Shot entirely with the Leica SL and the 50mm Summilux f/1.4 ASPH M-Mount with the Leica adaptor. I had brought my M10P to shoot as well but didn’t realize the battery was dead and the spare was back at the studio on the charger. The last shoot that I did with Katt, I had a very specific vision in mind and not only did the location that we had planned on shooting at fall through, but I my goal of shooting all natural light didn’t pan out either. This time, we decided to give it another go, but about 10 minutes after we started shooting the sun dipped behind the clouds and never came back out. We plan on shooting again in a couple weeks to hopefully get the shots that we had originally set out to get, but also to get some shots to finish up my review and comparison of the Leica 50mm Summilux M-mount and SL-Mount.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE NEW SENSOR
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pushed 2.5 stops - ISO50 f/4 1/20sec
Exposure +3.5 - ISO400 f/1.7 1/640sec
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.
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.
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
Once again I’ll be heading back to the city that never sleeps for the once a year wedding photography event known as WPPI representing Leica Camera USA. This will be the third consecutive year that I’ll be teaching a workshop followed by a complimentary dinner, but it sold out before I had a chance to really even promote it.
However, due to the workshop filling up so fast, I was asked to fly in a few days early and do a photowalk. Photowalks are a popular thing at WPPI and even though I’ve never attended one myself, I’ll basically be able to run it the way that I feel a photowalk should be run. WPPI will be providing models and we’ll be heading out onto the strip during the last couple hours of light. Just the way I like it.
I don’t know the total headcount yet for the photowalk, but this the first time that I’m promoting it so I would think that there are plenty of spots available. If you’re interested in joining me, you’ll have the opportunity to get your hands on one of the Leica camera/lens combos available free of charge to shoot with as well. Here is the link to register: https://photo.a2zinc.net/WPPI2019/Public/SessionDetails.aspx?FromPage=Speakers.aspx&SessionID=6988&nav=true&Role=U%27
“Hands down, my absolute favorite workshop to date. Jay and the Leica Akademie brought incredible professionalism, knowledge on a wide spectrum of relavent topics, and gracious generosity to the whole weekend. This wasn’t a “sit back and learn” environment but rather a hands on microscope look into my own business, marketing, gear that I use, lighting, posing, the works. There was ample opportunity for asking questions during real time, hands on learning. I was so impressed. Based on previous reviews, I had high expectations going in to the weekend of learning but Jay’s workshop in partnership with Leica has completely upped my business game leaps and bounds ahead of all that I could have hoped for. It was worth it on every single level!”
On January 11-13th, Bud Johnson and I hosted a Leica Akademie event in his hometown of Savannah, the 3rd of its kind that we’ve hosted together. This by far our biggest and most intensive, not only being three days long, but including a full wedding day walk through. Our most recent and last event that we hosted was in Lubec, ME so we wanted something a little different, and warmer so we went with Bud’s home town of Savannah, GA. The Maine workshop had been our most successful and most intense, until this one. We did our best to raise the bar on this one, and I definitely feel like we succeeded. Most of the photographers flew in from much colder areas from Philly to Oregon, so the warmer weather and bright sun was enough to get some fresh Vitamin D flowing through everyone.
I flew down a couple days early to get some scouting in along with making sure that all the little details were in place. Good friend and photographer, Eric Talerico, flew down early with me and we had got to do some good exploring around historical Savannah.
Day One - Engagement Shoot
Everything got started on Friday, January 11th, with a quick group intro followed by a mock engagement shoot in downtown Savannah. The group met up at the Pacci Italian Kitchen, where the workshop’s lectures and meals were held all 3 days. Everyone got the chance to hang out and talk for a little bit and get acquainted with any Leica gear they had taken out on loan to shoot with. It was cool to see the majority of the group testing out the Leica gear. Especially, the SL kits that were available since that’s the camera that I use for all my wedding/portrait work.
From there we headed down to River Street where I walked the group through how I typically shoot an engagement session. I covered everything from posing to creatively using natural light (like the shot below) to how I use layers and foreground elements. Everyone got to shoot as much as they wanted while taking full advantage of the beautiful Savannah scenery and Spanish moss. We shot until dark then headed back to Pacci.
Once back at Pacci, everyone got served one of the best meals we’ve ever served at a workshop. I walked everyone through my sales and consultation strategy followed by some Q&A. We wrapped the night up with a talk by Bud on his marketing approaches.
DAY TWO - Wedding Walk through
Day two was all about walking everyone through an entire wedding day. Rather than putting on an entire styled mock wedding we kept it low key so that we could focus more on technique and approach. Any time you get a lot of wedding vendors involved with models for a large scale styled shoot, it becomes very easy to be distracted. While that may have given the attendees more portfolio shots, this workshop wasn’t about that.
After meeting at the Pacci, we went straight to the hair salon where our bride and bridesmaid models were getting their hair and makeup done. From there we drove over to an AirBnB that we had rented for the day for actual bride prep. We spent a couple hours going over how Bud and I shoot bride prep photos. How we use the natural light to capture real moments in a creative yet documentary style.
After eating lunch and wrapping up the bride prep portion of the day, we spent the rest of the day at the Bethesda Academy. A 650-acre property with a historic little chapel that serves as a wedding venue among other things, to which we had full access to for the rest of the day. Besides the beautiful little chapel that was perfect for this workshop, the property itself is stunning with that rural Savannah feel, covered in trees drooping with Spanish moss for as far as the eye could see. Exactly what we wanted all the attendees to experience and get to use as a backdrop for portraits.
Both Bud and I covered everything from groom prep with the groom and groomsman models to bridal portraits and lighting family/bridal party portraits inside the chapel. From there we went out onto the property and spent the rest of the time working with the bride and groom. I basically went through my thought process, posing, directing, using natural light and off-camera flash techniques. Everything that I could fit in before the sun went down. Everyone had plenty of opportunities to shoot and there were some pretty impressive shots taken by all of the attendees.
After wrapping things up at Bethesda, we headed back to Pacci for dinner where I also did some image critiques and went over my post processing techniques. Afterwards, being that it was the last night in Savannah for most of the attendees, we went back down to the popular River Street and had some fun practicing some creative night portraits like the second photo below.
Day three was sadly the last day of the workshop, spent entirely at Pacci, cramming in as much material as possible. The day started off with an awesome breakfast served up by the amazing Pacci chefs while everyone got to talk about the day before. We covered a lot of Q&A regarding the day before, post wedding process with clients, album sales, and more post processing. We also had a guest speaker, Nicole Rene, come in and speak to everyone for a bit. Nicole is the owner of the Bridal Boutique Ivory and Beau, and also a wedding coordinator which is what she basically spoke about.
In the end, myself, Bud, and John (Leica) did our best to make sure that everyone had an amazing experience and walked away feeling that they had new techniques and knowledge that they could implement immediately.
It was an all around successful workshop that I personally would say was the best event that I’ve held under the Leica Akademie sponsorship. One of the reasons that I really love working alongside of Leica as a partner is that I have the ability to setup and run these workshops the same way that I would if I were running them on my own. This allows me to create and design each workshop in its own unique way, making each one different from the last. Creating a unique experience that would ultimately be one that I would be happy with if I were on the other side as an attendee. As I spoke to everyone on this last day and reading the reviews afterwards, overall I’m very happy with how things went and only wish that we didn’t have an extra day to keep things going.
Thank you to Leica for everything they did to help me host this event, especially John Kreidler who came along with all the Leica gear for everyone use. A big thank you to all the sponsors involved, each of which are listed below. Finally, thank you to all the attendees. This was one of the best groups that I’ve had the privilege of working with since I taught my first workshop two years ago. I look forward to following your work and watching you grow this year and going forward!
If you missed this one, we’ll be holding another in January of 2020. If you’re curious what’s up next… well, the announcement will be coming soon!
Gallery of attendee photos
“As a beginner at photography, I was a bit intimidated and didn't know what to expect. Jay quickly made me feel comfortable asking even the simplest questions. Jay encourages dialog and is very open about his process. It was a great learning experience and has given me the confidence to begin building my own style and brand.”
“I really learned a lot in the Wedding Photography industry. Especially while just starting out, this workshop really changed how I look at this industry and improved my grasp of creatively approaching these shots. I really enjoyed everyone I met and learned a lot about everyone else start in the wedding industry and the challenges they face. This all gave me invaluable insight into developing my own photography business and how best to approach the challenges I will face.”
A handful of my favorite wedding and engagement photos from 2018. Click on the image below to be taken to the blog post on the Twisted Oaks website.