The Leica Q

What would 007 think…? The new Leica Q.

Leica released their new full-frame fixed lens camera today, sticking with their one letter naming tradition and calling the camera the Q.

The fixed lens segment of the camera market has been split in two with a constellation of APS-C sensor cameras like the Fujifilm X100, the Ricoh GR, the Nikon Coolpix A, the Sigma DP series and Leica’s own X series in orbit around the stellar, full-frame and expensive Sony RX1. Now Leica launches their effort to turn the top end of the market into a binary system.

I have used the X100s for a few years now and have enjoyed shooting with the camera. It is a superb box for street shooting — small, totally silent and innocuous. I looks like a tourist camera, but produces very, very good and, most importantly, salable images. Additionally, it’s priced low enough that you don’t mind taking it into situations where you might not want to flash the Red Dot. Still, the X100 has its flaws: a cumbersome action to change AF points, somewhat weak battery life, dicey RAW conversions and a rather interesting definition of Face Detection, just to name a few. It’s also missing some useful features that its rivals boast like, my personal favorite, Ricoh’s snap focusing. Bottom line: I love my little Fuji, but I was looking for a something new…

Then along came Q

So, Leica steps in with a camera that is basically an M with a Summilux bolted on, fast AF quickly switchable to MF, high ISO, Macro, connectivity options, remote control…you get the idea. Leica read everyone’s wish lists and wrapped those wishes up in a sexy black magnesium chassis. (Side note: unless I miss my guess, Leica seems to be beta testing a lot of these features in the Q for the next revision of the M, minus the AF, of course.)

The early reviews of the Q are very positive and the sample images look great…this could be the summer of Q…

Here are two hands-on previews from beta-testers Jono Slack and Ming Thein.

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