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  • About the Leica Q2 Monochrom

  • What We Like

  • What We Don’t Like

  • Should you buy it?

  • Related content

Pros

  • Outstanding photo resolution

  • Versatile auto and manual controls

  • Weather-sealed

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Slow companion software

  • Battery charger not designed for travel

About the Leica Q2 Monochrom

Here are the specs of the camera we tested:

  • Camera type: Digital, Point and shoot
  • Lens: Fixed prime lens, Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH., 11 elements in 9 groups, 3 aspherical elements
  • Sensor: Full frame CMOS ( sensor, 50.4/47.3 million pixels (total/effective)
  • Digital Zoom: Simulates 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, or 75mm
  • Photo file types: DNG/RAW, DNG/RAW and JPEG, JPEG
  • Video formats: MP4 (Cine 4K- 4096x2160 / 4K(UHD) – 3840x2160 /Full HD – 1920x1080)
  • Video Resolution:: K: 30 or 24 fps / Cine4K: 24 fps / Full HD 24, 30, 60 or 120 fps
  • Dynamic Range (f-stop): 13 stops
  • ISO range: 50 minimum, 50000 maximum
  • Focus working range: 30 cm to infinity, close focus distance 17cm in macro mode
  • Focus settings: Automatic or manual

What We Like

Glorious black & white

A small black camera against a black and gray background
Credit: Leica

The Leica Q2 Monochrom is, like any camera, designed to capture moments. It captures them with a full-frame, 47.3MP CMOS sensor, and fixed 28mm lens, meaning the lens does not detach from the camera, as the Q2 Monochrom’s sensor was specially designed by Leica without a Color Filter Array (CFA). A CFA is responsible for filtering the blue, green, and red spectrum light and interpreting it into data, so without it that means you can only take photos in black and white.

With no CFA to get in the way, none of the light that hits the camera’s sensor is wasted on sorting out color information. This means that with a push of the camera’s two-stage shutter button, the moments you want to hold on to will be digitally preserved with startling clarity in nuanced, white, gray, and black tones.

For those interested in color photography with a Leica camera, the company also offers a color version of the Q2 that ships with a CFA baked into its sensor.

Beginner and expert friendly

When using this camera’s automatic settings, you’ll have to work very hard to take a bad photo (provided your eye for composition is well-honed). Even if it’s not, digital tools, such as an on-screen grid to help you color within the lines of the Rule of Thirds, and multiple autofocus modes to make for sharp-looking images, no matter the subject, will help to make up for it. That said, those used to the magic of computational photography that their smartphones offer may become flustered by the Q2 Monochrom’s manual controls, despite their intuitive, ergonomic layout.

But that’s OK: This is a camera made for passionate shooters, no matter their skill level. As your competence and technical knowledge of photography grow, so will your confidence in using a piece of hardware like this. It’s a camera to grow into. It’s a tool that you’ll be happy to turn to, time and time again, as the years pass. That’s something worth investing in.

Supurb fixed-lens

A man in a camouflage jacket sits in his bicycle repair shop, browsing on his smartphone.
Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

The Q2 Monochrom brings the subject of a photo into sharp focus, with all else relegated to a creamy bokeh.

Thanks to the quality of the Q2 Monochrom’s Summilux lens, all else outside of your subject, should you want it to, will fade away into a delicious sea of bokeh that no camera phone, and few other cameras, can approach. The Lecia’s Q2 lens can shoot anything from macro shots of tiny flowers to sweeping beach views—no lens swapping required!

Unlike a DSLR or Mirrorless camera system, the Q2 Monochrom comes equipped with a fixed prime lens, similar to what one might see in a compact point-and-shoot camera, like Sony’s iconic RX100 series. The camera’s lens doesn’t allow for any zoom—however, the Q2’s high-resolution image files are packed with enough data that you’ll be able to get away with a lot of image cropping to bring the subjects of your shots “closer” when the time comes to process your photos—and you’ll want to process your photos.

The camera’s photos are detailed, but they come out looking flat. You’ll want to spend some time tweaking your JPEG and DNG/RAW files in Adobe Lightroom, Dark Table, or another image processing program before showing them off. It’s also possible to manipulate the look of your photos as you’re taking them, by using a screw-on yellow, orange, red, or green color lens filter. Each will change the intensity of the blacks and gray tones in your images, making it easier to give your photos the look that you’re after.

If shooting the finer points of small things excites you, a twist of the Q2 Monochrom’s Macro Setting Ring will let you do that. Its macro shooting experience is pleasant enough, as you’re still able to maintain all of the control over the camera that users experience outside of Macro photography with the Q2 Monochrome. When set for Macro photography, the camera’s sensor allows for deliciously detailed closeup images with a shallow depth-of-field that’ll make photographers of small things and fine detail deeply satisfied.

Leica's Q2 Monochrome was built for everyone—beginning photographers and experts alike.

Push a button on the back of the camera and the Q2 Monochrom switches over to video mode. Footage can be grabbed in either 4K/30p, or 1080/120p, for a wide range of compatibility, no matter which device you decide to view or edit your content with. As soon as video mode is engaged, the camera takes the wheel, automatically switching into Program Auto mode, which takes care of your ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds.

I don’t shoot video often, so having the camera take care of these settings for me while I focused on my framing and keeping the camera steady was a welcome feature. The Q2 Monochrom records video in black and white, which may be a draw for some videographers. However, it’s certainly not going to be what the majority of people are looking for in a video camera.

Built to last

At 1.62 pounds and its 5.12 x 3.15 x 3.62 dimensions, it’s a touch hefty, compared to similar cameras. Sony’s Rx1R II, for example, is a similarly sized fixed lens camera that weighs in at 1.1 pounds. 0.5 pounds might not sound like much of a difference in weight. But when you consider that a camera is something folks hold in their hands, often for long periods of time, that extra half pound is significant.

Much of the Q2 Monochrom’s heft can be attributed to its exceptional build quality. With its magnesium alloy exterior and high-quality internals, It’s built like a tank. Given its cost, the thought of drop-testing this camera as part of my review filled me with terror. However, I can say that it will definitely stand up to the casual abuse that a photographer might subject it to.

Having said so much about its size and weight, I want to make it clear that I do not feel that using the Q2 Monochrom is a burden. During my brief time with the camera, I found it comfortable to handle for long periods of time. I can also say that it carries well in a 10L camera bag or small backpack, leaving lots of room in the bag for other sundries.

What We Don’t Like

No ports in a storm

A close up of an engraved word on the top of a camera
Credit: Leica

I was thrilled to find that this camera is weather sealed. During my time with the camera, it kept me from panicking after getting caught in a sudden downpour. But its water and dust resistance comes at the cost of several useful ports. So, no onboard HDMI connections or USB-C charging, which may disappoint some travel-minded users.

To transfer photos off of the camera, you’ll have to open its battery/SD port and remove the card to insert it into your computer or tablet’s card reader or turn to Leica’s FOTOS app to wirelessly transfer your images to a smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, using the app (available for iPhones, iPads and, Android Devices) proved to be a frustrating experience.

When attempting to connect the Q2 to either my smartphone or iPad, I found that it failed, often. It frequently took several attempts for the Q2 Monochrom’s built-in Wi-Fi to connect with the app, eating up several minutes of my day (and precious camera battery life) each time that I wanted to use it. Once connected, if you prefer shooting in DMG/RAW, like I do, transferring images to the app from your camera makes a sloth look speedy, by comparison. I found it much faster and far more reliable to remove the SD card from my camera and insert it into my iPad Pro’s USB C hub to import my shots directly into Adobe Lightroom Mobile.

Shockingly large charger

Unfortunately, you can’t charge the Q2 Monochrom’s battery while it’s still in the camera, so that means you’ll need to carry around a separate charger in your camera bag—and the battery itself is roughly half the size of the camera, so you’ll need a big charger, which could take up precious real estate in your bag.

You could invest in a second battery for the camera and leave the charger at home. However, Leica accessories are expensive—owning even one or two of them, like a battery or a case, can quickly drive the already high cost of owning this camera through the roof.

That said, there’s also the option to purchase this far more portable charger from Nightcore, which draws its power over a USB-A connection. A lot of folks seem to like it and, when I buy my own Q2 Monochrom, I’ll likely wind up purchasing it myself.

Should you buy it?

Yes, it’s a black & white photographer’s dream camera

A photo of a deserted downtown street in McAllen, Texas, taken after dark.
Credit: Reviewed / Séamus Bellamy

Lowlight photos taken with a Q2 Monochrom can be absolutely stunning when taken by a skilled photographer.

If you delight in black and white photography, like I do, and hate lugging around additional lenses with you, this is the camera for you. Nothing else on the market can match the Q2 Monochrom’s fixed lens, monochromatic mastery. That it can make beginners feel like competent photographers while, at the same time, providing the depth of control and image quality that seasoned shooters demand makes it feel like a worthwhile, if expensive, long-term investment.

I feel that, with its outstanding build quality and full-frame, 47.3MP images, and startlingly good performance in low-light shooting situations, it’s a camera that a photographer will be able to rely upon for many years to come. Given the extremely high cost associated with owning a Leica camera, such longevity is both welcomed and, expected.

There’s nothing else on the market today designed to do what the Leica Q2 Monochrom does, in a similar form factor or at its price point. Any digital color image can be transformed into a black and white one using post-production software, like Dark Table, for example. But they won’t be able to match the black and white image quality or low-light performance that the Leica Q2 Monichrom is capable of, thanks to the camera’s lack of a CFA.

If you can live with the size of its included battery charger and learn to work around its lack of a USB-C port and pokey wireless transfer software, this is a camera that you’ll be excited to use every time you see the opportunity to take a photo.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Séamus Bellamy

Séamus Bellamy

Senior Editor

@SeamusBellamy

Séamus Bellamy is a senior editor on Reviewed's Electronics Team. When he's not busy ensuring his team's The Best Right Now roundups are up-to-date, he spends his time reviewing, smartwatches, tablets, fringe tech, and writing how-to guides.

See all of Séamus Bellamy's reviews

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