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Leica Q2 Announced, a Few Comments

See my Zeiss DSLR lenses wishlist and Zeiss lens top deals at B&H Photo.

Leica has announced the successor to the Leica Q, the about $4999 Leica Q2 (availability TBD).

The Leica Q2 appears to be pretty much the same camera, but with a 47MP sensor, 4K video. The processor, lens, EVF, and low-res rear LCD all look to be the same, and the price goes up by $1000.

  • 47.3MP Full-Frame CMOS
  • Sensor Maestro II Image Processor
  • Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. Lens
  • 3.68MP OLED Electronic Viewfinder 3.0"
  • 1.04m-Dot TouchscreenLCD [diglloyd: about as low-res as it gets these days]
  • DCI 4K24p, UHD 4K30p, Full HD 120p Video
  • ISO 50-50000, up to 10-fps Shooting
  • 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm Crop Modes
  • Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi
  • Weather-Sealed Construction
Leica Q2

There’s no denying that the Leica Q2 is a desirable camera, but $5000? Don’t forget the extra $1000 or so for stuff that ought to be included (thumb grip, extra battery, filter, case, etc).

With the Zeiss ZX1 coming and the Sony RX1R II already there and due for an update, diehard Leica fans will buy immediately, but for everyone else, waiting a few months to see what happens in this fixed-lens camera space might be wise.

Leica Q2 Summilux 28mm f/1.7

As shown in Leica Q: Extreme Barrel Distortion Degrades Sharpness, Reduces True Resolution, Decreases Field of View, the unbelievably strong barrel distortion along with the required distortion correction means that in effect, only 93% of the sensor area is used.

Because of this distortion correction, the outer zones can never be fully sharp even on a 24MP sensor; there is no way to stretch one pixel into 1.2 pixels (or whatever it is) without degrading sharpness and micro contrast. A 47MP sensor only makes that issue more acute. Of course, this reality has been and remains invisible to Leica fans.

Thus Leica’s claims of optical excellence are no doubt true in an overall sense, but in terms of imaging sharpness, not at all impressive.

Leica Q Summilux 28mm f/1.7 barrel distortion

Sensor

The Leica Q2 47MP sensor should greatly reduce aliasing and moiré issues while providing a lot more detail but its on-sensor focusing might bring other issues too (like pattern noise).

The actual increase in recorded detail will be less than implied as discussed above. Improvements will be most noticeable in more central areas, less so in outer zones.

For fun

One breakthrough feature you can see in the promotional picture: even without the lens hood, the entire camera can get covered in water droplets, but the Leica Lens Force Field keeps the front lens element spotless. That will be very handy out in the field. Every other lens I’ve ever used gets spotted with water droplets when exposed to spray.

If Leica Q2 not shown below, buy the about $4999 Leica Q2.

CLICK TO VIEW: Leica Q2 and related

Leica Q2 description

Redeveloped while retaining impressive imaging and optical attributes, the Leica Q2 is an advanced compact camera characterized by its updated sensor design and intuitive operation. Revolving around a revised full-frame 47.3MP CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor, high-resolution stills shooting is possible along with both DCI and UHD 4K video recording. The image processor also contributes to a broad ISO 50-50000 sensitivity range along with quick 10-fps full-resolution continuous shooting. The added resolution also affords a series of unique Crop Modes, which simulate working with longer focal length lenses, including 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm fields of view.

Speaking of the lens, the Q2 features the same impressive wide-angle prime Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH fixed lens which has been matched to the sensor design for exceptional resolution and clarity. The lens's design incorporates three aspherical elements and its bright f/1.7 maximum aperture suits working in low-light conditions. Additionally, a macro setting permits working with subjects as close as 6.7" away.

Complementing the imaging and optical assets, the Q2 remains an especially compact and intuitive camera, well-suited for street and travel photography. Its sleek magnesium alloy body is weather-sealed for working in trying environments and it has adopted the same battery featured in the flagship SL mirrorless camera for longer battery life. A high-resolution 3.68MP OLED electronic viewfinder is featured for fluid and clear eye-level monitoring and a rear 3.0" 1.04m-dot touchscreen LCD also affords straightforward playback and settings control. Built-in Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi permit wireless sharing and remote camera control from a linked mobile device via the Leica FOTOS app.

47.3MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor and Maestro II Processor

Featuring a redeveloped imaging system, the Q2 incorporates a high-resolution 47.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor along with an updated Maestro II image processor, which lends more flexible image creation along with smooth color and tonal rendering, a broad 13-stop dynamic range, low noise, and a wide sensitivity range from ISO 50-50000. Processing capabilities also afford fast shooting performance, up to 10 fps at full-resolution with a mechanical shutter, along with an especially quick 49-area autofocus system. Stills can be recorded as 14-bit DNG files and JPEGs. The added resolution also enables unique digital zoom capabilities to simulate working with different focal length lenses: 30MP images can be created using a 35mm field of view, 15MP images with a 50mm field of view, and 7MP with a 75mm field of view.

In addition to stills, the Q2 features improved video recording with the ability to shoot both DCI 4K24p and UHD 4K30p video, along with high-speed Full HD recording at up to 120p.

Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH Lens

Key to the popularity of the Q-series is the incorporation of a fixed Summilux 28mm f/1.7 wide-angle prime lens. Blending Leica's optical know-how with a design perfectly matched to the image sensor, this lens incorporates three aspherical elements to control distortion and spherical aberrations for sharp and accurate rendering. Its fast f/1.7 maximum aperture also excels in low-light conditions and offers improved control over depth of field. Extending its versatility, a dedicated macro focusing position can also be used for working with subjects as close as 6.7" away. Additionally, optical image stabilization helps to compensate for the effects of camera shake for sharper handheld shooting.

Body Design

  • High-resolution 3.68MP (1280 x 960) OLED electronic viewfinder provides a clear and realistic means for eye-level viewing. Its high refresh rate virtually eliminates lag and an updated eye sensor provides faster automatic switching between the EVF and the rear LCD.
  • Rear 3.0" 1.04m-dot LCD features a touchscreen design for intuitive navigation and playback, as well as the ability to touch to focus.
  • Lightweight magnesium alloy body is dust and moisture sealed (IP52-rated) for use in harsh environmental conditions.
  • Adoption of the BP-SCL4 battery, as used with the SL (Typ 601) mirrorless camera, affords an improved 370 shots per charge and the battery's physical design incorporates a rubber gasket to further reinforce the overall weather sealing.
  • Enhanced haptics, following suit of the M10 and CL-series cameras, emphasize a simpler interface, including a single-stage On/Off button, a three-button rear control set, a programmable button within the thumb-wheel dial, a push-button diopter adjustment, and a distinctive thumb grip.
  • Mechanical shutter affords flash sync speeds up to 1/500 sec.
  • Lens features a 49mm filter thread diameter for attaching optional filters.
  • Accepts one SD-type memory card and supports the UHS II protocol.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, when used in conjunction with the Leica FOTOS app for iOS and Android, permits sharing imagery directly to a linked mobile device and also enables remote control over the Q2 and remote shooting via a live view image. Additionally, Bluetooth LE helps to maintain a permanent connection between the mobile device and the camera, enabling remote waking of the camera and automatic connection anytime within range.
Leica Q2

Steven K writes:

While the Leica Q2 and Q are no doubt interesting cameras for many people, I agree with you about the limitations of its lens for corner resolution. I am actually amazed they could design a camera with such a physically big fixed lens and not do a better job with corner coverage.

To me the Q2 sensor is more interesting, particularly if it presages a Leica M camera with a sister sensor of the same resolution. I’ve been frustrated that the company because they did not increase resolution from the M typ 240 series to the M10 series, and are thus years behind more professionally oriented companies like Canon and Nikon, or even Sony. The fact that it’s not a high-res camera has kept me from buying an M10-P.

Not that resolution is everything in picture making, not that people don’t make fine pictures at 24 MP, but 47 MP would lead to visible image quality gains with the best of the Leica M, Zeiss ZM and Voigtländer lenses.

I suppose the SL2 may come out with 47 MP sensor too, not that I care about that system having no lenses in L mount, but others will have bought some. Maybe in the fall? Anyway, it’s a guess on my part. But Leica would probably be foolish to keep this tech out of their other FX format cameras, especially with the Lumix S1R coming out very soon.

DIGLLOYD: I suspect that since the sensor is now developed, it will indeed find its way into Leica M and Leica SL cameras, not that a rangefinder makes much sense whatsoever on a 47MP sensor.


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