Leica Q – one and a half years later

More than one and a half years have passed by since I got my Leica Q. I posted my initial review in June 2015 and I absolutely loved the camera. If you haven’t read it, check it out here.

Swiss Alps, 1/500, f/8, ISO 100

First I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to spend 4000 Euro on what is basically only a beefed up point and shoot camera. But in the end I was happy with my purchase and very glad I didn’t hesitate and picked it up just one day after release since I was sure it would be very hard to get one for months to come. Due to the high demand, it is obvious that the Leica Q was and still is a big success for Leica. Just recently they introduced a Titanium version which looks absolutely gorgeous.

When buying new tech it’s very easy to get caught up in excitement, but this will eventually wear off very quickly. Now since the honeymoon period is over for quite a while, here is a follow-up take on my experiences using the Leica Q for a very extended period of time.

Just to give you a perspective of my usage of the Leica Q, I can’t give you the exact number of shots I’ve taken so far, but I probably added up more than 25.000 in the last 19 months. That number includes a lot of weddings and several overseas trips.

Tehran (Iran), 1/2000, f/1.7 ISO 100

Clifton (Caribbean), 1/16000, f/1.7, ISO 100

Seoul (South Korea), 1/3200, f/1.7, ISO 100

Seoul (South Korea), 1/4000, f/2.0, ISO 100

Build Quality:

Even after using the camera extensively the exterior kept up very nicely. All the wheels and buttons work the same as they did the first day. The aperture ring didn’t come loose and the focus ring is still smooth to turn. But that is something you would expect from a premium Leica product.

The only issue I had with the camera itself was sensor dust, that was clearly visible even when stopping down only one stop. The service took care of it and it was covered by warranty. This happened 7 months ago and since then it seems to be fine.

Even if the camera did hold up very well, I definitely can’t report the same about some accessories.

The Lens cap looks very nice and is easy to use, but the velvet on the inside came off after a while. My dealer contacted Leica about that issue and only 3 days later I had a brand new lens cap sent directly to my home. But since it is basically the same design I was sure that it would happen again and it eventually did. So far it still sticks to the lens hood while being attached but I am going to have to request a new one anyway.

My Leica Q is covered by the original Leica Protektor. It comes in at around 150€ and I wouldn’t buy it again. The only positive thing is that it protects the body of the Q very nicely and mine only shows signs of wear mainly on the back around the integrated thumb rest where the paint came off a little, but that was to be expected. Other than that it is very poorly engineered, especially considering the price point. On the bottom, there is a lash that lets you access the battery compartment, but it won’t open easily since the Protektor is in the way and you are forced to pull the lash to some extend to fully release the battery door. Another sign of poor engineering is that the Protektor sticks out at the top of the camera and that makes it a bit awkward to access the power on switch.

When the camera came out it was the only option if you wanted a case for the Q, but that should have changed until now. So my recommendation is to get an aftermarket one instead of the original Leica product.

Tehran (Iran), 1/125, f/5.6, ISO 100Tehran (Iran), 1/5000, f/1.7, ISO 100Tehran (Iran), 1/800, f/1.7, ISO 100

Image Quality:

In my full review, I’ve basically said that I am very happy with the image quality even though I wish that Leica would use a Sony sensor for an improved dynamic range and less banding issues on very high ISO settings. Well, my opinion hasn’t changed until now. For more details see my full review.

St. Vincent (Caribbean), 1/125 f/1.7, ISO 640St. Vincent (Caribbean), 1/640 f/2.8, ISO 100

Bequia (Caribbean), 1/125 f/1.7, ISO 250St. Vincent (Caribbean), 1/4000 f/1.7, ISO 100

Usability:

The usability of the Leica Q was really good right from the get-go. For street and travel photography it is still one of the most potent cameras out there. It comes in at a very high price tag, nevertheless, it is capable to deliver not only a very beautiful exterior but also a very satisfying user experience. It has a lens that renders a very delicious bokeh and is as sharp as it gets even when shot wide open. The viewfinder is still one of the best ones out there and the AF performance in single autofocus is still top notch.

One thing that did surprise me was that Leica came out with a big firmware update, which improved on some of the things I complained about in my review.

Here are my personal favorites:

  • DNG only shooting, can help to reduce the likelihood to run into buffer issues
  • AF point size is now adjustable
  • Movie button can be disabled but is unfortunately not customizable to a different function. A second custom button beside the FN one would be very handy.
  • It’s now possible to use exposure compensation in M-Mode, which can be useful in combination with Auto-ISO. The only downside is that you can’t go beyond 1/2000 if you set the thumb wheel to exposure comp. For doing that you have to dive into the menu and change the setting again

 Shiraz (Iran)1/16000, f/1.7, ISO 100Shiraz (Iran)1/250, f/4.0, ISO 100Yazd (Iran)1/100, f/4.0, ISO 100Yazd (Iran)1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100

Besides improving on some of the issues I’ve found, there are still some problems that need to be addressed. Since using Android 6.0 in 2015 it’s not possible to connect the Q to my phone and I tried three different smartphones. Until Leica is finally updating the App, the WiFi function will not be usable anymore, very disappointing. Another problem that occurred over time is that sometimes there is a memory card writing error. It only happens once in a while and even with different card types and brands. When the error occurs I have to take out the memory card and put it back in and then it’s working again just fine. No idea if that is only my camera or if other Qs are also affected. Another issue that definitely affects all of them is the diopter dial next to the viewfinder. That thing is just too loose and I accidentally turn it all the time when getting the camera out of the bag. I hope they fix that with a possible successor to the Leica Q.

Yazd (Iran)1/6400, f/1.7, ISO 100Isfahan (Iran)1/200, f/1.7, ISO 100Isfahan (Iran)1/30, f/1.7, ISO 100

Still a good buy?

As you might have figured by now I am still in love with the Leica Q like on the first day and I am almost sure that this camera will become a classic Leica model. At the moment it doesn’t seem like that there will be a new iteration coming out soon and therefore I would still highly recommend getting a Leica Q.

Seoul (South Korea), 1/2000, f/1.7, ISO 100Seoul (South Korea), 1/60, f/1.7, ISO 800

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible. And of course smack the like button and follow me on facebook!

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