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.
Pentax Q
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.
Pentax Q
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.  
Pentax Q
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.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Pentax Q Lenses Announcement
  3. 3. Pentax Q Press Announcement
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  • Nemesis

    I’m missing the concept with that sensor and the marketing of ‘toy’ lenses – particularly if US price positioning is followed over here?

  • Tina Edwards

    A lot of concern has been expressed about the size of the sensor in the Pentax Q and its ability to produce quality images.

    I have just read a reasonably favourable review of the new Samsung WB700,which has the same size sensor. The WB700 also has an 18x zoom with 14MP resolution. It’s evident that the reviewer was surprised by the quality of this camera’s images, even if, understandably it isn’t comparable with that of a DSLR or CSC.

    The same size sensor is also used in many bridge cameras with even longer zoom ranges than the WB700.

    So,this is a question rather than a comment – if a 1/23″ sensor camera is paired with a prime lens offering a maximum f1.9 aperture doesn’t it stand a greater chance of optimizing image quality when compared to other cameras using this sensor size?

    Most compact cameras with this sensor size have a base aperture of f3.5 or thereabouts. The Pentax Q’s new zoom lens starts at f2.8 and covers a shorter focal range than any current superzoom or bridge camera. Couldn’t this potentially be a point in its favour?

    I’ve read a lot of comments, on various review websites, from people who have already dismissed this camera system as ‘rubbish’ and too expensive for its target market, i.e. point and shoot consumers.

    The suggested pricing does seem excessive but that might come down.

    Wouldn’t it be wise to wait and see what the image quality is actually like?

    For people who are quite happy to print at A3/A4 or less, who like the idea of a truly compact yet versatile camera system, the new CSC might prove to be a winning concept for Pentax.

  • Alan

    No viewfinder therefore no sale

  • PB

    With that size sensor, it’s nothing more than jewellery. No matter how good the IQ is, there is almost no DoF control. Chances for good high ISO speed performance are very slim, too. Pentax dropped the ball with that choice.

  • Rob Ellis

    I think this is one step forward and lots more than two steps back..
    The beauty of CSCs and SLRs is the large sensor, the ability to blur out backgrounds is one of the reasons why we buy such cameras… Having to use a filter to emulate bokeh due to the poxy small sized sensor just kills all hope of this making a statement.
    Obviously image quality wont match up to larger sensors due to the much smaller photosites, and the proprietary lens mount is just another unneeded blow in pentaxs failure of a system 😉