Pentax has announced their first foray into the Compact System Camera market with the Q model. This debut model offers a 12.4MP sensor, but at the 1/2.3 inch size rather than DSLR-sized. The Q's design certainly appear to be aimed more toward a compact-camera, aping the range finder style with a few retro touches of flair. The camera is the smallest Compact System Camera on the market by some margin, at 98 x 57.5 x 31mm, which is around 10mm shorter and thinner than the Sony NEX-C3.
The sensor is certainly the most significant element to be investigated, as it's far smaller than all of it's rivals. At 1/2.3inch, or 6.16 x 4.62mm, the CMOS chip is a step down from the 23.4 x 15.6mm of the Sony NEX range and 17.3 x 13.0mm of Micro Four Thirds. As we've seen from a number of compacts it's possible to produce an impressive image, but this reduction in size immediately puts the Q at a disadvantage.
Being a backlit sensor should improve the low light performance, the likes of which has also been seen in the Canon Powershot G12. With an ISO range of 125-6400 there's nothing massively spectacular from the camera on the specs front, but the backlit sensor should be able to reduce the appearance of noise in the final images.
With the new camera comes a new mount, which is an indication of the intention for a new range rather than just a single model. As is imperative with the launch of a new system there are multiple lenses appearing as well, which are listed by category rather than focal range. Five new lenses have been announced, in the form of a Standard Prime (47mm), Standard Zoom (27.5-83mm), Fish Eye (focal length tbc), Toy Lens (35mm) and Toy Lens Telephoto (100mm). Each are numbered to add to the ease of selection for beginners to the removable lens system, such as 05 Toy Lens. It seems the two Toy Lenses are geared at the Tilt Shift effect, offering a shallow depth of field.
Full manual controls are also present, with the aperture and shutter speed controllable via a dial on the top of the body. The rear of the camera is largely devoid of controls, inferring that the majority of the functionality is sealed within the menu system.
As with the majority of the CSC models currently available there's no mirror assembly on the Pentax Q, making it smaller, but also robbing the camera of an optical viewfinder. To remedy this Pentax has included a separate optical viewfinder to be mounted on the hotshoe. This approach is reasonably popular for the CSC market, with the likes of Olympus and Panasonic employing the same tact.
The flash looks to be something of an interesting prospect, appearing from the top right of the body on an extended arm. This makes it appear somewhat flimsy, sitting a fair distance out from the camera. The Q also has a 3" LCD screen and 1080 HD movie capabilities, alongside an in -camera sensor shift stabilization system.
The Pentax Q, and lenses, will available in mid-September with the price yet to be confirmed. For more information head to www.pentax.co.uk.