Pentax Q: Too little, too late and too much?
Pentax set out to create the smallest interchangeable-lens camera on the market and it succeeded. But there are reasons no other manufacturer has ventured there first.
How much are you willing to sacrifice to shave an inch off your camera? That's the question Pentax tacitly raises with its introduction of the Q interchangeable-lens camera (ILC), a model with a body the size and weight of a point-and-shoot (without lens, of course)--and the price of a dSLR. The company achieves this feat of shrinkage by incorporating a tiny 1/2.3-inchCMOS sensor, which in turn allows for a smaller-than-usual lens mount and more compact lenses. And it looks like there will be a lot to like in the Q--it's got an attractive, retro look; a light but solid body; well-designed flash; and enthusiast-friendly features like 1080/30p video capture and time lapse. But the drawbacks. Oy, the drawbacks. And all to lose that extra inch. (Okay, it's not exactly an inch: it's 1.3 cubic inches smaller than the NEX-C3.)
To give you some sense of how small a 1/2.3-inch sensor is, the Q lens mount is roughly 67 percent smaller than Pentax's traditional APS-C K-mount. It has a 5.5x magnification factor, compared to 1.5x for APS-C-based ILCs or 2x for Micro Four Thirds models. That means, for example, that an 18mm lens which produces the equivalent angle of view of 27mm on a Sony ILC or 36mm on an Olympus or Panasonic ILC, would produce a 99mm-equivalent on the Q. As a result, producing a wide angle lens for this camera will be very, very difficult.