Review posted 1/16/2012

Quick Take
  • Compact and durable magnesium-alloy body
  • Handy Quick Control Dial mounted on the front
  • Captures nice 12-megapixel photos
  • Great ISO performance up to ISO 1600
  • Bright 3.0-inch LCD screen
  • Cool in-camera options
  • Versatile interchangeable lens system
  • Plenty of manual control
  • Host of creative options
  • Extending flash cuts down considerably on red-eye
  • Hot shoe for optional flash units
  • Full 1080p video with stereo sound
  • ISO 3200 and above show a great deal of noise
  • Poor battery life
  • Shooting performance is more in line with point-n-shoots rather than EVIL (aka MILC) cameras
  • Slow buffer write speeds, causes camera to lock up after only a few shots; even in JPEG image mode
  • HDR mode doesn't give you the dramatic effects you see from heavily processed HDR images that are created manually
  • Smart Auto mode seems to have some white balance issues, producing warmer than natural photos with yellowish tint
  • Hefty price tag
Bottom Line
Pentax has created a very appealing compact camera that is packed with powerful features and the versatility of an interchangeable lens system. However, its price tag is very hard to swallow, when for the same or less you can pick up much more capable systems; including other EVIL cameras and even dSLRs. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
In June of 2011 PENTAX announced what they claimed was "the world's smallest / lightest interchangeable lens camera (ILC)", the PENTAX Q. Available in black or white (with the standard lens kit only available in silver), the PENTAX Q is housed in a magnesium-alloy body. The heart of this 7.1 oz camera (including memory card) is a 12.4-Megapixel, 1/2.3 inch backlit CMOS image sensor, which is protected by their proven DRII (Dust Removal II) mechanism. In fact, the PENTAX Q is so small, Pentax mention that it doesn't quite fit into traditional categories like "compact, APS-C or Micro 4/3" digital cameras.

Shutterbugs have the choice of saving pictures in JPEG as well as the more professional RAW format (12 bit DNG). Keeping in line with other ILC or "EVIL" cameras, the Pentax Q employes Pentax's all new Q-mount system. At the time of this review, Pentax has five lenses available (more on that later).

Helping the PENTAX Q take deliciously beautiful photographs are a series of camera modes an effects. This include Brilliant Color, Unicolor Bold, Vintage Color, Cross Processing, Warm Fade, Tone Expansion (imagine an HDR photo), Bold Monochrome, Water Color, Vibrant Color, and USER (you can make your own custom Effect settings!). Also, PENTAX is claiming the Q will have an extended ISO range of 125 to 6400 without the worry of noise. It also has four exposure modes, all accessible on the camera's electronic dial: Programmed AE (P) mode, Aperture-Priority AE (AV), Shutter-Priority AE (TV), and Metered Manual (M). Speaking of exposure length and shutter speed, the PENTAX Q takes everything from a super fast 1/2000 of a second all the way up to the very long 30 seconds.

Like most cameras these days, the PENTAX Q will feature Full HD (1080p/30fps) movie recording in the h.264 compression codec, which can then be watched on on the camera's 3.0" LCD monitor (460K pixels), or your HDTV via an optional micro-D HDMI output.

The PENTAX Q will also see the development of its own, exclusive line of Q-mount lenses. Here's a sampling: the PENTAX 01 standard kit lens is an F1.9 47mm equivalent. The PENTAX 02 Standard Zoom Lens is a 27.5-83mm equivalent. The PENTAX 03 Fish Eye offers a 160-degree angle of viewing. The PENTAX 04 Toy Lens Wide is a 35mm equivalent lens. And the PENTAX 05 Toy Lens Telephoto is a 100mm equivalent.

Pentax Q Key Features:
  • 12.4-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor
  • Integrated Shake/Dust Reduction "sensor-shift" system.
  • New Q-mount Interchangeable lens system
  • TTL Contrast Detection AF
  • Smart Effect modes
  • Continuous Shooting: 5 images per second
  • 4 Exposure Modes (P, AV, TV, M)
  • Shutter speeds: 1/2000th of a second - 30 seconds
  • 3.0" TFT color LCD view screen (460K pixels)
  • Full HD movie recoring (1920 x 1080 -- 1080p/30fps) in h.264 compression
  • Storage media: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • File formats: RAW, JPG, DCF 2.0, DPOF
  • Ports: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI (type D micro)
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-on (D-LI68)
  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2"
  • Weight: 7.1 oz (loaded and ready)
  • Standard Kit Lens: Pentax 01, F1.9, equivalent 47mm (in 35mm format)
  • Optional Accessory: External Viewfinder (O-VF1)
  • Li-ion battery pack (good for up to 230 shots)
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot

While the PENTAX Q debuted first in Japan, it arrived stateside early this past fall. You can choose black (or White if they are any left) with a Standard silver Pentax 01 Prime kit lens (not available separately), for around $749.95 USD. The optional shoe-mounted viewfinder will run you $249.95 USD. As of 1/2012, Pentax was listing the Q on sale for $699.95 USD direct for their web store. You can find the best online pricing at various retailers by checking out our buy box further down the page.

What's in the box?:
  • Pentax Q body
  • 01 Standard Prime lens
  • USB Cable I-USB7
  • Li-ion Battery pack D-LI68
  • AC Battery Charger kit K-BC68
  • Strap O-ST115
  • Hotshoe Cover FK
  • Body Mount Cover Q
  • Software CD-ROM S-SW115
  • Manual

Additional Product Views

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.