While Panasonic has been readying its fleet with the new Lumix DMC-GF3 and Olympus is working on its next mirrorless PEN model, Pentax has surprise attacked the market today with the Pentax Q, the latest “world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera.” The Q, not to be confused James Bond’s right hand man, specializes in a peculiar concoction of two classic digital camera characteristics: an interchangeable lens system and a 12MP 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor. The camera body and 47mm/F1.9 Prime lens kit will also retail for $800 and is expected to ship this Fall. I know what you’re thinking: For the same price, you can get a Micro Four Thirds or mirrorless APS-C ILC for the same price or cheaper. But Pentax is approaching the ILC market from a slightly different standpoint. I spoke with Chris Pound, Product Manager of Pentax Imaging, regarding the market placement of the Pentax Q and he divulged the following:
“I think it’s too simplistic to say it’s a point and shoot with interchangeable lenses, because that would discount the camera’s SLR oriented features like shutter/aperture control, manual exposure modes, etc. It’s a sensor that’s meant for point and shoot cameras, yes, but the Q is neither a point and shoot nor truly a DSLR camera either. With mirrorless, 4thirds, etc. the goal is often to take a DSLR and shrink it. The Q starts from a compact standpoint, building on DSLR features. It’s really very hard to define it without really doing it an injustice. We’re calling it a true hybrid ILC.
As for interest, the size is even smaller than 4thirds systems, so that will weigh very heavily into people’s purchase decisions. Plus the sensor is a super high quality backlit CMOS that really controls noise and delivers the quality that you typically don’t see in compacts.”
With that said, the reliability is going to rest upon the Pentax Q’s back-illuminated CMOS sensor and new lineup of interchangeable Q lenses, including the 27.5-83.0mm Pentax 02 Standard Zoom, 160-degree angle of view Pentax 03 Fish-Eye, And Pentax 04/05 35mm/100mm Toy lenses. These are 35mm equivalent focal lengths, and will all accommodate the Q and any other Q system Pentax will release in the future. As for raw specifications, the Pentax Q packs an impressive lot, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one for a complete review.
- 12.4 megapixels from the Q’s 1/2.3 inch backlit CMOS image sensor. Capable of producing 12 bit DNG RAW and JPG images, the backlit CMOS sensor is designed specifically to produce very low noise at high levels of sensitivity.
- Extremely compact, durable, lightweight, scratch resistant magnesium alloy body.
- Program, Aperture/Shutter Priority, and Metered Manual exposure control as well as PENTAX Auto Picture and 21 scene modes for casual shooting, including new Forest and Stage Lighting options.
- A variety of creative modes, Smart Effect options, or camera settings that assign to the Q’s Quick Dial located on the front of the camera. Smart Effects modes enhance digital photography by applying a series of effects to images to achieve high quality finishing. Brilliant Color, Vintage Color, Warm Fade, Bold Monochrome, and Water Color are just some of the Smart Effects available and may be assigned on the Q’s Quick Dial.
- In-camera HDR capture mode shoots 3 images of varying exposures, blending them together.
- Full 1080p HD H.264 video at 30fps with creative video effects through custom image modes, digital video filters, and interval shooting.
- Sensor-shift Shake Reduction system with integrated DRII Dust Reduction.
- 5 frames per second continuous shooting mode for any fast action setting.
- Bokeh control with the Q’s Bokeh Control filter. (Traditionally controlled through a DSLR lens’s aperture, bokeh is the out of focus part of the background that helps to emphasize the subject, drawing the viewer’s eyes to the most important part of the photo.) The Q offers a fine degree of extra control over image bokeh via an in-camera filter operation.
- Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 30 seconds with Bulb.
- Built-in popup flash effective to 23 feet at 200 ISO, and covers a wide angle 28 degree field of view.
- Compatibility with the latest generation SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards.