Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pentax Q - First Impressions

The Q is a compact size interchangeable lens camera introduced by Pentax in 2011. Many websites are calling it a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC), which I guess is technically correct as the Q lacks a mirror, but that term usually refers to cameras with DSLR-sized sensors such as the Sony NEX series or the Micro 4/3rds system of cameras from Panasonic or Olympus. Pentax themselves call the Q a Hybrid camera, and this category also includes another camera more similar to those other MILC, being the Pentax K-01 which uses an APS-C sensor.

Pentax Q with Pentax-01 Prime Lens (8.5mm F/1.9, equivalent to approx 47mm on full frame)

The Pentax Q looks like a toy based purely on the size, but it is actually a fully functional camera, and very expensive too with it originally priced at $800 RRP. Pentax have announced a successor to this camera, the Q10, and priced that at a more reasonable but still expensive $600 RRP. This has resulted in discounting of the original Pentax Q, and hence why I have one to play with :)

The Pentax Q compared to a Nikon D600.

The Pentax Q claims to be the smallest interchangeable lens camera, and I'd believe that (not counting some exceptions like spy cameras or obvious toys with no quality). It has a sensor size of 1/2.3", which is a typical size used in many compact cameras. This is approximately 5.5x smaller in area than a full-frame DSLR. The image quality is decent for what the camera is, but should not by any means be compared to DSLR images.

Check out some sample images from the Q below. All images taken with the Pentax-01 Prime lens.

Indoor shot, window lighting. ISO 640 and shutter speed of 1/60. Shot in RAW and converted by Adobe Lightroom. There's a bit of noise, but this is still fairly good performance by a compact camera sensor.

Outdoor shot under bright sunlight. Base ISO at 125. Shot in RAW and converted by Adobe Lightroom. The shadow detail looks pretty good, but the highlights in the sky are totally blown. An attempt to recover highlight detail in Lightroom has resulted in grey sky.

Close-up shot under shade in outdoor light. Good detail, impressive for a compact camera. Check the next image for a 100% crop.

100% crop of the photo above. Decent detail in the individual strands, with a bit of graininess visible in other areas.

100% crop of a Coke bottle at ISO 1000. Lots of noise and grain, but pretty good for 100

This isn't a full review, but more of a first impressions post. I won't conclude whether the Q is a great camera or not, but it definitely is a fun toy. The construction and materials are excellent quality. I wouldn't treat it as a serious camera, and as such don't expect absolutely top image quality. 

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