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untitledshot

Left disapointed by the Leica Q2 firmware limitations

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I got a Leica Q2 last week, and I have to say it's my first leica. I thought it would be the perfect addition to my GFX50s. Sensor IQ i amazing and body is really well made, and focal length would be enough to get some good astro shots). What really sold me into Leica here is the fast aperture, low ISO and 120s exposure. It is actually a really fine camera and I have been happily shooting with it - until yesterday. However will trying to do night shots tonight, I was left surprised by two big limitations: 

1. It is impossible to remove noise reduction (which makes it really hard to make astro timelapse).

2. But worse, Leica seems to limit exposition time at higher ISO: ISO 6400 4s max - ISO 3200 4s max - ISO 1600 8s max - ISO 800 15s max - ISO 400, 30s max - ISO 200, 60s max, ISO 100 - 120s max, and ISO 60 - 50s. Going into T mode do not allow to override that limit. 

 

I get the first point, because Leica has a motto around image quality. But the second one is really surprising to me (and really taxing for astro photography, I would expect ).

Anybody knows if there I'll try some way to override the max shutter speed at higher ISO?

 

If not, I might consider reselling it (Leica Australia do not accept returns). It's a shame, because without those two limitation it could really be an awesome camera for night photography.

 

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That is standard on all Leica cameras. A bit of research on this forum would have revealed this. Leicas are simply not designed for astro photography. The Q is a marvelous reportage/street/travel camera, as you note. Nothing more, nothing less.

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I did a workshop a few weeks ago for "night photography" (cityscapes mostly) and the instructor was getting really annoyed by the lengthy in-camera noise reduction process. He kept saying, "there MUST be a way to turn that off!".  I was like, "nope", Leica apparently doesn't want to let us.  Personally I'm not knowledgeable enough to stand behind an argument on either side.  Ironically there was more noise in my shots than his anyway (he was shooting with a Nikon), but of course he's significantly more experienced.

I thought I was doing something wrong as far as the exposure limits and figured I'd look it up some other time, but looks like you've confirmed my experience during that workshop and saved me the trouble.

To jaapv's point, those aren't really why I love the Q so I can live with them, but it means I'll probably invest in something else for those times I want to have that particular fun.

And hey, at least you got your hands on one.  My hard--earned annual bonus is burning a hole in my pocket waiting on one to become available.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jaapv said:

That is standard on all Leica cameras. A bit of research on this forum would have revealed this. Leicas are simply not designed for astro photography. The Q is a marvelous reportage/street/travel camera, as you note. Nothing more, nothing less.

I don't see any technical limitation behind this, other than making a camera more dumb proof, by avoiding some of the technical limitations of current CMOS sensors (e.g. hot pixels). A bit of research on this forum would have revealed this > Leica is probably the only camera manufacturer that I know that would do this, it is a standard to provide the same shutter speed across all ISOs (when I asked about long exposure performance for night photography, Leica sales confirmed thge 120s limit).

 

1 hour ago, jon m said:

I thought I was doing something wrong as far as the exposure limits and figured I'd look it up some other time, but looks like you've confirmed my experience during that workshop and saved me the trouble.

One thing I haven't thought and tested is ISO invariance. Based on https://leicarumors.com/2019/03/12/check-out-the-leica-q2-dynamic-range.aspx/, it might be promising. By ISO invariance, it could mean that ISO number are meaningless. (e.g. this shot below was made at a low ISO with +5EV in post using my A7r2).

I will do some testing tomorrow in the same place (if the gate is open) and will compare against the GFX - Sigma 35mm f1.4. 

Let's hope this camera has some ISO invariance, if so, then it might be good for astro, unless noise reduction clip the shadows... (finger crossed)

Edited by untitledshot

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That's a beautiful picture.  Maybe I need a A7r2 rather than wait around for a Q2....!

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Well, I don't own a Q, but Leica limitations do apply to for instance the CL as well, with the added handicap of APS-C added noise (which should be similar on the Q2 sensor, given the pixel density). Yet I was able to take this shot:

 

CL, Summilux-M 24, 3 sec. on Monopod:, ISO 800

 

 

It is all a matter of adapting technique to the tool.

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Well, the new Panasonic S1 and S1R allows for noise reduction to be turned off. Shutter goes to 60 seconds then bulb.  Tested one yesterday.... if you have SL lenses.

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There’s no one camera perfect for all situations (that I know of) but generally all could be used for most scenarios, including the Q2. If astro is your focus, then probably you could do better than the Q2 (for one, get a wider lens). If street is your focus, I’d argue that the Q2 is hard to beat. For portrait, probably not the right camera. For travel, harder choice :)

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50 minutes ago, TheEyesHaveIt said:

There’s no one camera perfect for all situations (that I know of) but generally all could be used for most scenarios, including the Q2. If astro is your focus, then probably you could do better than the Q2 (for one, get a wider lens). If street is your focus, I’d argue that the Q2 is hard to beat. For portrait, probably not the right camera. For travel, harder choice :)

+1. Exactly my thoughts. 

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3 hours ago, lpeeples said:

Well, the new Panasonic S1 and S1R allows for noise reduction to be turned off. Shutter goes to 60 seconds then bulb.  Tested one yesterday.... if you have SL lenses.

did you test the S1R with any SL lens as well ?

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I have been waiting for somebody to check this “feature” on the Q2, as I found it very limiting on the Q.

I hoped with a new sensor it would have been improved on the Q2...

I agree the Q/Q2 is not an astrophotography camera, but I believe 4 seconds @3200 ISO is a bit too restrictive.

Two years ago I took a night shot with the Q that I posted on a different thread here

It was a stretch, especially compared to the ease of taking high quality pictures of the night sky with a Nikon DSRL.

But I love my Q!

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Posted (edited)

 

3 hours ago, TheEyesHaveIt said:

There’s no one camera perfect for all situations (that I know of) but generally all could be used for most scenarios, including the Q2. If astro is your focus, then probably you could do better than the Q2 (for one, get a wider lens). If street is your focus, I’d argue that the Q2 is hard to beat. For portrait, probably not the right camera. For travel, harder choice :)

Yes 28mm is a limiting factor, but trust me, it's far from being the end of the world astro or night photography wise. Example of photo I took at 28mm (4 shots stacked medium format @f4. eq to f3.2 on FF). The other photo I shared is also taken at that focal length.

 

A Q2 could allow to get similar results, but with much more details, thanks to the f1.7. It doesn't replace a camera with an ultrawide angle, but it could be a good complements (right now, I was using the Sigma 35mm f1.4, which weight as much as the camera).

Anyway, I am a little bit frustrated to have spend that amount of money to get those limitations. I still have to test the low invariance tonight, hoping that this camera is ISO invariant without shadow clipping. If it's the case, then may be It would be enough for my use case.

 

 

Edited by untitledshot

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Posted (edited)

Sorry but you bought the wrong tool (or rather, brand) if you're into astro photography.

Sports/action and astro are the 2 main weak areas of Leica.

Edited by Mr.Q

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vor 19 Stunden schrieb jaapv:

That is standard on all Leica cameras. A bit of research on this forum would have revealed this. Leicas are simply not designed for astro photography. The Q is a marvelous reportage/street/travel camera, as you note. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

While still not ideal, the M10 is actually usable:

  • ISO 6,400 - 8 seconds
  • ISO 3,200 - 16 seconds
  • ISO 1,600 - 32 seconds"

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For those for whom long exposure times are a primary need, these are simply not the right cameras. The problem also depends on what you consider to be a long exposure. For me, a long exposure is any exposure time greater than 1 second; for some, a long exposure might be exposure times longer than 1 minute. Et cetera. 

I see no point in railing on and on about it. If I know I will want to make long exposures, I research that aspect of a camera before I put my money down. I have had only one digital camera that will make exposures longer than two minutes without a dark frame subtraction pass ... I only used that capability for one session of photos. Thought I'd use it more, but never did. That convinced me that the CL limitations in this regard were not relevant to my needs. 

Of course, I can always switch to one of my film cameras for those infrequent needs. Then I have to deal with film reciprocity ... and exposure times can become very, very lengthy indeed. Pluses and minuses, as always. :)

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But what is the reason for this limitation? Is it to protect the sensor or to avoid too noisy shots? Other brands allow long exposure at any ISO. 

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, 4peterse said:

But what is the reason for this limitation? Is it to protect the sensor or to avoid too noisy shots? Other brands allow long exposure at any ISO. 

The sensor is probably the same than the S1r. Imho, it's probably to make the camera more dumb proof (e.g. so people don't complain about hot pixel, etc.). I don't get why people just say "these are simply not the right cameras" and " I research that aspect of a camera before I put my money down". It is an industry standard to have Bulb, and a single max exposure (regardless of of ISO). Basically Leica is limiting users via firmware (and it's the only company to this for such basic functionalities).

Here is an update on my testing: I have made a test today ISO100, f1.7, 2mn. I added +5EV in post. Result are kinda noisy, but still somewhat usable. (I noticed some banding in the shot). I still have to compare against my other camera, but potentially, this sensor might be ISO Invariant (I'll update after testing against the GFX with 35mm f1.4). See: 

 

 

If the camera is truly ISO Invariant, then it's a good news. It still makes it really hard to see the end product in camera. Or any related issues (focusing in low light was ideal too, Leica seems to not push the gain on preview too, it seems).

Edited by untitledshot

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For those who are interested. So here is a comparison between two scene.

Left: Q2, f1.7 120 seconds, ISO 100 (+4.56EV in lightroom).

Right: GFX50s - SIgma 35mm f1.4 (eq to 31mm in FF). 60seconds, ISO 3200

1:1 show more noise on the Q2. I also noticed some shadow clipping at 7EV.

It'a also worth noting that both photo were taken at slightly different time of the day right after sunset, with slightly different aperture on different camera sensor size. The results are quite promising actually! I noticed some potential shadow clipping (may be related to NR), but still, the results are really satisfactory.

Next would be to actually do a real astro shoot, and see the difference, potentially using similar aperture/similar sensor size (some manufacturer noise reduction removes stars...). Those results gives me confidence. At that stage, if my next tests are consistants, this camera could be a nice astro photography - long exposure one. You just have to know the settings, and you have no option to see the preview (previews will pretty much show a black screen, see previous post). Let's hope Leica will provide a firmware update to unable preview with exposure BIAS, or even add longer exposure to higher ISO.

 

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You might try lowering the black point in raw conversion. Leica has a rather conservative BP to reduce noise. 

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1 hour ago, jaapv said:

You might try lowering the black point in raw conversion. Leica has a rather conservative BP to reduce noise. 

Do you mean "black level" (512 on Q)? Which raw converter can modify black level and still apply SDC?

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