Pentax Q at a glance:

  • 12.4 million effective pixels
  • 1/2.3in CMOS sensor
  • Pentax bayonet Q mount
  • Sensor-shift Shake Reduction
  • Magnesium- alloy chassis
  • 200g including battery and card
  • Street price around £599 with 47mm (equivalent) f/1.9 prime lens

Around three years ago the ball well and truly started rolling for manufacturers producing cameras of compact size but with the versatility of interchangeable lenses – what are now commonly known as compact system cameras (CSC). In light of today’s market, ‘smallest interchangeable-lens camera’ is a title many manufacturers strive towards.

This brings us to the Pentax Q, which enters a crowded market focused on size, where the latest models are released at a steady rate boasting ever smaller dimensions. Claims about such models being ‘the smallest interchangeable-lens camera’ often come with qualifications, such as: ‘with built-in flash’, or ‘with an APS-C-sized sensor’, or ‘with a sensor larger than 1in’. The Pentax Q need not include any such clauses. It is the smallest and lightest interchangeable-lens camera. Period.

Some will be reminded of the Pentax Auto 110 (aka ‘Pentax System 10′), which is a clear inspiration for the design of the Pentax Q. This non-digital counterpart took its own special 110 film to cater for its diminutive size. It is fair to say the Pentax Auto 110 was way ahead of its time; being produced between 1979 and 1985 and with dimensions of 99x56x32mm, it is smaller than any other CSC. This is, however, a film camera, and 110 film production ceased in September 2009.

Pentax was able to achieve such a small size with the Q because, much like the film of the Auto 110, the Q uses a smaller sensor. It becomes interesting, therefore, to consider just who this product is aimed at. Given its size, sensor and features, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Pentax Q is just a bit of fun, and one for the party perhaps. However, as it offers interchangeable lenses, including fixed prime lenses, image quality should be sharp – so could it be a serious second body and a useful street camera?

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