Coming up with a title for this post was difficult. Everything my pea brain wanted me to use was too click-baity, juvenile, or run-of-the-mill annoying – even for me. Nonetheless, I am going to offer them up to you anyway because they may save you time. Once you see them you will probably understand enough to go ahead skip the rest of this post. Here are the headline options that didn’t make the cut.
- Leica Q2: The best camera I ever sold.
- The Leica Q2 is a gateway drug to Leica but not the best travel camera of all time
- I took a Leica Q2 on vacation and took 5 pictures. I used the Sony instead.
- I took a Leica Q2 on vacation and left it in the hotel room….on purpose.
- Do not get a Leica Q2 instead of a Leica M and a 28mm lens.
Like I said, after reading those headlines you probably know where this is going so you can skip the rest of this article. If, however, you want to hear my thoughts about the Leica Q series of cameras, the reasons I sold mine, why I have a contrarian opinion regarding both the original Leica Q and current Q2 cameras, and why the Leica Q2 is not the best travel camera of all times, keep reading.
The Leica Q2 makes stunning images and is a solid bargain but buyer beware: the Q2’s main feature may be a gateway drug into the Leica world.
The original Leica Q and the current Q2 are exceptionally good cameras. The images from both are stunning. Stunning I say!!!
You can disregard any of the stupid nonsense, YouTube, videos comparing the Q2 to the Fuji X100 or Sony whatever model in those “best mirrorless travel camera” roundups. I have used many of them. The images from the Q series of cameras are superior to anything in the class of cameras formerly known as point and shoots and currently known as travel cameras. This should not be surprising. It isn’t really a fair competition. The Q series cameras are essentially a 28mm Summilux f/1.7 lens with a camera attached. An f/2 lens on a crop sensor just isn’t going to compare – ever. There is just no way to get that creamy look of a Summilux with any of the other cameras you see in those camera comparison videos.
Given that a stand alone 28mm Summilux lens without a camera costs about the same as a Q2, and is significantly more expensive than the original Q, one could say that the Q series of cameras is a bargain. Unsurprisingly, I was one of those saying just that when I got mine. I loved the images (did I mention they were stunning?) but, as you will soon learn, I purposefully left the camera in the hotel room when I was traveling and then left it home again..and again…and again…after I returned.
What I found after owning my Leica Q is that there is more to life than image quality. I also learned that my quasi-bargain purchase turned out to be my gateway drug into Leica which, in relatively short order, turned into an expensive part of my commercial work and, to a lesser degree, hobby. Buyer beware.
The Leica Q2 is not the best travel camera of all time.
Stunning images are not enough for a camera to be awarded the moniker of “The best travel camera of all time.” In the old days, these types of cameras were called point and shoot cameras and if you look at the legendary point and shoot cameras (Contax T2, Olympus XA, Nikon L35AF, etc.) they all have one thing in common – they don’t have a chubby pickle size lens attached to the front of the camera. Something changed in the transition from film to digital where chubby pickles are acceptable on a point and shoot/travel camera.
In my opinion, the best travel camera (or point in shoot or whatever you want to call it) needs to be smaller than the Q2. The summilux lens is marvelous but it is proboscis and it is the elephant in the room. For travel, in my opinion, size and portability are as important as image quality in a travel camera. Having a chubby pickle proboscis sitting on the table or taking up space in your friends pack, isn’t ideal.
For my money, something like the Fuji x100V is a more appropriate travel/point and shoot option. It is probably not coincidental that the Fuji X100V also has a 35mm equivalent lens. In my hands, 35mm is a more ideal focal length for travel. I find the 28mm focal length too wide for general purpose use and just a little bit annoying. Moreover, with pictures of people and portraits, even with the summilux, there is wide-angle distortion with the 28mm focal length.
When considering a travel camera, one also needs to consider the camera phone. I have never gotten along with the ergonomics of using a camera phone so I don’t feel a camera phone is an acceptable replacement for a travel camera. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the focal length of a camera phone is about a 20mm. Too often, images taken with a 28mm lens look like they are taken on an iPhone. If that is what you want – good. If not, consider a different focal length for all or at least some of your images.
This also isn’t an inexpensive camera. At $5000 that is a commitment. In my opinion, the best travel camera of all time should be less expensive. Things get stolen on vacation. Bags get lost. Things happen. The best travel camera of all time should be less expensive but if you can lose the camera without worrying about it, you should ignore this paragraph.
The high megapixel sensor of the Q2 and the ability to crop images does not change the focal length math.
I am a 24 megapixel guy. I have a high resolution (47mp) camera for commercial work but unless I know that something might get printed or there is a need to crop ahead of time (for example in the studio) I generally use the lower resolution sensor camera. Storage is cheap but it isn’t free. I have filled up enough terabyte RAID drives and had to migrate and backup my data enough times to know that keeping extra pixels around for no reason is neither free nor without headache. For general use, in my opinion, high resolution images can be a minor liability.
Despite my proclivity for 24mp cameras, one benefit of a high resolution sensor is that you can crop an image which somewhat mitigates the annoyance of a fixed lens 28mm camera. Cropping in on a 28mm image, however, doesn’t mitigate what I previously said about 28mm images looking like iPhone images. The compression you get from longer focal lengths, and the ability for added bokeh with longer focal lengths are important. Going on vacation to the Himalayas and having the mountains appear as tiny specs in the distance because all you have is a wide-angle lens isn’t something the greatest travel camera of all time should be known for.
How about a Leica Q2 instead of a Leica M with a 28mm lens?
Let’s leave the discussion about whether or not a Q or Q2 is a good travel camera and focus on whether or not you (or someone else) should get a Q or Q2 instead of a 28mm lens if you already own or are planning to own an M-camera.
My answer is no. This is dumb. You know how I know? I know because after I got home from vacation, I never used the Leica Q again. The summilux on the Leica Q got me hooked on Leica and, in short order, I bought my Leica m10. At the time, I figured I would just keep the Q around for my 28mm lens but you know what happened? Of course you do, I just said it. I never really used the Q again. After a few outings of taking the m10 and the Q, I was annoyed that I had to carry two cameras so I started leaving it at home. After a few months of this nonsense, I sold the Q, bought a 28mm lens and never looked back.
I miss the Q as an object to own and It would be fun to use from time to time but I am 99% certain that if I did have it, it would be a shelf queen. The Leica Q is a fantastic, phenomenal, and unrivaled camera that, in my world, had no real purpose. It is too big for a pocketable travel camera and I have no use for a fixed lens camera in other situations.
That is why I say, the Leica Q is the greatest camera I ever sold.
There aren’t any sample images in this article because even though I owned the Leica Q for several months, I never really used it. I don’t have that many worthwhile images from that camera. I am sparing you the pain of looking at crummy images. Sigh.