It’s been 6 months since I started shooting with the Leica Q, and up until now, I cannot say that I have fully utilised this small yet powerful camera. In short, Leica Q is a beast that’s hard to tame. Once you nail the focus and exposure, the colour is superb and crystal clear. But most of the time, you’ll be left with a dull-looking JPEG that requires a lot of post-processing.
First, let’s start with the elephant in the room: the 28mm focal length! Even though Leica has introduced 35mm and 50mm crop mode options, the distortion is still present, even at the centre of the image. If you decide to use the Q for half-body portrait to utilise that f/1.7 narrow depth-of-field, it’s best to shoot in 35mm crop mode. And for group photos of more than 2 people, distortion is almost unavoidable. In my experience, shooting a person against a less crowded background usually yield more pleasing results.
In terms of JPEG colour, I would say it’s a bit unpredictable. On a bright sunny day, the Leica Q will render great colours and rich tones. But on gloomy days, the colour will look worse than your phone’s camera. Overall, the Leica Q’s colour profile is quite cold and blueish, so if you’re after a warm, yellow tone, then it’s best to adjust the temperature manually.
The dynamic range is poorer than other high-end mirrorless cameras, including Sony A7II and Fujifilm X-Pro2. The highlight often appears blown out. However, it can be rescued from the RAW file. If your SD card allows, it’s best to shoot in JPEG + RAW mode.
Having said that, I’m extremely pleased with the Leica Q’s Monochrome colour, which is buried deep inside the camera’s menu (JPEG Settings > Saturation > Monochrome). In Monochrome mode, the photos appear very classy and vintage, which reminds me of the old press photos. I often shoot in Monochrome, and then have a look at the RAW files later to decide if I want to keep the colour version or not.
In conclusion, the Leica Q is a joy to shoot with, and a camera so small yet so majestic that you can happily keep it in your bag everyday for those spontaneous photo trip. Even though it cannot replace my Fujifilm X-Pro2 for commercial gigs, it still can produce photos that you will treasure for the rest of your life.