Leica’s Q3 is a Welcomed Leap Forward

We had a couple of days to test the camera and didn't want to give it back

Leica today announced the launch of the Leica Q3, the latest iteration of its Q family of full-frame compact cameras. The Q3 introduces a suite of new features that distinguish it from its predecessors, promising to deliver superior photo and video results. Evolutions were made where valuable—and elements from the previous generation that already made it stand out were carried over. We had a hands-on preview of the camera while on a recent Audi press drive (more on that soon) and were delighted with the results.

Leica Q3, courtesy of Leica

The Leica Q3 is equipped with a new full-frame CMOS sensor that’s higher resolution and now backside illuminated which enables better low-light performance with less grain in the final image. Images can be captured at resolutions of 60, 36, or 18 MP—all using the full surface of the sensor which has an ISO range of 50 to 100,000 and produces excellent image quality in a broad range of lighting conditions.

Kitchen at Cyrus Restaurant, ISO 400, f/1.7, 1/50 sec. by Josh Rubin

Carried over from the Q2 is the Summilux 28 mm f/1.7 ASPH lens. This lens was arguably the highest value element of the Q2 and now the rest of the Q3’s technology is enabling its best performance. With a beautifully integrated macro mode managed on the lens, barrel close-up shots can be captured from a minimum focusing distance of 17 cm. The Q3 also extends its in-camera digital cropping capability, enabling users to shoot focal length equivalents of 28, 35, 50, 75, and now 90 mm, a distance not available in the Q2.

California Poppy, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1600 sec, Macro focus. by Josh Rubin

The Q3’s autofocus system has also evolved. Using a new hybrid autofocus system with phase detection ensures fast, accurate focusing and tracking of moving objects. Combined with the high-precision contrast autofocus, the Depth from Defocus (DFD) system and intelligent subject recognition delivers more accurate focus results; combined with the upgraded Maestro processor, autofocusing is significantly faster. Of course, it’s a Leica so manual focus is always an option that’s readily available on the lens barrel.

Audi Q8 e-tron, ISO 800, f/1.7, 1/500 sec. by Josh Rubin

Connectivity has been enhanced in the Q3 with advanced Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology, increasing the transfer speed to the Leica FOTOS iOS app by up to 10 times compared to the previous model through a USB-C to Lightning connection (cable included). Wireless transfers are also available and a one-time Bluetooth pairing unlocks the option to embed location data in each image’s EXIF file based on your phone’s GPS.

Leica Q3, courtesy of Leica

The Q3 now has a new tiltable 3-inch high-resolution touchscreen, providing alternative viewing angles while shooting. Also introduced is an optional wireless charging pad that requires a handgrip accessory—unnecessary for many photographers but incredibly useful for others. The Q3 uses the same battery format as the Q2 and SL cameras and that battery has been reformulated to last longer and will be available for separate purchase and use with the Q2 and SL cameras.

The Leica Q3 is available globally at all Leica stores, the Leica online store, and authorized dealers, with a US list price of $5,995.

Hero image courtesy of Leica