Did Leica make a digicam barely uglier for the sake of (gasp) performance and comfort? Is the sky falling in Germany? Has anyone checked on Lenny Kravitz? I feel I’m feeling faint…
With the brand new Q3 digicam, Leica appears to have finished simply that. The Q3 is the most recent model of the German producer’s fixed-lens full-frame compact digicam, and along with matching the M11 at 60 megapixels, it gives an up to date digital viewfinder, 8K video, a brand new hybrid autofocus system, Qi-compatible wi-fi charging assist through an elective handgrip, and — sure lastly — a flip-and-tilt articulating LCD. The $5,995 digicam, which launches immediately, seems precisely just like the Leica Q2 from the entrance, however the rear was solely redesigned to accommodate the brand new display screen.
Contained in the Q3 are logical efficiency upgrades from the last-gen mannequin, just like the 60-megapixel full-frame sensor (up from 47 on the Q2) and a brand new Maestro IV processor with 8GB of buffer reminiscence to assist push alongside these huge photos averaging 70 megabytes per RAW DNG file. This places the Q3 on par with the Leica M11 / M11 Monochrom when it comes to decision, although Leica says it’s a unique sensor, evidenced by its wider ISO vary of fifty to 100,000. Sensor similarities and variations apart, one of many causes Q cameras have been so well-liked for Leica is that they have autofocus — which the Q3 now improves upon with a mix of part detection and distinction detection with topic monitoring for animals in addition to human eyes, faces, and our bodies.
Different efficiency enhancements embody 8K video, Leica’s first foray into that video decision. To make the most of this characteristic, Leica took the identical battery housing of the Q2 and elevated its capability by 340mAh for the Q3. The older battery continues to be suitable with the Q3 (and the brand new one is backward-compatible as properly), however utilizing it can lock out the 8K filming choice. Which may be completely fantastic, although, as Leica says there’s a slight crop when taking pictures 8K. Plus, it tops out at 30p and is restricted to 4:2:0 coloration subsampling except you’re outputting to an exterior recorder. The Q3 appears extra poised for 4K video, the place it may well go as much as 60p and report for as much as 29 minutes. In 8K, the digicam is restricted to twenty minutes, and it shortly ramps that right down to as little as three minutes when filming in temperatures about 104 levels Fahrenheit.
The Q2 wasn’t actually greatest geared up for video, however because the Q3 sees the addition of ports like Micro HDMI and USB-C 3.1, it needs to be extra succesful as a hybrid. Just like the M11, the USB-C port is Made for iPhone licensed (MFi) for simpler connectivity to iPhones, and it now additionally means the Q3 may even be shot tethered to a pc.
The 28mm f/1.7 lens stays unchanged
One factor unchanged is the macro-capable Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens that’s completely hooked up to the Q3. It’s the identical optics as the unique Q, which Leica says is as much as the duty of resolving the upper decision of the brand new sensor. The 28mm focal size is roughly much like the sector of view of a smartphone digicam, however identical to prior fashions, there’s a built-in crop button that now zooms the body to 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, and a brand new 90mm equal crop — the latter of which cuts the decision down to 6 megapixels.
Exterior of all of the spec enhancements, one of many Q3’s most fascinating options is its assist for Qi wi-fi charging by the use of a $195 handgrip. Which will sound dear in the event you’re not accustomed to the price of Leica equipment (spare batteries are an eye-watering $170, by the way in which), however it’s within the ballpark of other Leica grips that don’t add any performance. Wi-fi charging in a digicam might sound a bit of unusual, because it’s a novel thought, however it type of is smart for an everyday-carry digicam like a Q3.
The concept of plopping your digicam down for a cost on the finish of the day or getting a small top-up whereas at a Starbucks is type of neat. Simply needless to say you completely don’t have to purchase Leica’s fancy $175 charger, made for it by Native Union, as any Qi charger that outputs 10W or extra will do the trick.
And talking of latest tips, we’ve got to deal with the elephant within the room of the Q3’s new flippy-tilty show. Whereas articulating screens on cameras are commonplace on most fashions as of late, the Q3 is the primary time Leica has carried out it on considered one of its in-house fashions (sorry, rebadged Panasonics, however you don’t rely). This has been a long-demanded characteristic from each Leica followers and haters alike, and properly, it’s right here. However I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel and appear like an ungainly compromise. I welcome the performance, however the rear of the Q2 had a clear look that’s been disrupted in a jarring approach on the Q3.
The brand new display screen seems and seems like an ungainly compromise
I obtained to borrow and use a Leica Q3 for a really temporary window forward of its announcement, and total, I used to be left with a blended first impression. I personally personal a Leica Q2 as my go-anywhere, “enjoyable” digicam that I typically take with me on photograph jobs in assist of my Sony mirrorless system. The Q3 seems like a fantastic step ahead, however the brand new autofocus system and design depart rather a lot to be desired. After I heard the autofocus system sounded rather a lot like Panasonic’s new hybrid implementation within the S5II, I obtained excited for a leap ahead in efficiency. However at first, it appeared rather a lot like what I used to be used to on the Leica SL2, with a lot of focus wobble and unreliable monitoring that was lower than snuff. I’ll reserve full judgment when it’s on ultimate firmware, however this preview didn’t instill confidence.
As for the display screen, whereas the hinge on the Q3’s show feels strong, it’s additionally more durable than regular to tug down or tilt up (that’s the restrict of what it may well do — you’ll be able to’t flip it round for a selfie view). However the worst a part of the display screen, except for it wanting prefer it’s simply been grafted on and makes the digicam feel and appear bulkier, is that there’s no groove or grip on its left aspect to dig your nail into or seize along with your finger. It has grooves on its prime and backside, which means it’s a must to make a a lot greater attain to maneuver it. It’s one thing you could get used to, however it’s positively a detriment in the event you’re working shortly and attempting to seize that “decisive second.” I presume the display screen’s left aspect was saved naked for a cleaner design, however it seems a bit bizarre in its side-profile view regardless. Fujifilm’s X100V might not have the sensor measurement and backbone of the Q3, however its near-flush tilting display screen has the design I want was right here.
A byproduct of the brand new tilting display screen is that the buttons have been moved to the precise, above and beneath the D-pad, with Play awkwardly near the carved-out thumb relaxation. I raised the digicam to my eye on a number of events to find I used to be in playback, having by chance mushed the Play button with the bottom of my thumb — slowing me down. Once more, one other factor you could get used to, however Leica cameras are presupposed to all be in regards to the consumer expertise. Maybe this primary go-round with an articulating display screen is a studying course of for Leica, because it needed to make some sizable compromises with out making the digicam greater throughout.
I can admire that Leica is attempting to provide its customers what they need on the Q3, however this implementation of a tilt-screen seems like a slight misstep or an ungainly rising ache. Sadly, in relation to versatility and design, you’ll be able to’t all the time have your cake and eat it, too — even once you pay $6,000 for a pleasant slice.