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.
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.