The Leica Q3

As if the Q2 weren’t good enough, Leica has released an even better model

As comfortable as we are round here with so-called brand-extension products, we can’t help but feel that, in recent years, the beyond-prestigious Leica camera company has taken them into the foothills of brand dilution.

While its $199-and-up Leica headphones and $11,000-plus watches are lovely, some of the lower-priced tchotchkes they offer, from $40 Leica key chains to $25 shopping bags, are less than great.

The thing is, Leica cameras, especially the top-of-the-range German-made models, are so peerless, such a sensuous delight to use, and so much more than a mere luxury product that they shouldn’t require marketing gimmicks. Cameras whose mere existence impels you to get out and take photos—and then take better photos—are in the realm of the spiritual for us.

And so it is with Leica’s new baby, the just-released digital Q3. (We specify digital because Leica still makes an analog film camera, the $5,295 M6.)

Leica’s Q series is loved by professional and hobby photographers alike. At Warner Bros. Discovery and AIR MAIL’s Cannes Film Festival party, in May, the art collector Jean Pigozzi was spotted snapping friends with his favorite Leica, the Q3’s predecessor, the Q2. For bonus points, he uses the black-and-white-only Monochrom version. At the same party, the photographer and film director Greg Williams was working with a pair of Q cameras.

Several hundred divisions below in the photography leagues, your columnist also has a Q2. He now plans to trade it in for a Q3.

What are Leica Q cameras? In simple terms, they are serious, undiluted, German-built Leicas with huge sensors and exquisitely fine optics, which together provide a picture quality all of their own. They are also point-and-shoot and offer video capability. All of this is normal for most high-end modern cameras, but in Leica terms, it’s relatively new, dating back only to 2015.

Previously, people with money who wanted the best but weren’t skilled photographers bought M-series Leicas, which come in at around $9,000, plus a few thousand more for a lens. I suspect they often ended up disappointed because M-series Leicas have manual focusing, which can be really, really tricky. A lot of these cameras, your columnist believes, linger unused as expensive ornaments. But with the Q series, focusing is automatic, and even faster on the Q3 than on the Q2.

One important drawback of the Q series is that the lens is fixed. No zoom, and no chance of swapping for another expensive Leica lens for, say, portraiture. It’s one focal length, like it or not, with no adjustment other than a macro setting for ultra close-ups. Leica has wisely chosen a 28-mm. lens, which is a modest wide-angle, but not so wide that it distorts the image. The view is very similar to that of an iPhone camera in landscape mode. It’s perfect for the kind of naturalistic street photography for which Leica Q cameras are intended.

For anyone with the good judgment to already have a Q2—or the still excellent Q from eight years ago—the Q3’s improvements will seem modestly helpful. But added together, they result in a camera so substantially improved that you will, we promise, ache not only to own one but to actually use it, too.

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 Speaker

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 Speaker, $1,099.

At last, a boom box that looks like summertime

“You won’t just hear Beosound A5—you’ll feel it,” says Danish audio-meister Bang & Olufsen of its newest portable speaker. To be sure, with its wooden handle, raffia-like sides, and striking heft, the Beosound could be mistaken for a high-end woman’s purse containing eight-plus pounds of granite.

Ten minutes listening to the A5, however, and it was clear that, with classic Scandinavian understatement, B&O’s copywriters are right. The bass is so extraordinarily powerful that it seems to make your inner organs vibrate—and we do mean that in a good way. By some form of sound-engineering magic, the A5 treats music with subtlety, too. Tracks we thought would be a little too bassy played with this Thor-like speaker came out pleasingly gentle on the insides, while music we never thought was that deep and dark revealed itself to have hidden aural profundity.

The mighty physical solidity of the A5 accounts for some of its majestic sound quality, but so do the four 70-watt amplifiers and the relatively massive 5.25-inch main speaker. It really is a wonderful Nordic monster. It also has a roughly 12-hour battery life, and it carries a sustainability pledge that the device will be repairable and its parts replaceable indefinitely. If the woven basket look isn’t for you, there’s also a handsome black aluminum finish.

The Nothing Ear (2) Earbuds

The Nothing Ear (2) Earbuds, $149.

A cost-effective set that has nothing to hide

As per this column’s prediction before last Christmas, the Swedish-British tech company Nothing and its modest Chinese-Swedish founder, Carl Pei, continue its rise to prominence with a steady flow of quirky but quality gadgetry.

The second iteration of its smartphone is due out in July—the innovative first version was a popular if niche success in Europe. Watch this space for a review of our hands-on experience with the phone. Meanwhile, the company has already released a new, improved, and more costly version of their highly rated earbuds, the Nothing Ear (stick), which we liked a lot when we reviewed them last year.

We particularly loved the see-through tubular housing for the original Nothing buds. (And, yes, we know it sounds like an ear-hygiene product.) But it seems Pei and company were less keen, because, for the 2023 version, they have opted for a more traditional hinged receptacle, like an AirPods case but transparent.

They also have a marginally less bonkers name this time. Now they’re called the Nothing Ear (2), as opposed to the Nothing Ear (Stick).

The earbuds themselves are a great deal more than Nothing. These are almost the equal in quality, we think, of the current $169 AirPods, and at a push, the $249 AirPods Pro. They sound excellent and have a ton of customization options, and we’re becoming big fans of the equalizer section of the terrific Nothing X app, which allows you to adjust quite drastically the sound of what you’re hearing to suit the music.

The Fold-N-Pack Portable Hanger

The Fold-N-Pack Portable Hanger, $19.99.

Feeling rumpled? Hang it up!

Our commitment to the occasional gadget that contains no electronics at all remains undiminished. And we like this, from Los Angeles–based Fold-N-Pack.

Who doesn’t like traveling light these days? To avoid delays and extortionate baggage charges, bringing hand luggage only, whenever possible, is a no-brainer. So, you wear your best jacket or dress on the flight—possibly not cool, but it’s doable—and avoid stuffing the clothing into a small flight bag or backpack. Only, then you get to where you’re going, and the hangers are either not great or they’re the annoying fixed-into-the-closet type.

A Fold-N-Pack Smart Hanger, on the other hand, is small enough to slip into a tiny overnight bag (it’s just over 10.5 by 4.5 inches) but unfurls to be a full-fat, sturdy, adult hanger.

We’ve had experiences with such collapsible hangers before, and all of them have been pretty feeble. This is a huge improvement. Not glamorous. But good.

Based in London and New York, AIR MAIL’s tech columnist, Jonathan Margolis, spent more than two decades as a technology writer for the Financial Times. He is also the author of A Brief History of Tomorrow, a book on the history of futurology