While image noise had been a serious issue for the two previous Pentax Q models, the Q7 seeks to improve in this area with the aforementioned new, and physically larger, sensor.
On the whole the sensor does perform better in this area. Images display virtually noise-free images right up to ISO 1,600, with even images captured at ISO 3,200 prove usable. At ISO 6,400 noise does become more of an issue, or more precisely the loss of fine detail caused by noise reduction image processing.
The maximum ISO of 12,800 is poorer still, although at least you have it there as an option should it be needed in emergencies.
Considering the smaller sensor you might question whether the Q7 could resolve a decent level of detail. No doubt in some part owing to the lack of an anti-alias filter, it actually does well in this area and certainly better than its predecessors.
If you choose to purchase the 8.5mm f/1.9 prime lens with the Q7 then the camera is sure to perform even better in this regard.
Pentax’s heritage in the digital camera market goes a long way towards ensuring some impressive colour performance. The camera produces pleasingly natural tones in its default image processing settings, while the auto white balance is also reliable.
The Q7’s metering system is similarly impressive, providing accurate exposures in a variety of lighting conditions, including dimly lit scenes.
The camera’s larger sensor ensures an improved dynamic range in comparison with its predecessors as well. The model copes much better with highlights and shadows, and in extreme conditions an in-built HDR mode is on hand to help out.
The Pentax Q7 is certainly a unique proposition. At its price point of around £400 it’s competing with some impressive small-form CSCs, including the Canon EOS M and Nikon 1 J2.
It does have the advantage when it comes to size, although its hamstring by its uniqueness when it comes to system lenses. The Q7 currently only has 6 lenses available, 2 of which are ‘Toy’ lenses aimed at the Instagram fanatics rather than serious photographers.
So while it does compare favourably to some advanced compacts around a similar price, the more feature-laden – and better catered for – CSCs around the same price seem like the preferred options.
If size were the only concern the Pentax Q7 would rank very highly. But the restricted lens range, so-so image quality and superior alternatives make it an unconvincing option.