For those who know me since a long time, you know that I’ve always been found of Pentax. Pentax cameras have always been in my bags until relatively recently and I’m always very interested to see what is coming up next. So it’s been with a lot of interest that I have been over this review.
Pentax has never been a company to sit quietly on the sidelines and watch the traffic go by. The most recent and startling example of this was the introduction of the Marc Newson designed camera, the K-01. Going further back and with more relevance to this camera under review were some Pentax products way back in the film era. Remember those times?
The 1970s saw the minuscule 110 format launched by Kodak and a whole avalanche of cameras appeared from seemingly every camera maker that accepted the tiny film cartridge.
And Pentax were in there with the Auto 110, an interchangeable lens reflex camera. Can you believe it!
The camera was so tiny the lens aperture was not built into the lens but into the camera body and doubled as the shutter!
The relevance of this camera is in the film area: each frame measured 13x17mm. Diagonal measurement: 21.4mm.
The light sensitive area of the sensor is 6.17×4.55mm and its CMOS diagonal is 11.04mm.
By referring to the diagonal, the Pentax Q10 would have an effective 35 SLR equivalent factor of 5.53. This makes it ‘the world’s smallest, lightest digital interchangeable lens camera. Taking it further, you can acquire an adapter Q to accept the Pentax K-mount lenses. So, attach a Pentax 300mm lens and you get a 1650mm! There are other ways to attach Leica, Nikon or Olympus lenses.
Not only is the Q10 novel in many respects but, as an indicator of it eventual market, the Q10 can be bought in any of 100 ‘pop-tastic’ colour combinations! The idea is to make the Q10 a fun camera to take fun photos. The whole digital camera game, I reckon, is now sufficiently broad to allow models such as this to catch your attention.
To be realistic, the Q10 is barely smaller than many fixed lens compact digicams. For example, take Sony’s Cybershot HX9V digicam: it measures 104.8x59x33.9mm while the Q10 measures 102x58x34 mm. Comparative weight? Sony: 245g. Pentax (with 5-15mm lens): 280g.
Add a lens and you get the full picture: it looks like a real fun camera. Hold the magnesium alloy body, attach a lens, it and looks and feels right! The rubberized surface makes handholding a treat, aided by a relatively prominent speed grip.
Pentax Q10 Controls
Front panel: right next to the lens is a ‘quick dial’ button to which you can assign frequently used functions.
Top deck: tap the flash button and you will be surprised at how high the pantograph raises the flash cell; from flash to lens centre is a healthy, anti red eye 70mm!
To the right you’ll find the replay, power and shutter buttons, flanked by the mode dial and a controller called the E-dial. The mode dial has positions for auto, PASM, video record, scene modes (21 in all: portrait, macro, food etc) and a blur control setting. The latter lets you shoot a picture ‘that looks as if it was taken with a wide-open aperture and shallow depth of field’; it shoots multiple images with different focus positions and merges them into a single picture.
The E-dial in shoot mode lets you set shutter speed, aperture and exposure values; in replay it will enlarge the on screen image.
Rear: a button for exposure compensation; trash; four way jog dial with positions for flash options, ISO setting, white balance and self timer. In the centre is an OK confirm button. Lower down are info and menu buttons.
Unusually, there are side hatches for the battery and a memory card.
Overall, a terrific and workable layout, despite the camera’s small size. With one caution: while the various controls are clearly labelled in smallish white text, the actual buttons are black on a black background: difficult to see the actual button you need to press.
Pentax Q10 Features
The Q10 has an internal stabilizer, thanks to a shifting sensor, so all lenses can be used with no shake.
It also has a supersonic vibration mechanism, which vibrates the image sensor at high speed to shake the dust off its surface.
The maximum image size is 4000×3000 pixels, so expect to make a 34x25cm print.
Video is captured in FullHD at 19209x1080m pixel resolution.
As with its stablemate, the Ricoh GR, there is only one ‘shoot’ button (for stills and video). No help in the manual : you must gently depress the shutter button to confirm auto focus; once the confirmation green square appears on screen you then depress the shutter button all the way and … You’re recording!
Pentax Q10 ISO Tests
The Q10 performs very well up to ISO 3200, with noise not too objectionable. Even at ISO 6400 you could use it for some subjects.
Pentax Q10 Review Verdict
Quality: about average. No more.
Why you’d buy the Pentax Q10: small; you can add a bundle of lenses.
Why you wouldn’t: is it really a better alternative than a fixed lens, compact digicam?
A novel camera for the person who has everything.
Pentax Q10 Specifications
Image Sensor: 12.4 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 11mm CMOS.
Lens: Mount: Pentax Q.
Lens Factor: 5.53.
Metering: Multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/2000 second, Bulb. Flash sync: 1/2000 sec (electronic shutter).
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4000×3000 to 1440×1440.
Movies (30 fps): 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
Continuous Shooting: 1.5 or 5 fps.
Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000).
File Formats: RAW (DNG), JPEG, RAW+JPEG, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI type D, AV, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC.
Dimensions: 102x58x34 WHDmm.
Weight: 200g (inc battery, card).
Price: Get a price on the Pentax Q10 at Amazon.