Leica Q swaps Switzerland for the Aegean islands and acquires a new slim friend
The Leica Q is fast becoming my travel camera of choice. I know I keep harping on about it, but it is such a joy to handle and produces great results every time. As a travel camera it is proving is worth: Small and relatively light, the Q slips easily into a bag and super easy to use. The layout of the manual controls on the lens is second to none and all all important settings can be seen at a glance. The transition from the blindingly fast and accurate auto-focus system to the class-leading manual focus, is the work of an instant. And I still marvel over the quick transfer from normal to macro with the unique variable depth-of-field scale.
A couple of weeks ago I was out and about in the Swiss alps, revelling in the wide 28mm as a landscape optic. Now, in the narrow confines of an Aegean village, that same lens is winning me over further as it offers a new perspective on buildings that are difficult to capture with longer lenses. For general street photography I still prefer a fifty over, even, a thirty-five, but the wider lens of the Q impresses with its ability to cope with most situations. The resolution of the Q's full frame sensor, coupled with the excellent optics, means that cropping modestly—even to an equivalent of 50mm—is a very satisfactory solution.
As well as with the Q, I am travelling with a new computer, Apple's heroic little MacBook. It's the "fast" 1.3GHz version with the 512GB SSD, which I agonised over for months. I was on the point of buying the really fast tricked-out 13in MacBook Pro. Yet at the last moment, heart overruled head and my money went to the slimline computer with the mobile processor and that gorgeous 12in retina screen. I wasn't phased by the single USB-C port, nor by the short-travel "virtual" keyboard; but I was worried about the operational speed, particularly when it comes to manipulating large RAW files.
I think I have been worrying unnecessarily. Import, even of the large 50MB DNG+JPG Leica Q combos, is not significantly slower than on my fast iMac 5K with its 32GB of memory. Import and initial adjustments ran at around 1GB per minute. Later I exported 28 large jpegs to the internal disk in 45 seconds. I suspect the ultra-fast solid-state disk of the MacBook has something to do with this. Before leaving the office I checked the iMac's 1TB Fusion drive against the MacBook with some not-so-surprising results. The iMac's mechanical disk managed read and write speeds of only 215/124 MB/s compared with the solidly superior 546/410 MB/s of the MacBook. While the MacBook makes do with only 8GB of RAM and a much slower processor, the impressive read/write speeds come to its rescue when copying files.
Truly, I can say that I have not noticed any real-world performance hits with the MacBook. Subjectively (for I have no facts) it is speedier than my old mid-2012 MacBook Air. And all this comes in such a tiny package, smaller than a sheet of A4, almost as thin and weighing only 920g, a couple of hundred more than the Leica Q in fully battle order.