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Pentax Q10 Mirrorless Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Pentax Q10, a small and light mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

Posted: 26/11/2012 - 11:04


Pentax Q10 Red (4)

The Pentax Q10 has been developed based on the Pentax Q which was released last year. It has a 12.4 megapixel sensor and is available in black, silver or red for £379.00 with a 5-15mm lens, or £539.00 with the 15-45mm lens supplied as well.

Pentax Q10 Red (5)

Pentax Q10 Features

The Pentax Q10 has a 12.4 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor designed to take images at high sensitivities with low noise, ideal for shooting in low light. You can shoot up to ISO 6400. The HDR mode produces images from multiple exposures to create shots which have detail in both the highlights and the shadows. To help take sharp, blur free images there is the Pentax developed SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism which automatically shifts the image sensor to counteract camera shake. The lens reviewed with the Q10 is a 5-15mm, which is a 35mm equivalent of 27.5-83mm. You can also purchase the camera with a 15-45mm, a 35mm equivalent of 83-249mm.

To make picture taking as easy as possible there is Auto Picture and a range of scene modes such as portrait, landscape and macro. The appropriate settings are then automatically adjusted for the scene. If you want more control there are full manual controls available as well. The Q10 can record a maximum of 5 shots at a frame rate of 5 fps to capture fast moving objects in a series of pictures. Pentax have upgraded AF performance, with an AF assist light to ensure focusing is both quick and easy in dimly lit conditions, with Face Recognition AF able to detect up to 12 faces. Pentax have included a bokeh control function which automatically assesses the distance between the in-focus subject and obtrusive objects in view to create a defocused foreground and/or background.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD at 30 fps, with a micro-HDMI terminal for connection to a HDTV.

Pentax Q10 Red (6)


Key Features

  • 12 megapixel CMOS back illuminated sensor
  • Pentax Q lens mount
  • Shake Reduction System
  • 3.0 inch LCD monitor with approx. 460,000 dots
  • Full manual controls and RAW shooting
  • Full 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • ISO 100 - 6400
  • HDR mode
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • Available in black, silver or red


Pentax Q10 Red (8)

Pentax Q10 Handling

When you first get your hands on the Q10, the most notable thing is its size - it is absolutely tiny. We had a red one to test which looks great with the buttons and grip all in black. The body is made from metal and the buttons are also very small, if you have large fingers you may find them tricky, particularly pressing the OK button that's found in the middle of the d-pad. The d-pad gives you access to flash, timer, white-balance and ISO, with other buttons on the back for exposure compensation, info and menu. There is also a green button which can be customised to change a setting of your choice. The dial on the front of the camera can also be changed to control smart effect, custom image, digital filter and aspect ratio.

On top of the camera is a playback button, on/off switch, shutter release, chunky mode dial and another dial to set aperture and shutter speed when in the respective mode. The flash can be used when not released, but if you want it further away from the camera body, flick the switch on the top to pop it up. There is also a hotshoe on the top for an external flash.

Despite the small size, there is a large 3 inch screen with a decent resolution which is bright and clear in varying lighting conditions. There are doors on either end of the camera, with the battery in one and the SD card slot in the other. On the bottom is a rubber cover where you'll find the PC/AV and HDMI outputs alongside the metal tripod socket. The 5-15mm lens actually extends further at 5mm than it does at 15mm.

Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to CIPA test results, we were able to take 228 shots before the battery went flat, this involved editing pictures via playback. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response 0.175 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.5 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.5 sec
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 3.9 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.8 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.2 secs
Continuous Shooting - Hi (JPEG) 5 fps
Continuous Shooting - Lo (JPEG) 1.25 fps
Continuous Shooting - Hi with flash (JPEG) 0.5 fps
Continuous Shooting - Lo with flash (JPEG) 0.4 fps
Continuous Shooting - Lo (RAW) 1.2 fps
Continuous Shooting - Lo with flash (RAW) 0.2 fps

When using continuous shooting in RAW, speed slows significantly after just three shots. All the continuous shooting modes record in full 12 megapixel resolution.

Pentax Q10 Red (9)

Pentax Q10 Performance

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with excellent colour reproduction and also performs well in low light. Portraits have pleasant skin tones and are free of red-eye when using the flash. To extend the dynamic range there is a HDR mode and the Q10 is capable of shooting with fast shutter speeds. A speed of 1/1250 has been used to freeze the movement of the water in the example above.

Lens Performance - Detail is good throughout the images when shooting at both ends of the lens, with a good control over purple fringing. The 5-15mm lens has a minimum focusing distance of 30cm which means it's not an ideal lens for close-up macro photography.

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 100 and 200, but there is enough to cause the images to become a little soft at ISO 400. Images are a little softer at ISO 800, but significant detail is lost at ISO 1600 and the appearance of chroma noise giving a slight purple tint.  Images are very noisy at ISO 3200 and at ISO 6400 there is a green and purple tint to the images at these higher two settings thanks to the chroma noise.

White Balance Performance - The AWB has struggled under our studio lighting, particularly when using the incandscent lighting, with the incandescent preset taking a much better picture. Under the fluorescent lights to AWB setting gives a slight cast in the image. There are four different fluorescent presets - 1 and 2 gave colours casts with 3 and 4 performing well.

Digital Filters - There are plenty of options for adding creativity both before and after shooting, with lots of examples of the various modes available.

Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD, quality is good.


Value For Money

The Pentax Q10 is available with the 5-15mm for £379.00 and is also available with the 15-45mm and 5-15mm lens for £539.00. The cameras below are around the same price with a lens included.

Pentax Q10 Verdict

The Pentax Q10 has a good set of features and has extremely solid, well-built body. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into its design and it's one of the best looking Pentax cameras you're likely to find, particularly in red! Unfortunately image quality isn't fantastic, about as good as you'll find on an average compact camera, but colour reproduction is good. If you are interested in a mirrorless camera with improved image quality you'd be better looking at those with larger sensors.

If you're keen on keeping size down but want the luxury of being able to change to different lenses, the Q10 is a good option, particularly as it's less than £400 and there are a decent number of lenses available including the 15-45mm lens which is a 35mm equivalent of 83-249mm. If you already have a number of K mount lenses for your Pentax SLR, you can purchase the Q for K mount adapter and use those lenses (Pentax say this will give a range of 215 extra lenses) on the Q10, which extends their focal length by roughly 5.5x.

Pentax Q10 Pros

  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Extremely small interchangeable lens camera
  • Well-built body
  • Good size screen
  • Full manual controls and RAW shooting

Pentax Q10 Cons

  • Battery life CIPA rating is quite low
  • Chroma noise kicks in at ISO 1600
  • AWB struggles under the studio lights

Features: 4/5
Handling: 4.5/5
Performance: 3/5
Value: 3.5/5
Overall Verdict: 4/5


Pentax Q10 Specifications

Manufacturer Pentax
Image Sensor
Pixels 12Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W) 4000
Pixels (H) 3000
Sensor Type CMOS
Sensor Size 1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width) No Data
Sensor Size (height) No Data
Aspect Ratio 4:3
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor 3in
Screen resolution 460,000 dots
Touch Screen No
Focusing modes Autofocus
Face Detection
AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest 1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest 30sec
Bulb mode No Data
Exp modes Aperture-Priority
Scene modes
Metering Centre-weighted - Average
ISO sensitivity 100 - 6400
White balance Auto
Exposure Comp +/-2
Viewfinder Resolution No Data
Magnification No Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting 5fps
Movie mode Yes
Video Resolution 1920x1080 FullHD
1280x720 HD 720p
640x480 VGA
Video FPS 30
Stereo Sound No
Optical Zoom with Video Yes
Other Features
Image Stabilisation Yes
Wi-Fi No
Card Type SD
File Type RAW
Power Source
Battery Type Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery D-LI68
Battery Life (CIPA rating) 250shots
Box Contents
Box Contents USB Cable I-USB7, Strap O-ST131, Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery D-LI68, Battery Charger D-BC68P, Hot shoe cover FK, Body mount cover
Weight 180g
Width 102mm
Height 58mm
Depth 33.5mm


Members gallery photos using: PENTAX Q10

Posted 29/11/2012 - 17:15 Link
How do you know it has a metal body?

How do you find the noise performance in comparison to the Q?
Posted 02/12/2012 - 17:00 Link
I'm surprised there's no mention of the complete lack of any sort of eye-level finder, optical or EVF, included or addable! Other major compact systems generally have some eye-level capability on at least some of their models.

Personally, I wonder who the targeted buyer is. Someone interested in interchangeable lenses, very concerned about IQ, and happy to be limited to exclusively composing on an LCD?
Posted 03/12/2012 - 14:42 Link
There is an optical finder available, suitable for use with the 8.5mm lens. This makes a rather snazzy reportage set up, not dissimilar in operational style to classic Leica.

Check out the forum, there's lots of discussion regarding the Q.
Best regards, John

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