Leica Q camera Review
Leica Q vs. Leica M10
Leica M10 as the latest rangefinder camera from Leica Camera has been perhaps the most controversial camera to emerge since digital rangefinder cameras have been introduced. As a marketing strategy, the German company has decided to go back to the earlier days of digital cameras with the abandonment of video capabilities and redesign of key features. This Leica Q camera review compares Leica M10 camera in performance and key features.
Leica Q owners and potential new buyers of Leica compact cameras to re-examine their choices. Unfortunately, there has been little information to cross compare these two cameras to identify the merits of both cameras to make an informative decision. This article, we hope, would help to highlight some key features of Leica M10 and Leica Q cameras to clarify these points.
Looking at the Basics
Let’s begin with a basic comparison. Leica Q and Leica M10 cameras are two different line of cameras from Leica which has almost nothing in common except the name of the manufacturer. However, their differences are worth looking at to better understand these two different cameras.
In this case, Leica Q has a 28mm Summilux f/1.7 lens which is a rather odd focal length because most photographers either choose 50mm or a 35mm lens for their fixed lens cameras. Leica Q’s 28mm focal length obviously is a choice that puts Leica Q in a different category of cameras because it is a focal length favored by street photographers.
Leica Summicron.” So, Leica Q’s f/1.7 lands somewhere in between these two apertures. Leica Camera has chosen to call it a “Summilux,” which makes sense from a marketing point of view because it makes reference to Leica’s top of the line lenses featuring f/1.4 aperture lenses although Leica Q camera features only a f/1.7 lens.
Leica M10 camera although more expensive than Leica Q camera can have a number of lenses with different focal lengths mounted on the camera body. But, buying Leica M10 camera requires buying Leica M lenses separately which pushes the costs of camera and lens combination much higher than Leica Q camera.
Leica M10 and Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.4 lens combination since we are comparing Leica Summilux lenses with equal focal lengths for both cameras. The combined price of Leica M10 camera body and Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.4 lens combination is more than 3 times the price of a Leica Q camera. In another word, you can buy 3 Leica Q cameras for the price of Leica M10 plus a Leica Summilux 28 mm f/1.4 lens combination.
If we look at the announcement dates of both cameras, we see that Leica Q camera was announced on June 10, 2015, which is about 2 years ago. Considering that other camera companies are rolling out newer and much-improved cameras every year, Leica Q is relatively old in terms of technology whereas Leica M10 camera is a more recent camera which features a different type sensor than Leica Q.
Why different sensor you might ask !!
Although Leica does not announce the manufacturer of their sensors, a little research online will reveal announcement from sensor manufacturers about the sensors they supply to camera companies. Cmosis, for example, was the image sensor company based out of Belgium that supplies the sensors for Leica’s M line of cameras.
Leica Q image sensor, however, is rumored to be supplied by Towerjazz company which is an Israeli-based company which is 49% owned by Panasonic. Given Leica’s long term relationship with Panasonic which extends to lenses produced for Panasonic’s cameras, the choice of lens manufacturer for Leica Q makes absolute sense.
If you do a little research online, you will also see numerous articles that compare Leica Q images with Leica M10 images side by side at different ISO settings. Leica M10 images appear to have higher quality however these differences often come from in camera “processings” of images like noise reduction.
Leica M10 and Leica Q cameras have 24MP CMOS sensors with 50,000 ISO count but are manufactured by two different companies. Leica Q is fixed lens camera while Leica M10 can have a number of different lenses from Leica M’s line up mounted on the camera body. Buying the new Leica rangefinder camera with a lens like Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.4 lens is significantly more costly than owning a Leica Q camera with a fixed lens.
Let’s look at the dimensions of the Leica M10 camera versus Leica Q. At the announcement of Leica M10 camera, it was hailed as the slimmest Leica rangefinder camera although the dimensions resemble Leica’s M7 camera from several decades ago. When compared to Leica M240, Leica M10 camera measures 4mms thinner than Leica M240. Yet, the company does not mention that the weight of both older and newer version cameras remained about the same.
It may be wise to look at the image quality difference between the two cameras. If Leica SL which is Leica Camera’s top of the line full frame camera please you in image quality then Leica Q should do as well because they have both the same image processor and sensor. This is why you will see side by side comparisons of Leica M10 and Leica Q but not Leica SL. One logical explanation for this is that no one wants to cannibalize on Leica SL’s sales by showing the image quality side by side with Leica M10.
There is another important point to consider about Leica Q camera when we compare to Leica M10 which is its design. Leica Q camera was designed for a very different type of user, one that prefers to own a camera that has autofocus capabilities. Leica M10 camera owners still have to manually focus their lenses to capture photographs.
Leica Q’s closest competitor, Sony, came out with RX1 at around the same time as Leica Q which featured 24MP sensor, the same as Leica Q camera. But since then Sony kept up with technological innovation and their RX1 camera is now 2 generations old. The new Sony RX 1R ii features 42MP sensor. So, it would not be fair to compare Leica Q with the current Sony RX 1R ii camera.
Leica Visoflex 020 viewfinder is so good on Leica M10 because it has a high resolution of 2.4 megapixels. But when we compare it to Leica Q’s built-in viewfinder we see that Leica Q has higher resolution viewfinder. In fact, Leica Q’s viewfinder is 3.68 megapixels which put it at about 50% better quality compared to Leica Visoflex.
Frames Per Second
At its launch, Leica M10 was hailed as having more frames per second shooting of about 5 frames. Of course to achieve that you also need to buy a high write speed memory card.
Leica Camera knows this. So the continuous shooting mode is nicely hidden in the camera menu which means you can’t go from shooting single frame to continuous without having to fiddle around the menu of the camera.
Leica M10 is “new” and “improved” according to Leica Camera, but we can’t discuss video function here because it is not available.
Of course, this requires switching lenses and mounting the macro adapter which takes considerable time. The best way to attempt macro photography with Leica M10 camera is to attach the macro adapter with a lens of your choice and do macro photography exclusively that day before disassembling it to return the camera for use in normal photography. With Leica Q you just focus, and you can take photos without having to change lenses or deal with macro adapters.
This is the question that I get asked often. Even with the price difference of Leica M10 and Leica Summilux combination costing the price of 3 Leica Q cameras, it will still depend on what you are looking for.
If you are not the type of person who takes absolute pleasure in focusing manually using rangefinder type camera, then the choice is obvious Leica Q is a great camera.
Would I buy it without blinking an eye?
For that, it is better to compare and cross-reference the other cameras, and that is another discussion in itself.
Leica M10 has a 24-megapixel Cmos sensor like the Leica M240 but does not offer video function and has much-reduced battery capacity. If it came to a decision to purchase between a Leica M10 and Leica M240, I think with Leica m240 cameras having about 2000$ drop in price it is a much more sensible choice.
A Word about the “New & Improved.”
When a company says “new,” “improved” it does not always mean that it is better. Detergent companies have been using it for decades. Go to any supermarket, look at the labels of detergents, see how many of them say “new” “improved.”
Would it have been better to have a 4K video which I could use if I wanted to?
Of course, yes.
But Leica M10 is what it is, a 24-megapixel camera just like the previous version. And I love Leica M camera whether they are old or new. For buying my next Leica M rangefinder camera, I would wait till the next version comes out.
As for Leica Q camera, it is a great travel camera that comes with amazing image quality. A thumbs up for Leica Camera.
I hope this review has been informative.
Leica Review Team
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