The Leica Q3 steps up to a 60-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor with 8K video
Leica has announced the new Leica Q3 (buy here), with some pretty massive upgrades over its predecessor, the Leica Q2 (buy here). For a start, the already high-resolution full-frame 47-megapixel CMOS sensor has been replaced by a 60-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor. Perhaps the same sensor as that contained in the recently announced Leica M11 (buy here).
It’s also capable of shooting 8K video at up to 30 frames per second, 4K up to 60fps in ProRes HQ at 10-bit 4:2:2. It has phase-detect autofocus and contains Leica’s “triple-resolution technology”, first announced in the Leica M11, which lets it shoot 60-megapixel, 36-megapixel or 18-megapixel images in either DNG raw or JPG format.
The Leica Q3 contains a 60-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, which is a nice little boost over the Leica Q2’s 47-megapixel CMOS sensor. It includes the same “triple-resolution technology” as found on the Leica M11 with 60, 36 or 18-megapixel DNG raw or JPG images. Leica says that choosing to shoot at a lower than 60-megapixel resolution “allows faster camera operation, longer image sequences, and smaller file sizes”.
The massive sensor also means that it can comfortably shoot 8K video at up to 30 frames per second. It also offers 4K video at up to 60fps and includes both h.265 and Apple ProRes codecs. The sensor isn’t the only thing that’s increased in resolution over the Leica Q2, either. The Leica Q3 LCD has gone from being a 3″ 1.04m-dot fixed touchscreen LCD to a 3″ 1.84m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD. The built-in electronic viewfinder also sees a nice bump, going from the Leica Q2’s 3.68m-dot EVF up to a 5.76m-Dot OLED EVF.
It’s faster, too
Continuous shooting on the Leica Q3 is 15fps. That’s a 50% increase on the 10fps found in the Leica Q2. The ISO has also increased, starting at ISO 50 and topping out at ISO 100,000 – an extra stop over the Leica Q2. And while it hasn’t been switched over to using CFexpress cards yet, it does feature a fast UHS-II SD card slot.
The autofocus system has also been improved. It features a new hybrid contrast, phase-detect and depth-from-defocus (DFD) autofocus system. While Leica doesn’t specifically mention phrases such as “AI-powered” or “Eye detection”, they do say that it offers an intelligent subject recognition system with fast and accurate tracking of objects, people and pets.
Sticking with 28mm
The Leica Q3, like its predecessor, contains a Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens with a built-in macro positioning feature, allowing for extremely close focus and a good view of tiny subjects. Despite being a fixed 28mm focal length lens, the Leica Q3 features an extended digital zoom. This lets you crop to the equivalent of 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm, as well as keeping the original wide 28mm field of view.
Two new assistant modes also help to ensure you get as high-quality images out of the camera as possible. First is the Leica Perspective Control (LPC) system, which helps to correct for perspective issues faced when photographing things like buildings and other parallel vertical lines that appear to diverge or converge. The other is the Leica Dynamic Range (LDR) system, to help capture high dynamic range scenes in a JPG without post-processing.
Leica Q3 Specs
|Full-Frame BSI CMOS
|Image File Format
|35mm, 50mm, 75mm 90mm equivalent crop
|30 cm to infinity / 17cm to infinity in macor mode
|11 Elements in 9 Groups
|Auto, 50 to 100000
|1/2,000 to 120 sec (mechanical), 1/40,000 to 1 second (electronic)
|-3 to +3 EV (1/3 EV Steps)
|Up to 15 fps (electronic), 9fps (mechanical)
|Fireworks, Landscape, Miniature Effect, Night Portrait, Panorama, Portrait, Sports, Sunset
|8K up to 30fps, 4K up to 60fps
|H.265 10-bit 4:2:0 / H.264 10-bit 4:2:2 / Apple ProRes 422 HQ (1080p)
|Built-In Microphone (Stereo)
|3.0″ tilting 1.84m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD
|External Flash Connection
|Media/Memory Card Slot
|Single Slot: UHS-II SD/SDHC/SDXC
|Dimensions (W x H x D)
|130 x 80.3 x 92.6mm
|743g (Body with Battery)
Price and Availability
The Leica Q3 is available to buy now for £5,995 and begins shipping today.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.