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Why the Leica Q3 is a game changer.

Three years into my professional Leica journey, the Q3 might just be the best everyday carry camera on the market.

It all started with a backpack. I picked up a Peak Design bag from Leica in Manchester in 2015 and couldn’t get over the level of friendliness and customer service. I had always wanted a Leica from my early days at Uni lusting after an M6, so they had been on my radar for some time.

I tentatively invested in a couple of Leica R lenses converted onto my Sony A9’s. I was blown away by the results of the glass so it wasn’t long before I invested in my first body. Officially my Leica journey started with the M10P in 2018,  followed by a full conversion to Leica for wedding photography in 2020. With the wedding industry effectively shut down I took a massive gamble selling all my camera gear and slowly investing in a Leica system. Again, the support I received was second to none, making the transition incredibly smooth. Being able to take cameras/lenses out the shop to test is unheard of elsewhere, it really helped me make a decision on what I needed for my set-up.

I’ve never looked back. Starting with twin SL2S with 28/35/50/90 Summicron and then picking up the Q2 in 2022. I actually held off getting the Q as I didn’t think it had a place in my gear “eco system” however it very quickly became my wedding, street, holiday and everyday carry camera of choice. It was perfect and I honestly couldn’t see how it could be improved. If it’s not broke don’t fix it, right?

The Leica Q3 might just be the best everyday carry camera on the market.

Here are some of the main reasons why I invested in Leica from Sony/Canon: 

  • Investment: They really hold value both bodies and lenses. 
  • Build quality: Weather sealed, robust and honestly I think my SL2S would punch through a wall if it could. I took a massive tumble in 2022 with both cameras hitting a main road really hard…. a couple of scuffs that was it. You should see the road though. 
  • Glass: Sharpest glass I have ever used to date. I thought my Canon 50 L 1.2 was the best lens I have ever shot with (it’s still up there) but my 28 Summicron is just as sharp corner to corner and the colour rendition has no comparison.
  • Files: This is the main reason I switched. From the distinct characteristic look and sharp lenses to the colour rendition….. wow. I changed my entire preset earlier this year, pulled it right back, because the Leica images no longer need “over editing” to correct colours that haven’t rendered correctly in Lightroom. Essentially reds/greens/blues, which Lightroom previously guessed at, leaving a lot of my images “magenta” heavy.
  • Ergonomics & functionality: The SL2S fits comfortably in my hand, it’s extremely well balanced and the menu is so simple. The Q (I recommend the thumb grip) is light, fits like a glove in your hand and again offers a simple menu. I like an easy life especially when it comes to my camera setup.

Anyway, you’re here for the Leica Q3 so now my origin story is out the way let’s move on.

Here comes the “technical stuff”:

  • Improved battery: The Q3 uses a 15.8Wh Leica BP-SCL6 lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Comes with a CIPA rating of 350 shots, it’s not uncommon however to exceed that.
  • Wireless Charging: You can now charge your camera wirelessly with the Leica Charging Pad. You can also charge your camera using the USB-C port and power bank.
  • Tiltable Display: Perfect for street & wedding photographers. The Q3 now has a 5.76 OLED viewfinder too.
  • Updated AF: Fast phase detection AF system. With its combination of highly accurate contrast autofocus and depth from defocus system with a fast phase detection Autofocus, it provides high speed and precision when focusing and tracking objects. An intelligent subject recognition further supports the perfect shot.
  • New triple sensor technology: Utilising the full frame sensor and allowing you to shoot in 60, 36 or 18m giving you the ability to use your Q3 for professional work + holidays as well.
  • 8k resolution: With a full set of codecs, from the highly efficient video codec .h265 to ProRes from Apple. With the USB-C port you can connect to gimbals + external display recorders.
  • Same iconic Summilux: 1.7 as the Q2 but they have added optical stabilisation coupled with a fast lens, improved sensor (shooting at 100,000 iso) which will be so good in low light.
  • Super fast connectivity: With Leica FOTOS. This should take your mobile workflow to another level with transfer speeds up to 10x faster. You can now transfer “film” from your camera to the app and it supports tethering to Lightroom + Capture One.

On launch day i was lucky enough to get my hands on the Q3.  I decided to “TREAT YO SELF” and go for the gold Lens Hood + Thumb Support. It looks awesome on the camera, you can also pick them up in Black or Silver.

My initial thoughts, takeaways and breakdown after using the Q3 in the field over the last few weeks:

  • Tilt Screen: I wasn’t that sold on the tilt screen as I have gone without one and not struggled for the last three years, however I’ve used it 90% of the time and it’s allowing to find lots of interesting angles that I would have had to get on the floor previously, or held the camera in the air and hoped for the best.
  • Battery: The battery life is actually a massive improvement, I shot for 3/4 hours taking up to 400 images before the battery gave out. Really impressed.
  • Buttons: It’s a small thing but it has made a huge difference for me, with the Q2 the buttons were on both sides of the camera, with the Q3, they’re all on the right hand side, allowing my to operate the camera in one hand, with the other free to hold a beer (stay hydrated) – which at a wedding is a pretty common occurrence. Plus it’s also great if you are shooting dance floor and you have your flash in the other hand. Love this.
  • Buffer: The buffer is significantly improved, I don’t ‘spray and pray’ however for fast moments like confetti and champagne sprays its handy to have a fast buffer so it doesn’t lock up and you miss the moment. Which has happened with the Q2 in the past.
  • Low Light: I shot some ambient dance floor and I raised an eyebrow on how sharp the images are. Still fast to focus in low light keeping details in the shadows. A handy second camera when I don’t want to use flash.
  • Fast AF: The AF, wow…. I can’t get over the phase detection AF, it is very fast, a huge improvement on the Q2 – really impressive, especially for tracking when busy scenarios.
  • Leica FOTOS: With my Q2 it was slow when transferring images wirelessly to my iPad. With the Q3 I still can’t get over how quick they transfer, in the past I could drink half a pint before 2 images had made their way across however with the Q3, x10 images were across in a flash. I have more confidence with the ‘Leica FOTOS’ app because transferring photos is so much faster. I will be using my iPad a lot more for on the go which means my everyday carry got even lighter.

You heard the tech specs, so why is the Leica Q3 a game changer? Well to be honest the Q itself is a game changer for a few reasons. It’s the perfect everyday carry for all your photography needs. Whether that be for paid work, going on holiday or just taking it out with you when you grab a coffee, it’s just so versatile! Even more so now with the triple sensor technology – you can shoot 60/36 for professional jobs and 18 for holidays. What a difference this will make for professionals and hobbyists.

The tilt screen has given my work an extra dimension. Being able to get shots from below or above without busting myself or crawling along the floor is a winner!

The Q3 could be the only camera I have in my bag and I wouldn’t be mad about it. You can punch in to 35/50/75/90 as well (yes you will lose quality) but 90 at 18m is pretty damn good. I don’t like to think too much when I’m shooting, otherwise my head falls off. Keeping it simple to stay creative works for me.

Since getting my hands on the Q3 I have photographed four weddings. I managed to shoot over 70% on the Q which is mind blowing! I found myself reaching for it straight after the ceremony and shooting the entire drinks reception, couples portraits, evening portraits and outdoor dancing on it. Picking my SL’s up for speeches felt like a chore.

Being able to focus more on creative ideas, my couple, documentary moments and really pushing that “invisibility” that the Q brings. It’s whisper quiet (almost silent shutter), really helps you blend in + it’s size makes guests second guess if you’re the “official photographer” I loved this. Literally beer in one hand, camera in the other it gives you an invisibility cloak.

So tech specs aside. If you want a camera that gets all excited when you take a photo…. this is for you.

Thanks to the Leica Store Manchester for looking after me as always.

Check out some of my first shots with the Leica Q3 below: