Leica Q2 Monochrom Review

It's bougie, pretentious, and ridiculously expensive, but it's a lot of fun, produces fantastic black and white photos, and the images are super sharp.

Leica Q2 Monochrom Review

Here's the short version of this review. If you've been thinking about owning a Leica Monochrom type camera for years, you can afford it, and realize just how silly and overpriced this whole thing is, then just get one. If you don't, you'll just keep wondering if you're missing something, and you really are. Now that being said, there are rumors of a Leica Q3 being released soon, so maybe you can find a good deal on a used Q2 Monochrom online. With all of that out of the way, let's talk about the camera and look at some images.

Pros:

  1. Sharp images! I dare say, the sharpest photos I have ever taken.
  2. Using a true monochromatic sensor, white balance isn't an issue. It makes photography much simpler.
  3. The camera looks cool, no colors on it, all monochromatic, it's a beauty.
  4. Build quality is great - feels solid.
  5. Display and EVF are bright and responsive.
  6. Touch screen - although I seldom use it.
  7. Wide angle with lots of megapixels for cropping in.
  8. Ability to use color lens filters to affect the image - like in film black and white photography.
  9. The battery design and eject button is unlike any camera I've used before and has a locking feature so the battery won't slip away and fall on the ground.
  10. Decent focus modes, but really could benefit from eye detection.
  11. Wireless transfer of DNG files to an iPhone using the Leica app.
  12. Able to do infrared photography, albeit with severe limitations (read con number 7).

Cons:

  1. The LCD and EVF aren't all black and white. It's a color display with a red Leica logo that displays, and colored indicators. Leica should have taken the monochromatic aesthetic all the way.
  2. Even though the build is superb, it's lacking a proper grip. I found a third party one with a metal plate on the bottom made by Lim's.

    Here's the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RB7X2BW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The benefit of the bottom plate is that it center the weight on the camera when resting on a flat surface and the lens isn't bearing any of the camera weight. This might seem like a little thing, but after trying a couple of half cases without added weight, the camera would tip forward because of the weight of the lens.

    One cool thing about that particular grip / half case is that you can still access the battery and SD card (although you need tiny fingers).
  3. Really needs a tilting screen.
  4. Face detect works well enough, but it really could use eye detection.
  5. Video mode is worthless. It's too bad. Imagine being able to shoot high quality 4K with a native monochromatic sensor!
  6. The information bars cover part of the image being captured. I'm constantly turning them on and off to make sure my composition is just the way I want.
  7. You don't have full manual control over ISO and shutter speed when going to very slow shutter speeds. This makes infrared photography a lot of guesswork and trial and error. It's really more trouble than it's worth. Also, unless it's a really bright day, don't bother since you can't lower the shutter speed enough to make it work for you.

Other Thoughts:

  1. When editing RAW images, you have less control than you would with a color image. You can still recover a lot of detail and have many ways to improve the image, but less than you would with color.
  2. If you use Capture One Pro to edit your DNG files, you can actually go wider than what you see when you capture the photo. This is because Leica has implemented some sort of crop / digital lens correction to enhance images. That being said, sometimes it's nice to be able to go just a tad wider.
Cropped in - the benefit of all those megapixels
Infrared test shot using an infrared filter on the lens. This took a lot of trial and error. I'll need to experiment with IR photography more in the future.

The photos below are straight out of camera JPEGs (resized for this blog). A yellow color filter was attached to the front of the lens.

Conclusion

No doubt about it, it's an expensive camera. To me, the results speak for themselves. I've converted many color images to black and white over the years using a variety of techniques, but none of them look like Leica's Q2 Monochrom. For me, it's worth it. I plan on using this camera for many years to come. All I know, is that every time I use it, and look at the images, I'm pleased.

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