It makes sense to start writing this post on April 26th – the day Ernst Leitz was born in 1843.
A Leica is a special camera, somehow this is what people can agree on. Fans will bring the design or the history into play, maybe the quality – image and build – and the “Leica Look” sooner than later will come up in the discussion. Critics certainly will bring up the price and missing features that other cameras have for less money. And did I mention the price?
I don’t want to get too deep into these arguments, I want to share why I bought a Leica and why I do not regret it and why I am actually excited for the new model.
The Leica look, according to various posts and forums is a mixture of multiple aspects: The color and the exceptionally good lenses. They are very sharp. And of course very expensive. The artist behind the camera always is a factor and, hence, can be neglected.
But what actually is quite unique for Leica is the fact that they still make rangefinder cameras. If you do not know what a rangefinder camera is, give it a quick search and check out wikipedia. The rangefinder will allow you to focus in a unique way. But that is not the point of this post. I am a digital guy, I will always be. I grew up as a photographer when the transition from film to digital started. So why should I buy a Leica then?
It has been said that “only the Leica M allows you to see what is about to happen in your frame”. Which is another unique feature of rangefinder cameras. You look through the viewfinder and see – not through the lens or the sensor – the scene. The viewfinder will feature more or less transparent boxes that show the area that will make up the photograph with different lenses (read: focal lengths). This translates to actually being able to see more than just what will end up in the image without ever having to take your eye off the cameras viewfinder. That is beneficial to any photographer who wants to capture “decisive moments”.
So I bought the Leica Q. Yes, you read that right: Q – not M. All this writing and in the end the guy bought the wrong Leica! But I actually think I did not. I bought the Leica Q (typ 116) used to at least save some money. And I mainly bought it for its simplicity. It makes me think about the shot and makes me move my feet. It is the kind of camera that makes me want to pick it up. It has a fixed Summilux 28mm f/1. 7 ASPH lens and if you think the camera is expensive, just give that same lens for the M system a quick search.
The Q has few features. But one of them is the little thumb button directly under the viewfinder that is configured to set the trimming size of the picture by default. This means it will display boxes in the viewfinder, just like the ones mentioned earlier with the M, for 35mm and 50mm lenses. Of course the Q is still a fixed lens system. And yes, basically the camera is “zooming digitally” aka. cropping the image. The raw DNG image is still full resolution, but will have a crop selection in e.g. Lightroom for 35 or 50mm accordingly. The resulting images are lower resolution but you actually get the possibility to “see what is about to happen” with a digital viewfinder camera. The sensor is 24MP, so the cropped versions will be roughly 15 MP and 6 MP. But just imagine this camera with a sensor that would not make you think about the resolution because it has plenty. Like 60 MP, right? Then the cropped versions would still have plenty of resolution even by todays standard.
So let’s see what the Q3 will bring, I am excited for it.
References & Further Reading
- Ernst Leitz: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Leitz_I
- Leica Look: https://www.artphotoacademy.com/the-leica-look/
- Rangefinder Camera: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangefinder_camera
- M3 Viewfinder: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leica_viewfinder_135mm-basic.svg
- Hugh Brownstone: Leica Budget Gourmet (if you can hold a few thoughts though)
- Ted Forbes: Why Leica https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpV2z_ZuDco
- Decisive moment: https://photogpedia.com/henri-cartier-bresson/
- Q3 Leica rumours: https://leicarumors.com/2022/04/22/leica-q3-rumored-for-2023-with-60mp-sensor.aspx/