When it launched in 2019, the Leica Q2 was one of our favorite cameras. About three years later, we fell in love with the Leica Q2 Monochrom, an option that has gone wild on our best compact cameras.
We haven’t seen the true successor to the Q2 yet, but there are rumors of a replacement on the way. According to the latest reports, a new camera called the Leica Q3 will hit store shelves in 2023 with the same 60MP full-frame sensor as in the Leica M11.
The official Leica M11 launch video added fuel to the rumors. In the video, three white spaces reserved for future Leica cameras appear behind Leica’s chief designer, Mark Shipard. In these empty spaces were the roadmaps of the Leica M, Leica SL, and Leica Q camera series.
We unpack the benefits of the new Leica Q series sensor and detail what we expect and hope to see in the Leica Q3.
Leica Q3: Release date and price
Previous reports on the new Leica Q included, among others: leaked image (opens in a new tab) (below) of the Q model and Leica Fotos app update data showing the two codenames Leica Wilson and Leica Rene. In the leaked photos, it is clear that the code name “Wilson” refers to the expected Leica Q3.
In 2022, Leica AG’s Vice President for Technical and Operations, Mr. Stefan Daniel, also confirmed that Leica is working on Q3. “Yes, there will be Q3 for sure. We won’t stop there as the Q series has become part of Leica’s product portfolio – but not for this year.”
Because it’s not if – but when – we think that sometime in 2023 seems likely. Maybe Q3 in Q3?
Given the current financial situation, inflation and Leica’s own track record, it is unlikely that the Leica Q3 will cost less or the same as the Leica Q2, which cost £4,250/$4,995/AU$8,500 (approximately) at launch; The Q2 cost a full $500 more than its predecessor. You can count on at least a gradual price increase for Q3.
Then there’s the issue of the monochrome version of the Leica Q2, the Leica Q2 Monochrom. This version launched a full year after Q2 (and a bonus of $1,000, or $5,995). Expecting a double release is probably wishful thinking, so black and white lovers can wait until 2024 if there’s a monochrome version of Q3 in the works.
Leica Q3: Sensor
The Leica Q2 is capable of distinguishing the tiniest details with its 47MP full-frame sensor, but the Leica M11 has upped the ante with its 60MP sensor. Moving this sensor to the Leica Q series is a practical move and a solid upgrade.
The strength of the high-resolution sensor is the added cropping power, which is especially useful on a prime-lens camera like the Leica Q2, which has a 28mm f/1.7 – similar to the field of view on a smartphone’s main camera.
In fact, there is a function in the Q2 that simulates different focal lengths: 35mm, 50mm and 75mm. All it does is crop to a 28mm frame, but the tighter you crop, the more the resolution drops (for example, the 75mm option is 7MP). You should not need 60MP, but by upgrading the already excellent 47MP resolution to an even better 60MP resolution, you’ll enjoy more detail in your cropped photos.
Leica Q3: Screen and EVF
The leaked image (above) shows the rear of the Leica Q camera, which has a different style to the existing Leica Q and Q2 models. The buttons have moved from the left to the right side of the screen and it looks like it’s tilted.
A tilting touchscreen would be new to a Leica full-frame camera – and a radical design change for a brand with a long history. The tilting touchscreen is a very useful feature when shooting from waist level, which is a popular shooting technique, especially among street photographers.
The EVF on the Leica Q2 is beautiful – a large and bright display with a decent 3.69M dot resolution and high refresh rate. However, we did occasionally freeze the live view, such as when using burst mode. It wasn’t a common issue, but it did exist, and we’re hoping for a more consistent gameplay flow in Q3.
Can Leica also enable EVF pupil tracking to help with autofocus detection? This is something we’d really like to see in Q3.
Leica Q3: Design
Leaked off-screen photos do not indicate any other major design changes in Q3. It’s a shame because Q2 support could really use an update. With no front grip and a moderately textured finish, there’s nothing to grip the front of. Leica offers an optional (and of course expensive) solution for the Q2 – an external grip – for around £110/$125.
Other than that, the Leica Q2’s design is refreshingly minimalist, and we’d like the Leica to stay that way. Despite the simple layout of the buttons, there are many ways to quickly navigate the camera controls. The Leica Q series is the antidote to a market flooded with complicated cameras.
Leica Q3: Performance
The full-frame sensor and large, bright electronic viewfinder are energy-intensive, as seen in the Leica Q2, which has a CIPA-rated battery life of 350 shots. Can Leica work wonders to extend battery life in the Q3? It’s fairly possible; in addition, if the Q3’s specs improve, a Q2-like battery would take an even bigger hit.
The Leica M11 introduced a new electronic shutter that triggered an ultra-fast shutter speed of 1/16000 sec. The Leica Q2 reaches its maximum at 1/2000 sec. This slower shutter speed may not be a game changer for street photographers, but a jump to 1/4000 with a mechanical shutter – or with an electronic shutter – can help the Leica Q3 take full advantage of the fixed Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens in broad daylight, helping photographers get extremely shallow depth of field without overexposing the highlights.
All things considered, the new 60MP sensor, tilting touchscreen, and eventual electronic shutter are the most likely and most notable changes the Leica Q3 will bring, but we’ll be sure to update with updates as more are revealed.