Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Posted in Arrangement, Art, Business

Big Changes.... and an Alfa Romeo

So what does an image of an Alfa Romeo have to do with me and this overdue update to my site?

Those that have been following this blog since the start know that this site was conceived with the idea to teach my students about social media, but it grew and became much more than that.

Over the course of six and a half years, it has been my place to share my experiences, my advice, instructions, opinions and reviews. I loved being a teacher and the time that I spent at the college both as the head administrator and instructor was both enlightening and refreshing.

Teaching reminds us why we do the things we do. For me at least, it recharges me and also presents to me, that I've always been happier creating vs teaching. So about 12 weeks ago, an opportunity came to me that I just couldn't refuse. I accepted a job marketing high end import cars for an amazing company that is rapidly growing and making waves. Not only do they sell cars, but are very active in marketing the lifestyle that goes with it. It's not just a typical car dealership.

To top things off, they are building a world class Tilke-designed race track, a hotel resort, and I'm actively marketing that for them. It's what I do well, telling the story to the public. Whether it is through photography, design or words. I'm at a new home, with a new metaphorical ride.

It's has been a while since I've updated the blog, and I'm not sure what the direction will be in the coming months for it. Obviously the new job will take me away from much of the free time I had to spend on things like this, but I'm also working on settling into my new job and role.

I appreciate the monthly tens of thousands of readers that come to this site on a regular basis and get the information they are looking for. I make no promises of being more frequent, but I do want to revive my efforts in here, bring some new insights to you the readers, and share some of the exciting work that I'm doing.

Thank you for visiting and supporting my site over the years.

Terrance Lam

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Posted in Arrangement, Art, Business

Sony A7s mark II vs the A7s

This past week at IBC 2015, Sony announced the FS5 and a bit of a surprise with the mark II body update to the A7s. Fitting for this event being the A7s is really intended for the video market while the A7II and A7RII for still photographers. This comparison will focus on the things that will matter the most to videographers.

Key Features
• 12.2MP Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
• Full Pixel Read-Out Internal 4K movie recording
• Full HD 120fps recording and 4x/5x slow motion recording
• S-Log3 Gamma and Gamma Assist Display function
• In-camera 5-axis optical image stabilization (IBIS)
• .78x Magnification 0.5″ 2.36m-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
• ISO 100-102400, Expandable to ISO 409600
• Wide dynamic range across entire ISO range
• Fast Intelligent AF

Sony Video - Takigi-noh 

The biggest update to the A7s is certainly the markII body design and the host of features that were brought over with that update. Most of those features updates what was found on both the A7II and A7RII over to the A7sII.

Ergonomically there is little to distinguish the three with the exception of name plates. Read my past ergonomics review ( to get my impressions of the mark II body design.

Although the original series is still available, my opinion of that line is still pretty good and I encourage anyone that is interested in the Sony full-frame mirrorless line to consider them. They are all a great value at this point and technologically advanced to most of it's competitors out there.

What the second generation of the line upgraded are much needed features that both enthusiasts and pros were asking for. Interface tweaks, and functionality update were some of the biggest things and have all been pretty much finalized in the A7RII and now included in the A7sII.

Check out my updated chart that compares all the A7 cameras against each other.

A7 Series Comparison Chart
Click on the chart to view it
So how does the A7s and the A7sII compare against each other? Are they compelling features that someone that currently owns an A7s might upgrade to? Are new users going to appreciate the $500 difference between the two model offerings?


Obviously this is the first and most important thing to consider. If you're a user that is only interested in the camera and not any additional hardware like a rigging cage or other accessories, than the ergonomics is certainly a major update from the Mark I. Keep in mind though that these updates are not necessarily better for video. The mirrorless or ILC camera form factor isn't a great format for video regardless. The movie record button is also still located in the same annoying shoulder position that really isn't much better. However one of the new things updated in the A7sII is the introduction of assignable functions to the movie record button. This means you can customize the movie button to a number of other keys. Sadly, you cannot reassign the actual movie button (like a display on/off button perhaps). This should be a firmware update feature in my opinion.

The A7sII does update the EVF to a class leading .78x magnification from the A7s' .71x. That's significant and certainly makes the EVF a much better device to use while shooting all types of work including video. Larger magnification means less eyestrain.

New location of the tripod mount point for mark II bodies.
Because of the change of the design of the case, this also affects the location of the tripod mount. Using just small arca swiss mounting plates it fouls even the LA-EA4. This will significantly impact a lot of generic cage designs out there for videographers that prefer to use accessories with this. The LA-EA4 isn't the only one that may have issues with this tripod mount location, so be mindful if you're a videographer that uses adapters, that this may be an issue when you're trying to mount other glass to the set up in a cage that has preset locations or using a quick release plate of some sort.

The new version of the included cable lock/protector
Many cages also utilize a clamping system that is integrated into the cage. The new design now puts all the ports near the top of the body. This means the clamping style of most current cage designs will not work and need to be redesigned. Although the Sony does include a protector clamp with the A7sII, how this works in future cage designs will be something that one will need to be aware of or not use.

My current cage doesn't use the included version 1 cable lock, which has some flaws regardless. It pushes the screen away from the camera (which might be a good function as it allows for better cooling) when properly installed and doesn't always fit all kinds of HDMI cables. The new cable lock design is much more accommodating for different cable brands and designs.

Sony - 5-Axis Image Stabilization Example

IBIS or in body stabilization is also another major update that promises to videographers a more stable platform to shoot video. This by no means replaces a proper 3 or 5 axis motorized gimbal but as stated before, it does give a pretty good stabilized all in one package without adding more expensive hardware.

It is also important to note that the A7sII is 100gm more than it's predecessor. If you are using one of the popular hand held powered gimbals, you're getting closer and closer to their maximum 1kg limits. Add batteries, and lens, the A7sII is too heavy for my own Nebula 3000 Lite gimbal.

Video Upgrades
The biggest upgraded functions is the ability to record UHD 4K video internally. This reduces the need to purchase a separate recorder like the Atomos Shogun and the Sony A7s. This certainly will reduce your entire equipment footprint by not having extra hardware and the added convenience of writing to the smaller SD card. However from a cost per GB perspective, internal SD cards are significantly higher than cheaper SSD media. SD cards average around 75 cents per GB while SSD cards are around 33 cents per GB. SD cards are however faster to read from which means transferring over data is pretty quick.

Sony SLOG3 Example

The addition of SLOG3 is also a noteworthy upgrade. The SLOG3 curve gives a much flatter profile that is also found on their professional series cameras. It offers more flexibility in grading and is more accurate in colours. However what isn't changed how the A7sII records 8bit video (while the professional units ar 10bit). How Sony engineered the same sensor to present more information when the information is already compressed to 8bits from RAW footage is a little bit of a mystery. It is very likely the very nature of SLOG3 profile is going to significantly affect midtones in an 8bit compressed format while giving better highlights and shadows. Only experience will tell if this will be something that is a benefit or a problem.

Two new picture profiles, SLOG3 and SLOG3 Cine (PP8 and PP9) have been added. Also to assist in the use of these flat log profiles, Sony has now added a 'Gamma Display Assist' mode. This mode allows you to shoot in the flat log mode, but display a higher contrast calibrated display of your footage that would better represent post graded footage. This is a significant update that makes it much easier for people to shoot in flat contrast log profiles. Being able to see a close representation of what it will look like after it's graded will make any beginner in LOG profile shooting much more comfortable in this set-up.

One of the downsides to the Gamma Display Assist is that it it isn't supported on the HDMI output, taking away the bigger advantage of larger display or director's monitor to preview the footage as it's being shot.

Do these new features reduce the need for a separate monitor/recorder like the Atomos Shogun? Probably not, but it will reduce the dependency for some, but the more serious users will continue to utilize an independent unit.  It is great for the operator to see what to expect, but productions these days include more people than just the camera operator.

Fast Intelligent AF Example

Fast Intelligent AF for movies is an update to the autofocus speed. All previous A7 cameras have a very slow AF system when in movie mode. Now the intelligent AF offers a much quick AF system to respond in movie modes. However it begs the question how useful this will be other than the run and gun shooter. Those that will be on tripods will likely manually focus or use a focus puller. It's a welcome update, but hardly a feature update worth noting. The Gamma Display Assist is far more significant than the AF upgrades in my opinion.

What is missing?
8 bit video despite SLOG3 is very limiting. It is disappoint to say the least that there isn't a 10bit option. However adding 10bit is a massive amount of data to deal with, and with that in mind there were compromises made. To be clear, there are lots of professionals using the A7s, but it's a consumer camera, not a professional grade camera. For that, the new camera that was also announced at IBC, the FS5 is probably more appropriate for professional requirement (however at at twice the price).

4:2:2 Chroma is also missing on internal HD and 4K recording. Again, likely a data size issue, 4:2:0 is a big loss in information if you're serious about colour. It is at least available through the HDMI output, but at that point you're no better off over the A7s mark I. Especially if you're shooting green screen work, your options are pretty limited. You cannot shoot in SLOG modes for green screen work, and with 4:2:0, you must spend more time lighting your scene properly than being able to deal with it in post. Keep in mind no ILC camera including the 5Dmk3 offers internal 4:2:2 chroma.

No BSI sensor. News is still fresh on this camera and currently the information on the mark II is that it is a tweaked A7s sensor and not a new backside illuminated sensor found on the A7R mark II. I am not certain why this is the case, but I would have anticipated even higher ISO performance if they made a low MP BSI sensor. I imagine 1 million, or even 2 million ISO might have been possible.

No global shutter. This probably couldn't realistically made it into the A7sII at this point. They are far expensive to produce and operate very hot. It would have meant a major redesign to the whole body to accommodate a proper cooling system to work well. I for one welcome a big change in the form factor, but one could argue that this is what the FS5 is for. 4K has made the rolling shutter problems even more obvious. When I shot HD video on the 5Dmk3, I noticed it far less than I do when I'm shooting 4K on the A7s. This needs to be a priority for all camera manufacturers and hopefully we'll see it in future cameras.

Industry standard ProRes. Well this being Sony, means they love embracing their Beta SP roots. Proprietary formats aside, ProRes is 4:1 compression while Sony's XAVC-s is 7:1. That said, a format that provides strong image quality for consumers in the form of the new and ridiculously small H.265 is also unsupported in this camera. Technically there are likely issues with anything but Sony's own proprietary codecs, but not having ProRes certainly increases transcoding time for most professional editors.

No Waveform Monitor. RGB Histograms are great for still images, but industry standard waveform monitors is far better and more accurate.

No increase in MP like a 14-16MP sensor. Cine Super 35mm format in full pixel readout 4K isn't available internally on the A7sII. Had they gone to a BSI 16MP sensor, it would have been possible to have a full pixel 4K readout. It's rather disappointing they didn't at least make a slight bump in the resolution to accommodate that popular format.

No Touch Screen. Seriously, is this 2004 still? Touch screens offer a slew of options to videographers for focus and focus pulling effects. Touch focus is such a simple and useful function to most videographers.

Lack of focus speed controls. This is available on the A7RII, but current online information seems to show that this feature does not exist. Although the Fast Intelligent AF is a welcome update, having control on the speed would have been more desired.

The SLOG3 and Gamma Display Assist are great features in this new camera, but more importantly, how do you grade your footage. Sony is making an assumption about their end users. In my experience, even though SLOG options have been made available, it has been very frustrating for many users to take advantage of it. There is no profile made offered by Sony that assists in this, and there is no included software to help with that grading of the video. They gave us the keys to better dynamic range, but they never left a manual on how to exploit it.

Summing things up... for now.
I will not sugar coat the fact that I was disappointed over this announcement/update. It was already a bit surprised that they announced something this quick and I would have been more than content for Sony to have done more R&D time with it to ensure this mark II version was perfect.

If Sony follows any of the A7s groups of users out there, they would see  some of the discontent with the older system and users that hoped to see what the new mark II would offer. Sadly, I don't believe this update did that (at least not like the A7II and A7RII did for the A7 and the A7R).

The price increase over the old is also significantly enough for a new customer to consider the Mark I with an external recorder rather than get the modest upgrades of the Mark II. However that said, I think it's important to note that operators looking for an all in one solution in a single package, need not go further in considering this model over the previous. There is likely just enough differences in this version that will appeal to new shooters.

Will there be an onslaught of owners upgrading to this version. I anticipate a very luke warm one if there is, I could be wrong.

Do I think the A7sII is a terrible camera. Far from it. It offers many of the great features found on the A7RII, which is considered by many as the best cameras out there from any manufacturer. It is videocentric as a low MP camera. Of course high ISO, low light is where this camera excels. There are reports that it has a 14 EV dynamic range, which is about 3/4 a stop improved over the A7s. The Gamma Assist display makes SLOG video much more friendlier, and the internal 4K recordings are all things that one might consider.

I expect the A7sII to do well for Sony, but significant upgrade from the A7s, it is not.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Posted in Arrangement, Art, Business

I Leica Q (A hands-on review of the Leica Q (Type 116)

My Hands On Review of the Leica Q - Type 116 

Gear Porn

I'm going to just start out by saying, this is one of the best Leica digital cameras I've ever handled. It's got so much going for it even though it still has some oddball quirks to it that still links it to the classic camera company trying to fit into today's modern technology world. I was given an opportunity to spend a few hours with the Leica Q, and this is my summary of my experience with it.

Let's start off with some key highlights on this camera.


24.2 MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
Leica Maestro II Image Processor
Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH Lens
3.68 MP LCOS Electronic Viewfinder
3.0" 1,040k-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
Contrast-Detect AF System
Full HD 1080p Video at up to 60 fps
ISO 50,000 & 10 fps Continuous Shooting
Aluminum & Magnesium Alloy Body Design
Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC

The Lens

The Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH Lens has 11 elements in 9 groups, 3 aspherical elements. It has 9 aperture blades, and a leaf shutter built into the lens. As far as construction goes, metal construction, which has very positive rings that just feel very well built. Although I don't believe it's a traditional brass helicoid, it does feel like a quality Leica lens. Even though this is a fixed lens, don't confuse this as being just another Panasonic/Leica camera collaboration. 

Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH Lens

The 28mm focal length seems rather wide for a street photographer’s camera. Some will question why they didn't make this a 35mm or even Henri-Cartier Bresson favourite focal length of 50mm. Many would likely love at the idea of a fixed 50mm F/2 Summicron. But I think it was wise of Leica not to make this product any more niche than it needs to be. The 28mm focal length takes some getting used to if you've never shot with this length, but it's a great size to get everything you'll ever need and for some, means getting a little more personal with your subjects if you want to crop closer.

This is an ideal length for point and shoot/pocketable cameras. Although sized much larger than one would put into a pocket, this camera is small enough to fit in most small gear bags or purses. The saying goes that the best camera on you is the one in your hand and this is the right focal length and size to be that camera that is always in your bag.

The sharpness of the lens is very good and of course being paired with a high resolution 24MP non anti-aliased sensor is going to yield exceptional images.

Leica Q (Type 116)
Incredible clarity!

The bokeh on this lens is really quite nice. Out of focus and shallow depth of field with this lens is really easy to achieve with images that pop with a 3D quality that is signature of Leica lenses.

Leica Q (Type 116)
Beautiful smooth bokeh, even with a busy background.
Although the 9 blades are not rounded the bokeh is smooth and does not exhibit any erratic distracting backgrounds that one might find from a fast aperture lens.

Autofocus position
The controls on this lens are very logical and is a nice balance of traditional with modern features of Auto Focus, Auto Aperture, and macro mode.

The Autofocus is engaged simply by having the focus ring parked in the AF marker on the distance ring. Once it is in this mode, the camera uses contrast detect for AF.

It's very fast and responsive, and compared to most of the mirrorless camera models I've owned the past 5-6 years, this camera is very responsive by comparison..

Traditional focus thumb lever with an AF lock/release button
Like many Leica M lenses, the focus has the traditional thumb lever. However what is unique is a slight button on one edge of the lever that allows you to push it past the infinity position to put the lens into auto focus.

I have to admit I like this approach. It's a great way to introduce a discrete switch onto the camera needing another barrel button or putting more buttons on the body. It's a great ergonomic design that feels natural.

Auto aperture position just past the widest aperture setting
I found myself actually loving how well the contrast detect AF works with this camera, but it is so easy to just flip into manual focus when you want to with accurate and nicely visible focus peaking on the display.

Auto Aperture is also equally easy to access, and also on the lens. Just turning this below the widest setting, puts the camera into shutter priority with auto aperture. I actually rarely tried this, but is a nice feature when you really want to dumb down the camera for quick situations that don't require a lot of thought.

The macro mode is an interesting feature that basically acts like a built in extension tube. A ring on the lens, close to the camera body provides a positive turn from standard to macro mode. What's really clever in this design is the distance ring changes to provide the proper ranges for macro shooting.

Standard Position
Macro Position - Note the distance scale changes.
Macro also changes the aperture to a minimum of F/2.8 which is to be expected, but what might seem rather limiting with this focal length now provides a pretty versatile and decent macro lens at the turn of a dial.

Leica Q (Type 116)
Instant macro lens at the turn of a dial.

Body and Ergonomics

The form factor and construction of the Leica Q is superb. It feels like a classic M without feeling clunky and large. In fact I'd almost argue that this feels more like my Leica M2 than the Leica M9 or Type 240. It is slightly smaller due to the lack of range finder, but rather than making this camera smaller, they actually kept the height the same as all current M bodies at 80mm tall.

Gear Porn
The Leica Q actually feels like a classic M in my hands.

Very similar dimensions. 3mm taller, and 8mm narrower.

The fit and finish is very Leica for sure. The leatherette finishes are tactile and looks nice, although I can't help but think it will pick up some debris in no time. All the dials, buttons and rings are all very positive feeling. There's nothing on this camera that feels cheap on it.

Exposure Comp dial inset to the body
The satin finish is very soft to the touch and not too different from the Leica M and buttons are all very responsive. The shutter dial is low profile but not difficult to use. The exposure compensation wheel is actually very well designed. First it's set right into the body so it's not in the way to push the shutter button, but like all exposure compensation dials, still can be accidentally turned. But despite this, some engineer felt that it was logically that when you first turn the dial, it only brings up the screen for your compensation and doesn't actually change it. After the menu comes up, you have to then select your Ev compensation amount to make it set. It's both good and might be annoying for some. I like it a lot as many other companies have the dial in this place that often gets accidentally bumped and changed.

The shutter dial also has a position to put it into aperture priority mode and auto shutter. The dial only goes up to 1/2000 for the leaf shutter but when you need more, the shutter can give you up to 1/16,000 of a second in electronic shutter mode. The only caveat of shooting with electronic shutter is the potential of rolling shutter. The leaf shutter is also very quiet. I argue that it's only slightly louder than the X-Pro1 which is almost silent. I actually prefer this to a completely electronic silent shutter. Some feedback is nice even if it is barely louder than tapping your nail lightly on a camera case.

The shutter also offer 1/500s flash sync. This will be great for any action studio shooters, but one odd thing is the lack of a bulb mode. I found the omission of this standard feature a bit odd. I hope that this is an oversight and maybe it will come in the form of a firmware update or in the WiFi app that I didn't have access to. There is a time lapse function in this camera that I didn't explore, but that has some interesting creative possibilities.

A movie record button is also located right beside the shutter button. As a video shooter this is very welcome. Unfortunately it doesn't appear that it can be customized. I hope that this oversight from Leica will be fixed, but like a few other buttons on this camera, customization is rather limited.

There's an additional function button that if found on the back right by the shutter dial which has the most customizability, but it's limited to a small list of common functions. By default this is set to frame selector (or crop modes).

Doors and access ports are well made with one on the side of camera that reveals access to micro- HDMI and mini-USB ports. The battery and media card access is at the bottom and the tripod socket is located in line with the centre axis of the lens. The battery has approximately around 300 shots per charge and around 45 minutes of video. About what I'd expect from a battery of this size. The battery (BP-DC-12) is also the same battery found in the V-Lux and also other Panasonic cameras (Panasonic DMW-BLC12). The Leica battery is almost $200 USD, so it might be wiser to get extra Panasonic batteries which as far as I know are exactly the same. Batteries are always bone of contention with me. I find that my Sony equipment all seem to need lots of extra batteries. But compared to the RX1 series, it's closest competitor, this camera is significantly better on battery.

There is no official documentation on whether or not there are dust and moisture seals on this camera. I will not make any assumptions on that, but to be on the safe side, let's just say it doesn't have any.

Gear Porn

A thumb indent is located just above the control D-pad and it's very comfortable in my hand. All things considered though. I would suggest getting a wrist strap or the integrated hand grip with finger loops. Although I like grips on my cameras, the accessory adds more height to the camera which I don't necessarily feel is needed. The camera is comfortable in the hand and I didn't find that it was uncomfortable, but having a decent grip is essential with the satin finish of Leica cameras.

A series of common buttons is also found on the left side of the LCD display. The buttons are nicely integrated into the design with just enough protrusion to easily press the buttons in. The typical buttons are found there with a FN button that has a limited set of customs functions you can assign to it. These buttons are also found much closer to the edge of the camera unlike the Leica M. This is certainly going to make it much easier to access those buttons with your left hand.

The display is a healthy 3" capacitive touchscreen display. I didn't get a lot of time with it, but it also has gesture controls on it that makes it very iPhone like.

The eyefinder is a large display that includes a diopter adjustment and a 3.7MP LCOS display. I didn't find any lag to this display and while shooting in the day with it, did not find it too dark. LCOS stands for Liquid Crystal On Silicon display. It has some advantages for near eye viewing, but due to it's polarization design, it can introduce some odd distracting colour behaviours when blinking or viewing on an odd angle. However the resolution is sharp and bright. I found that it didn't take long to get use to this display. There's also an integrated eye sensor on it so it will automatically flip from the LCD to the finder.

Image Quality

I'm uncertain if this is a CMOSIS sensor like the ones found in the Leica M (Type 240) or not, but judging from the images I've taken with this camera, similar sensor or not, I found them to be quite spectacular. This unit is a pre-production unit so there is a possibility of some improvements in firmware (1.02). According to Leica, this camera has a 13 stop dynamic range which should be identical to the Leica M. This is very good still but isn't over the top great in comparison to many 14+ dynamic range digital cameras, but from my own tests in Adobe Lightroom (which is included with the purchase of the Leica Q), I found that it was more than plenty of information for 99% of my edits.

Leica Q - Dynamic Range Test in Adobe Lightroom 6
Inspecting the dynamic range of the images.
In most cases of shadow and highlight recovery, I would argue that this range is plenty. Without having two exact files from the Leica M240 and the Leica Q to compare, I can only make a speculative observation that noise seems to be better controlled in the Q over the M240. I also think there's a better baseline gamma on this camera which helps avoid highlight clipping over previous Leica cameras. All things considered the results are pretty spectacular and working with them in Adobe Lightroom is both easy and rewarding.

My own custom black and white workflow ( also loves the Leica Q files. Despite only having 13 stops of dynamic range, I did not find that this was at all limiting. Because the signal to noise ratio is so good on this camera, I was very comfortable editing the images as if they were 16+ stop black and white film. 

Leica Q (Type 116)
Film like black and white is easily achieved with this camera.
One of the things I'm critical towards Sony A7 series cameras is their colour and gamma. As soon as I loaded up the images into Adobe Lightroom 6/CC, the results were pretty clear to me. Unlike Sony files, the Leica files responded like most other digital camera files. Colour adjustments were easy and intuitive, and I did not find certain colours going fluorescent like they do in Sony file. Also the fact that the Leica Q writes their 14bit colour data to a DNG format is also another plus, however DNG files are not the smallest of files. I will also admit that the JPG files off this camera may look great on the display, but to be honest, they do not hold up well when I bring it up on my display for review. I don't recommend critical images shot with the in camera JPG engine, shoot in DNG and set up a good workflow for your edits.

Reviewing image in the camera are also very slow. It's almost like Leica's engineers forgot to embed a thumbnail preview into the DNG files. It was painfully slow and requires rendering each image to view it. Not a huge deal breaker for me but lets hope that this is just a pre-production glitch.

Leica Q (Type 116)
Very pleasing blues from this sensor, unlike Sony sensors that tend to fluoresce with editing.
Leica Q (Type 116)Obviously the lack of an AA filter has some immediate impacts on the image. But there is no doubt that both the combination of lens, the sensor and the lack of AA filter creates ridiculous details when pixel peeping the images.

I can only compare this to the Sigma DP Quattro for this kind of clarity and detail. Although I didn't photograph too many textures where moire might rear it's ugly head, I am truly impressed with the bayer mosaic sensor image quality that comes off of the Leica Q.

I also would make some comparisons to the X-trans sensors found on Fuji cameras. Aside from strong image quality, it has a similar user experience I get from the Fuji X-Pro1 rangefinder-esque cameras.

When these images are converted to black and white, you really get to appreciate how amazing this interpolated sensor really is. Both the Sigma and The Fuji X-trans, which are very nice for black and white work, are really outdone now with this camera.

100% crop, click to view full size.

One interesting feature in this camera is the ability to select the crop mode and bring up a very bright rangefinder like frame line to compose as if it was 35mm or 50mm. Basically it's a digital zoom that crops down the images from the 24MP down to 10MP for 50mm and 15MP for 35mm crop. This does not affect the full 24MP DNG files if you change your mind. It's handy to use when composing and should you change your mind, Adobe Lightroom allows you to go back to the crop mode and resize the crop appropriately. Most will find this feature novel but it did kind of made this camera feel like I'm using a tri-elmar lens which does increase the versatility of this limited focal length. 10MP is also higher resolution than most 35mm films. Optimal professional scanning will only yield anywhere from 6-10MP for most traditional films.

Leica Q - Test Images
10MP crop in 50mm simulation mode. Plenty of detail the still rivals traditional film resolutions.
The one thing I didn't really get an opportunity to test was the high ISO. Leica cameras are not known for great low light performance. This camera is rated to go to 50,000 ISO, which I'm certain isn't all that great, but at least available for those intimate moments where little ambient light is available. Although I did look at the comparison files at DPReview and compared it to the Sony RX1R and both cameras seem to match each other well with the Sony files slightly better in noise performance, but the Leica outdoing it with resolution.

The Price

No doubt this question will come up for many. Is the Leica Q expensive? Relative to the Leica brand it isn't. This camera comes in at around $4,300 USD. Approximately $1,000 more expensive than the release price of it's nearest competitor, the Sony RX1 (Sony RX1R is currently around $2,800 USD). The RX1 also doesn't come with an integrated finder, which is an additional accessory at $500-$600 USD. Batteries are an issue with the RX1 series and you'll need at least two batteries to Leica Q's one. All in all even at today's prices, an RX1R with finder and extra battery is around $3,500 USD, a difference of around $800.

The lens alone is most of the value of the Leica Q. Compared to a Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens at around $6,000 USD, or the budget Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2.0 Lens at around $3,800 USD, the Leica Q gives you the performance of the $7,000 Leica M with probably similar quality of the $6000 M-mount lens equivalent. Lets not forget a few other things that this can do over a Leica M which is being rangefinder like when you want it to be, to being a modern digital camera with auto aperture, auto focus, auto shutter and image stabilization. This means the Leica Q is basically a $13,000 camera for $4,300 – a savings of around $8,700 (enough for at least two great trips to use the Leica Q on).

The Leica Q, for some, will certainly be great value!

Closing statement

My time with the Leica Q was short. Although I got to shoot with it for the day, it was very hard for me to give it back to Kerrisdale Camera's who was generous enough give me so much time with it. Most importantly I can say from the images that I've taken with it and the overall experience I had with it, that Leica has a clear winner on this combination. I suspect they will sell lots of these when they start to become readily available. I would love to spend more time with this camera if I can, and if I get the opportunity for more time with it, I'll post more updates.

Check out the rest of the Leica Q shots below in my flickr feed: