The Pentax Q - a real World user review


pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#1
The Pentax Q - a real World user review


Pentax Q with Fisheye (Toy) lens


In Jun2011, Pentax launched a small Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (MILC) called the Q.
At that time it had a launch price of ~S$1000 with standard prime lens.
A prohibitive price indeed for a small sensor camera.

The camera is the first to use the company's Q mount and features a compact-camera-sized 1/2.3" image stabilized CMOS sensor.
This is wrapped in a magnesium alloy body no more than 98 x 57.5 x 31 mm.

Being its first foray into the MILC market and without foresight of future MILC products to come, many pundits assumed it was Pentax’s only answer to the growing mirrorless market and compared it unfavorably to existing larger sensor offerings as well as DSLRs.
Pentax, to them had certainly “missed the point”.


My interest in the camera was with its potential for unobtrusive street shots (with plenty of DOF) as well as its unique 5.5x crop capability due to its small sensor when used with adapted lenses which Pentax envisaged and promised a 2012 release of a OEM adapter to use for its DSLR K-mount lenses.
At that time, launch price was too prohibitive to buy one on an unproved 'theory' so I passed on purchasing.
But now that the price has come down to be close to other advanced compacts, I've finally got one.


I'd like to just cover more on what I'd call 'a real world user review', so more of what a user expects and can get from the camera in actual field use.
There are many sites out there which deal with the specs side of cameras and how they perform on paper, so I'd let them deal with those matters.
Photography BLOG did a review : Pentax Q Review | PhotographyBLOG
DPReview did a Preview : Pentax Q Hands-on Preview: Digital Photography Review


Specs :

* 12.4MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor (1/2.3" size - 6.17 x 4.55 mm)
* Q-mount interchangeable lens mount
* 12-bit DNG raw file option
* 3" 460,000 dot LCD
* Sensor-shift image stabilization and dust-removal
* 1080p30 HD movie recording in H.264 format
* 5 frame-per-second continuous shooting capability
* Quick-dial control giving access to four image settings
* In-camera HDR option blends three images
* Built-in flash
* Flash hot shoe (also used for mounting optional viewfinder)
* Front and rear IR remote sensors


Looks/Size


Compared to a Samsung Galaxy Note

The first thing that grabs attention is the size. Its very small indeed.
Next thing that strikes me is its very solid feel.
It feels really well made, firm/solid.
Perhaps the best relation I can draw to would be a Ricoh GXR.
The wealth of buttons for fast access is also a welcome feature for the camera.



Dial selector on the front allows custom picture settings to be assigned and switch at an instant



Large 3" LCD and quite a few buttons for fast access to often used features



Top view showing off the mode dial, scroll wheel, play button, etc
 

wonglp

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 20, 2007
6,794
65
48
Bukit Batok
#2
Great to see you doing reviews too, JK! Look forward, been impressed with what I saw from your flickr and Frank shots last year. The price reduction can only be helpful to promoting this system.
 

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#3
Impressions of Use


I'd like to handle a lens or camera for a while before commenting on it, so these are my overall impressions/comments on the camera after about 1 month of use.

I used the Q+Prime 01 (47mm equivalent lens with f1.9 aperture) for a couple of walkabouts to see how it performs in everyday use and as a street/candid/people photography camera.

Outdoors, I found the AF to zip along pretty well.
The camera + f1.9 lens copes with most situations very well, w/o needing to go to very high ISO, which is typically avoided on such small sensor cameras.

Edit : Shutter sound is very soft. Almost like the 'sl-chick' sound from my copal shutter Yashicamat TLR.
Edit 2 : On further checking, shutter sound can be totally silent by turning on the electronic shutter.


Switching to B/W is at the turn of the selector dial on the camera front



On the MRT. AF was still pretty decent in well lit situations indoors. Shutter sound is really soft for the camera.



Pretty zippy AF overall for outdoor use
 

Last edited:

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#4
Great to see you doing reviews too, JK! Look forward, been impressed with what I saw from your flickr and Frank shots last year. The price reduction can only be helpful to promoting this system.

WongLP, thanks for the encouragement.
Yes, I think its at a much more sensible price now. :)
 

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#5
A camera with a small sensor will have much more depth of field (DOF) for the same field of view (FOV).
This can come as an advantage for fast reaction shooting with the camera pre-focused.
Its also one of the reasons I decided to get a small sensor camera like the Pentax Q.

These 2 shots, I basically set the focus at about 1.5m away and left the camera in MF mode.
At the need to take a picture, I just raise the camera and press the shutter release.







Perhaps the very small profile of the Q did make people feel less offensive when they saw the camera pointed their way, but I really can't tell (since I'm not them :) )
One thing I realized fast when shooting with the Prime 01 (47mm equivalent), proximity to the subject can be quite near for 1/2 body shots and up.






If there is a niggle of compliant about the camera at this point, its turn on time.
I have a habit of turning off power when I don't expect to shoot anything within a short period (eg. 100-200m ahead)
A habit from the old days of using AA batteries in digital cameras.

Now, on the Q, I found that the camera does seem to turn on fast, LCD showing and all.
However, it seems that there is some "internal logic routine" still running upon turn on and the camera may or may not react to button presses upon the first 2-3 seconds of the LCD display showing.
This did cause me to loose a few shots as I spied an interesting subject approaching, turned the camera on, observed the LCD display come up, raised the camera, press the shutter and ....... ?? ... Doh! no reaction!

So perhaps its my bad habit or turning off the camera that is to blame. :confused:
But this is certainly new to me having come from DSLRs and a m4/3 camera.
Moral of story, don't turn off unnecessarily and make sure its really 'ON' before taking that million dollar shot of Paris Hilton walking down Orchard Rd.
 

Last edited:

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#6
The Quick Select Dial is a niffy addition to the camera.
I quickly found my favorites and assigned the following :
1. B/W
2. Reversal Film
3. Cross Process
4. Bleach Bypass

Most settings can be further tweaked to taste, which I did.
The following are photos taken with the various mode assigned to the dial.


Monochrome



Reversal Film (punchy colors that reminds me of film) - I use this as my 'normal' o/p



Cross Process



Bleach Bypass



The Q did seem to goad me off my usual boring adherence of standard color settings and not play with filters much.
With the Quick Select Dial, I found myself encouraged to play a bit more off the norm and leave the camera as a monochrome one or a pseudo 'film' camera.
If not, just a turn of the dial to change the mode that suits the photo at hand more.
 

Last edited:

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#7
The Q proved to be nice enough for me to get another lens for it, the Fisheye (Toy lens).
Toy Lenses are manual focus with a non-changeable aperture.
IQ is decent, but nothing to shout about.
But they are pretty cheap and a fisheye is fun to play with.

Here's a brief on the lenses:











 

felixcat8888

Senior Member
May 8, 2005
9,262
17
38
52
Singapore, Singapore, Singapor
#8
Impressions of Use


I'd like to handle a lens or camera for a while before commenting on it, so these are my overall impressions/comments on the camera after about 1 month of use.

I used the Q+Prime 01 (47mm equivalent lens with f1.9 aperture) for a couple of walkabouts to see how it performs in everyday use and as a street/candid/people photography camera.

Outdoors, I found the AF to zip along pretty well.
The camera + f1.9 lens copes with most situations very well, w/o needing to go to very high ISO, which is typically avoided on such small sensor cameras.



Pretty zippy AF overall for outdoor use

I like your pose.
;)
Did you get a second battery for it too?
 

Last edited:

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#9
I like your pose.
;)
Did you get a second battery for it too?
Hey! Don't look at my pose. Look at the lady's pose instead. :D

Yeah, I got a 2nd battery (more on battery life later in the review) :)
 

wonglp

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 20, 2007
6,794
65
48
Bukit Batok
#10
What's the lens roadmap for Q btw? Its so cute :bsmilie:
 

stuck

New Member
Mar 12, 2010
728
2
0
#11
Impressions of Use


I'd like to handle a lens or camera for a while before commenting on it, so these are my overall impressions/comments on the camera after about 1 month of use.

I used the Q+Prime 01 (47mm equivalent lens with f1.9 aperture) for a couple of walkabouts to see how it performs in everyday use and as a street/candid/people photography camera.

Outdoors, I found the AF to zip along pretty well.
The camera + f1.9 lens copes with most situations very well, w/o needing to go to very high ISO, which is typically avoided on such small sensor cameras.


On the MRT. AF was still pretty decent in well lit situations indoors.
Nice review! you look like in mortal danger of being clobbered by that Aunty! How close were you?
 

PhilipKr35

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2011
1,626
16
38
Yew Tee
#14
How did you get the girl in focus, while you are walking pass, seems like AF is more zippier than K01 !!!
Anyone wants my K01 exchange for Q and lens ?
 

banana0ne

New Member
Oct 29, 2008
1,488
0
0
jurong west
#16
How did you get the girl in focus, while you are walking pass, seems like AF is more zippier than K01 !!!
Anyone wants my K01 exchange for Q and lens ?
it looks like it is prefocused, DOF on Q is much wider than that of DSLRs so it is easier to prefocus.
 

ranchy

Senior Member
Jan 11, 2010
2,502
25
48
#17
Many thanks for your nice reviews on the Pentax Q. You are really re-igniting my wish to own it again. I was put off by the launch price.

argh.. Now you are tempting me to sell my K-01 for it. :bsmilie:

Anyway, just a question, how's the shutter sound? And is there any lag when you press the shutter?
Did not really try out the Q. Future outing, I must have a feel of it ;p
 

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#18
The roadmap is supposed to be :



I'm just waiting for the release of the original K-mount to Q-mount adapter which as a built in shutter.
 

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#19
Nice review! you look like in mortal danger of being clobbered by that Aunty! How close were you?
She was right next to me :D
I just ;) her and she said "Siao ah! " so I spared myself from being clobbered :D



Thanks man. Appreciate it.



How did you get the girl in focus, while you are walking pass, seems like AF is more zippier than K01 !!!
Anyone wants my K01 exchange for Q and lens ?
Such small sensor cameras have much more DOF for the same FOV, the focusing elements don't have to move much to get things in focus.
Thats one of the attractions of the Q to me in the first place for the purpose of street/candid shooting.
AF is pretty zippy in good light.



Many thanks for your nice reviews on the Pentax Q. You are really re-igniting my wish to own it again. I was put off by the launch price.

argh.. Now you are tempting me to sell my K-01 for it. :bsmilie:

Anyway, just a question, how's the shutter sound? And is there any lag when you press the shutter?
Did not really try out the Q. Future outing, I must have a feel of it ;p
Shutter sound? What shutter sound?
Ok... there is some shutter sound, but its really soft.
 

pinholecam

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
10,926
84
48
#20
Top Bottom