Leica Q3 preliminary evaluate: Digital Pictures Evaluate


Product pictures by Shaminder Dulai

The Leica Q3 is the most recent iteration of Leica’s rangefinder-style, fixed-prime, weather-sealed full-frame digicam. It shares its normal define and the identical stabilized 28mm F1.7 lens with macro mode as its forebears, however adopts a brand new 60MP BSI-CMOS sensor and a tilting rear panel, whereas different enhancements embody the autofocus and the flexibility to shoot 8K/30p video. For Q-series followers, it is an incremental enchancment over the Q2, which itself was already a really strong and enjoyable digicam to make use of.

Key specs:

  • 60MP full-frame sensor
  • 28mm F1.7 Summilux stabilized lens
  • Crops to 35, 50, 70 and 90mm (39, 19, 8 and 6MP)
  • 5.76M dot OLED EVF with 0.79x magnification
  • 3″ tilt touchscreen LCD with 1.8 million dots
  • Native ISO vary of 50-100,000
  • Hybrid autofocus (PDAF + distinction AF with DFD)
  • 8K video seize in UHD or DCI ratios as much as 30p (H.265)
  • Apple ProRes 422HQ help for 1080p video seize as much as 60p
  • AI-assisted perspective management and dynamic vary instruments for JPEG mode
  • IP52-rated mud and waterproof
  • USB-C and micro-HDMI ports
  • Wi-fi charging through elective hand grip add-on
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

The Leica Q3 is out there for a really helpful value of $5995, which is $200 greater than the Leica Q2. Leica plans to supply each fashions side-by-side till Q2 inventory is totally depleted.

What’s new

The Leica Q3, proper, makes use of the identical 28mm F1.7 lens and appears almost similar from the highest and entrance.

For those who’re conversant in the Leica Q2, the Leica Q3 will take little adaptation: the lens, entrance design and high plate are almost similar. It is not till you have a look at the again, sides and backside that you just begin to discover one thing’s totally different.

New sensor

After all the most important change is inside: Leica has upped the Q2’s decision with a 60MP BSI CMOS sensor, possible the identical chip used within the M11, which performs very properly (as does the same chip within the Sony a7R IV and V). Leica’s elevated confidence within the new sensor’s efficiency sees it enhance the highest ISO setting by one cease, to 100,000.

The upper pixel-count sensor emboldens Leica to supply a further crop mode. The Q3 gives 35, 50, 75 and 90mm equal crops (leading to 39, 19, 8 and 6 megapixel photographs, respectively), moderately than the 35/50/75 choices on the earlier mannequin.

Just like the M11, the Q3 may supply downsized photographs from its full sensor; you may shoot it at both the complete 60MP, 36MP or 18MP. This downscaling may be utilized to the Raws, JPEGs or each.

Section detection AF

The Q3 positive aspects section detection, which it makes use of along with Leica’s present autofocus system that tried to construct a depth map of the scene by nudging the main focus and checking how the defocused elements of the scene change. If that sounds so much just like the PDAF + Depth-from-Defocus system utilized by Panasonic’s latest Lumix S5 II, then do not forget that the 2 corporations have just lately shaped the L² technology-sharing partnership.

Tilting display screen

Alongside the again is one other distinction: the Q3 turns into the primary digital Leica digicam to supply a tilting display screen. The touchscreen is identical 3″ measurement because the earlier mounted model however sees a bump in pixels from 1.04M dot to 1.84M dot. It might probably fold out and rotate as much as face the consumer from a 90-degree angle when capturing from the hip.

Ports and weather-sealing

Whereas the Q and Q2 had no ports in any respect, Leica has modified its method for the Q3. Below a flap alongside the left facet of the digicam, it has a USB-C (3.1 Gen 2 10Gbit/s) port and a micro-HDMI port.

The USB-C port helps digicam charging with the digicam switched on or off. The port may also be used for switch of information to a pc or an iPhone (extra on that within the subsequent part). Tethered capturing with Seize One or Adobe Lightroom is supported, as is connecting to gadgets resembling an exterior recorder, gimbal or energy financial institution.

The HDMI port helps an exterior show with or with out recording to the SD card (format dependent), in addition to seize by exterior show recorders in a spread of codecs from 10-bit 8K H.265 information to Full HD Apple ProRes information.

The digicam has the identical IP52 score on the Q2 (restricted mud resistance and resistance to water spray lower than 15 levels from vertical), and this extends to the ports as properly.

iPhone tethering

As with the M11, Leica has packaged a Lighting-to-USB-C cable with the Q3. Utilizing the cable, the digicam may be tethered to an iPhone as another technique of connection to the LeicaFotos app. Android customers can solely use the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.

The direct cable connection leads to quicker and extra reliable switch. Leica says with the wired connection, Q3 customers can anticipate as much as 10x quicker transfers speeds than the 3MB/s the Q2’s wi-fi connection tops out at.

The cable may also be used to obtain new ‘Leica Appears to be like’ to the digicam, which is what Leica calls their inventive filters. Leica says it is going to periodically increase the library of those with new filters for customers to obtain and apply.

8K video

The Q3 guarantees to shoot 8K video at as much as 30p. A digicam with a set 28mm lens is not the apparent selection for capturing video, however Leica has squeezed all it could actually out of the 60MP sensor. That is barely greater than Sony managed with the a7R V (which may solely handle 8K/24p), however the rolling shutter of round 33ms (UHD) is as dangerous as you will get, whereas nonetheless delivering 30p footage.

The Q3 gives each the DCI (1.89:1) or UHD (16:9) types of 8K, and might seize 10-bit footage with the choice of L-Log or HLG profiles.

Reside perspective correction

The Q3 comes with a perform that was added to the M11 in latest firmware. The Perspective Management system analyses the scene and appears for converging or diverging verticals; it then attracts a rectangle on the display screen and adjusts the body to symbolize a flat, perspective-corrected airplane.

While you hit the shutter the digicam outputs a JPEG that has this attitude correction baked into it. The correction parameters are additionally written into the digicam’s DNG information, so they’re mechanically utilized in Adobe Digital camera Uncooked or Lightroom (although you too can flip the impact off or regulate it there).

Non-compulsory wi-fi charging grip

New to the Q collection is wi-fi charging through an elective hand grip. With the hand grip hooked up, the digicam may be positioned on any inductive charging mat. Or, customers can go for Leica’s personal charging mat to pair with the grip. Leica says utilizing their mat with the grip will totally cost the Q3’s battery in 190 minutes. We weren’t given particulars of the accent’s price.

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The way it compares

Given the continued absence of a Sony RX1R III, it is arduous to check the Leica Q3 in opposition to something within the market however the Q2. And given its MSRP, it does not really feel like evaluating apples to apples when no different fixed-lens digicam comes remotely shut.

We have opted to herald a few considerably cheaper APS-C: fashions: the Ricoh GR III, which can be less expensive but additionally has a 28mm equiv. lens, and the present darling of TikTok, the Fujifilm X100V, which can be a lot less expensive however stays a preferred selection within the class and is constructed round a 35mm equiv. lens, moderately than a 28mm.

Leica Q3 Leica Q2 Fujifilm X100V Ricoh GR III
MSRP (physique) $5995 $5795 $1399 $899
Sensor 60 MP full body 47MP full body

26MP APS-C (X-Trans)

24MP APS-C (Bayer)
ISO vary (native) 50-100,000 50-50,000 100-25600 100-102400
Viewfinder kind 5.76M dot OLED digital 3.68M dot OLED digital 3.69M-dot OLED digital / optical Optical (elective)
LCD 3″ tilting 3″ mounted 3″ tilting 3″ mounted
Contact-screen Sure Sure Sure Sure
Included flash No No Constructed-in No
Climate-sealing Sure Sure Sure* No
Max. burst 15 fps 10 fps 20 fps (elec. shutter) 4 fps
Max. shutter, mech | digital 1⁄2000 | 1⁄16000 1⁄2000 | 1⁄40000 1/4000 | 1/32000 1/4000
Video 8K/30p, 4K/60p, 1080/120p 4K/30p 4K/30p, 1080/120p 1080/60p
Battery life (CIPA) 350 photographs 350 photographs 420 photographs 200 photographs
Weight 743 g 718 g 478 g 257 g

*The X100V claims weather-sealing when the AR-X100 adapter ring and a 49mm filter are hooked up to the lens.

The Leica Q3 stands as much as the take a look at in opposition to in all probability its most necessary competitor in potential patrons’ eyes: the Q2. When contemplating cameras north of $5000, it is arduous to advocate saving $200 with a Q2 when the Q3 provides entry to a tilting display screen, section detect autofocus and a 60MP sensor that squeezes much more out of the already sharp 28mm lens.

Ultimately, although, it is probably not about specs when customers contemplate specialty cameras like these. There’s a pleasure that comes from utilizing the Q3, with its minimalist design, easy lens and tactile handbook controls. It comes right down to customers deciding if that pleasure is well worth the value of admission.

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Physique and dealing with

Picture by Brendan Nystedt

In most methods the digicam’s physique is essentially the identical as its predecessor. Alongside the Q3’s high plate a shutter velocity dial, thumb dial, energy toggle change, shutter launch and single customized perform button all occupy the identical area they did on the Q2. A small beauty change of the shutter button being silver as an alternative of black and the Q3 stamp on the hotshoe are the one clues right here to the brand new mannequin. From the entrance as properly, because the Q2 and Q3 share the identical lens and comparable barely raised leather-based overlaying, they’re doppelgängers.

The again of the digicam is the place we see the most important adjustments to the physique.

Rear controls and tilting display screen

Q2, left, with Q3.

Along with the brand new tilting contact panel, the buttons for ‘Menu’ and ‘Play’ and a customized perform button have been moved, now showing on the correct to hitch the four-way controller. Having used each cameras, inside just a few hours of capturing the brand new one I discovered the structure to be a marked enchancment that allow me attain all of the buttons with simply my proper thumb whereas the left hand stayed on the lens prepared for the following shot. It is a a lot quicker and fewer cumbersome association that allow me get out and in of menus faster.

One potential stumble: there’s a very slight delay when urgent the Menu button or the Play button earlier than the display screen shows something. It is lengthy sufficient to note and at occasions I did discover myself questioning if I actually wished to see the final shot I simply took or if it was higher to simply keep on and look later once I obtain my information.

Customized buttons

The Q3 additionally converts the rear button to the left of the thumb relaxation into a totally customizable perform button, and provides a second one subsequent to it. This will increase the Q’s customized button depend from 2 to 4.

The Q2’s high rear button was restricted to crop modes, publicity lock or focus lock. With the Q3 this button behaves just like the others: you may configure it to entry nearly any setting, or long-press it to convey up a scrolling menu and reassign it to one thing else.

Going into the Q3 I diligently poked round in them to check how they work, then thought I might set them and overlook them. As an alternative, I ended up returning to them over the course of my time with the Q3, both to check out extra options or simply for enjoyable. Leica has made the customized buttons simple to set and use on the fly, and there is a pleasure to experimenting with them. Choices embody focus peaking, focus modes, video modes, inventive filters and extra. It is just like how the Q2 functioned however with just a few extra choices within the menu to select from.

Lens design

The Q3 makes use of the identical optically-stabilized 28mm F1.7 lens as the sooner fashions. Leica says the lens’ optics outperform the 60MP sensor’s capabilities and there was no cause to revamp or replace it.

The lens feels sturdy and properly machined, and pictures felt very sharp. Switching the lens between handbook and computerized modes is fast because of many of the setting adjustments dwelling on the lens barrel moderately than in a change, physique button or menu.

The aperture may be set with the lens ring, which additionally has a setting for computerized. With machined grooves and stamped f-stops there is a tactile clue as to the place your fingers are resting and the ring offers a pleasing and easy click on as it’s rotated.

A small (virtually tiny) button on the handbook focus tab is the way you disengage AF mode to permit the ring to rotate for handbook focusing. It is a fast course of, nevertheless it takes a little bit observe to get a really feel for the place the button is so it may be pressed with out turning the physique round to visually find it.

Macro mode may be activated by rotating a clutch close to the bottom; it restricts the lens to a spotlight distance of between 30cm to 17cm. The gap scale additionally swaps out to a brand new shorter scale to assist in focusing. When the macro clutch just isn’t totally within the 28mm or Macro place, the digicam warns you that the lens just isn’t engaged and will not allow you to take any photos.


The Q3’s 5.76M dot (1600 x 1200px) OLED EVF is a noteworthy enhance from the Q2’s 3.68M dot OLED panel. Just like the Q2 there is no such thing as a important delay within the display screen activating when the EVF eye sensor is activated, even when rapidly switching forwards and backwards between the rear display screen and the EVF. The attention sensor may also be adjusted.

The Q3 retains the diopter from the Q2. A push button design pops a dial out to regulate the EVF focus, and one other push pops it again in. Having it lie flush and ‘disappear’ is a pleasant contact that helps keep away from unintended nudges whereas additionally wanting darn good. In a digicam nearing $6000 that additionally touts that it’s hand-made, particulars matter.


The Q3 makes use of a 15.8Wh Leica BP-SCL6 lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Recharging may be achieved both externally, through the Q3’s USB-C port or with an elective wi-fi charging accent.

The brand new battery comes with a CIPA score of 350 photographs, which is identical CIPA score acquired by the Q2’s Leica BC-SCL4 battery. Nevertheless, it isn’t unusual to exceed CIPA rankings two-fold, relying on how you utilize the digicam. 350 is an affordable determine and may comfortably give a day’s price of concerned capturing or a weekend of much less frequent pictures.

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Preliminary impressions

Shaminder Dulai

After I first received my palms on the Q3, a few of my colleagues joked that I used to be going to start out peacocking about city, turning heads, shining the Leica’s crimson emblem like a beacon to attract further consideration (pshaw, if it got here to that, that is what gaffer tape is for).

Fortunately that was not the case. Not one individual acknowledged the Leica badge on the digicam whereas I trekked throughout Seattle over the course of some days. So, when you’re an individual who seems at Leicas like a tech bro having a mid-life disaster at a Corvette dealership, maybe rethink why you need a almost $6000 digicam?

To me, getting consideration is not actually the purpose of a Leica. These are the cameras utilized by the icons of photojournalism, Robert Capa, Diane Arbus, W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson and others. All individuals who tried to vanish into the wallpaper and observe the world in pursuit of a fact. To have a digicam that screams ‘have a look at me’ is not actually in step with this spirt.

Leica Q3 | 28mm | ISO 100 | 1/2000 sec | F2.5

Straight from digicam JPEG

Picture by Shaminder Dulai

Full disclosure: I need to admit, I have not used a digital Leica because the M9 and I did not find it irresistible on the time. That digicam was gradual, photographs simply felt ‘meh,’ and it wasn’t one thing I felt I wished to make use of. After that for the longest time I feared that possibly Leica had misplaced its approach and grow to be extra of a standing image than a digicam firm.

After just a few days with the Q3, I’ve to say I used to be pleasantly improper. I began off resisting the Q3’s charms however ultimately it received me over, just because this digicam is enjoyable to make use of. It may be as difficult or so simple as you need, however most of all, it may be enjoyable.

The film-body-inspired design option to restrict dials and buttons on the physique to only some agreed with me. Some customers could discover the shortage of buttons limiting, however I moderately loved the simplicity, a lot in order that if I wasn’t attempting to run the digicam by way of its paces and discover its menus for this preliminary evaluate, I believe I may have used the Q3 with out coming into the menu for days at a time. Maybe the attraction of utilizing a Leica Q3 is that it virtually hides the tech to place the tactile elements of picture making entrance and middle. You possibly can go deep into menus and customized capabilities, or step again and use the core changes of aperture, shutter velocity and focus, all in handbook mode (with ISO assigned to a customized perform button) when you select.

Leica Q3 | 28mm | ISO 100 | 1/1000 sec | F4

Straight from digicam JPEG

Picture by Shaminder Dulai

The brand new tilting touchscreen is fast and responsive in reside view and was one thing I used much more than I anticipated I might. I do not all the time have the very best luck with touchscreens, typically discovering them to be too gradual for my tastes or the contact factors too small. On the Q3, with bigger menu icons and the flexibility to take away visible litter for a minimal interface, I discovered it to be fairly helpful, and I began to make use of it for contact focus whereas capturing from the hip. Just like the expertise of tech melting away on the lens, the lean display screen and responsive touchscreen allowed me to revisit what it felt wish to shoot with a TLR movie digicam.

There are just a few small gripes I do have, nevertheless. A boot-up time of about 3 seconds can really feel like an eternity whenever you come throughout the proper photographic second. It is a truthful factor to level out on a digicam constructed on the legacy of road pictures, documentary journalism and the ethic of all the time being prepared.

I additionally observed that in shiny sunshine the AF appeared to hunt, or the digicam would back-focus, and in these moments the AF wasn’t particularly fast. Issues did fare a little bit higher when Clever-AF (iAF) was activated; on this mode the digicam locks onto a stationary topic after which begins to trace it because it or the digicam strikes.

I additionally should level out that I discovered the thumb relaxation too shallow and it did not encourage confidence that I might be capable to shoot with only one hand. It is true that Leica has been providing up an answer to this for years with an elective thumb relaxation accent that runs about $225, however c’mon Leica, for a virtually $6000 digicam that thumb relaxation needs to be included within the field.

Ultimately, I maintain coming again to the ‘pleasure’ I discovered within the Q3 vs. the worth tag. There’s an pleasurable, and now extra succesful, digicam right here, however how a lot that pleasure is price is the powerful query we have now earlier than us.

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