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Leica Q2 Monochrome – Should I buy it

Leica Q2 Monochrome:

Last month, the good people at Pro Photo in Washington, DC loaned me a couple of pieces of Leica kit to test out and hopefully, if I liked it, switch from my Fuji XT’s (personal work) and Fuji GFX’s (pro work.)

I tested two cameras: The stellar Leica SL2 and the specialist Leica Q2 Monochrome. This blog post is about the Q2 Monochrome.

The Q2 is getting rave reviews and several friends have purchased it as their personal go-everywhere and carry-everyday camera.

For the past year, I’ve been shooting a fair amount of images that I converted to black in white in Capture One and I wanted to see what it would be like to shoot with a B&W camera and only see images in B&W.

It was a bit of a challenge and after several days of shooting with the the Q2 Monochrome, I know that I prefer shooting in color  – and  – then making the conversion in C1.

The Leica is exceptional at capturing moments and the viewfinder screen is perfect – you don’t feel like you are using an electronic viewfinder.

Most of the reviews I’ve seen on the Q2 focus on capturing moments with a emphasis on street photography. The Exibart Street review is very good.

The 28mm F/1.7 Summilux is stellar. Truly an exceptional piece of glass. It is perfect for low-light street photography.

When I started photography, way back in high school, my grail camera body and lens was a Leica M2 with the collapsible 50mm f/2.8 Elmar. I eventually found one and bought it on lay-away from Ritz Camera in Washington DC. That is the only 35mm camera I wished I had never sold.

For the past ten-years or so, I’ve carried a Sony RX1 as my every-day camera. Solid 35mm Zeiss lens, an excellent sensor and way-too slow auto-focus.  I traded it in on a slightly used Fujifilm x100v camera with a 23mm lens that is the equivalent of a 35mm lens. (the Fuji camera uses an APS-C sensor) I am happy with the Fujifilm x100v and the 26 MP sensor is more than enough for my behind-the-scenes images and the occasional landscape or family memory shot.

Leicas have always had a pull for me. I’ve owned the original Leica SL2 (which was stolen from my at gunpoint behind the White House), several Leica M4’s and M6’s plus a short foray with the Leica M8. (which I disliked).  When the M8 came out,  with all its problems and no real answers to them, I decided to sell every bit of Leica kit – since I knew I was not going back to film for personal or assignments.

The first assignment I shot for NatGeo was a project on Great Blue Herons and I shot the majority of the story with Leica 400 and 560mm Telyt lenses.

So, I have a bit of history, mostly positive with Leica.

Back to the Q2 Monochrome

Superb construction that is weather sealed, a viewfinder that is a joy to frame with, a menu system that actually makes sense and files that a dream to process.

I’m sold, except I’m not.

As much as I loved the camera, I disliked the 28mm field of view. Maybe it was all the years of using and framing with a 35mm lens with the Sony  RX1, but to me, the 28mm Summilux feels too wide.  You can change your field of view with the camera and the file will be slightly smaller, but the draw and feel of your image will still be from a 28mm lens – a lens that is truly one-of-a-kind and world class. I’m sure if this was the only camera I owned, I would adapt to it quickly. My friend Julian Calverley loves his and it is his everyday walk-around camera.

All the reviews I’ve seen have talked about (in-depth) about the how good the 28mm Summilux is and how beautiful the out-of-focus areas are when shooting portraits. (yes, the dreaded Bokeh word, that must not be spoken, just like playing Stairway to Heaven in a guitar store)

The RAW files in Capture One from this camera are smooth and for a lot of people, probably perfect.  The ones you see here, are almost straight out of Capture One v22 with a slight Luma curve added for contrast. You could shoot jpegs with this camera and be happy.

For the two days I had the camera, I walked around my neighborhood and shot whatever caught my eye. I was more interested in seeing how the Q2 would influence my shooting – if at all. I tend to shoot fairly graphic images and seeing in black and white reinforced seeing lines and shadows – that is a positive.

I also shot our cats just to see how much distortion there is when you are up-close and personal. (very little)

So, will I buy a Q2 Monochrome, no, I will not.  Will I buy a Q2, nope. Would I buy a Q2 if it sported a 35mm or 50mm Summilux or even a Summicron? Yes, in a New York minute.