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Leica Q2 Monochrom Review

The Leica Q2 Monochrom may appear to be quite expensive, but it's unique in offering a 47mp full-frame monochrome sensor, a Leica 28mm f/1.7 lens with OIS and 4K CINE video recording. Find out how it performs in our review.


|  Leica Q2 Monochrom in Compact Cameras
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Leica Q2 Monochrom (3) | 1/60 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1000
 

Quick Verdict

There's a high-resolution monochrome 47mp full-frame sensor, which, when combined with the Leica 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens, is able to deliver extremely sharp result. The camera also offers an extremely quiet shutter, something that could be of particular interest to some shooters.

For those looking for a monochrome digital camera, the full-frame Leica Q2 Monochrom camera, with a Leica 28mm f/1.7 prime lens, is unique in being one of very few options. Thankfully the Q2 Monochrom delivers high image quality and has the build quality and experience expected from a premium camera brand.

+ Pros

  • Monochrome 47mp full-frame sensor
  • Extremely sharp results 
  • High quality 28mm f/1.7 lens
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • CINE-4K / 4K video recording
  • Extremely solid build quality
  • Weather-sealed
  • 10/20fps continuous shooting

- Cons

  • Price (which could be justified)
  • 28mm lens may not suit everyone
  • No USB connection or other ports
  • Black and white won't be for everyone (see the Q2)
 

 

Q2 Monochrom

If the Leica Q2 Monochrom looks strangely familiar, then there's a reason for this, as it's the monochrome version of the Leica Q2, and like the Q2 it features the same Leica 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens, with OIS, however, the Q2 Monochrom, as the name suggests, now features a monochrome version of the 47 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. Like the Q2, the camera also supports CINE-4K video recording, high-speed continuous shooting, and a simplified control system, as well as manual controls. 

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Leica Q2 Monochrom Features

Leica Q2 Monochrom (14) | 1/60 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 640
The lens is a Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens with optical image stabilisation built-in. The Q2 Monochrom is a unique proposition it's the only dedicated monochrome sensor fixed-lens camera available, and if you're looking for a monochrome camera with a dedicated black and white sensor, then your only other options are from Leica, with the Leica M10 Monochrom (40mp FF) monochrome rangefinder.

If you're wondering why you'd want a camera with a monochrome sensor, rather than simply converting colour images into black and white, then this explanation from Leica should go some way to help explain why you might want a monochrome camera. To put it simply, every pixel on the sensor is used for detail, as there is no colour filter in front of the sensor, which should give a much higher level of detail at the pixel level, giving you sharper, more detailed images.
 

Leica Monochrome Sensor

Image courtesy Leica.

 

Compared to the Q2, the Q2 Monochrom has a more subtle design, with a mostly completely black/grey colour, and there is now red Leica dot on the camera. Text is either a shade of grey or white. The camera is weather-sealed, with an IP52 rating, has a magnesium alloy body, and is made in Germany.

The Q2 Monochrom has Program, Aperture, Shutter, and full manual shooting modes. There are options to choose different Leica colour styles to give Sepia, Blue or Selenium images, but if you're looking for filter options, then you'll need to add an actual filter to the front of the lens. The ISO range starts out at ISO100 and goes up to ISO100,000.

The OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), has 3.68million pixels, with dioptre correction. The camera will automatically switch between the EVF and rear screen when you hold the camera up to your eye. There's a high-resolution touch screen at the rear.

In terms of burst/continuous shooting, the camera offers up to 10fps if the mechanical shutter is utilised. Otherwise, it’s 20fps with the aid of the electronic shutter. Leica is describing the Q2’s autofocus performance as ‘fast’ at 0.15 seconds, and the camera uses contrast-detection AF, rather than phase-detection. The camera features a Leaf-shutter - for virtually silent shooting.

The Leica Fotos app, when used in conjunction with the Q2 Monochrom, can now 'wake up' the camera, as well as acting as a remote and means to transfer and share your images. To enable this, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (Low-energy) are built-in. 

If you need to get closer to your subject than the 28mm lens will allow, the Q2 features a 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm function which provides an equivalent crop. Leica reasons that the camera is so high resolution that your images won’t be unduly affected by a lesser pixel count as a result of said crop.

Q2 Mono Outdoor 02
 

Key Features

  • 47mp Full-Frame Monochrome CMOS sensor
  • Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens
  • Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) 
  • 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm digital zoom (crop)
  • 3inch touch-screen, 1040K dots
  • OLED viewfinder, with 3.68mp (dots) 100% view, dioptre adjustment
  • 225 focus fields, 0.15s AF
  • 10/20fps continuous shooting speed (mech/elec)
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE
  • Weather-sealed (IP52) rating 
  • CINE-4K / 4K UHD video recording
  • ISO100 to ISO100,000
  • 17cm macro focus

Leica Q2 Monochrom Handling

Leica Q2 Monochrom (2) | 1/80 sec | f/8.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1000

Handling - The integrated thumb rest means that the camera sits comfortably in the palm at least, while the build quality feels as robust, durable and strong as you'd expect a camera of this price. The camera definitely feels built to last, with a real feeling of quality and solidity, and weight, with the camera weighing 734g with battery.

The grip on the front of the camera gives a good area to hold on to, with a textured rubber feel, however, there is no protruding grip on the front, which means the rear thumb grip becomes more important, as well as the use of the strap. The rear does not have a texture (other than smooth), nor does it feature any kind of rubber coating, instead you hold on to the matt finish of the camera, using your thumb in the indentation. This isn't really as big an issue as it sounds, and we didn't have any problems holding and using the camera. However, we would recommend trying the camera in person (if possible) so you can feel the camera in person to see if it suits your needs. 

The provided leather strap gives another good anchoring point, to make sure you can hold on tight to the camera, as well as ensure it doesn't get taken from you.

Leica Q2 Monochrom (11)

The controls on the back of the camera are quite straight-forward, with just three buttons on the left of the camera screen. The function (Fn) button can be customised, so you can choose what control this accesses when you press it. There's a small button next to the thumb recess, and the command wheel also features a button in the middle. All very subtle, and discreet.

Pressing the middle button in the centre of the four-way controller/direction pad switches the display on the rear screen, but can also switch between photo mode and video mode, or alternatively, you can switch between the modes using the touch-screen. The 4-way controller may seem a little small to some but doesn't take too long to get used to. 

You can turn the (aptly labelled) macro dial to the macro position, to activate the macro mode, and as you turn this, a ring moves forwards to update the focus distance markings to show the new, closer focus distance. The closest focus distance then becomes 17cm.

Leica Q2 Monochrom Touch Screen
Leica Q2 Monochrom Touch Screen

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a rubber surround, it's not as soft as you'd find on other cameras, such as the standard EVF surround on a DSLR, however, as the surround isn't easily replaced, it makes sense for it to be made from a tougher material. Despite this, the surround is relatively comfortable in use.

In handling the camera, we found the eye sensor was swift and responsive in use and this comes with a push out/push in diopter adjustment control - again maintaining the camera's sleek, minimalist lines. The resolution and quality of the viewfinder is good, with a clear display, and the viewfinder also gives a large view of the monochrome scene.

Viewing the screen outdoors is good, as long as the sun is not too bright. The menu button brings up a one-page menu with your favourite settings, scroll to the bottom of this and you can access the full menu options. The screen is clear, with easy to read text and options. 

There are 225 focus areas available, covering a wide area of the frame. Focus is relatively rapid, and we didn't worry about the speed in use, except for fast-moving subjects such as pets.  

Leica Q2 Monochrom (5)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 350 shots according to Leica / CIPA test results, which is reasonable but may mean you'll want to invest in a spare battery. The Q2 Monochrom uses a battery with a 1860mAh capacity. You can't charge the battery in the camera, as there is no USB port, or HDMI out port, or any other ports for that matter.


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Comments


pablophotographer 10 1.9k 409
4 Feb 2021 5:41PM
or buy a Leica MP and use black and white film solely?
lemmy 14 2.9k United Kingdom
10 Feb 2021 12:46PM
There's an inconsistency here. If photographers shooting B/W "aren't going to mind some noise", why should they be bothered about the extra sharpness of a mono sensor over a colour one? And you have to stop it down to get max sharpness. And there's flare These Leicas really are the emperors new clothes.

Aart from which, what is this OCD current about sharpness? If you intend to shoot test charts and enter competitions for who can show the most lines per mm maybe it makes sense. Otherwise who notes the sharpness of an image? Does anyone go to a Don McCullin or Martin Parr exhibition and remark on the sharpness of their pictures.All you need for a picture is sharp enough. The rest is bulls***t.

If anyone remarks on the sharpness of a picture, one thing is certain. The picture has failed.

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