Pentax enters the interchangeable lens camera market with the Pentax Q

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The Pentax Q  is not what many of us expected when predicting a Pentax interchangeable lens camera.  One of the main reasons to buy an interchangeable lens camera is the large sensor such as the APS-C sensor found in Sony’s NEX cameras.  Internet message boards have harped on Pentax’s outstanding Limited series of prime (fixed focal length) lenses and what a perfect match they would be for an APS-C  interchangeable lens compact. It would be a Leica for the masses and I have no doubt it would quickly become a very hot seller.

Now we see that Pentax has created a tiny interchangeable lens camera with a small 1/2.3″ sensor.  This is the same sensor size as a high quality point-and-shoot and much smaller than anything we have seen in an interchangeable lens camera before. I have not spoken with any Pentax representatives about their reasoning but it could be they feel the market is already saturated with the Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony offerings and they wanted to offer something different. In this regard the Pentax Q kind of reminds me of the classic Pentax 110 SLR.

For all we know a Pentax camera with a larger sensor could still be on the way . Though the Pentax Q is not what people were expecting as the latest entry in the interchangeable lens compact category, the camera is unique and I do think there is a market for it.  Recently I have been shopping for a new small point and shoot camera myself (something smaller than my NEX and PEN cameras) and a tiny camera with fast lenses and high-end specification certainly is desirable and has been embraced by serious photographers in the past, as shown by the Rollei 35, Leica Minilux, and the Contax T.  (Of course, these used the same film size as full-sized cameras.) The closest thing to that these days is the amazing Olympus XZ-1.

In the end it will all depend on image quality. If the images from the Pentax Q are exceptional then this could be the pro’s pocketable point-and-shoot camera of choice and the go-to compact for consumers who want the best.  As sensors improve over the years image quality will get better and a micro-sized system such as this one would be even more desirable.  You could keep the lenses and just upgrade the camera bodies.

Hmm… I just realized Pentax is now the only manufacturer offering interchangeable lens cameras in medium format, APS-C digital SLR, and compact sizes.

Official Pentax Press release is below.

Questions?  Email Don

 

PENTAX UNVEILS THE PENTAX Q:

The World’s Smallest, Lightest Interchangeable Lens Camera

GOLDEN, CO.  (June 23, 2011)…PENTAX Imaging Company has announced the PENTAX Q – the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera (ILC).*  The Q offers the versatility and precision of an advanced DSLR in a body that  is significantly smaller  than every other digital ILC body available on the market today. * The world’s smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens system camera, as of June 15, 2011 (based on PENTAX research).

The camera’s tiny size, lightweight design, and superior image quality are made possible by an innovative PENTAX-developed imaging system.   With a high-resolution 12.4 megapixel, 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor, the Q carves out an entirely new camera category that extends beyond traditional digital compact, APS-C or 4/3 digital cameras.   The backlit sensor is a highly efficient light-gathering instrument that produces very little noise at high sensitivity levels particularly in low light settings.   Further, the new Q lens mount is a perfect match with the new sensor and every interchangeable Q lens is designed for more advanced image quality than may be found on traditional compact digital cameras. This innovative PENTAX design is the foundation of the Q’s position as the world’s smallest, lightest ILC system with superior image quality.

Several important features of the PENTAX Q include:

  • A newly designed PENTAX Q-mount lens system for convenient interchangeability with a variety of specialty Q lenses including prime, zoom, fish-eye and more.
  • Exceptional image quality in 12.4 megapixels from the Q’s 1/2.3 inch backlit CMOS image sensor. Capable of producing 12 bit DNG RAW and JPG images, the backlit CMOS sensor is a highly efficient light-gathering instrument designed specifically to produce very low noise at high levels of sensitivity.
  • Extremely compact, durable, lightweight, scratch resistant magnesium alloy body.
  • The power and flexibility of traditional DSLR shooting modes such as Program, Aperture/Shutter Priority, and Metered Manual exposure control as well as highly convenient PENTAX Auto Picture and 21 scene modes for casual shooting, including new Forest and Stage Lighting options.
  • A variety of creative modes, Smart Effect options, or camera settings that assign to the Q’s Quick Dial located on the front of the camera. Smart Effects modes enhance digital photography by applying a series of effects to images to achieve high quality finishing. Brilliant Color, Vintage Color, Warm Fade, Bold Monochrome, and Water Color are just some of the Smart Effects available and may be assigned on the Q’s Quick Dial.
  • In-camera HDR capture mode shoots 3 images of varying exposures, blending them to bring out the details in even the darkest shadows and brightest highlights of extreme contrast shots.
  • High quality motion video with stunning full 1080p HD clarity at 30 frames per second. The Q  processes the full HD video using high quality h.264 compression for superior color and detail and offers creative video effects through custom image modes, digital video filters, and interval shooting.
  • A sensor-shift Shake Reduction system with integrated DRII Dust Reduction for blur and dust free images even in low lighting.
  • 5 frames per second continuous shooting mode for any fast action setting.
  • Effortless bokeh control with the Q’s Bokeh Control filter. (Traditionally controlled through a DSLR lens’s aperture, bokeh is the out of focus part of the background that helps to emphasize the subject, drawing the viewer’s eyes to the most important part of the photo.) The Q offers a fine degree of extra control over image bokeh via an in-camera filter operation.
  • Powerful USER modes allow the creative photographer to save a series of favorite camera settings, filters, and custom image modes for instant reuse.
  • Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 30 seconds for freezing fast action or capturing long nighttime exposures. Bulb mode adds flexibility for low light photography and motion effects.
  • A built-in popup flash adds the perfect amount of extra light to an image with a high extension to naturally reduce the redeye effect common to compact cameras. The Q’s flash is effective to 23 feet at 200 ISO, and covers a wide angle 28 degree field of view.
  • Compatibility with the latest generation SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards for ultra-high capacity storage as well as outstanding image file portability.

Along with the Q, PENTAX introduced the PENTAX 01 Standard Prime kit lens and an optional optical viewfinder.  The unifocal standard lens has a focal length equivalent to 47mm in the 35mm format. The lens offers a natural perspective similar to that of the human eye and is ideal as a multipurpose, everyday standard lens for various subjects including landscape and portraiture. With a maximum aperture of  F1.9, it performs superbly in dim lighting and may be easily adjusted for bokeh.  Incorporating two high grade aspherical optical elements, this lens compensates various aberrations to a minimum .

Featuring high-end optics incorporating special optical glass elements and PENTAX exclusive lens coating technology, this lens delivers beautifully defined, high quality images that are sharp and high contrast even at the edges. The AF motor installed in the lens assures smooth, quiet focusing operation.  The lens shutter mechanism allows the PENTAX Q’s built-in auto flash to be synchronized to the camera’s top shutter speed of 1/2000 second (or 1/250 second when using an accessory flash unit).  This lens is also equipped with a built-in ND (neutral density) filter, which comes in handy when shooting with open aperture at bright locations or when using slower shutter speeds.

The shoe-mounted viewfinder attachment is an optional accessory.  This External Viewfinder O-VF1 offers outstanding compositional framing, even in the brightest sunlight where viewing an LCD screen is traditionally a challenge.  (Note: The Viewfinder offers framing marks for the Standard lens.)

The PENTAX Q will be available in white or black body models and shipped in a Standard Prime lens (available in silver) kit. Initially, the PENTAX Q system will ship in Japan. Anticipated shipping time to the United States is early Fall 2011 at around $800 for the standard lens kit.

The optional shoe-mounted viewfinder will be available at the same time for $249.95 USD.  The PENTAX 01 Standard Prime kit lens will not be sold separately. More information is available here: www.pentaximaging.com/news

PENTAX Imaging Company is an innovative leader in the production of a variety of adventure ready digital cameras including weather-resistant digital SLRs and stylish, compact, waterproof cameras, as well as lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces.  For more than 90 years, PENTAX has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of adventurous consumers and businesses.  With headquarters in Golden, Colorado, PENTAX Imaging Company is a division of PENTAX of America, Inc.

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