Leica Q3 camera field test

Leica Q3 camera field test review by nove100 (Instagram):

Leica Q3 Field Test

It is a compact camera, equipped with a fixed 28mm Summilux lens that is not interchangeable. It is weather-sealed, extremely robust, small, and easy to handle, with a minimalist and straightforward interface that aligns perfectly with Leica’s philosophy and history.

The New Autofocus System: The Most Significant Innovation Of The Leica Q In Recent Years

For the first time at Leica, phase-detection autofocus has been introduced, and it’s an excellent addition. The single autofocus mode remains of high quality and is as usable as on the first version of the Leica Q. However, what is truly impressive is the integration of phase-detection autofocus. The tracking is outstanding, as is the face and eye detection. Errors are negligible, consistency is excellent, and it competes well within its category.

Street photography late at night at a very high ISO? Not a problem at all.
A young couple walking in via del Corso, Rome

Leica’s Philosophy

All of this is complemented by the familiar Leica interface. This means you have a camera that is simple, straightforward, with only the necessary controls and nothing more. It adheres to the philosophy of extremely functional minimalism. The entire menu consists of just a handful of pages, and the sub-levels under each item are minimal, making the camera incredibly easy to use. It takes very little time to become completely comfortable with it. The feeling of knowing the Leica Q3 like an old friend develops in just a few hours. The result of this perfectly executed design is having a tool in your hands that quickly becomes transparent. It disappears between the photographer and the subject, offering tremendous value in terms of creative freedom, user satisfaction, and workflow fluidity.

A young man in front of a print of girl taking pictures with a camera, while I was taking picture of him.

I do love surreal. I was a little late for this pictures ( too far away ) but there is enough resolution to crop a bit without any problem. Amo il surreale. Ero lievemente in ritardo per questa foto, ma la risoluzione abbondante mi ha permesso di croppare un pochino senza alcun problema.

The Lens: 28 Summilux

The lens used is the well-known 28mm Summilux, already featured on the first two versions of the Leica Q. It’s a digitally corrected lens with the only limitation being some distortion at the edges of the frame, mainly visible on oval objects. However, this distortion is minimal compared to the significant advantages this lens offers. It’s exceptionally sharp across the frame, has excellent rendering, handles backlighting well, exhibits remarkable tonal delicacy, and boasts an impressively short minimum focusing distance of 17 cm from the focal plane. Chromatic aberrations are virtually absent.

A sunset on a beach. The sun a few minutes before gone behind the horizon.

A perfect backlight. No flare, perfect contrast. Un controluce perfetto. Niente flare, contrasto elevato.

The New 35 mm Sensor

What’s entirely new is the sensor, which is directly derived from the Leica M11. It’s a revolutionary gem, being the world’s first full-frame sensor with true pixel-binning technology. This allows you to capture images at 61.36 or 18 megapixels while maintaining a consistent 14-bit color depth per channel. The quality is outstanding at all three resolutions, and when dropping to 36 or 18 megapixels, you gain even more dynamic range and noise reduction capabilities. This means you have absolute versatility: when you need maximum resolution, you have a 61-megapixel sensor of exceptional quality. If you need lower resolution, for instance, for events like weddings where resolution isn’t as critical but dynamic range is, you can choose the 36-megapixel option. It’s like having three different sensors in one.

A man walking in front of an historic church in Rome

No shutter lag, fast autofocus. Amazing quality. Nessun ritardo al pulsante di scatto, autofocus velocissimo. Qualità elevatissima.

Almost Perfect

Among a series of intelligent choices made for this camera, the lack of a dual memory card slot or an integrated internal memory along with an external SD card slot, as seen in other Leica models, is unfortunate.

The viewfinder and display have also seen significant improvements. Both resolution and refresh rate have been greatly enhanced. However, there is one drawback, likely fixable via firmware update, where resolution drops during certain shooting phases, affecting the overall smoothness and usability of an otherwise nearly perfect tool. The 100% coverage of the sRGB color space on the display is commendable, and the finally tiltable screen is very convenient.

Some Technical Points

Customizing the camera is incredibly easy: simply hold down any customizable button to choose the function to assign to it. This is a perfect example of a straightforward design meant to be simple, direct, and intuitive. Other manufacturers should take note of this approach.

One aspect that didn’t seem exceptional, though I plan to revisit it more thoroughly later, is the battery life. In the four days I used the Leica Q3, I never exceeded 600 photos per charge, and this could decrease significantly during extended use when reviewing photos. I expected a bit more in terms of battery life.

The stabilizer has been further improved compared to previous Q models, the exposure meter is perfect, and the buffer is adequate.

A bald man walking in front of a ruined wall where there's a wall poster of a bald man

I DO love the surreal. And in this case, the reference is not the writing on the wall but the silhouette of the bald man entering the frame, perfectly mirroring the silhouette of the bald man drawn on the wall poster!

In The Field

In the field, we have an extraordinarily effective, enjoyable, and fast camera. It’s a tool that can “disappear” in the hands of a photographer due to its simplicity, linearity, and user-friendliness. It’s a natural extension of your eye, suitable for daily photography, as well as various professional assignments or travel.

The high resolution allows for cropping and easily covering equivalent focal lengths of 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm, with a final usable focal length of 75mm equivalent. In fact, you can even reach 90mm, but in that case, the loss of resolution becomes quite noticeable. If you use Capture One, you can achieve a slightly wider field of view, closer to 26-27mm equivalent, thanks to improved distortion correction algorithms. The IP-certified weather sealing demonstrates Leica’s commitment to construction quality. The dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio of the new sensor are truly incredible. While the Leica M11 sensor had already become the benchmark for file flexibility, noise management, and dynamic range, this advancement is evident, especially at high ISO settings.

The weight and dimensions are sufficiently compact for everyday use, but they aren’t as pocketable as other cameras ( but with a smaller format sensor ).. The Leica Q3 strikes an exceptional balance, with many strengths and very few weaknesses. It’s up to you to determine if its overall balance meets your needs.

A man smoking a cigarette while walking between shadows and lights.
A woman with a red shirt walking near mannequin wearing a red shirt

Red Shirts

A woman wearing a green dressing walking between deep shadows and harsh light while making a call with her phone

A really difficult situation. AF didn’t fail. Una situazione davvero difficile, ma l’autofocus è stato perfetto.



  • Straightforward, simple, and clear controls, menus, and interface. Extremely fast learning curve.
  • Outstanding build quality. Weather-sealed to IP52 standards, allowing shooting in challenging conditions.
  • The best 35mm sensor on the market.
  • Excellent phase-detection autofocus. Tracking and face/eye recognition are very reliable.
  • Excellent lens with outstanding main characteristics and a minimum focus distance of just 17cm.
  • Excellent manual focus system with precise feedback from the focus ring.
  • Excellent viewfinder (aside from occasional resolution drops during some shooting phases).
  • Tiltable display.
  • Fun, simple, and highly effective, among the best cameras available.
  • Exceptional high ISO performance.
  • Extremely wide dynamic range. Highly malleable files.
  • Accurate color rendering in the “Leica style” (but see cons).
  • Excellent phone connectivity with the Leica Fotos app. Convenient geotagging and remote camera control.
  • Discreet, silent central shutter with fast flash sync.
  • Excellent implementation of the touchscreen.
  • Perfectly arranged controls.


  • Pricey
  • Lack of dual memory card slots.
  • Inconsistent viewfinder resolution during certain shooting phases.
  • Colors slightly too saturated compared to the rest of the Leica range.
Young boys drinking a beer and talking in front of street art
A young couple walking at sunset in via dei condotti
a man is waiting near a shop window
Altare della Patria and Piazza Venezia, Roma, 2023
A man eating an ice cream, wearing a strange, colorful hat
A waiter sits by the roadside, with two seagulls around him, observing each other.
two elegant women walking at sunset in a street in Rome, a man walking with heavy bags in the background
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