Thursday, June 18, 2015

THE FUTURE OF THE LEICA Q





The new Leica Q has hardly hit the market, and immediately we hear wishes for a zoom and even more so, interchangeable lenses.  I have stated in the past that I don’t like to participate in rumors, but please allow me to look into my crystal ball to see what the future of the Leica Q might bring.

As soon as the Leica M 240 was announced it became clear that Leica had finally a digital camera that could compete on all levels with anything the competition had to offer, that is with the exception of autofocus.  At that time I looked into my crystal ball as well, and I wrote that autofocus might be the next step.  But an M Leica with autofocus did seem to be quite a contradiction, after all, the M in the Leica cameras does stand for Messucher – rangefinder.  Why would a rangefinder camera need autofocus?

Back to the Leica Q.  It seems to be a more sensible design to offer interchangeable, autofocus lenses with a Leica M styled, full frame camera.  As it is now, the camera offers an excellent electronic viewfinder.  As the next step in its development we will most likely see the camera with a zoom lens and after that, hopefully, interchangeable lenses.

The most sensible step would be to equip the camera with the Leica M mount.  Immediately the entire line of Leica M lenses would be available.  With the electronic viewfinder, focusing would be no problem, although a different version with the addition of an electronic rangefinder would be even better.  With Leica R to M adapter, all of the Leica R lenses too would be a viable choice for that version of the Leica Q.

Leica Q with 50mm f/1.4 Summilux M and handgrip

Leica Q with R to M adapter and Leica R lens

The final step would be to take the optical design of the current (and future) Leica M lenses and replace the focusing mechanism, including the focusing cam, and replace them with an autofocus mount instead.  Electronic contacts between the lenses and the camera would most likely be used for the focusing information.

At that point Leica would have an answer for everybody.  For those who like the traditional rangefinder cameras and lenses, the Leica M would be the answer.  For those who like a compact, Leica M style camera the Leica Q would be the ideal instrument.  Even all the former Leica R owners who, for years, have been hoping for a digital replacement would now have an answer to their wishes.  The Leica M came close, but it does require the add-on electronic Visoflex to allow effective focusing.  That would be eliminated with the interchangeable, M mount Leica Q.


With the exception of the Leica S, the Leica M has always been the flagship of the company.  An M mount, autofocus Leica Q definitely would have what it takes to take that position in the Leica line of cameras.  Just as the introduction of the Leica M3 was a giant step forward for the company, so could be an advanced model of the Leica Q.


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30 comments:

  1. Rob Challis wrote elsewhere: I've just acquired an M240 and a Q so please don't change anything for a while !

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    1. Not to worry, any changes are not up to me. But I'll take my crystal ball along to Leica in September. Maybe I can recharge it with more pertinent information. If so, I'' write about it here on the Blog..

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  2. What you say sounds quite logical, but wouldn't an autofocus, interchangeable lens Q be the end of the M series cameras?

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    1. Yes, especially since it is a lot less expensive.

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    2. I seriously doubt it. Leica M cameras have a very loyal following, with new followers added continuously. With the digital M cameras one would have thought that the Leica M film cameras would go the way of the Dodo Bird. Yet not only do they survive, Leica even added a new model. I think price won't be an argument either. Right now the Leica Q is obviously less expensive than even the lowest priced digital M camera. But let's not forget, it has just a fixed lens. An added interchangeable lens mount and eventual autofocus, including a revised electronic viewfinder, would most likely bring the cost up to the level of the M cameras. Then it won't be a price issue, just a decision of which system is better for anyone's use.

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  3. Another camera to offer as special editions for out of this world prices.

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    1. Unless you are one of the Leica haters, you should be glad that the special editions are selling. They are an excellent way for Leica to add to their bottom line which ultimately enables them to accelerate their research and bring newer and updated models to the market. What's wrong with that?

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  4. I would just be happy with a weather sealed Q

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  5. I'd expect an interchangeable lens camera derived from the Q would have a larger diameter mount and a shorter flange-to-image plane distance. This would allow more flexible design of large aperture lenses. Adapters would meet the desire for using M or R lenses.

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    1. As far as large aperture lenses are concerned, I think we have seen that Leica is perfectly capable to design them with the Leica M mount. A shorter lens to focal plane distance would create additional vignetting problems and it would also necessitate an entirely new line of lenses.Going with the current M mount configuration would allow to maintain the M lens design with no additional development costs with the exception of replacing the current focusing mounts with an autofocus mount. That, to me, makes more sense.

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  6. Paul Struijk wrote elsewhere: You wrote my wishes and dreams here Heinz smile emoticon thx

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  7. Roberto Campos wrote elsewhere: I hope they never do a vario version, look how well that worked out for the X. Now everyone keeps forgetting the T and I doubt there will be a T2 at this point but the Q doesn't need interchangeable lenses, if they ever do an autofocus M they will have to use all those autofocus lenses they've made already for cameras like the T, speaking mount-wise. What you write is basically saying you want the whole cake for yourself, too wishful and honestly too simplistic a thought. What I want for Leica is to get this Sony RX1 competitor in a competitive prize range, why charge the same as an M body for a camera designed to point and shoot for people who already give up the idea of buying lenses? Make it affordable to get more people into Leica, make it an entry drug and not a piece for people who already drop their cash at them in the first place. Until then I would never even consider a Q, it's too expensive for what it is. If you want Leica buy something else that is more on par with what you're paying for, if you want what the Q is then look at the RX1 or similar. This was a total miss for me, I'm sure some people will get it but I expect to see them cheaper used in 6 months to a year everywhere as it happened with the T.

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    1. Peter Carter answered: I mostly agree with Roberto but having said that, a Q with a 3 step lens like the old 28/35/50 tri-elmar would get my vote as the ultimate street camera.

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    2. Why stick to the three step design. The camera with it selectronic finder is perfectly capable to handle a continuous zoom range.

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    3. Henry Wang answered: What Peter Carter says to have a Q equipped with Tri Elmar 28/35/50 could be very attractive. And I can be easily tantalized. In a capacity of a backup second body. After using many AF flagships, I become less comfortable with the accurate spot where I wish to focus on....

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  8. Henry Wang wrote elsewhere: Leica, being a prestigious name ought to have its own stance to DEFINE the game as it did for the 135 format... Not like a follower to test water here and there.... I sold any R bodies and lenses. I bought X1, then X 2, then for family the T, and 3 lenses.... I am fed up for lack of a clear direction...many times I tried to convince myself to acquire an S. Again it doesn't seem to convince me since it is NOT a true medium format, nor a rangefinder.... It just doesn't have an authentic Leica DNA.... If they get lost all the time, then ultimately they might fall behind further... Competing on speed of focusing is never their forte. And, may not be the ultimate answer for its long time M supporters. AF shooting does not always give you which specific focusing area you really wish to get.

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    1. Paul Struijk answered: Henry Wang if M is the answer .. and it is for me for some of my photography then i got to buy one .. that's what i did .. the others like Q can work for other kinf of photography .. each one had another direction i my opinion and the M is the most true

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    2. Henry Wang answered" What other options other than M, may come along, I wish them the best of luck....I will stick to M since I am heavily married to it already...

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  9. Paul Struijk wrote: where to put the focus also when using F16 is very important and very difficult (for me to get ir right at the moment you shoot).

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    1. Henry Wang a nswered: As confusing as it can be also serves a good reason to love it. My own experience is that an AF camera tends to make me an idiot , a no-brainier because I tend to depress the shutter too easily without giving enough though or plan.... Then the output could all be at OK level but not touching anyone's heart chord....

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    2. Paul Struijk answered: hehe true: OK is not enough ..

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  10. Mauro Benedetti wrote: I can only imagine how the price of af-equipped M lenses would skyrocket ...

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    1. Not necessarily; dont forget that the entire rangefinder focusing mount would be eliminated. That would save a fair amount of cost which could possibly result in an autoficus mechanism not being more expensive.

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  11. Brian Iu wrote: I hope this come true.

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  12. Scott Shaw wrote: Just a matter of time. Watch Fuji and leica will follow with better product

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  13. I very much appreciate the above comments. If we look at the Leica cameras, across the board they fill certain niches within the camera market. None of them has a broad appeal to be of interest to appeal to a much wider market. The Q as I described could have this broader appeal. DSLR cameras, as they dominate the current market of top level cameras, are on the way out it seems. The trend is toward mirrorless cameras with electronic viewfinders which otherwise have the same capabilities. A Leica Q model with interchangeable lenses, including autofocus would have the same or similar broad appeal. That in turn could lead to additional sales in a market segment which until now has been covered by other manufacturers.

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  14. The future is starting to look really........well in high resolution!

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    1. I think the future is looking well for Leica in just about any respect. The company appears to be developing a very distinct model policy. The S system has established itself as an important player in the field of medium format digital cameras. The M line of cameras clearly follow the traditional rangefinder route where Leica is without any competition at all and the New Leica Q might very well present the basis of an additional, thoroughly professional camera model. Of course all Leica products will excell in terms of resolution, sensor resolution and especially lens resolution.

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    2. Where does that leave the other Leica cameras, especially the Leica X Vario and the Leica T?

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    3. Both of those cameras fill the need for customers that do not need fully professional models byt are still interested in the overall Leica performance. The X Vario is an excellent camera with a great lens for those where the zoom lens covers virtually all of their needs. The T is the model to go beyond that for people interested in a wider range of focal lengths.

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