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back to article Pentax Q compact system camera

When it come to compact system cameras, Pentax has form, if your memory goes back far enough. Like the Auto110 SLR film camera of old, the Pentax Q is laughably small, but in a good way. It’s a happy laugh – like a friendly chuckle at the burblings of a new-born. Its design is achingly cute – especially the white version I …

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Good to see.

As a long, long term Pentax user (the lenses for my old ME Super now grace my k-5), I'm loving seeing Pentax come out with such a wide variety of new cameras, and fitting them into the niches they made 30+ years ago (my dad had the Auto110 at my recommendation and still mourns it's passing).

OTOH, it means that I might not have the distinctive name on my camera - Nikons and Canons are now so standard I get asked if Pentax are a new company when I'm being a tourist - a bit of a change from my youth when only grown ups and pros had either, and there were far more Pentax, Minolta, Practika, Ricoh, Zenith, Cosina SLRs on show.

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Meh

Auto110

My wife had an Auto110. It lived in her handbag - Very "handy"' BUT very susceptible to camera shake - it was a bit too small to hold securely...

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@EddieD -- Oh how times change!

"I get asked if Pentax are a new company when I'm being a tourist - a bit of a change from my youth when only grown ups and pros had either..."

Right, oh how times change! I had a Pentax, and my Minolta SRT101 traveled the world with me (it was my first 'grown up' camera--before that I mostly had Kodak's Box Brownies).

BTW, I won't have fully quit (at least mentally) the analog film world until digital cameras have interchangeable sensors akin the way we'd change film types for different jobs/light conditions. Being able to remove the sensor would not only allow the photographer optimise the sensor to the application but it be easy to clean too (especially so if contained in a hermetic ceramic case a la an IC, then one could simply wash it in water).

As much as I loved my old Pentax and the Pentax brand, I'm nevertheless disappointed in this Pentax Q for reasons which I've covered in my post below).

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interchangeable sensors

I thought it was called called changing the ISO setting (aka gain, for electrical engineers). You can also tweak many DSLRs to mimic different film characteristics (or invent new ones).

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Viewfinder

One of the photos in this review shows a remarkable-looking add-on viewfinder that isn't mentioned at all in the text. Optical viewfinders are of great interest to many people who, like me, feel drawn to these new retro cameras: couldn't you give the reviewer a couple more paras to discuss this (assuming they received the viewfinder)? Or drop the nonsense about the "toy" lenses to make room?

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Unhappy

Lag's too slow

I read in another review that the shutter response is average-to-long, so I wouldn't be able to use it for the sort of point-and-shoot photography that those old rangefinders were so perfect for. It's a pity, because it does look desirable otherwise.

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And ...

... we have the Pentax girl.

(No Paris icon, because she seems much less prone to venereal diseases than the esteemed Ms Hilton.)

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Bokeh?

Can I just pedantically point out the misunderstanding of the term 'bokeh' in the article, as misused by ignorant forum commenters everywhere but, ideally, not in proper reviews themselves.

It's a horrible-looking work, but 'bokeh' refers to the visual *quality* of the out of focus areas - ie. the shape of the artefacts, the smoothness or otherwise of the effect. It's not the fact in itself that a low depth of field has been used to produce these de-focussed areas.

You can't say "The aperture opens wide enough to allow some degree of bokeh" because it's like saying it "allows some degree of nice". You mean it allows a shallow depth of field, or background de-focussing or whatever. You can then go on to discuss the quality of the bokeh if you like :)

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Thank you for not making me act on my own pedantic urges. I strongly agree with you, good sir.

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From one pedant to another, you can't "discuss the quality of nice", you could perhaps discus the degree of niceness.

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According to the citations on Wikipedia, it can also mean the blur itself.

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Err - Am I the only one

who thinks those sample images look pretty terrible? I wouldn't give you £40 for a camera that captures images like that, never mind £400. Interchangeable lenses is a nice gimmick, but if the body has such a tiny and slow sensor as those shots seem to indicate you might as well just by a pocketful of glass beads and a standard cheap compact.

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@Joefish - - I reckon they're terrible images too.

I was an analog film photographer long before I went digital years ago--and I still use analog film too. Basically, I've no problem switching between the two systems and I've worked on imaging electronics and image sensors.

Many of those who've never owned an analog film camera don't realise how truly effective film is at integrating the limits of fine detail into smooth slightly blurred edges but which still maintains linearity within grayscale, similarly film grain (noise) characteristics had reached a high art long before the end of the film era. In fact, many books were written on these subjects.

Digital sensors are still quite brutal at the edges of linearity, suffice to say they don't handle the bottom and top few pixels of the grayscale well. Whilst there are superb digital cameras, the problem of limited dynamic range in sensors remains, and it's the subject of ongoing research.

In these Pentax Q images both compression and sensor noise are considerable. Compression noise often manifests as washed out transitions (artifacts) between light and dark areas, and when closely inspected one could be forgiven for thinking the transitions were hand drawn by pencil. It's particularly evident in the night image of St Paul's as well as in the Westminster Palace images in the transition between the building and sky.

For me, compression artifacts which limit an image's dynamic range are particularly objectionable (one often sees it in images in PDFs when magnified) and this Pentax Q has it in heaps, moreover, there's also lots of sensor (pixelated) noise too. This camera should have had a much better full-frame [35mm] sensor with a lower noise figure, better noise-reducing electronics and its stored image algorithm should not be compressing anywhere near the degree with which it is.

Frankly, this camera is a great disappointment if you're after good images; alternatively, if you're rich and just want the retro look for your mantelpiece then go for it.

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Meh

Looks fine for my kid.

I would probably have trouble using this camera (large guy, big hands), but sounds like a nice "toy" system for my kids to learn the concepts of interchangeable lenses, after "graduating" from the P&S cameras they use now, before introducing them to a *real* SLR (whether it's digital or film).

Of course, this isn't toy-priced. :-(

P.S.: I should try to have a Pentax 67 as well. Just imagine my next vacation: my five-year old with a P&S, my 10-year old with this Pentax Q, my wife with a Nikon D3100 and me with a Pentax 67.

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Too small?

If the Q is too small you can always get the K-01 which was announced at CP+ this week.

Full size K mount. APS-C sensor. Use all your old lenses. Best thing is they seem to be bringing out lens that recess back into the mirror box space. Should mean same size (camera and lens combined) as other mirrorless systems just without the front heavyness.

G

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Q for Quixotic?

I wonder how many compact camera users have thought to themselves "I wish I could take photos with the same technical limitations as I do currently, but without being able to fit my camera in my pocket any more"?

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Don't knock it

The Q is as they say in Japan "kawaii" (cute). It should sell bucket loads to the sort of people who post videos to Youtube in the wrong aspect ratio (i.e. clueless wannabee geeks). If that's what it takes to keep Pentax alive and producing brilliant, affordable cameras like the K-5, I'm all for it.

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Yet more versions

I'm struggling with the idea of camera manufacturers creating yet more mounts. It's bad enough that you have to buy into a system with the full sized SLRs but now it's happening on the minis. Unless the licensing is ridiculous (which it may be) I don't know why you'd go past m4/3. Sure, you don't have any lock-in with the lenses but then only those planning on slacking off on R&D down the track would need that wouldn't they? 5.5x crop-factor? Yuck.

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