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Customer Review

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect lightweight second camera for D-SLR owners, 2 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Pentax Q10 Compact System Camera with 5-15mm Lens Kit - Black Body/Black Grip (12MP) 3.0 inch LCD (discontinued by manufacturer) (Camera)
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I own a Canon D-SLR, and while it's a fantastic tool sometimes there's a need to take something along that's less bulky but still capable. The Q10 fits that niche nicely.

The camera body is tiny, barely any larger than a pack of cards. With the 5-15mm standard zoom supplied in this kit that grows quite a bit but will still fit in my jacket pocket - and I can imagine would be great for an evening out in most handbags. It's also extremely light. (Better still in terms of portability would be Pentax's standard 8.5mm prime lens, but unfortunately at the current date I can't find anyone supplying that in the UK).

For serious photographers, this has all the control you could hope for and then some - Av, Tv and M modes are easily accessible from a mode dial at the top. There are also P, Scene, HD video, Auto and "BC" modes. The BC or Blur Control mode simulates shooting at a wide aperture on a camera with a larger sensor by blurring out more out-of-focus areas of the screen; the tiny sensor and focal length of the lens make this physically difficult but instead the effect is simulated by the camera's software.

The supplied zoom lens has a reasonable maximum aperture of 1:2.8 at 5mm. Unfortunately this decreases to 1:4.5 when zoomed in to 15mm. The tiny compact-camera sensor has a crop factor of 5.5 so the little zoom sees the same field of view as a 28-85mm lens on a full-frame or film SLR. The sharpness and autofocus speed are probably a little better than average D-SLR kit lens but disappointing compared to the lenses you'd tend to upgrade to from those. In my shots so far I've not noticed colour fringing or significant distortion in the images.

However, this is an interchangeable lens camera, and a quick search on eBay found adaptors to use a range of other lenses including those with Canon, Nikon and old M42 connections. I picked up an adaptor to use an old but good 135mm lens I had with this which, with the crop factor, gives a field of view equivalent to 742mm in full-frame. Suddenly the little Q10 becomes an amazing tool for wildlife photography on a budget - with quality you'd normally pay ten times as much for (although using an adaptor to anything other than a pentax lens, you lose the convenience of autofocus and camera control of the aperture - fortunately my 135mm has an aperture ring).

There are a few more Q-system lenses available to expand your collection and add flexibility to your camera, though most of those currently available are marketed as "toy" lenses and are primes (not zooms) with a fixed aperture. The most obvious choice to extend your camera's capabilities is the Pentax Q 15-45mm zoom lens.

The standard ISO range goes up to 3200 (expandable to 6400) although noise becomes a serious problem quite quickly as you'd expect from a small sensor. Up to ISO 800 though it's pretty well controlled. Stability works extremely well, with hand-holding providing crisp results at quite low shutter speeds. External flashes will sync up to 1/2000s, allowing modest off-camera flashes to overpower the sun - a great feature when my Canon limits me to 1/250s at fastest. Manual focus works nicely with the clear 3-inch LCD screen. A viewfinder would have been nice, but its absence is an acceptable compromise in a package this small. Enabling "focus assist" and pressing the OK button zooms the LCD screen view in up to 4 times to assist in focusing.

Despite the small size and my large hands, I've found the controls easy to operate - although unfortunately at this time of year I can't operate the camera in gloves as I can with my D-SLR.

You can shoot in RAW, and the supplied SILKYPIX software provides adequate tools for tweaking your JPEG output.

For a D-SLR owner, this is a very good option for a lightweight camera when you'd prefer not to lug around a bagful of heavy cameras and lenses.
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