Leica Q3: the compact star expert gains a 60 Mpx sensor, 8K and phase detection AF
Introductory price 5950 €
How the pricing table works
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Le compact expert star
Launched in 2019, the Leica Q2 represented for many photographers a very attractive device. Admittedly, this is a case whose optics cannot be changed. We were therefore “stuck” with a 28 mm f/1.7 (with a macro mode and focusing at 17 cm), but its quality was such that it put the disadvantage into perspective. Accompanied by a 24×36 sensor of 47 Mpx, sober in terms of ergonomics, capable of filming in 4K, tropicalized (IP52) and equipped with a function simulating 35, 50 and 75 mm focal lengths, the toy was devilishly effective.
A USB-C port and an adjustable screen on Leica?
However, it was not free from defects, among which we can mention the autofocus based solely on contrast detection or the absence of any connectors. Four years later, it was time for the German firm to renew its flagship expert compact with as few compromises as possible. Here is the Leica Q3. From a distance, the device has an obvious family resemblance to its predecessor and sports this recognizable template, in a single block of fairly dense metal of 743 g. Besides, the dimensions are almost identical: measuring 130 x 80.3 x 92.6 mm, the Q3 is therefore a little deeper than the Q2 due to the new screen. Indeed, the 1.84 Mpts touch monitor (a higher definition) is now adjustable on two axes – up and down – a small revolution at Leica which will undoubtedly appeal to street photography enthusiasts. Second revolution, the Q3 is equipped with a real connection, two ports very precisely: UBS-C and micro HDMI (type D). Gone are the days when you had to systematically take the battery out of the vehicle to recharge it.
Wireless charging (partially) standard
Even more surprising, and Leica operates here an unprecedented innovation in the world of photography, the Q3 is equipped with a wireless charging system! Yes, you will find under the beast some connectors allowing induction charging, with a downside: it will be imperative to buy the HG-DC1 wireless charging handle (billed at 200 €) to take advantage of it. Leica also markets a Drop XL wireless charger for the occasion (sold for €180), but specifies that once the handle is screwed onto the Q3, it is compatible with any Qi charging system. As for external changes, there is also an electronic viewfinder whose definition climbs to 5.76 Mpts, for 0.79x magnification, 100% image coverage and a refresh rate of 120 fps. A bright viewfinder and in the high standard of the 2020s. We can also notice that on the back, to make room for the movement of the screen, buttons have been moved to the right of the device.
Finally phase detection
But it’s under the hood of the Q3 that things get (even more) interesting. At the heart of the device, Leica has inserted the new Maestro IV processor and above all, aligning itself with Panasonic and its S5 II, the Q3 is the first Teutonic body to have a phase correlation autofocus in addition to detection. of contrast. This will provide the machine with a much more responsive and efficient autofocus, which is accompanied by detection and tracking of the eyes and faces of humans and certain animals, in both photos and videos. On the continuous shooting side, the Q3 offers more mixed results since the maximum burst stops at 15 fps (in raw 12 bits and electronic shutter), and 9 fps in mechanical shutter. To take advantage of 14-bit raw bursts, you have to go down to 7 fps; above all, all these values do not benefit from autofocus tracking. For this, you have to limit yourself to 4 fps… The Q3 also only allows an exposure time of up to 1/16,000 s, against 1/40,000 s previously. The buffer memory hardly evolves, with a big sixty shots that can be recorded simultaneously only.
A 24×36 sensor of 60 Mpx
It’s a little frustrating, but we will console ourselves by remembering that the Q3 is not necessarily a device cut out for action, as indicated by its new 24×36 sensor of … 60 Mpx. Yes, as on the M11/M11 Monochrom, the Sony A7R IV / A7R V or the Sigma fp L. A very defined sensor therefore offering a very high level of detail, and allows the Q3 to offer a level of digital “zoom” extra in jpeg. With one click, it is indeed possible to go from the basic focal length of 28 mm to 35, 50, 75 then 90 mm, the Q2 being limited to 75 mm. This allows you to benefit from more framing latitude, a significant option when using an expert compact.
Of course, this zoom in the jpeg is done at the cost of a loss of definition — note that the raw does not move — which looks like this:
|focal||28 mm||35 mm||50 mm||75 mm||90 mm|
|Definition||60 Mpx||39 Mpx||19 Mpx||8,5 Mpx||6 Mpx|
The new sensor benefits from a wider ISO sensitivity ranging from 50 to 100,000 ISO. Leica is also renewing a function similar to the pixel binning of our smartphones by allowing to obtain raw files in different definitions. We can therefore go from 60 to 36 or even 18 Mpx. All this to save space and above all to limit noise. A function that we found a little anecdotal on the M11.
8K DCI almost without compromise
In terms of video, the Q3 also ups its game by offering recording up to 8K DCI and 30 fps, all in 4:2:0 10 bits (300 Mb / s and L-Gop) on the card SD UHS-II and even 4:2:2 10-bit via HDMI. For 4K DCI, we even go up to 60 fps, 4:2:2 10 bits and 600 Mb/s, ALL-I. Note, however, that as soon as you reach definitions greater than or equal to 4K – and this regardless of the framerate — the capture is done with a super35 mm crop; more surprisingly, the continuous recording time is limited to 29 minutes. A factitious limitation that we thought had definitely disappeared. Recording in Apple ProRes is possible, but only in Full HD, as is taking slow motion at 120 fps.
Price and availability
The Leica Q3 has been on the market since May 25, 2023 for €5,950. Knowing that in March 2019, the Q2 was launched at 4790 €, this represents a substantial increase. However, the price of the Q2 having continued to climb, at the time of writing these lines, it is sold by Leica for 5650 €. The difference is immediately less striking… There is hardly any direct competition on the expert compact market, with potential rivals lagging a few years behind: one thinks for example of the Sony RX1R II, very difficult to find and which dates all the same from 2015, or even the Fujifilm X100V, displayed at 1600 €, but which plays on a very different ground. For comparison, a modern hybrid with a similar sensor such as the Sony A7R V is trading for €4,500. With an FE 24mm F1.4 GM it will cost you around €6000, which makes the Q3 an “almost” cheap product. Even if, by definition, it will be less versatile than a camera with interchangeable optics.
Stay connected on Digital for the Leica Q3 test, which will be published very soon.