Mini review of the Pentax Q | The mini wonder

Admittingly, this is pretty much a mini-review that I wanted to do for a while. 

As professionals or enthusiasts, we know there is photography equipment that impresses us with their sheer image prowess or performance like the Fujifilm GFX100 or the Leica Q2 but there are some that impress through ingenuity, like the Light L16 , Lytro Illum and the Pentax Q lives in the latter.

The Pentax Q is the first of its series, to be superseded by the Q10, Q7, and Q-S1. 

It’s incredibly tiny as a interchangeable lens system that it really makes you wonder what & how. 

The Pentax Q was released in 2011 & sports a 1/2.3 inch (6.2mm x 4.6mm), 12-megapixel sensor capable of ISO125-6400 and shutter speeds of 1/8000s to 30s.

*The Q-S1’s sensor was improved to a 1/1.7-inch (7.53 x 5.64 mm) later but all 4 cameras use the same Pentax Q-mount lenses.

The Pentax Q system comes with a total of 7 lenses, labelled from 01 to 07 and is surprisingly quite complete focal length wise, with the 01 Prime a 50mm f1.9 equivalent, the 02 Zoom at 27.5 to 83mm f2.8 to 4.5, 03 to 05 lenses as Fisheye, Toy lens (wide at 18mm equiv and telephoto at 100mm equiv) and a 06 Zoom at 69mm to 207mm f2.8. The build and quality are pretty decent and not the cheapest if one decides to own the full system.

Read here for the full specs. 

To say the Pentax Q is small is an understatement, with it coming in at 241 g (8.5 oz) with the battery and kit lens mounted. 98 x 58 x 31 mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in.).

Visually I can simply tell you it’s key attractiveness is well, simply the smallest possible interchangeable system even today, with the 8.5mm f1.9 (50mm f1.9 equivalent) 01 Prime lens, it is still smaller in length and width than an Apple Mouse. 

From personal experience, I actually only use the 01 Prime with the Pentax Q, with the simple and honest reason of it being decent enough to use as compared with the other 02 to 07 lenses. The others are usable, but probably I lack the skills to use them in producing images of quality acceptable to me. 

Though miniature, the Pentax Q provides full PASM options and providing even more with a unique coined by Pentax BC (Blur-control) mode which is a method of overcoming sensor size limitations to provide out of focus backgrounds by taking multiple shots of the one moment and stacking them. 

If one has always thought Apple or Huawei was the first to think of this method, nope, it was Pentax. Remember that in 2011, Huawei was non-existent and well, Apple had just released its iPhone 4s and this is another example of Pentax’s ingenuity. 

In a nod to the Q’s tiny size being a possible obstacle to managing controls, the designers had also opted to include a front knob to allow one to switch between different filters including monochrome instantly before a shot. (Well, this was later seen in the Olympus Pen F), and I must say – the overall design of the Pentax Q was very well thought through and even better than the RX100 series which I found making setting changes a challenge. 

Lastly, the Pentax Q came with a full menu system of options, with exposure compensation relegated to the LCD side, and yes, another point of creative ingenuity, the Pentax Q comes with a built-in flash. 

Eat your heart out, Ricoh GR III 

Handling the Pentax Q is in short, sheer fun. The autofocus system is frankly, 2011 with 25 AF points (hey, the 2016 Leica TL only has 9 AF points) and performs reasonably well but the recent releases like even the ‘supposed to be slow‘ medium-format GFX100 will outshoot it AF-wise. With a 1/2.3 inch sensor, I simply shoot wide open at f1.9 and adjust the exposure as I go, with a once in a while swop between the filters I map to options 1 to 4 on the front of the camera. 

And that’s all to it, other settings wise you will not find much need to change much once set in the menus and that’s the beauty of the Pentax Q. 

ISO800, f1.9

ISO125, f1.9

ISO250, f1.9

ISO125, f5 – I did not fix the distortion to be fair.

ISO125, f1.9

ISO250, f1.9 

The Pentax Q is not a system that is going to win any awards for speed (it can take up to 2s to grab focus in low light) but to me it holds a special place, for being a camera that speaks testament of what can happen if creativity and ingenuity are allowed rein, and where we all see photography as well, just being a fun process without getting all muddied arguing about sensor size, megapixels, dynamic range or ISO performance. 

The other Q that more people know about.
(the optional Leica Q grip alone is almost as heavy as the Pentax Q with lens and battery)

I like the Q, well, because it is quite a Qute camera.

 thank you for reading. 

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