Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look – $6000 B&W Camera Review

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - $6000 B&W Camera Review


What makes the camera stand out

Updates and comparison with other models

Feature Comparison

Design and ergonomics

First Impressions


All monochrome lovers get ready: the Leica Q2 Monochrom is a new special black and white camera for connoisseurs of truly exclusive technology at exclusive prices. Why make a black and white digital camera at all in 2020? Of course, for those few who want the best quality monochrome shots. “Photosklad.Expert” figured out what a black-and-white camera from the legendary brand for $6,000 could offer in the heyday of color digital.

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewSource: pcmag.com


The Q2 Monochrom features a 47-megapixel sensor that captures pure black and white images and a built-in 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens with dedicated macro mode. Wide dynamic range, exceptional detail and accuracy in highlights and shadows – this is what Leica decided to put in its unusual camera. Of course, Q2 Monochrom will not suit everyone, but fans of monochrome shots will definitely like it.

What makes the camera stand out

Of course, you might think that there is nothing easier than making a black and white camera, but for this Leica needed not only to remove the color filter layer from the matrix, but also to completely rework the microlenses that are responsible for registering the incident light flux. Removing the color filter allowed the sensor to focus entirely on capturing details. Each photodetector of the matrix transmits the “true” hue, without loss of resolution due to interpolation (in color cameras, each photodetector captures information about one of three colors – red, green or blue, and the camera processor interpolates this data to create a full-color image, which is inevitable leads to loss of detail). Improved detail from a 47-megapixel sensor – sounds very interesting!

Removing the color filter layer also makes the sensor more efficient in terms of light gathering, as no light gets lost in any color filters – the Q2M’s maximum ISO is 100,000, allowing you to shoot in very low light. And the increased dynamic range allows you to get more details in bright and dark areas.

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewThe camera is equipped with a built-in 28mm lens. Source: petapixel.com

As for the lens, it uses a built-in 28mm fast lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.7. The Summilux Asph lens uses a very complex optical design of 11 elements, including three aspherical ones. Thanks to the highest quality optics, it is more than capable of meeting the high resolution of the new monochrome sensor. The lens can be switched to macro mode for shooting at a minimum focusing distance of up to 17cm.

The focus ring features a large thumb rest for easy manual focusing, and an easy-to-use switch for switching to close focus ranges. Despite good autofocus performance, many photographers rate the manual focus experience very highly with this lens, calling it one of the best on modern cameras.

Updates and comparison with other models

The Q2 Monochrom is a monochrome version of another full-frame fixed lens camera, the Q2. The main difference between the Q2 and Q2 Monochrom, as one would expect, is that special 47-megapixel sensor without an array of color filters. In addition to the increase in detail, the ISO of the monochrome version is twice that of the color version (100,000 vs. 50,000). The monochrome Q2 also received a more restrained design and a slightly simplified menu system.

Compared to the M10 Monochrom, the Q2 Monochrom is a much simpler and beginner-friendly camera, thanks in large part to the electronic viewfinder and solid autofocus. Its main limitation (of course, after the innate “black and white”) is the built-in 28mm lens, which cannot be changed to something longer. The starting price of the new Q2 Monochrom, as expected from Leica, “slightly” bites – $ 5995.

Feature Comparison

Leica Q2 Monochrome Leica M10 Monochrome Fujifilm X100V
starting price $5995 $8295 $1399
Matrix 47MP full frame monochrome 41MP full frame monochrome 26MP APS-C full color
Lens Built-in lens Interchangeable lenses Built-in lens
ISO (native) 100-100000 160-100000 100-25600
Viewfinder 3.69 ml. dot electronic OLED Optical rangefinder 3.69 ml. dot electronic OLED / optical
Display 3 inch fixed 3 inch fixed 3″ inclined
Built-in flash Not Not Yes
Hull weather protection Yes, IP52 Not Not
Maximum Burst Speed 20 fps (electronic shutter) 4.5 fps 20 fps (electronic shutter)
Min. exposure mechanical | electronic shutter 1/2000 | 1/40000 1/4000 | No 1/4000 | 1/32000
Video 4K/30p, 1080/120p Not 4K/30p, 1080/120p
Battery (CIPA) 350 shots ~210 shots (estimated based on color M10) 420 shots
Dimensions 130 x 80 x 92mm 139 x 39 x 80mm 128 x 75 x 53mm
The weight 734 g 660 g 478 g

Of the conceptually similar cameras, the much more affordable Fujifilm X100V can be distinguished. The X100V shoots in color, but thanks to proprietary film simulation modes, you can view the image on the screen/viewfinder and shoot immediately in B/W (though not at the same resolution as with a dedicated monochrome sensor). The X100V is equipped with a built-in 35mm equiv. f/2 lens as opposed to Leica’s 28mm f/1.7 and cropped APS-C sensor, but the Fuji camera costs four times less. At the same time, Fujifilm, of course, cannot boast of the same resolution, detail and dynamic range.

Design and ergonomics

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewThe understated design matches the “subdued” color scheme of the shots. Source: bhphotovideo.com

The Leica Q2 Monochrom is finished in black and gray to match its monochrome shots, with a body covered in classic grained leatherette. The company has removed its signature red dot and engraving from the top of the camera. The markings on the lens and shutter speed dial are gray and white, and the camera name is engraved near the hot shoe.

The body of the camera is protected from dust and moisture – good news, but it is unlikely that many will dare to check if the $ 6,000 camera will not break if it gets caught in the rain.

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewAll dials and inscriptions are made in white and gray, and the name is engraved near the hot shoe. Source: gsmarena.com

The overall ergonomics and button layout are identical to the Leica Q2. At the top of the camera is the power switch and shutter button, shutter speed dial, and command dial. On the back of the camera is a joystick, a fixed 3-inch touchscreen, and playback, menu, and function (Fn) buttons.

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewSimple and convenient rear panel layout. Source: gsmarena.com

The Fn button is customizable, the setting can be quickly changed with a long press. Above the display is a diopter adjustment wheel that can be “pushed in” to prevent accidental changes. There is also an additional back button right below the shutter speed dial, which can also be configured.

By default, it activates various frame cropping options, but it can also be set to lock focus or meter exposure. The camera’s built-in digital cropping options include 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm modes, but shooting in RAW retains the full image. A rangefinder-style frame appears in the electronic viewfinder to show what will be included in the frame when cropping modes are activated. Like the color version of the Q2, the new Monochrom gets the same comfortable thumbhole in the top right of the rear panel.

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera Review“Made in Germany”. Source: bhphotovideo.com

On the bottom of the camera, you’ll find a single SD card slot and a battery door. The Q2 Monochrom uses a BP-SCL4 battery that is CIPA-rated for 350 shots per charge (typically much higher in real life).

The camera uses a standard 3.68 million dot OLED viewfinder (0.76X magnification). According to colleagues at dpreview.com who have already been able to test a sample of the camera, the viewfinder is very bright and provides very accurate real-time black and white viewing without having to switch to the display.

First Impressions

Jennet Moses shared his first impressions of working with the new product. The Q2 Monochrom is light and easy to handle, he says, and because the lens is built in, you just don’t have to worry about what lenses to take with you when you leave the house. The shutter is very quiet, and the discreet design of the body will avoid unnecessary attention to the premium brand.

Overall, the Q2 Monochrom boasts a beautiful design, an easy-to-navigate menu system, and reliable autofocus.

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewOfficial photo sample on Leica Q2 Monochrom. Source: us.leica-camera.com

Probably any reader has already had a question: “why even limit yourself to exclusively black and white shots?”. Especially since a camera like the Fujifilm X100V with Acros Film Simulation can deliver a similar experience for a quarter the price. At the same time, you will still have the opportunity to process RAW files in color.

The main selling point is image quality: The Q2 Monochrom offers a full-frame image with a significant increase in pixel-level resolution thanks to a dedicated sensor and built-in processing systems. From a creative point of view, eliminating the color aspect allows you to concentrate on the basics of photography: the interaction of light, shadows and action in the frame.

Having autofocus makes the camera faster and easier to use than the manual focus M10 Monochrom, and overall makes it easier to learn for photographers of all levels.

According to Janet, advanced noise handling at high ISOs, combined with a fast lens, makes this camera a great choice for night photography.

Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewOfficial photo sample on Leica Q2 Monochrom. Source: us.leica-camera.com

Even in automatic ISO mode, the camera rarely switches to the highest settings, but pictures taken at ISO 12500 are not too noisy and grainy.

In general, the level of detail in each shot is impressive. In addition, very flexible RAW files provide a huge scope for post-processing in Adobe Lightroom. Auto-crop in-camera, according to Janet, was very convenient, as well as the ability to cancel it when working with RAW-sources in Lightroom. While using a camera with a 28mm lens to shoot portraits may seem counter-intuitive, in-camera cropping works quite well in this case as well. More photos taken with the new Leica Q2 Monochrom can be found here.


Leica Q2 Monochrom First Look - 00 B&W Camera ReviewThe design of the camera does not scream about the premium brand. Source: amateurphotographer.co.uk

It might seem like a digital camera that only shoots black and white photos is too limiting, but according to those who have already tried Q2 Monochrom in action, the experience of such shooting, on the contrary, can be quite “liberating”. The camera has an excellent electronic viewfinder that allows you to see the world in monochrome, which makes it easier to perceive the textures, patterns and quality of lighting in the scene, especially compared to the optical (and therefore full-color) viewfinder in the M10 Monochrom.

Can we say that Q2 Monochrom will suit everyone? Of course not. In general, Leica has never been distinguished by the availability of its cameras, and this exclusivity, of course, attracts in a certain way. The Q2 Monochrom is certainly a very niche camera, but for photographers who prefer to see the world in monochrome, it can be surprisingly versatile and handy.

* when preparing the article, materials from the resource dpreview.com were used

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