On June 22, the Sony NEX-C3 was the world’s smallest interchangeable lens digital camera. It’s not anymore. That title now belongs to the Pentax Q. To achieve the camera’s incredibly small body size, Pentax had to shrink the sensor as well, making the Q not only the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera (ILC), but also the cam with the world’s smallest sensor in an ILC. The Q uses a 12.4 megapixel, 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS image sensor, manufactured by Sony — significantly smaller than the 4/3 and APS-C sensors used in Micro Four Thirds and Sony NEX-series cameras, respectively. As image quality is dependent on sensor size, the Q won’t be able to compete directly with any other ILC — instead, its images are most comparable to those you’d capture with a traditional digital compact (which, ahem, don’t cost $800).
The Q will ship in late September or early October with a 47mm f/1.9 kit lens for about $800, and will be available in black or white — abandoning the incredibly diverse color palette offered with other Pentax DSLRs. It will also be compatible with a 27.5-83mm zoom ($300), a 160-degree fisheye ($130), and 35mm and 100mm “toy camera” lenses ($80 each). The ILC will shoot 1080p/30 video with h.264 compression, 5 fps stills, and includes an HVGA-resolution 3-inch LCD and unique pop-up flash. A dedicated bokeh filter makes up for the camera’s natural inability to capture images with a shallow depth of field. During our brief hands-on, images captured at up to the Q’s highest available sensitivity of ISO 6400 appeared to be usable, at least based on a magnified LCD view (we weren’t permitted to capture images to our own SD card). The cam offers traditional DSLR capture modes, in addition a a variety of creative modes and Smart Effect Options, including an HDR capture mode. The version Pentax had on hand wasn’t fully baked, but jump past the break for our video walk through with a product manager.