I went to the first-ever PDN Outdoor Photo Expo in Salt Lake City yesterday and got to take a sneak peak at the new Pentax Q mini system camera. Note that I used the word, “mini” – because that’s what the Q is. When I wrote my Pentax Q announcement article, a few weeks ago, I knew it was smaller than any of the other EVIL cameras. But how small – and sexy – it actually is doesn’t really click until you see it in person. I took a whole bunch of pictures of the Q and lenses so you could get a better idea of the camera’s size.
The Outdoor Photo Expo is one of the first times Pentax has had the Q out in public and I was really psyched to get a closer look at it. As I said, it was much smaller than I expected. I had the new Olympus E-P3 with me for my show photos and the Q made the E-P3 – a pretty small camera – look like a tank (see photos, below, of the Pentax Q with the Olympus E-P3 and with the Pentax 645 medium format digital camera). The solid feel of the Q also surprised me. Since it’s about the size of a pocket point-and-shoot, you’d expect it to feel like a point-and-shoot. But that’s not at all the case. The Q has a nice, solid feel in spite of its small size.
The Q system cameras Pentax showed me weren’t final production models, although they did work. Since they aren’t final, performance and image quality can’t be judged. But it was fun to be able to turn one on, compose and focus with LCD and take a couple of photos. I wasn’t allowed to save any photos since the cameras aren’t final. And with a 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch point-and-shoot-sized sensor, the real question with the Q is, will it be good enough? The sensor is a backlit CMOS sensor – the best there is for compact cameras right now. Hopefully Pentax will be able to work some serious magic on the image files so that they really stand out from the high-end compact cameras like the Canon PowerShot G12, Panasonic Lumix LX5 and Olympus XZ-1. I was told that the Q has the same processing circuitry as big-boy Pentax DSLRs so it should perform like a DSLR and not a point-and-shoot. I think that, along with the image quality will be critical in determining the success of the camera.
After seeing the Pentax Q in person, I’m a lot more interested in getting my hands on one when production cameras are available. If the image quality is competitive with high-end compacts, I think the camera could do very well. One thing is for sure – regardless of the final performance, the Pentax Q has an emotional impact in person that it doesn’t have on paper. The Q-ute factor is powerful.