My first Leica was a classic M3, followed by a beautiful M6. Both are 35mm film cameras and both are widely considered to be among the best 35mm film cameras ever made. Over the years I had become familiar with the reputation of Leica cameras, but it wasn't until I felt the heft, weight and build of the M3 in my hands for the first time, that I truly knew what the hype was all about. The M3 and the M6, but the M3 especially, are built like tanks. The design are sort of teutonic, plain yet beautiful and they command respect. But the real magic is in the lenses. Leica images can often times be recognized by the "look" of the image alone. It has something to do with the materials and unique production process that ends with iconic Leica images. And that's why, I will perhaps, never sell my lovely Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 lens. My M3 was paired with a Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 DR lens but I never really liked the design, so I swapped it out for a Zeiss Planar 50mm f/2 which gives me the same look but the design fits my fingers and hands better.
Fast forward to today.
I own and love my inventory of Sony mirrorless cameras. I use them all and can't recommend them highly enough. From my compact RX100 IV and A6000, to the awesome A7II and finally the 42mp resolution beasts, the A7RII and RX1RII. I find myself asking myself (in my head, I'm not crazy after all); Why would I ever want a $4250 USD Leica Q when I already own a similar (and similarly expensive camera) Sony RX1RII?
It's a question worth answering. So here we go with 5 reasons why I want (and will) buy a Leica Q.
1. A One of a Kind Experience - As I have discovered with my Sony RX1RII (and previously with the Fuji X100S) shooting a fixed focal length camera is a unique experience. It requires the photographer to, generally, get close to the subject. At 28mm, the Leica Q's f/1.7 Summilux lens will require even more intimacy. I have held the Leica Q in my hands (at the local Leica store in Seoul) and shot a few frames inside the store. Now, I am aware that it's probably not a fair comparison, but I will still stand by my assertion that holding and shooting a Leica Q, gives the same luxurious feeling of satisfaction as driving a high end Mercedes or similar luxury car.
2. Pure Design - The design of the Leica Q is in keeping with the tradition of classic Leica's such as the M. It's beautifully simple and pure. Buttons and dials are kept to a minimum and while the Sony A7RII has a much more comfortable grip to get your hands around, it can't compare to the Leica Q in terms of "artistic look". I can't take my eyes off the body, all black with only the Leica red dot standing out. Some complain about this, saying they'd prefer a black dot because it's more stealthy. But I don't buy into that claim. I like everything about the design, I even love the design of the lens hood.
For more on the design, read this interview with Vincent Laine, the designer of the Leica Q: http://blog.leica-camera.com/2015/09/16/vincent-laine-designing-the-leica-q/
Image courtesy of - http://passionleica.tumblr.com/post/126894510353/leica-q-from-fotografieporter-passionleica
3. You Only Live Once - You can't take your money with you when you die. As long as you have a roof over your head, free of debt and steaks in the freezer, why not enjoy life to the fullest extent? That being said, I don't plan on buying a new Leica Q and I don't plan on buying a used model until prices come down closer to $2000-$2500 USD, which might not be for a few years, I get that. There's just no way I can plunk down $4250. Not when I have my Sony RX1RII and Fujifilm X100S to enjoy. Some will say that the cost of the Leica Q with the fixed lens is still less than the cost of a Leica M240 and a lens, that's true, but you are still having to give up a lot with a fixed lens, fixed focal length camera, as good as it might be.
With the exception of my somewhat impulsive purchase of my Sony RX1RII and A7RII, I have never had a problem waiting for what I want. But if I find, that once I get back to the states, I am not using my Sony A7II (which serves only as a back up to the A7RII), then I might persuade myself to sell it and a few other cameras and/or lenses I have laying around unused. That would certainly provide the cash to purchase the Leica Q when and if that should happen.
4. The Lens - The Leica Q features a fixed focal length Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens. As with all Leica lenses, it is a premium quality lens. The choice of 28mm for the focal length has created a lot of debate. Why not 35mm? It is, after all, the more classic focal length for street photography and is the chosen focal length for similar cameras like the Sony RX1RII and Fujifilm X100T. But I rather like the idea of a wider lens at 28mm.
A 28mm focal length is wide enough for gorgeous architectural and interior photography, as well as for landscape photography. I have always struggled to find wide angle lenses that I really like and I'm anxious to shoot with some of my newly acquired wide angle lenses like the Sony 28mm f/2 and Zeiss 16-35mm f/4. I was pleased with the images from my Minolta Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 mounted on my Minolt A-700 35mm film camera and I really think it's a focal length that I will enjoy shooting immensely. But here again I face a slight dilemma in that I might be able to produce similar image with my A7II and A7RII mounted with the Sony 28mm f/2 lens, taking into account the difference in quality of the lenses.
5. I Love Leica - Every time I step foot inside the Leica store here in Seoul I am treated like a celebrity. They always offer me, and whoever is with me, coffee, water, energy drinks and snacks. This, despite the fact that the only purchase I have ever made in the store wasn't even a purchase at all. I had my Leica M3 serviced and CLA'd there and that's it. I went there a couple weeks ago to purchase a grip for my Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) but they were out of stock.
They are asking for around $4600 USD for a new Leica Q, I won't be purchasing one at that store. But still, I like the way they treat customers, it certainly made an impression on me, and I wonder if that's how customers are treated at every Leica store. I've only been to two in my lifetime, this one in Seoul and a smaller store in Manila, Philippines.
I love my Leica M3 and M6 and have also been loving on my new D-Lux. I'm certain that I will also swoon over the Q as well.
Image courtesy of - http://www.techradar.com/reviews/cameras-and-camcorders/cameras/compact-cameras/leica-q-typ-116-1296362/review
Photo from the Herrington catalog- http://www.herringtoncatalog.com/products/leica-q
My Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)