The Pentax Q puts the compact in Compact System Camera. Is the ultra-small Q able to outsmart its larger-sensor peers? The What Digital Camera Pentax Q review...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Pentax Q

Image Quality:85%
Overall score:80%


  • Small design, sharp & low noise images at ISO 125-400 settings, long lenses small in size, faster flash sync due to leaf shutter lenses (limited to 1/250th sec with external flash however)


  • Poor LCD screen, small sensor size means lack of shallow depth of field control, BC (Bokeh Control) mode is flawed and poor, function dial placed awkwardly by lens, not possible to fit an EVF, slow Raw shooting due to small buffer, expensive


Pentax Q Review


Price as reviewed:


Value & Verdict

Pentax Q review – Value

Pentax Q

At £600 with the 8.5mm (47mm equivalent) f/1.9 prime lens, the Pentax Q certainly isn’t cheap. No doubt that a huge amount of R&D and development costs will have gone into the system, but perhaps not enough of the former to realise that an accessible price-point would have gone a long way in helping the Q’s prospects in a wider market. It’s the high price that’s likely to be the Q’s single biggest sticking point, particularly when considering that the likes of the Panasonic LX5 compact is available for £360, or the Lumix GF3 Compact System Camera can be purchased for £480 with a 14mm f/2.5 lens. From our perspective the Q may offer good build quality and is a quirky, small size – but there are too few distinct angles to warrant the hefty asking price.

Pentax Q review – Verdict

Pentax Q

The Pentax Q already has divided opinion and is likely to continue to do so. It’s a true mix of genius and insanity blended into one product that, therefore, makes it underwhelming.

The Q’s small sensor does mean lack of shallow depth of field control and despite Pentax’s BC mode (pseudo bokeh background effect) making its way into the camera it just doesn’t work. The best way to think about the Q’s sensor is for what it is: able to produce the best images we’ve ever seen from a 1/2.3in sensor size. And the wandering street photographer may not care less about shallow depth of field. If this sounds like you then you may be part of that small group that the Q will appeal to.

Pentax QIs the Q better than other DSLR and CSC cameras? No. But it’s superior to almost every digital compact we’ve ever seen, and could happily be the ‘Queen’ here. Of course the interchangeable lens aspect makes it a target for the Compact System Camera contingent is where the Q falls down – all the expectation of performance, focusing speed, buffer size, screen quality and other factors can’t match up to the larger sensor competitors.

Unique and well made, but a novelty camera. The Q’s images are exceptional within the sensor’s confines, but it’s not enough of a stamp to see off the competition, and the £600 price tag will give very few prospective buyers any reason to choose this over a Lumix G or Olympus PEN model. We’re charmed – surprised even – but the Q’s ‘fun’ approach is short of the mark in a cut-throat market.


White Balance:Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent Light (D:Daylight Color, N:Daylight White, W:Cool White, L: Warm White), Tungsten, Flash, CTE, Manual (configuration on monitor). Fine adjustment (+/-7 steps on A-B axis or G-M axis)
Built-in Flash:Yes, works from body or pops up higher for use with longer lenses
Cable Release:Remote release
Exposure Comp:+/-3EV for stills, +/-2EV for movie mode
Memory Card:SD (HC/XC)
PC Socket:No
Compression:Best, Better, Good (3-1 stars)
Viewfinder Type:N/A (not possible to attach EVF to hotshoe, optical accessory only)
Output Size:4000x3000 (4:3)
Field of View:100% (LCD)
LCD:3in, 460k-dot
Colour Temp Control:Fine adjustment (+/-7 steps on A-B axis or G-M axis)
AF Points:25-points arranged in 9 zones
Sensor:12.4MP back-lit, 1/2.3in CMOS
White Balance Bracket:Yes
Max Flash Sync:1/2000th built-in flash / 1/250th external flash (leaf shutter lenses)
Focal Length Mag:5.5x approx
Dust Reduction:Yes, Dust Removal II (DRII) system
Other:Metal construction, multiple aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or 1:1), HDR mode, built-in flash with auto pop-up (for larger lenses), defocus effect, Smart Effects modes
DoF Prview:No
Metering System:TTL image sensor metering: segment, center-weighted and spot metering
Live Mode:Yes
Movie Mode:1080p at 30fps. MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (AVI) format/codec.
Built-in Image Stabilisation:Yes, sensor-based
Exposure Modes:Program (P), Shutter Priority (S), Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Bulb, AutoPicture mode (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Night Scene Portrait, Night Scene, Blue Sky, Forest) Scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait, Sunset, Blue sky, Night scene, Night scene HDR*, Night Snap, Food, Quick Macro*, Pet, Kids, Forest, Surf & snow, HDR*, Backlight silhouette, Candlelight, Stage lighting, Museum, Blur control* (*JPEG only)
Connectivity:mini HDMI, PC/AV out
Weight:300g (with battery & card)
Power:Rechargeable li-ion battery (D-LI68)
File Format:JPEG, RAW (DNG), RAW + JPEG
Shutter Speeds:30 – 1/2000th second
Dimensions:98mm (W) x 57.5mm (H) x 31mm (D)
Focusing Modes:Face Detection, Tracking, AF Select (25 points accessible in 9 groups), Select (single point), Spot (centre-only single point)
Lens Mount:Pentax Q
Drive Mode:Single, Burst (High to 5fps/Low), Self-timer (2/12sec), Remote, Bracketing
Colour Space:Adobe RGB, sRGB
ISO:125-6400 at full size
  1. 1. Pentax Q review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Value & Verdict
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