My thoughts on the Leica Q
I picked up a Leica Q a few months ago after spending more than a year trying to justify buying one. I finally bit the bullet and pressed order after returning a different camera that seemed like the perfect camera on paper. It was new, flashy, medium format, wifi enabled & heck, could probably even bring me my morning cold brew for all I know— but it wasn’t the camera for me. I wanted to love it. I felt like I was recapping a date that I wasn’t that into when I talked about my shooting experience with my fellow camera nerds. Yeah, it’s great. That sensor is wow. Yeah, the new technology, wow. Then I finally caved and admitted that while Camera X had a great personality and a resume that crushed it’s competitors, I couldn’t stand shooting with it. I didn’t catch myself reaching for it. I wanted to be into it, but I wasn't. And thankfully, it was still returnable. Upon returning my sensible, practical, “dream” camera, I purchased what a lot of the internet seems to view as one of the most impractical & limited cameras on the market to date— the Leica Q. And it has been one of the best purchases I have ever made.
Does it have limitations? Yep. Is a 28mm my dream focal length? Absolutely not. Is it the newest, shiniest piece of gear boasting 5000000 million megapixels, a free car wash & table service like every other camera seems to these days? Nope.
But what is has done is help me crawl out of a creative rut & I haven’t left my house without it since it arrived on my doorstep. Having a fixed focal length pushes me artistically more than I could have anticipated. Having a wide fixed focal length forces me to get up close & personal if I want to make the picture. There is no passive aggressive approach to shooting with a 28mm. You’re in it. Want to make a portrait of a stranger? You’re about to make a new friend. See the perfect moment? Zoom with your feet & be there for it.
Even though, the wide focal length makes an extrovert out of any introvert, the camera itself doesn’t make the “entrance” that a DSLR makes. It’s tiny & barely makes a sound when you’re shooting. I remember when I got my first camera. I loved the grand entrance a big camera made. It was like having a megaphone auto looping, “I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER!” Nowadays, I hate that feeling. Even on a commercial set, I hate the barrier created by a big camera. It feels like fence between me & my subjects at best and an unscalable wall at worst. The Q is the opposite of that. It’s small enough to hide in a coat or a purse. Even when I have it dangling on my shoulder it goes relatively unnoticed. Simply cutting out the time it takes for a room to acclimate to a big camera being there is a game changer for me. Having a small, but insanely powerful machine like the Q feels like a dream too good to be true. It allows me to capture authentic moments without sacrificing image quality.
I won’t touch on the tech stuff much because there is plenty to read on that front from people who, truth be told, know way more about it than I do. I always have and likely always will be someone who prefers the simplest set up possible so my gear can “get out of the way” when I’m shooting. If you are a minimalist who hates spending a ton of time memorizing new menus and finds yourself wanting to scream with complicated setups, then the Q is probably your dream camera for it’s menus alone. Pretty much everything I need can be accessed from the back of the camera or the rings on the front. I was able to start shooting with it almost as soon as I pulled it out of the box. There isn’t much more I could ask for from a piece of gear.
This camera has been a lovely companion that has helped me fall back in love with photography & the joy of shooting every single day. For the first time in a long time, I am carrying a camera with me everywhere again, and it feels good to be back. For me, shooting experience beats out flashy tech specs any day. It doesn’t matter how perfect a piece of gear is on paper if it’s collecting dust on a shelf because I’m not feeling inspired to create when I hold it. The Leica Q is one of the most limiting pieces of gear I have ever owned, but it’s a camera I reach for every day. Yes, yes, yes… the best camera may be the one in your hand, but when your whole career, hobby & passion revolve around cameras, it’s important to take note of which camera you find yourself wanting in your hand the most too.
I’ve never “reviewed” a piece of gear & I feel like this seems more like a mushy Hallmark card than a camera review, but I promised a fellow photographer friend that I would share my thoughts. Here are some of my favorite everyday moments captured with the Q so far.