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07-31-2013, 08:32 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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Tokyo Story - A Pentax Q7 real world review



(This is a cut and paste of what I have/am writing up for the local forums which is non=Pentax based, so bear with me if the review has some local jargon/references)


The Q7 is Pentax latest revision of its tiny Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) named the Q series.

When the original Q system was launched in Jun2011, pundits said it was a joke just basing off its small sensor size (1/2.3" sensor).
But I reviewed the original Q here ( The Pentax Q - a real World user review ) and was happy with what I found.
Super macro and telephoto opportunities with the crop factor as well as a really fun camera to use.

Then came the next version the Q10 which was also reviewed here :
Pentax Q10 - a quick review
Pretty much the same as the original Q but with a lighter plastic body and slightly faster processor.


With the Q7, Pentax has revised its sensor size going from the small 1/2.3" sensor to a 1/1.7" backlit CMOS image sensor.
The larger sensor size promises an improvement in image quality and high ISO noise.
Pentax claims a 60% improvement in S/N ratio over the existing Q10.
This improvement also allows the camera to focus faster in low light.
Its was one of the factors that made me decide to get the camera as well as the new wider crop factor of x4.55 (over the x5.6 crop factor of the Q/Q10).
I'll elaborate more of this later.


Q7 with 01 prime; 06 zoom and Toy fisheye lenses.
A fun and versatile kit that is small and weighs very little



Since the Q7 is not available for sale elsewhere except Japan, until Sept2013, I'll list down a bit of the specs here :
(btw, I'm doing a very poor job of listing and organizing these numbers.... boring stuff... its actually easier to follow this link to the official Pentax Q7 and/or DPReview site where its listed nicely)
PENTAX - Q7 Black
Pentax announces Q7 with larger 12MP BSI CMOS sensor: Digital Photography Review


Sensor
Max resolution 4000 x 3000
Effective pixels 12.4 megapixels
Sensor size 1/1.7" (7.44 x 5.58 mm)
Sensor type BSI-CMOS

Image
White balance presets 9
Custom white balance Yes
Image stabilization Sensor-shift
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Good, Better, Best
File format RAW (12bit): DNG, JPEG

Focal length multiplier 4.7

Screen size 3″
Screen dots 460,000
Screen type TFT color LCD monitor, wide angle viewing, AR coating
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Optical (optional)

Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/2000 sec (built in ND filter available)

Exposure modes
Program Auto Exposure, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual Exposure, Bulb, Blur Control (JPEG only) Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Night Scene Portrait, Night Scene, Blue Sky, Forest

Built-in flash Yes (Built-in retractable P-TTL flash)
Flash range 4.9 m (ISO100/m)
External flash Yes
Flash modes P-TTL, Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Trailing Curtain Sync
Flash X sync speed 1/2000 sec

Drive modes
Single frame, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self-timer (12s, 2s), Remote Control (0 sec., 3 sec., continuous), Exposure Bracketing (3 frames, remote control), Multi-exposure (0 sec., Self-time, remote control), Interval Shooting
Self-timer Yes (12 sec, 2 sec)

Metering modes
Multi
Center-weighted
Spot
Exposure compensation 3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing (3 frames at 1/3 EV steps)
Videography features
Format
MPEG-4
H.264
Microphone Mono
Speaker Mono
Resolutions FullHD(1920x1080, 30fps/25fps/24fps), HD(1280x720,16:9,30fps/25fps/24fps), VGA(640x480,4:3,30fps/25fps/24fps)

Weight (inc. batteries) 200 g (0.44 lb / 7.05 oz)
Dimensions 102 x 58 x 34 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.34″)
Other features
Timelapse recording Yes (3 sec. to 24 hr., Start Interval setting: immediately from the set time. Number of shots: up to 999 images)

07-31-2013, 12:07 PM   #2
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Are there additional sections to the review?
07-31-2013, 08:00 PM   #3
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Overview


The Q is a ILC system; one of the big differences between it and any other small sensor pns sized camera
Q7;
01 prime (mounted) - 39mm equivalent (f1.9);
06 zoom - 69-207mm equivalent (f2.8 constant);
Toy Fisheye



Lets get through the formalities first.
The overview of the camera.

Front view

Q7 compare to the prepaid Tokyo subway card (ie. which is the size of any typical atm/credit card)

Rear view




Construction and layout
In the hand, the Q7 feels solid, even though it has a plastic covering (shell is stainless steel)
Typical of Pentax build, the scroll wheel and buttons have a positive/tactile feel to them, not uncertain and whimpy like on some cameras.



The Q7 has quite a bit of options available as buttons and dials.
There is the standard mode dial on the top right of the camera.
Then there are the usual directional buttons providing fast access to the most often used options and 1 scroll wheel.
All these are placed to the camera right for easy one handed operation.

What is unique for the Q series is the Quick Dial, which is placed on the camera front. (the one with the 1,2,3,4 numbering)
This is stored with typical picture presets so that the user can quickly switch to different color modes or picture styles (eg. B&W; cross process; bold color; etc).
The dial can also be customized in the menu for other purposes like turning on the built in ND filter; Focus modes; etc.
This is a pretty handy thing to have and can prove to be quite fun, since all the user needs to do to access them is the turning of the knob, rather than the typical menu diving.
07-31-2013, 10:41 PM   #4
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Ok, with most of the formalities of a review put up, lets go into the more interesting part.
The real world use.
Pictures for the end user.



Warrior girl - Kabukicho, Tokyo; Q7; Prime 01
As real as you can get - well in a man's fantasy anyway....




IMO, while there are always tech spec listings and paper comparisons for cameras on many review sites, they only represent one limited dimension to a camera.
These can't touch on the user, usability, on field handling, practical aspects of the system.
All these are better done with a real world user review.
What it feels/mean/handles in real use.


I often allow about 1 month usage before I get a review done to get used to the camera as well as to use it in as many real situations as possible.
But this time its different as I've use the Q7 for about a week.
However, it has been a week of intensive use, starting off everyday from about 7am all the way to 10pm (sometimes more).
To me, a tour is one of the times where a camera is pushed to its limits and one of the best ways to learn about a camera.
So I'm pretty sure I've got most of what I need to do a review.




Starting off

Wind chime - Asakusa Temple - Q7; 06 zoom

My last trip to Japan was 10yrs ago.
Everything was on film then, though I have some on a Pentax Optio GS330 digital compact.
I've always wanted to go back to revisit the places, culture, people.
But family and kids meant that the wanderlust had to wait.
Then Fukushima..... and I delayed again till now.

08-01-2013, 08:15 PM - 1 Like   #5
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General Handling and AF


On the streets of Shinjuku; Pentax Q7; 01 prime
The smallness of the camera and its fast AF just makes it so easy to whip up the camera at a moments notice, for spontaneous moments.


Once I got hold of the Q7, I charged up the batteries and brought it out the next day.
Walked along the streets with the 01 prime (eq 40mm f1.9).

My impressions....

Wow!
This thing is fast.


Startup is fast, within a second.
I recall writing about a lag in LCD screen turn on (instant) to actually being able to shoot with the camera in the older Q.
But with the Q7, this is now gone and there is no lag in the startup.


Weight of a generation; Pentax Q7; 06 zoom
I spotted this photo op while waiting at the train station.
Reached for the Q7 and turned it on, raised the camera and took the shot.
Thankful of its very short start up time indeed.



Then there is the AF.
Does this thing even need to focus?
I am seriously impressed.
AF is very fast, very decisive.
I'd almost use the word .... instant..
Probably the fastest I've ever used on a CDAF camera (and I've had a G3 (no wimp in CDAF))
This coupled with the deeper DOF from the x4.7 crop factor makes for a very fast shooting street camera, where its easy to get subjects quickly into the focus/DOF.



Behind the Ramen; Q7 prime 01.
An interesting Ramen store, everyone is partitioned from each other. You just focus on the taste of the Ramen.
It looked pretty private and quiet, but no probs for this sneaky small camera to peer thru and focus in the low light as well as having a totally silent electronic shutter.




Scratch my back ; Roppongi; Q7; Prime 01
Again, a street photo op. Brought up the camera quickly and it focused w/o a glitch even in the low ambient lighting.
Don't want to create a stir with a serious camera too in Roppongi with the bouncers around



CDAF has in the past had a bad rep (deservedly so).
In low light, past CDAF (and even DSLRs with PDAF ) were no that good.
There was that 'zee.. zee... zee.. " sound as the lens tried to focus in low light with mixed success and often a missed photo op.
But no so on the Q7.
Simply put, fast, and I'm both surprised and impressed.



Low light; Funky lighting and a guy in a Robot costume lumbering forwards.
A challenging thing to get in focus, given the lighting and situation, but not a problem here wit the Q7

Last edited by pinholecam; 08-01-2013 at 11:25 PM.
08-01-2013, 08:42 PM   #6
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Pinholecam, looking forward to more of your Q7 impressions and pictures.
08-01-2013, 11:05 PM - 3 Likes   #7
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AF and low light performance in real use

My cousin (who lives in Tokyo) was pretty enthusiastic about bringing me to this place.
His words "Its OTT" , then he went on describing the place in sketchy detail.
"Its hard to describe it; perhaps like cabaret but very modern, very Tokyo" he said.

I just picked up on the key words that he had just spoken...
"Girls, bikinis, robots, beer... "
"Lets go man!
"

(Full disclosure : I did this all because I knew it would be a great place to test the Q7 for the camera enthusiasts out there; Imagine having to put myself through this... )


Robot Restaurant (Kabukicho)

Again, no issues here in funky low light.
No "wait, wait pls" while I try to get the camera in focus.
The Q7 just zipped in, and did the job.


I was unsure if a serious looking camera would be allowed in Kabukicho and more so in a club, so I opted to play safe that day and just brought the Q7 with me.

OTT!
Well it certainly sort of describes this place.
At a cost of US$215 million to setup, I think the bill from the massive amounts of LED and large LCD panels itself would already cost the cover charge earnings per night.

Before the show when everyone was seated, an announcement was made that serious cameras would not be allowed (and "no closeups of the performers" .. ok, I did not plan on going there anyway.. )
I was a bit apprehensive, cause I was banking on a 2 day old camera to cut the cake.
Would it? ? or had I just wasted money and time for the performance on blind faith.......

Soon the lights went out and the show started.....


Call to the warriors; Robot Restaurant; Kabukicho; Pentax Q7; 01 prime




Giant Robots and pretty ladies; Robot Restaurant; Kabukicho; Pentax Q7; 01 prime

What followed was a miasma of music, dance, lights, costumes, robots.
I took shot after shot in the low rapidly changing lights.
Sometimes it was quite dark, other times, it was spot lit.

The Q7 pressed on, without a sweat.
The fast AF was impressive.
I need not say more about it (the lighting conditions from the shots speak for themselves)
Can't complain about the metering too, which I must say was darn good imho (I basically kept a -0.7 bias on Tv mode since I did not need to expose for the blacks)



Sound and Sight; Robot Restaurant; Kabukicho; Pentax Q7; 01 prime

Knowing that the movement of the performers would mean that I could not rely on Av mode with auto ISO.
I kept the camera in Tv mode (1/80 to 1/100s at -0.7ev metering bias) and let the camera do the rest.

The good AF and metering, coupled with good DOF from the small sensor plus the ability to use a high quality fast f1.9 prime was reassuring.
I shot in RAW (the only time I bothered to on the Q7 for this whole trip), knowing that I would need the little bit extra mileage RAW would give in such challenging conditions.

Generally, I must say that small sensor cameras have come such a long way in most practical aspects of photo taking.
I still remember my early digicams and even early DSLR which could not even give a reasonable photo from ISO1600 and up (no photo, not even a smeared painting representation)
Nowadays, its almost a wonder what a small camera can do (and it can even change lenses for other photographic options)

Last edited by pinholecam; 08-02-2013 at 11:32 PM.
08-02-2013, 05:02 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Slice Of Light Quote
Pinholecam, looking forward to more of your Q7 impressions and pictures.
+1 Excellent "first review" and images that show interesting aspects of Japan!

Thanks for sharing.

08-02-2013, 05:19 AM   #9
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Excellent review and excellent results from such a small camera . I am impressed indeed!
08-02-2013, 05:44 AM   #10
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Wow, that is good news. Looks like time for me to sell off the Q and get the Q7
08-02-2013, 06:27 AM   #11
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i might have to move to Japan now ..
08-03-2013, 03:27 AM   #12
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HI PHC,

Great review so far. . . (I assume it will be on-going as you use the Q7 in different situations) !!!! I'm truly impressed (by your pics, the performance of the Q7, and of course, your photographic chops)

m beginning to see the light . . .so to speak -- I had little belief that the larger sensor would bring significant performance benefits, but I'm starting to rethink this. I do carry a Q all the time with Q system lenses.The advantages in low light AF would be welcomed, and the wider FOV might be nice in some situations. I could even pack both a Q and a Q7, using the Q body as a not really-that-bulky 1.25x TC if the need arises Hmmmmmmmmmm!!! It would be cool to shoot people more. . .

Am I going to have to start thinking colors now?. . . Uh OH. . . .

Scott.
08-03-2013, 06:41 AM   #13
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Thanks for the review! Looks like you had a good time in Tokyo. I keep seeing an advertising truck for that robot place going around Shinjuku and have been wondering what it's all about. Now I know!

Also glad that the Q7 is a real improvement over the Q/Q10. You've got some really good shots there in difficult conditions.
08-03-2013, 06:30 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Slice Of Light Quote
Pinholecam, looking forward to more of your Q7 impressions and pictures.
QuoteOriginally posted by rhe Quote
+1 Excellent "first review" and images that show interesting aspects of Japan!

Thanks for sharing.
QuoteOriginally posted by manntax Quote
Excellent review and excellent results from such a small camera . I am impressed indeed!
QuoteOriginally posted by felixkh Quote
Wow, that is good news. Looks like time for me to sell off the Q and get the Q7
QuoteOriginally posted by digital029art Quote
i might have to move to Japan now ..

Thanks guys.
There's more to come over the week.
The Q7 surprised me too.


QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
HI PHC,

Great review so far. . . (I assume it will be on-going as you use the Q7 in different situations) !!!! I'm truly impressed (by your pics, the performance of the Q7, and of course, your photographic chops)

m beginning to see the light . . .so to speak -- I had little belief that the larger sensor would bring significant performance benefits, but I'm starting to rethink this. I do carry a Q all the time with Q system lenses.The advantages in low light AF would be welcomed, and the wider FOV might be nice in some situations. I could even pack both a Q and a Q7, using the Q body as a not really-that-bulky 1.25x TC if the need arises Hmmmmmmmmmm!!! It would be cool to shoot people more. . .

Am I going to have to start thinking colors now?. . . Uh OH. . . .

Scott.
Scott, thanks
There's certainly more to review on.
Sorry that for the moment its stuff that Q users more or less already know/experience.
The review is in a forum that is not Pentax orientated.
I'd like to touch on 06, fisheye use a Q system as well as the macro and telephoto options later on, as well as some new additions to the camera features/functions.

I thought of getting a nice olive green one, but it would be a 1wk wait, so no-go for me.



QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Thanks for the review! Looks like you had a good time in Tokyo. I keep seeing an advertising truck for that robot place going around Shinjuku and have been wondering what it's all about. Now I know!

Also glad that the Q7 is a real improvement over the Q/Q10. You've got some really good shots there in difficult conditions.
My cousin did a report for Reuters a year ago (his footage is probably on Youtube since its sold to various news companies), which is how he found out about the place.

Yes, Q7 sort of blew me away.
W/o pixel peeping, I can already safely say that is the sort of small backup camera that will still take good enough photos in case the DSLR broke down or met a mishap during a tour.
08-03-2013, 06:39 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Enjoy the weekend guys, I'll get back to the review over the week.
For now, we interrupt this review with a "commercial break"















Moving performers, low/funky lights and my palpitating heart from the beer and the performers, plus shooting often with one hand, but the Q7 with fast f1.9 prime 01 and on-camera shake reduction pressed on.....
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