Poor Man's Construct of a Passable Leica Q or Q2 Competitor... Vroom.

Open this one up large to see how three dimensional this image looks.
That old, old 28mm does a wonderful job with depth and separating planes.

 who wouldn't want a brilliant, olive green and Kevlar wrapped Leica Q2 faux rangefinder camera to play with out on the streets? But who wants to pay U.S. $6,000+ for the privilege? While I am sure many of my readers have the wherewithal to order one on impulse and not lose any sleep over the expense I am equally sure that for most of us it would be a stretch. And if one is streeeetching one has to wonder if it's all worth it. Or if one can put together an equally good street shooting set up, based on a nice 28mm lens, for a lot less money. And if you cobbled together a substitute could it match the frothy reputation of the Q2 and also deliver the goods; the images? 

In my mind, if you disregard the difference in build quality and implied prestige of the Q series Leicas and you are looking for pure performance as your deciding metric I would have to suggest that, if you can deal with a little bit longer fixed lens, you might look instead at a Fuji X100V. I've owned two and they are wonderful cameras. Especially for the money. But if you can't move away from that 28mm focal length and you don't want to sell a kidney you could consider building your own street shooting conglomeration. 

A reasonable choice might be something like a Sony A7(x) body coupled with their 28mm f2.0 lens. That might just get you in the same ballpark. You'd have to work on the color science difference with a bit of diligence but eventually you might be able to get close and then make a preset for Lightroom that you could use to automate a bit of the processing. If you really want to stick to using a Leica camera for their killer color science you might consider doing what I did today: Put a Contax Y/C Carl Zeiss 28mm f2.8 (accessible used for around $300 in good shape. Look for the MM version denoted by the f22 number on the aperture ring being green)  on an Y/C to L mount adapter and popping the lens onto a "vintage" Leica SL (usually available for around $2200, in good shape). 

I was thinking about the Q or the Q2 and it dawned on me that I already had enough of the pieces in my collection to toss together an ersatz combo. I set the camera to raw format, set the white balance to daylight, selected the aperture priority mode, and let the auto-ISO range between 50 and 12,500. All I really needed to do was compose, focus and shoot. Sure, every once in a while I'd tweak the exposure a bit with the exposure compensation dial but other than that I was working mostly by touch. Or camera telepathy.

It was stinky hot outside so I stayed on the shady side of the streets and did my usual walk. When I started to feel the heat I'd duck into one of my favorite taco restaurants and grab an ice tea. There wasn't much going on downtown but that was okay with me because another thing I was playing with was messing around with a circular polarizer on the lens. That more or less ruled out photographing fast moving objects today. So did my compulsion to magnify the center part of the frame on a lot of the shots in order to confirm, or acquire, sharp focus. 

I think that older Contax 28mm lens is really good. Especially when you are willing to work stopped down to f5.6 or, even better, f8.0. Since I'm very happy with the overall results I consider that I saved over $6,000 today. The polarizer was free. It's a Minolta polarizer that came attached to a lens I bought and then sold long, long ago. The lens was crap, the filter was really nice. Still is.

When it hit 103° and the heat index parked itself at 107° I decided to pack it in and head home. The sunscreen and bountiful selection of wide brimmed hats are all good and well but no substitute for the comfort of a cool pool or a studio luxuriously awash with air conditioning. 

So, the SL+Contax 28mm is a good substitute for the Q in my mind. Not as small and not as compact but with a bigger, better battery. And dual card slots. But no I.S.  If you really, really need more megapixels you might consider a used Panasonic S1R (around $1800 on the sporadic used markets) and the same lens. If you are lucky enough to already own a Leica SL2 you can sub that into the mix for a full on, toe to toe, replacement. It's got the same high res sensor and the same color science family/look. With the higher res cameras you have the equivalent of a Q2...at least imaging performance wise...

That's all I've got for today. I sure hope it snows tomorrow. I'd settle for rain. Hell, at this point I'd welcome highs in the mid-90s....


I absolutely love the girl on the gymnastic rings painted around and under the small window unit A/C. 

Use a much worse 28mm lens if you want Purple Haze. 

Polarizer. Engaged.

It always bugs me when my bodyguard accidentally steps into the frame. 
I guess everyone's been there at one time or another. Right?

And sadly, for the absolutely humorless and literal among us:

I don't have a bodyguard. I was making a joke. It's okay.