Despite its puny sensor, Pentax Q is the best mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact camera currently available, according to the author. Read on and learn why.
Read Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Days 4 and 5
Lobby shots, backstage shooting and walkthroughs: Fashion Week, if anything is somewhat repetitive. The Q got a lot of attention and admiration in the end, and I am sad having to return this camera. Yes, a Micro 4/3rds unit will produce better quality. Sure, it has a relatively puny little point and shoot sensor, and yes, when placed in tungsten the color is a bit too cool. Still, the build quality is excellent. No Panasonic m4/3rds or Olympus Pen has felt as good in my hands. This camera felt solid, took the punishment of the pit, and performed admirably.
I doubt Pentax had ever expected to have the Q used in such an environment, and to their credit they have built a camera that is serviceable under the conditions I subjected it to—and would probably excel at whatever you throw its way. The controls are very logically laid out, and whether a Nikon user, or a Canon user like myself picked it up, within minutes the controls were deciphered (without consulting the manual!) and the camera instantly captured the heart of everyone who handled it.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Purely from an ease of use and bang for your buck standpoint, the Pentax Q is in my opinion the best mirrorless unit on the market right now that is not a true rangefinder by Leica. The compromises are quite acceptable, the AF is fast even in very low light, and the JPEG engine does an excellent job. I wish I had shot a few images in RAW, but I wanted to replicate the conditions that all of us in the pit deal with. We shoot JPEG because the turn around is instant. There is no time to process 700-800 RAW files. Here the JPEG engine of the Q held up under the demands. The video function is excellent, and yes Virginia, it does AF track in video mode.
Some say the $800 price tag is too high, but for a solidly built and easy to use camera with a plethora of functions one would not expect at this price point along with a very sharp prime lens, it is a bargain. If it can handle the 9 grueling days that is New York Fashion Week, it will easily handle what most end users will use it for. I want one and a majority of those that handled it this week want one as well. It's just too much fun to use!