The Leica Q2 Monochrom has barely left my side since making the purchase last March. A 40th birthday gift from many of my closest friends, this camera has helped reshape how I make photographs.
This is not a technical review, nor a push or suggestion that you should buy one too. The video below are some of my favourite photographs from the first year I’ve used the Leica Q2 Monochrom.
Video with the Leica Q2 Monochrom
Why the Leica Q2 Monochrom?
Not in a “how many mega-pickles does it have” kinda way but in a “do I want to pick this camera up” kinda way. When the child-like excitement takes over the moment you grab a camera, that’s what I’m talking about. This is that camera.
Don’t get me wrong, the Nikon cameras I’ve grown up with are fantastic. They hold so many damn memories and sentimental values it’s no joke. Like the camera (& 10.5mm fisheye lens) I used to get my first cover of 2020 BMX Magazine, I’ll never part with that kit. But, especially my most recent Nikon cameras, they’re heavy work horses. There’s features deep within the menu system that ten years on I’m still finding.
But this Leica, the infamous Q2 Monochrom model, this is a different rig. Small, not quite fit-in-your-shirt-pocket small, but enough that looping its strap across your shoulder doesn’t impede on your daily walk. It’s lightweight – I don’t know the exact weight, I’m sure there’s a spec-list somewhere but just know that compared to my Nikon D4s, it’s not very heavy – and, with its shutter dial on the top and lens mounted aperture ring, the camera feels completely natural and easy to use. No super deep or complicated menu system and shooting manual or switching to automatic is effortless.
While everyone is talking about the newly announced Leica M11 Monochrom, I’m being asked if I’ll upgrade. (Admittedly, it’s mostly me asking myself) I’d love to go the M11 Monochrom. If I had far more disposable income than I do, I’d certainly consider it but, as my eyes seem to be rapidly failing, the reasonably fast auto focus of the Q2 is pretty darn helpful.
I do sometimes wish I could swap out the 28 for a Summilux 50mm, especially the new one just announced but that’s another thing I like about the Q2. The built crop modes do a really great job. I never used to crop but this somehow makes sense and I really like it. And, as I shoot raw anyway, I still have the full 28mm if I need, so it’s win/win, really.
Don't you miss the colours?
Aaaah, colour. Why did I opt for the Q2 Monochrom and not the standard Q2? Why pay more to lose the option for colour? I grappled with this for a while. It could have saved me a stack of money at the time of purchase but it didn’t feel quite right. Not for me anyway.
I was already shooting a lot of black and white and it always hit differently for me. You know when something just feels better in an instant? That was black and white. I barely even wear colour, opting to dress in all black all of the time so it was just a part of who I am.
At one point I built a preset that would be applied on import to Lightroom but there was always that glimpse of colour as Adobe did its thing when handling the raw files. I didn’t like this. It added doubt into my process. I doubt myself enough as it is without Adobe making me question my life’s choices. So to not see any hint of colour made sense.
Just as you would when loading a roll of Ilford FP4+, shooting photographs with a Leica Monochrom sensor helps the intention of your creation. Thinking in black and white, and subsequently seeing the world in black and white, with that intention your images will – I think – be more purposeful.
Now that we’re in Autumn, there’s certainly been times where I’ve headed out and been witness to the most vivid colours in the sky, leaves and clouds and perhaps for a week or two I wonder what life may have been like with a colour Leica, but that never stays too long, in my experience anyway.
To Quickly Wrap Up My Thoughts on the Q2 Monochrom
Things I like
- Intentionally shooting in black & white
- the natural, comfortable feel in my hand camera
- effortless manual settings
- the clarity. Dude, 40-something mega-pickles is awesome. Matched with this Summilux lens, Oh Em Geeeee
Things I like less or think I’d change
- sometimes I’d like a 50mm lens.
- once or twice in the past year I wished I had colour
- maybe if it had internal storage or a second card slot (I forgot my card twice and that sucked)