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...
Value & Verdict
Pentax Q review – Value
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
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.
Is 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.