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Pentax Q10 Digital Camera Review

pentax20140625a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Keith Parsons 
 
The past few years have the seen the flooding of the consumer camera market with new interchangeable lens camera ranges. A clear focus by all of the major manufacturers on creating affordable mirrorless systems, as alternatives to larger and more expensive DSLR cameras, has resulted in some excellent cameras arriving at lower price points. However, the biggest concerns that consumers are having is whether to invest money into a camera system without the guarantee of the ranges longevity. Why buy a camera if the lenses will not be available in a year or two?

Pentax has shown a clear dedication to their Q mount range with the release of a number of lenses and the introduction of the Q10 body. With features including a 12.4 megapixel CMOS censor, RAW file capture / in camera editing, a HDMI port, 1080p video and a pop up flash all in the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens system, there is a lot to like about the Q10.

pentax20140625b.jpgAppearance and functionality

 
The first thing you notice is the Q10's incredibly compact nature. The camera body literally fits into your palm. Though this is a calculated move by Pentax and an obvious attempt to differentiate themselves in such a crowded segment of the market, the size does not detract from the build quality, and the camera's magnesium body feels both sturdy and rugged. Though just to reiterate, the Q10 is small! You could easily pop this interchangeable lens camera into your pocket on a night out, a feature unique to the Q10 alone.

The camera we tested had a sleek black design, although Pentax offer this model in a staggering 100 different colour combinations allowing you to find a colour palette to suit your personality.
 
pentax20140625g.jpgThe Pentax Q10 was tested with a SanDisk Extreme Pro memory card to test accurately both performance and speed. The standard modes available on the Q10 include Auto mode, P, AV, TV, M, SCN, Movie and the rather unique Blur Control (BC) rounding out the cameras mode dial. BC allows you to take multiple images which are then seamlessly merged together to give the impression of a image taken with a larger aperture (greater depth of field); an effect the Q10 manages to pull off. The manual modes will appeal to photographers looking to take control over their images, although the Q10 offers an absolute swathe of automatic and 'scene/filter' modes. The quick dial located on the front panel is a further extension of the scene modes and can have any of its 4 notches set to a specific effect or scene within seconds. Some of the more useful options include the night scene, sunset and a number of the colour effects such as the rather entertaining cross process option - a subtle throwback to the 80's perhaps!

The camera's menus are easily navigable, and they need to be with all of the functions on offer. Apart from settings concerning the image capture, the ability to shoot images in RAW (.dng) opens up extended editing possibilities and Pentax have jumped on this with the inclusion of in camera RAW processing. Accessed through the menu system the editing functions offer a number of colour and exposure corrections as well as the ability to re-size files down to more 'friendly' sizes. The Q10 also impressively offers the option to edit movie files in camera and can save you a lot of time later.

pentax20140625c.jpgA thoughtfully designed pop up flash is also included and allows you to fire it even when the flash is in its locked away position, an oversight by other manufacturers. The final point to mention in terms of the camera's functionality is the impressive lithium ion battery that will last you up to to 250 shots, under normal shooting conditions. Very acceptable considering all of the functions the battery needs to power.  

Image Quality

 
The Q10's 12.4 megapixel CMOS sensor delivers consistently pleasing images across the majority of its 100-6400 ISO range, even towards the upper limits of its ISO. The camera also manages to render colour accurately at different settings and under a range of different lighting conditions.

Alongside the plethora of JPEG options, the ability to shoot RAW is a great inclusion on the Q10. RAW images are saved as DNGs and to unlock their full potential you will need some form of editing software on your machine (Pentax's own SILKYPIX will get you going). The DNG file is a universally recognised format and you will have not trouble with compatibility across different software. I did find that the RAW images benefited from some sharpening in post production, although the JPEG images are great straight out of the camera.
 
For reference, when viewing and retouching images it's recommended to use EIZO monitors, for on screen clarity and quality colour representation.
 
View our street test images our via Buy-n-Shoot.com Facebook albums page 

Lens Quality

 
pentax20140625d.jpgDespite the Q10's size, the interchangeable lenses available are well constructed from a mixture of a magnesium and plastic and feel meaty in your hands despite their size. On test we had both a 5-15mm F2.8-4.5 (27.5-83mm 35mm equivalent) and a 15-45mm constant F2.8 (83-249mm 35mm equivalent) which along with the 8.5mm F1.9 (47mm 35mm. equivalent) make up the Pentax high performance lens range. While most users of this camera would opt for the cameras autofocus settings, the lenses manual focus gearing feels absolutely spot on and is a real stand out feature often overlooked by compact mirrorless lenses.

Whilst a 40.5mm filter can be attached on to the 5-15mm lens, the built in ND filters (only on the high performance range) offers up to 2 stops of effective exposure compensation under bright conditions and you would only really find a polarising filter of any use. The idea that the Q10 is a progressive camera with hints of tradition is at the heart of its design. When you begin to focus manually you are aided by an automatic screen magnification at either 2 or 4 X zoom, a fantastic addition that allows for pin sharp focussing on the fly.

LCD

 

pentax20140625f.jpg

The Q10 offers up a 3” LCD screen that is now a minimum standard size among digital cameras and whilst 460,000 dot resolution might sound hefty, the screen felt a little fuzzy especially in the sun and could benefit from a little more contrast. Whilst we didn't have one on test, an external viewfinder is available for the Q10 and for those traditionalists who are accustomed to composing images in this manner, it would be an excellent addition when paired with the Q mount lens range.

Whilst the screen could be improved, it does have some nice additions not found in similar cameras such as the option to use focus peaking, allowing for professional level focus accuracy.

Video

 
1080p video is nothing new to the world of stills cameras, with the quality only increasing it can be hard to sell a stills camera based upon its video capabilities. Though the Q10 has a rather fantastic image stabiliser and this only adds to the portable and ultra compact nature of the system, allowing you to go without a tripod and still return with shake free footage. The only time this was not the case was when trying to excessively use the manual focus, although this is to be expected.

The vast array of aesthetic styles available to still images are also carried into the camera's movie mode. Couple this with a competent mono microphone and the ability to capture up to 25 minutes per file, you would be hard pressed to find anything lacking in the cameras video department. Pentax have also included a HDMI output that will allow for full resolution playback straight to an external screen, a big plus in our books.
 
 
   

medal-gold-r.jpg

Conclusion

 
The Q10 is an intriguing camera to say the least. The size is great, the images are good and the right balance between tradition and innovative design has been struck.

The size is an obvious selling point, although its the feature list and innovation shown by Pentax that should really be noticed here. I truly hope Pentax continue their progression and look to add other bodies and lenses in the future to what is already a strong range.
 

Recommendations 

 
Camera House Click Through
SanDisk Click Through
EIZO Click Through
   

Ratings

 
Appearance rating 5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
3.5 stars
Video quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
LCD screen 3 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price - Kit 1
$549 (AUD) (With 5-15mm Lens)
Street Price - Kit 2
$749 (AUD) (With 5-15mm & 15-45mm Lenses)
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 12.4 megapixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3" Backlit CMOS w/ primary color filter
Image Sizes 14 Sizes / 4 Aspect
Lens Interchangeable
Lens Mount
 
Resolution Settings - Stills [4:3] 12M (4000x3000), 9M (3456x2592), 5M (2688x2016), 3M (1920x1440)
[3:2] 10M (4000x2664), 8M (3456x2304), 5M (2688x1792), 2M (1920x1280)
[16:9] 9M (4000x2248), 6M (3456x1944), 4M (2688x1512), 2M(1920x1080)
[1:1] 9M (2992x2992), 6M (2592x2592)
Resolution Settings - Video Full HD (1920x1080, 16:9, 30fps), HD (1280x720, 16:9, 30fps), VGA (640x480, 4:3, 30fps)
Quality Levels: RAW (12bit): DNG, JPEG: * * * (Best), * * (Better), * (Good)
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds 1/2000 - 30 seconds
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO AUTO: ISO 100 to 6400 (1/3 EV steps)
LCD Monitor 3.0-inch TFT color LCD monitor, wide-angle viewing
Resolution: 460,000 dots
Viewfinder -
Flash Type: Built-in retractable P-TTL flash
Guide number: approx. 4.9 (ISO100/m) / approx. 7 (ISO200/m)
Angle of view: coverage: wide angle-lens, equivalent to 28mm in 35mm format
Flash modes: P-TTL, Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Trailing Curtain Sync
Sync Speed: Lens shutter: 1/2000 seconds, Electronic shutter: 1/13 seconds
Flash Exposure Compensation: –2.0 to +1.0 EV
Hot Shoe Yes
White Balance Auto TTL by CMOS image sensor
Preset: Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent Light (D: Daylight Color, N: Daylight White, W: Cool White, L: Warm White), Tungsten, Flash, CTE, Manual
Manual: Configured on the monitor
Fine Adjustment: Adjustable ±7 steps on A-B axis or G-M axis
Self Timer Single frame, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self-timer (12s, 2s), Remote Control (0 sec., 3 sec., continuous), Auto Bracketing (3 frames, remote control)
Stills Format/s
RAW (DNG), JPEG (Exif 2.3), DCF2.0 compliant
Video Format/s MOV AVC/H.264 (.mov)
Video Recording Time/s -
Storage Type - External SD, SDHC, SDXC
Storage Type - Internal
-
Connectivity USB 2.0 (high-speed compatible)/AV output terminal, HDMI output terminal (Type D), MSC / PTP
Power Source AC adapter: K-AC115
Battery Options Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery D-LI68
Battery Life Number of recordable images: approx. 250 images (with 50% flash usage), approx. 270 images (without flash usage)
Playback time: approx. 160 minutes
Dimensions 98 mm (W) x 57.5mm (H) x 31mm (D) (without protrusions) 
Weight Without battery or removable memory: approx. 6.35oz (180g)
Loaded and ready: approx. 7oz (200g)
















 


 

  
 

About Pentax

 

PENTAX Imaging Company is an innovative leader in the production of digital SLR and compact cameras, lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces.  For almost 90 years, PENTAX has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of consumers and businesses.  With headquarters in Golden, Colorado, PENTAX Imaging Company is a division of Hoya Corporation. 

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