Just Released, the Leica Q2: A 47.3 MP Full-Frame Compact Camera and Maybe My Next Travel Camera?

Just Released, the Leica Q2: A 47.3 MP Full-Frame Compact Camera and Maybe My Next Travel Camera?

Leica has just announced its newest camera, the Leica Q2. More than just a standard upgrade to its predecessor, the Q2 takes what was already a decent compact camera and makes it a strong competitor in the compact fixed lens market. 

The Leica Q2, like its predecessor, is Leica's take on a full-frame compact camera in the style of the popular M series. At first glance, you could easily confuse its minimalist design, magnesium body, and button layout for the M10, just in a slightly smaller package. I was lucky enough to get a few days to play with it last week, and having never used the original Q, I was pleasantly surprised. When I reviewed the Leica SL I was blown away by its image quality, electronic viewfinder, and overall professional features. Its biggest downside was its overall size and weight. While the M10 is a beautifully designed camera staying true to the Leica M series, it's compact and stealthy when walking on the streets or traveling. However, I'm just not a rangefinder fan and consistently found myself wishing for more modern features. The Q2 although probably not intending to easily fills this gap between the two cameras. It is every bit as stylish and has that vintage Leica look like the M10, but manages to pack in all the pro features we tend to expect these days from the SL. 

The original Q was popular among travel and street photographers, and Leica listened to consumers when designing the Q2. The biggest improvement is in the new full-frame 47.3 megapixel sensor, which Leica claims is the largest in its class. The higher resolution teamed with the 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens allows for some amazing picture quality and even 4K video capabilities. The 28mm lens gives it a slightly wider focal length over its competitors' typical 35mm, but the higher resolution sensor now allows for an additional built-in crop function of 75mm to go with the 35mm and 55mm previously found on the Q. 

Another improvement comes in the 3.68 megapixel OLED electronic viewfinder. EVFs in general have been getting very good on newer cameras, and I was very impressed with the quality on the Leica SL EVF. The Q2 feels right in line with the SL's higher res EVF in quality, but the OLED technology is sure to improve overall battery usage. 

Video resolution gets a much needed bump up to 4K UHD at 30/ 24 fps and Cine4K at 24 fps, while 1080p now goes up to 120/60/30/24 fps. While this is a great upgrade, I would have liked to see 4K at 60 and 1080p at 240. There is a nice three-inch touchscreen like in the previous version, but I think it would have been a great opportunity for Leica to include a tilt or swivel screen in the Q2. It seems like a feature a lot of users wished for in the original model, but perhaps is something though useful doesn't work well with Leica's design. 

Some other new features of note are the splash and dust weather-sealing, push-button thumb dial, and improved electronic shutter speed of 1/40,000 s. Weather sealing is always an important feature for me. I use my gear and don't baby it. Even while I had the Q2 on loan, New England was hit with a Nor'Easter, and I had to do my testing in the storm. So I was very happy to not really have to worry about it. The thumb dial which is similarly found on several Leica cameras has been updated to also be a push button. This is something that is not at all noticeable or intuitive at first however once you realize it is there it really makes a difference. 

Leica cameras may be niche, but Leica seems to do a good job appealing to its audience. That being said, I would not consider myself the type of photographer Leica is targeting, and yet I definitely enjoyed using the Q2. Its overall build quality and minimalistic M series styling really appeals to me. But more importantly, its image quality and fast autofocusing capabilities really make it stand apart. It's priced at $4,995, which at Leica prices is a lot less than both the SL and M10. I can possibly see this as an entry camera into the world of Leica for anyone who has always loved the M series bodies but can't get past the price tag. For myself, this seems like a great travel and everyday carry camera. I kept it in my jacket pocket for an entire day without any issues, something I just can't do with my DSLRs. When I took it out and shot with it, I felt very invisible. This is something that I wish I had on my last trip to Gabon. It's not going to replace my work cameras, but sometimes especially on some of my travel assignments, I want to carry less gear and blend more into the background. I feel like this camera does that while maintaining the level of image quality I still need for my clients. 

I plan on doing a full review soon as I didn't have time to see just how good the new 47.3MP sensor does in low light or how well the electric shutter performs at the new higher speeds. So, stay tuned for a more in-depth look with samples. You can purchase the Leica Q2 here.

Michael DeStefano's picture

Michael DeStefano is a commercial/editorial photographer focusing on Outdoor Lifestyle and Adventure. Based in Boston, MA he combines his passion for outdoor sports like climbing and surfing into his work. When not traveling or outdoors he is often found geeking out over new tech gadgets.

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Makes that new Ricoh seem like a bargain at $900.

I will take two please. for my right an left eye, what a bargain. I knew I would never be enough.....my envy rant for the day

Lucky this one is autofocus or you would also need a tripod to free up one hand.

5 Grand, I just spluttered my beer on the screen.
I can't get over the Leica thing, not that I try anymore. Especially when I was asked to test the underwater one in Bali for a magazine. It was utter bollocks. My iPhone in a ziplock bag was better.

show me the ziplock bag u can dive 15m with....

yeah it's expensive but if you can afford it it's a camera that would last you a long time and produce fantastic images I wish they made one with a 35mm or 40mm lens (or the goldilocks 38mm focal length a-la contax t2) for those who don't shoot so wide.

It seems like some manufacturers can charge what they want and still get the sales, but 5k...fair enough it’s a full frame etc, but will you really get return from investing so much? Really can’t get my head around it.

Well Leica can... For some time they could not meet the demand for Leica M10 so if it sells I don't see a reason why would they make their cameras cheaper.

It's like people who buy Jaguars. It has leaking issues, it's in the garage more than on the road but boy, this jumping Jaguar logo is worth it :-)

After a lot of thinking I bought the Leica Q last year. It's a lot of money but I haven't regretted it for a second. I bought it first and foremost to photograph my children growing up, on vacation and just in between. Not least because I wanted one! Recently I was on a trip with a few friends through the Sahara in Morocco, offroad extreme. It was extremely windy and the cameras of my friends failed one after the other. Unfortunately I don't know anymore what kind of models they were. After a good 2 weeks in the desert my Leica was the only one that still worked and that until last 4 weeks in the desert without any problems. You don't have to wrap it in cotton wool, it is extremely robust. Measured by the quality of the camera, it was worth the money to me personally.

File under "sucker born every minute" dept...

You all are haters.

5k is a bargain, you get the iconic dot featuring an exclusive shade of red, a well designed logo (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, none of their logos are inside a circle) and raised 3D Leica font using another exclusive shade of white.

I really don’t get all the hate. The Q2 is an expensive camera, but even though I cannot really afford it, I don’t think the price is outrageous compared to the direct competition. The Sony RX1R II is 3500€ but it’s older, not weather sealed, it’s made of plastic instead of metal and the lens is f/2 instead of f/1.7. Plus Sony is a multinational brand with tonnes of cash compared to Leica which is a small company. It’s not for me, but for people into a full frame “travel” fixed lens camera, it’s worth to splurge, imho.
I wonder how much the new Zeiss camera is going to cost. I suspect it will be in the same price range.