We Go Hands on With the New Leica Q3

We Go Hands on With the New Leica Q3

Leica has just released their long-awaited update to the fan-favorite Q line-up called the Leica Q3. I’ve been using it for a couple of hours each day for the past three days. So, how does it feel to shoot with it, and should you want one?
Many of the good features of its predecessor have stayed, while some of the features have been considerably improved in the new Leica Q3. The body, for example, has largely stayed the same apart from a few button shuffles on the back to make room for a tilting LCD panel. This screen has improved the shooting experience in a major way and allowed me to shoot from previously rather uncomfortable positions. It is a welcome addition to the camera that serves a single purpose, expanding your options.

Leica Q3 top plate

The brilliant Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH has made a comeback. It is a solid lens with a bright aperture and most importantly, sharp image quality with beautiful contrast. The lens has proven itself on the Q2 and the Q2 Monochrom, but this time, it has a lot more on its plate thanks to the image sensor. The full frame BSI CMOS sensor seen in the wonderful Leica M11 is at the heart of Leica Q3, with its demanding resolution of 60 megapixels. No detail gets left out, and the lens delivers, even wide open. 

I’m not a massive fan of the 28mm focal length, as it is a tad wide for my personal taste, but I do understand the appeal. It was nice not having to worry about the scene not fitting into the frame, and thanks to the high-resolution sensor, there is plenty of room to crop post-capture without losing detail. Just like in the Leica M11, we can opt to shoot DNGs at either the full 60 megapixels, or for the ones who value storage space and less demanding workflows, the sensor can also output full frame DNGs at 36 or 18 megapixels. 

Leica Q3 tilt screen

Last time, when I tested the Leica M11, I mostly used it in the 18-megapixel mode, as it was more than enough for me, but this time I went all in and did not worry about storage space at all. My 32 GB cards can each fit roughly 190 DNGs onto them, which is plenty for a single photo-walk. The camera only accepts a single SD card, and it does not offer the built-in storage like we’ve seen in the M11. It is not a deal-breaker by any means, but it was one of the reasons I use smaller cards and swap them once they fill up, as there is no backup.

When the conditions are good and the light is plentiful, the Leica Q3 snaps into focus fast using any available mode. The animal, body, face, and eye detection modes aren’t bad at all. In fact, I often used human detection, as it saved me the time of moving the focus point to a preferred destination. 

Crop sample to show the amount of detail captured by both the sensor and the lens.

Once you choose AF-C and start to track subjects, the system pulsates. It is not much of an issue, as it was often spot on and gave me a sharp result, but there was an occasion or two when I pressed the shutter right at the time of the pulse, which resulted in an out-of-focus image. Once the available light drops, however, the results get slightly worse. Of course, this camera is not meant to rival the likes of the Nikon Z 9 or the Canon R3.



Leica clearly has a good thing going on here. The minimalistic approach to the controls and the simple design work well. The camera is beautiful, the craftsmanship is precise, and the materials are premium. It truly is a joy to use and carry with me daily. I will have to return it eventually, but I still have 10 more days to fully put it through its paces. With the way the photographs are coming out, I am very excited for what images I am about to get.

Don't think of this as a full review, as I have only had the camera for the past three days. That one is coming a bit later. So far though, I'm feeling very positive about the Leica Q3. I just need to get used to the focal length. 

Ondřej Vachek's picture

Ondřej Vachek is a Prague based independent documentary photographer and photojournalist with multiple journeys to war-torn Ukraine where he covered everything from the frontline in the Donbass to the civilian life adapting to the new normal. Avid street photographer with love for writing and storytelling.

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"When the conditions are good and the light is plentiful..." OMG. Again, it doesn't do well in low light. Z9, R3 ???? It can't even compete with the 5 times cheaper Sony a7 III. Embarrassing.

As I've said, it's decent in AF-S. I rarely missed even in lower light. But it does lack in AF-C. I was pleasantly surprised how fast the AF actually is.

But people aren't buying Leica cameras for their autofocus performance. That's just an added bonus.

Fixed 28mm lens ?
No thanks.

Yeah. I'd personally prefer a 35 but I understand the reasons for the 28.