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Pentax Q10 Preview

by Roger Slavens
Posted 09/10/2012

A little more than a year after its introduction, Pentax has revised and revamped the tiny Pentax Q with a new design, new colors, and an improved sensor, as well as a new name: the Q10. While the Pentax Q10 still employs a 12.4-megapixel, backlit, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor to maintain a diminutive size, Pentax says they upgraded the sensor with increased sensitivity to produce very low noise at ISOs up to 6,400. Add to that an improved imaging engine under the hood and an advanced autofocus algorithm for faster AF operation, and Pentax hopes the Q10 will close the photo quality gap with its compact system competitors and widen its lead over most enthusiast digicams. Also, a newly announced Q-mount Pentax 06 15-45mm zoom lens and a K-mount lens adapter -- which provides access to more than 25 million lenses, according to Pentax -- greatly expands available optics options, a previous limitation of the Q system.

Even with these improvements, the Pentax Q10 comes at a lower cost. Suggested retail price is US$600, complete with a Pentax 02 Standard Zoom with a range of 5-15mm (27.5-83mm equivalent) and apertures of f/2.8-4.5 The Pentax Q retailed at US$750 with a prime lens when it hit the market last year.

The Pentax Q10 still looks like a baby DSLR, and a near twin to the Pentax Q, but boasts a redesigned grip so the tiny camera won't slip in giant (human) hands. The manufacturer specs show that the camera is almost exactly the same size as the Pentax Q, measuring 4 by 2.3 by 1.3 inches, and weighing 7 ounces, ready to shoot. The Q10 also retains the Quick Dial on the camera's front right panel next to the lens, which allows users to assign up to 4 creative functions for easy access. While the Pentax Q came in black or white, the Q10 is available in your choice of silver or glossy red, both accented with black textured grips on the left and right front of the camera.

Shooting modes and functions should be familiar to those who've used the Q. The Pentax Q10 features the bokeh control function to create areas of foreground and/or background defocus, as well as nine Smart Effect modes that provide a lot of creative flexibility. Meanwhile, 19 digital filters can be applied to your photos for dramatic effect -- 11 of them, including Toy Camera and Posterization while you're shooting either stills or videos. And you can combine shots to produce one high dynamic range image with the built-in HDR function. The Pentax Q10 records movies in Full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second, and allows video autofocus operation at the touch of a button. Its high-speed continuous shooting mode captures up to five shots per second.

Again, the main advantage of the Pentax Q10 over its predecessor, according to the manufacturer, is improved image quality thanks to the upgraded sensor and AF capabilities. (In addition to the new AF algorithm, an AF Assist Light helps the camera focus in low-light conditions and a Face Recognition function keeps your subject sharp. And Pentax's proprietary Shake Reduction technology helps the camera's ability to produce better, blur-free images.)

But we think the new, lower price is also one of its biggest appeals. Again the Pentax Q10 kit is priced at US$600 and will be available in retail stores and online October 2012.

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