Irrespective of its overall score, it's hard not to warm to the Pentax Q. Not only may look different, it is different, and for develop something really kudos must go to Pentax for daring to tread a different road. The Q can deliver solid results when used as a regular digital camera, but the law excels at is being able to deliver effects-laden photography on the fly. The generous number of creative tools and the ease with which they is employed mark the Q out as a camera to experiment and have fun with, and that can bolster its appeal to many, irrespective of its inherent limitations. There are undoubtedly better compact system cameras available for photography enthusiasts, but for gadget lovers and casual snappers looking for something tiny and fun, the Pentax Q pretty much hits needs to be. The $600 price tag is uncompetitive though, and sure to place plenty of people absent.
Pentax Q review - Introduction
Compact system cameras have been around for just under three years now and while many models have shown promise, none have quite delivered regarding the promise of an interchangeable-lens camera that'll fit inside a regular coat pocket with room to spare. Until now, that is.
Looking rather as the miniaturised rangefinder (without a viewfinder), the Pentax Q offers a fresh take on the compact system genre by combining genuine pocketability with a generous feature-set and a wealth of easily accessed creative features.
Working on a digital camera truism that bigger sensors require bigger lenses, Pentax has instead thought keep everything as small as possible, and to this end the Q employs a 1/2.3in sensor - exactly you shouldn't size that's found inside the majority of regular compacts. Simply tiny lenses in order to become attached to the newly developed Q mount.
This unique approach has, somewhat inevitably, led to some raised eyebrows from those who believe that fitting compact cameras with interchangeable lenses is a slight ludicrous idea. Together with a more positive outlook, however, may be inclined to reason that advancements in sensor technology in the past several years give the Pentax Q every possibility of succeeding. Either way, the Pentax Q marks the period it has been tried on a scale, and for this reason alone Pentax surely deserves some credit reports.
Given the way Pentax has approached the compact system market, it's somewhat difficult to pinpoint its most direct competitors. The $600 price tag for a Pentax Q body and 8mm f/1.9 lens doesn't makes any easier the way it makes the full package more expensive than the Olympus E-PL3 body and 14-42mm pancake lens combo, or your Sony NEX-C3 twin lens kit. Additionally you can expect to see plenty of consist of $600 should you want to opt for either the Lumix G3 or Lumix GF3 standard zoom presents.
Should we be also thinking of the Pentax Q as a CSC, at all? Given the sensor size would it not be better compared against advanced compacts such because your Canon S100, Nikon S9100 or Lumix LX5? Either way, the Pentax Q clearly has its work cut out if it hopes to convince you to part with the attractive element of $600
Let's take a close look and find out if it can this.
Overall, the Pentax Q is an actual well appointed little camera that provides a generous feature set and plenty of scope for customisation. This very much mirrors what we've seen with Pentax DSLRs lately years, as the machines attempts to increase its market share by producing cameras that offer class-leading value for financial investment.
The Pentax Q is built around a 1/2.3inch CMOS sensor that is backside-illuminated for better low-light performance, and which delivers 12.4-megapixels of effective resolution. This is allied to what Pentax describes for a 'new generation' of Q image processor that is claimed to deliver 'clear, high contrast images rich in gradation and texture'. It's a bold claim, 1 that we'll discuss the accuracy of in more detail later on in this Pentax Q review, but first let's consider what else the Pentax Q offers in the associated with specifications and showcases.
The Q could be set to record lossless Raw image files and compressed JPEGs at complete 12MP, with further options to record JPEGs at 9MP, 5MP and 3MP, with three degrees of JPEG quality choose from. While the default aspect ratio is 4:3 (4000 x 3000 pixels max output), the Q can also record in 3:2, 16:9, and 1:1 albeit at slightly lower maximum resolutions. Sensitivity, meanwhile, ranges from a credible ISO 125 to ISO 6400, and has extra benefit of rising in small numerical increments rather merely doubling up is actually more common.
The Q supplies familiar quartet of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual shooting modes, alongside an entirely automatic AutoPicture mode (essentially an Automatic Scene selection mode), 21 individual Scene modes and a Blur Control mode that's designed permit you create a shallower depth of field through clever image processing (again, more on this later).
Elsewhere, the Q offers all types of handy shooting tools, including Interval Shooting, a built-in Neutral Density filter, which has a Distortion Correction element. In addition, there's also an automatic HDR capture tool, along with separate controls for Shadow and Highlight Static correction. The Q also offers built-in Image Stabilisation and also a full-size hotshoe connection that's able to fit the Pentax VF1 optical viewfinder that's sold as an optional extra. Hopefully we'll see more accessories designed just for use with it in coming a long time.
What the Q really excels at, however, is in-camera special effects. These will take the form of Smart Effects and Digital Filters, backed up by an assortment of Custom Image (JPEG processing) settings. Smart Effects are a new addition to Pentax cameras and are essentially a group of processing presets which may be applied either pre- or post-capture. The nine Smart Effects on offer are: Brilliant Colour, Unicolour Bold, Vintage Colour, Cross Processing, Warm Fade, Tone Expansion, Bold Monochrome, Water Colour, Vibrant Colour, and an user-defined Custom pre-programmed.
In addition to its Smart Effects, the Q also has an equally generous array of Digital Filter effects. With 19 filter effects in one payemnt it's by far the most generous set we've seen in a camera with this particular size, with specific options including: Toy Camera, High Contrast, HDR, Invert Colour, Extract Colour, Posterization, Fish-eye, Starbust and, of course, our old favourite Miniaturisation.
While these Smart Effects and Digital Filters can not combined, these people could be accessed in a rapid via the prominent four-point dial that sits at the front in the Q. Easily set up via primary Menu, this dial in order to to flick between stored presets a good instant, which usually turn actively encourages in order to make utilization of the Q's built-in creative potential.
In addition to quick-accessing the camera's Smart Effects and Digital Filters, this dial can even be used to modify between Custom Image presets and aspect ratios. Sadly, you can't mix and match your presets, but overall it remains a flexible arrangement which allows you to shoot normally, but about your favourite creative effects easily an moment.
Lastly, the Q has the capacity to to record movies at a maximum 1920 x 1080p Full HD at 30fps, with further 720p and VGA opportunities. Audio is strictly mono only, as there's no port the external microphone and recorded movies are converted into MPEG-4/H.264 docs. While you can put on Custom Image settings to movies, it is not possible to dab any of the Smart Effects or Digital Filters.
DESIGN AND PERFOMANCE
When visiting the camera's design, extremely thing that strikes you is how the Pentax Q really is tiny. In fact, it's currently littlest interchangeable lens camera available, and by some distance too. Remove the lens along with the camera body is small even by regular fixed-zoom compact camera standards. And yet, using its all-metal outer construction the Q feels decidedly robust and well made. At 200g body only, or 237g with the 8mm standard prime lens attached, the Q will have a nice, reassuring weight about it, too.
Styled to a great extent like a miniaturised rangefinder, albeit one without a viewfinder, the Q sports a rounded-off finger golfing grip. Given the tiny overall dimensions of the camera it's at best a two-finger grip, however its rubberised finish along using a raised thumb-rest at the trunk combine to make the Q feel fairly secure the actual hand. Major question for most users is actually whether to secure the Q along with a neck-strap (which makes the camera look somewhat toy-like and out of proportion), or to just happy with a wrist strap instead.
Lenses can be swapped by pressing the production catch on their own front within the camera and thus twisting the lens off as assume with a DSLR. Performing need to get careful when swapping lenses though, as the sensor sits almost immediately behind the lens, consequently it's fully exposed the actual lens recently been removed and thereby highly can also be damage from fingers and dirt. While the camera automatically activates a sensor-cleaning action whenever it's shut down, seriously don't must be getting any dust on a sensor of size from the outset as, proportionally, it'll cover a larger part with the sensor's surface than it would on a MFT or APS-C sensor, making it a) more noticeable and b) harder to correctly.
The Pentax Q takes its name through new Q-mount (reportedly the 'Queen' to Pentax's 'King' K-mount for DSLRs). At present Pentax gives range of 5 lenses - a ten.5mm f/1.9 Standard Prime, a 5-15mm f/2.8-4.5 Standard Zoom, an a few.2mm f/5.6 Fish-Eye, a 6.3mm, f/7.1 Toy Lens Wide and an 18mm f/8 Toy Lens Telephoto. Imply Q's compact-sized sensor, a crop factor of a number of.5x needs to be applied to see the 35mm equivalent of the listed focal locks. In this way, the 8.5mm Standard Prime implies 47mm on the 35mm film camera.
The Q's in-camera enu system seem instantly familiar to anyone who's ever used a Pentax DSLR, although thankfully it remains easy enough to navigate for people that haven't. When it's in shooting mode the directional buttons can be used to directly access ISO, White Balance, Drive mode and Flash settings, while the info button accesses a kind of 'quick menu' for other regularly accessed settings for example Custom Image, Digital Filters, Aspect Ratio, Image Stabilisation, Metering mode, AF mode, JPEG size/quality and the like. The only real complaint we have with overall operation is that the Q's physical buttons are very small, driving them to a bit fiddly also included with.
Start-up time is three second mark, which isn't particularly quick. Utilizing the Q in Single-shot mode we were shoot around one full-res JPEG every two seconds, may pretty slow. There was no upper limit for your number of shots you can easily take in this way though. Switching to Continuous (Low) we were able to shoot at just under a person particular.5fps, again at full resolution with no upper limit on quantity of shots. In Continuous (High) we could shoot in the claimed 5fps, although we actually managed 10 shots (as opposed to the claimed five) before the buffer filled and the camera slowed up to approximately 4.5fps.
Autofocus performance, while adequate in a large number of situations, is still a little slow in conclusion. Indeed, we found the Q's AF speed to be more in order to a regular mid-range compact than a $600 CSC - we'd expected something a bit faster. Females notable delay between pressing the shutter button and the camera actually firing - again, in much the same way as an old-fashioned compact.
The 3in, 460k-dot monitor is fine when used indoors or away from direct sunlight outdoors, but doesn't cope very well with sunshine. Somewhat annoyingly, when in shooting mode the Q displays underexposed and overexposed areas with yellow and red fill-colours. Try as we might, we couldn't are able to switch this function off. Battery life isn't great either; we managed about 200 images on a single charge so that the juice ran out.
While the Pentax Q might look like a miniature DSLR, planned it's quite a bit an advanced compact and this needs become kept at when judging overall image quality. Compared against other compacts utilizing a 1/2.3in sensor, including runners that fall while in the high-end or advanced compact segment for this market, we're pleased to report how the Q does a great job. Indeed, to revisit the bold claim made by Pentax when i referenced at the outset of this review it's certainly true that the Q can deliver 'high-contrast images, abundant with gradation and texture,' and much more besides. Wherever regular compact cameras go, the Pentax Q delivers some of the highest quality image quality we've yet seen, with mid-range ISO performance particularly strong.
Between ISO 125 and ISO 400, images remain sharp and free of noise, while ISO 800 shows only minor warning signs of noise with impressive levels of detail retained, especially in shadow areas. It was ISO 1600, however, that really left us impressed; whereas the majority of compacts care for deliver fairly poor results at ISO 1600, the Pentax Q is still producing beneficial images. Under close examination, detail sometimes appears to have softened, but noise is kept largely at bay, with overall image quality remaining high enough to view and/or print at larger sizes may usually be the case.
Metering is usually quite consistent, although issue with having Pentax DSLRs, the Q has a propensity to preserve highlight detail through underexposure. Thankfully, the camera offers /-2EV compensation suggest in situations where you need to intervene. We didn't encounter any along with Automatic White Balance, but now Q proving consistent at metering for variations in colour heating.
Sadly though, there are some limitations, a problem Q's compact-sized sensor severely limiting how shallow a depth of field will be able to attain, despite the fact that shooting at maximum aperture. Even but now 8mm lens opened to f/1.9, you need to be utilizing the Q at its minimum focus distance (around 15cm) to really throw the background sharply out-of-focus. And while such close focusing end up being ok for Macro and still-life work, it simply isn't practical for larger subjects and for portraits.
Clearly aware of this limitation Pentax has attempted to implement a treatment in are a Blur Control shooting mode in which accessed right from the main mode face. This basically uses image processing to accentuate the defocused areas of image, with three numbers of strength that are available. In theory it's a nice idea, yet in practice we found it to be somewhat flawed, often neglecting to properly distinguish our main subject and blurring random areas on the same focal plane, with the net result that some images end up looking like they've been put through one of individuals fake tilt-shift apps you may get for touch screen phones.
The generous number of creative tools and simplicity with which they can be taken mark the Q out as a camera to experiment enjoy yourself with, and that will surely bolster its pull in many, despite its inherent limitations. Number of undoubtedly better compact system cameras eligible photography enthusiasts, but for gadget lovers and casual snappers on the lookout for something smaller than average fun, the Pentax Q pretty much hits make sure that. The $600 price tag is uncompetitive though, and sure to place plenty individuals who off.