The New Leica Q3 Review: Better than its predecessor

The Leica Q3 is the company’s third iteration of its fixed-lens full-frame camera. On June 10, 2015, the original Leica Q was released, which was nearly eight years ago. It was a pleasant surprise, with numerous novel features, and a huge success for Leica. The Q2 arrived on March 7, 2019, with the same basic concept but a slew of helpful updates. As a result, Leica has now released the Q3. I’ve had one for a few months now, and in this article, I’ll talk about the improvements in comparison to the Q2.


The Leica Q3 is equipped with the same fantastic 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens as its predecessors. This is a classic case of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, there are changes to the body’s rear. The display quality is excellent, with clear and bright images, excellent viewing angles, and real detail.

Leica conducted research and discovered that the most requested new feature was a tilting rear monitor (though it does not twist). This will save you from getting dirty knees when photographing the toadstool and will allow you to photograph over the heads of the audience at any event or concert.

As most of us are going to have the screen behaviour set to EVF Extended (so that menus and reviews appear on the rear screen LCD and the EVF is used for framing and shooting), it has been very well implemented. When you pull out the tilting LCD, the camera assumes that’s how you’ll be framing the shot and turns on the LCD. When you insert it again, it returns to EVF Extended.

The three buttons on the left side of the back of the body (Play, Function, and Menu) have been relocated to the right of the screen (to make room for the flippy LCD). Instead of three buttons, there are only the Play and Menu buttons, with an improved four-way switch in place of the FN button.


On the left side of the camera (looking from the back), there is a new port cover. This has a USB-C port as well as a mini HDMI connector. The door is made of plastic and is hinged on two rubbery strips attached to the camera body, allowing it to pull clear. This appears to be a far superior solution to a hinged door (however tough) because if it breaks, it will not be part of the camera and should be easily replaceable.

Wireless charging is possible with an optional grip

I haven’t tried it (Leica didn’t send me a grip), but I understand that you must be careful to position the camera correctly in order for it to charge (as with any device). This is, as far as I know, the first full-frame camera with wireless charging.

BSI back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 60MP resolution

The new sensor, which is similar to the M11, is a significant progress. Leica isn’t exactly forthcoming about sensors, but from what I’ve heard, this is a modified version of the sensor found in the M11. BSI sensors perform much better in low light, as I discovered. The new sensor’s only disadvantage is that it has a slower readout time than the one on the Q2. When using the electronic viewfinder, this causes more of a ‘rolling shutter’ effect; it also causes a slightly longer blackout time between shots when firing quickly.

Phase Detect Autofocus

In the past, both Leica and Panasonic (in the SL, S, and Q cameras) used Contrast Detect AF. This works well, but the problem is that if an image is out of focus, the camera doesn’t know whether to focus front or back and tends to hunt back and forth. Phase detection necessitates the use of specialised pixels, but it can detect where the plane of focus should be and guide the camera in the right direction without hunting.

Long Exposure with USB Charging

The Leica Q3 supports any ISO and shutter speed combination, and long exposure NR can be disabled. This makes the Q3 ideal for night photography, especially given the camera’s excellent high ISO capabilities.

This option of USB charging is extremely convenient. It means there will be no drama if you arrive in Fuerteventura for ten days and realise you forgot to pack your charger. In fact, I find it more convenient than a traditional charger. I have a USB block by my bed to charge my phone and watch, and I have an additional USB-C cable to charge the camera overnight as well.

Digital Zoom

This now has frame lines of 28, 35, 50, 75, and 90mm. Due to the increased sensor resolution, the digital zoom is even more usable than on previous Q cameras. I must admit that I wasn’t completely convinced until now. However, because I only shoot DNG, I am not committed to lower resolution in post-processing. The 35-mm and 50-mm options are especially useful.

Image Quality

This is where the Q3 truly does well. The new sensor has a huge dynamic range and excellent high-ISO performance. It’s difficult to quantify the dynamic range improvement (which is obvious), but I believe the new camera offers a 1.5 stop improvement in noise at high ISO. The focusing is very precise and quick in single-shot mode, just like it was in the Q2. Eye detect appears to work well as well. Continuous focus and tracking lag behind the competition, but now that Leica has finally embraced PDAF (Phase Detect AF), we can expect significant improvements in firmware in the future.


The Leica Q3 outperforms its predecessor in several ways, including an improved sensor, PDAF focusing, much improved Bluetooth and WiFi, a tilting LCD, variable-sized DNG files, and excellent Geotagging in conjunction with Fotos. The new EVF is stunning, and the digital zoom has finally found its footing. The only minor disadvantage is that when shooting quickly, the blackout time increases. The image quality is comparable to that of its bigger brother, the M11, and it would be an excellent companion to the M11 or the SL2 for many serious photographic assignments.

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