After much speculation, Leica has finally announced its new full frame fixed lens camera. The drool-inducing Leica Q (Typ 116) is a high-end compact which pairs a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor with a Summilux 28-mm F1.7 lens. The stylish camera also features mod cons including a contrast-based autofocus system along with a high resolution electronic viewfinder and a 3-inch rear touchscreen.
While the Leica Q has looks which are sure to win it fans, it's the pairing of a 24-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor and a Leica Summilux 28-mm F1.7 lens which will make many photographers sit up and take notice. This combo makes it very clear the Leica Q is all about delivering the best image quality possible and it isn't going to make any compromises. The camera also uses a newly-developed processor from the Leica Maestro II series, and has an ISO range of up to 50,000.
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Unlike the Leica M cameras it resembles, the Q is not a rangefinder and instead brings the convenience of a high end compact camera to a full frame Leica. A contrast-based autofocus system promises fast focusing and allows face recognition and subject tracking. Aperture and shutter priority shooting options, along with an automatic program mode, also show that this is one of the most accessible full frame Leica cameras ever. There are even selectable scene modes which really prove the camera doesn't require a level of Leica literacy to use.
That said, and as you'd expect from a high-end Leica camera, there are still plenty of manual control options. On the top of the camera there's a shutter speed dial, while aperture and focusing are controlled on the lens. When using manual focus, users can use a magnifying function and edge marking (focus peaking) to ensure the subject is sharp.
Measuring 130 x 80 x 93 mm (5.1 x 3.1 x 3.6 in) and weighing 640 g (22.5 oz) with a battery, the body of the Q unsurprisingly falls between the M and APS-C fixed lens Leica X cameras. In typical Leica style, the top plate of the Q is crafted from a solid block of aluminum, and the body is made of magnesium alloy. The Q also boasts the Leica "Made in Germany" seal of quality and is not a Panasonic collaboration.
The styling of the fixed lens on the Leica Q is very much like an M lens and it comes with a matching lens hood. In addition to its aperture and focus rings the lens features a focus tab and a Macro mode ring which reduces the minimal focal distance from 30 cm (12 in) to 17 cm (6.7 in), and also changes the distance scale on the barrel accordingly, which is a nice touch. It should be noted that while the lens is a fixed 28-mm focal length, the Q offers 35-mm and 50-mm crop modes. However, though JPEGs will be cropped, RAW files will still show the full frame.
Around the back of the camera there's a high resolution 1280 x 960 pixel electronic viewfinder, which can display the 28-mm view along with focal lengths of 35 mm and 50 mm on demand. Being built-in it means there's no need for an unsightly and bulky add-on like the X-cameras.
Below this is a 3-inch touchscreen with 1,040 dots, though interestingly Leica has opted not to go all in with the touchscreen UI like the Leica T and the Q features a familiar selection of buttons. A thumb rest indentation is said to make the camera more comfortable and secure to hold.
Other mod cons on the Leica Q include built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for users to share pictures and videos, or operate the camera remotely with the Leica Q app (which is available for Android and iOS smartphones). It can also record Full HD 1080p video footage at 60/30 fps (frames per second).
The Leica Q is available now priced at US$4,250. It will come with a downloadable version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6.
Product page: Leica QView gallery - 9 images