Leica on Tuesday announced a firmware update to its street-photography-oriented Leica Q camera. The fixed-lens, full-frame camera offers a compact alternative to Leica’s M-series rangefinders. Leica says the update is a direct result of feedback from customers, and offers several usability improvements, as well as new features designed to be user-friendly and give photographers more creative freedom.
The headline feature is simple but welcome. Finally, the Q can shoot in RAW (Adobe DNG) without the need to capture JPEGs simultaneously. Previously, photographers could only choose between JPEG and RAW+JPEG. The new option brings the camera in line with virtually every other digital camera that offers RAW support. It will also help save some space, enabling photographers to squeeze a a few more exposures onto their memory cards.
While stand-alone RAW shooting brings the Q in line with the competition, the other big feature introduced with the update is much more unique. The longest shutter speed has been extended from 30 seconds — the standard on most interchangeable lens cameras — to 120 seconds.
There is a caveat, however: The Leica Q does not have a standard “bulb” mode for manually controlled long shutter speeds beyond its maximum programmable limit. So while being able to set a specific exposure time for anything up to two minutes is fantastic, photographers who want more than that would appear to still be out of luck.
Other features introduced with the update include new autofocus modes, improved direct-access control to the User Profile functions, and Face Detection that will automatically revert to multi-field autofocus if no faces are found in the frame.
When Leica introduced the $4,250 Q a little over a year ago, it took many by surprise. Its electronic viewfinder and redesigned, touch-based interface seemed rather unlike what Leica was known for. The large, full-frame sensor and fixed, 28mm f/1.7 lens proved to be brilliant, however, and this week’s firmware update just makes the camera all the better, and proves Leica’s commitment to the platform even a year after its release.