Compact system cameras have been around for just under three years now and while many models have shown promise, none have quite delivered on the promise of an interchangeable-lens camera that’ll fit inside a regular coat pocket with room to spare. Until now, that is.
Looking rather like a miniaturised rangefinder (without a viewfinder), the Pentax Q offers a fresh take on the compact system genre by combining genuine pocketability with a generous feature-set and a wealth of easily accessed creative options.
Working on the digital camera truism that bigger sensors require bigger lenses, Pentax has instead decided to keep everything as small as possible, and to this end the Q employs a 1/2.3in sensor – exactly the same size that’s found inside the vast majority of regular compacts. This allows tiny lenses to be attached to the newly developed Q mount.
This unique approach has, somewhat inevitably, led to some raised eyebrows from those who argue that fitting compact cameras with interchangeable lenses is a bit of a ludicrous idea. Those with a more positive outlook, however, might be inclined to argue that advancements in sensor technology in recent years give the Pentax Q every chance of succeeding. Either way, the Pentax Q marks the first time it has been tried on such a scale, and for that reason alone Pentax surely deserves some credit.
Given the way Pentax has approached the compact system market, it’s somewhat difficult to pinpoint its most direct competitors. The £600 price tag for a Pentax Q body and 8mm f/1.9 lens doesn’t make this any easier as it makes the full package more expensive than the Olympus E-PL3 body and 14-42mm pancake lens combo, or even the Sony NEX-C3 twin lens kit. You can also expect to see plenty of change from £600 should you decide to opt for either the Lumix G3 or Lumix GF3 standard zoom packages.
Should we even be thinking of the Pentax Q as a CSC, at all? Given the sensor size would it not be better compared against advanced compacts such as the Canon S100, Nikon S9100 or Lumix LX5? Either way, the Pentax Q clearly has its work cut out if it hopes to convince you to part with the best part of £600
Let’s take a closer look and find out if it can do this…