment I’ve opened the box, every moment I use the camera, the files it delivers, the way people working at the Leica Store deal with customers, the way issues are solved.
Fingers crossed it was just an isolated incident, of course.
The new Q with its Protector case – the magnetic flap can hold an SD card. The case is well made, it lacks of a tripod screw mount because the bottom part is made of leather and it’t not thick enough to accomodate one.
* Product pictures were taken with an Olympus OMD em5 Mark 2 and a Sigma dp3 Quattro
Thanks for reading!