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Leica Q3
Reading time: 8 minutes - 07 July 2023 - by Lennart Filthuth

Leica Q3 - A round thing

We finally had the chance to test the new Leica Q3 and want to give you our thoughts on the most potent Leica yet. Everything you need to know about the camera can be found in this article

1. The most potent Leica

What makes the Q3 so special in the Leica lineup? Leica has installed its 60 megapixel sensor from the M11 here. Combined with the sensor for the first time, however, is the completely new and more powerful Maestro IV processor, which makes the Q3 the most powerful camera in the lineup.

Thanks to this upgrade, the camera now has enough processing power to take full advantage of the new autofocus, making the Q3 the most potent Leica on the market today. We were really amazed here at the new algorithms and features, like the improved scene recognition with eye, head and body recognition of people.

You can also see the influence of L² Technology on the UI, because on the software side, the Leica behaves like we know it from new Panasonic cameras (which is positive, by the way, because the display and functionality have been solved cleanly).

Leica Q3

  • Full-frame BSI CMOS sensor with Triple Resolution Technology (60MP / 36MP / 18MP)
  • Summilux 1:1.7/28âASPH. fixed focal length with integrated macro mode
  • Hybrid Autofocus System (Phase Detection AF + Contrast AF + Depth from Defocus + AI)
  • tiltable 3 inch display and 5.67MP OLED viewfinder
  • fast and convenient connectivity with the Leica FOTOS app
  • USB-C and HDMI ports
  • up to 8K video and multiple video formats including .h265 and ProRes
  • Made for iPhone and iPad
  • IP52 protection class

For all those who photograph animals as well as people in everyday life, we also have a scene recognition system for animals and vehicles. We are already curious to see when and how this technology will be inherited by new cameras in the SL series.

The new autofocus is made possible, among other things, by the addition of phase detection; so we don't just have a purely contrast-based focus here, as was the case with the Q2.

Those who have already worked with the Q2 know that a popular feature is the fast digital crop to other focal lengths. With the push of a button, crops can be made for 35, 50, 75 or 90 mm. The images are cropped here for the JPG, but still saved at 28mm for the RAW.

Since we now have a jump to 60MP, we end up with just under 39 megapixels in the 35mm crop and still 19 megapixels in 50mm. So for quick crops and spontaneous use of "longer focal lengths" this feature is still great!

All of this in this small and excellently manufactured housing has once again convinced us of the Q series and once again confirmed why we always flirt with the cameras when we walk past the showcase.

2. Function over Form

What strikes us about the new Q3 is that Leica actually puts design behind functionality in a way. If you compare the Q2 with the Q3, the new 3-inch touch display is particularly striking. This is because it is not seamlessly recessed into the rounded casing like on the Q2, but instead protrudes clearly from the casing due to the new flip mechanism, thus interrupting the round casing. Is the display of the Q2 more beautiful? Sure, but we welcome the foldable display for high and low shots. Especially in street photography, where the camera is ultimately at home.

If you're expecting a somewhat wobbly and poorly built display at this point, we can reassure you. The mechanism is solidly built and small details, such as the grooves at the top and bottom for a better grip of the display or how the display is pulled into the final position by what feels like magnets, round off the package.

Then on the side of the case is the second aspect where you can observe Leica putting functionality up front here - the new ports.

It's kind of funny that new ports are such a big deal at Leica, but finally, finally we have USB-C and since Leica already has a port built in here anyway, they've directly added a micro-HDMI port on top of that.

Both ports are under a sealed plastic cap, which also breaks the design a bit, but is not noticed negatively in everyday use.

Oh well, speaking of flaps: The new leather case now also has a flap for changing the memory card and battery, and a small pocket for another SD card, so thank you Leica here as well!

However, you quickly notice that the Q3 is not planned as a parade hybrid. If you have paid attention to the ports, you will have noticed that there are no 3.5 mm jacks for feeding external microphones. This will be possible later via a USB adapter, but it shows quite well where the camera's priorities lie.

You will also have to do without a full sensor readout, for example. The camera already crops at a resolution of 4K. It sounds quite nice on paper, and the new autofocus can be used for it, but be aware that it is not professional level. If you are looking for that from Leica, you should take a look at the SL2S.

4. Never touch a running system: The lens

Leica hasn't changed anything on the Q3's lens, and we're not really mad about that. After all, we have a 28 mm Summilux with f/1.7 aperture, which is a fantastic lens. It's pretty darn sharp, offers beautiful bokeh and little to no image flaws. Sure, we've got another almost 13 megapixels more here than on the Q2, but you don't have to worry about the resolution of the lens, because when you get right down to it, the lens here is even sharper than the Leica M Summilux at f/1.4, and there were never any complaints here that it wouldn't be enough for the M 11.

As usual, the focus ring has the thumb rest with the strange and somewhat awkward button for switching between auto and manual focus, but as with the Q2, this optic has an incredibly smooth and pleasant focus progression despite the focus-by-wire system, and manual focusing is just insanely fun here!

Also still with us is the function to switch the lens to a macro mode and of course, I mean it's Leica, of course the transition is just beautiful. The macro mode allows us to switch from a close focus distance of 30cm to 17cm. In conjunction with the open aperture, this allows us to crop our subjects even better. Sure, the Q2 could do that already, but! with the high resolution of the Q3, we not only have more detail, but we can also crop our image even closer and bring fine structures and details even closer, so to speak.

5. A round thing

We've already talked a lot about the Q3's exterior design, but what about the user interface, what has been solved particularly well here?

A small but important detail is the assignable buttons, of which we now have one more, for a total of three. We have two buttons next to the viewfinder and another on the thumbwheel on the right side. All three can be assigned individually, as was the case with the Q2, by simply pressing the button for a long time and selecting the desired function.

In addition, you can also easily distinguish the two rear buttons from each other, as they protrude from the case at different distances. Thatâs the attention to detail that we really appreciate at Leica.

Also new are the 5 Lecia Looks, which we can only use on the Q3. You can also view the Looks in the Leica Photos app and transfer them to your camera, and more Looks may be added here in the future.

We also like the function that allows us to automatically crop the image to fit the horizon. This can be really helpful for quick photos from the hip.

Leica is constantly trying to improve the user experience of their products and with the Q3, they've come up with something special. If we look at what the Q series is most often used for, besides street photography, it's often spontaneous shots when you're out with friends or family. What do we not want to have to worry about there? That's right, a fully charged battery. For the Q3, Leica now offers the option of charging the camera inductively, that is, a charging plate on which we can, for example, set the camera down in the evening with an empty battery in order to be able to take it fully charged again the next morning.

Unfortunately, this requires a handle and a suitable charging plate. Of course, it would be desirable to have these charging points already in the camera body, but the body would probably have to be a bit bigger for that, and we don't want that.

Leica has not skimped on other accessories either. Here we have, among other things, these golden accents through the optional thumb rest, lens hood or also a button on the shutter release. The latter was not possible on the Q2, by the way, because the shutter button did not have a thread there. If you don't like the gold, you can also go for black or silver.

6. Price and conclusion

So - now for the elephant in the room: yes, the Q3 costs MSRP 5,950€ and yes, that's a lot of money⦠but is it? So yes sure, but let's go over it - what do we get for it?

We get a compact full-frame camera with a fixed lens and that is actually not at all self-evident, because there is no other current full-frame camera in this range besides the Q series. In Leica terms, the Q3 is an incredible deal, offering the 60 MP sensor of the M11, the best autofocus Leica has to offer, and the popular 28 mm Summilux, which for a Leica M already costs more than the full Q3. All of this is packed into a compact, but high-quality body with an excellent viewfinder, and the high price of just under €6,000 becomes relative. Is the camera perfect? No, we would still like to see better accessibility of the top dial, as well as internal memory or a microphone port for somewhat higher-quality video recordings.

But if that's all that could be improved, I think we've reached a high level of complaining.

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