Pentax is a relatively new member of the CSC club and its first mirrorless camera is branded the ‘Q’ after the unique Q lens mount it uses.
Designed with a mount that’s around two-thirds the size of Pentax’s K-mount, the Pentax Q is compact in every sense of the word with its 98x31mm footprint.
Without the physical space to accommodate a large sensor, the Q features a much smaller 1 /2.3in imaging chip that’s the same size as that found in most compact cameras. With such a small sensor it means a 5.5x multiplication factor has to be applied to all the lenses in the Q range. Currently supported by a total of five optics, the 8.5mm and 5-15mm lenses (available with the Q as part of a joint kit for £629) are equivalent to 47mm and 27.5-82.5mm in film terms and despite its relatively small chip, the Q provides ISO settings ranging from 125-6400, with no drop in resolution at the fast end of the scale.
Natively shooting in the 4:3 aspect ratio, the Q produces a 4000x3000 pixel resolution and also allows shooting in 3:2, 16:9 and square formats, albeit at lower resolutions. RAW and JPEGs can be simultaneously recorded and there’s a very neat pop-up flash that raises 33mm from the body.
An optical viewfinder (O-VF1 at £239) is available for the Q and attaches to the hotshoe but this is only compatible with the 8.5mm prime lens.
With the Q’s body similar in size to a pack of cigarettes, it feels petite yet solid in the hand with a magnesium-alloy structure and the 3in, 460k-dot screen takes up the majority of space at the rear. The buttons are very small indeed, particularly the four-way input that control ISO, White Balance and flash modes. That said, the manual controls (M,A,S,P) are easily accessed from the mode dial on the top-plate, and the zoom dial that sits directly behind it is handy for reviewing image sharpness in playback mode.
In use, the Q’s contrast-detect AF system wasn’t as responsive as some of its rivals, hunting now and again for focus in darkening conditions, and the AF points couldn’t be moved into the far corners of the frame. Though the Q is everything a
CSC should be in size, fitting comfortably in a pocket and feeling good in the hand, it has a tough job competing against its rivals in performance and image quality.
- Street price: £322 (As of July 2016)
- Visit: www.ricoh-imaging.co.uk
This review was first published in the February 2012 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.