“Shelter” – this film was shot entirely with the Leica Q2

This post is by Ben Staley (website | InstagramFacebook | Twitter | YouTube):

Mostly I’m a filmmaker but I’ve got a serious photography habit. I mean it’s bad. Camera bodes and brands have come and gone over the years, used abused and cast aside when something new caught my eye. Only my M6 has been a constant, always in my bag, always slung over a shoulder, alway there in my hand, cold and solid while I shivered in the predawn light waiting for the first rays of sun on some frigid ridge line.

When the Q was introduced something inside me stirred. I was inexplicably drawn to it. But given the obvious limits of a fixed 28mm lens (I’m mostly a long lens guy) and the steep price tag, I somehow resisted. Then came the Q2 and I found myself powerless in it’s wake. I called several local camera shops and got on their wait lists. And I waited. Months ticked by. I called for updates. I studied reviews online. I woke in the night with cold shakes. I waited.

I was shooting a project for Discovery channel in some remote mountain range and the message came through via a very fragile satellite wifi signal. A shop back in LA had a Q2 for me. Let me tell ya the rest of that job was pretty tough as I counted the days to get back home.

I finally arrived back to LA and got my hands on the thing and it was love at first… First something. I love how it feels in my hand. I love the iris dial and the viewfinder. I LOVE that lens and it’s changed the way I see the world. The way I photograph. After a bit more than a year the Q2 has become my all-time favorite digital camera. I can’t see myself ever selling it.

Like I said at the top, mostly I’m a filmmaker. I mostly make documentaries and unscripted adventure series. I don’t own a professional video camera and I never really consider video when I choose a still camera. Typically I just rent the appropriate video camera for the job, and I’ve used them all. Sonys, Canons, Panasonics, Red’s, you name it. I never even CONSIDERED the Q2 as a video camera. No ports for monitoring or power. No tilt screen and no manual control. No thanks. But then a firmware upgrade came through and I learned I could manually control the camera in video mode. Something inside me stirred again. An Idea began to grow.

Then Covid hit. The rest of the year had been mapped out making a doc series in rugged locations across the planet and by the next Tuesday global travel and my own livelihood had come to a screeching halt. Like everyone else I hunkered down and waited. And then that idea blossomed. Adjacent to my house is a little park and sometimes in the early hours I’ll walk through the park and see dozens of snails slowly making their way back into the shelter of the tall grass. But could I tell this story? And could I do it with only my simple little Q2?

Well here is the result:

And here is a making of video (and YES I understand the absurdity of a nearly hour-long making of video for a less than 4-minute short film), like I said, I had some free time.

I guess I love the challenge of making something with a less than obvious tool. I do believe that our creativity comes from our limitations, not from having the perfect most capable camera. And YES, I’m planning on making ANOTHER Q2 film… Actually I must admit to lusting after the proposed Q2 Monochrome so maybe it will be a Macro Monochrome Film Noir. Oh Boy…

You can follow Ben Staley on his website and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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