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Announced: Leica Q

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

I’m a fan of fixed-lens cameras, because the lens can be highly optimized for the sensor, offering the promise of exceptional image quality versus a general purpose interchangeable lens camera.

Now Leica enters the high-grade fixed-lens compact market with the Leica Q, the only relevant competitor being the Sony RX1:

  • 24.2 MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • Leica Maestro II Image Processor
  • Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH Lens (autofocus or manual focus)
  • 3.68 MP LCOS Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0" 1,040k-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
  • Contrast-Detect AF System
  • Full HD 1080p Video at up to 60 fps
  • ISO 50,000 & 10 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Aluminum & Magnesium Alloy Body Design
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • Dynamic range of 13 stops (claimed)

With a 24-megapixel sensor and a 28mm f/1.7 Lens, the Leica Q is likely to deliver high grade imagery with a pleasant viewing experience using the 3.6 megapixel built-in EVF. I’m less thrilled about the omission of a built-in flash, since adding a flash turns a compact into an awkward blob.

My other thought is whether Sony will soon have an RX2R with a 42 megapixel or larger sensor—where would that leave the Leica Q other than higher-priced and lower resolution? Iliked the Sony RX1R a lot, and its 35mm f/2 lens is first class. But I’d still prefer the 28mm focal length in a compact, and that may be true for many shooters, so the Leica Q offers appeal.

Overview

A no compromise compact, the Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital Camera wields a full-frame 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor within its exceptionally portable, and beautiful, body. Leveraging the power of the Leica Maestro II series image processor, high-resolution, low-noise imaging is possible at sensitivities up to ISO 50,000 and at a continuous rate of 10 fps. Also, the camera utilizes a Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens to allow users to dramatically separate the subject from the background as well as work in difficult light conditions.

Design is benefitted by Leica's classic simple aesthetic and the body has easily read laser engraved lettering, numbers, and dials. Construction is solid with a solid machined aluminum top plate and a lightweight magnesium alloy body. Also, it has a large thumb rest on the back and a diamond pattern on the front leathering to ensure a firm, comfortable grip over the camera. Further, the Q (Typ 116) has a built-in 3.68-megapixel LCOS electronic viewfinder which provides a live through-the-lens image with handling similar to that of a rangefinder.

In addition to fully manual control with physical operation using the aperture and focus rings on the lens, auto focus is possible using a contrast-based system. This enables fast, sharp imaging at the click of the shutter. The rear 3.0" 1,040k-dot touchscreen LCD monitor helps by allowing users to quickly take control of their focus by just tapping on their subject. Focusing aids are also available in the form of Focus Peaking and Live View Zoom.

Another benefit of the updated Maestro II processor is full HD 1080p video capture at 60 or 30 fps. A built-in stereo microphone enables high-quality sound recording and an integrated wind filter limits extraneous noise. Full manual control will then allow users to dial in the exact look they want or need for their shot.

Share your photos and videos instantly thanks to an integrated Wi-Fi module which allows you to link the camera to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The Q also has an NFC chip for tap-to-connect functionality with certain devices and the free Leica Q app lets you take remote control of your camera for adjusting exposure while you shoot from odd angles and positions. Additionally, a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is included for professional-level management, editing, and export of your stills and video.

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