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Leica Q Initial Comments

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

The Leica Q arrived today; its battery is charging.

I have not shot it, but just to show that there are wide range of viewpoints on what constitutes usability, I’ll cite issues I noted within the first five minutes (literally!) that are usage hassles for me (and maybe not for others).

Cameras get personal: style of shooting, the when and where and other particulars. A camera can be a workhorse (Nikon D810), or much more limited. When one has a strictly defined shooting envelope and usage pattern and type of venue, a camera with strict limits may not only be fine, but preferred.

Anyway, the “first five minutes” issues I noted:

  • Update: [I wrote: No way to cap the lens with the shade attached (nothing supplied). This is a constant hassle for me: stowing/unstowing while hiking, around neck/shoulder on a bike (dirt/dust in both cases). So I screwed on a Zeiss 49mm UV filter and mounted the hood and things will stay that way most of the time.] As 5 readers pointed out to me, I’m mistaken about the lens cap; the lens cash pushes on over the lens hood. The manual (page 149) makes no mention of this capability. With the Q I have on loan, the fit is so tight that I did not want to force it, particularly because it is threaded and I had thought these threads would damage the hood if I pushed hard. They do not; the fit stops short of the lens threads. It’s rather ingenious and I like it now that I know how it works.
  • Not chargeable with a car charger (12V); the Leica M240 supplies a 12V adapter for highly efficient DC charging; the Q omits this item and the charger has no DC-in plug—bummer. Inefficient DC-AC-DC charging only for the Q. Even USB charging is more efficient, since it’s DC-DC but the Q does not support that either (battery can only be charged out of the camera in the charger).
  • User manual: “Battery can only be charged from 10°C to 30°C otherwise the charger does not turn on". Well at 10°C / 50° F I may be riding my bike with only a long-sleeve jersey at that temperature—it’s not very cold at all. So when it’s near freezing or below freezing in the mountains, how exactly do I get the battery charged without idling the engine to keep the vehicle warm with the windows closed? When I want to crawl into the sleeping bag in my car, and sleep with the windows cracked at 40°F and maybe colder (I like it cold and do this a lot). So the thing won’t charge? I guess that means wrapping something around the charger (after warming it) and hoping that the charging process keeps it above 50°F. Probably will be fine then, and Ming Thein (see his Ming’s review of the Q) reports that his charger worked at 45°C. So it seems his charger is broken. :;
  • The supplied leather strap is too long for my torso, with no “give” and impossible to adjust length. None of my wide variety of straps can fit through the tiny lug holes. I often like to carry a camera while riding a mountain bike (strap over neck and under arm), if too long the camera won’t stay in position out of the way, and can bang on things by swinging around, or just be a nuisance in not staying put (think pedaling). Even for hiking, it’s just too long; the camera is less stable (swings more and can bang into rocks). This is not elegance; it’s bad design.
  • No built-in flash. This immediately makes it hugely inferior to the wonderful Ricoh GR for doing things like backlit portraits. Carry a bulky hot-shoe flash around that is awkward and unbalanced when mounted? No thanks. Did that with too many cameras—I’m 'done' with that kind of nonsense.
  • No grip. While there is a recessed area at the rear for the thumb, no grip = sucks rocks.

You see, all these things have some practical and/or personal aspect. So I’m going to have to think about as many shooting styles as I can (my own and others), and just present them. Because for some people they may be real considerations and “don’t care” items for others.

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