By Andrew Liszewski
The photography world needs another lens format like photographers need a hole in their sensor. But that didn’t stop Pentax from going ahead and creating their new Pentax Q, which is arguably the smallest digital camera on the market (or soon to be) that lets you swap out the lens. Just how small is it? Well I think the above photo, taken by Imaging Resource, more than gets the idea across. It almost looks like a plastic novelty keychain digicam sold by the likes of Brando. But with a magnesium alloy body, it’s definitely not a toy.
As usual, dramatic size reductions in technology always come at a price, and in this case it’s both literally and figuratively. When it’s available in the U.S. in the Fall, the Pentax Q basic kit is expected to cost around $800. And its small form factor means there’s not a lot of room inside, so you’ll have to learn to live with its tiny 1/2.3″-sized 12.4 MP sensor which is inevitably going to result in more noise in your photos than with larger cameras. But on the flipside, the back of the Pentax Q is monopolized by a massive 3-inch, 460,000 pixel LCD display with a 170 degree viewing angle. It means the array of buttons on the back of the camera tend to be on the small side, but I think it’s an OK compromise since the camera is lacking an optical viewfinder.
I’m also totally enamored with the Pentax Q’s brilliant pop-up flash which manages to get it up and away from the camera’s lens. Not only does it help reduce red-eye, but also shadows if you’re using a lens with a particularly large hood. And speaking of lenses, at launch Pentax will have five Q-mount options available including a 35mm, f/1.9 prime which will be included as the ‘kit’ lens. There will also be an f/2.8 to f/4.5 zoom lens, a 160° field of view fish-eye and a couple of toy lenses that introduce various optical aberrations into your images not unlike a Lomo.