The Pentax Q is a daring little interchangeable lens camera. It produced surprisingly good images and video, though buyers should consider a limited lens selection and overall cost of the system.
Since the beginning of the digital imaging revolution, a whole generation of photographers has grown up using compact P&S digital cameras. Those shutterbugs have grown progressively more sophisticated over the intervening years, but they still want tiny, easy to use cameras that produce excellent images with very little effort on the part of the shooter.
Those folks have driven the development of a completely new class of digital cameras - the compact system camera - which combines P&S convenience, compact size, and ease of use with DSLR-like performance and lens interchangeability. A consortium of camera manufacturers developed the 4/3 and Micro 4/3 formats by eliminating the reflex mirror assemblies and optical viewfinders found on DSLRs and utilizing smaller sensors (about 30-40% smaller than the APS-C sized sensors used in most entry level DSLRs, but still about 8 or 9 times larger than the tiny sensors typically used in P&S digicams) to create a whole new class of smaller and lighter interchangeable lens cameras.
This new class of cameras is marketed primarily at P&S digicam users who want to move up to a camera that provides more user control, better image quality, and the ability to use interchangeable lenses without accepting any significant increase in size, weight, or operational complexity over the compact P&S digicams they've been using.
The new Pentax Q takes that concept in a completely different direction by building a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with no optical viewfinder around a tiny 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor (like those found on most P&S digicams) which allows for an even smaller footprint. The Pentax Q is the smallest interchangeable lens camera currently available - noticeably smaller than Micro 4/3 format digital cameras like the Panasonic GF3 and the Sony NEX5, about half the size of a Canon G12, and less than a fifth the size of the new Canon Digital Rebel T3. That diminutive profile was achieved by Pentax's decision to use the smaller P&S sized image sensor, but the "Q"s competition have all chosen to use substantially larger sensors in their CSC models. The "Q"s tiny sensor has only about 1/8th the light gathering area of the GF3's sensor. Every major camera manufacturer now offers CSC models except Canon and Casio.
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