on 22 March 2012
The Pentax Q is a gem! Excellent classic looking camera with controls and functionality like an advanced DSLR yet in a small magnesium-alloy body with interchangeable lenses. Unless you are a pixel peeper do not worry about the sensor size. The image quality is very good, very close to my E-PL2 which is amazing for a small sensor.
- smallest compact system with interchangeable lenses
- great standard standard prime lens with f/1.9 maximum aperture
- great image quality despite the sensor size
- built is very close to my Ricoh GR Digital
- controls are like a Pentax DSLR
Things that could be improved:
- more proper (not toy) lenses like a 28mm and 85mm equivalent prime
- include a lens hood
- make automatic distortion correction work with DNG files in Aperture 3 (this might be Apple's job)
Overall, a highly recommended camera and system!
on 17 June 2013
Are you used to using a DSLR? When you have left your DSLR at home and taken a compact camera instead, what did you find most frustrating about using the compact camera?
A) Image quality and high ISO performance that doesn't compare to your DSLR
B) The functionality of the camera. The lack of a hot shoe. The lack of raw. The lack of lens choice. The lack of external buttons and controls so that you have to keep accessing the menu to make changes to your settings.
If you answered B, this camera is for you. Despite its tiny size, the feels very much like A DSLR, in terms of its functionality etc. It is just a joy to use.
It is fair to say the Q got mixed reviews. Lots of people didn't know what to make of the Q, or how to categorise it. Others recognised that it was not like any other camera you can buy. Some tried to make comparisons, and claimed that it didn't compare favourably, and criticised it. Others recognised that it was unique, and loved it.
Most reviews compared it to CSC cameras, and complained that image quality - and particularly high ISO performance - was not quite as good as the competition. But those cameras are much bigger than the Q. And even when Sony manage to get their cameras unbelievably small (given the size of the sensors) the lenses remain relatively large. The small size of the Q's sensor allows them to use tiny lenses.
So other reviews compared the camera to high end compacts, which have similar size sensors, and many reviewers concluded that image was quality similar. But of course these cameras don't have interchangeable lenses, and don't go anywhere near as wide as the Q's fish eye lens - not to mention the other benefits of the Q.
Not many cameras this size have a hot shoe for a flash unit. My favourite book on flash photography is this one:
On-Camera Flash Techniques for Wedding and Portrait Photography
With a small flash like this one Metz 24-AF1 Digital Flashgun for Pentax and a hot shoe flash lead you can do (almost) everything discussed in this book with this tiny camera. (And because you will be using flash, the fact that the high ISO performance can't compare with DSLRs won't be a major consideration.)
Also, many of the smaller CSC cameras sacrifice external controls to help keep the camera small, so settings have to be changed through the menu. Given its size, the Q has a surprising number of external buttons for easy access.
The Q, however, really becomes a unique camera when you combine it with K mount adapter, to use Pentax K mount lenses (though it also becomes a manual focus only camera).
One review tested the Q for macro shots, and commented that the Q didn't have a dedicated macro lens. But, combined with a K mount adapter, the Q becomes a great camera for macro, capable of taking amazing photos of insects etc.
See the picture of the spider on this forum
Similarly, when combined with a K mount adapter, a 50mm lens takes you as close to your subject as a 200mm lens would on an entry level DSLR. On what other camera can you get a 200mm 1.4 lens?
See the picture of the moon on this forum: http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-q/194467-pentax-q-real-world-user-review.html
Depth of field
The small sensor also gives you more depth of field in your photo (more of the shot is in focus). Admittedly, this is a disadvantage as often as it is an advantage. In some cases (with macro and extreme telephoto for example) this may be seen as a real advantage.
So, in short, if you want this to do what a compact camera does, you will probably be better off getting a compact camera.
If you compare this to a DSLR, the DSLR will win (unless you compare it in terms of size, or if you compare in terms of cheap and light weight telephoto and macro capabilities).
If you compare it to other CSC cameras, it will be simply be a question of what you value most: the best image quality and high ISO capability or being as tiny as possible, while still giving you interchangeable lenses and a hot shoe for a flash.
But the Q qualities of the Q are missed if you compare it to other cameras, asking if it can compete with a DSLR for shallow depth of field, or if its image quality competes other CSC cameras at high ISO.
The real strengths of the Q are in areas where other cameras simply cannot compete with it. A tiny camera that is not limited to point and shoot, can shoot in RAW, has a hot shoe, has a fish eye lens, functions much like an entry level DSLR (with similar controls and external buttons), has tiny lenses that you can carry in a pocket, and which becomes an entirely different camera when fitted with a K mount adapter.
If reviewers simply have a set of standard tests they go through, the Q often doesn't compare well with other cameras. Typically, the reviewers who were the most enthusiastic about the Q were those reviewers who didn't simply do a set of tests, reporting the results, but who actually used the camera.
Also, the price has dropped significantly. You can often find it new, with the 8.5 prime lens, for under £200.
on 29 February 2012
First off I bought my Pentax Q after the big price drop, and with the £50 cashback offer, as such I got both kit lenses the 8.5mm prime and the 5-15mm tele with it, for around £450. For a 'toy' camera, I think this is a lot of money.
If your not currently a photography enthusiast, skip to the last paragraph, this will only bore you.
I'll briefly mention the lenses, they are both auto-focus lenses, the prime has some lovely characteristics, but remember that with a sensor this small your not going to be getting low DoF (Depth of Field, how much of the image is in focus) effects going on, well not naturally, however the Q has something up its sleeve for this.
The tele lens I'd recommend because after playing with the wide 6.3mm lens aka toy lens 04, I wouldn't recommend the 6.3, get the tele. It has auto-focus, and remarkably less noticeable barrel distortion than the prime?! If this is just a case of the the tele having better in body correction I don't know, but I would recommend someone getting this cheaper bundle with the telephoto, and forgetting the 6.3mm.
With lenses its worth noting you can fit via attachment rings available as of writing this review Cannon, Pentax and Nikon mount lenses on here. Just remember the crop factor is over five times!
The cameras performance in low light is remarkably good for such a small sensor, sure owners of the K-5 or D7000 grade sensors aren't going to be reaching for a Q to take high quality snaps, but thats not really the point.
Which brings me on to what I think the point of this camera is, quick snaps, and quick fun. All of the in body effects even a complete amateur could manage in photoshop / lightroom after a quick search of howoto videos on youtube, however its nice to quickly get a very acceptable quality snap and see it right there and then.
The fact it has a 'Blur Control' or 'Bokeh Control' if you rather, on the function dial should help explain the purpose of this camera. Sure the sensor is so small you can't have fun with DoF in the way you can with your nifty fifty lens, not a problem, its taken care of in body. Start having some fun.
Want to capture a simple HDR scene, not an issue, want HDR at night, yes its done, easily in body. The scene modes go beyond what you find in most cameras, its not a case of just cranking the staturation in sunset. I for one like this. I like 'chimping' the art of taking a digital picture, looking at the instant preview and making an 'oogh' sound. This camera is perfect for that, you will see quickly if your HDR shot isn't quite capturing the scene you want, and you can take another, something which is a lot harder if your planning on doing all of this work later.
Yet the quality that comes from these SCN mode pictures isn't half bad either, you will have no problems printing a super A3 from any of the images this mode generates, which is good, because I'm that awful type who obsesses more over the technical flaws of the image whilst neglecting the composition, so thats good. However I'm not going to think about getting rid of my 'proper' DSLR anytime soon.
TLDR: So would I recommend one? Depends who it is for. If you've not got a DSLR, want something to say take travelling then yes, this is pretty much perfect, the only thing lacking is Pentax's normally high quality weather resistant build quality. If your wanting to get in to digital photography, then probably no, despite the small size been attractive for some people its damned expensive and there are comparatively few lenses available. If you already own a DSLR but love gadgetry it's a much harder decision, if you want something which you can have a lot of fun with, take with you when you don't want the whole DSLR kit then maybe, but otherwise everything you can do with this camera, you can do with your proper one, better, it will just take longer.
For me it's perfect, I already have a K-5 and a k20d, I can use my flash guns, even share lenses with the aftermarket adapter, thou my ultra wide angle becomes a telephoto. I can take 'snaps' which are HDR with maybe 4 seconds of effort, see the result immediately.
*** Update 8th December *** Pentax obviously realised that they totally missed the mark with the pricing of the Q at launch, and have slashed the price by over a third. This makes it a realistic proposition, and I'm adding a point back onto my original score, giving it 4/5.
Firstly, I have to declare an interest - I didn't stump up my own cash to buy the Pentax Q. Like everyone reviewing for Amazon Vine, I was sent one specifically for the purposes of reviewing it. It's not a camera I would necessarily have chosen to supplement my collection, as its functionality has significant overlap with cameras I already own, but that in mind, I thought it would be useful to review it by comparing it with them. Before using the Pentax Q, I'd mentally grouped it with the Nikon J in the category of cameras which, although technologically impressive, fall between two stools in terms of functionality when targeted at the enthusiast, and yet are priced at a sufficiently high price point that they are unlikely to appeal to a broader market. That said, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised when I took delivery of my Q and started to shoot with it.
The first thing which immediately strikes you is quite how tiny the Pentax Q actually is. Looking at photos and video of the Q, you could be forgiven for thinking that it's roughly the size of the Canon G series. In reality, it's actually a lot smaller. The main body is proportioned like a squat Canon S95 - slightly thicker from front to back, and a shade shorter. This is of course without the lens attached. Once the equally miniscule 8.5mm f/1.9 prime lens (47mm equivalent) is attached, it becomes rather less tiny, but remains incredibly compact - it can easily be slipped into the smallest of coat pockets, and in the pocket of your trousers if they're reasonably loose fitting.
In the hand (I have large hands) it's surprisingly easy and comfortable to use. The dials and buttons are very small, but so well placed and spaced that even people with sausage fingers should have little trouble operating them. The grip on the right hand side of the camera allows you to easily hold and shoot with one hand (as long as it's your right hand). Interestingly, because of its size, I think the Q would make a wonderful camera for a child to use. Small hands would really feel at home with it. Of course, because of its relatively high price - only the most indulgent of parents would likely consider this as a stocking filler for a 6 year old.
The publicity photos of the Pentax Q do not do it justice. I think it looks very plasticky and toy-like in the shots I've seen - specially in white. In the flesh, the black model I have looks very classy indeed. The faux leather grip covering across the front face is rubberised with the same high quality of finish as my Nikon D700 - nice and grippy without feeling sticky and picking up dust and lint. The rest of the body has a lovely subtle crackle finish which accentuates the glossy dials and controls. I'm surprised by quite how classy it looks - and feels too - it has a really nice `heft' which betrays its magnesium alloy moulded shell and the wealth of technology packed into its bijou frame. The finish is completed in fine style by the silver lens, which looks to me like anodized aluminium. The weight and finish take what could very easily have looked like a silly toy camera, and instantly make it a thing of beauty. In terms of sheer looks, it comes second only to my Fuji X100. I certainly did not expect to have that reaction judging purely from the photos I'd seen.
Digging into the functionality of the camera, I believe you will not be disappointed. It has several modes of operation - including the usual Full Auto, Program, Aperture and Shutter priority as well as Manual - all the modes in fact that most enthusiast photographers will need. In addition it has `Blur Control' (digitally enhanced bokeh) and Scene modes. Full Auto does pretty much what you'd expect - automate everything including choosing the focus point. I had a play with it, and it seems to work well enough. I don't imagine many people splashing this kind of money on a camera this sophisticated will be using it for the majority of the time though. Aperture and Shutter priority are very straightforward - the thumb button works very well to control aperture or shutter speed, and you can have auto ISO turned on or off as needed. I generally have it turned on. Manual mode requires that you manually adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Fortunately each of these are no more than a button press and a thumb wheel away. I wish manual ISO adjustment on my X100 was that easy.
The more you dig into the menus, the more you realise quite how sophisticated this little camera is. It can shoot JPG, RAW (in DNG format - which is super for Adobe Lightroom users), and RAW+JPG. It can also do what my Canon S95 can't, and that's display and shoot in B+W while shooting RAW+JPG. This is my preferred shooting mode, as I like to shoot B+W JPGs while retaining the RAW in case I want to render in colour later.
Many advanced modes are available including exposure bracketing - 3 shots with up to +/- 3 EV - good enough for basic HDR imaging, plus full adjustment of contrast and sharpening for in-camera JPG rendering. Flash adjustment includes auto plus red eye reduction and trailing curtain shutter sync. It allows flash compensation of between +1 EV and -2 EV. The built-in flash can either be used on-camera, or by flipping a small release on the top, it unfurls on the end of a rather impressive articulated boom arrangement to a position a full 8cm diagonally from the centre of the lens. That really is quite an impressive feat, and the mechanism is actually quite robust and easy to slot back into place, unlike some I've seen. The hot shoe works fine with my Nikon SB-600 and SB-800s using manual mode, though to be able to use auto flash control, you will no doubt need to use one of the compatible Pentax flash guns with the correct pin-out and logic. Given all the manual controls available on the camera however, using an external flash in manual mode is still useful. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the internal flash can sync right up to the maximum shutter speed of 1/2000th, allowing daylight to be over-powered well. Unfortunately however, the hot shoe only fires up to 1/250th, which means that, although theoretically possible to sync with external flashes right up to 1/2000th, it is only possible by using an optical slave fired from the built in flash and not via the shoe itself. This is a missed opportunity.
There is a built-in ND filter, so if you want to try your luck at shooting with shallow DoF in bright daylight, you can keep to the maximum 1/2000th shutter speed without over-exposing the shot - however, given the small size of the sensor (1/2.3") achieving shallow DoF of significance will be a challenge. The Blur Control feature goes some way to improving this, by estimating the distance of objects from the lens and applying digital blur to JPGs after the fact, but this is not 100% reliable, and can make mistakes - occasionally blurring things which should actually be in focus.
The 47mm equivalent prime lens is pleasant enough, and certainly better than most compact cameras. It's actually sharpest almost wide open at f/2.0 and f/2.8, then starts to suffer from diffraction at f/4.0, getting progressively worse at f/5.6 and f/8.0 - where it's really starting to lose a lot of detail. This is not such a big problem given that the effective DoF is actually pretty deep at f/4.0. Sharpness does suffer in the corners, but not unduly, and vignetting is almost unnoticeable. It does suffer from some fairly significant barrel distortion, but this can be corrected in-camera in JPGs and in Lightroom for RAW DNG files. Happily, Lightroom 3.5 includes distortion correction profiles for the Pentax 01 Standard Prime and 02 Standard Zoom lenses. For the prime lens I have on my camera this works very well.
If there is one thing which limits the Pentax Q and makes its price point somewhat ambitious, it's the small size of the sensor, which at 1/2.3" has about half the area than that in my Canon S95, and about 1/13th that of the APS-C sensor in my X100. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it's a new generation Sony manufactured backlit CMOS sensor, and so its performance is better than might be expected, but in comparing shots with my S95 at various ISO settings (a compact known for its good low light performance), the Pentax Q falls about 1/2 EV (0.5 stops) short in terms of high ISO performance. This is not a problem if you mostly shoot in reasonable light, but if you are require fast shutter speeds in moderate lighting or want to shoot indoors in available light, this is not the camera for you. The up side of having a small sensor means that the camera and its lenses can be made far smaller than they otherwise could be, which has helped keep its size well within the 'pocketable' class, but this has inevitably compromised somewhat its ability in low light conditions.
The supplied manual is all in English and is equally as chunky and pocketable as the Q itself. I wish it had gone into a little mode explicit detail on some features, but as the camera is so easy to get to know without needing to refer to the manual, perhaps a little superfluous anyway.
So in summary - this camera is absolutely jam-packet with features, and if you can live with moderate low light performance in a camera body which is truly compact, then the Pentax Q is definitely worthy of consideration. Possibly the biggest concern of all is that the relatively high price point at the time of writing is going to put it in hard competition with cameras like the Canon G12 and Fuji X10, both of which have similarly advanced features - though both are somewhat more bulky. The other cameras of course do not have the ability to change lenses, though they do feature built-in zoom lenses.
Overall then, I'm going to rate this camera 3 stars, because it is a lovely object to behold and use, and is truly packed with features. I would have scored it 4 stars but for the relatively high price point, so this may change over time.
on 12 August 2013
If you want a conversation piece camera - this is it! Guys love it because it has all the bells and whistles of a proper DSLR (gadget appeal), girls love it because it is tiny and "cute".
We have a proper DSLR, which this was supposed to augment, That you can just whip it out and snap away in Auto, then if you have the time to be a bit creative, you can adjust away to your hearts content. Trouble is the auto mode on the Pentax Q is awful and I'm not a good enough photographer to quickly adjust the settings to get a good photo in the semi manual modes.
I'm unsure at the moment if I want to persevere with this cool little camera, or cut my losses and whack it on a popular online auction site...
on 20 December 2012
I have bought this to supplement my Pentax K7, which can be cumbersome at times.The Pentax Q is tiny in comparison and is very similar in size to a compact camera.
It is what is called a "mirrorless", meaning that it is to all intents and purpose a DSLR, but without the mirror and associated pentaprism, making it smaller and lighter. Like the DSLR it has interchangeable lenses and is supplied in this case with the Prime 01 lens. this is equivalent to a standard 35mm lens of 47mm focal length. It is also very fast at f1.9. This makes it very easy to take indoors shots with no flash and is helped further by the incorporated shake reduction system. It is a brilliant standard lens for everyday shots and can force you to look at the creation of the shot rather than zooming in and out.
The picture taking options are vast, as one would expect from such a camera including aperature priority; shutter priority; auto mode; scene mode; fully manual; programme mode and blur control:
The facility I really do like is the ability to assign any functionality to a quick selector which is the round knob next to the lens. You can set 4 seperate modes directly to it. It is then a quick turn to selct your choice perhap black & white, sepia and many other functions. Much easier to allocate your favourites and twist the knob than cycle through the menu structure to change back and forth.
HD video is a breeze and produces excellent quality movies. No need for the camcorder now.
Image quality is excellent and the flash very good, lighting the sybject rather than blasting it!
With an adapter I can use any of my Pentax K lenses and my IR remote works too, both infront and behind the camera.
I am really impressive at the overall quality, function, build and delivery of the Pentax Q. Would I buy it again? Too right I would!!
on 11 November 2013
Had this little thing for several months now so I feel i have 'run it in' so to speak and the one thing I can say for certain is that PQ in auto mode is awful. Since auto is what i spend most of my time using (since this camera is made for taking everywhere and snapping away with) this is a big disappointment. Everything seems a little dull and microscopically out of focus (my £69 Fuji takes sharper, clearer pictures). I've fiddled with the hundreds of different modes and can't get it to be 'just so'. Really frustrating.
On the good side though, build quality is fantastic, the flexibility is outstanding (incredible number of modes and 'art' settings and filters) and i can't fault the spec at all.
However, picture quality is king is it not? Doesn't matter what the camera 'can' do if the pics are only 'hmm' then nothing else matters.
Just glad i got it for only £149 and not the original asking price (£800!!!).
on 17 July 2012
Item as described, arrived in advance of estimated delivery date. Meets my photography requirements (for a slightly more sophisticated and flexible, though still easy to use digital camera system) perfectly. Could do with a longer zoom option to avoid the need to crop images on computer later, but that said the quality is such that I haven't detected any significant loss in sharpness yet.
on 7 October 2012
I am a keen amateur photographer and I own a Nikon D40 DSLR as well as a Canon S90 compact. The Canon I bought mostly for my wife to use as she was not keen on using my bulkier SLR. I have used the Canon quite a lot as well because it is much easier to slip into a bag or pocket when we go out and I don't feel like lugging along the SLR. However, the Canon always felt too much like a point-and-shoot to me, despite it being an "expert" compact with many manual control options. As the Canon is used mostly by my wife, I have been looking for a small, but DSLR like camera to carry with me to work during the day so that I can snap pictures whenever I feel like, and the Pentax Q looked like just the camera I wanted when it first came out.
However, I was put off by the very high price and the very negative reviews I saw of it on most photography sites. Then a few days ago I walked into my local electronics store and they had five brand new white Pentax Q cameras at a very low price. It was just too good a price for me to walk away from it and I bought one on the spot, figuring that if it was really that bad, at least the price I paid was very low and secondly, it couldn't be that bad could it?
After three days of use all I can say is that this little gem is providing me with more fun than any of the other cameras I ever owned and I just can't stop taking pictures. I didn't bother to fit the neck strap as it is just so small and compact that I prefer holding it in one fist or slipping it into my pocket to be ready for quick snaps, no strap and no bag.
Looks wise this little camera is just gorgeous, it looks better than most cameras out there, like a mini Leica or range finder camera with a sort of retro look. Two main things are important to me in a camera apart from looks and of course the most important is image quality, and secondly the set of features and how to acces them. I am not a fan of cameras where all of the settings have to be accessed via menus, I love cameras with a knurled knob for changing between P, S, A and M modes. The Pentax Q is spot on in this regard. Quick access to main settings, including white balance and exposure compensation, the rest being accessed by easy to understand menus. I didn't touch the manual for the first two days and only eventually looked at it to see how to change the size of the AF area.
Image quality is very very good. Of course bigger sensor cameras with better lenses might beat the Q's image quality if you really look closely, but I did some side by side tests with my Nikon DSLR with a really good prime lens and I can honestly say that 90% of people out there will not see the difference. I took pictures of the same objects with the two cameras, one after the other, and then looked at different areas of the pictures in detail blown up to between 200 and 500%. Apart from some differences due to processing and color settings etc., there is hardly any difference in image quality between the cameras and in some cases it can be argued that the Q performs better than the DSLR.
Although the Q is small, it is quite heavy in the hand, it's really built like a tank. It feels like a real camera and handles like one as well. I am 6'4" tall and have big hands, yet the Q is incredibly easy to handle, even the minute buttons don't pose any problems.
I don't know if I would give it five stars at its old price, but at the prices that you pick them up nowadays this camera is a steal. If you want to really delve into technicalities such as purple fringing, barrel distortion, reaction times etc. and compare with other cameras, by all means visit the review sites where they do in-depth technical reviews. However, don't let minor technicalities let you miss out on one of the best photographic experiences out there.
I know that from now on my DSLR will be taken out a few times a year, however the Q will be with me all the time. I simply love it and am actually thinking of getting a second one.
I recommend this little camera without any hesitation.
on 28 March 2012
I read the reviews in the online photograhy magazines and decided to ignore the sniffy kind, so glad I did as the Q has exceeded my expectations. I know from previous experience of having a large, "proper" camera that I just wouldn't ever carry it anywhere but wanted a step up from my ultracompact Canon IXUS 100. I looked at Micro Four Thirds cameras but they are way too big and/or pricey for me.
People have commented on the image quality of the photos I have taken with the Q and the effects are very interesting, particularly the watercolour filter. I may find that I take a lot more interest in this taking pictures lark than I have done before.