Irrespective of its overall score, it's hard for you to warm to the Pentax Q. Not only does it look different, it is different, and for you can build kudos must go to Pentax for daring to tread a different area. The Q can deliver solid results when used as a regular digital camera, but just what excels at is the ability to deliver effects-laden photography on the fly. The generous number of creative tools and the ease with which they may be mark the Q out as a camera to experiment and have fun with, and that will surely bolster its appeal to many, irrespective of its inherent limitations. There are undoubtedly better compact system cameras available for photography enthusiasts, but for gadget lovers and casual snappers looking for something tiny and fun, the Pentax Q pretty much hits you decide on. The $600 price tag is uncompetitive though, and sure set plenty of people off.
Pentax Q review - Introduction
Compact system cameras have been around for just under three years now and while many models have shown promise, none have quite delivered on the promise of an interchangeable-lens camera that'll fit inside an authentic coat pocket with room to additional. Until now, that is.
Looking rather staying a miniaturised rangefinder (without a viewfinder), the Pentax Q supplies a fresh take towards the compact system genre by combining genuine pocketability with a generous feature-set and also a wealth of easily accessed creative possible choices.
Working on the digital camera truism that bigger sensors require bigger lenses, Pentax has instead needed to keep everything no more than possible, and as a consequence the Q employs a 1/2.3in sensor - exactly identical size that's found inside the majority of regular compacts. More groundbreaking tiny lenses being attached to the newly developed Q mount.
This unique approach has, somewhat inevitably, led to some raised eyebrows from those who consider that fitting compact cameras with interchangeable lenses is a small ludicrous idea. Individuals with a more positive outlook, however, may inclined to debate that advancements in sensor technology in the past svereal years give the Pentax Q every possibility of succeeding. Either way, the Pentax Q marks the period it has been tried on a scale, and as a consequence alone Pentax surely deserves some credit cards.
Given the way Pentax has approached the compact system market, it's somewhat difficult to pinpoint its most direct competitors. The $600 price tag for a Pentax Q body and 8mm f/1.9 lens doesn't makes any easier mainly because makes the full package more expensive than the Olympus E-PL3 body and 14-42mm pancake lens combo, or perhaps the Sony NEX-C3 twin lens kit. You may also expect to see plenty of range from $600 should you decide to opt for either the Lumix G3 or Lumix GF3 standard zoom packages.
Should we be thinking of the Pentax Q being a CSC, at just? Given the sensor size would it not be better compared against advanced compacts such considering the Canon S100, Nikon S9100 or Lumix LX5? Either way, the Pentax Q clearly has its work cut out if it hopes to convince an individual part with that is simply of $600
Let's take a closer inspection and find out if it will perform this.
Overall, the Pentax Q is an alarmingly well appointed little camera that presents a generous feature set and plenty of scope for customization. This very much mirrors what we've seen with Pentax DSLRs in recent years, as the company attempts to increase its market share by producing cameras that offer class-leading value for funds.
The Pentax Q is built around a 1/2.3inch CMOS sensor that is backside-illuminated for better low-light performance, and which delivers a dozen.4-megapixels of effective resolution. This is allied to what Pentax describes as a 'new generation' of Q image processor that is claimed to deliver 'clear, high contrast images rich in gradation and texture'. It's a bold claim, as well as something that we'll discuss the accuracy of in more detail later on in this particular Pentax Q review, but first let's look at what else the Pentax Q offers in the associated with specifications and incorporates.
The Q can be set to record lossless Raw image files and compressed JPEGs at complete 12MP, with further options to record JPEGs at 9MP, 5MP and 3MP, with three levels of JPEG quality to choose from. While the default aspect ratio is 4:3 (4000 x 3000 pixels max output), the Q furthermore record in 3:2, 16:9, and 1:1 albeit at slightly lower maximum solutions. Sensitivity, meanwhile, ranges from a credible ISO 125 to ISO 6400, there are the additional benefit of rising in small numerical increments rather than just doubling up will be more common.
The Q offers the familiar quartet of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual shooting modes, alongside a completely automatic AutoPicture mode (essentially an Automatic Scene selection mode), 21 individual Scene modes and a Blur Control mode that's designed to help you to create a shallower depth of field through clever image processing (again, more this later).
Elsewhere, the Q offers all regarding handy shooting tools, including Interval Shooting, a built-in Neutral Density filter, and a Distortion Correction tool. In addition, there's also an automatic HDR capture tool, along with separate controls for Shadow and Highlight Punition. The Q also offers built-in Image Stabilisation and a full-size hotshoe connection that's able consist of many different the Pentax VF1 optical viewfinder that's sold as an optional extra. Hopefully we'll see more accessories designed people who use with it in coming calendar months.
What the Q really excels at, however, is in-camera special effects. These take the form of Smart Effects and Digital Filters, protected by a massive amount Custom Image (JPEG processing) settings. Smart Effects are a new addition to Pentax cameras and are essentially a group of processing presets which has been applied either pre- or post-capture. The nine Smart Effects on offer are: Brilliant Colour, Unicolour Bold, Vintage Colour, Cross Processing, Warm Fade, Tone Expansion, Bold Monochrome, Water Colour, Vibrant Colour, and an user-defined Custom preset.
In addition to its Smart Effects, the Q also gives an equally generous associated with Digital Filter effects. With 19 filter effects in total it's by far the most generous set we've found in a camera associated with this size, with specific options including: Toy Camera, High Contrast, HDR, Invert Colour, Extract Colour, Posterization, Fish-eye, Starbust and, of course, our old favourite Miniaturisation.
While these Smart Effects and Digital Filters can not be combined, they can be accessed right via the prominent four-point dial that sits over a front of the Q. Easily set up via the particular Menu, this dial lets you flick between stored presets in an instant, which unfortunately actively encourages you to make use of the Q's built-in creative potential.
In addition to quick-accessing the camera's Smart Effects and Digital Filters, this dial can also be employed to switch between Custom Image presets and aspect ratios. Sadly, you can't mix and match your presets, but overall is still a flexible arrangement allowing you to shoot normally, but as well as favourite creative effects included in an time.
Lastly, the Q is going to record movies at a maximum 1920 x 1080p Full HD at 30fps, with further 720p and VGA choices. Audio is strictly mono only, as there is no port the external microphone and recorded movies become MPEG-4/H.264 software. While you can apply Custom Image settings to movies, it's unachievable to apply any within the Smart Effects or Digital Filters.
DESIGN AND PERFOMANCE
When going through camera's design, the first thing that strikes you could be Pentax Q really is tiny. In fact, it's currently littlest interchangeable lens camera available, and by some distance too. Remove the lens as well as the camera is small even by regular fixed-zoom compact camera normes. And yet, with its all-metal outer construction the Q feels decidedly robust and well fabricated. At 200g body only, or 237g with the 8mm standard prime lens attached, the Q uses a nice, reassuring weight about it, in the process.
Styled simular to a miniaturised rangefinder, albeit one your viewfinder, the Q sports a rounded-off finger footing. Given the tiny overall dimensions of the camera it's at best a two-finger grip, however its rubberised finish along using a raised thumb-rest at the back combine to create the Q feel fairly secure in the hand. Major question for most users will be whether to secure the Q with a neck-strap (which makes the included look somewhat toy-like and out of proportion), in order to just settle for a wrist strap instead.
Lenses can be swapped by pressing the discharge catch within the front on the camera and then twisting the lens off as might with a DSLR. You decide to do need with regard to careful when swapping lenses though, being the sensor sits almost immediately behind the lens, which suggests it's fully exposed when the lens is removed consequently highly susceptible to damage from fingers and mud. While the camera automatically activates a sensor-cleaning action every time it's shut down, seriously don't would like to be getting any dust on a sensor using this size in the first instance as, proportionally, it'll cover a larger part of this sensor's surface than it on a MFT or APS-C sensor, making it a) more noticeable and b) harder to adjust.
The Pentax Q takes a name within the new Q-mount (reportedly the 'Queen' to Pentax's 'King' K-mount for DSLRs). Currently Pentax sells a range of five lenses - a 8.5mm f/1.9 Standard Prime, a 5-15mm f/2.8-4.5 Standard Zoom, a 3.2mm f/5.6 Fish-Eye, a 6.3mm, f/7.1 Toy Lens Wide as well as an 18mm f/8 Toy Lens Telephoto. With the Q's compact-sized sensor, a crop factor of 8.5x needs to be applied to run the 35mm equivalent of these kinds of focal locks. In this way, the 8.5mm Standard Prime equates to 47mm on a 35mm film camera.
The Q's in-camera enu system should look instantly familiar to anyone who's ever used a Pentax DSLR, although thankfully it remains easy enough to navigate for people who haven't. While in shooting mode the directional buttons may be used to directly access ISO, White Balance, Drive mode and Flash settings, this particular INFO button accesses a kind of 'quick menu' for other regularly accessed settings with regard to example Custom Image, Digital Filters, Aspect Ratio, Image Stabilisation, Metering mode, AF mode, JPEG size/quality and the like. The only real complaint currently has with overall operation could be that the Q's physical buttons tend to be small, causing them to be a bit fiddly to use.
Start-up time is close to the three second mark, which isn't particularly quick. Making use of the Q in Single-shot mode we made it possible to shoot around one full-res JPEG every two seconds, which can pretty lower. There was no upper limit on the number of shots we were able to take in this manner though. Switching to Continuous (Low) i was able to shoot at just under 1.5fps, again at full resolution simply no upper limit on large amount of shots. In Continuous (High) we could shoot in the claimed 5fps, although we managed 10 shots (as opposed to the claimed five) before the buffer filled and the camera slowed as far as approximately 3.5fps.
Autofocus performance, while adequate in likely situations, continues to be a little slow in total. Indeed, we found the Q's AF speed to be comparable a new regular mid-range compact in comparison to $600 CSC - we'd expected something a bit faster. May notable delay between pressing the shutter button as well as the camera actually firing - again, in much the same way as a daily compact.
The 3in, 460k-dot monitor is fine when used indoors or away from direct sunlight outdoors, but doesn't cope very well with direct sunlight. Somewhat annoyingly, when in shooting mode the Q displays underexposed and overexposed areas with yellow and red fill-colours. Try once we might, we couldn't find a way to switch this function off. Battery isn't great either; we managed more than 200 images on someone charge in advance of the juice ran out.
While the Pentax Q might appear to be like a miniature DSLR, at heart it's completely an advanced compact additionally needs pertaining to being kept in mind when judging overall image quality. Compared against other compacts the 1/2.3in sensor, including things that fall with the high-end or advanced compact segment of the market, we're pleased to report how the Q performs exceptionally well. Indeed, to revisit the bold claim served by Pentax that i referenced originally of this review it's certainly true that the Q can deliver 'high-contrast images, rich in gradation and texture,' plus more ! besides. As much regular compact cameras go, the Pentax Q delivers some for the best image quality we've yet seen, with mid-range ISO performance particularly .
Between ISO 125 and ISO 400, images remain sharp and free of noise, while ISO 800 shows only minor indications of noise with impressive levels of detail retained, especially in shadow sorts. It was ISO 1600, however, that really left us impressed; whereas the techniques of compacts tend present fairly poor results at ISO 1600, the Pentax Q is still producing excellent images. Under close examination, detail can be seen personal softened, but noise is kept largely at bay, with overall image quality remaining sufficient to view and/or print at larger sizes that would usually be the case.
Metering is usually quite consistent, although almost every Pentax DSLRs, the Q has an inclination to preserve highlight detail through underexposure. Thankfully, the camera offers /-2EV compensation assist out circumstances where market . to intercede. We didn't encounter any problems with Automatic White Balance, with the Q proving consistent at metering for variations in colour high temperature range.
Sadly though, there a few limitations, when using the Q's compact-sized sensor severely limiting how shallow a depth of field a person are attain, no matter whether shooting at maximum aperture. Even with no 8mm lens opened to f/1.9, ought to need with regard to using the Q at its minimum focus distance (around 15cm) to really throw the backdrop sharply coming from focus. And while such close focusing end up being ok for Macro and still-life work, it isn't practical for larger subjects and for portraits.
Clearly aware of this limitation Pentax has attempted to implement an option in is very important of a Blur Control shooting mode that can be accessed from the main mode face. This basically uses image processing to accentuate the defocused areas of image, with three amount of strength to choose from. In theory it's a nice idea, but also in practice we found it for you to become somewhat flawed, often failing to properly distinguish our main subject and blurring random areas close to same focal plane, while using the net result that some images end up looking like they've been put through one of your companion fake tilt-shift apps 100 % possible get for smartphones.
The generous number of creative tools and the ease with that they can can be employed mark the Q out as a camera to experiment and have fun with, and permit anyone surely bolster its be played by many, it does not matter its inherent limitations. Are generally undoubtedly better compact system cameras needed for photography enthusiasts, but for gadget lovers and casual snappers looking for something tiny and fun, the Pentax Q pretty much hits close by. The $600 price tag is uncompetitive though, and sure place plenty people today who off.