Leica has released the latest in the Q series with upgraded features accompanied by a Summilux 28mm F1.7 ASPH lens. The Q3 is packed with impressive functions but it will cost you with a suggested retail price from Leica starting at €5,950.00 including TAX.
We found a mixed reception to the camera after initial release, some raving about the joy of use and some confused by Leica’s intended target audience with others going so far as to say it’s not worth the upgrade for Q2 users.
Features and Specifications
The Leica Q3 is a compact full-frame camera housing a new BSI-CMOS sensor that can shoot at three different resolutions. Photographers can choose between 60, 36, or 18 MP in either raw (DNG) format or JPEG mode. The ISO range available runs from 50 to 100,000. The luxury camera brand says “significant developments” have been made to the autofocus system in the form of a high-precision contrast autofocus accompanied by phase detection and intelligent subject recognition. They have also added a new OLED viewfinder, now at 5.75 MP along with a 3-inch tiltable touchscreen.
If you are looking for video capabilities, the Q3 can record up to 8K using codecs including H.265 and Apple’s ProRes. Connections are available for external accessories with USB-C and HDMI ports and tethered shooting is supported with USB-C. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections are also available and Leica says they have increased the transfer speed to the FOTOS app by up to 10 times from the Q2 model. This is thanks to their MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology.
“With a stable connection and high data transfer rates to the Leica FOTOS app, videos can now be loaded from the camera to a smartphone, or special ‘Leica Looks’ can be imported onto the camera for beautiful JPEG images. Various connection modes from ‘Eco’ to ‘Performance’ improve the mobile workflow and energy management of the Leica Q3. The Apple certification “Made for iPhone® and iPad®” accessory and the included Leica FOTOS cable, make the Leica Q3 the ideal tool to express the creative vision of users working with it daily.” – Leica Q3 Press Release
Wireless charging of the Q3’s new battery (BC-SCL6) can be performed with the Leica Charging Pad and camera handgrip. There are many other accessories available in various colours for the camera as well including protectors, lens caps, thumb rests, soft-release buttons, lens hoods, and flash shoe covers. If you want to have a bare-bones camera without a protector, Leica does say the Q3 has protection against dust and spray water which is certified with IP52.
Let’s talk about the lens that has been paired with the new camera body. Joining the Q3 is the Summilux 28mm F1.7 ASPH lens featuring an integrated macro mode allowing users to get within 17cm of their subject. While a fixed optical 28mm focal length, there is an extended digital zoom option that allows photographers to shoot at focal lengths of 28, 35, 50, 75, and 90 mm. New to the Q3 are two tools, the Leica Perspective Control (LPC) and Leica Dynamic Range (LDR) which the company says help ensure “perfect JPEG images without any post-processing.”
The Q3 is available now from all Leica Stores globally as well as the Leica Online Store and authorised dealers. For more information, head over to their company website here.
Mixed Reception for the Q3
While there is excitement about the next generation of the Q series, including a positive first look from Ondřej Vachek at Fstoppers, some Leica users are not convinced. Sebastian Oakley at Digital Camera World doesn’t think the Q3 is worth upgrading for Q2 users:
“In my opinion, the Leica Q3 has been stuffed with specs to fill a popular need, and bring them closer in specs and functions to rivals, but while doing that the Q-series is becoming just like other systems.
What makes Leica different to me and other users is that it does things its way, different to the rest of the crowd. And while this new approach might sit well with many, I honestly can’t see the Leica Q3 being that big upgrade option that many Leica Q2 owners were expecting.” – Sebastian Oakley, Digital Camera World
Read more of Oakley’s thoughts here. His opinions have been echoed by some in the Leica Camera Forum with a few mentions about the disappointing choice of focal length and the unnecessarily high 60 MP resolution. Internal memory was also something enthusiasts would have liked to see in the upgrade.
Additionally, while there are new video specs and Leica’s website states, “The Leica Q3 is now even better for video creators”, there are a few misses here, such as the lack of an external mic input. While the camera is equipped with an onboard stereo microphone, many video creators use external mics to capture higher-quality audio in their process. There may be an option to connect an external mic through an adapter to the USB-C port but as Oakley states:
“It is said that there will be a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter for some of the best shotgun microphones in the market – but that just seems like a lazy approach and an ill-thought-out plan.”
Shaminder Dulai wrote in this initial review on DPReview:
“For Q-series fans, it’s an incremental improvement over the Q2, which itself was already a very robust and fun camera to use.”
Going on to say Leica made an attempt to attract video creators but might fall short with certain features like the fixed wide angle lens:
“A camera with a fixed 28mm lens isn’t the obvious choice for shooting video, but Leica has squeezed all it can out of the 60MP sensor.”
The review ends on a positive note, referencing the joy the user felt in using the Q3, but a question hangs at the end leaving it up to readers to decide, is this camera worth the price tag?
So, who is the Leica Q3 for? What we typically see with next-generation upgrades is a targeting of owners of the previous models. However, it seems Leica wants to cast a wider net and bring in new fans for the Q system, opting for features popular in other systems such as the tilting screen and remaining at the 28mm focal length. Some Q2 users are hoping for the upgrades they wanted in a future Q4 and have already started making a wishlist here. Will Leica heed the call for a different focal length amongst other requests or will they push forward with features to win over a wider customer base? We will have to wait and see.
Let us know your thoughts on the Leica Q3 below!
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