Pentax Q - yet another user review!


sebdanan

Link Posted 04/03/2013 - 14:52
Dear Pentax users,

after having read almost all I could find on the Pentax Q in this forum and on the internet, here are my two cents (eurocents for that matter) on the munchkin in my pocket.

First, why did I get one? I wanted a tiny but serious camera and when I walked into the Fnac shop in Paris 13éme (Fnac is a fantastic but usually overpriced French retailer where you can fiddle with all kinds of cameras) I saw it behind the "bargain" section window at the irresistible price of 190€, new, with the 8.5mm lens and a 2 year warrantee.

I was planning to get a 2nd hand lumix g3 but I'm not anymore at least for now. Last year I had a Samsung NX10 and 30mm pancake lens, brilliant combo, which I was stupid enough to sell away. I also enjoyed an Olympus e-510 with the 25mm pancake for some time, before selling that too. I come from a 35mm film photography background (Contax 139, Pentax P50, Nikon F801... predominantly 50mm lenses), and the idea behind buying the Q was to finish off my rolls of film on serious projects while having it in my pocket for everyday street shooting. So, after two weeks of ownership, this is my take on the Q!

*** How does it feel and operate? ***

- It's a lovely little piece of equipment. I am pleasantly surprised by the presence of a proper AF illuminator (rather than the flash strobing disco-like crap often found on cheap slrs).

- The shutter release button has a great feel, with a marked step between AF confirm and shutter release, and the flash is R2D2-cute.

- The menu system is swift and simple. So is the button layout and overall design.

- Big up to the front dial. But!.. the camera should allow you to assign any settings from the 4 categories (smart effects, custom image, digital filters, image ratio) to the positions 1 to 4 rather than just settings from one of these categories. You can overcome this by defining User settings... to a certain extent only. I was disappointed in discovering that they don't take into account form factor. For instance, I specifically wanted a user setting for B&W + 1:1 aspect ratio. Nope. Impossible without ferreting in the info screen.

- The assignable green button is useful, but the Q would benefit from having a dedicated depth of field button on the front close to the top of the lens barrel where it is on Pentax 35mm film cameras.

- Many have talked about the want for a viewfinder. I'm in that clan, only where could it fit?!

- Battery life is disappointing. I don't count shots, but one charge lasts me about 4 hours. Fortunately these cells are cheap on the net.

*** How do the photos look? ***

- Image quality is pretty damn good. Each sensor has its own personality, but the one on the Q produces results (jpeg best, "natural" image preset, iso 125 to 400, F1.9 to F4, 1.1 firmware) that are similar to my Olympus e-510 with the 25mm F2.8 at optimal settings (jpeg best, iso 100 to 400, sharpness -2, noise reduction off).

- JPEG size is as small as the camera. 2 to 4mb at the best *** setting is too small to my liking, I would prefer less compression and better quality. I don't understand why Pentax are letting down a sensor that performs well and could perform better if jpeg compression was lesser. Raw remains the best option for optimal results to date, at the expense of PP. Pentax, give me a firmware update with a four* jpeg setting.

- "Shadow correction" to "auto" or "on" mode makes images less contrasty (as one would expect) since shadows become less dark. All in all not such a pleasing effect (I've never been a fan of super large dynamic range tricks).

- "Highlight correction" to "auto" or "on" is more convincing. Taking a photo of a subject lit from behind, light source facing the camera, it gave me a less washed out background and retained correct exposure of the aforementioned subject. Noise didn't seem to have crept in.

- The 8.5mm serves its purpose well. It's perfect, although dark shapes on lighter backgrounds are prone to some blue fringing chromatic aberrations I found.

- I'm longing for a wide angle prime, something serious like a 28mm F2 equivalent. By the way, if diffraction sets in at F4 and above, why does the 03 Toy lens (35mm equivalent) start at F7.1? Or have I got something wrong?

*** Getting "creative" ***

- Now, about the creative palet in the munchkin. It's broad and fun. My preferred presets are "bold monochrome" set on intensity 1/2, "bleach by-pass" and "cross-processing", which I find rocks at night. Unfortunately, the other various digital filters and presets I find too loud, unrealistic ("brilliant colour" if you want pictures from lego land), less accomplished ("fish-eye" looks like a quick-fix little job to me) or just pointless. Unfortunately, IQ is degraded by the use of some of these presets, I've noticed that "cross-processing" mode takes sharpness down a notch.

- Amongst this flurry of so-called "creative" options, is there a panorama mode that stitches images together? If there is I haven't found it yet...

- B&W mode with the "colour" or "extract colour" filters is a sheer disappointment. I was expecting these settings to give me the same variation in contrast and saturation as traditional screw-on colour filters used with B&W film. Nope. Instead, they just add an ugly colour cast to the pictures. Pentax has obviously chosen to please the smart-phone-photography-consumer rather than the photographer here. Pentax, I like you for being a photographer's name. Fix this!

*** What to do next Pentax ***

All in all the Q is a hugely satisfying camera, but Pentax San, Ricoh San, if ever you are listening, here's what you could get right in your next firmware update:
- allow more flexible, all-category assignment of filters, creative settings and what not to the front dial;
- give us a "****" low compression jpeg setting;
- give us real colour filters for B&W photography that yield black and white images;
- chromatic aberrations correction.

And, if the will may take you, give street photographers a real wide angle fast prime.

*************************

That's all folks. I hope it was comprehensible, relevant and if not pleasurable, at least not boring either. I'll finish with a shot, taken with cross-processing at night, F1.9, 1/13th, iso 250, Paris Chinatown.


Last Edited by sebdanan on 04/03/2013 - 15:04

sebdanan

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 08:08
I forgot to ask. Any comments?

Darkmunk

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 09:40
Thanks for taking the time to write this Seb. And great shot!
I'm toying with getting one of these; not sure what the advantage of the Q10 is over the Q.
But then there's the WG or the K01 as pocketable solutions.... decisions.
It's quality and spontaneity I'm after, all from one pocket!
But then the Q has that tantalising prospect of bolting on a 300mm
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Last Edited by Darkmunk on 26/03/2013 - 09:41

michaelblue

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 15:17
Darkmunk wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to write this Seb. And great shot!
I'm toying with getting one of these; not sure what the advantage of the Q10 is over the Q.
But then there's the WG or the K01 as pocketable solutions.... decisions.
It's quality and spontaneity I'm after, all from one pocket!
But then the Q has that tantalising prospect of bolting on a 300mm

This link might help you decide
Regards,
Michael
My new website:link

johnriley

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 16:22
Quote:
But then there's the WG or the K01 as pocketable solutions.... decisions.

I wouldn't call the K-01 pocketable, unless we are talking large jacket pockets.

The WG cameras will add the waterproof feature - could be useful.

The Q will give you the spontaneity you are after. And the fun. And the 300mm lens bolted on.....
Best regards, John

BigJR

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 16:24
michaelblue wrote:
Darkmunk wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to write this Seb. And great shot!
I'm toying with getting one of these; not sure what the advantage of the Q10 is over the Q.
But then there's the WG or the K01 as pocketable solutions.... decisions.
It's quality and spontaneity I'm after, all from one pocket!
But then the Q has that tantalising prospect of bolting on a 300mm

This link might help you decide

So pretty much depends whether you think the looks (or colour options) are worth the extra money.

I'd say the original Q is a bargain compared to the Q10.

Darkmunk

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 17:57
How are people finding staring at a screen instead of a viewfinder?
My eyesight is getting a bit long so I never use the LV on the K5. Does this mean I would hate the dedicated Live View on these cameras?
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michaelblue

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 18:09
I MUCH prefer a proper viewfinder, (and not one of those dreadful electronic things either!) I hate squinting at a screen in bright light!
Regards,
Michael
My new website:link
Last Edited by michaelblue on 26/03/2013 - 18:10

Blincodave

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 18:10
Darkmunk wrote:
How are people finding staring at a screen instead of a viewfinder?
My eyesight is getting a bit long so I never use the LV on the K5. Does this mean I would hate the dedicated Live View on these cameras?

I think that will be a very individual thing, but I am now in my sixtieth year with 'iffy' eyesight. I prefer the optical viewfinder on my K-5 but enjoy my K-01 immensely and especially focus peaking on old manual primes. The K-01 has been dismissed too easily in the past and is now a real bargain. I have just started a flickr account and 5 of the first 6 images loaded are taken with my k-01 and 40ltd. The link is below.
Last Edited by Blincodave on 26/03/2013 - 18:18

zero86r

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 20:42
I kinda enjoy using LV makes framing a bit easier in some situations for me, bit of a pain in bright light though.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mega_hamster/

Darkmunk

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 20:52
I've taken the plunge and gone for the K-01 with 40mm pancake.
The lens doubles up on focal lengths I have but it will 'make' the 01 I think, and by all accounts is an exceptional lens and great value.

Back to the OP, I'm sure I'll get a Q soon enough. I keep hearing good stuff - mainly that they're fun!
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Blincodave

Link Posted 26/03/2013 - 22:23
Good luck with your purchase of the K-01. Some impressive shots on that website of yours. Having lived on Dartmoor (Yelverton) for 11 years, I recognised a few of the locations for your outdoors section.

Darkmunk

Link Posted 27/03/2013 - 00:07

bluenose82

Link Posted 27/03/2013 - 08:26
I know i'm gunna buy one of these things, just a matter of when.
Even when i read the initially poor reviews i am so "PentaxBlind" (check with your local Doctor - you may be too) i was going to buy one anyway.

Plus my wife thinks they're 'cute' so its an easy buy

whatsthisbuttondo

Link Posted 27/03/2013 - 09:20
Q has arrived updated, really well built mrs loves it must admit I like it too
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