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11-24-2014, 11:47 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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A brief, unscientific comparison : Original Q vs Q-S1

My local camera shop had a Q-S1 on display and I asked if I could try it. I had my original Q with me and I thought it would be interesting to compare the two models. Both cameras had an 02 Standard Zoom 5-15mm lens.

The Q-S1 definitely feels noticeably larger. It's not so significant that it loses its Q identity though. Heavier, too ... yes. Ergonomically it felt about the same. The thumbwheels for shooting mode selection and function manipulation protrude outward more than they do on the original Q. They are not are not flush with the body shape. The Q-S1 responds quicker to button presses and actuations. Focusing feels faster. The levels are nice too.

Those differences are slight in comparison to the new sensor. Remember that the Q has a 1/2.3" sensor and the Q-S1 has a 1/1.7" sensor. The Q lines up of lenses become very exciting! Wide lenses suddenly become much wider! Here's a shot of the store's shelves taken with my Q at ISO 100 with the 02 lens at 5mm, wide open. I placed the camera on the counter.



I processed the picture in Apple Aperture from a DNG file. There is no distortion correction applied. Here's the same shot with the Q-S1.



Both shots are cropped down to 10 MP for a 3:2 ratio. I discovered that the Q will save an uncropped DNG no matter aspect ratio setting you have enabled. It's up to you to crop down. The Q-S1 saved a cropped DNG image. You get what you set. Again, there is no distortion correction applied to the image.

I wanted to compare sharpness and ISO noise by shooting the store display with both cameras at 100/125, 400, 800, and 1600 ISO. Here's a shot at 125 ISO for the Q and 100 ISO for the Q-S1. It's a 100% crop from almost the center. You can always tell which shot is which by the crop factor. The Q will look more zoomed in than the Q-S1.



I applied a lot of sharpening to the Q image on the left. The same sharpening on the Q-S1 image on the right resulted in a lot of artifacts. I realized that there is a lot more information in the Q-S1 image because of the lack of the AA filter! So, there is zero extra sharpening applied to the Q-S1 image on the right. I could have experimented to find a good setting but why bother when the image looks that good already? The X in the X-5 marque looks sharper on the Q-S1 to me than the Q.

Here's a shot at ISO 400 for both cameras.



The grain of the Q-S1 looks much finer and less muddy. Here's ISO 800.



A little bit of softness begins to set in on the Q-S1 as the noise begins to rise up and overwhelm the fine details of the lettering on the box. Next is ISO 1600.



Now both cameras are starting to ask for trouble. The noise still looks finer in the Q-S1 and I think that the right software tools can clean up the image well. Then some gentle sharpening could be applied to make the details stand out. Just for grins, I took the same shot at the Q-S1's maximum ISO setting of 12800.



The background took on a weird shag carpet texture. It's almost beautiful but definitely useless in this case.

I know this is hardly scientific or rigorous. It was done in fun and in the spirit of crude experimentation. Take it as a datapoint if you want ... or don't take it at all. I would have loved to add a Q7 to the mix, especially since it should offer the same field of view. If the sensor tech from the Q7 simply passed on to the Q-S1 then I would seriously consider pouncing on it once it goes below $199 with an 02 lens. The only thing that would sway me away from a low priced Q7 would be a good price on the 08 wide angle zoom. Lenses only get more expensive as time progresses while bodies get cheaper and cheaper.

11-25-2014, 12:49 AM   #2
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Thanks for this comparison, I found it to be useful reading and your samples really put images to the words. The Original Q holds up pretty well to its newer sibling at low ISO's.
11-25-2014, 01:03 AM   #3
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It would be nice to see two samples from lowest and highest matching ISO setting but cropped to the same view - so we could see the additional detail in the same cropped images. Very useful practical comparison of these funny cameras. Although I am not that tempted to get one - still it is pretty amazing what they are capable of !
11-25-2014, 02:13 AM   #4
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Interesting comparison, the high-iso image still looks good in spite of the size of the sensor!

11-25-2014, 04:11 AM   #5
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Thanks for doing this.

May I ask how did you find the circular grip thing on the Q S-1?
11-25-2014, 07:12 AM   #6
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Thanks for posting this comparison. After I checked out your samples, which were quite nicely done and presented, my first thought is that you are very lucky to have access to a camera store that stocks Pentax. I have not had that in about 20 years. Secondly to have a store that allows you to actually handle and take a few shots while considering the camera. WOW!! I have not had that in over 30 years. The last time it happened to me I was purchasing my first of two Pentax ME Supers. So how did that grip button on the right side of the Q-S1 feel?
11-25-2014, 08:11 AM   #7
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Thanks for the positive feedback here!

@manntax : Yep, you're right. I should have zoomed in a bit on the Q-S1 to get the same FoV as the Q. That would have required me to fire off more shots. I felt kind of bad taking the few that I did. The shutter count has a couple ticks on it now so technically it's a used camera. Hence, this is why the comparison here is so unscientific. I think the Q-S1 shows more detail than the Q in those shots despite having a wider FoV. The sensor, with no AA filter, is much sharper.

@sapporodan and @CWRailman : The circular grip knob is utterly useless to me. It didn't hinder anything but it didn't hurt either. After playing with the camera I think that knob is there for one of two reasons. First, there could be something protruding in the electronics that they couldn't make flat. Something with the shutter, perhaps? I don't know. Rather than fix that design flaw they decided to feature it. Second, Ricoh could be gearing up to add a second functional knob or button. That mechanical design work was done now but a dummy cap was installed. When the Q-S2 comes out then all the molds and fixtures will have been made. No new investment is necessary. I bet Ricoh had a budget, came slightly under, and used every last penny they had. Use it or lose it, right?

@CWRailman : My local camera store is Gordon's Photo Service in Carson City, NV. It's a great little shop - 5 stars all the way around! They sell Pentax film and digital cameras, Fuji instant cameras and film, lots of accessories, etc. This is where I get my film developed and prints made. You pay a bit of a premium here but you also get the premium experience. Everyone will make sure you are taken care of and satisfied with whatever you are purchasing. It's truly red carpet / white glove service. The lab technician looks at every single one of my images before printing. Their stock of Pentax and Ricoh cameras is impressive. The shelves higher up from the shots had a bunch of K-S1 boxes and the shelf above that was loaded with K-3 boxes. I haven't been to their Reno, NV location in months but I do remember it being stocked even better with K-30's, K-50's, and K-5's at the time. Oh, and enough K-mount lenses to bankrupt even the most durable of wallets!
11-25-2014, 08:31 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
My local camera shop had a Q-S1 on display and I asked if I could try it...

I would have loved to add a Q7 to the mix, especially since it should offer the same field of view. If the sensor tech from the Q7 simply passed on to the Q-S1 then I would seriously consider pouncing on it once it goes below $199 with an 02 lens. The only thing that would sway me away from a low priced Q7 would be a good price on the 08 wide angle zoom. Lenses only get more expensive as time progresses while bodies get cheaper and cheaper.
Q7/08... combo, highly recommended! Did the camera store have a Q7/08 anywhere in their inventory (even Reno) for you to consider? If 'yes,' make a fair offer including the 08... they might go for it.

Cheers... M

11-25-2014, 09:12 AM   #9
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@Michaelina2 : I know that the Carson location never had the Q7 because I go there almost every week. The Reno might have had one. A dim and distant memory tells me that Gordon mentioned it. I got my current Q with the 02 from Newegg last December, after Christmas, when they were being blown out at $199. Since I had a used Q package that came with the 01 lens I sold that unit and kept the one from Newegg. It worked out well because I somehow ended up with a +$27 after the whole deal! My hope this year is to find a Q7 package for $199 and sell the 02 lens.I just don't know how the Q7 compares with the Q-S1. Will the Q7 be of the same quality as the Q but wider angle due to the larger sensor? Or, will I get the wider angle and the cleaner sensor output?
11-25-2014, 12:11 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
@Michaelina2 : I know that the Carson location never had the Q7 because I go there almost every week. The Reno might have had one. A dim and distant memory tells me that Gordon mentioned it. I got my current Q with the 02 from Newegg last December, after Christmas, when they were being blown out at $199. Since I had a used Q package that came with the 01 lens I sold that unit and kept the one from Newegg. It worked out well because I somehow ended up with a +$27 after the whole deal! My hope this year is to find a Q7 package for $199 and sell the 02 lens.I just don't know how the Q7 compares with the Q-S1. Will the Q7 be of the same quality as the Q but wider angle due to the larger sensor? Or, will I get the wider angle and the cleaner sensor output?

I have a Q and Q7... I find the Q7 significantly better in all respects than the Q. I doubt you'll be able to wrangle a deal similar/better than the one you got when you bought your Q. But a few days ago, Amazon had a new Q7/02 kit priced around $230, a steal (IMHO).... now, its back up to around $350. If one remains alert, I bet it will drop again to similar levels. When that happens, pounce!

Also, while I did not think it was the case at the time... but after extensive use of the 08 lens, I consider it fairly priced at current levels. My copy is excellent (an easy "10" rating). If you have the time, watch for its price to break, too. The trick is to find one available. I watched for several months and finally bought it on a one day 'flash' offering for somewhat less.

Good luck... M
11-25-2014, 04:33 PM   #11
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I am more than a little envious that you have such a well stocked shop to peruse through on a regular basis. I have not had access to one since I quit working in Downtown Chicago many years ago. We did have several relatively large camera stores here in the Phoenix area but neither stocked Pentax equipment on a regular basis and when they did have a Pentax camera in stock it was most likely the point and shoot or the water repellant variety. But they always offered to order in what you wanted if you would leave a deposit.
11-25-2014, 04:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
My local camera shop had a Q-S1 on display and I asked if I could try it. I had my original Q with me and I thought it would be interesting to compare the two models. Both cameras had an 02 Standard Zoom 5-15mm lens.

The Q-S1 definitely feels noticeably larger. It's not so significant that it loses its Q identity though. Heavier, too ... yes. Ergonomically it felt about the same. The thumbwheels for shooting mode selection and function manipulation protrude outward more than they do on the original Q. They are not are not flush with the body shape. The Q-S1 responds quicker to button presses and actuations. Focusing feels faster. The levels are nice too.

Those differences are slight in comparison to the new sensor. Remember that the Q has a 1/2.3" sensor and the Q-S1 has a 1/1.7" sensor. The Q lines up of lenses become very exciting! Wide lenses suddenly become much wider! Here's a shot of the store's shelves taken with my Q at ISO 100 with the 02 lens at 5mm, wide open. I placed the camera on the counter.



I processed the picture in Apple Aperture from a DNG file. There is no distortion correction applied. Here's the same shot with the Q-S1.



Both shots are cropped down to 10 MP for a 3:2 ratio. I discovered that the Q will save an uncropped DNG no matter aspect ratio setting you have enabled. It's up to you to crop down. The Q-S1 saved a cropped DNG image. You get what you set. Again, there is no distortion correction applied to the image.

I wanted to compare sharpness and ISO noise by shooting the store display with both cameras at 100/125, 400, 800, and 1600 ISO. Here's a shot at 125 ISO for the Q and 100 ISO for the Q-S1. It's a 100% crop from almost the center. You can always tell which shot is which by the crop factor. The Q will look more zoomed in than the Q-S1.



I applied a lot of sharpening to the Q image on the left. The same sharpening on the Q-S1 image on the right resulted in a lot of artifacts. I realized that there is a lot more information in the Q-S1 image because of the lack of the AA filter! So, there is zero extra sharpening applied to the Q-S1 image on the right. I could have experimented to find a good setting but why bother when the image looks that good already? The X in the X-5 marque looks sharper on the Q-S1 to me than the Q.

Here's a shot at ISO 400 for both cameras.



The grain of the Q-S1 looks much finer and less muddy. Here's ISO 800.



A little bit of softness begins to set in on the Q-S1 as the noise begins to rise up and overwhelm the fine details of the lettering on the box. Next is ISO 1600.



Now both cameras are starting to ask for trouble. The noise still looks finer in the Q-S1 and I think that the right software tools can clean up the image well. Then some gentle sharpening could be applied to make the details stand out. Just for grins, I took the same shot at the Q-S1's maximum ISO setting of 12800.



The background took on a weird shag carpet texture. It's almost beautiful but definitely useless in this case.

I know this is hardly scientific or rigorous. It was done in fun and in the spirit of crude experimentation. Take it as a datapoint if you want ... or don't take it at all. I would have loved to add a Q7 to the mix, especially since it should offer the same field of view. If the sensor tech from the Q7 simply passed on to the Q-S1 then I would seriously consider pouncing on it once it goes below $199 with an 02 lens. The only thing that would sway me away from a low priced Q7 would be a good price on the 08 wide angle zoom. Lenses only get more expensive as time progresses while bodies get cheaper and cheaper.
Thanks for the comparison. The Qs1 pics look very much like what I get from the Q-7.
BTW the 12800 pic would be useful in capturing a crime in progress maybe?
11-25-2014, 10:09 PM   #13
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Great review 6BQ5. Like the extra width lenses gain with the Q-S1. Like the Q-7, the Q-S1 seems to beat the Q in image quality. Would like to add one of the new cameras to the stable.

The extra front knob. I use the Pentax Q-PK lens adapter a lot. It is almost impossible to hand hold the Q with this adapter. There is very little room between Q grip and adapter. 6BQ5, do you use an adapter, and how do you think the knob would fare vs the grip?
thanks for all the work
barondla
11-26-2014, 08:12 AM   #14
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I do not have a Q-K adapter for my original Q so I don't have any concept of how it would fit on the Q-S1. Sorry.
11-26-2014, 09:06 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
I use the Pentax Q-PK lens adapter a lot. It is almost impossible to hand hold the Q with this adapter. There is very little room between Q grip and adapter.
I cradle the camera and adapter in one hand,
while using the other hand to change the focus and aperture lever,
and then to actuate the shutter release.

Works well with lenses from the DA 40 XS (I don't have the plastic 06)
all the way to a Voigtlaender 180.
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