The Leica Q2 Monochrom Hands-On Review
A monochromatic way to capture life’s precious moments.
With stunning optics and Leica’s classic name-brand reputation, this capturing machine is a tool needed for every camera bag. A camera so clean, unassuming, and compact — I’ve never thought I’d love black and white photography as much as I do now.
This beautiful Leica Q2 Monochrom is their latest dedicated black and white camera to join the M Monochrom and the M10 monochrom manual-focus rangefinders. Boasting a 47MP sensor that produces black and white images, it also features a fixed 28mm F1.7 ASPH lens with a 17cm macro mode. Also having tested the Q2, I’ve undoubtedly noticed it having a better dynamic range and noise performance compared to the color version. Dedicated specifically to black and white photographers, this tool might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly made for those who value deeply emotional and wildly captivating frames in a honest, yet niche manner.
What We Love:
Completely Monochrome, Totally Niche
It forces you to capture a specific kind of honest image, parting ways with unrefined creativity.
The fixed lens invites the scene to develop within your frame naturally.
Dynamic Range Is Gorgeous
The highlights are bright, while shadows are clean (not muddy or muted). I dig a photo with noticeable contrast.
Q2 Monochrom Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
You're a dedicated black and white shooter? The Leica Q2 Monochrom is the camera for you, with a full-frame 47.3 Mpx sensor, and a Summilux 28 f/1.7 ASPH lensBuy for $6,195.00
Removing the fluff and embracing the soul…
I’m not usually one for black and white photography, I’ll be honest. I’m a sucker for exquisite color, rich hues, tonal interpretations, and vibrancy. Though, with that being said, there’s something so uniquely soulful and mysterious about monochromatic images. So wildly timeless, effortless, and a true testament to a photographer’s talent. There’s zero fluff or editing discrepancies — the images are what they are and that’s what makes them so wonderful. Having been a lover of Sally Mann’s body of work for my entire photography career, you can see why my expectations for black and white captures are rather high. I’ve never seen such a true-to-life manifestation of light painting than I have with her work, so with testing the Leica Q2M I chose to embody her similar approach.
When first unboxing the camera, I felt a sincere boost of energy, like this tool had been perfectly sculpted for the human hand. Having been my first time ever holding (or using) a Leica camera, I grew immediately intimidated. Excitingly, yet nervously, I ran outside to my fiance's garden box where him and our pup, River, tended the suckling roots of our propagated fig tree. With exceptional clarity and brilliantly sharp contrast, the images I made within a few minutes became some of my favorites out of the bunch I captured later that week. Scenes of my boys dripped with integrity, almost bleeding into my frame without effort. I knew this camera was special within the first hour of use.
Unlike the colorized counterparts of the Q2, this monochrome sensor features no color filter array with no interpolation required — only pure light captured and rendered sharper than any other predecessor. Additionally, the sensor’s 47.3 megapixel resolution is better capable of extreme cropping in any person’s camera bag arsenal. Its digital zoom provides a simulated focal length of 35, 50, and 75mm for JPEG files, while the DNG files of the original image are always preserved at full sensor resolution. The dynamic range boasts extremely low noise level performances at high ISOs up to 100,000 — which is something I’ve noticed immediately upon use.
Its built-in Summilux 28 F1.7 ASPH lens is distinguished by both razor sharp image clarity and creamy bokeh backgrounds. Among the fastest rendering Leica wide-angle lenses, the Q2M delivers outstanding results. While I live in Arizona, the brightest and sunniest state, I can tell that the contrast delivered in bright conditions would mirror that of a dark alleyway or blue hour. Boasting eleven lens elements, including three elaborately constructed aspherical features ensure the highest quality possible so that textures and details are shown in their finest light.
As a film photographer needing to ensure the perfect photograph with even a digital camera, I thoroughly enjoyed the OLED screen on the backside. Screening a 3.8 megapixel resolution, I could definitely retain all detail to ensure a perfectly exposed image every time. And while, again, I’m in the sunny state of Arizona where rainfall comes once in a blue moon, the camera is weather resistant. Equipped with dust and splash protection (rated IP52*), the Leica Q2 Monochrom is always ready to capture that perfect interplay of light and shadow even through equally dramatic weather.
It’s quick, swift, and simply gorgeous. I can see why the fanbase behind Leica’s classically designed cameras are so passionate.
The lack of Bayer Color array boosts light sensitivity on the Q2M, since there are no color filters over the pixel, meaning images are 30% sharper. Tones become more continuous, and details at an individual pixel are cleaner since each pixel captures a single detail in a shade of gray. Because there is no color data at the highest exposure side, it’s important to not overexpose, as highlights that are clipped will be less recoverable. When shooting DNG raw, the original file remains intact, and the crop can be adjusted or backed out in Lightroom. To maintain family consistency with the M-series, Leica also applies the crop-in whiteframe lines to allow a view outside the capture area.
What It Has
- ISO range of 100 – 100000
- Up to 4K/30p, 1080/120p video capture
- Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities with Leica Fotos app
- Additional toning settings (sepia, blue, selenium)
What It Does
- Holds excellent Dynamic range
- Boasts a higher ISO for darker scenes
- Low noise performance
- Monochromatic captures
- 47.3 MP CMOS Monochrome Sensor
- 3.68MP OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.76x magnification
- 3" touchscreen with 1.04 million dots
- 60s – 1/2000s (mechanical); 1s – 1/40,000s (electronic)
- 28 mm F1.7 ASPH lens with 11 elements, 3 aspherical
- Splash and dust resistant body up to IP52
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