Most of the interchangeable lens cameras we’ve seen to date seem to follow a standard mold: they have similarly sized bodies, comparable designs and either an APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensor at the core. But recently, some manufacturers — namely, Nikon and Pentax — have begun shrinking camera bodies in an attempt to make them even more appealing to point-and-shoot users. The result: a smaller, lighter, more fashionable ILC — that also happens to have an itsy bitsy image sensor. Sensor size, not megapixel rating, translates directly to image quality, but also lens and body size, so you can either have an incredibly small body with an incredibly small sensor, or a larger body with a larger sensor. Are you willing to pay a premium for the “world’s smallest” interchangeable lens camera, even if it has the same size sensor used in many point-and-shoot cams available for a fraction of the cost? Pentax seems to think that you are — to the tune of $800.
The 12.4 megapixel Pentax Q is tiny — it’s so small, in fact, that you wouldn’t be alone in mistaking it for a toy. There is a fully functional camera inside that petite magnesium alloy housing, though it’s admittedly not as powerful as you’d expect an $800 camera to be. The pricey kit ships with an 8.5mm f/1.9 lens, and you can grow your collection from Pentax’s modest selection of Q-mount lenses, which also happen to have laughably small focal lengths (a 3.2mm fish eye, anyone?), due to the 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor’s massive 5.5x multiplication factor. So how does the Q fare when it comes to performance and image quality? Jump past the break to find out.
Gallery: Pentax Q review