Oct 23, 2011

Pentax Q Review


The Pentax Q is the first Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) from Pentax and the smallest camera of its kind (as of Oct. 2011). The Q uses the new back-lit sensor technology which promises to produce an image quality comparable to a much larger traditional sensor.  In this review we shall examine that claim by comparing the Q to an Olympus four thirds camera, the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3. Both cameras have a 12MP sensor and come in a kit with a prime lens which is what we will use for the comparison of image quality.

Is the Q too small to handle well? We will also examine that aspect and compare with the Olympus.

For the Pentax Q we will go beyond a mere comparison with the Olympus and review the camera and the Q system in-depth including the five lenses which are available.

Pentax Q and Olympus E-PL3 with lenses

Table of Contents


When Pentax decide to develop an Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC) they made the bold decision of taking advantage of the latest sensor technology and create a really compact system built around a tiny sensor, rather than creating a "me too", regularly sized camera.

Q and 110

This is not the first time for Pentax to go against the stream - back in 1979 they introduced the Pentax Auto 110 SLR camera which is the smallest Single Lens Reflex system camera ever produced. Even with a film size 8 times as large in area than the sensor of the Pentax Q, the auto 100 was still smaller than the Q!

In the Box

Box contents

Our Q came as a kit with the 01 Standard Prime Lens. The box contained the following:

  • Pentax Q camera body with body cap and hot shoe cover Fk
  • Strap O-ST115
  • Li-Ion recargable battery D-LI68
  • Battery charger D-BC68P
  • Power cord
  • USB cable I-USB7
  • Operating manual (258 pages)
  • Quick start guide
  • CD-ROM S-SW115 with Silky Pix Developer Studio 3.0 for Pentax
  • Serial number cards for camera and lens
  • 01 lens (8.5mm F1.9) with front and rear caps
  • Operating manual for lens (one sheet of paper)

Key Specifications

The complete specifications of the Q can be found in our camera database so in this article we will just present the main specifications and with a comparison to the Olympus E-PL3:

Feature   Pentax Q   Olympus E-PL3
Sensor 12.4 MP CMOS back-lit 12.3 MP LMOS
Pixel count 4000 x 3000 4032 x 3024
Sensor size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 17.3 x 13 mm
Crop factor to 24 x 36 mm 5.6 2
ISO 125 to 6,400 200 to 12,800
Shutter speeds 1/8000s to 30s, Bulb 1/4000s to 60s, Bulb, Time
Built-in flash Yes, GN=7 (ISO 200) No
Flash hot shoe Yes, dedicated Yes, dedicated
Flash synch 1/2000s, 1/250s with external flash 1/160s
Movie Full HD, 30 fps Full HD, 30 fps
Shake reduction Yes, sensor shift Yes, sensor shift
Dust removal Yes, ultrasonic Yes, ultrasonic
LCD Monitor

3", 460,000 dots (half-VGA), wide angle viewing

3", 460,000 dots, tilt function
Dimensions (W x H x D) 98 x 57.5 x 31 mm 109 x 63.5 x 37.1 mm
3.86 x 2.26 x 1.22 in 4.31 x 2.5 x 1.46 in
Weight (w/battery and SD card) 200 g 265 g
7.05 oz 9.35 oz

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