This is the 18th post in a series about the Leica Q2 Monochrom. You can see all the other posts in the series by looking in the Category List drop-down menu on the right side of the page.
I received a comment to an earlier Leica Q2 Monochrom (Q2M) post from Greg Johnson. It contained a set of interesting questions. Rather than start a long, hard-to-read, and hard-to-navigate string there, I thought I’d deal with them in this post.
I am about to get the mono Q2 and am very interested if the claims (by Leica and others) of significantly greater sharpness and res/IQ (maybe not the words Leica used) are true.
I wouldn’t say the Q2M images are sharper per se. The pixel aperture of the Q2M and the regular Q2 appear to be the same. That’s controlled by the microlenses, and I haven’t heard anything about the microlenses being different. And modern demosaicing software doesn’t reduce sharpness by much. The big difference I see is the relative lack of aliasing in the Q2M images compared to a 50 MP Bayer-CFA camera like the GFX 50S. You can see that in the Siemens star comparison of the two cameras. The Q2M even has less aliasing for the same field of view than the GFX 100S. That’s because there is no color filter array.
It is my long-held opinion that photographers don’t pay enough attention to aliasing. It seems to me that far too many photographers love sharpness to the point of damaging their images. They often oversharpen, to the point where the images are painful for me to look at. This is bad in and of itself, but it has the pernicious side effect of sharpening the aliased information, making it even more apparent.
Which brings me round to a quasi-equivocation on sharpness and the Q2M. The images may not be sharpener, but they can take more sharpening without looking ugly than can the images from, say, a GFX 50S, or presumably a regular Q2.
I was not aware that the MF was not that accurate in terms of finding exact focus, but I rarely MF the Q2 (but so sometimes for fun or when I switch it to macro mode).
The limitations are two-fold. First, the short throw of the ring means that tiny changes in its position result in significant changes in the focal plane. Second, the lack of any way to decrease the sensitivity of the focus peaking means that it is less effective with normal-contrast subjects than it could be. Comparing it to the GFX 50S or 100S is night and day. It is easy to get the focus right with the Fuji’s, and difficult and time consuming to do the same job with the Q2M.
I do have to say that the focusing difficulties of the Q2M haven’t impacted the keeper rate all that much when compared to the GFX. It’s not unusable, just fiddly. Leica may have some reason beside tradition for the short throw, but in my mind the way the focus peaking works is an own goal.
That said, I expect that most users, like you, and probably like me, will not use manual focus that often.
I’m also amazed that you find that the IQ (maybe not your word) is better with the Q2 than the GFX 50.
I find it better than the GFX 50S if the images are converted to B&W. The Q2M produces color images that lack saturation. 😉
The Q2 has an issue that I found on my first shooting trip and on every shooting session since. 3-4% of all shots have a vibration blur caused by an OIS problem of some sort.
Thank you for that. I will do some testing.
Note that Q2’s OIS has an automatic setting, which enables OIS only for shutter speeds at 1/60 sec or slower. So I wonder if the reported issue occurs only at higher shutter speeds.
Furthermore, Leica has said that OIS can cause degradation of the peripheral area in Leica Q. I assume that applies to Q2 as well.
Greg Johnson says
I have observed this issue at a wide variety of shutter speeds. With my first two Q2s it happened about 4-5% of the time. With my third Q2 it happens about 3 or 4% of my shots.
I understand that OIS is not needed at high shutter speeds, especially with a 28mm lens, but I shoot with OIS on and the problem can occur at any shutter speed. When it happens (and it happens very randomly), it can happen at any shutter speed, it can be at 1/13, 1/20, 1/40, 1/60, 1/100, 1/200, 1/400 or any shutter speed.
When it happens, it is a vibration-like blur or ghosting that can be hard to see in the EVF, but pops out at you in post on a 32 inch IPS pro monitor. It looks nothing like camera shake or out of focus areas of the image. It is clearly some kind of OIS issue and something in the stack doesn’t reset properly. I have never seen it happen two shots in a row that are seconds apart. I always shoot the Q2 very deliberately after a half trigger focus lock.
Anyway, I don’t care anymore because I love that Q2 so much that I just shoot and don’t worry about it. When it happens, I just delete the file. But sometimes when I’m in some great light or scene and I know I’m about to take a great Q2 shot (which is rare for me – haha…) I will pull the trigger twice. Because in the back of my mind I know it can happen anytime, and it never happens two shots in a row.
Trust me – I have had very extensive discussions with Leica about this. They have seen at least 100 of my examples.
By the way, this isn’t the place to start articulating a wish list, but I hope Leica stays withe a 28 for the Q3. Too many Q2 photographers want a 35 or (God forbid) even a 50. No. Please no. I need that 28. 28 is perfect for scenic shots. No other single focal length to do as much, but I know that a lot of people on the street shooters want that tighter framing.
I’m getting the Q2M. I just shot thousands of shots just about everywhere in Sicily and about 20% of them could have been perfect B&W stuff. But what do I do now? Carry two UQs?
What happens when you use “auto”?
Greg Johnson says
Jim, that is what Leica wanted to know two years ago. Well, I can’t really say. I don’t like auto because it switches off the OIS at speeds where I think I want it (but perhaps don’t really need it). I shot auto stabilization a lot during this past month, but I have to admit I’m a terrible tester (plus I am no longer concerned about the problem) and then in post at night on my laptop, I would delete shots where I saw the problem (say 2 or 3 out of 100 or so) and forget to dig and see if auto stabilization was on. So I don’t know. But I know it can happen at any shutter speed. You would think it would just happen at 1/200 or faster, as we have all seen many articles about the dangers of using OIS or IBIS at high speeds, but no … it can happen (and does) at all the normal and slower speeds. And no … it is not camera shake or a DOF OOF issue.
Jim, back when the Q2 first came out, I shot in Quebec City and I noticed it on Day 1. I posted about 6 high-res jpegs with the problem on the DPR Leica Board. It was a heck of a thread, and everyone was saying it could be shooter error. But of course it was not. I mean who was pulling the trigger? Me. Anyway, Leica contacted me and I started sending them images. They had my camera in Germany and did everything imaginable – I mean a total tear-down. Then another, then another.
Anyway, I’m sure they know exactly what it is and they ain’t saying it publicly. I don’t care because I love that camera and with me it is part of the cost of using the Q2. The new Q2 I’m shooting now? I didn’t count, but I bet I deleted maybe 40 (maybe more) DNGs out of the thousands I shot that had the vibration blur, so it is a little better with this copy. I stopped keeping the blurred DNGs because I’m not trying to document the problem anymore and Leica knows the deal.
It’s a fantastic camera and I love shooting it. But after years of carrying bags full of GF and/or Fuji X lenses everywhere … when I’m with the Q2 solo, I’ll look at a scene and sometimes say to myself, I wish I had 16, 24, 40, 60, 80, 100 or 200 for this shot…. But that is the cost of a using only a fixed-lens single focal length camera like the Q2 as your only camera for the day (or week or month).
I’ll have a look.