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Hands on: Pentax Q launches at Jessops today

Seth Barton
15 Sep 2011
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We get our large hands on this very small camera

Our full Pentax Q review is now online

Sometimes a photograph can be misleading. We were certainly misled when we first saw a picture of the Pentax Q, thinking it to be far larger than it is in reality. We finally got our hands on the latest interchangeable lens camera yesterday - courtesy of Jessops, who will be selling it exclusively till November - and it's mind-bogglingly tiny. Just look at this picture - with 50p piece for scale.

Pentax Q

Undoubtedly the smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera

Yes, we've seen compact cameras that are slimmer than this before, but for an interchangeable lens design it's truly tiny - making even the smallest Olympus PEN, Sony NEX and Panasonic G-series models look positively bloated. It's no miracle design, though, the smaller body and lens size is achieved by using a relatively tiny 1/2.3in sensor - the same as most compact cameras - and a fraction of the size of the sensors in other compact system cameras (CSCs).

Pentax has chosen its tiny sensor well, though, using a back-illuminated CMOS design. This allows more light to hit the photo-sensitive parts of the sensor, and should reduce noise in low-light conditions. It's also kept the pixel count to a reasonable 12-megapixels, though 10 would have been better still for avoiding picture noise.

FEATURES

Despite its small size, measuring 98x57x31mm and weighing around 200g, Pentax has packed plenty of stuff into the Q. On the rear is a 3in display with 460,00 dots. Around this is a myriad of controls. There's the usual four-way control with a central OK button and four other buttons. On top of the camera are two dials, the front one sets the shooting mode, while the rear is a multi-purpose dial - we quickly set it up for aperture priority control.

Pentax Q rear

Plenty of controls to play with, with three dials in total

A further dial on the front of the camera allows you to save pre-set control configurations to one of four slots. You can then access these saved configurations by simply turning the dial to the number desired.

Pentax Q pop-up flash

We like the little pop-up flash

A slider on the top of the camera unleashes the pop-up flash, which then sits away from the lens to help minimise red-eye, though it can be fired in its stowed position too. Surprisingly, there's also an accessory shoe on top of the camera if you want to add a proper flash gun.

LENSES

The whole point of the Penta Q is that you can fit different lenses. Unfortunately, at this time only the pancake lens has made to the UK, with even the kit zoom still 2-3 weeks away. The pancake has only an 8.5mm focal length, but with the very small sensor that's a 35mm-equivalent of 47mm, making it a good all-round lens. The lens also has an impressive F1.9 aperture, so getting depth-of-filed effects shouldn't be a problem. The soon to available zoom (5-15mm) has a 28-83mm equivalent range and again an impressive F2.8-4.54 range.

Pentax Q lenses

Those lenses should suit most day-to-day use - and this is certainly a camera that's designed to be carried everywhere, all the time. But it’s the addition of more fun, creative lenses that should really interest potential buyers. The fish eye lens will sell for a reasonable £150, plus there are two lenses, a 35mm wide and a 100mm telephoto, which are both labelled as 'Toy' lenses. Pentax claims that "their optics [are] designed specifically to retain various lens aberrations, these lenses produce subdued, heartwarming images like photos taken by a toy camera," which sounds a little bizarre but we look forward to trying them out - the Toy lenses cost £130 each.

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