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Pentax Q10 Review

Pentax Q10 Review.jpg

Pentax is not 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.

Welcome to the Pentax Q10!

Pentax GR in hand.JPG

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.’

The review camera was supplied with two lenses: an f2.8/5-15mm and an f2.8/15-45mm. Applying the factor of 5.53 would make the former have a zoom range (as a 35 SLR equivalent) of 27.6-82.95mm and the latter as 82.95-248.85mm. Got that?

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.
Pentax Q10 range.jpg

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 rubberised surface makes handholding a treat, aided by a relatively prominent speed grip.

(insert Civic centre 2, Shop front 1, Play centre and Shop front 1)

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!

Scene modes.JPG

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 blurr 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 stabiliser, 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). I had a bit of a contretemps with the camera at this stage with video record: I couldn’t make it bend to my wishes!

No help in the manual. But at last I found the answer on the Internet: 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 … voila! You’re recording! Hope this helps yo’all!

Pentax Q10 ISO Tests

Pentax Q10 ISO 100.JPG

Pentax Q10 ISO 400.JPG

Pentax Q10 ISO 800.JPG

Pentax Q10 ISO 1600.JPG

Pentax Q10 ISO 3200.JPG

Pentax Q10 ISO 6400.JPG

The Q10 performed 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.

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Pentax Q10
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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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