The Q2, 2 years on. Can it perform beyond street photography?
A review by Melissa Lim (@callmemelissa__).
We live in a filtered world, but no filter I know of has been able to replicate the magic of Leica glass. This, for the TLDR-inclined audience, has my experience with the Leica Q2 over the past 2 weeks.
Although it is inevitable for opinions to converge (or even diverge), I wanted to write a review that was representative of my use-case so I have to preface it by introducing myself.
"I use photography for work, vetting marketing materials. I also use it to create content on my personal Instagram page, where I post about my cooking and baking escapades as well as share about brands that have added utility to my life."
This review is written for those who fall under this category and are looking for a camera to supplement their lifestyle, who find it impractical to lug around a DSLR and multiple lenses everyday but are not satisfied with mediocre image quality from phones or other mirrorless options from competing brands.
The Q2 is known for its fabulous outputs in street photography. But I wanted to challenge the typecast that it has found itself in, 2 years after its release. I wanted to see if it could perform, particularly in the food, and lifestyle category of shots. After all, if you are paying over 8 grand for a camera with a prime lens, you’d want it to be a versatile enough workhorse to justify your money spent.
All photos are shot in Jpeg L, with zero to minimal post-processing to give you an unadulterated perspective of what the camera can potentially do for you. This might sound quite controversial for purists, but it was intentional on my part to shoot in Jpeg just to test the camera that little bit more.
Let’s first talk about the camera body and some universal functions. It is light yet sturdy, with easy navigation between camera dials. ISO, aperture, and shutter speed were very intuitive to adjust. As far as ergonomics are concerned, I have virtually nothing to fault about the camera. Being very familiar with the Canon system prior to this, I found it quite disconcerting however that there was no flip screen function. In fact, I was nearly going to write the camera off because how else was I supposed to achieve my overhead shots or shoot at awkward angles without it? (I later found out that we can easily workaround this issue via remote shooting through the Leica Connect app.)
A recurring theme that you will find with this camera is this: Working around the “limitations” of this camera will make you a better photographer.
Right outside the store, I took the camera out to make a few test shots and was immediately taken by the colours that this nifty little body and lens was able to produce. Auto Focus was also a breeze. I can’t quite put it to words so I’ll just leave the pictures here for you to see.
I promised you I’ll share some food photos, and here they are. As far as food is concerned, I thought the camera could potentially be a dealbreaker. I scoured the internet for any food sample shots with the Q2 but was not able to find even 5 articles. Therefore, I hope this review is able to satiate the curiosity of those food photographers out there.
Food photography wise, I would say it all boils down to framing your shot well. If you can do that, the fixed lens is not an impediment at all. As you can see with these sample photos, the 43MP sensor and cropping mode was able to give me shots that would otherwise take a 24-70mm lens to produce, without significant reductions in image quality. This essentially means that you are getting a prime lens in reality, but with some zoom lens functionality as a bonus.
Macro mode used creatively on food also rendered good results. I must admit, the workflow of the 3x magnification for manual focus on macro took a bit of getting used to, but you will understand the brilliance behind it once you get the hang of this.
I was also obviously blown away by the bokeh at f1.7. For any category of photography, your subject will pop in such a gorgeous way.
With the Q2 standard model, you get bang-for-your-buck. I found the black and white film style to be astounding, even without edits. I do not typically shoot in black and white, but the drama of these shots are a sight to behold. Since I am not a hardcore BNW enthusiast, I am more than happy to stick to this by selecting BNW film style as opposed to paying the premium for the Q2 monochrome. For visual interest, here are some BNW street pictures shot at evening/night for your reference.
"I found the black and white film style to be astounding, even without edits."
Ultimately, the Q2 evokes emotions that a more practical camera has been unable to do for me thus far. With limited travel the norm these days, I am profoundly happy to rediscover the joys of photography through this camera and fall in love with my country all over again.
"The Q2 has been the perfect introduction to the Leica brand for me and a worthy supplement to my full frame DSLR. In fact, I find myself reaching out for the Leica more often now these days."
Sure, you can definitely opt for a more “practical” option. But I’ve gone the practical route myself before and can vouch for the fact that if a camera feels like work, and doesn’t inspire you to pick it up, go out, and shoot that money shot – you’d also be wasting your money.
I’ve had an amazing experience with the Q2 and I would definitely recommend it for someone who has a good understanding of photography fundamentals. If you’re a newbie photographer, my suggestion is to study photography and sign up for some classes with the Leica Akademie before you decide. Ultimately, my take is that, for the premium, the Leica is something you earn the right to use, and good photography is still contingent on the eyes of the photographer, so don’t spend on it unless you are absolutely certain that you will commit to photography, at least as a serious hobby.
Overall, this is an investment you will grow to love. I see myself using this for quite a while, at least until the Q3 is released.
About Melissa Lim (@callmemelissa__)
Melissa is a multi-hyphenate millennial who pursues several interests. She identifies most as a hotelier, marketer and aspiring tastemaker. Her first brush with photography was work-related. Being part of the founding team of a 5 star independent hotel in Manila, she had to work with professional photographers to introduce this project to the region. Their joint efforts led to the hotel being nominated as the urban hotel of the year in Asia. Since then, she has taken up photography, taking lessons from veterans and industry professionals to hone her craft. It has been 4 years since, and she has commenced on paid campaigns for notable brands, both in front of and behind the camera. Photography, food, hunting lifestyle finds & content creation are her biggest loves outside of work and she feels a sense of fulfillment amalgamating these areas of her life.
Get Up Close And Personal With Leica Q2
Book an appointment at one of the following stores:
RAFFLES HOTEL ARCADE
328 North Bridge Road
Note: SL2 is currently not available for test drive at Leica Raffles Hotel. Kindly book an appointment at our MBS or ION store if you would like to test drive a SL2. Thank you.
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard #03-20, S238801
MARINA BAY SANDS
2 Bayfront Avenue
Marina Bay Sands, #B1-82A, S018972