Review: Leica Q (Typ 116)

The last issue, though, will be one on the mind of anyone looking to buy a Leica Q, and that’s price, and at $5990, you’d understand why. Simply put, this is not a cheap camera, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Granted, you get a low-light lens and a full-frame 35mm sensor, but still, it’s not cheap.

There aren’t many cameras this can be compared to either, and the only one we know of is Sony’s RX1, which again takes a 24 megapixel full-frame 35mm sensor and plonks it not a small body with a fixed 35mm f/2.0 lens, a little different from the 28mm f/1.7 offered here, and with less ISO range (a max of 25600).

The cameras are of course totally different, but Sony’s version arrives with a local price tag close to the $3500 mark. Leica’s Q isn’t Sony’s RX1, and is three years newer, the RX1 first appearing in 2012.

Does this alone make the Leica worth the extra $2400?


Not having reviewed the RX1, we couldn’t tell you, but we look at the price of the Leica Q not solely as a competitor to the RX1, but as a smaller Leica model for people who know they won’t ever really have the cashflow to support entry into the Leica system.

You can class this writer in that bunch, because the ticket to the Leica rangefinder system doesn’t start small, with $6500 grabbing you the M-E and $8300 netting the standard M, the latter of which relies on a similar full-frame 35mm sensor set to 24 megapixels.

Leica lenses aren’t much cheaper, with M-based lenses starting at around $2800 for a 28mm f/2.8, and while there’s no equivalent Summilux lens from Leica outright — no f/1.7 on a 28mm that we can find, anyway — the 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M is around $8000.

So if you take the Leica M digital for $8300 and the 28mm f/1.4 for another $8000, you have a camera setup that costs a good $10000 more than what the Leica Q gets.

If that were us, we know we’d be struggling to ever buy another lens for a Leica, and that’s who this camera feels pitched at: people who love Leica, and who love the quality the brand pushes out, but who also are realists and know they’ll never be able to afford another lens, so have decided that one lens made just for the camera will be more than ideal.

Monochromatic image straight from the Leica Q (100 percent crop)
Monochromatic image straight from the Leica Q (100 percent crop)


Leica’s Q is a particularly interesting camera, and one that really grabs your attention, with so much going for it. It has the look of something old, and yet it is much much better than just another camera meant to capture the retro design of the heritage cameras.

It’s also a camera that causes disagreements, with some photographers looking at it and questioning why it costs so much.

The answer to that one can simply be brought back to “it’s a Leica”, which is a similar response to why a Ferrari costs as much as it does. Both are machines at the height of their craft, with an attention to detail few other brands have, and a name that automatically commands respect.

We’ve all felt that ping of jealousy when we see a Ferrari tear down the road, and even though it’s obviously not a practical automobile for going down to the supermarket, you can’t help but wish you had something of that quality in your own garage.

A Leica is a little like that, with the camera brand existing for over a hundred years, used by hundreds of recognisable photographers, and a quality in bodies and lenses, as well as shutter mechanism design, that is hard to fault.

Why does a Leica cost as much as a Leica does? It’s a Leica.


But still, you find a disagreement.

Take this writer’s father, for instance, who argues that it is more than likely the photographer handling the Leica Q in this review that is taking the photos to be proud of, not the camera itself, and that he could probably get the same result out of the Nikon he has at home, or even any other camera if need be. He could take an old Mamiya off the shelf at home, load it with film, and get similar results.

That’s part of the toolkit response for photographers: it’s not the camera making the image, but rather the person behind the camera, and explains why the camera does not make the photographer, and why any old Joe can’t just buy an expensive camera and get great shots out of it.

There’s another approach to this, however, and that is a photographer is only as good as the equipment they’re using, because while you can get great images out of any camera if your skill is already up there, you can get even better images out of a camera if the camera and lens quality is even higher.

That’s what the Leica Q does to the photographer’s toolkit, elevating the quality to heights few cameras and lenses can achieve, but it does come at a cost.

Indeed, the $5900 price tag isn’t cheap, and it does make you think twice about if the fixed-lens camera is really worth plonking down close to six grand on a body that could do with better battery life.

But if that’s the one serious complaint we have with the Leica, that’s not much to squabble with, especially since the lens quality is so high, especially if almost every image out of this camera has been one this writer and this photographer has been proud of.

So instead of thinking about the price being so high, we instead have to think about how much a real Leica digital interchangeable rangefinder would be, and then knowing that we couldn’t justify it at all, not until we sell a book or two, and possibly the movie rights.


With such a high cost, we’re probably in the group who would only ever buy one lens, which is exactly what this camera feels like it is being pitched to at a cost lower than that of the body and lens combo, offering a solid piece of glass with a body that it has been matched to perfectly.

And sure, it’s still quite expensive for what’s on offer, and almost three grand more than the Sony equivalent of a similar product. But the Leica Q is something special, and is easy one of the best cameras we’ve ever seen.

Seriously, this writer has found the camera that he’ll use to take photos of his family with. Now he just has to save up for it.

Highly recommended.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Some of the best and sharpest glass we’ve ever seen; Images are amazing out of the camera; Both colour and monochrome modes are real winners; Such a well built camera;
Very expensive (it’s a Leica); Battery life needs work; More function buttons needed; No flash; Some of the auto modes aren’t fantastic, such as panorama mode which doesn’t appear to be all that amazing;