Leica Q3: what we know and what we want to see
The Leica Q2 was one of our favorite cameras when it launched in 2019. About three years later, we’re in love with the Leica Q2 Monochrom iteration, our splurge pick among the best compact cameras.
We haven’t seen a true Q2 successor yet, but rumors of a replacement abound. According to new reports, a new camera called the Leica Q3 will arrive in 2023 with the same 60MP full-frame sensor as the Leica M11.
The official launch event video for the Leica M11 has added fuel to the fire of the rumor mill. In the video, three blank areas reserved for future Leica cameras appear behind Leica Chief Designer Mark Shipard. In these empty slots is the roadmap for the cameras of the Leica M, Leica SL and Leica Q series.
We’ll unveil the benefits of the new sensors in the Leica Q series and detail what we can expect and hope for with the Leica Q3.
Leica Q3: Release date and price
Previous reports on the new Leica Q include leaked image (opens in a new tab) (Bottom) The Q model and data from the Leica Fotos app update show two code names: Leica Wilson and Leica Rene. In the leaked images, it’s clear that the codename “Wilson” refers to the expected Leica Q3.
In 2022, Mr. Stefan Daniel, executive vice president of technology and operations of Leica Corporation, also confirmed that Leica is developing Q3. “Yes, there will definitely be a Q3. We won’t stop there because the Q series is already part of the Leica portfolio – but not this year.”
Because it’s not if — it’s when — we think sometime in 2023 seems likely. Maybe Q3 of Q3?
Given the current financial environment, inflation and Leica’s own track record, it’s unlikely the Leica Q3 will be priced below or at the same price as the Leica Q2, which was £4,250/$4,995/AU$8,500 (approx.) at launch ; the Q2 costs a full $500 more than its predecessor. You can at least count on some price increases in the third quarter.
There is also the question of the Leica Q2 Monochrom, the monochrome version of the Leica Q2. That version came out a full year after Q2 (at a $1,000 premium, or $5,995). Expecting a dual-engine might be wishful thinking, so if a Monochrom version of the Q3 is in the works, black and white lovers may have to wait until 2024.
Leica Q3: Sensors
The Leica Q2 is capable of resolving fine details with its 47MP full-frame sensor, but the Leica M11 takes detail up a notch with its 60MP sensor. Bringing this sensor to the Leica Q-Series is a solid move and represents a solid upgrade.
One of the advantages of a high-res sensor is the extra cropping power, which is especially useful for fixed-lens cameras like the Leica Q2, which has a 28mm f/1.7 — similar to the field of view of a smartphone’s main camera.
In fact, there is a function in the Q2 that simulates different focal lengths: 35mm, 50mm and 75mm. All it does is crop to a 28mm frame, but the tighter the crop, the more the resolution drops (eg 7MP for the 75mm option).you may not need 60MP, but by upping the already excellent 47MP resolution to an even better 60MP, you’ll enjoy better detail in cropped images.
Leica Q3: screen and EVF
The leaked image (above) shows the back of the Leica Q camera, which has a different style than the existing Leica Q and Q2 models. The buttons have been moved from the left side of the screen to the right, which looks like a slanted design.
The tilting touchscreen will be a first for a full-frame Leica camera – a radical design change for a legacy brand. The tilting touchscreen is a super handy feature for waist-up shooting, a popular shooting technique, especially among street photographers.
The EVF on the Leica Q2 is lovely – a big, bright display with a decent 3.69 million dot resolution and a high refresh rate. However, we did experience stuttering live view from time to time, such as when using burst mode. It’s not a common issue, but it’s there, and we’re hoping for a more consistently smooth experience in Q3.
Could Leica also incorporate EVF pupil tracking to assist with AF detection? That’s what we really want to see in the third quarter.
Leica Q3: Design
Aside from the screen, the leaked images don’t hint at any other major design changes for the Q3. That’s a shame, because the Q2’s treatment could really use an update. With no front handle and modestly textured finish, there’s really nothing around the front to grab hold of. Leica offers an optional (and certainly expensive) solution for the Q2 – an external grip – for around £110/$125.
Otherwise, the design of the Leica Q2 is refreshingly minimalist, and we hope Leica keeps it that way. Despite its simple button layout, there are plenty of ways to quickly navigate the camera’s controls. In a market filled with complex cameras, the Leica Q-Series is the antidote.
Leica Q3: Performance
Full-frame sensors and big, bright EVFs are power hungry, as evidenced by the Leica Q2, which has a CIPA-rated battery life of 350 shots. Can Leica work its magic to extend the Q3’s battery life? That’s unlikely; moreover, if the Q3’s specs improve, a Q2-like battery would take a bigger hit.
The Leica M11 introduces a new electronic shutter that releases an ultra-fast shutter speed of 1/16000 sec. The Leica Q2 has a maximum of 1/2000 second. For street photographers, a slower shutter speed might not be a deal breaker, but bumping up its mechanical shutter (or including an electronic one) to 1/4,000 could help the Leica Q3 get the most out of its fixed Summilux 28mm f/1.7 The lens is in broad daylight, helping photographers achieve extremely shallow depth of field without blowing out highlights.
All things considered, the new 60MP sensor, tilting touchscreen, and possible electronic shutter are the most likely and most notable changes we’ll see with the Leica Q3, but we’ll be sure to keep it updated because more is revealed.