There’s no getting around it — the compact, fixed-lens Leica Q is $4,250. That’s more than most professional DSLRs. That nudges up against the famed M series rangefinder’s $6,400 base rate. It’s a thousand dollars more expensive and 18MP short of its closest competitor, the brand-new and immensely capable Sony RX1r II. So it’s expensive and already outdated, but it’s just about perfect.
From the exterior, the Q is a beautifully milled piece of aluminum featuring minimal user-interface clutter on the body, dedicated aperture and shutter speed control, a perfectly dampened manual focus control on the lens and a three-inch LCD touchscreen on the back. Where the Sony RX1r II is overcomplicated in the name of customization, and the Leica’s pro-facing SL is under-designed in the name of simplicity, the Q strikes a perfect balance. The camera feels intuitive and tweak-able, and lets you quickly get down to the business of taking pictures.
Peering through the gigantic 3.68MP electronic viewfinder is as close a proxy to an optical one as you can get these days, and the results that come through the 28mm f/1.7 lens and off the 24MP AA filter-less sensor are astounding. Autofocus is snappy, details are sharp, colors are contrasty and high-ISO shooting is workable even up to its ISO 50,000 limit. (And if you’re worried about the lack of resolution compared to the RX1r II, know that a small handful of two-page spreads in Gear Patrol‘s first magazine were captured on the Q).
So, what you get for your $4,250 investment is a Leica that finally feels at home in the digital world. To get an M rangefinder with similar image quality, you’d have to spend nine grand, and you still wouldn’t have autofocus, image stabilization or macro capabilities. To get similar image quality from Sony or Canon or Nikon you’d have to give up compactness, or user interface, or both. So for a little more than $4,000, the Leica Q might just be the best bargain around.
Sensor: 24MP full-frame CMOS
Lens: Image Stabilized 28mm f/1.7 Summilux
ISO: Auto, 100-50,000
Shutter Speed: 30 sec – 1/16,000 sec
Viewfinder: 3.68MP electronic
Dimensions: 130 x 80 x 93mm (5.12 x 3.15 x 3.66 inches)