Technically this is my
third fourth swipe at replicating a Q like experience.
Sidebar: Intro text below cut and paste from prior posts before moving on to the subject of this post.
I really liked the Leica Q but it fell short of being a keeper.
I took some photos I really liked with it. Owing to its excellent Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens it was great for environmental portrait and capturing wide images of day to day life.
I did not keep it because once the initial Summilux haze cleared I realized that it was a bit dear for a camera with such a relatively limited use case. I typically prefer more flexibility above a certain price point. That being said I did enjoy using it.
When the A7c was released I realized that, with retaining the versatility of an A7 series camera, I might also be able to recreate a bit of the Q experience with varied bits at a lower price point all in. For this post the bits have been updated courtesy a recent lens release:
This was easy. There is only one AF compact interchangeable lens full frame camera with features like AF, IBIS, and a rangefinder-ish located EVF at any price. The camera that started this whole exercise. The Sony A7c.
What made the A7c so special when compared to earlier full frame mirrorless Sony models? Simple. Form factor. The faux DSLR shaped A7 models were technically proficient but lacked something when it came to shooting rangefinder glass. Body style surely does not make for a better image but it does have an impact on the shooting experience for me personally. Your mileage may vary.
Lens… <Record scratch.>
I’ll stop copying previous posts here. Last time around and the time before that I had settled on focal lengths similar to the Leica Q.
After reviewing other options on the market I first considered the <inhales> 7artisans Photoelectric 28mm f/1.4 FE-Plus M-Mount Lens for Sony E…
Then I pivoted to the Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/1.8 AF.
And it was great.
So done and done. Skip happily off into the fake Leica Q… Nope.
One thing I had ignored is something that I mentioned in my first fake Leica post with the Canon EOS RP and RF 35mm f/1.8 STM.
- I can switch lenses with the A7c.
- While I really like a 50mm-ish focal length experience has dictated that 35mm is the best all around focal length for my purposes. A fast 35mm works better in close quarters while still having acceptable distortion levels for people pics and subject isolation with faster apertures. Similar to the first go around with the EOS RP/35mm STM combination mentioned above.
Well guess what? Rokinon/Samyang has me covered with the Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE,
What settled the 50mm-ish vs. 35mm for walk around purposes was a trip to NYC earlier this year. With little hesitation I reached for the 35mm Rokinon/Samyang variant. So in short if I could build my own Leica Q-ish solution with only one focal length it would be a 35mm lens camera.
Below I will revise my prior comparison for this Leica Q vs. A7c – Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.8 solution.
- Form factor. While the A7c body is a bit smaller than the Leica Q body the lens is a bit longer so it makes for a similar experience all around. Same as last time around.
- Macro. While not sporting a macro mode like the Q the Rokinon/Samyang focuses closely enough for my purposes.
- Full frame.
- One card slot. The A7c, Q, and M all have one card slot. As a daily shooter and occasional main camera back up this is not an issue for me.
- IBIS. Both have this and it is appreciated on both.
- IQ. While not sporting the Leica name I have zero complaints with the Rokinon/Samyang.
- Not a Leica. No matter how competent it is not a Leica camera. The pixie dust is real. As I always say if you want a Leica buy a Leica. I am fine with a Leica-ish experience myself. Personal preference.
- That is about it.
Pluses (Leica adherents need not go further.)
- AF is as huge step up from the TECHART which is expected, but with Sony’s top of the class AF this set up surpasses the very competent Q as well.
- MF is as good or better with the Rokinon/Samyang also. It adds a switch than can be configured to engage MF.
- Grip. Personal preference but I much prefer the grip of the A7c to the smooth grip-less build of the Q. An accessory grip or a case with a grip like I had is highly recommended.
- Battery life. The A7c is good for over 700 shots while the Leica Q was good for 300.
- Weather sealing. Unlike the Q the Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.8 FE is weather sealed when combined with the A7c. You have to step up to the newer and significantly more expensive Q2 if you want weather sealing.
- Fully articulating screen. This is great for low and high angle shots. Also allows you to swing the screen around for an EVF only experience.
- Versatility. While the Q is 28mm only the A7c is not limited. The Q offered “different focal length” simulations but this amounted to an in camera crop. Courtesy Rokinon/Samyang there are a whole line of f/1.8 lenses of similar size at different focal lengths that allow one to build a bootleg Q at a focal length of their liking.
While we are at it…
If you are listening how about an AF 135mm f/1.8? I would buy the mess of a Rokinon/Samyang 135mm f/1.8 if you made such a thing. You do not even need to make it tiny. Go for it.
Please. Thank you.
And back to our regularly scheduled program.
- Value. A definite win. A used Leica Q will run you… (GAS affliction. Just went to eBay to double check the current price. Was suggested a lens. Bought it. Lost track what I was doing. Watched a couple of lens review videos… Oh yeah. I was writing a post.) Yep. Still around $3,000 or so. Used mind you. A brand new A7c and Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.8 will cost you more than $1,000 less. The only current path to a new Q is the Q2 which has many more features and also costs considerably more.
Do I recommend the A7c/Rokinon//Samyang 35mm f/1.8 setup?
Yes. Yes, I do.
As I always say.
Your mileage may vary.
But Leica Pixie dust (Which is very real.) aside after having shot with both I would recommend the A7c and Rokinon/Samyang lens. Earlier comparisons were largely value arguments where weaknesses did exist, but that is not the case here. That being said…
If you want a Leica (I understand completely.)… buy a Leica. Nothing else will do.
But if you are attracted to a Leica Q form and performance approximation for less spend with additional features and a 35mm focal length is preferred here you go.
Here are some sample shots below to close out the post. Happy shooting.