Pentax Unveils `Q' Compact System Camera

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New York -


launched this week its first compact interchangeable lens camera system, joining an ever-expanding field of players pursuing the new camera growth segment.

The tiny Pentax Q, which ships this fall at an $800 suggested retail for a kit with an 8.5mm f1.9 lens (50mm equivalent), features a 12.4 megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, similar in size to sensors used in many point-and-shoot models, but adding advanced camera features including 12-bit RAW file capture in Adobe's DNG format, in addition to standard JPEGs.

The company said it felt comfortable using the smaller image sensor to keep the camera body as small as possible because its new advanced image processing system combined with the high quality of Pentax's optics will deliver superior images up against other compacts using APS-C or Micro Four-Thirds sized image sensors.

Pentax said the Q the smallest and lightest camera of its kind on the market (at least for now), measuring 3.9-by-2.3-1.2 inches and weighing 6.3 ounces without lithium ion battery or SD/SDHC/SDXC card memory.

To enable a broader depth of field from the tiny image sensor, Pentax has included a defocus background filter to produce desirable blurred backgrounds (bokeh) similar to those created using wider apertures on larger image sensor cameras.

The defocus filter will be among a series of "Smart Filters" in the camera included those that create antique-style black-&-white effects, among others.

For video, the Pentax Q includes 1080p/30 HD video capture in H.264 compression, sensor-based in-camera image stabilization, and a 460K dot 3-inch LCD. All of the camera's Smart Filters will work with video as well as stills.

The image sensor uses a new SP coating that minimizes dust settling, and adds Pentax's sensor shake system to remove any dust that might stick.

Other features include a built-in flash, 3-frame high dynamic range (HDR) shooting, an ISO sensitivity range from 125-6400 and 5fps burst shooting.

Pentax is also supporting the camera with a broad selection of Q system lenses for greater creative flexibility. Pentax's K-mount lenses, used on its mainstream D-SLRs, will not be compatible with the Q camera system.

The new Q lenses include: a 27.5-83mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom equivalent ($300), a 160-degree 17mm equivalent fisheye ($130 retail), and a pair of lesser quality "Toy" lenses with a 35mm equivalent ($80) and a 100mm ($80) equivalent focal length. The latter two offer fixed apertures while the two top end lenses offer leaf-style aperture adjustments.

Other options include a hot-shoe mountable optical viewfinder.

John Carlson, Pentax Imaging sales and marketing senior manager, said the company is targeting primarily photo specialty dealers who can explain the benefits of the Q to handle the product's initial rollout.

He said the camera is targeted primarily at D-SLR users looking for a backup camera that is smaller and lighter than a full size D-SLR. The company also expects to attract audiences interested in high-performance point-and-shoot cameras.  


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