Gear Review

The SSD Hype - Why Pay More For Less Storage?

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INTRODUCTION

Along with all the exciting tech advancements in cameras these past few years, there’s also been some pretty nice advancements in the storage department. While it’s pretty easy to keep up with all the camera hype as a photographer, the less exciting advancements with storage devices typically get a lot less love. It’s definitely the red headed step child of the photography industry. I can ask any random photographer about the new mirrorless bodies that have been released in the past year and most will be able to tell me. I can ask the same photographers if they would rather have a 1TB SSD external drive or a 1TB HDD for a lot less, most either won’t know the difference or will simply pick the cheaper one.

 
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While I get it, it’s pretty amusing to see how many photographers still don’t have a solid backup solution or don’t know the difference between an SSD or an HDD. So, before we go any further, let’s just get part of that out of the way right out the gate:

SSD:

Solid State Drive (think flash drive)

HDD:

Hard Disk Drive (moving parts)

The first 4 external hard drives from left to right are HDD’s. The last one all the way on the right is a 1TB SSD.

The first 4 external hard drives from left to right are HDD’s. The last one all the way on the right is a 1TB SSD.

I’ve written a few articles now on good backup and storage practices to avoid data loss, here are two of them: My New 10G Studio Network & The 3-2-1 Rule. I’m not going down that road again with this article, instead focus on explaining why you really should pay attention to the SSD hype and why it’s important. I’ll also be giving an explanation as to what the differences are between SSDs and HDDs as well as the advantages/disadvantages of each in an easy to understand way.

 
 

Over the past 5 years or so, SSD’s really started making their presence known as an option over HDD’s as internal storage for the operating system in computers. Yes, they were around earlier than that, but it was roughly 5-6 years ago that they started making their presence known. Having an SSD in your computer offered more speed, less power consumption, and less noise due to there being no moving parts. But, it was a pricey upgrade. The good news is that the price has been dropping significantly over the past several years, even more so since early 2018. The forecast for 2019, from what I’ve read, is that they’ll drop close to another 50% more. The flip side of that coin is that so will the HDD’s which aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In 2012, a 512Gb SSD cost $400. Now, you can get Samsung 1TB SSD for $147.99.


THE IMPORTANCE

Why is does this info hold any importance to those not looking to invest in a new computer or upgrading one? With the price drop of both SSDs and HDDs over the past few years, SSD’s have broken their glass ceiling and started making their way outside of computer housings and into external drives. Companies like SanDisk, Samsung, Lacie, and G-Tech are making portable external SSD drives. These drives are much smaller, faster, and more durable than typical external HHD drives that photographers have been using for years. Because of their smaller size, two of them can be stacked on top of each other in an enclosure the same size as a typical HDD external hard drive that we’ve all been used to using for years. Two SSD’s in an enclosure, with read/write speeds much faster, USB 3.1 Type C or even Thunderbolt 3 for Mac users, and the ability to run a RAID for even more protection. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty damn impressive to me and a sign of what’s to come in terms of protecting our data/images as the prices of SSD’s go down and the capacity goes up. No more having to feel like you might vomit after dropping an external hard drive that isn’t backed up anywhere else.

 
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SSDs vs HDDs

I’ve had one too many conversations with photographers who simply look at the total amount of storage, bus power (type of connector such as USB or Thunderbolt) and the price when shopping for a new external drive. To be fair, up until a year or so ago, that was basically all that did matter. Most know that if they have a Mac, Thunderbolt is faster than USB. After that, it’s simply comparing prices for the amount of storage they’re looking for. Well, times are changing and depending on your needs, it might be time to start spending more on a 1TB SSD external drive than a 3TB HDD external hard drive. SSD’s are basically replacing HDD’s and if you don’t know the difference, now is the time to start getting caught up. Below is a comparison of the two, and why some may want to spend more on an SSD. For me, I still use both.

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While 2TB portable SSD external drives are still on pricey side, 2019 will be the year you’ll see that change. 1TB sized drives have been the more popular choice. It makes more sense to go with a 1TB portable to carry with you while still utilizing the cheaper HDD drives in the studio to transfer your data to for safe keeping and backing up. I just picked up a few 10TB 7200rpm HDD’s for my NAS that cost $300. I picked up three individual 1TB SSD’s for $150 each. For me personally, if the drives are in the studio and aren’t in danger of falling or being dropped, total storage and going with a reliable brand is my main concern. For portable drives, I’ve dropped way too many external drives to risk having one of those internal moving parts get knocked around causing data loss. I typically don’t need anything more than 1TB when on the road traveling, although I’m looking forward to the prices dropping on the 2 and 3TB drives this year.

Two of G-Technology’s Dual HDD RAID Enclosures

Two of G-Technology’s Dual HDD RAID Enclosures


THE FUTURE

In August of 2017, Samsung released the first USB-C portable SSD available to the consumer. They had a couple previous models that were a different type of of SSD (I won’t get into the different types in this article), but 2017 was the year when portable SSD’s with both USB and USB-C interfaces hit the market. I purchased the SanDisk portable 1TB SSD Extreme when it came out last year and loved it. However, earlier this year, it grew legs and made a break for it. With prices dropping and seeing the trends in storage this coming year, I went a different route for my portable SSDs. I purchased a 4-Bay enclosure that is directly connected to my main workstation (2017 iMac Pro) so it can be added to the Backblaze Cloud Storage like the other external drives. The SSD’s are hot swappable which also makes it easy to pop one out, toss it into an enclosure like the one below to bring home or on the road with me. I also picked up the Mediasonic ProRaid USB-C 2 Bay enclosure that can run RAID1 for extra protection. Dual drives being a mirror of one another in case one was to fail.

SSD RAID Enclosures


LETS TALK SPEED

With one of the biggest advantages (if not the most important) of SSD’s over HDD’s being speed, let’s take a look at some of the speed tests I’ve ran. Hopefully, if you’ve read everything up to this point you have a much better understanding of why SSD’s have been receiving so much attention. You should also see the advantages that come along with a much smaller and robust drive that has no moving parts that can easily break if dropped, yet nearly twice the price. For most, speed is everything, it means less time spent sitting at a workstation in front of a monitor or a laptop and leaving more time for other things. Possibly, even time spent using an actual camera capturing your own moments with family or friends.

Personally, I’m willing to spend more money for extra speed. Time IS money after all, and the less I have to stare at a progress bar or spinning pinwheel the more I’m willing to dish out. I’ve upgraded the studio’s to a 10Gbe network and have now began replacing all my portable external drives with new SSD options. The plan is to also start implementing the faster SSD’s with our associate photographers making it much quicker for them to transfer their files over to our main server from their home RAID setup that we provide them.

[Twisted Oaks 10Gbe Network Breakdown]

I remember installing my first 2-bay HDD RAID setup just about 4 years ago and being happy and relieved to have that extra level of protection. Now, I have a portable external enclosure that holds dual SSD’s running RAID1 that’s overall smaller in physical size than most of my portable HDD drives. Most don’t even know these are out there.

So, if you don’t mind the longer wait times while uploading or downloading data there’s no need to go any further. Below, I’ve shared the speed tests I’ve ran to which show the the speed advantages of both the Samsung 1TB 860 EVO SATA III SSD and the SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD (the two 2.5” SSD drives that I personally have invested in) using USB3.1 (TypeC) over the popular HDD alternative drives with more storage at a much cheaper price per TB.


SSD SPEED TESTS


HDD SPEED TESTS

G-Technology GRAID Thunderbolt2

G-Technology GRAID Thunderbolt2

G-Technology GRAID Thunderbolt2

G-Technology GRAID Thunderbolt2


CONCLUSION

I’ve had had this blog post sitting in the queue basically marinating for the past couple months as I’ve been busy with other projects. I had contemplated on tossing it but in the two months that it’s sat waiting to be finished, I’ve had more photogs question the advantages of SSDs over HDDs and also invested more of my own money into SSD related products. So, after a 5-day long stint in the hospital last week I had a little time to spare. Time used to finally get this conclusion written up.

While SSD’s are faster, more durable, and quickly dropping in price, HDD’s aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The price per TB of storage with HDDs is also continuing to drop, making large amounts of storage affordable for those who need it. I recently purchased a 24TB G-Technology G-RAID with Thunderbolt3 for the same price that I bought a 12TB G-RAID with Thunderbolt2 just 4 years ago. Now, due to the price of HDD storage I’m able to afford two Synology NAS devices with a total of close to 100TB’s of storage. Storage that I can upload and download to at pretty fast speeds even with HDDs running in each NAS due to the 10Gbe cards and wiring.

If this article has piqued your interest in utilizing SSDs where speed is more important than the amount of storage, I highly recommend spending a little more time learning even more. With the rate at which SSD prices continue to drop, you’re gonna start to see some SSD’s cheaper than others. The reason for this is that there are different types of SSDs which offer even faster speeds depending on their interface. Read up on the differences between an SSD with an M.2 NVME interface, SATA, or PCIe. The SSDs that I’ve purchased and are using an external storage are all SATAIII, which as you can see above offer quite the boost in speed over your typical HDD. An M.2 NVME SSD can offer speeds of up to and even more than 7 times the speed of the SATAIII drives that I own. They also cost a lot more and offer less total storage.

No matter what, it’s exciting to see the new technology that’s coming out as well as the once unaffordable technology dropping drastically in price. Yes, I used the word exciting and storage in the same sentence, you read that correctly. The less I have to watch a progress bar is exciting. We now have a lot more options available to us at much more affordable prices. For right now, having a general understanding of SSDs and HDDs is enough to help you make smarter purchasing decisions based on your storage needs. That’s the reason I wrote this up and hopefully, it helps.


New Shotkit Feature

Click on the image below to be taken to my new updated Shotkit feature. I was one of the first featured photographers on the site back in 2015 so it was time for an update. Being that I’ve become good friends with Mark, the owner of Shotkit over the years, I’ll be writing a few new articles for him over the next month or two as well.

The Cecilia Mercator & Tharp - Camera Bag Review

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INTRODUCTION

Over the past 6 or 7 years, I’ve had the privilege of testing, reviewing, and owning way more camera bags than I should. The equipment room in my studio at one point looked more like I imagine a Kardashian bag closet would look rather than a photographer’s gear room. I actually started selling off some of the ones that I either didn’t use anymore or have found others over time that I simply like better. It’s not so much that I have a thing for camera bags, it’s more of a problem that I have with saying no when companies reach out and ask if I want to test out and review their new products. Good companies, like Cecilia, that I know make quality products.

 
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A bit of a backstory, I was initially introduced to the Cecilia product line through a photographer friend before they even had any bag designs completed. In fact, I believe they had just started designing a few concept ideas but nothing more than that. I did some research on the company and then reached out to the owner to introduce myself and ask if they would be willing to send me a few products to test and review. You can click HERE to read more about the products I tested and what I thought. If not, let’s just say I was more than impressed. Not only with the Alpaca Wool camera straps that had been their original product that caught my eye, but also a few of the others that I normally would have passed on. Products that both my wife and I are still using today.

I spoke to the owner and founder, Michael Fleisch, at the time and he had mentioned a few camera bag concepts he was currently working on. When he explained the concept and what he had in mind I had just started using backpacks again, something I had gotten away from for years. Hearing that a backpack and messenger bag were in the works I was really hoping to hear back from him once he had the bags ready to go. Well, luckily I did, and here we are.

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REVIEW PROCESS

So, as I started putting this review together, it dawned on me that I really should explain my process for bag reviews. If you were to go through all my gear reviews, where I also throw bag reviews, you won’t find me trashing any bags or writing negative reviews. I don’t just write up positive reviews for every camera bag or accessory that comes my way. I learned early on when I started doing these that I simply don’t want to waste my time testing out a bad product any longer once I know it’s one that I won’t ever use or that I’m disappointed in. If a product comes my way, outside of actual camera gear, that I don’t like or recommend I send it back and give the company my honest feedback directly in the hopes that they make the changes I suggest. You can see all of my gear reviews HERE.

Depending on the job, or project, I tend to switch things up a lot when it comes to the accessories I use with my camera gear. I tend to either use a messenger bag, backpack style camera bag, single camera strap, or one of my Holdfast Moneymakers. Besides the bags that I’ve been sent to test and review, I have plenty that I’ve bought as well for either myself or my wife. Some have stayed and some have been quickly sent back.

I basically carry a camera with me at all times, even when it’s just between home and the studio. I’ve been like that ever since I purchased my first camera and don’t see myself changing anytime soon. I use a couple of different backpack style bags as work bags, carrying my 15” MBP, iPad Pro, Leica M10P, along with a number of other items. I typically don’t use those for shooting, I like to keep them looking nice since I meet with clients at the studio. I have a few different bags that I like to use while shooting, messenger bags and backpacks, and some that I use just for carrying gear from one place to another such as airport rollers and Pelican cases.

Since a lot of my weddings can involve a lot of hiking in the mountains or on large farm properties, to jumping from Uber to Uber in a big city, having options to choose from before each job is definitely something I can appreciate. Believe it or not, I have about 3 different backpack style bags that I use and beat up pretty good, 3 or 4 different messenger bags, and different camera straps for each camera that I shoot with. So, even though I have way more bags than I should, it’s often surprising to other photographers when they see how beat up most of them are.

 
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One thing about having the unique opportunity to test products like camera bags is that I get to try out all the different styles, pocket configurations, and material that each company uses. This has definitely helped give me a good idea of what I personally like, don’t like, what works and what doesn’t. I’ve tried some that have had stitching start to come loose within weeks, some that simply aren’t comfortable to wear whatsoever, and others that I thought were great products right out of the box that turned out to be poor quality and not be able to take a beating. I can honestly say that camera bags are probably one of the toughest products to review because it’s such an over-saturated market and it’s a lot like reviewing a pair of jeans. Personal taste and style play a big role in choosing a camera bag, but just like jeans, you don’t want them falling apart after you wash them a few times. Basically, I’m going to tell you what I like and dislike about the two Cecilia bags I have and let you know some of my thoughts. I’ll keep it short and sweet since you can see by the photos what they look like and if these style bags are something you would be interested in or not.


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The Mercator is the 16L backpack camera bag that comes in a black and brown leather as well as the cotton canvas that was sent to me. Cecilia also offers a slightly smaller 14L design called the Humboldt which comes in the same options. While the look and design on the outside is quite simple, the inside is quite perfect. The 16L that I have holds a 15” laptop with a leather strap that snaps in place to keep it from accidentally sliding out. There’s just enough pockets and room to hold all the gear that I’ve ever needed to put in any backpack camera bag.

PROS

  • Weight: It’s extremely lightweight

  • Comfortable. Even with its very basic shoulder strap design, it’s more comfortable than most that have tried to get fancy with the design.

  • Impressive pocket design. Some bags have way too many, others not enough, the inside design and pocket layout is done nicely.

  • Holds its form well.

  • Easy to access and hide rain cover.

  • Well made tripod or light stand pocket and strap.

CONS

  • Not the sexiest looking backpack design, it’s quite simple and plain looking.

  • Personally not a fan of the one and only cotton canvas color, but being that this is the first line introduction to a bag line from Cecilia I’m sure there will be more colors soon. Although, I don’t know for sure.

  • The provided strap to hold a tripod or light stand is located inside a pocket. As you’ll see in the photos below, the pocket needs to be open when using the strap.

  • Price is $398 for the canvas and $498 for the leather.


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The Tharp is the 8L Cecilia messenger style bag, which also comes in a 12L named the Lambert, in the same two leather colors and cotton canvas color. The Tharp and Lambert are like most messenger bags with a few unique characteristics. While ONA messenger bags use straps and buckles to close the top flap and ThinkTank uses velcro, Cecilia went with magnets strong enough to hold it closed. The EVA foam padding is also a nice feature, not only as extra protection for the gear inside, but also comfort.

PROS

  • Weight: Light weight just like the backpack.

  • Comfortable with a well padded strap.

  • Sturdy and holds form really good compared to other messenger bags.

  • Seems to be quite durable.

  • Pocket design, just like the backpack is the best I’ve seen.

  • Price is $149 for the canvas and $249 for the leather. A good price for one of the best made messenger bags I’ve used.

CONS

  • No short strap for picking up, only the long shoulder strap.

  • Same as with the backpack models, I’m not a fan of canvas color.

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Leica Q2 Photoshoot

Prior to its launch this past Thursday, March 7th, I had the opportunity to test out the new Leica Q2 for a few weeks. Here is the first photoshoot that I brought it on, each photo below of the beautiful and talented Katt Wilkins was shot at 28mm f/1.7. This was the first of several shoots I shot with it, but also my favorite. Even though it was cold and raining, we shot for a little over an hour and I was able to get a real good feel for how the new Q handled and performed. The sun that you’ll see in some of the shots is simply the affect from using off-camera flash with MagMod grids and warming gels.

If you haven’t already seen it, there’s a lot more sample shots here in my “First Impressions” review - THE LEICA Q2.

The New Leica Q2 - First Impressions Review

Meet The New Leica Q2

In true Leica fashion, their team of engineers took the already impressive innovation of the original Q and elevated it to new level. The new Q2 is easily the most impressive compact camera on the market, and to be honest, labeling it that will make most photographers shrug it off yet it has simply so much more to offer. There currently isn’t a camera on the market quite like it. Sure, Sony has a full frame sensor compact with a 35mm f/2, but the Q2 brings a whole new level of what you can do with a fixed lens camera. The Sony RX1RII comes in at a price of $3300 and is the closest competitor to the Q2, but with when comparing the specs head to head, the $1600 difference seems like a no brainer.

When rumors started circulating around months ago about a new Q on the horizon, I was pretty curious as to what Leica’s mad scientists had been cooking up in the their lab. I was oddly interested to see what they would add or upgrade, besides the sensor, since the SL would naturally be the next in line for a update. Well, I've been shooting with the new Q2 for the past month and can tell you that even though I was skeptical as to what they could pull off, I’m pretty impressed to say the least. Like I said, there really is nothing on the market quiet like the Q2. Not only will this update impress those who already own the Leica Q (I know a good handful of photogs that do), but also those who really don’t see the need for a compact camera (like myself).

ISO160 f/1.7 1/50sec - Model: Katt Wilkens

[Entire Shoot For The Image Above]

Much like the M240 upgrade to the M10, they slightly tweaked an already minimalistic body design and made it even sleeker looking. Inside, they put a completely new sensor that is easily one of the most impressive full-frame sensors I've ever shot with. Taking it from 24mp to 47mp which not only provides amazing IQ, but the ability to digitally zoom in to 75mm. Paired with the same awesome 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens, the image quality is hard to beat for any full-frame camera let alone a compact one. I photographed two entire shoots with only the Q2, taking portraits at 28mm, which you’ll see the results of throughout this review.

*Every photo below, besides the 75mm digital zoom sample was shot at 28mm.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

While the original Q was one that I got to shoot with a lot, I never quite fell in love with it. The Q2 is a different story. It's gonna be tough giving this one back and having to wait til mid-late April to purchase one for myself. The new sensor, along with the addition of weather sealing, a newly designed viewfinder, image stabilization, faster and more accurate AF, and a sleeker body design that makes it hard to put down had me wanting one for myself after the first shoot I took it on. 

 

Photo by John Kreidler, taken with Q2, with me holding a Q2.

 

NOTABLE UPGRADES

While the new sensor will be the most talked about and notable upgrade with the new Q, there are a few others that are definitely worth mentioning. The Q2 now has weather sealing against dust and water. I don’t think it’s the greatest weather sealing in the world, but it’s there and I did shoot with it in the rain without any issues. The other biggie for me is the battery. Being that the SL is my primary body which I often shoot alongside of the M10, giving me two different batteries and chargers to carry around. Leica went and gave the Q2 the same battery as the SL which now makes it even more enticing for SL owners like myself. I don’t ever travel without my M10, but when it came time to pack for my trip out to Vegas to teach at WPPI it got left behind. Having shot with the new Q alongside of the SL for an entire week prior, I really started to like the combo and decided to give the M10 a rest. Crazy, I know.


THE BODY

 
 

From a distance, it’s actually not that easy to differentiate the two. They’re pretty similar looking being that Leica didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with this upgrade, instead choosing to take the original and simply make it a little sleeker looking with less buttons. Just as Leica did with the upgrade from the M240 to the M10, they took an already minimalistic body and stripped it down even further. Personally, it’s the simplicity of the M and SL design that made me fall in love with shooting them. The Q2 is now just as sleek as the M10 and in that same category. It’s a camera that I can shoot without having it get in my way. I set it and go, not having to remembering which buttons or knobs do what.

ISO50 f/1.7 1/320sec - All Natural Light

Compare the Q2, M10, or SL to the Sony A7 or A9 Series models and you’ll see very quickly what I mean. Having owned the Sony A7II at one point and then the newer A9 giving it another shot, I simply couldn’t get over the fact that I felt like I was shooting with a mini computer that lacked soul. It was actually after shooting with the A9 for a few months that I decided to convert fully over to Leica with dual SL’s and the M10. Sorry Sony shooters, that’s just my opinion and my experience.

 
 

The new stripped down design of the Q only makes me enjoy shooting with it even more. Less buttons to get in my way, going from 5 to 3 on the back and scrapping the Record button on the top plate. Shooting with the new Q feels even more like shooting with my M than the original which made it tough to put down.

Leica Q2

Leica Q

Leica Q2 size comparison and similar design to the Leica M10.

Leica Q2 size comparison and similar design to the Leica M10.


THE NEW SENSOR

(Click on image to see larger) Fully Edited - Shot at ISO50 f/1.7 1/250

Okay, so let’s talk about how Leica decided to just about double the megapixels with the Q2. Do you really need close to 50mp in a full-frame sensor? Well, that depends on the photographer. For myself, I would have said no prior to getting my hands on the Q2. Now, a few weeks later, I’m REALLY hoping that Leica throws this sensor in the new SL. The image quality and detail in these files continue to impress me the more I shoot with it.

 

Fully edited - ISO50 f/1.7 1/320sec - Model: Sasha Casares

 

I have no doubts that there will be a nice handful of photographers that will look at this upgrade from 24mp to 47 as unnecessary. While 24mp is more than enough to get just about most jobs done, I can honestly say that this sensor produces some of the most beautiful images that I’ve seen from a camera with impressive resolution and image quality being paired with the 28mm lens. While 24mp would be plenty, the amount of detail when digitally zoomed in to 75mm was pretty damn impressive. Let alone the ability to crop in post if needed for a better composition is more than welcome.

RESOLUTION SAMPLE

RAW Image - Click image to see full size

Cropped in - Click image to see closer

The sensor was the number one reason that I was excited to get my hands on this camera early to test out. Why? The SL is my primary camera body for all of my professional work. Based off of the original Q and SL having the same sensor, I knew that this could give me an early look at the image quality that the new SL will bring to the table. While I haven’t heard anything about the SL2 at this point, or whether it will share the same sensor as the Q2, I would be one happy camper if it did. After shooting with the Q2 for a few weeks I can tell you that this sensor produces some of the best image quality that I’ve seen from a full-frame sensor.

 
 

THE 28mm f/1.7 Summilux

Leica kept with the 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens as the original, no changes there. However, the image quality produced by the Q2 with the higher resolution really makes this lens shine. Being that the Q is a compact camera with a fixed lens, the combination of the sensor and lens are what ultimately make this camera so special. Shooting wide open at f/1.7 is a thing of beauty, especially for portraits. The out of focus rendering and sharpness when shot wide open, along with the new sensor, are what really show off the precision engineering and design behind this camera. I shot with the original Q a good amount, but never quite fell in love with it enough to buy one. The Q2 is a different story. It’s gonna be tough giving this back and having to wait til mid-April to pick one up.

 
 

DIGITAL ZOOM FEATURE

Just like the original Q, you have the ability to digitally zoom in to 35, 50, and now 75mm which you see above. Both the RAW and edited version to show that it’s a usable image. While you can just as easily crop in post, this feature is actually pretty slick and helps when composing your shot. Sure, you don’t get the compression of a true 75mm lens, but being that this is a fixed lens camera, the digital zoom is a pretty nice feature.

The original Q had the ability to zoom in to 35 and 50mm. The extra resolution of the new sensor now allows for a 75mm zoom. I’ll be honest, I was pretty skeptical about how good the image quality would be cropped in that far so it was one of the first features I tested once I got out to Red Rock Canyon last week. How usable is an image cropped in that far? Take a look for yourself at the RAW file sample above, and the zoomed in image below. I also included an example of how the digitally zoomed in images look when opened in Lightroom. Zooming in doesn’t lock you into that crop, you still have access to the full file which is pretty nice.

 

75mm Zoom - Cropped in even further to show detail

 

The digital zoom isn’t a feature that I used a whole lot with the original Q, but I can easily see myself using it now with the Q2. I think a lot of photographers will really like this feature. Personally, I love shooting at the 28mm focal length which is why I loved shooting with the original, but I know there were a lot of photographers who expressed that a 35mm lens would have been a better way to go for Leica. Shooting the Q2 at the 35mm digital zoom won’t disappoint, I found myself using it a lot this past week.

Opened in Lightroom - Full size image


DYNAMIC RANGE SAMPLE (Raw Images)

By now dynamic range samples in a review shouldn’t even be needed, but I included them anyways just for those that may be interested. There had been a few photographers who reported banding issues with under exposed files were pushed. I saw no banding whatsoever when I pushed files like the one below 5 stops in Lightroom. Honestly, seeing how clean the files are when pushed 5 stops did impress me. While I didn’t have the original Q to compare them head to head, I can see the difference by going back and looking at the original Q Review that I wrote up. You can see below how much detail is preserved when pushed 5 stops, with little to no noise. Had I made a mistake with my settings on a real shoot and underexposed an image by that much, you can see that it’s still a very usable file.

NOTE: The Next 2 Sample Images were each pushed 5 stops of exposure (the max) in Lightroom to test the Dynamic Range. No other changes. Shot with Auto WB, which is why it’s so warm.

 
Click on image to see even closer

Click on image to see even closer

 
 

Click on image to see even closer

 

Micro-contrast

Pushed 2.5 stops - ISO50 f/4 1/20sec

Closer Look (click on image for full size)

Dynamic Range

Exposure +3.5 - ISO400 f/1.7 1/640sec

 

Click on image to see even closer

 

MACRO Option

You can easily switch the lens to macro mode and capture images at a much closer minimum focus distance. This is a really nice feature to have at your fingertips for when you need it, but even more so now with the additional megapixels giving you the ability to crop in even further.


Full size image shot in Macro Mode.

Zoomed in to show detail up close

CONCLUSION

The Q is a compact, or fixed lens camera. There’s no changing lenses, you’re stuck with one lens mounted on a sleek looking Leica body. For some, that’s a deal breaker. Why spend money on a fixed lens camera and limit yourself? Well, I used to be one of those people who had no desire to purchase one, until the original Q. I decided against it however, I did shoot with one a lot.

What changed my mind? There are some really nice benefits to a compact camera, which I didn’t see until I shot with the Q. For hobbyist photographers, a crop sensor compact might do the trick for you. Maybe something like the Fuji X100 series, which I tried and realized very quickly that I wouldn’t be able to shoot anything professional with it. It was a lot like a wiffle ball bat. Sure, it’s great for playing in your backyard, but it’s not made for much more than that.

 
 

The Q is a camera that’s great for the backyard and someone like myself who has young kids, or kid, but also likes to know that it can also be used for professional work. With a body that’s very much similar to that of the M that I love so much, a kickass full-frame sensor, and a lens that seems to fit like a match made in heaven, the Q2 now becomes a compact camera that fits perfectly in my gear bag. I can shoot at a 35mm focal length if I want to, it just won’t be full-frame which is fine. I can shoot at 50mm, and now even 75 if I have to. BUT, here’s the thing, I can also shoot at 28mm with a 47.3mp full-frame sensor at a wide open aperture of f/1.7 and take beautifully rendered photos on just about any professional job if I want to. I love when I hear photographers say that 28mm isn’t good for portraits. Sure, it’s not the most ideal focal length, but if the headshot of me at the top of this review along with all of the portraits I’ve mixed in doesn’t prove differently, I don’t know what will.

 
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While the new Q2 is a camera that I admittedly didn’t see myself falling in love with as much as I did, I’m even more excited about the new SL that’s due to come out some time this year. Even though the M and the Q are similar, the new Q2 has now separated itself and I’m looking forward to getting my own. I’ll be following this up with a full detailed written review and video review next week. Below are more sample images that I took with it over the past few weeks. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you might have.

The price of the Q2 is $4995, and as far as I know, those who put pre-orders in have already started receiving them. When considering the fact that the M10 starting at $7295 without a lens, the Q2 is actually a great price for a body and lens combo that also has an awesome AF system, Image Stabilization, and a brand new full frame sensor. If you don’t own a Leica but have been thinking about wetting your feet a little, in my opinion, this now becomes your best option.

Full shoot with the Q2 - Katt Kilkons Shoot

Full Sample Gallery in addition to the photos below - Q2 Sample Gallery

Cheers!

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