Pentax Q10 camera review

As a general rule Compact System Cameras (CSCs) aren’t actually that compact. Sure, they are more portable than a digital SLR, but we still struggle to squeeze most into our pockets even with lens detached. Not so the retro-styled Q10 from Pentax, which, in succeeding the original and even smaller Pentax Q, is one of the very few CSC’s to live up to the compact part of the billing. It is credit card sized in height and width, and roughly the size of your thumb in depth. 

Whilst this makes it the kind of camera you can carry around in a jacket for any photo eventuality, the knock-on effect is that it feels a tad toy-like, even with 5-15mm f/2.8 kit zoom screwed onto its ‘Q’ system lens mount. We didn’t feel that way about the Canon EOS M or Nikon J2; both only just a bit bigger. 

Other aspects of the Q10 that likewise feel a little underpowered include the 12.4 megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. This is no larger in dimensions or higher in resolution than that found in the original ‘Q’, and critically, it is no bigger than the sensor in your average point-and-shoot pocket camera. On the plus side, the £379.99 asking price here is cheap for a compact system camera.

Another bonus is body-integral sensor-shift shake reduction (SR), as found in the manufacturer’s DSLRs, including the K5 II. Apart from Olympus, most competing CSCs don’t offer built-in anti shake. On the Q10 there is also improved auto focus speed over is ‘Q’ predecessor, a top light sensitivity of ISO6400 (so-so by DSLR standards) plus an increasingly ubiquitous High Dynamic Range (HDR) function. This takes a quick burst of images at different exposure values and merges them together so both shadow and highlight detail is maintained within a single image. 

Those who really want a ‘compact’ system camera will struggle to find smaller than the Q10. What it lacks in sensor size and feature set it makes up for in fun

Other funky features include a pop-up flash that extends like a miniature crane from the top plate at a flick of a switch. Though there’s a vacant hotshoe there’s no optical or electronic viewfinder provided, so we’re reliant on the fixed 3-inch, 460k dot resolution backplate LCD, which is adequate if somehow seeming smaller than it actually is. Unusually, the rechargeable battery here is inserted into the left hand flank of the camera whilst the removable SD media card goes into the right. Battery life is a modest but usable 270 shots from a full charge.

OUR VERDICT

What we found most fun about the Pentax was the ability to select on-board Lomo camera-like digital effects at the point of capture by turning a customisable dial on the Q10’s faceplate. There are 19 to choose from in total, with 11 applied at the time the photo is taken, and the other 8 when reviewing images. If chosen wisely the likes of brilliant or vintage colour add contrast and visual oomph to the otherwise flat, snapshot-like appearance of JPEGs straight from the camera. Whilst some will be scratching their heads as to the value of twinning removable lenses with a sensor no larger than a cheap snapper, the inexpensive asking price, toy-like proportions and classic styling here will find converts among the curious.

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