Pentax Q review

Pentax has claimed the 12.4-megapixel Q is the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera, and for once it’s a claim that rings true. At roughly half the size of Olympus’ E-P3, finally we have arrived at a mirrorless model that truly is compact. It will sit in the palm of your hand and squeeze into a pocket – and so you’re more likely to take it out with you than any of its rivals here, which holds value in itself. Those with larger hands may find some of the backplate controls a little too small for convenient operation though.

Rather than a zoom, to keep things as compact as possible our review unit was supplied with a bright f/1.9, 47mm equivalent fixed lens. Build quality feels more solid than its spy camera-like size would suggest. Some will be disappointed that the built-in microphone is mono, even though Full HD video capture is provided. Like the others on test you also get a choice of Raw or JPEG capture. On the Q images are composed with the aid of a fixed, 3in, 460k-dot resolution LCD, but the Achilles heel is a short 230-250 picture battery life.

Powering up in just over a second – though its internal sensor may be no physically larger than your average compact – when the supplied prime lens was fixed we were impressed with the sharpness of the Pentax’s shots. We achieved some lovely shallow depth of field effects, and the colours really delivered too. The Q is a pleasure to use if your fingers aren’t too big for the teeny backplate buttons, and we were pleased to find room had been found for a proper shooting mode dial.

Despite looking a tad toy-like in comparison to its rivals here, it’s very much a camera for grown-ups, with on-screen menus and functions reminiscent of Pentax’s K-series DSLRs. The built-in flash can be used in situ, or you can flick a switch so that it pops out on an extension arm. This takes it further away from the lens and theoretically means there’s less chance of getting redeye when shooting portraits.

The smallest CSC we’ve handled fulfils the promise of great image quality from a smaller form factor than a digital SLR

OUR VERDICT

Being as quick in its responses as a mid-range DSLR, the Pentax Q is more than a curio and we hope, with perhaps larger sensors in subsequent models, it will be the diminutive shape of things to come for compact system cameras.

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