Thorsten Overgaard review of the Leica Q

Danish photographer Thorsten Overgaard has a very comprehensive review on the Leica Q (from May 2015). A camera not without quirks though:

I must say the Auto Focus caused me a few problems at f/1.7 in that I some times unknowingly had been focusing at the background between two main subjects in the foreground that I thought I had nailed the focus on. As time has gone by, I have gotten the hang of it. I think.

Then Overgaard goes on explaining how to use various features of the camera properly. Read thoroughly if you have a Leica Q, or are simply curious.

Leica M10

Once upon a time, there was the Leica M8. Then there was the M9. Then Leica called them M, with some obscure “Typ” number next to it. Now the new M-series is the Leica M10. At least that’s logic.

The Leica M10 is the latest installment of the Leica legendary rangefinder camera, digital, using M-mount lenses. Still pricey, still high-end, still with its own style.

Key features:

  • 24 MPix sensor
  • Built-in wifi
  • Revised menu system
  • No video mode
  • Slimmer than the M Typ 240

Yes they removed the video mode that was on the M Typ 240. Another new things: Leica added a control wheel for ISO were the film rewind would (there was nothing on the previous digital M). Also, the preliminary tests show a sharp increase of the image quality.

Craig Mod reviews the Leica Q

In 2010, Craig Mod wrote the GF1 field test — 16 Days in the Himalayas, a very compelling essay advocating Micro4/3 cameras, with the Panasonic GF1 and the 20mm f1.7. And what a gorgeous location. Later in November he wrote Seeing prime, an essay reviewing the Lumix 14mm f.2.5 and photography with a prime lens.

The in December 2013, not necessarily and change of heart but more like evidence of the shift of the whole industry Cameras, Goodbye where the iPhone quality reach the one of bigger cameras that don’t have the online features — something that the author found important. A testimonial about camera phones, with the iPhone spearheading, taking over the compact camera market.

Then come his essay The Leica Q where he took the Leica Q on a field test for six month:

I now understand the limitations of this photographic instrument, of which there are few. And I trust and enjoy it more than any other camera I’ve owned.

Yes, even more than my iPhone.

Read the whole essay — six month of use in the field is quite long enough to have a definitive opinion. It feels that Leica managed to make an attractive camera priced not too insanely above of the Sony RX1 (+ EVF to compare). This echoes quite well the early reviews back in June.

Leica Q

Leica announced yesterday the Leica Q (Typ 116). It is their take on the Sony RX1 product segment: full-frame sensor fixed and fast wide angle lens camera, not in the lower price range either. Unlike the Sony, the Leica has a built-in viewfinder ; the 28mm lens is half a stop slower (f1.7 instead of f1.4) and it has a higher price tag. By ~$1k if you factor in the cost of the EVF for the RX1.

Size-wise it is bigger than the RX1 (no EVF) and smaller than the Leica M.

The camera include a fast autofocus system, that can be controlled from the rear touch screen, and proper manual focusing capabilities, as the lens has a know like on the M lenses and the EVF has focus peeking ; this will make rangefinder users happy. And the others will probably like that too.

The camera is “Made in Germany”.

Early reviews:

  • Ming Thein: “I can’t help but wonder if the Q is the harbinger to the end of the M system in its current guise.”
  • Jay Cassario: “…this one stands out and might be the first to end up staying in my bag.”
  • Jonathan Slack: “The Q is a little larger [than the Sony Rx1r], but it seems to be superior in pretty much every other respect”

Note: This is just news and not a review as I haven’t had it in hand.

Leica T

Leica just announced the Leica T. Their new mirror-less system ; and by that I mean non rangefinder but really digital mirror-less with interchangeable lenses, APS-C sensor, with their own mount, and two new lenses including a 23mm f/2 (feel like a 35). Sadly it seems that the trend persists, there is no built-in viewfinder. Also it has a Leica pricetag, even if no as high as Leica M.

On overall the Leica T seems to get somewhat positive reviews, and the design is slick, to not say outstanding on some aspects, and minimalist where all the complexity is in a touch screen. All in all it looks like Leica focused on the basics: photography, and let the gimmicks on the side. But, oh boy, why is it a $600 extra for an external electronic viewfinder?

Luminous landscape has to reviews up, where they have had the gear in hand. One my Michael Reichmann:

The camera itself has nothing like the range of features and capabilities that its prime competitors have to offer, but then it isn’t intended to. Thus any such comparison would be pointless.

The other by Nick Rains:

This is a very cool camera. The look is like nothing else on the market.

Now I wish I had a loaner to try to have a better sense of what it feels.

Leica’s website.

Sony Alpha 7

The Sony Alpha 7 and A7R have just been announced and feature a full frame interchangeable lens mirror-less camera for around $2000. This niche was held so far by the Leica M at a much higher price point. Unlike the Leica, this is not a range finder.

Brian Smith has a field test that show what we can expect: an IQ Sony style (pun intended), ie good.

I believe that for a modern design system, “full frame” is possibly overkill, and Fuji has shown us that you can get top notch IQ with an APS-C sized sensor. Most DSLR systems, like Canon EOS, Nikon, Sony or even Pentax were designed for 135 film, as well as their lens, hence the “full frame” bias. This is also why I considered the RX-1 overpriced and overspeced, even though some people have found it worth it ; and with a top image quality as well. At $2000 body only the A7 can even be cheaper than the RX-1.

But this Sony is an E-mount (like on the Nex), with a short flange distance, that allow an easy adaptation of older lenses via easily available mount adpaters, including M-mount. This is probably why this camera has a lead off the m4/3 or even the Fuji. You get the real deal, the same field of view on your older lenses as they were designed. The only other alternative today is the Leica M type 240, which is both much more expensive (several time the price), hard to come by, and for which adapted lenses require either the use or the rear LCD or the external EVF.

I do believe that the A7 and A7R will find their way in the hands of people that have a large collection of lenses to adapt, and we can be largely confident that the image quality will continue to meet the expectations. Sony has really shown leadership on a market that was dominated by Olympus and Panasonic, and show that Nikon and Canon have to worry given their disappointing incursion into mirror-less land.

Leica X-Vario review

I previously said the Leica X-Vario was a disappointment solely based on the price and the slow zoom lens (and the lack of viewfinder). I think I shouldn’t be commenting on gear like that.

We see some positive reviews flourishing, mostly based on image quality and ergonomics, two of the main reason to use one camera over the other.

Jonathan Slack, a Leica loyal (his words): The Leica X Vario – previously known as Paula:

Despite the yawns from some of the more technically minded on the internet this is pretty much a unique camera – being the only currently available APS-c sized camera with an integral zoom lens (the Canon G1x sensor is rather smaller).
[…]
So it seems to me that at the very least Leica have produced an interesting modern take on a popular design strategy.

And conclude:

However, over the months I’ve rather fallen in love with the simplicity of the X Vario – the logic of the controls is hard to fault, the image quality is really excellent and the fact of it being a simple one-stop package is really compelling.

Simply put he turns this one as the camera he has with him when he doesn’t have any other.

And if someone want to loan one to me, I’ll be sure to be fair with it.

Leica Mini-M: the disappointment

Two week ago, Leica started teasing us with the Mini-M.

The Phoblographer has the scoop, just confirming the rumors, and that is a disappointment.

The Leica X Vario will cost over $3200 (more than the Sony RX-1) a little more than $2800, roughly the same as the Sony RX-1. And I had two hypothesis of what it could be, and both were wrong. One was closer thought, but I was expecting a fast prime not a slow zoom lens. No viewfinder (there is the port for an EVF). Nothing. In short you can find a camera that has the same feature set, a faster lens, that can be changed, for much less money. There claim that it took Leica M as a role model is absurd.

The only thing that can be outlined is Leica still continue to push DNG for the RAW files. And they should be commended for that.

Leica is now in the market of making expensive luxury cameras, not performing and robust cameras. I am sure that if a photographer had only this camera he could make it work and take awesome picture, but for the money, I’d recommend something else.

(I haven’t seen the camera, this is all based on paper specs)

Update B&H has it in pre-order, adjusted the price mention to reflect that.

Leica Mini-M teaser

Leica is teasing us with the Mini M. We don’t know anything yet but two speculations:

  • A compact fixed prime lens camera, maybe full frame, with a 35mm equivalent. In line with the Sony RX-1.
  • A micro 4/3 camera, possibly the rumored revamp of the Panasonic Lumix L1 (it was their first mirror-less, with a Four-third Leica lens) in OEM, maybe with some new lenses and an official Leica M-Mount adapter. Leica and Panasonic collaboration isn’t new, and this fall right in line.

We’ll see, but let’s hope Leica goes with a better differentiation than the X2, more in line with the Leica M.

One thing that I’m certain of is that it will not be a film camera.

Leica M typ 240 review

Highly anticipated, the Leica M type 240, aka Leica new M as announced in 2012, is starting to appear in the hands of various photographers.

Ming Thein, a Kuala Lumpur based photographer, reviews the new M:

First off: the M 240 is an enormous leap forward ahead of the M9 in every area; in fact, it feels like several generations have been skipped.

He even ask about the relevance of the rangefinder design, whether it is still the best today.

I actually wonder if the appearance of the EVF on an M camera means that the rangefinder’s days may be numbered; the reality is that the system requires very precise calibration, is prone to drift, is limited when it comes to zoom lenses, long lenses or off-center subjects, and is manual focus only. […] Perhaps Fuji is going in the right direction after all.

In my opinion, the Leica is about the rangefinder, but Fujifilm has shown the way to the best of both world with the X100 and X-Pro1, except it is not yet a rangefinder, and is not as accurate as one. But do we need one or do we just need a good focusing system for mirror less systems?

Also read Thein’s B&W with the Leica M Typ 240.