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Q3 one year in: review


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Wonderful photos.  I have not had my Q3 that long (had to wait months), but in many ways it is better than my Q2 was, and in some, not so much, but overall, I am happy with it and have many of the same thoughts as you have.  With my experience I would move touch autofocus and profiles much higher on the list than you placed them, and battery life lower. 

I am hoping that through firmware updates it can become as mature and rock solid a performer as the Q2 was.

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I enjoyed your considered review, but when I saw your Skye at Night photos, I gave it far more credence, excellent work. I’d be interested to know what lighting you used, but understand if that’s a trade secret.

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Superb writeup Tobers. The photos look fantastic. I am so tempted to use my Q3 on a commercial job, but I made a promise to myself that it would only be used for personal/travel photography. I will leave the other gear for work. It sounds weird, but if I used the Q3 for work, it would become a work tool and I would lose interest in taking it away for personal.

 

All in all, great work!!

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6 hours ago, Cogito said:

I enjoyed your considered review, but when I saw your Skye at Night photos, I gave it far more credence, excellent work. I’d be interested to know what lighting you used, but understand if that’s a trade secret.

Thanks for your and everyone else's positive comments.

For lighting, I use a small octabox held close in to minimise lighting the surrounding area. Not sure if you can buy this one from Damian McGillicuddy any more - most probably everything is LED now. This give a really lovely light that shapes the subject well, and allows me to keep the background slightly underexposed and with rich colours. The downside is that it often means lighting each subject individually (like the firefighters or mountain rescue team), and then comping multiple pics together afterwards on the computer. For those shots, everyone is posed and then each person is lit one at a time down the line. The results are well worth it though.

Here's a pic of the gear I use for the book project and an explanation of each thing. I grabbed this from my instagram rather than writing it just for you guys 🙂. You'll see a bunch of other pics on there and I'll leave you to figure out which is with the Q3.

 

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The Leica Q3 (1) is a very small and high quality instrument that handled the majority of the people and documentary pictures. It’s unobtrusive, fast to operate, yet possesses a very high resolution sensor and a fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens that are excuisite together. It works very well with an external flash, which is fitted into a small octagonal softbox (2) to soften the resulting light. This combination is fast to set up and easy to use.

For most of the scenery and landscape pictures, a Sony A7III was used with a 16-35 f/2.8 lens (3). This is a fast and flexible lens ideal for capturing wide views and dramatic starscapes. The Sony is very technically proficient and, strangely, better at high ISO (sensor sensitivity) than the Leica. A 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 lens (4) had an occasional outing when a long zoom was needed and a fast shutter speed wasn’t a requirement.

Aerial photography was courtesy of a Mavic Mini 4 Pro drone (5). Being very lightweight it is both easy to carry, and subject to fewer restrictions than heavier drones. A drone is like a tripod in the sky. You can make a composition that would be impossible otherwise, as well as using the drone to add light or effects to a scene at night.

The fourth camera is used for all the accompanying videos. This is a GoPro 11 with a Media Mod (6) and a DJI wireless microphone. Capturing video at night is really tricky but hopefully the results give an insight into how the photographs in this book were made.

Lastly, I always carry a Garmin 66i GPS (7) when I’m out and about. This provides Ordnance Survey mapping, and also crucially includes the Garmin InReach satellite messaging and SOS service. This enables me to call for help if I am in serious difficulty, and it also pings my position to Mrs T who monitors where I am to make sure I'm not stuck down a hole. Well worth it.
2 hours ago, AussieQ said:

Superb writeup Tobers. The photos look fantastic. I am so tempted to use my Q3 on a commercial job, but I made a promise to myself that it would only be used for personal/travel photography. I will leave the other gear for work. It sounds weird, but if I used the Q3 for work, it would become a work tool and I would lose interest in taking it away for personal.

 

All in all, great work!!

Seriously use it. You'll love it and work won't feel like work. I know what you mean though.

1 minute ago, abeckers68 said:

Very nice fotos. Great work.

Can you tell me which suspension and which leather protection is fitted to the camera eye?

Thanks - the little round leather pieces came with some strap that I bought some time ago. I can't remember which one I'm afraid, but I think it was a posh hand made leather strap for my M10 (now sold). I use small metal split rings to attach the Peak Design "toggles" to the camera rather than messing around trying to poke them through the tiny eyelets of the Q3. 

 

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Just wanted to chime in to say that your photos are great. After being an avid off-camera flash user several years ago I've not used one for several years as I found with modern cameras I could get more realistic photos with higher ISO and careful positioning of subjects. However, your use in the set you shared was excellent and makes me want to dust off my old kit ;)

One thing that might be useful for you as it appears you are an ACR/Lightroom user is that you can get ACR or Lightroom to convert Q3 DNGs to DNG to save a fair amount of space (average 80MB -> 58MB). The Q3 outputs lossless compressed DNGs, but the ACR compressor does a better job while still being lossless.

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6 hours ago, Tobers said:

Thanks for your and everyone else's positive comments.

For lighting, I use a small octabox held close in to minimise lighting the surrounding area. Not sure if you can buy this one from Damian McGillicuddy any more - most probably everything is LED now. This give a really lovely light that shapes the subject well, and allows me to keep the background slightly underexposed and with rich colours. The downside is that it often means lighting each subject individually (like the firefighters or mountain rescue team), and then comping multiple pics together afterwards on the computer. For those shots, everyone is posed and then each person is lit one at a time down the line. The results are well worth it though.

Here's a pic of the gear I use for the book project and an explanation of each thing. I grabbed this from my instagram rather than writing it just for you guys 🙂. You'll see a bunch of other pics on there and I'll leave you to figure out which is with the Q3.

 

The Leica Q3 (1) is a very small and high quality instrument that handled the majority of the people and documentary pictures. It’s unobtrusive, fast to operate, yet possesses a very high resolution sensor and a fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens that are excuisite together. It works very well with an external flash, which is fitted into a small octagonal softbox (2) to soften the resulting light. This combination is fast to set up and easy to use.

For most of the scenery and landscape pictures, a Sony A7III was used with a 16-35 f/2.8 lens (3). This is a fast and flexible lens ideal for capturing wide views and dramatic starscapes. The Sony is very technically proficient and, strangely, better at high ISO (sensor sensitivity) than the Leica. A 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 lens (4) had an occasional outing when a long zoom was needed and a fast shutter speed wasn’t a requirement.

Aerial photography was courtesy of a Mavic Mini 4 Pro drone (5). Being very lightweight it is both easy to carry, and subject to fewer restrictions than heavier drones. A drone is like a tripod in the sky. You can make a composition that would be impossible otherwise, as well as using the drone to add light or effects to a scene at night.

The fourth camera is used for all the accompanying videos. This is a GoPro 11 with a Media Mod (6) and a DJI wireless microphone. Capturing video at night is really tricky but hopefully the results give an insight into how the photographs in this book were made.

Lastly, I always carry a Garmin 66i GPS (7) when I’m out and about. This provides Ordnance Survey mapping, and also crucially includes the Garmin InReach satellite messaging and SOS service. This enables me to call for help if I am in serious difficulty, and it also pings my position to Mrs T who monitors where I am to make sure I'm not stuck down a hole. Well worth it.

Seriously use it. You'll love it and work won't feel like work. I know what you mean though.

Thanks - the little round leather pieces came with some strap that I bought some time ago. I can't remember which one I'm afraid, but I think it was a posh hand made leather strap for my M10 (now sold). I use small metal split rings to attach the Peak Design "toggles" to the camera rather than messing around trying to poke them through the tiny eyelets of the Q3. 

 

I never would have guessed you lit each individual separately, nice composite work. Funny, I own much of the same gear including mavic, sony, gopro, and inreach, (have never used strobes since I come from motion picture / video beginnings) the skill is in the carpenter, not his tools. Thank you for sharing.

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Thank you Tobers for this very interesting article. The images are a positive bonus, with the combination of lighting and depth of field working to give, to my mind, excellent results. I do not enjoy doing conventional portraiture (ie I am no good at it!) but have always enjoyed environmental portraiture images of the sort you have posted, and these have reawakened my interest in pursuing that style. The image of the lone figure waiting at the (?) bus stop is really rather magical.

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Thanks so much for sharing. I completely agree with most all of your comments about the camera. I just love it, despite a few very minor quibbles.

And your photos are absolutely wonderful and inspiring!

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1 hour ago, Woodstock said:

Thank you Tobers for this very interesting article. The images are a positive bonus, with the combination of lighting and depth of field working to give, to my mind, excellent results. I do not enjoy doing conventional portraiture (ie I am no good at it!) but have always enjoyed environmental portraiture images of the sort you have posted, and these have reawakened my interest in pursuing that style. The image of the lone figure waiting at the (?) bus stop is really rather magical.

Thanks! That one was 4 years in the planning, waiting for the right conditions etc. I’m delighted I’ve helped reawaken your interest - go for it.

5 hours ago, haelio said:

Just wanted to chime in to say that your photos are great. After being an avid off-camera flash user several years ago I've not used one for several years as I found with modern cameras I could get more realistic photos with higher ISO and careful positioning of subjects. However, your use in the set you shared was excellent and makes me want to dust off my old kit ;)

One thing that might be useful for you as it appears you are an ACR/Lightroom user is that you can get ACR or Lightroom to convert Q3 DNGs to DNG to save a fair amount of space (average 80MB -> 58MB). The Q3 outputs lossless compressed DNGs, but the ACR compressor does a better job while still being lossless.

Thanks too. I’ll check that. I did think I have LR set to convert to DNG, but I’m not 100% sure now. Sounds like a good plan if I haven’t got that set.

Hope you get that gear dusted off.

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On the topic of environmental portraits, and photographing people in general, I find it really hard as I’m very introverted. Cold-calling people or even just walking up to them to ask them to take part in the project filled me with dread. I much prefer lurking about up a mountain on my own. Half the images in the book are night landscapes of various types.

However, no pain no gain. I just had to man-up and get on with it and actually speak to strangers, and convince them to be photographed. As usual, the rewards of overcoming the fear are very, ummm, very rewarding. 

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