How the Leica Q2 changed me

Photo by Joey Spadoni

I had a Leica Q and ultimately sold it because I decided it could not be my only camera. Then, some time later, I bought a Q2 and again decided it could not be my only camera. A year later, I bought a Q2 to be my only camera and this time it stuck. It’s my only camera.

The back and form is a a form of madness, I know, but there’s nothing about the camera that mattered in the end. It was all about me and I had to change, in five specific ways, for this to work. A question to anyone considering something as radical: are you too willing to change?

I have wanted to streamline, embrace a type of material and visual minimalism, for a long time. I’ve owned many kits/systems and liked most of them. There are no terrible systems these days. As is debated on camera forums endlessly, it’s the photographer, not the camera blah blah. But I keep searching… trying new bodies and then abandoning them some time later, looking for something that was always elusive, always just out of reach. I had to eventually realize that the issue was me, not the gear. The issue was that I’m a kit hobbyist more than an artist or documentarian. So, change 1 was that I had to decide that I wanted to be an artist and a documentarian.

I have shot landscapes, events, sports, wildlife, fine art, you name it. I have enjoyed the variety and never being pegged into any specific genre. That, for me, was part of the fun. I wanted the versatility to shoot black bears and elk in the Smoky Mountains, Half Dome at Yosemite, small insects on the roses in my yard, my grandchildren, and so on. So, every gear decision considered the full panorama of possibilities. Change 2 was realizing that to accomplish change 1, I needed to refine, narrow and prioritize.

Change 3 was about the zen minimalism psychological effect. It was about wanting to have a small red Billingham bag that fit all of the photographic gear I own, tossing it in the backseat and then just heading out. Whether to the dunes of Cape Cod or over to my daughter’s house to see the kids. One bag. One camera. Small. Simple.

Change 4 is about restraint, constraint and making do. I once hiked in the Narrows in Zion with my son. He was shooting a Fujifilm X100S and I had a full-on Pentax kit. I had an ultrawide zoom, perfect for the canyon hike, and he had only the 35mm equivalent. I was focused on the fullness of the scene and he, by necessity, had to look at the smaller details, the more intimate parts of the landscape. He had to make do. His pictures, in the end, were better than mine. Much better actually. There are many reasons for this, namely that he is a better photographer than I am, but the point is that the single focal length camera does not slow him down at all. He now shoots with the X100V (another fine option and one he comments upon here frequently) and continues to make impressive work. Change 4 is embracing the make do mindset.

Finally, change 5 for me was about considering the camera not as an investment to one day sell. I treated my gear as gold, trying to preserve its value because I knew that someday I would be moving on and would need it to help fund the new new thing. I kept boxes and babied the entire kit. Change 5 involved treating my camera differently, like a tool, like an old friend, like the leather jacket I’ve worn for 20 years and which looks like I’ve worn it for 40 years.

I had to go through these changes. The Q2 has been my perfect companion and I highly recommend it. But without these changes, it would have been just one more fail.

I know that if I have an opportunity to shoot bears or elk again, then the Q2 and its wide 28mm will have to do. If I stand before a grand scene in Badlands National Park, 28mm it is. If I’m shooting at a wedding, 28mm. If, if, if… then I make do.

When I was mulling this all over originally, I wrote about the original Q here and my thought process at the time – see here .

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