Leica Q Camera Review – A Comparative Review

Leica Q camera Review

Introduction 

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.

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Leica’s M10 camera and Leica Q camera. These reviews were designed to show the “new” and “improved” image quality that can be attained with the new Leica M10 camera.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

One thing that is important to point out about this lens is the use of “Leica Summilux” term. Leica Camera produces lenses with different apertures, Summilux being their more expensive model features f/1.4 widest aperture.

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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 Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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 Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Other Considerations

There are more important considerations to look when we compare Leica M10 and Leica Q cameras; one is the technology used in the new Leica M10 camera versus the technology in Leica Q camera.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz YilmazLeica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Commonalities

Both Leica Q and Leica M10 camera have 50,000 max ISO number and the same image processor called Maestro 2 which is reportedly made by Fujitsu.

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Why different sensor you might ask !!

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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 Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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 Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Dimensions

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

So, how does Leica M10 camera compare to Leica Q ?

Leica Q is still a smaller and more compact camera than Leica M10 camera. In fact, Leica Q is 9mms slimmer than Leica M10.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

How about the weight !!

Leica Q weighs in at 640 grams with the lens included, for a similar combination with Leica M10 we are talking about 660 grams plus the weight of the lens which makes Leica M10 and lens combination more than 50% heavier than Leica Q camera.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Traveling with Leica Q

If you are traveling and you are happy to use a single focal length, Leica Q is a much much better alternative to Leica M10 in terms of weight and size.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Image Quality

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.

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Design

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.

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Autofocusing with Leica Q

Leica Q has contrast based auto focus which means Leica Q user never needs to focus manually but can set the camera to aperture priority to shoot without having to think about focusing.

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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 Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Sony RX1 cameras have a focal length of 35mms and Leica Q has 28mm. The difference in focal length is a significant one. Sony RX1’s choice of 35mm focal length puts Sony at a distinct advantage when it comes to buyers picking a compact full frame camera based on focal length.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Viewfinders Compared

Leica M10 has a classic rangefinder type viewfinder which was recently changed to 0.73 magnification, but Leica M10 can also use an electronic viewfinder, Leica Visoflex type 0.20 which must be purchased separately.

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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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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 Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

So how does that number compare to Leica Q?

Leica Q has 10 frames per second.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

You might be saying “Wait a minute. That is twice the amount of frames that you get with Leica M10. But is not Leica M10 the new camera?”

Yes, it is.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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 Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Of course, none of the Leica M10 reviews nor the camera company mention this change which the previous version Leica M camera allow the shooting mode to be changed by a simple touch of a dial.

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Video

Speaking of the earlier version Leica M camera, Leica M240 featured HD video which as an improvement is no longer available with Leica M10.

Leica Q has video function.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Leica M10 is “new” and “improved” according to Leica Camera, but we can’t discuss video function here because it is not available.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Macro Photography

Leica Q camera has macro photography capabilities. If you look at the specs of the camera, you will see that it can photograph as close as 30 centimeters which mean that you can capture some really nice close-ups without having to change lenses or have macro adapters put on it.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Leica M10, most Leica lenses can only focus up tp 50 centimeters, which do not allow any macro photography with a dedicated macro adapter. To do macro photography, an expensive macro adapter must be bought separately then be mounted on each time you decide to take a macro shot.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Would you buy Leica Q or Leica M10 camera?

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.

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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.

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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.”

Leica Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Again here, it is important to point out. We are only reviewing cameras based on their merits. In the case of Leica M10 camera, I wish Leica M10 featured much-improved image sensor with higher pixel counts like 36 megapixels.

Leica M10 Camera Review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Would it have been better to have a 4K video which I could use if I wanted to?

Of course, yes.

Leica M10 Camera Review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

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 Q Camera Review - Leica Q vs Leica M10 review - Leica Review - Oz Yilmaz

Keep Photographing.

OZ YILMAZ

Leica Review Team

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