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10-27-2011, 07:12 PM   #1
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Pentax Q Review: Photography Blog

Pentax Q Review | PhotographyBLOG

10-29-2011, 04:58 AM   #2
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Unfortunately, unlike its handling, the Q's image quality doesn't come anywhere near a DSLR, or the new breed of compact system cameras either. It may have DSLR pretensions and an ISO range to match, but in reality the compact camera sensor at the heart of the Q seriously restricts its appeal. Prospective buyers of an interchangeable lens camera expect significant improvements in both features and image quality, and while the Q's photos certainly aren't bad by compact camera standards, they don't match up to even the new Nikon One system, which has the smallest sensor of any CSC range.

Bearing that harsh reality in mind, it's extremely hard to fathom the pricing strategy that Pentax have decided on for the Q. £600 / $800 is a lot of money for a compact system camera and even an entry-level DSLR, and is surely commercial suicide for a camera with such a tiny sensor. No amount of DSLR-like features or proven handling can make up the fact that the Q costs a lot more than most of its principal rivals which all offer much better image quality. With a more sensible price, the Q could carve itself out a niche as an alternative to a high-end compact, but at current prices it stands little chance of success.


Which is a real shame, as in many ways we really liked the Pentax Q. It's small enough to slip inside a coat pocket, yet flexible enough to offer a DSLR-like take on the world. Ultimately though we just can't recommend that you spend DSLR money on compact camera image quality.


Ouch!

I was underwhelmed after reading the Pentaxforums review, but it seems that our worst fears are being confirmed as new reviews come out. Don't know what Pentax was thinking. The Q could have been SO much better with a slightly larger/higher IQ sensor
10-29-2011, 09:09 PM   #3
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I am trying to curb my rants. But the Q is just a joke. IMHO. I am seriously looking at the new NEX 7. Not much more and wow...
10-29-2011, 09:24 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fer Quote
Unfortunately, unlike its handling, the Q's image quality doesn't come anywhere near a DSLR, or the new breed of compact system cameras either. It may have DSLR pretensions and an ISO range to match, but in reality the compact camera sensor at the heart of the Q seriously restricts its appeal. Prospective buyers of an interchangeable lens camera expect significant improvements in both features and image quality, and while the Q's photos certainly aren't bad by compact camera standards, they don't match up to even the new Nikon One system, which has the smallest sensor of any CSC range.

Bearing that harsh reality in mind, it's extremely hard to fathom the pricing strategy that Pentax have decided on for the Q. £600 / $800 is a lot of money for a compact system camera and even an entry-level DSLR, and is surely commercial suicide for a camera with such a tiny sensor. No amount of DSLR-like features or proven handling can make up the fact that the Q costs a lot more than most of its principal rivals which all offer much better image quality. With a more sensible price, the Q could carve itself out a niche as an alternative to a high-end compact, but at current prices it stands little chance of success.


Which is a real shame, as in many ways we really liked the Pentax Q. It's small enough to slip inside a coat pocket, yet flexible enough to offer a DSLR-like take on the world. Ultimately though we just can't recommend that you spend DSLR money on compact camera image quality.


Ouch!

I was underwhelmed after reading the Pentaxforums review, but it seems that our worst fears are being confirmed as new reviews come out. Don't know what Pentax was thinking. The Q could have been SO much better with a slightly larger/higher IQ sensor
I disagree with their statement above. I'm not sure what they were testing, but again, I don't have the ability to re-create their environment to mimic their IQ results to provide a counter-point. I suggest you take a look at the Pentax Q Flickr group to see some more real world examples of the camera's photos before taking a single article's word on IQ. However, I agree it won't be as good as current Pro level DSLR's but more then good enough for most people.

10-30-2011, 02:53 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by knightzerox Quote
I disagree with their statement above. I'm not sure what they were testing, but again, I don't have the ability to re-create their environment to mimic their IQ results to provide a counter-point. I suggest you take a look at the Pentax Q Flickr group to see some more real world examples of the camera's photos before taking a single article's word on IQ. However, I agree it won't be as good as current Pro level DSLR's but more then good enough for most people.
Well, of course you have hands on experience with it, which I don't, so I'm not going to argue with you.

However, I have been reading camera reviews at the Photography blog for several years now, and I'd say they know what they're doing and mostly tend to get it right. I'm sure there are tons of good pics taken with the Q in flickr, since any modern camera is able to turn out nice images in good light and/or in capable hands.

But at that price point, you need to provide at least as good IQ as the top of the range enthusiast/pro compacts, and that's where the Q doesn't seem to deliver, far from it. As garyk mentions, just compare it with the similarly priced NEX-7 (or even the NEX-5N, or some of the latest m4/3 offerings), both with an APS-C sensor which I'm sure blows out of the water anything the Q can produce. The jury is still out, so let's see what other reputable review sites have to say. But it's not looking good...
10-30-2011, 06:38 AM   #6
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It is wrong to compare the Q to a nex 7. The difference in size and purpose is huge. Like comparing a Leica M9 to a medium format dslr. Want to guess which has better image quality? So why buy the expensive Leica? Handling,, stealth, size, ease of use, and quality of craftsmanship.

Good photographers can make the Q ( or any camera ) sing. Many use subminature Minox film spy cameras. There is far, far less room for error. This happens with a smaller format. Have to be more careful with FF than medium format. FF is more forgiving than aps-c, etc. Shooting smaller formats can help hone skills. A reason I love the Q. There is a National Geographic photographer with a beautiful book of cell phone pictures. All cameras are better than that.
thanks
barondla
10-30-2011, 05:29 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
I am trying to curb my rants. But the Q is just a joke. IMHO. I am seriously looking at the new NEX 7. Not much more and wow...
With a 24mp sensor, I find it difficult to take the NEX-7 'seriously'. But does it matter? For me photography is about having fun
10-30-2011, 08:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fer Quote

But at that price point, you need to provide at least as good IQ as the top of the range enthusiast/pro compacts, and that's where the Q doesn't seem to deliver,

I guess this is what I'm not understanding from many people that are criticizing the Q on price. I think what you meant to say was that for the price of said product, it should be equal at a single criteria compared to the best products in different categories. That's a pretty unreallstic claim because what you have just said is that the Q is overpriced because it isn't as good as a FF/APSC SLR/Mirroless APSC/or whatever camera in just IQ for a similar price range.

You could have just as well have said that a Ferrari/Porsche is overpriced for it's price point when you could have just bought a Corvette with much better or equal performance. Or that a Apple laptop is ridiculous when all its PC competitors at that same price level would have given you more options, features, and power.

When you compare the Q's IQ only to other products that are priced the same, you completely forget that a product is judged by people for more then just a single value on paper. You're also forgetting that the Q is a premium product. It's not meant to compete with the cameras you are comparing it with. It's a luxury product, like a Leica. You take a $500 camera that's very good in it's class and then add a lot of features and capabilities, make the build quality very high, and charge for the premium difference. I can choose to buy a nice compact P&S camera or pay more to get a very high quality built version. That's it. The value for the Q comes in from things that can't be written down on paper and from it's very small system size (including the lenses.). You're comparing a premium product in a different product class to the entry-level versions of another product market.

Asking a premium product to justify it's price for products that are aiming for a different target market is silly. You don't go complaining that a Mercedes sedan is overpriced compared to a Porsche of the same value. Or that a fine dining experience you had at a nice restaurant was overpriced when you could have gotten more food at the local place near by. Or when your wife buys a Louis Vuitton bag over a generic store brand when they both hold the same amount of stuff and perform the same function. When you buy a car and ask to add lots of options, you're paying a premium for a set of features to make that product better for you. That car may start at a price of $30,000 but after all the premium options be $40,000. Should you have taken that $40,000 and bought a different car instead with it? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on why you wanted that car and it's features in the first place.

To put it another way, what you're asking for is a holy grail of cameras. If the Q had IQ as good as current generation PRO DSLR's like the K-5, Canon D700, Canon Mark II, Sony A77 etc.. and retained all the features it has, it's size, and came with a super fast AF like the Nikon, and was $500, you'd have the most unbelievable camera ever created. You can't have your cake and eat it too right? There's some reality that has to come into play with trade-offs. You can't have super portable size with a large sensor ( this means lenses too ) . You can't have a magnesium alloy metal body and cost only $500 while retaining everything else.

And finally, the Nikon v1/j1 's IQ has been stated to not be that stellar ( based on the reviews of just the Nikon 1) and about the same as the Q's ( based on one review so far ). I don't hear many complaints about Nikon charging $650-900 for a plastic camera that delivers very poor IQ compared to it's Nikon DSLR's or other mirrorless cameras. They are both the same idea and for the same target market. They are both compact P&S cameras with smaller inter-changeable lenses. Pentax targeted the enthusiast market and Nikon went after both. Nikon chose larger lenses and sensors and Pentax choose to keep the system small.

If you don't like the Q for it's price, you may now purchase the $150 cheaper non-premium Nikon 1 version instead. If you don't like the money to IQ ratio these cameras give you, then you're looking at the wrong set of products or are asking for something that DOES NOT EXIST yet. The best bang for the buck in IQ is probably buying the best entry-level DSLR you can find, if that's all that you were concerned with.

10-31-2011, 12:18 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
It is wrong to compare the Q to a nex 7. The difference in size and purpose is huge. Like comparing a Leica M9 to a medium format dslr. Want to guess which has better image quality? So why buy the expensive Leica? Handling,, stealth, size, ease of use, and quality of craftsmanship.

Good photographers can make the Q ( or any camera ) sing. Many use subminature Minox film spy cameras. There is far, far less room for error. This happens with a smaller format. Have to be more careful with FF than medium format. FF is more forgiving than aps-c, etc. Shooting smaller formats can help hone skills. A reason I love the Q. There is a National Geographic photographer with a beautiful book of cell phone pictures. All cameras are better than that.
thanks
barondla
I agree, and that's actually what I said: good photographers can make pretty much any camera sing. If I understand you correctly, the Q's small size and purpose would make up for the so-so image quality and justify its price point. Maybe for you and other people. But not too many, that's my guess. These days less money will get you cameras with similar ease of use, handling and construction quality, which are only slightly bigger and allow for a similar "stealthiness", with the added "bonus" that their IQ is miles above what the Q offers. As much as I was unfair to compair the NEX-7 with the Q (after all, the former costs $400-$500 more), the comparison with the NEX-5N ($700 with kit lens) is more than warranted to me, and more accurate, at any rate, than comparing an M9 with a MF camera. Whole different beasts. If the NEX-5N is too large, you can still go smaller and pay less for slighlty worse IQ (but still, it would appear, much better than the Q image quality).

LIke I said, maybe for some users small size and good handling can redeem what seems to be average or even sub-par IQ. Not for me. If I want to simply have fun and take average quality pictures using an unintrusive small sensor camera with big DoF, there are countless much cheaper options than the Q, including mid-range smartphones (and I actually take a lot of snapshots with my iPhone). With any of these options, the convenience/size/handling factors far outweigh what's lost in IQ, and this is certainly true with basic P&S, and in many cases even with smartphones. Again, if you still want better IQ and more manual controls without losing pocketability/good handling, there are plenty of options out there not much larger than the Q, but much cheaper.

That's why, to me, the Q is pointless at its current price range, or even at $200 cheaper. Nice toy? Yes! I briefly held a Q a few weeks ago, and yes, it's small and it feels extremely well built and seems to handle really well. But that's just part of the equation. And the more expensive any piece of equipment is, the more I expect it to be a good all-rounder, at least in all of the essential departments. If the IQ is just not there, from what it seems, I cannot justify the high price point. If I were a spy, I might consider it Otherwise, no.

Last edited by Fer; 10-31-2011 at 12:51 AM.
10-31-2011, 12:43 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by knightzerox Quote

When you compare the Q's IQ only to other products that are priced the same, you completely forget that a product is judged by people for more then just a single value on paper. You're also forgetting that the Q is a premium product. It's not meant to compete with the cameras you are comparing it with. It's a luxury product, like a Leica...
The only reason why you would compare the Q with a Leica is that they're both massively overpriced (in my view). But at least most Leicas deliver excellent IQ, which, no matter which way you want to look at it, is one of THE essential features of a piece of equipment that's made to capture, well, images. And maybe it's just me, but I expect a premium product (if that's really what the Q is, other than by its price), to be vastly superior to anything else in some departments, and to be at least the equal to other cheaper options in all of the essential performance departments, such as IQ in what we're discussing here. To follow your nice restaurant analogy, I'm ready to pay more for sophisticated food that it's well presented and served in a luxurious environment. But the food has to taste better than average, otherwise yes, I'll think it's overpriced. Substitute IQ for food taste here and you'll see what I mean.

QuoteOriginally posted by knightzerox Quote
To put it another way, what you're asking for is a holy grail of cameras. ..The best bang for the buck in IQ is probably buying the best entry-level DSLR you can find, if that's all that you were concerned with.
I agree that the market still doesn't offer exactly the camera I want, but will it ever? I have not compared at any stage the Q with a regular DSLR, entry-level or not (though, to be fair, the Photography blog review did), because clearly, to me, the size/convenience factor is lost there. We're talking about small-ish cameras able to offer good IQ.
And what I'm saying is that if you want manual controls with pocketable size and IQ similar to what the Q offers (or so it seems), you have the LX5, the S95/100, and other for a lot less money than the Q.
If you want to go one step up in IQ at the expense of size, but still in a compact package, you have the m4/3 offerings, or even the NEX series with a far superior sensor and IQ than the Q, which again cost as much or considerably less (except for the NEX-7).

Oh, and may I just add that I've no interest wahtsoever in talking down the Q, so I'll just leave the discussion here. All I'm saying is, it appears that the Q's image quality is not what I expect from a premium-priced camera, and so it makes no sense at all to me. The market will tell, I guess

Last edited by Fer; 10-31-2011 at 01:01 AM.
10-31-2011, 01:21 AM   #11
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For me personally I am not a professional photographer. I am not going to be entering photographic competitions and the very few people who are likely to ever see a small number of my photos are unlikely to critically examine the image quality. For my own use I have a Fuji X100 which I love and gives me all the quality I need for those special occasions, but truth be told, it is hard work to get the best out of it sometimes and much bigger and heavier than the Q. I've just ordered a Pentax Q as I wanted a small but flexible camera for those everyday occasions and because I think it will be fun to use - I take photographs for my person enjoyment.

I also admit to being a bit of a gadget enthusiast. I like quality products and things that are a bit different and perhaps controversial. I like cameras as a piece of engineering, not just as something to make pictures with. I think the Q fits into these categories, much as the X100 does too.

Although I'm still awaiting delivery of my Q, I've already got the feeling that it's going to be the Q I reach for more often than the X100 when I want to take photos.
10-31-2011, 02:41 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
It is wrong to compare the Q to a nex 7. The difference in size and purpose is huge.
barondla
Why? Isn't it exactly reasonable if you compare things in the same price range? Especially when arguing that something is overpriced?
10-31-2011, 12:25 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fer Quote
The only reason why you would compare the Q with a Leica is that they're both massively overpriced (in my view). But at least most Leicas deliver excellent IQ, which, no matter which way you want to look at it, is one of THE essential features of a piece of equipment that's made to capture, well, images. And maybe it's just me, but I expect a premium product (if that's really what the Q is, other than by its price), to be vastly superior to anything else in some departments, and to be at least the equal to other cheaper options in all of the essential performance departments, such as IQ in what we're discussing here. To follow your nice restaurant analogy, I'm ready to pay more for sophisticated food that it's well presented and served in a luxurious environment. But the food has to taste better than average, otherwise yes, I'll think it's overpriced. Substitute IQ for food taste here and you'll see what I mean.
Ok but you're comparing a Leica which was meant to be a luxury version of a camera that was designed to compete with APS-C and FF sized SLR's. And I agree, the Lecia better provide at least as good IQ or other features that make up the difference in price compared to the products it's targeted at.

The Q's is competing with S95/100 LX-5, etc cameras and it provides better IQ then those cameras and additional features. The price difference here is around $300-400 above those cameras which is very significant, however, it also has inter-changeable lenses and other features which none of those cameras have. Now whether you choose to buy a S100, or a LX-5 ( or buy the Leica version for more money), or the Q depends on what you value out out of your tool and your own financial situation. If I start comparing a Leica to a medium format DSLR of the same price, yes, the the Leica will lose in IQ. You can choose to funnel your money into different attributes of a camera and if you have X amount of money to spend and must get the most IQ out of it for that amount, the Q is not for you. And no premium product will ever be in that category. Premium products like a Leica are not designed to give you value for your money. They're designed to give you additional benefits and features that a smaller set of the market wants and who finds value in it.

A Toyota model of a car and the Lexus version are the same car. They are built off the same frame, same engine, and share pretty much many features. However, the Lexus version gets additional sound proofing, engine tuneup, nicer quality materials etc. For the same price of the Lexus model you could have bought the top of the line Toyota. Seems pretty silly to buy that Lexus when you could clearly get better value for your money with a different product for the same price right? Yet the market doesn't work that way. Those who value or can afford the Lexus do so. And those that want the most out of every dollar they spend to buy the car that gives them what the need the most of do. Both of those are completely valid choices because they were the right decision for you. What I'm hearing a lot of is that people are upset that the Q is a premium item that they cannot justify the price for when they can find non-premium products that are better. I'm sure a lot of people say the same thing about Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, Lexus, Leica, Infiniti, Apple, and Tiffany's. If you find value in a product for you, then you can purchase it. If it hasn't reached a price point where it's worth it to you yet, then you can wait for the price to drop till it does or not purchase it at all. But please, do understand, that criticizing a premium version of a product in it's market for being overpriced is silly. It's not about price for those items. It's about having an option to buy a better quality product with the same or more features. If Pentax made a Mirroless APS-C camera and built it to the same quality as the Q and charged more then the K-5 for it, people would be having the same issue about it as they do with the Q. I'm glad Pentax gave the market an option, as the only other alternative ICL camera that is compact out there is the Nikon 1 series.


QuoteOriginally posted by Fer Quote
I agree that the market still doesn't offer exactly the camera I want, but will it ever? I have not compared at any stage the Q with a regular DSLR, entry-level or not (though, to be fair, the Photography blog review did), because clearly, to me, the size/convenience factor is lost there. We're talking about small-ish cameras able to offer good IQ.
And what I'm saying is that if you want manual controls with pocketable size and IQ similar to what the Q offers (or so it seems), you have the LX5, the S95/100, and other for a lot less money than the Q.
If you want to go one step up in IQ at the expense of size, but still in a compact package, you have the m4/3 offerings, or even the NEX series with a far superior sensor and IQ than the Q, which again cost as much or considerably less (except for the NEX-7).

Oh, and may I just add that I've no interest wahtsoever in talking down the Q, so I'll just leave the discussion here. All I'm saying is, it appears that the Q's image quality is not what I expect from a premium-priced camera, and so it makes no sense at all to me. The market will tell, I guess
The Lx5, S95/100 do not offer ICL so not the same category of product. The Nex is in no way comparable to a Q or a Nikon 1 series camera. The Nex series lenses are the same size as an SLR, which is a SIGNIFICANT negative attribute to me and others to an otherwise stellar performing camera. A MFT is still large, and not much smaller then the Pentax SLR's.

Here is why the Q is unique. It does something that no other camera on the market can currently do :

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I have the Q, a fish eye lens, a 47mm f/1.9 prime, a 23-87mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom, And a 390mm-1140mm 3.8 telephoto lens (On the bottom of the bag ) all in a small carrying bag that is 6.25 " x3.5" x 4.5" of space. I can also change this to remove out the large telephoto and instead include a 278mm f/2 and a 750mm f/2.5 or my large Metz AF58-3 flash. Or any combination with the lenses shown below:

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No other camera on the market can let me carry that large of a range of lenses and focal lengths in such an extremely compact way. I get extreme telephoto and macro lenses by using old K-mount lenses on the Q due to it's small sensor/crop factor. That is the Q's strength, not to mention the other things it excels at. It has some crappy things about it too, but the good things make up for a lot of it.

Last edited by knightzerox; 10-31-2011 at 08:30 PM.
10-31-2011, 12:31 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by susurs Quote
Why? Isn't it exactly reasonable if you compare things in the same price range? Especially when arguing that something is overpriced?
No. People tend to not cross-shop between products in different categories. Yes they are both cameras and they take photos. But a pickup truck and a sports car also are both vehicles that have wheels and take you places. You don't compare the two even if they are the same price. The only competitor in the market to the Q is the Nikon 1 series really, but both the Q and the Nikon can be seen as premium version of a high-end compact P&S's like the S95, LX-5 and so on.
10-31-2011, 12:39 PM   #15
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Very well said knightzerox.
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