Leica Q Review

Leica Q Camera Review

A Leica Q review for wedding photographers or anyone considering this luxury mirrorless camera. Read this in-depth real-world review of the Leica Q.

This is a review of the Leica Q, a 24.2 mega pixel full frame mirrorless camera. The author Adam Riley is a wedding photographer who also dabbles in street photography.

Learn why after years of using Nikon and Canon dSLRs, Adam switched to the mirrorless system, then on to the Leica Q as his camera of choice.

Leica Q

One-of-a-kind luxury digital compact camera with beautiful, minimalist styling and incredible image quality.

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Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this review with your thoughts on the Leica Q, this Leica Q review, or switching to a mirrorless camera in general.

Leica Q Review | Intro


Since the release of the Fuji X100, I have slowly discarded my large cameras and moved into the mirrorless realm, owning and loving each of the Fuji flagship X series cameras. I currently use the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji X-Pro2.

[See the Fuji X-T2 review and Fuji X-Pro2 review here.]

Leica had always been on my wish list, but other than a film M6 for personal and street photography use, I have considered Leica too expensive and lacking in technical features (AF/high ISO) to be my main wedding camera body.

Leica has a strong heritage, mainly associated with their small Rangefinder cameras. With the release of the Leica Q, they did something unique.

A full frame Rangefinder sized camera, with an EVF and fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens. I had to get one.

I have been using the Leica Q professionally alongside my Fujis for the past 18 months, and it has grown into my main body and something I can’t live without.

Design & Build

The Leica Q looks gorgeous. It feels lovely in the hand, is small and lightweight but very well-built.

The Leica Q makes my Fuji gear feel a bit cheap (no small feat). I use it with a small Spider Black Widow Camera Holster and the lens hood permanently attached for extra protection.

At my second wedding with the Leica Q, my camera strap (I wasn’t using the Spider Holster at the time) worked loose from the thread fitting on the base, and my shiny new camera smashed into the concrete below!

Leica Q review

Leica Q with Spider Holster attachment

A testament to the build quality of this little camera that it continued to work perfectly – with no visible marks! 18 months later and it has had its fair share of knocks and scrapes, but it remains as solid as a rock. The pictures of the camera taken for this Leica Q review show how it’s still in excellent condition despite my rough handling at times.

In a very Leica-esque design, aperture and shutter speed are quick and simple to change and ISO has its own button on the back of the camera.

Leica does minimalism very well. On other cameras, too many buttons and functions can take away from the photography experience.

However part of me misses the extra dials of the Fuji system, especially the dedicated ISO and viewfinder switcher buttons that enable quick adjustments to be made.

Some customisation of function buttons is available, but generally set up is quick, painless and focused on simplicity.

A tilting screen would have been nice, and it’s a shame the Leica Q does not have one. I can see aesthetically why Leica has opted out of this feature, but it’s really useful for both street and wedding photography.

Many mirrorless cameras are following the DSLRs and are now equipped with two SD slots. However the Leica Q only has one SD memory card slot.

This is not ideal for a wedding photographer – we’ve heard lots of horror stories of memory card failures, and are used to the security of dual slots.

Leica Q

To counter this fact I’m sure to capture all the key moments with two cameras, and only use 16GB / 32gb memory cards – reducing the risk in the event of card failure.

The leaf shutter is a dream and is virtually silent. It makes DSLRs sound like a gun and even the noise from the Fuji X-Pro2 can be very distracting (I don’t use the electronic shutter on the X-Pro2 due to banding).

For my discreet style of photography, this is a huge advantage. I can literally have the camera pointed over a guest’s shoulder and grab a shot without them even noticing.

Functions and Features

The Leica Q has a fixed 28mm f/1.7 Summilux ASPH lens with stabilisation. The quality of Summilux Leica glass is world-renowned and this is no different – it’s pin-sharp even when shot wide open.

I’m a prime lens shooter, over the years I’ve switched between favouring the 24mm and 35mm focal length. I love to get close to the action and give a real human perspective via a wide field of view.

I find the 28mm focal length the perfect balance. 28mm is approximately the field of view of an iPhone for good reason since it’s an all-rounder of a focal length which provides such a great field of view for storytelling.

storytelling with the Leica Q mirrorless camer

Leica Q | 1/250th, f/10, ISO 2500

You can also set the Leica Q to shoot 35mm or 50mm frames. However, this is just a digitally cropped version of the 28mm lens and I don’t really see the point in this feature. You can always crop in the edit if required.

The Leica Q’s lens is not a portrait lens, and there are certain points in a wedding day when 28mm is just too wide (and sometimes not wide enough!) This is why I often choose to shoot alongside the Fuji X-T2, using the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 (an 85 mm full-frame equivalent lens).

[See the Best Fuji Lenses here.]

If the Leica Q was your only body, there will be shots you would miss due to it being so wide – but you can always zoom with your feet :-)

Image quality + Performance

With such great glass on the front of the Leica Q, a 24MP CMOS sensor and a system optimised for the 28mm lens, the image quality is stunning.

The tones, in particular, are sublime and I absolutely love the look of the files this camera produces.

Image quality on the Leica Q

Leica Q | 1/250th, f/3.2, ISO 1600

It’s no fault of the camera at all, but I really struggle to colour match the Leica Q with my Fuji system. With the release of the Leica M10, I may just have to go 100% Leica!

The jpgs are good, but suffer from banding and noise at high ISO’s (more so than the RAW files), so I’ve never really played with them. I always shoot RAW and edit them in Lightroom.

The sensor on the Leica Q was the first of its kind, subsequently used for the Leica SL and modified for the new M10. Although the ISO goes to 50,000 I put a cap on usage at 12,500 ISO like I normally do with all my camera bodies.

Leica Q review photo of groomsmen at wedding in UK

Leica Q | 1/250th, f/1.7, ISO 2000

There is noise and some banding (especially if slightly underexposed and recovered in Lightroom), but as a photographer that does not use flash, I prefer a bit of noise to a missed image.

In terms of using the camera, you can switch shooting modes between single shot and continuous using a switch next to the shutter. In continuous mode, you can choose between low, medium or high (10fps).

One of the main issues I have with the Leica Q is the buffer. Even in low burst continuous mode it just isn’t very good. I use high-speed Sandisk Extreme Pro 95mb/s memory cards, but the camera freezes up on me regularly when the buffer gets full.

Continuous burst mode on the Leica Q used for wedding photography

Leica Q | 1/250th, f/1.7, ISO 1250

I always have it set to ‘low continuous’ (3 fps) mode. During confetti throwing or the bride walking down the aisle where many bursts are taken, the camera freezes for 20 seconds or so before you can start taking images again. I have to really limit the number of frames I take. This won’t be a problem for the typical user, but for wedding use, it can obviously be an issue.

As with most mirrorless cameras, the battery life on the Leica Q is poor. I take 6-7 batteries per wedding – that says it all.

[Check out the dSLR vs Mirrorless Camera Buyer’s Guide for a few tips on improving battery life on mirrorless cameras.]


Leica are the ultimate manual focus cameras. Their Rangefinder system has perfected the art of eliminating AF errors and putting the user in control.

I didn’t know what to expect from the auto focus when I first thought about writing this Leica Q review, but after 18 months of use, I now expect (and get), extremely accurate and fast focusing.

You have the option of single (AFs) or continuous (AFc) shooting. Switching between the two shooting modes requires digging in the menus, so I’m always set to AFs on 1 focus point.

Even in low light the Leica Q rarely hunts or misses focus. Shooting f/1.7 on a moving subject at 12,500 is always going to be difficult, but the Leica Q doesn’t seem to struggle.

Autofocus in low light example for the Leica Q review

Leica Q | 1/125th, f/2.2, ISO 5000

In strongly backlit situations where contrast can be reduced on faces I’ve had a couple of issues, but no more than any other camera.

I usually back button focus, and the Leica Q allows this via customisation of the rear thumb button. However I find the button placement uncomfortable, so focus using the standard shutter release approach. Instead, I set the rear thumb button to exposure lock.

It’s worth mentioning that you can also use the LCD touch screen to focus. In my (very limited) attempts specifically for this Leica Q review, it seemed to work well, but I’ve never been a fan of touch screen focus/shoot, and so don’t really use it.

Switching between autofocus and manual focus is via a small tab on the lens. After a couple of days’ use, it becomes quick and natural.

Bride exiting bridal car shot with a Leica Q mirrorless camera

Leica Q | 1/125th, f/3.5, ISO 160

Manually focusing on this camera is the best I have experienced – the smoothness of a typical Leica lens, but with the added advantage of automatic zoom and focus peaking.

In difficult lighting or for stationary subjects during a wedding, manual focusing is the perfect option. For street shooters, zone focusing on the Leica Q is ideal with the lens distance scale.


The EVF (electronic viewfinder) on the Leica Q is nothing short of amazing. I never thought I’d prefer an electronic viewfinder over an optical one, but over the last couple of years I’ve grown to rely on it – you can’t get the exposure wrong!

However, the eyecup on the Leica Q is a not very substantial, with light leaking in being a problem if you’re shooting on a sunny day. Live preview, instant review and low light shooting are perfect.

Shooting in bright sun with the Lecia Q

Leica Q | 1/1600th, f/4, ISO 100

I tend to shoot in ‘EVF Only ‘mode to conserve battery power and because I prefer a viewfinder over the LCD (most of the time).

When set to EVF/LCD switcher mode, in which the EVF is used when brought to the eye, there is a slight lag in the switchover. This is the same as the Fuji system – I find the lag annoying so I don’t bother with it.

I set the Leica Q to playback images on the LCD. Reviewing images also sometimes has a slight lag of only milliseconds whereby a fuzzy image turns to a clear one, but I’d prefer it if there was a sharp image for me to review instantly.


I capture the majority of the day in aperture priority, with auto ISO (set to 6,400 as standard, expanded to 12,500 in very low light), and a minimum shutter speed of 1/250th (reduced to 1/125th in low light).

As with most other mirrorless cameras, you see a real-time preview of the exposure in the EVF of the Leica Q, and can quickly alter this using the exposure compensation wheel on the back. It’s a very quick way of changing your exposure on a wedding day, especially when the lighting conditions can change in a second.

Unfortunately, the compensation only goes from -3 to +3, and this occasionally is not enough.

Low light autofocus ability of the Leica Q

Leica Q | 1/250th, f/1.8, ISO 6400

If I want to work manually, I set my exposure via aperture, shutter speed + ISO (how I often work with my Fuji) – the EVF/LCD doesn’t show the exposure that will be obtained with the current settings, but rather always shows a bright image (even if you are underexposed).

This can be useful when flash will be used, but I’d much prefer to see the actual exposure.

Final Words

I love the Leica Q, but it definitely isn’t for everyone. If the 28mm focal length is for you, then the blistering fast (and accurate) AF, stunning image quality, great low light performance coupled with perfect size and weight, makes this a serious contender.

Leica Q

One-of-a-kind luxury digital compact camera with beautiful, minimalist styling and impressive image quality.

Check Current Price
Build Quality10
Ergonomics and Handling9
Viewfinder and Screen Quality8
Metering and Focus10
ISO Performance9
Image Quality10


  1. Simon Dewey Derby on January 30, 2023 at 3:25 am

    I”m so tempted to get into the Leica system (currently eyeing up a Leica Q2).

    I shoot most of my stuff on a Fuji at 28mm, so I think it would be a great setup for me. The one thing I panic about is using a camera with only one card slot though. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night!

  2. John on November 14, 2019 at 9:11 am

    I Know it’s a Leica but do you use flash? and if so have you had any exposure problems?

  3. Bruce Gordon on May 15, 2019 at 7:38 am

    You cannot back button focus with a Leica Q.

    • Mischa on September 3, 2019 at 7:31 pm

      you can set the upper thumb button to AF-L, so yeah, you can backbutton focus the camera.

      What you cannot do, however, is customise that darned movie record button. Also, you cannot customise the center button of the cross buttons.
      Also, I’d love to be able to change what the DELETE button does in shooting mode, set the movie record button to change iso, and switch the function of the ISO labelled button to something I use less frequently.

  4. Jesse Lee on April 11, 2019 at 9:41 am

    All a matter of personal preference. I’ve been doing weddings and events for over 10 years now, and for me to be confined to one focal length would be disastrous. I guess being a big guy I don’t mind the weight of the DSLRs, so to me the priority is having more lenses and lighting options. Buying multiple Leica’s at fixed lengths is just not going to happen. I have borrowed a friend’s Q for a holiday and it was fun, but again, the single focal length was too limiting for me. But thanks for the honest review, you didn’t leave out what you didn’t like and readily pointed out things you felt were not so great. Appreciate the time that went into this.

  5. David Pullum on February 27, 2019 at 8:37 am

    Love my Leica Q. As a Sony A9 wedding shooter I would struggle to use this at a wedding, but I N going to try. It’s a beautiful camera and agree is they did a 35 and 85 version I would ditch the Sony’s

  6. dainel on November 8, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Leica Q is not rangefinder, is compact camera, just for sure.

  7. samantha duran on September 4, 2018 at 10:35 am

    i also love that one picture that you took of the lady laying on the bench by herself in front of the lamp with your leica q i also like stuff like that making it look like the person is by themselves in the world and weird and gloomy. i would also like to know if the leica q is actually good for street photography and landscape

  8. Samantha Duran on September 3, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    hello, i would like to know if this camera is good for night street photography or just night photography and also i would like to know if it is good for urban photography

    • Paul on November 14, 2018 at 5:43 am

      its excellent in all environments, on the street its very discrete. The focusing is great, and flick to manual focus if you need, and its dead quick because the magnification assist is brilliant. Q is made ‘for the street’

  9. Stephen Eppling on December 15, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Did you ever find yourself limited by the 1/2000 maximum shutter speed. Or should I ask, how does the electronic shutter compair to Fuji’s? I’m very weary of ES on Fuji due to warping and banding.

  10. Maxime Desessard on November 9, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    I own one for a month. It’s almost perfect to shoot weddings if you like the 28mm : non obtrusive, perfect image quality, great AF … However, I miss the security of a dual card slot back up, and don’t use it for the most important shots of the day. How do you deal with that ?

    • Mark on November 11, 2017 at 5:39 am

      On behalf of Jay, I assume he just takes extra care! There are other cameras photographers use that only have one memory card slot (like the Canon 6d Mark II reviewed here for example). As long as you’re not taking out the memory card often, the chances of corruption are very small.

  11. Wolfgang Wintersteiner on November 2, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve shot weddings for more years than I want to remember, and now have moved on to the Leica Q, with the SF-40 flash, and other accessories. Here is my question, money being an issue as I can’t afford to buy another Leica Q camera, what Leica digital camera would you be comfortable with as a backup camera. I’ve been debating about the Leica V-Lux Typ 114 with the 20MP Sensor. Any thoughts for this choice, and what other equipment are you using to shoot weddings with?

  12. Marcos on August 21, 2017 at 1:43 am

    I understand Leica’s history with film but is this camera really better than a Sony RX1 R for example? I’m sure the lens of the Leica is superior and the wider aspect a positive for me but all the other tech behind it would suggest that Sony is the stronger player.

    • Go Photo on January 8, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Q is a Better Camera, Sony is a better Computer

    • Eric on April 24, 2018 at 9:34 am

      Sony RX1 R/II is a fine camera with 35mm lens. However the menu is complicated and likely to get in the way of the photography. To me attraction of the Q is it’s simple menu system that does not get in the way.

      As an example it took me 20 hours+ to tame the Olympus EM 1 Mark II that appeared to have a Monday of its own. The Q did not need taming just a little time to to get to know it.

      The Q has what it needs (apart from a reticular screen) and nothing more.

      • Chad on October 10, 2019 at 1:26 pm

        Not true at all. Having used both the Q and RX1 extensively, both cameras can be configured in a way so that menu diving is practically non-existent. The Q is a better handling camera than the original RX1 in terms of AF speed but the RX1RII evened the score and has much better AF tracking. Both cameras are modern computers, you just have to accept that if you shoot digital.

  13. Sacha Miller on June 22, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    I experimented with the Leica Q for a couple of weddings, thought it was an amazing camera and totally agree with Adam on his review. If Leica made a Q with a fixed 50mm and one with a 90mm, I would buy all three and ditch the dslr’s.

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