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Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera: Leica Q2 Monochrom review

Leica camera. You definitely heard about it, but you hardly saw it live and certainly hold it in your hands. A familiar word (sounding very ironic in Russian) can still be seen on Huawei smartphones. But a real watering can – here it is, in my hands, the Q2 Monochrome model. Read on to find out what is interesting in it, and there is indeed the magic of “Leica.”

By the way, Monochrom in the name says that the camera shoots exclusively in black and white (keep this in mind) and that it does not have the traditional red circle of the company’s logo. And all the inscriptions are white. Absolute monochrome.

Below are the specs, but Leica, like Rolls-Royce, is not about them:

  • 47 Mp matrix, full-frame;
  • Photo with a resolution of 8368 × 5584 pixels;
  • ISO range: Auto, 100–100000;
  • Touch screen, 3 inches;
  • Digital viewfinder with 100% frame coverage;
  • Maximum shutter speed 1/2000 mechanical and 1/40000 electronic;
  • Video recording in 4K 30p;
  • Memory card: SD UHS-II standard (two slots);
  • Battery charging via USB-C (including from power banks);
  • Work from external power sources via USB-C;
  • Ports for microphone and headphones (3.5 mm);
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (control and data transfer);
  • Weight 700 grams (with battery).

Buttons, dials, interface

Let’s put aside awe and awe for now and look at the camera as an ordinary device designed primarily for photography. And the first thing that catches your eye is a rigorous and laconic design. The photo looks like it is a 3D render. I would even say that a lot has been done here for the sake of the camera’s appearance. At the same time, she looks amazing. The design traces a combination of circles and rounded rectangles—geometric orgasm.

Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review

The second, already when you take it in hand, is the quality of performance. Very tactilely pleasant metal coating, rubberized grip, and a notch on the side of the screen under the arm. But in general, the camera should be blamed for not having the best ergonomics and grip. General minimalism here is clearly not for the sake of ease of use but the general mood and emotions from the interaction.

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The tactile sensations from pressing the keys (rather large), the focusing dial, and the dials for changing parameters are delightful. In any other camera, I might not have focused on this, but in the case of Leica, I cannot pass by.

Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review

What’s on the case as a whole? Rear: 3-inch screen; preview buttons, menu, and one more customizable button; focus point selection joystick and display mode change. The digital zoom button is calculated in the equivalence of the focal length of lenses to choose from 35 mm, 50 mm, and 75 mm. There is also a viewfinder diopter adjustment dial recessed into the body. The Q2 has a digital OLED screen and 100% frame coverage.

Above is a shutter speed dial, a custom dial, and an on / off lever with a shutter release button. “Why is there only one disk? – someone will ask. “How am I going to adjust the diaphragm?”

And then it’s time to tell you about the lens. Yes, he is the only one here, non-removable and fixed. This is the Leica Summilux 28 f / 1.7. I have already mentioned the digital zoom, thanks to 47 megapixels, even on the emulation of a 75 mm lens, the photo will be 3136 × 2096 pixels, that is, 4K. From the characteristics of the lens, you have already understood that it is very, very fast. Moreover, optical stabilization is also available. Yes, the Q2 has stabilization in the lens, not in the matrix.

The lens also contains all the controls for related parameters. This is both the aperture and the focusing ring, both automatic and manual modes. All this is pleasantly tactile and turns with a pleasant effort—available and macro mode.

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Finally, about the menu. There is a quick menu where the main parameters are grouped. There is the main thing. The menu has its own logic, but, like all cameras, the items are grouped logically, and there are no complaints about ergonomics.

What’s the remainder of the off-camera experience? Weighty, solid, and stylish. Very pleasant to the touch, not the most ergonomic, but at the same time, there are no strong complaints in ergonomics. The only thing is, in 2021, I want to charge the camera via USB Type-C in the case and not with an external charger. Let’s get to practice?

Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review

Experience of use

I have already mentioned the built-in digital zoom, which is equivalent to various optics. So, with DNG post-processing (Leica RAW files), you can also choose the original image size. It’s nice.

There is no RGB filter in the camera, so you immediately catch the mood of BW shooting. And this has its own magic. In contrast to the usual Q2, the monochrome version also transmits light a little more because the RGB filter takes some of the light for itself.

Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review

After the first shots, I notice how quiet the mechanical shutter is. So if you like to shoot street stealthily, then you will definitely love this moment. There is also an electronic shutter, but nobody canceled the rolling shutter. The mechanical shutter allows you to shoot at shutter speeds up to 1/2000 second.

But let’s be honest. I don’t want to delve into the technical jungle with this camera. Its prime lens gives very sharp pictures, nice bokeh. This is due to the 11 optical elements in the lens. I would also like to praise the autofocus system, especially on the point. At least misses! The autofocus system works in a contrasting scheme.

Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review
Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review

For Q2, Monochrom Leica made their own matrix. Due to this, the noise level remains acceptable even at ISO 6400. This, complete with optical stabilization, allows you to take pictures freely handheld, even at night.

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Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review
Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review

An important point, especially if you are going to shoot in DNG + JPEG mode: stock up on a fast UHS-II SD card. Otherwise, you will have to wait for the card to be written. This is especially true in the case of continuous shooting. The shooting speed is up to 10 frames per second.

The Germans keep up with the times, so they have their own app for iOS and Android. Leica FOTOS allows you to use your smartphone as a remote control. Basic settings, the ability to shoot both photos and videos. After that, the picture and video can be uploaded to your device. It’s simple, works flawlessly and stably.

Review

So I’m telling you about this camera, and I think that the coolest thing about it is its rules of the game. Its limited black-and-white frames dictate its own conditions and, the coolest, allows you to focus on the main thing: light, shadows, movement in the frame, and how all this forms the final result. Freed from thoughts of color (and even more so the subsequent processing of color frames), you remember the basics of photography. And this is very valuable. The main thing that Q2 Monochrom does is give great emotions from shooting and from the result.

Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review
Black and white world with the eye of a premium camera.  Leica Q2 Monochrom review

Add to this fast operation a cool prime lens, protection against dust and moisture according to the IP52 standard (in case of moderate rain, IP52 does not help anymore), and support for a proprietary application. And get a modern camera with a unique design and its own mood.

The main thing is to be ready for it because the price tag here bites very hard. But if you dare, you will not regret it.

Pros:

  • build quality;
  • style;
  • picture quality.

Cons:

  • specific ergonomics;
  • not the best grip.

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