As rumoured in February, Pentax have taken a real gamble here. They are asking themselves: what do DSLR buyers like most about the format? Large sensor image quality or the hassle of interchangeable lenses? Pentax has decided it is the hassle of interchangeable lenses that most attracts people to the format.
In an internal document leaked today, Pentax reveal their thinking behind the new concept and more about the camera itself. It has a Sony manufactured sensor with BSI and inline A/D convertors, there is no anti-aliasing filter (unlike on DSLRS) and the Q stands for ‘Queen’, as opposed to the ‘K’ (King) series of DSLRs.
I think this will be a fun ‘small’ camera to do artistic b-cam stuff with, ad hoc. But that small sensor is seriously out of place within the concept of interchangeable lenses.
The lens range is divided into ‘enthusiast’ and ‘toy’, with the shutter contained in the lenses themselves, apart from in the case of the cheaper ‘toy’ lenses which employ an electronic rolling shutter on the sensor, so watch out for jello.
The fact that the camera body contains no shutter is highly disappointing as it means you cannot take stills with adaptable other lenses like c-mounts. You can however still produce video with other lenses, and take stills with the electronic shutter – if the camera body supports the use of lens adapters. The zoom lens won’t be a standard kit lens – the 47mm equivalent prime will be. Zooming is manual on the lens, not powered but the lens does have AF motors built-in.
On whether K-mount lenses can be adapted, Pentax say they are considering an adapter but have no definite plans yet.
Better news is that the camera has manual control in video mode.
Pentax say that whether AF in movie mode will function is ‘to be decided’.
Like the Sony HX9v the Q will have a bokeh ‘faker’ function, which electronically blurs backgrounds. I find this can work well in certain situations but only when the background is already well separated from the subject anyway, which is hard to do on a small sensor.
The construction of the camera is magnesium alloy, the same as a high end DSLR like the 7D. Good to see.
A prototype of the camera was built almost 5 years ago, so it has been a long time in the making.
Pentax say they have no plans to release an upgraded body with a larger sensor. That would require an entirely new lens range. Interestingly, the image circle of the Q lenses is not being made public, as Pentax are not keen on them being adapted to rival camera bodies like Micro Four Thirds or Sony E-Mount. It’s unlikely they’d work anyway, since the flange distance on the Q is a much shorter 9.2mm and the sensor size is a tiny 1/2.3″, the same as average compacts. That’s a crop factor of 5.5x, whilst APS-C is 1.6 and MFT is 2x (or 1.9x in the case of the GH1 and GH2).
Pentax are the sole builder of the range of lenses. It was rumoured Tokina had a role.
Pentax are ‘examining’ whether to build a mirrorless camera with APS-C sized sensor and K-mount. As far as a full frame camera is concerned, Pentax say they don’t have anything in terms of ‘solid details’.
I remain curious but slightly unconvinced by the Q mount camera. It has only one advantage over the current leading compact, the Sony HX9v in that you can have a faster aperture prime lens on it for low light stuff, but it doesn’t have the amazing G lens of the Sony with such a broad focal length range or as good stabilisation capability. That begs the question, unless you want to experiment with interchangeable lenses on a tiny sensor, with a small compact body, why not just get a normal compact and a standard mirrorless?
After all, the Pentax Q is around the same price.
Olympus have some interesting new mirrorless cameras to come and look to have done a very good job. Ultra fast DSLR-beating AF (how did they do that!?) which is faster than even Panasonic’s GH2 and a sensor which isn’t overdosed on megapixels. At 12MP, it really should be better than the GH2 if it’s based on current technology. The EP3 will also do full 1080p video – let’s hope they have not forgotten the most important thing – manual controls.
Leaked document via: 1001NoisyCameras