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New Leica Q2 Monochrom Compared

In this post we compare the brand new Leica Q2 Monochrom compact camera with the original colour Q2 version. The Q2 replaced the extremely popular Leica Q (Typ 116) with this monochrome model providing a B&W partner to the current colour version. Our post provides sample images, a comparison table of features and some further insights into this beautifully designed black and white compact camera.

Comparison between the Leica Q2 and Q2 Monochrom

What’s new in the Q2 Monochrom

The first thing worth noting is that Leica has completely redeveloped the sensor. It has been modified as a full frame black and white CMOS sensor, which still provides 47.3 megapixels. This delivers an extremely impressive amount of detail, particularly for a compact camera measuring just 130 x 80 x 92mm. The Monochrom gets the edge over the colour model in a couple of areas thanks to the new sensor design, which includes even more impressive low light capabilities and a higher dynamic range. The dynamic range has been improved by two stops, now providing 13EV stops at ISO 200. This proves particularly important when shooting scenes with a lot of contrast which will often be the case where the sky is present, or where there is a direct light source casting shadows.

Image of cyclist with Q2 Monochrom

Cycling. 1/500 sec. f/11. ISO 400

Leica Q2 and Q2 Monochrom compared

 

LEICA Q2

Q2 Monochrom

SENSOR

47,3 MP CMOS Sensor

47.3 MP CMOS Monochrome Sensor

VIEWFINDER

1280 x 960 px OLED

1280 x 960 px OLED

DISPLAY

3" TFT Touchdisplay (1.04 million pixel)

3" TFT Touchdisplay (1.04 million pixel)

EXPOSURE TIMES

60 s – 1/2000s (mechanic) 1s – 1/40000s (electronic)

60 s – 1/2000s (mechanic) 1s – 1/40000s (electronic)

DYNAMIC RANGE

11 stops @ ISO 200

13 stops @ ISO 200

ISO

50 – 50000

100 – 100,000

VIDEO

4K @ 24/30 fps; Cine4K @ 24 fps. FHD @ 24/30/60/120 fps.

4K @ 24/30 fps; Cine4K @ 24 fps. FHD @ 24/30/60/120 fps.

WLAN

Yes

Yes

BLUETOOTH

Yes

Yes

USER INTERFACE

Full Leica

Reduced interface with additional toning settings (sepia, blue, selenium)

DESIGN

Black paint finish Leica Red Dot Logo

Diamond pattern leatherette Classic yellow/red engravings

Black matte finish,

No Leica Red Dot Logo Classic grained leatherette,

MONOCHROM engraving on top cover Stylish black/gray/White

Walking up steps with the Leica Q2 sample image

Leica Q2 Monochrom sample image - Steps. 1/1000 sec. f/11. ISO 400

Q2 Monochrom fixed lens and subject versatility

Leica has used the same lens as the colour version in the form of its’ class-leading 28mm lens. The Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens is a bright, fast and versatile wide angle lens with f/1.7 aperture, which also boasts a close-up macro mode, so really there was nothing to change with the included lens. The optics perform excellently from a design with 11 elements including 3 aspherical elements. 28mm is a versatile focal width for a broad range of subjects including of course macro photography. We imagine users will be pointing this camera at subjects such as:

  • Street
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Fine art
  • Interiors
  • Architecture
  • Travel
  • Night photography
  • General purpose shooting

A pocket sized compact of this kind is not particularly intended for sports and wildlife however with 10fps burst mode this can definitely keep up with wide angle environmental sport subjects where the photographer is closer to the action. Close focus is down to 17cm in macro mode which is perfect for getting right up to the subject in order to fill the frame or create dynamic wide angle compositions. As far as fixed lenses goes this is a versatile and highly successful choice.

Street scene high ISO value image

Leica Q2 Monochrom high ISO sample image - Street. 1/500 sec. f/6.3. ISO 12,500

Low light performance

Along with the bright aperture lens comes an extended ISO range of 100-100,000. This yields superb results when light levels dip as the included sample image crop shows. The image was shot at ISO 12,500 and the camera can happily go a couple of stops further than this. Whilst digital noise is present at this level it remains pleasing to the eye, showing natural - almost film grain noise. Shooting at these ISO values will not present any problems to users who enjoy creating images in darker environments and provides a high degree of flexibility for a daily use, general purpose camera. At ISO 200 the Monochrom is capable of gathering 13EV stops of dynamic range which is up there with leading full interchangeable lens cameras, which are tending to get to around 14/15 EV stops these days. Once again, this is particularly impressive for a small compact mirrorless camera.

Crop showing noise from ISO 12,500

Leica Q2 Monochrom high ISO noise sample crop - Street. 1/500 sec. f/6.3. ISO 12,500

Shooting experience and ergonomics

The Q2 series are extremely comfortable to work with and both cameras feel solid, sturdy and fit comfortably in the hand. There are only three buttons on the read of the Monochrom body, allowing users to concentrate on the art of making images without distractions. The menu system for the Q2 Monochrom has been tweaked to create a black and white workflow. Gone are saturation settings, film styles and others which are superfluous to this model. The viewfinder provides superb visual feedback with a 3.68MP OLED screen. A clear, sharp image with 100% coverage allows photographers to compose and accurately asses the scene they are capturing. This is also the case when recording 4K videos on the Q2 Monochrom which can also be viewed through the high resolution LCD screen.

Connectivity is as modern as the design is classic with Bluetooth and Wlan built-in along with full connectivity to Leica Fotos for editing and sharing your work.

Q2 Monochrom sample image

Sitting. 1/500 sec. f/3.2. ISO 400

Q2 Monochrom Design and build quality

The Q2 Monochrom is the spitting image of its’ full colour partner aside from the removal of the red dot logo. The removal of the logo makes for a subtle understated design and the body retains impeccable German-made build quality along with dust and water resistant capabilities to IP 52. In practical terms this means the camera is protected from water spray less than 15 degrees from vertical with limited dust ingress protection. Whilst we would not submerge the camera in water it will be just fine during any downpours for which our country is famed. Leather is used for the grip which provides ample and comfortable purchase.

Weather sealing in the Q2 Monochrom

Inspiration and Leica Ambassadors

Leica has a history of attracting some of the most prominent artists in their field and the Q2 Monochrom is certainly no different. Ambassadors include Misan Harriman fashion photographer (the first black person in the 104 year history of British Vogue to shoot the cover of its September issue) and fine art photographer Viktoria Sorochinski. Our visitors may also wish read more about the Leica Q2 in-depth review here in the blog as well as the original Q2 for street photography which is relevant for the much improved Q2 and Monochrom cameras.

Accessories and conclusion

The Monochrom hits the ground with a number of accessories immediately available thanks to inheriting the same overall size and weight of the colour Q2. These include a number of hand straps, camera cases, Leica flash units and more. Photographers love to accessorise and Leica makes sure their users can do so to their hearts content. A couple of my favourite accessories for this model include the Leica Flash unit SF 60 which offers full TTL flash exposure control and weighs only 300 grams. The Q2 protector (in black leather) protects the camera whilst leaving complete access to controls and wow do these look stylish together.

Leica’s ethos has always been to put the art of making images above the camera or any tools for achieving this pursuit. The Q2 Monochrom does this with aplomb, through the removal of any unnecessary buttons, fewer menus and with just one fixed lens. Owners will be drawn to black and white photography as a pure form of expression and as a connoisseur and will no doubt enjoy the art of image and video making with their camera for many decades to come.

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By Nick Dautlich on 10/11/2020

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