Leica Announces The Q, A Fixed-Focus Camera For The Posh Photographer

Leica has just announced the Leica Q, a fixed-focus camera aimed at street photography and folks who don’t want to carry lenses around. The camera, which has a non-removable Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens, is striking in its simplicity and power but, I suspect the $4,250 price tag will have many pro-am photographers chortling into their camera bags.

Unlike previous “special edition” Leica products, the Q is a truly new and unique camera. It has a full-frame sensor and striking Leica body but, unlike the range-finding Leica M series, features an electronic viewfinder supplemented by a large rear touchscreen. It has an auto/manual switch embedded into the focus ring and can shoot in surprisingly low light. In short, it’s a great camera for grabbing fast-moving action as well as stately scenery.

You can add 35mm and 50mm cropping rings to the lens to get slightly different shots with the 24 MP CMOS full-frame sensor. The sensor can go up to ISO 50,000 and it has blazingly fast auto-focus. I tried the camera during a brief hands-on and came away impressed, especially in light of my experience with other full-frame cameras and the M9 which we reviewed five years ago. We expect to have a full review of the Q next month.

Why is this on TechCrunch? First because Leica is a unique camera maker. They are probably the only independent camera company left in Europe and their work has been flawless for decades. Second, guys like VC Om Malik and Thomas Hawk love photography and the Valley is a nice place to shoot some pretty scenery. While I can’t recommend the entry-level shooter spend nearly $5,000 on a fixed-focus camera, I know it is of particular interest to a certain kind of artiste dedicated to Cartier-Bressonian street shots of really handsome Labradoodles in Golden Gate Park. It takes all kinds.