Leica Q enters dangerous waters and upsets the M
The Leica Q entered my life back in late 2015. One day I set her down impatiently on the desk and fired up the iMac to glimpse the latest pictures from the new wonder. Then my eyes fell on the M240 who had been parked unceremoniously on the sideboard. I cringed with guilt. She looked at me disapprovingly through her narrowest aperture. Her glance told me I was toast.
“So, you’ve been amusing yourself with this little trollop” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. I licked my lips nervously. My M was a real diva. Who would have thought it? She used my shocked silence to let off further steam.
“Since she’s been hanging around you haven’t picked me up once! What does she offer that I don’t? She’s always bragging about her faster shutter speed and far too high ISO.” I rolled my eyes. When my M started quoting statistics like these it was time to worry.
I held up my hands placatingly. “Please calm yourself my dear! Think of your ISO! You also suffer from banding….”
I shouldn’t have mentioned this. She defocused immediately and went into standby to punish me with silence. In the meantime, I recovered my composure. I picked her up from the sideboard and woke her. I felt I had to make myself clear before she froze from anger, something she never did.
“You are my number one and you aways will be, my M, mmm..my little treasure”, I stuttered reassuringly. “But look, when I photographed the Cellissimo concert, I might have taken the Fuji because of its quiet discretion.”
“Discretion!”, cried the M, mortally wounded, “I am also discreet. Do you take me for totally underexposed?” I squinted at her exposure compensation setting. Neutral.
“Yes, of course you are discreet,” I reassured her, stroking her back with the fingers of my right hand. But, truth be told, she isn’t as quiet as the Q. During the concert I had been sitting in the front row with the Q and had taken photos at every opportunity, without attracting even the slightest hint of disapproval from neighbours.
“I’ve also missed you—a bit,” I smarmed. She switched on live view and opened her aperture a stop wider. “Really?” she sniffed, seeking comfort in every word. “Yes, honestly,” I confirmed.
I sat quite still. “Had I wanted to take 50, 75 or 90mm shots I would definitely have asked you to go with me to the concert. You are the absolute best at that, and no mistake. But these were just a couple of souvenir photos, snapshots. Quite below your standards.” I took the precaution not to mention that picture files from the Q can be cropped to good effect. She thawed a little.
“Perhaps,” she acknowledged gracefully. “Nevertheless, I still don’t understand why you are running around the houses with this cheap floozy. “But she isn’t cheap”, I protested.
“You know very well what I mean,” she retorted petulantly. “No sooner does this thin supermodel arrive with her thick….”
I hit the emergency brake. “Be careful what you say.”
“….Lens,” she huffed, “The poor little Fuji still hasn’t understood why you sent her to the slave market.”
“Don’t worry about that,” I growled teasingly. The ‘poor little Fuji’ was most of the time too confused to understand her own menu. And the naïve little soul had never realised how patronisingly she been treated by the M who is in a different league and should never have seen her as a serious competitor. I could only put all this down to a fit of jealousy.
“I need you both and would like it if you could be friends. You're both from a good home and have had the privilege of a world-leading team as parents,” I ventured diplomatically. The M peered at the Q, who had remained quiet throughout, focus flitting here and there and pretending not to notice.
“It must be great to have such a rangefinder,” piped up the Q shyly, clicking lightly on her shutter dial. I recognised the empathy immediately and realised that she had understood my tactics.
Throughout her short time with me she had been absolutely approachable and uncomplaining. Whenever I pressed her into the hands of strangers she made her photographs without fuss, entirely without delusions of grandeur—unlike some cameras I could name. The M often punishes me without thinking, mostly with her unsharp pictures or her out-of-frame subjects.
“And interchangeable lenses”, sighed the Q longingly. “It must be so exciting when the bayonet snaps in. You must definitely tell me how that is for you.” She winked at me with her electronic finder.
“Sure, of course I can do that,” grumbled the M, palpably mollified. Her ISO was almost back to a normal level. She coughed sheepishly, “and how does it go with this, um, er, autofocus thingy?”
I held my breath. The forbidden A word should never have been uttered. I hoped the Q knew what she was doing because she was in dangerous waters here.
“Boring!” interrupted the Q quickly and with the greatest apparent sincerity. “And hectic! I find manual focus so much more satisfying. So—how shall I say—clean and, er, full of feeling and responsiveness!”. Dreamily she set her time exposure. The screen of the M brightened noticeably. The Q was very subtle; she knew instinctively how to butter up the M. I grinned to myself.
“So,” I said and rubbed my hands, “I knew that you two would both get on well together. And just think what it will be like when the new M comes out next year.”
The shock hit me between the eyes. It had just slipped out. The Q switched herself off as a precaution, knowing what was likely to come. I was sure my M would burn out her sensor in anger. Instead she opened her shutter wide: “How better? How is it possible to make me better.”
I fled the room.
The original of this text appeared as part of a longer article in Messsucherwelt in December 2015