Leica Q2 Review: A Gem for Serious Photographers

When it comes to high-tech gears for photography, Leica is a brand that everyone trusts. For decades, they have been making some excellent cameras with top-notch optics.

And although they cost more than average, anyone who understands photography would agree that they are worth the price. Here they are again with a new, well, technically new camera. The Leica Q2.

It’s a throwback camera that will give you the best of both worlds by combining the nostalgia of a bulky old camera while the bulky camera being equipped with some features and specs of the modern era.

This thing is very much like feature phones. It’s a successor of the previous model, Leica Q, and it can be categorized as a compact camera by the looks and features on offer.

But what makes this 5,000-dollar camera that is not even that much packed with features so appealing to photographers all over the world? I’ve tried to find out in my Leica Q2 review.

Specification of Leica Q2

Because this is a Leica product, each of its units deserves a separate spotlight regarding their specifications and features. So, here it goes:

Imaging Specs


Clarity in Megapixels

Actual: 50.4 Megapixel
Effective: 47.3 Megapixel

Maximum Resolution one can have

8368 x 5584

Aspect Ratio to Work With

3:2

Sensor Type

CMOS

Image Stabilization Method

Optical

Lens Features

Cell

Focal Length

28mm

Digital Zoom

2.7x Maximum

Maximum Aperture

f/1.7

Focus Range

11.81" to Infinity / 30 cm to Infinity
Macro
6.69" to Infinity / 17 cm to Infinity

Exposure Control Metrics

Cell

ISO Sensitivity

Auto, 50 to 50000

Shutter Speed

Mechanical Shutter
1/2000 to 60 Seconds
Electronic Shutter
1/40000 to 1 Second

Metering Method

Center-Weighted Average, Multi, Spot

Exposure Modes

Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation

-3 to +3 EV (1/3 EV Steps)

White Balance Modes

Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Incandescent, Shade

Video

Cell

Recording Modes

MP4
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24.00p
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 24.00p/29.97p
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24.00p/29.97p/59.94p/119.88p

Audio Recording

Records with Built-In Microphone (Stereo) in AAC

Viewfinder and Monitor Overview


Viewfinder Type

Electronic

Viewfinder Resolution

3,680,000 Dot

Viewfinder Coverage

100%

Monitor Type

Fixed Touchscreen LCD

Interface Perks at a Glance

Cell

Memory Card Slot

1 x SD/SDHC/SDXC

Wireless

Wi-Fi
Bluetooth

Physical Specifics​

Cell

Battery

1 x BP-SCL4 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.2 VDC, 1860 mAh (Approx. 370 Shots)

Dimensions (W x H x D)

5.1 x 3.1 x 3.6" / 130 x 80 x 91.9 mm

Imaging Specs


Clarity in Megapixels

Actual: 50.4 Megapixel
Effective: 47.3 Megapixel

Maximum Resolution one can have

8368 x 5584

Aspect Ratio to Work With

3:2

Sensor Type

CMOS

Image Stabilization Method

Optical

Lens Features

Cell

Focal Length

28mm

Digital Zoom

2.7x Maximum

Maximum Aperture

f/1.7

Focus Range

11.81" to Infinity / 30 cm to Infinity
Macro
6.69" to Infinity / 17 cm to Infinity

Exposure Control Metrics

Cell

ISO Sensitivity

Auto, 50 to 50000

Shutter Speed

Mechanical Shutter
1/2000 to 60 Seconds
Electronic Shutter
1/40000 to 1 Second

Metering Method

Center-Weighted Average, Multi, Spot

Exposure Modes

Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority

Exposure Compensation

-3 to +3 EV (1/3 EV Steps)

White Balance Modes

Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Incandescent, Shade

Video

Cell

Recording Modes

MP4
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24.00p
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 24.00p/29.97p
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24.00p/29.97p/59.94p/119.88p

Audio Recording

Records with Built-In Microphone (Stereo) in AAC

Viewfinder and Monitor Overview


Viewfinder Type

Electronic

Viewfinder Resolution

3,680,000 Dot

Viewfinder Coverage

100%

Monitor Type

Fixed Touchscreen LCD

Interface Perks at a Glance

Cell

Memory Card Slot

1 x SD/SDHC/SDXC

Wireless

Wi-Fi
Bluetooth

Physical Specifics​

Cell

Battery

1 x BP-SCL4 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.2 VDC, 1860 mAh (Approx. 370 Shots)

Dimensions (W x H x D)

5.1 x 3.1 x 3.6" / 130 x 80 x 91.9 mm

Design and build quality

The first thing you’ll notice about the Leica Q2 is that the design of this thing is so simple and minimalistic.

I mean, it’s just one physical “Fn” button on the camera itself. But that one button can grant you access to tons of stuff. By default, the button is usually set to delete, but if you press and hold the button it will show you the whole array of functions.

Or, you can set the “Fn” button to a function of your choice to get quick access to it. The press-and-hold option to gain access to the entire menu remains unchanged if you do this.

That’s not the only hidden function of this camera. You’ll see that there is also no movie function written or engraved anywhere on any dial or button until you realize that the central button which remains unmarked and apolitical does the job by cropping to a 16:9 ratio if you press it when taking footage.

Also, there isn’t any eye sensor switching between the LCD and the viewfinder. But there is a sensor hidden under the viewfinder itself.

The shutter is exceptionally silent for a vintage camera. It’s even quieter than that of even most DSLR cameras. It’s not considerably quiet, it’s simply silent. You won’t even hear an audible click as you take a snap. You won’t be able to tell if an image is being taken unless you’re observing the camera carefully.

Perfect for photographers who like to capture moments while staying discreet (cough-cough, paparazzi).

You’ll discover these little hidden secrets of the camera as you go on using it. This is how Leica has managed the beautiful balance between high functionality and minimalistic design.

It’s like discovering the traits of a new friend and getting accustomed to them. Fun and challenging, but at the same time, very useful and functional.

When it comes to "Build Quality," Leica delivers one of the world’s best craftsmanship undoubtedly, and the Q2 is no exception. The camera is bulky and rugged, which not only makes it look and feel tough, but it actually is tough.

It doesn’t have a shiny metal or cheap plastic exterior that would easily get scratched and collect marks and dust. The matte plastic and oil brushed metal paired with excellent German craftsmanship gives it an official look.

How Good are the Display and Viewfinder?

Those who take their photography seriously often prefer optical viewfinders over electronic ones. Because they are easier to use. But the Leica Q2, despite being a vintage camera, is equipped with an electronic viewfinder.

It’s rather big for an electronic display of this caliber, with 3.69 million dots that show you all the tiny little details that make it through the lens.  The display magnifies the scene you’re pointing at and shows you where you are focusing with the help of colored highlights.

Leica Q2 holding

The clarity on the display is pretty sharp as well.

So much so that you get a crisp display of everything on the menu even from far away.  I am almost visually impaired; I wear glasses with thick lenses. Even I was able to read everything on the menu while holding the camera slightly away from my eyes.

Story of The Lens

Let’s take a look through the lens.  Since it’s a Leica camera, of course, you’d expect the lens to be out of this world good, and to my utter delight, it was. The camera has a built-in 28mm fixed lens.

At first, you’d be a bit disheartened to find that you can’t change the lens. But wait for it, there is more to this single lens than meets the eye (pun intended).

To make up for the non-changeable lens, there is an additional cropping mechanism that increases its flexibility almost meeting the level of a wide-angle lens. But that’s not all it can do.

Leica Q2 fview

There is a hidden (unmarked) button on the back of the camera that when pressed brings up a box on the screen which will correlate to a focal length of up to 35mm.

Intrigued, are you? Well, there is more. If you press the button again, the focal length will jump to 50mm. Press it once again and it jumps to 75mm. And every time you increase the focal length, the camera drops the resolution bit by bit so that you can get a slightly smaller image.

This feature alone turns the single unchangeable lens into Pandora’s box of endless possibilities.

What to Expect with Autofocus Performance (image and video quality)

The relationship between Leica and its autofocus is pretty much like that of a parent who is particularly hard on a child and softer on the other. Let me explain why.

Leica has some other flagship mirrorless cameras like the M-Series that have a full-frame rangefinder that supports interchangeable lenses.

But, as if in an attempt to keep them humble and to-the-ground, they come with a manual focus only. As if the manufacturers are trying to prevent the users from getting used to the luxury of autofocus so much that they forget how to use manual focus.

Leica Q2 settings

The Leica Q2 on the other hand, despite belonging to the same manufacturers as the M-Series is equipped with a rangefinder and autofocus. Isn’t that cool? It really lets you take your time with the shot, compose it properly, and then use the autofocus feature only when the shot is ready.

And when shooting videos, the Q2 offers you not just 4K video, but also 4K videos in both UHD (3840 x 2160) and DCI (4096 x 2160). This is a huge deal compared to most other cameras that will only offer a 4K in UHD quality.

Plus, it also allows you to record a full HD video in 120 fps which will give you a smooth texture that you normally can get only in slow-motion footage. This is all you could ask for from a Leica camera.

But with that being said, if you want to take your videography seriously, you might feel a little pulled back because the Q2 does not have a hot or cold shoe for mounting your microphones or headphones.

This, added with the limited controls you get could be an issue for some. But if you record your audio separately, it might not bother you at all.

How Good are the Connectivity Options?

Alongside all its vintage flashback features, the Leica Q2 is equipped with some modern-day conveniences, and one of them is Wi-Fi. You can transfer your photos directly to your phone via Wi-Fi using the Leica FOTOS app which is downloadable for free on both Google and Apple platforms.

The app itself is very user-friendly and responsive compared to smartphone apps developed by other camera companies for sharing and assisting their cameras. The app is fairly simple and considerably light, has a no-nonsense straightforward interface, and it connects to the camera in a jiffy.

There’s also Bluetooth and SD memory stick support which are pretty basic features in modern-day cameras. The app can be connected with a smartphone that has the Leica FOTOS app both ways, either via Bluetooth or using Wi-Fi if there is any signal available within the range.

How Good is the Battery Life?

People tend to use compact cameras for a long period at a stretch. For a whole day of shooting, say a hike or a trip out in the country with friends or family.

For that reason, the battery of a compact camera needs to be long-lasting and easily rechargeable. But the Q2 disappointed me a bit in this sector. Being a compact camera, and one that costs this much, this camera offers only 350 frames per charge, according to CIPA tests.

Of course, there is a fairly logical explanation for that. The big bright peephole, I mean the electronic viewfinder on this thing eats up a lot of battery power singlehandedly.

Since there is no USB port on the camera, you can’t charge it in between or while shooting. You’d have to take the battery out every time you need to charge it. So, there is no way to cover up for the additional loss of battery caused by the viewfinder.

Leica Q2

Things I Liked

  • The image sensor is of high resolution and can capture images in full-frame.
  • The autofocus is quick and accurate, catching the best of the moments, in the moments.
  • The lens is bright and sharp.
  • It is capable of optical stabilization when and where you need.
  • This Leica product is equipped with IP52 weather protection. Can be used in light drizzle and snow as well as moderate temperatures.
  • It has a big, sharp electronic viewfinder.
  • This thing has 4K video (in both UHD and DCI).
  • Each of its buttons has multiple hidden functionalities; also the lens is very versatile and capable of shooting at any range between 35 to 75mm using its unique cropping mechanism.

Things That Need a Little Work

  • Not so pocket-friendly. Both literally and figuratively. On one hand it is expensive, on the other; it’s too big and bulky for a compact camera.
  • Doesn’t have a flash. You can’t shoot with this in low light unless you carry an external flash with you.
  • Doesn’t have a cold or hot shoe for mounting your headphones or microphone onto. Unless you are only shooting your video with this camera, and recording the audio separately, this can be a huge drawback.
  • The focus blurs out when you push the burst rate to its maximum.
  • The lens is not changeable.

Leica Q Vs Leica Q2

Let’s compare the Leica Q2 with its predecessor, shall we?

Camera

Leica Q

Leica Q2

Preview

Leica-Q
Leica-Q

Pixel Density

Has ~ 6.00 Microns pixel density

Has a pixel density of 4.30 Microns

NFC Format Support

Supports NFC

Does not support NFC

HDMI Output Port

Has HDMI output for monitoring or reviewing videos.

Doesn’t have HDMI output.

Video Recording Capacity

Cannot shoot 4K, but offers 1080p video quality.

Can shoot in 4K (both UHD and DCI)

Bluetooth Connectivity

Does not support Bluetooth.

Has built-in Bluetooth

Megapixel Capacity

24.0 megapixels.

47.3 megapixels.

Exposure Level

30 second exposure.

120 second exposure.

Slow Motion Video Shooting

Cannot shoot in slow-motion.

Can shoot slow-motion videos.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is 1/16000 seconds.

Shutter speed is 1/40000 seconds.

Price

The Verdict That I Arrived On

The Leica Q2 is one of those dream cameras that all photographers like to drool over, but most of us won’t actually be buying one. And their expensiveness is not solely to be blamed for this.

Certain aspects are better covered by other, cheaper cameras that Leica completely disappointed me on. But the German craftsmanship, along with the fact that each Leica camera is individually handcrafted and no two Leicas are the same will always gain them more critical acclaim.

However, it’d be a crime for me to go on ranting about things that we can neglect in my Leica Q2 Review. Overall, it’s a very nice camera to use, and an even nicer one to own. Given that you have 5 thousand dollars lying around to spare. But for us mere mortals, it will always be a dream camera.

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