Leica Mirrorless - How does it rate as a mirrorless system? - Part 1

Mirrorless cameras is one of those inaccurate photographic internet terms. Because the only cameras that actually have a mirror are DSLR's. So the vast majority of cameras from smartphones to view cameras are in fact mirrorless. But the constant repetition of an unsuitable name means we're probably stuck with it, like 'full-frame.'  In fact, it's even more of a misnomer because mirrorless cameras is a term used to describe a type of camera that sells even less than DSLR's, i.e. m4/3 and the APS-C and 35mm film size sensor cameras such as Sony NEX / ALPHA / FE, Fuji X and Samsung NX.

Leica, one of the longest established and most respected camera brands have a range of cameras that fit this description, from the M series rangefinders, a range of fixed lens APS-s compacts and now the APS-C interchangeable Leica T (Typ 701) the 'full-frame' fixed lens Leica Q (Typ 116) and the 'full-frame' Leica SL (Typ 601.) The following is a series of articles comparing what the 'red dot' has to offer and how it compares with what else is available.

Though this is obviously difficult, I will try as much as I can to ignore the price differences and compare the cameras and lenses in terms of what they offer and not how much they cost. Leicas are mostly made in Germany, with much of that output not involving mass production line manufacture. Most cameras are individually checked by hand, by a highly skilled workforce paid significantly more than their far east counterparts. Leica also use premium materials, which again puts the cost up and are also regarded a 'luxury' brand, able to ask (and get) a much higher price than products made by multi-national electronics companies. However, their reputation for optical excellence and their desire to create cameras that are known for producing some of the best image quality in digital photography, is another reason for the premium prices. And this is what I will be concentrating on.

Whether or not 'Leica doubters' think that those of us who buy, own and use the brand are simply paying for the name and some kind of prestige is neither here nor there. My experience of using the brand has led me to believe that Leica is in fact the 'best' mirrorless (in the narrowest of photographic internet terms) system out there and these articles are to explain why I think that. As ever with what I write, this is personal opinion from personal experience of using photographic equipment for my way of making a living, i.e. a professional stock photographer. That should be borne in mind when reading the following articles, as there is no intent to convince others to buy what I have bought or use what I use. This is simply an account of my experiences and the factors that have led me to use what I use. Along the way I hope that I can dispel some of the 'myths' that the Leica name seems to create and demonstrate that many of the perceived 'failings' are in fact a result of lazy (and it has to be said often biased) reporting and reviewing. Leicas are cameras that need to be used for a while and 'lived with' to reveal their full potential. For me, this long term use has proved rewarding and these articles will explain why that is. 

First off as a taster, here is a video shot mainly with the Leica Q (Typ 116) The first two clips, of the engines wheels are shot with a Panasonic GX8, the rest with the Q. No 4K, but check out the stabilisation. Very impressive.