Join the Q! Leica's new compact camera is stunning

Leica has built its reputation on its top-quality interchangeable lens M-series 'rangefinder' cameras. Perfectly crafted but fabulously expensive, these are for demanding pros and camera connoisseurs only.

But Leica makes other cameras too. Slightly lower down the scale, but still with that legendary Leica build quality and attention to detail, it has the Leica T interchangeable lens camera, the Leica X fixed lens models and the Leica D-Lux and V-Lux models – though these are actually rebranded Panasonic cameras, so they're not quite the same.

The new Leica Q (Typ 116) is no second-division alternative, though. It matches the Leica M models in specifications with its a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens, and has the same superb finish and build quality.

There are technical differences compared to the M-series cameras. The Q uses an electronic viewfinder and autofocus rather than the direct vision viewfinder and rangefinder focusing of the M. It also has a fixed lens (though its digital zoom can simulate other focal lengths, after a fashion).

Otherwise, though, it's pure Leica, with manual external dials for shutter speed and lens aperture control and a clean, minimalist exterior.

Best of all, you don't have to wait to read the review because we've been allowed to use the Leica Q ahead of the official launch, so follow the link below to read the full review – and find out how it stacks up against its rivals.

The Leica Q is expensive, of course, but it's a lot cheaper than the Leica M series cameras. It goes on sale at £2,900 (about US$4,500/AU$5,800).

Read: Leica Q (Typ 116) review

Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.