The Pentax Q's new backlit 12 megapixel CMOS sensor is a highly efficient light-gathering device that (according to Pentax) produces very little noise at high sensitivity levels - even in low light shooting scenarios. The new "Q" lens mount was designed to perfectly mate "Q" mount lenses with this new sensor and every "Q" lens (there are currently five available) was designed specifically to optimize/maximize image quality with this camera. The Pentax Q provides a full range of shooting modes including Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and full Manual exposure control plus Auto Picture mode (smart auto), 21 Scene modes, and a 1920x1080p HD movie mode.
The Q also provides a sensor-shift Shake Reduction (image stabilization) system with an integrated Dust Reduction function. The Pentax Q doesn't feature an optical viewfinder - all framing/composition, image review, and menu navigation chores are handled by the 3.0-inch (460k-dot) LCD.
I've only had the camera for a couple of days, but I have some initial impressions to share. The exposure compensation function has a dedicated button, making it easier to quickly and incrementally lighten or darken images in Auto and Program mode. In terms of design, the Pentax Q was obviously designed by photographers for photographers. It may be tiny, but it features a real handgrip.
The Pentax Q is versatile enough to help users capture essentially any image they can visualize. Build Quality is good - the camera's magnesium alloy frame is covered by a durable plastic/polycarbonate shell. The It's certainly diminutive, but it feels substantial and well made. The one fly in the ointment is the built-in pop-up flash. The Q's flash is deployed at the end of an innovatively designed jointed arm that raises the flash high enough to avoid the flash and lens being on the same axis for much lower red-eye potential. However, users will need to exercise some caution not to bend, break, or deform this easily damaged mechanism.
I've been fascinated by small cameras for more than forty years. I've owned a Rollei S, a Contax T, a Pentax A110, an Olympus Pen F and a Pen EE, among others. I've tested dozens of tiny point-and-shoots and written reviews of several Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds format ultra-compact interchangeable lens digital cameras. So far, I like the Pentax Q better than any small camera I've used before. I'll provide more detail and reveal whether my initial impressions of the Pentax Q stand the test of time (and heavy use) in our upcoming full review of this nifty new camera.
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