Leica Q Image Quality

Yesterday, Leica launched their Leica Q full-frame compact camera, getting Leicaphiles all over the world excited. There was a press event here, and one of my friends Wilson Wong of WilzWorkz sent me a DNG file of a test shot that he has taken in the event. He was rather concerned about the presence of banding lines in the dark areas of the shot.  Here is the original file:

Leica Q @ ISO 100. Photo courtesy of Wilson Wong of Wilzworkz and used with permission.
Leica Q @ ISO 100, 1/4s @ f/2.8. Photo courtesy of Wilson Wong of Wilzworkz and used with permission.

Initially, I didn’t really see any banding, so I decided to boost the exposure in Adobe Camera Raw to +3.6EV. The following is a 100% crop of the area shown by the red box above. Wow! OH WOW. JUST LOOK AT THAT!!

10)% crop of Leica Q @ ISO 100 Boosted +3EV (Red box in the full shot above.) Photo courtesy of Wilson Wong of Wilzworkz and used with permission.
100% crop of Leica Q @ ISO 100 Boosted +3EV (Red box in the full shot above.)
Photo courtesy of Wilson Wong of Wilzworkz and used with permission.

We were also puzzled by a rather weird phenomenon. The bokeh “balls” appear to have some dust in them. Look at the black spots in the bokeh below. Since this was a ISO 100 shot at f/2.8 and it’s a fixed-lens camera, it is probably not sensor dust.

Dirty Bokeh from Leica Q (Yellow box in the full photo above.) Photo courtesy of Wilson Wong of Wilzworkz and used with permission.
Dirty Bokeh from Leica Q (Yellow box in the full photo above.) Photo courtesy of Wilson Wong of Wilzworkz and used with permission.

Just to give a comparison, here’s a shot from my Fujifilm X-T1 @ ISO 1600. First, the entire image.

Fujifilm X-T1 @ ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-T1 @ ISO 1600

Now, let’s look at the area in the red box, also boosted by +3.6EV.

Fujifilm X-T1 ISO 1600 Crop
Fujifilm X-T1 ISO 1600 +3.6EV

Let’s take it up to +5EV.

Fujifilm X-T1 @ ISO 1600 +5EV
Fujifilm X-T1 @ ISO 1600 +5EV

You can see that it’s mostly noise. Bear in mind this is ISO 1600 compared to the ISO 100 of the Leica Q.

Just for kicks, here’s a ISO 1600 image from a Nikon D100 shot in JPEG mode.

Nikon D100 @ ISO 1600
Nikon D100 @ ISO 1600

Here it is again, boosted by +3.6EV. LOTS and LOTS of chroma noise, but hardly any banding. Bear in mind this is a 13-year old camera.

Nikon D100 ISO 1600 +3.6EV
Nikon D100 ISO 1600 +3.6EV

Yes, it’s not the same lighting conditions, but regardless of that, the banding should not appear. This is not the kind of image quality which a US$4,000 camera should deliver.

I’ll be meeting up with Wilson to get a more hands-on experience and to get further tests done. But at the moment, it sure looks disappointing.

Many thanks to Wilson for letting us post his sample.

YS: Once again the Emperor has no clothes. I’m looking forward to the flames.

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Leica Launches the Leica Q 24-megapixel Full-Frame Fixed Lens Compact Camera With a 28mm f/1.7 Lens

Leica Q
Leica Q

While we are all getting excited over Sony’s new camera releases today, that German luxury camera maker has also released a new camera! It’s the all-new Leica Q (Typ 116) (CK: What’s with all these funky numbers?), a full-frame fixed-lens compact camera with a 27mm Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens.

The camera features a top plate machined from solid blocks of aluminium, a body made of magnesium alloy, and laser-engraved lettering and marketings seen on other Leica cameras.

The Leica Q incorporates a 24-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor capable of ISO up to 50,000. with a burst mode of up to 10fps. Leica claimed that it has the fastest AF among full-frame compacts, something that I am rather skeptical about. Many camera makers have also claimed to have the fastest AF, but are disclaimed with specific conditions in which that is achieved. And with the only other notable full-frame compact being Sony’s RX1 series which have ridiculously slow AF, “fastest AF” isn’t hard to achieve.

Moving ahead with the times, the Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens in front of the camera features image stabilisation. Leica claims that it’s the fastest among the full-frame compacts, since Sony’s RX1’s 35mm Carl Zeiss is only f/2.

The touch-screen LCD offers a resolution of 1 megapixel and lets you focus by tapping an area in the frame. You can also manual focus using a physical ring on the lens like any other camera. A switch lets you toggle between MF and AF.

The 3.6-megapixel electronic viewfinder has a digital frame selector function which display frame lines for 28, 35 and 50mm, allowing you to shoot at 28, 35 or 50mm while having a 28mm field of view, just like a rangefinder camera. In essence, it’s basically cropping the full-frame image, but you have the ability to store the full-frame DNG image.

Leica has put up some sample images of the Leica Q, so if you are interested, you can head over to their web site and take a look. If that piqued your interest and you want one, you can get it for just US$4,250 and comes with a free copy of Adobe Lightroom 6.

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