About 8 years ago, my friend Patty and I were at the Leica store in Washington, D.C. checking out all the sleek displays and playing with cameras outside of our price range. The salesperson showed us the Leica D-Lux 6, and it was a pocketable little camera that took some contrast-y photos. I was in the market for a point n shoot camera, and the D-Lux 6 was not only well-made, but it sported that elusive little red dot that so many camera enthusiasts long to own. We both dropped about $800 and some change and walked out of there feeling like ballers. Good times.
I've since sold the D-Lux 6 when point n shoots with better specs came on the market, namely the Canon G7x. Only when you upgrade do you realize what you're missing out on. I never did forget about the Leica though. Its memory will forever be on my hard drive evident by the thousands of photos I took with it. When the Leica Q was announced, I lusted after and stalked it, but the price point always kept me at bay. I also rationalized that I could just wait for the second iteration of the camera, and let Leica make it really amazing before I pull the trigger on one.
When Photoville LA was announced, one of the draws was Leica's "Leica on Loan" promotion where you could borrow some Leica gear for 90 minutes free of charge. I made sure to make it out to Photoville LA if only to get a chance to play with the Leica Q2 (which, by the way, is still on pre-order on every website I've checked out). As my bad luck would have it, the two they had to loan out were already being used by other people. They did, however, have a Leica Q-P to loan out, and since these were very similar cameras, I decided to go for it. It took me a little while to get acquainted with where all the controls were, but once I figured those out, the camera was fairly easy to use.
The biggest challenge by far, was finding something to shoot. While I'm a huge fan of The Annenberg Space for Photography, I'm not so much a fan of Century City. I decided to photo walk around Photoville LA and see what I could shoot that most closely mimicked my normal shooting style and subjects. What I was mainly interested in seeing from this type of camera was the color of the photos, as well as the camera's dynamic range. I wasn't worried about liking the 28mm F1.7 fixed lens. I used to regularly shoot with a Canon 28mm F1.8 prime and always loved this focal length for it's flexibility.
The Contact High exhibit at the Annenberg is a great little exhibit. For those of you in my age range, it'll bring you back to the nostalgia of the 80s and 90s. I do want to go back and check this out again.
I made the mistake of returning the camera about 30 minutes early, and wish that I had kept it longer. Photoville LA itself was not as intriguing as I thought it was going to be, but the opportunity to use the Leica Q series camera was worth it, considering it is a little over $200 a week to rent them online. Here is what I thought of the color and dynamic range.
The colors from the Q-P were nicely saturated, but I found them to lack a "pop" to them. I know you can add this in post-processing, but I would prefer not to. I did like the lack of vignetting (which is one of my pet peeves on the wider ends of my Canon lenses). Not only was the lens on the Q-P sharp, but it was even from edge to edge with minimal vignetting.
I really enjoyed the dynamic range on the Q-P. It maintained details where my Canons would've blown them out for sure. The great dynamic range also made my black and white conversions easier to work with.
Here are some other details about my experience I wanted to note:
The Q-P was comfortable to hold and use. However, I would be lying if I said the placement of the controls were to my liking. I read somewhere that people who use Leicas really have to enjoy all ins and outs of changing settings using the knobs at the top of the camera and on the front where the lens is. This is SO true, and I may not be one of these people. I found that I shot slower, and had to think more. While I'm sure one would get faster over time (and with more than 60 minutes of using the camera), I have a feeling that I wouldn't want to work harder to get the same images I can get from my Canons.
I can't lie. These cameras are so good-looking. You feel a little more special just having a Leica dangling from its impractical leather neck strap. I love the simplicity of the design, and just holding it, you know that it was made with care and precision. It was like going from driving a Honda (which is a great car) to stepping into a Porsche. Yeah, that's what it's like. It felt amazing to have one, if only for 60 minutes.
Now the real question is... did I $5,000+ like it? Um, not at this time. Nothing like a hefty price tag to keep ya in check LOL. I think I'm gonna go buy some lottery tickets tomorrow. 😃