10 reasons the Leica is best camera for street photography & landscape
1 The price is a fright at first
The Leica Q retails at £3500 and often sells on eBay for £3000 or just under. The camera is worth an investment because it could be used for a year and potentially only have a loss of £500 in the camera world, this a great second-hand market. When I finally took the plunge and bought the Q, I priced up the Leica 28m lens without body which totalled £4000, I waited for a Q in good condition on eBay, bided and won! I looked at the purchase as if I spent £4000 on a Leica 28mm lens on its own I would be silly to, rather than spending £3000 on the 28mm lens I get the whole camera when purchasing the Leica Q.
2 The build
The camera has an amazing build quality with a really nice Leica styling. The aluminium case is robust. A potential downside would be the camera is not weather sealed, the marked-up price I would have expected the camera to have this feature. However, I have used the camera in heavy rain and high winds and haven’t yet to experience any water damage or leaks to the camera. I therefore believe within reason; the Q is almost as good as being weather sealed. I added a half leather case to the camera for grip, as I often found the finish of the camera to be a little slippery when carrying it in my hand all day.
Title: The stare from my latest series ON the BUS
3 The fixed lens (don’t be scared!)
The fixed lens was a worry for me because I enjoyed being able to zoom slightly when photographing some of the street portraits. The camera actually gave me confidence to step closer to the subject, knowing the camera was quick at focusing than my previous camera. The lens has little to no lens flare when in harsh or direct sun light, which is great when trying a different angle photographing subjects in an urban environment. When the light comes through the lens and hits the sensor, the light is separated really well, I noticed this in the editing stage when I focussed on a single colour band. The lens hood at first was difficult to lock on because I had to tighten the cap to a point where I felt I could damage the thread. The auto focus was a little difficult to get into at first because finding the switch on the focus ring was small but putting all this aside once set up with the lens hood and auto it becomes really easy to use.
5 battery life/sleep mode
The battery life lasts up to four hours I have found when the camera is set to sleep mode for 5 minutes. The start of the camera is quick and easy. Sleep mode switches on quickly, but I have found when shooting candid street portraits, the camera is a fraction too slow when coming out of sleep mode, depending on my rate of photographing people I may switch off sleep mode. Alternatively, I will half press the shutter to wake the camera up when I spot subject to make sure when I put the camera to my eye it is not black (switching on).
6 The style and branding
The camera is relativity small for a full frame camera, when I photograph street I find this a less intrusive style of camera. The Leica logo is almost a need to know brand, by this I mean most people know Nikon and Cannon, and when I am out people look at the camera almost as though it is an amateur’s camera. Through this, I have therefore found the subjects seem less intimidated by the candid style of street portraiture. On the rare occasion, I have had my street subject ask if my camera is a film camera.
7 low light and no tripod
I have often wondered whether I need an MD filter and tripod to photograph landscape to capture a milky sea. The answer to this is NO! To my amazement the Leica Q handled really well in the golden hour (sunrise or sunset), I was at my local beach for sunrise to find numerous photographers with tripods and extra equipment to capture the dispersed image. I was stood at the water front getting odd looks because I just had my small Leica Q and did not fit in with the ‘tripod club’. I set my camera to F16 the ISO was bracketed to 1600 so it could go above this, my shutter was set to 30s I took a deep breath, stood still and fired away. I have achieved an image of the landscape I wanted, not too milky but there was some movement in the sea.
(no tripod was used for this image. setting: f16, shutter 15 seconds, ISO 400)
24-megapixel, full frame, CMOS sensor precisely matched to its lens. The Leica Q delivers richly detailed pictures with almost noise-free, richly detailed pictures at ISO settings up to 50.000. This sensor works so well in the conditions I have tested the camera in so far, from low light to harsh direct light. The best ISO setting I have found for the best results is around the 1600 mark these have less grain and good sharpness to the images. The body is very small to think it has a full frame sensor that can handle so much!
9 focus ring/lens
My recent street images have shown that the lens is very capable and delivers extraordinarily sharp images. It also really exciting and fun to shoot with the Leica. The lens has very smooth mechanical manual focus ring makes focusing a real joy, the auto is extraordinarily fast with great accurate focusing. The manual aperture and shutter speed control; both have dedicated dials, but both can also be left on 'A' for auto. The design of the Leica is reminding me of the Fujifilm X100T, the only closet match on the market right now for the Leica is the Sony RX1R II. The lens could be good for full focusing when filming, but I have yet to try this out. The ability to be able to switch to macro on the lens gives the images a sharper feeling, rather than setting the macro though the software.
Often the 28mm lens can feel too wide, there is a way around this, there is a feature called 'digital frame selector' that puts frame markings in the field of view, you have the choice of either 35 or 50mm. The only niggle is you lose some of the resolution cropping in. There is a handy tool for the street photographers like face detect and touch-to-focus/touch-to-shoot (using the LCD), I have found this tool for street portraiture lacking in picking the right areas to focus, I tend to use auto multi focus especially when shooting in subjects’ comfort zone.
Title: Those glasses shot on the Leica Q
10 The camera has given new confidence and reliability
The camera is very different than using an M10 because the camera is a fixed lens, it also has the capability of auto focusing. This means that there is less prep with the camera before shooting street portraiture, the M10 will be metered focus whereas the Leica Q had a multi focus function which is easier for capturing moving subjects. The light metering is a bit of a challenge because the camera does well for landscape, but for street and where light is constantly changing there is a need to use the manual setting to get the desired image. I was using the Leica D-Lux 109 before the Leica Q, where I have found that I have become more confident when capturing street with the Q because of the sharpness and the colouring being vivid and clear. I found the Leica D-Lux to have lens distortion and colour was hard to focus on in the editing stages. Having a camera that is capturing clean vivid images makes creating art easier to think about rather than using the D-Lux I was always thinking about where the best spot was to stand when capturing the subject because the lens had distortion. You need to really use the Leica Q before you can gain the full benefits of the camera!
Leica Q key features
24MP full-frame CMOS sensor
Fixed 28mm F1.7 ASPH lens with image stabilization
3.68M dot-equivalent LCOS electronic viewfinder
3" fixed touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dots
10 fps continuous shooting
1080/60p HD video capture
Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity with dedicated Leica app