Shooting the Leica Q at Car Shows

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Shooting cars as shows can be a challenge. Sometime they’re packed too close to one another, the field of view can be crowded and somebody always walks right in front of you just when you’re about to click the shutter. But we do it because it’s fun and sometimes the cars you encounter are so unique—I saw an MG SA at Chenango—you gotta make some photos. So with that in mind I took a Leica Q to the always-fun Chenango car show and it was a great companion.

Shooting the Q is a lot like driving a classic 356 Porsche: It’s beautiful to handle and look at but may not have all the electronic gizmos of a contemporary model and I happen to think that’s a good thing. The controls are simple, intuitive and it feels very Leica M-like.

The fixed 28mm Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens combined with a full-frame sensor combine to produce brilliant-looking images. And the fixed 28mm with its 65-degree angle-of-view works well at a show but tilting the camera up or down can produce slight distortion at the edges. It’s not really noticeable unless you have straight lines in those areas and picky users can fix that in Photoshop using a simple technique I demonstrate in this linked blog post. An upside of the fixed lens is that there’s no way dust can get onto that big sensor and the Q always produced clean, dust-free images.

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Since some of the best car show images are made at low angles, what would really help would be a flip-out or even titling screen as found on many, especially mirrorless, cameras. But I’m guessing that feature is not part of the Leica aesthetic, as useful as it might be. So as I always say, wear your grungies and don’t be afraid to kneel down—sometimes I even sit down—on the ground to make a low angle shot.

The Q can tend to underexpose slightly in aperture preferred exposure mode but you can overcome any exposure problems by remembering my rule of thumb: “Slightly overexpose white cars; underexpose black cars.” The automatic exposure pushes everything to 18% grey (or thereabouts) but the exposure compensation dial falls, to paraphrase Road & Track immediately to your right thumb. There’s even a Time lapse mode that I would have liked to try if I had the camera king enough.

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The Leica Q is a well-behaved stylish and highly functional picture-taking machine that will be appreciated by admirers of fine German craftsmanship, be they BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

To be concluded on Saving the World, One Pixel at a Time on August 10.