Interesting interview with the designers of the Leica Q Typ 116 camera

Digitalversus published an interesting interview with the designers behind the Leica Q (Typ 116) camera. Some interesting points:

  • Leica Q is entirely assembled in Wetzlar, Germany
  • The Leica X is pre-assembled in Asia, the final adjustments and quality checks are performed in Wetzlar.
  • The sensor in the Leica Q has no low-pass filter and is neither from Sony nor from CMOSIS/STMicro
  • Leica has been talking with Samsung for a while, "but the mood in the room soon changed and we had to abandon this line of enquiry".
  • Leica recommends to deactivate the OIS optical stabilization in order to get the best from the German-assembled lens and obviously a better battery life
  • The Maestro II processor inside the Leica Q is produced by SocioNext -  a new company owned by Fujitsu, the Development Bank of Japan and Panasonic. This processor is based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture which can be also found in Nikon's cameras.
  • If there is enough interest, Leica may consider producing Leica Q cameras in the future with 35mm and 50mm lenses.
  • The Leica Q is designed to record 4k video and everything is in place to enable this feature once the engineers solve the problems with overheating.

And finally, an interesting note - the 25 years old Vincent Säll who designed the Leica X3 concept camera back in 2013 is now working for Leica as an industrial designer.

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  • I would find a 50mm version of the Q to be very attractive. I still use a 50mm for quite a bit of my work. Having a high quality fixed lens 50mm camera would eliminate some of the issues around sensor dust and cleaning. If they do this, I hope Leica consider some weather sealing on the body.

    • Bo Dez

      i would like this also but to get a dust free sensor, everything, buttons, card flaps, everything including the lens needs to be sealed.

      • I’m not sure how much it would push the prices. A 50mm should be slightly less costly than a 28mm or 35mm lens, though the comment about compactness implies a different approach. Perhaps a 50mm Leica Q would use a collapsible lens.

  • Daryl

    50mm please, my Ricoh GR is so good despite it’s age that a Q would be redundant. Sigma makes wide, normal and tele versions of their fixed lens cameras.

  • Strough

    Would anyone be interested in a Q with zoom?

    • CHD

      It’s called the X-Vario:) Seriously though, a full frame Q with a zoom would be huge and sloooowwww much like the zoom on the current APS-C Vario is. So no…not interested:)

      • Strough

        No it won’t.. 🙂

    • I would be highly interested. i don’t care if it’s slow, I still own and use the x vario and it’s – beside some downers, like the body 😉 – a fantastic lens.

  • a-traveler

    As someone who does NOT do “street photography,” I’d prefer longer lenses. Maybe a 90mm or a 135mm, to go with the present 28mm.

    If 90mm and 135mm prove to be too physically large, how about a 7.3cm f/1.9 (1931-42).

    • CHD

      A 90mm option would be such a niche market I’m not sure there would be any point…besides…who says that 28/35/and 50mm lenses are just for ‘street’. One of the reasons they are so popular is that they are so versatile (especially 35mm).

      • a-traveler

        What you find “versatile,” I find to be repetitive (1 step forward turns a 28mm into a 35mm, etc—why I don’t use zooms).

        Not many people shooting portraits or doing product photography with middle-of-the-road lenses (35-40-50-58 mm). I could be happy with one wide lens (14-28mm) and one long lens (135-200mm). YMMV.

        • CHD

          I’m not debating what focal length is more interesting…I’m simply stating that a fixed lens 90mm would not sell as well as something in the 28/35/50mm range….it’s just the way it is.

          • Haoyang Zhao

            Which has to do with market demand and cost of supply constraints, and not just practical usage for different purposes.

  • Justtakethepicture

    “The Leica Q is designed to record 4k video and everything is in place to enable this feature once the engineers solve the problems with overheating.”

    This makes it sound like the Q could be upgraded later. Reading the interview shows this is not the case.

  • Kevin Purcell

    I’m guessing the image sensor is made by the TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor (TPSCo) joint venture.

    They have a relationship already with Panny in the past: all those co branded cameras (and some that aren’t). Panasonic derived a full frame from their low noise pixel design and process (current 4/3″ sensor — it’s 4K capable). They also have the fab to make it in their 65nm process too in Hokuriku, Japan

    Ssearching for Leica and TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor (TPSCo), I find this rumor:

    “I join a camera & lens review talk group in China, there is a guy who have been working in Sony semiconductor told us?

    Leica Q`s structure & looking is designed by Leica, its electronic system came from Panasonic, the summilux Len designed by KonicaMinolta and produced by Panasonic. The CMOS is designed by Tower-Jazz Panasonic, an new Israel semiconductor company with 49% Panasonic share, and the foundry is STMicroelectronics same foundry with leica M 240

    In all, it`s a camera with leica/KonicaMonolta design and panasonic tecnology.”

    The foundry bit being STM is wrong. TPSCo uses Panasonic’s old foundry (TPSCo) in Hokuriku, Japan for 300mm wafers.

    And finally this

    The “we have begun engagements with multiple, first-year, brand-recognized, high-end camera makers for applications our internal technologies could not serve, prior to this joint venture” is the interesting bit.

    It might also explain why Leica are being coy about naming who is designing/making the sensor (even though they disclaim CMOSIS, Sony and Samsung).

  • J.R.

    So the Leica Q’s image sensor is made by Samsung. Well done Samsung…

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