Twelve months ago, I was in a state of deciding where I wanted to go with my photography and gear. My life was in a transition process, having twins who were at the age of one and adjusting to life with new responsibilities. I knew twelve months ago that my photography needs were changing and thus I started to sell my Canon 5DM3 DSLR gear. It was a moment of fear and nervousness as I was not sure of what photography experiences were in front of me, but never would I have thought that I would experience a new level of photography euphoria with what was to come, In came the Leica Q.
After months of deliberating new systems and a constant back and forth, I understood what my priorities were moving forward. Quick, simple, light and ease of use. Scared of the thought that I would not be able to pick my lens, switch focal lengths and buy glass for my camera which was always an exciting process, I decided to stick to my priorities and understood that a fixed lens and focal length camera was the right camera for me at this very moment in time. Boy, was I in for a surprise and enlightenment. The very first picture I took upon opening the box and snapping a photo of my kid was probably my most memorable moment with the Leica Q. Compose, set aperture & shutter.... snap. Quick, simple and easy. Capturing moments a in split second time was never easier especially with the need to always have a consciousness of where and what the kids are doing while I try to capture a moment in time. Little did I realize how much nonsense I was wasting in menus, buttons and wheels on my old system that were just things that let me focus less on capturing the moment.
To set the table, there were compromises that I had to accept and decide upon when first purchasing the Leica Q. To name a few here are a few items which I decided were things I could live with:
- Fixed Focal Length (28mm) - This was not a big issue for me, more of an adjustment to use my feet to capture the right distance from my shot.
- Weather Sealing - As you probably already know, the Leica Q is not a weather sealed product. This was an area where I had the most worry about with all the weather sealing I had in the Canon 5DM3. I thought it over and realized that the percentage of times I actually needed a camera in rain, snow or freezing temperatures was not all that much.
- Long-Exposure Limit - (30s Prior to the latest firmware upgrade). Another item that is nice to have but not a must have.
Now, with the limitations and hesitation set aside, you can clearly see that the limitations are minor cases but not show stoppers. Heck what camera system has no compromises? Every camera or system has things you wish for.
Enhancing my creative juices
The more I started to use the Leica Q the more and more I fell in love with it, this really is a gateway drug to the Leica world. With my Canon system, I use to worry too much of with the following questions whenever I was getting ready to go off on a trip or looking at a scene to capture:
- "What lens do I want to use, wide, zoom, prime, 16-35, 50, 85?". Just picking a lens was troublesome.
- Once I had the lens, then picking exposure, aperture, focus, drive mode etc had me jumping and hoping thru menus, knobs, wheels and so on.
As you can see, before you know it you have wasted a perfect moment to just capture the shot. With the Leica Q, the camera has simplified my whole process and this is the biggest goal of Leica. Simple, intuitive and mechanical engineering at its finest. Never do I need to go down a checklist of questions for shooting now a days, I can focus on composing and capturing what is in front of me.
Never did I ever realize how great of a benefit the simplicity of a camera was for myself until I actually used it on a day to day basis. Before I bought the camera, I had thought the more the merrier, I need as much as possible to customize my workflow, never realizing how this was getting in the way of what I needed to focus on.
Image Quality was as expected, fantastic! Obviously the biggest reason most photographers buy their gear is to get the best image quality. Sharp, accurate and I started to see that "Leica Pop". The more I shot, the more I was inspired to go out and shoot again. Instead of lugging around 5-7 lbs around my neck, another couple lbs on my back, here I was with a 3 lb camera. Light, agile and less tired this was truly a great feeling to just go out and shoot.
Other great features of the Leica Q that have impressed me over the last 12 months and I will have a hard time not living without again are the following:
- Build Quality - The moment you hold and use a Leica you start to understand the reason why it is so much pricier. Handmade, solid feel, mechanical buttons and knobs which feel amazing. The Leica Q feels like a German tank in my hands. The more I was privy to working with Leica Q the more other cameras felt like toys when I would pick them up. Plastic, wobbly knobs and just a total different level of craftsmanship.
- EVF - The Leica Q was the first time I used an EVF from the view finder days with my SLR. I can forever say good riddance, I love the view finder of the Q. Never have I had issues with refresh rates or sluggishness to it, its just snappy and so much more helpful to see the exposure of the shot before you snap it. The Q's EVF is so great that I often times use the EVF to review my shots versus looking at the LCD on the back of the camera.
- Aperture ring - This sounds like nothing but manual rings for things like setting apertures is has made prepping a shot an awesome experience. I can basically set all the elements of my shot while the camera is off then when ready turn the camera on, focus and shoot.
In summary, this is not a review of the Leica Q, but an experience I thought was worth sharing. The joys of a simple camera have given me the time and space to focus on creativity. Within the last twelve months I have taken more shots and felt like I have taken better quality pictures than I had with the 4 years I had the 5DM3 camera. I believe this sums up how the camera has given me the experience to align myself with the creativity I want to create, and hope that this inspires more photographers who can relate to where I was prior to using a simple camera system.