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Aesthetic image differences between Q and Q2?


Spiritualized67
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I’d really love to hear from those with extensive Leica Q/Q-P experience who are now shooting with the Q2.

I want to focus on the aesthetic image differences between the two models, not necessarily technical or feature aspects.

Features aside and “all things being equal”, the Q2 has better dynamic range/shadow recovery (especially at lower ISOs) and the classic Q/Q-P better noise handling at higher ISOs.

Both use the same lens, the Q2 has higher resolution clearly – but the classic does have larger pixels.  Pixel density and size are different between models, but I’m sure the Q2 is benefiting from other sensor advancements.

Sensor size is the same for both, but Leica is fitting in a lot more to yield a higher MP image.  I wonder what IQ sacrifices (if any) they would be making to accomplish this? 

In general, larger pixels do yield a higher quality image and less noise.  Noise does clean up a bit in the Q2 if you down sample files to an equivalent size.

I know I may be splitting hairs (and I’ll take ownership over this), but specifically, are you seeing any difference in how the files render along the lines of…

  1. Organic filmic quality vs. more smoothed-over digital look (some observers are noting that Q2 files look more smoothed over/plasticky/digital looking)?
  2. Color (Leica’s colors science should be the same for both – although it’s two different sensors)
  3. Pop/3-D quality
  4. Out of focus/bokeh rendering (same lens, should be similar)
  5. Micro contrast
  6. Sharpness (Q2 should be sharper without an anti-aliasing filter)
  7. Moire (Q should do a better job of reducing moire with filter)
  8. Noise (out of the box and without Q2 down-sampling, the classic Q probably has the edge at higher ISOs) – noise does impact IQ.

Every Q2 review I read says, “the files look gorgeous.”  But so do the Q/Q-P files.   Undoubtedly, files from both look beautiful.  Sony files can look gorgeous too, but they don't look the same as Leica - so we need to get more granular when asking if the Q and Q2 render the same.

If you took the same exact picture with both cameras, would you even notice a difference, or has Leica done such a brilliant job that the Q rendering is exactly the same in both, with the added benefits of more dynamic range, shadow recovery, etc.?

Or do they look completely different in your opinion?   Better?  Worse?   The same but larger?  Do you prefer how the Q2 files look over the Q?  If so, why?

Much of the Leica look comes down to the lens and color science – but is there anything you just can’t put your finger on when comparing how the Q files render compared to the Q2? 

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Thanks for starting this conversation, which I imagine will evolve as more acquire the Q2, explore its capabilities and post photos for us. FWIW (not much!), I have my own mild discomfort with the Q2's images as "too much of a good thing." But, few of us accept the new quickly, and I imagine I'll eventually get used to what I currently see as excessive pop and way too saturated colors (not sure that's exactly what I mean: I think you express it better in your #1). I wrote on a different thread:

I've been struggling with image quality of the Q2. Some of these photos, where the main subject is front and center, seem to me actually to have too much "pop." I realize that sounds absurd, given that Leica (and Zeiss) is famous for the "pop." Pop allows a photograph to produce on a two-dimensional plane a three-dimensional projection. The human brain through its eye portal also produces three dimensionality, but it fully takes aware of what, in camera terms, is the bokeh (psychologically, rather than physiologically, because background to the eye technically if miraculously is in complete focus).

The larger Q2 sensor is so good, so highly resolved, that when I stare at a lot of these photos, I sense the main subject not just in a separate dimension from background, as is the case for what the mind/eye produces, but really in a completely separate psychological sphere. It just seems too digitized, too "unnatural" to me.

I know it's just me. We all have our different favorite lenses (and favorite film), and I will get used to this, as we all get used to whatever's new. But I do sense that as Leica adapts this larger sensor, we are going further down a particular path aesthetically. It's not just because of sheer perversion that many of our best photographers on this site still shoot film.

 

 

Edited by bags27
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Yes, it is sometimes hard to articulate what we're seeing, as image aesthetics can be a matter of personal subjective taste.

Before my Leica Q-P, I owned the very capable Sony A7rIII. For me, the Sony rendering looked way too digital, almost like a brand new 4k high-def TV.

With my roots in film, I always appreciated an organic filmic look--which has more soul and character IMHO, especially for certain gritty genres like Street.

I think Fuji more so than Sony captures this look (especially with the film simulations) - although I was never quite happy with the worm-like grain structure.

It wasn't until I got my Q-P did I finally feel like a digital camera had truly nailed the film-like vibe.

Maybe what you're seeing is the lack of anti-aliasing filter pushing the sharpness levels?

This sort of speaks to the rather ambiguous subject of "what is the Leica look?"  So many things factor into the look (derived in part from the amazing optics), from sharpness in focused areas to softness/roundness in out of focused areas, to the 3-D pop.  Some say Leica lenses impart a sort of glow to the subject.  But like anything else compositionally, how things balance visually plays into our perceptions.

Perceived sharpness can impact visual perception just as color can. We know that warmer colors advance and cooler colors recede, affecting the perception of depth.  If Leica is boosting certain colors in an attempt to add more pop (or offset something else), this could subconsciously impact our perception of detail and subject prominence--just as a user can slightly alter the feel of an image with an over-application of certain Lightroom sliders like clarity.

But it is true that every camera/lens combination imparts a certain look.  But I have to believe that the new sensor and differences in pixel density and size are impacting the look - especially given how much they're trying to fit into the same size sensor.  I'm not suggesting the Q2 files look bad - they are beautiful.  I'm just suggesting that they might look different from the Q.

So although I truly appreciate the beauty of any file that comes from a Leica, I have to wonder if something hasn't gotten lost in translation when evolving to the Q2?  Time and samples will tell I suppose.

Edited by Spiritualized67
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There probably is a difference:

the Q has an antialiasing filter the Q2 does not, so that must show a difference. In printings you probably don't see the differences but in a photo app?

The noise is different too.

I don't have a Q2 and am not going to the Q2 because I don't need so many pixels at all. Besides the Q is already better than me....

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1 hour ago, LexS said:

the Q has an antialiasing filter the Q2 does not, so that must show a difference. 

The Q do not have any anti aliasing filter.

Actually no real Leica made in Germany has since the M8 ! 

Except the X series, which is quite weird. But they are not really made by Leica. They just come from Japan pre-made. Final adjustments and assembly were made in Germany. 

For all other made in Germany cameras. Parts and shell are made in Portugal. Assembly is made in Germany.

 

Edited by nicci78
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Sharpness seems to be one of the issues in viewing Q2 files. The lens remains the same, so is it the increased number of pixels? 

In any case, this does raise the question of whether one finds photographs desirable because they approximate the sensory impressions of the human eye or because they actually exceed them. Clearly, these photos contain both the detail and (more importantly) the emotional impact well beyond what I, at least, see when looking at the same scene. It's one type of artistic expression; I'm not entirely used to it yet. But it is quite impressive!

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1 minute ago, bags27 said:

Sharpness seems to be one of the issues in viewing Q2 files. The lens remains the same, so is it the increased number of pixels? 

In any case, this does raise the question of whether one finds photographs desirable because they approximate the sensory impressions of the human eye or because they actually exceed them. Clearly, these photos contain both the detail and (more importantly) the emotional impact well beyond what I, at least, see when looking at the same scene. It's one type of artistic expression; I'm not entirely used to it yet. But it is quite impressive!

Ken,

One aspect that has really impresses me is the Monochrom rendering of the Q2. I am suspicious that it’s superior to the Leica Monochrom body. It defies logic a little since I’d expect the real Monochrom body to have better tonal dynamic range, but so far the Q2 is quite impressive. I’m looking forward to exploring that capability in detail. 

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2 minutes ago, iQ2 said:

Ken,

One aspect that has really impresses me is the Monochrom rendering of the Q2. I am suspicious that it’s superior to the Leica Monochrom body. It defies logic a little since I’d expect the real Monochrom body to have better tonal dynamic range, but so far the Q2 is quite impressive. I’m looking forward to exploring that capability in detail. 

Dan,

I too am mightily impressed with the monochrome rendering. The color, as I said, seems too striking for me (right now, but I will adjust). Overall, it seems like a beautiful, beautiful machine. (private email coming).

best,

Ken

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Are you guys all basing your comments about Q2 rendering on the in-camera JPEG rendering or on raw files converted and rendered to the defaults in LR or another image processing app?

There's always a big difference between cameras when it comes to the in-camera JPEG engines, it seems, but once I'm using raw files in an image processing app like LR or On1, etc, most of the rendering work is up to me to get what I want out of a given camera's captured data. The defaults of an image processing system/raw converter are often "okay" but are rarely what I end up with. 

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2 minutes ago, ramarren said:

Are you guys all basing your comments about Q2 rendering on the in-camera JPEG rendering or on raw files converted and rendered to the defaults in LR or another image processing app?

There's always a big difference between cameras when it comes to the in-camera JPEG engines, it seems, but once I'm using raw files in an image processing app like LR or On1, etc, most of the rendering work is up to me to get what I want out of a given camera's captured data. The defaults of an image processing system/raw converter are often "okay" but are rarely what I end up with. 

I have only seen what’s been posted on this forum and perhaps some of the reviews, so my conclusion is preliminary. There’s something about the B&W images I’ve seen so far that’s capturing my attention. I definitely look forward to processing RAW files into B&W and seeing what I find. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic about the Q2. 

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The Q has very impressive B&W capability - I'm sure the Q2 as well.  Here is one I recently took with my Q-P.  I am in love with the monochrome rendering.  

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31 minutes ago, Spiritualized67 said:

The Q has very impressive B&W capability - I'm sure the Q2 as well.  Here is one I recently took with my Q-P.  I am in love with the monochrome rendering.  

Totally!!!! 

My guess with the Q2’s higher resolution the micro detail will be even greater and any noise, as mentioned above, only adds to the character of the image. I’ll explore all this once I have the Q2 in hand. 

Edited by iQ2
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3 hours ago, Jayk said:

I recommend that if you haven't already done so you read the Q2 reviews complied by Sean Reid at Reid Reviews.

https://www.reidreviews.com/articleindextable.html 

He is a highly objective reviewer and I think he probably answer a lot of your questions. His reviews are protected by copyright so can't be shared in this forum.

Interesting. I just took out a subscription to read his reviews (you should get commission!) 

My thoughts? Well, I'll not be cancelling my Q2 pre-order. ;) 

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The March 26 entry of https://www.l-rumors.com/ shows that dynamic range of the Q2 is inferior to that of the Sony A7riii---which has been the 2 year old "gold standard" for mirrorless (others may be better now, as I think the Z7 is, but it was the "most loaded" for a long time). What the article raised is the question: if the Sony "beats" the Q2, will it then "beat" the Panasonic S1r, assuming Leica and Panasonic share the same sensor? And I might add, will the 2 year old Sony then also "beat" the yet-to-be-announced SL2?

This is of course somewhat nonsensical. But it is precisely the nonsense that suggests that mirrorless FF cameras may have hit a plateau of sorts in IQ: to put it very, very crudely, somewhere between 24 and 48 mps seems to be the current sweet spot for IQ...for me, at least. Of course, there are so many other variables to IQ, not to mention to UI, where Leica stands supreme by a considerable margin. But we may be, again, in an area of vastly diminishing returns, where a lot of money is chasing marginally incremental improvements. 

In the end, despite all the potential for advance in technology, it is the image that counts most. And maybe, just maybe, there's not a whole lot more (besides various tricks, like stacking) that technology can do to IQ that many of us will desire.

Edited by bags27
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2 hours ago, bags27 said:

The March 26 entry of https://www.l-rumors.com/ shows that dynamic range of the Q2 is inferior to that of the Sony A7riii---which has been the 2 year old "gold standard" for mirrorless (others may be better now, as I think the Z7 is, but it was the "most loaded" for a long time). What the article raised is the question: if the Sony "beats" the Q2, will it then "beat" the Panasonic S1r, assuming Leica and Panasonic share the same sensor? And I might add, will the 2 year old Sony then also "beat" the yet-to-be-announced SL2?

This is of course somewhat nonsensical. But it is precisely the nonsense that suggests that mirrorless FF cameras may have hit a plateau of sorts in IQ: to put it very, very crudely, somewhere between 24 and 48 mps seems to be the current sweet spot for IQ...for me, at least. Of course, there are so many other variables to IQ, not to mention to UI, where Leica stands supreme by a considerable margin. But we may be, again, in an area of vastly diminishing returns, where a lot of money is chasing marginally incremental improvements. 

In the end, despite all the potential for advance in technology, it is the image that counts most. And maybe, just maybe, there's not a whole lot more (besides various tricks, like stacking) that technology can do to IQ that many of us will desire.

I think you're right. We’re at a sweet spot now on IQ. I do think there’s a lot more innovation to add to cameras. Look at the camera capability in the latest smart phones and it makes me think that all the major camera manufacturers better get moving fast or the underside of their businesses will be eroded away. Simply controlling the focus point incrementally for focus stacking like the Nikon D850 would seem to me an easy add. The smart phone screens make all DSLR and mirrorless camera screens look very old. They’re not only larger, but higher resolution. Breakthroughs in dynamic range is sorely needed as well as much better UI for controlling remotely ala FOTOS. Lastly, and not really something I’m looking for, is applying AI to cameras when in auto modes to assist the many non-hard core photographers who just want to take better photos. I could go on and on. I still believe there’s plenty of innovation ahead in high-end cameras. 

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IQ2 I agree, especially with dynamic range. As for noise, it’s sort of like the camera equivalent to bad gas mileage in a car. It’s 2019 and cars are still getting 20-25 mpg lol. Really??? 

I for one appreciate the sensor advancements in the Q2, but not at the detriment of noise, especially given the Qs popularity amongst street shooters, whereby ISO 400+ is the norm.  Noise unfortunately was the sacrificial Lamb in order to get everything to work at 47MP. Files still look beautiful, especially at the lower end. 

AF and face/eye tracking continues to make positive strides, and Sony is doing great in this area - so we’re still improving in this capability. Leica AF is snappy. 

Larger resolution and weather sealing aside, the rendering in the Q is gorgeous, and I’m not quite convinced yet that the Q2 files look better. For me, this is where the rubber meets the road. They are larger. Noise is worse. 

With incremental changes happening in every model, it really comes down to finding the lens/camera/feature-set combo that gives you the look you like and the functionality you crave. As much as I want to get the Q2, my gut is telling my to stay the course, especially when I see how beautiful the Q files look. It’s sort of like messing with a perfect recipe. Too much sugar (or sharpness LOL) changes the balance. 

Edited by Spiritualized67
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