The world has been slightly stunned since Pentax announced the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera back in June but Pocket-lint found out the true meaning of the word when we saw it in the flesh while doing our best not to crush it in our hands.
With a new Q mount system that has a diameter 6mm shorter than Pentax’s standard K mount for DSLRs, the system does away with optical finder, mirror box, focusing plate, AF sensor and all in the name of shrinking the thing down to measure 98 x 57.5 x 31mm. It also happens to weigh just 200g including the battery.
But just because it’s been made small enough to fit in the palm of your hand - seriously - that’s not to say that it’s not a solid piece of kit. Machined out of the same magnesium alloy and all-metal mount as higher end DSLRs, it’s a pleasure to hold without feeling plasticy or tacky in the slightest. Top that off with a leathertte outer in either black or white and the looks of an old school rangefinder and you’ve have to be rather cynical not to lap up every bit of your eye’s first bite.
The trade off to it all, though, is a small sensor to match. The back-illuminated 1/2.3-inch CMOS unit comes with up to 12.4 effective megapixels and an ISO range of between 125 and 6400, and is one hell of a lot tinier than the rest of the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera crowd. In fact, it’s this stat that makes one wonder if the Pentax Q is more of a match for the high end compacts instead; something which Pentax is quite open to.
All the same, there’s a hat-full of features - full manual control, HDR photography, 1080p video recording and more scene modes than you can eat - and it’s still a pro enough device to shoot snaps in DNG packaged RAW files as well as your standard JPEGs.
Our initial feelings are that, while it’s great to have something so pocketable and with so many functions, it does make it all a bit of a cram when it comes to using the thing. Naturally, there’s always going to be a degree of confusion when you get used to the workings of something as in-depth as a camera but, still, it is a concern.
Fortunately, one area that Pentax has been wise not to cut down on is the rear display which still manages to house a 3-inch, 460k-dot LCD. Just. Whatever you might be missing out on at this size, it’s not the ability to compose or review your shots - rather important when there’s no built-in optical viewfinder and when the optional extra to plug into the hot shoe costs a cool £239.99.
As for the price of the Pentax Q in general, well, the standard kit with the 47mm lens comes in at £599 and the kit with the 27.5-83mm equivalent is £729. You can also pick up a fish-eye for £149 and one of two “Toy” (read “cheap") lenses for £129. It’s set to hit the shops very soon indeed.