Leica Q2 Review: Perfect, From a Certain Point of View

Leica Q2

Leica Q2: standard mirrorless camera like the Sony Alpha series. The 28mm lens is flexible. It’s great for candids, street photography, and most travel photography. In fact, my 28mm is the lens I use most often. Still, being stuck with one feels more than a little stifling.

The 28mm lens is not wide enough for those breathtaking landscapes, and it’s not close enough for portraits. For portraits, I want something in a longer focal length, like an 85mm or even a 50mm. With the Leica Q2’s lens, I really have to get in someone’s face. It just cannot fill multiple roles in the same way that other, cheaper cameras can.

It does have autofocus, though. That’s a fairly basic feature these days, but Leica has a weird relationship with autofocus. Leica’s flagship mirrorless camera is the M-series. It’s a full-frame digital rangefinder with support for interchangeable lenses, but it’s manual focus only. It’s a philosophical design decision, and it is a fun exercise to slow down and use manual focus only. It makes you really consider your composition, breathe, and be in the moment. But it also means you tend to lose a lot of those moments. That’s why the Leica Q2’s autofocus system is such a big deal. It’s a Leica rangefinder with autofocus. That’s huge.

Along with autofocus, the Leica Q2 includes a standard array of modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, video capability, and a rear touchscreen. Transferring photos to your phone via Wi-Fi is easy enough with the Leica app, and the smartphone app is surprisingly intuitive. Most photo-transfer apps put out by camera manufacturers are pretty spartan, not particularly responsive or easy to use. But the Leica app has a simple, straightforward interface and connecting to the camera is a breeze.

Shooting video is similarly easy, and with that massive 47-megapixel sensor it shoots gorgeous 4K video at 24 or 30 frames-per-second. Here again the 28mm lens feels a bit limiting. I found myself wishing I could just pop on a flexible zoom like 24-70mm lens any time I was shooting video.

The touchscreen is responsive, bright, and colorful. It absolutely does justice to the luscious photos the Q2’s sensor produces. The touch controls are a nice addition. You can tap to change your focal point and adjust settings on the fly; the touchscreen complements the physical controls nicely and are a joy to use. The physical controls are also laid out in a way that makes sense, you don’t need to dig through menus to get to the important settings like shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and exposure compensation.

Leica

The tricky part is the sensor, because it’s one of the best on the market. Even the JPEGS produced by this sensor have industry-leading dynamic range, and I was able to adjust exposure up or down without losing much detail in Adobe Lightroom. The sensor is fantastic. I just couldn’t stop wishing I had more lens options.

If you really want to get into the Leica ecosystem and you’re ready to invest some serious money into that endeavor, the Q2 isn’t a very good place to start. It’s an excellent camera with impeccable photo quality, but it’s basically the world’s best compact point-and-shoot camera. If you want more than one lens, you’d be better off spending that five grand on an older Leica M-series body and a used lens. That way your kit can grow with you.

But if you want autofocus and interchangeable lenses, that $5,000 will go a lot further in the Sony or Fujifilm ecosystems. For instance, the Fujifilm X-Pro 2, a cult-classic, can be found for around $1,000 used. It’s an excellent little rangefinder with interchangeable lenses and a similarly indescribably ethereal quality to its photos.

In fact, any of these full-frame mirrorless cameras will give you a lot more for your money. Unfortunately, not one of them has Leica’s sensor, which is why I still really like the Q2 despite its stubborn, unremovable lens.

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