First impression Pentax Q7 review: Can a bigger sensor make a contender of the tiny mirrorless camera?


posted Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 6:01 PM EDT

Two years ago, Pentax turned convention on its head with the tiny Pentax Q compact system camera, the smallest interchangeable-lens model on the market by a significant margin. The Q was almost small enough to double as a key fob, and in our Pentax Q review we actually attached it to a keychain for a memorable photo opportunity. Its small size was achieved thanks to its most significant drawback, and that drawback was retained for the followup Pentax Q10 a year later -- but now it's been addressed, thanks to the debut of the brand-new Pentax Q7. (And the company has also debuted the mount cap lens for Q-series cameras which it first showed a little over a year ago, to boot!)

So what's new in the Q7? Quite a few things, including an improved shake reduction system, a new electronic level, a more tightly-integrated Quick dial, better support for Eye-Fi's wireless networking-capable Secure Digital cards, and more -- but the key change is a brand new image sensor. When the Pentax Q first launched, there was much speculation around the 'net as to whether Pentax had left itself some breathing room within the tight confines of the Q-mount's image circle for a larger sensor, and it turns out they had done so.

The Pentax Q7 might look identical to the earlier Q10, but sports a much larger image sensor.

In place of the 1/2.3-inch sensor from earlier models, the Pentax Q7 debuts a significantly larger -- and by significantly, we mean it has 52% greater surface area -- 1/1.7-inch chip, the same size typically used in fixed-lens cameras aimed at enthusiasts. That should mean significantly better high ISO / noise characteristics, and it's accompanied by an improvement in the corrective range of the camera's sensor shift image stabilization system.

The Pentax Q7 also brings with it another significant reduction in pricing, making it much easier to recommend than two years ago, when it was priced some $250 higher than now. A kit with Pentax-02 Standard Zoom lens will sell in the US market for around US$500 this August, and the Q7 will be sold in a whopping 120 different color combinations, of which three will be available at retail: black, white, or brown.

To learn more, read our Pentax Q7 review for first impressions on the new flagship Q-mount compact system camera, and a full-resolution gallery of initial images taken with a pre-production Pentax Q7.


The Pentax 07 Mount Shield lens is essentially a body cap with small pinhole-like lens, capable of shooting only at one focal length and aperture: 11.5mm at f/9. (That's 53mm-equivalent on the Q7, and 63.5mm on other Q-mount cameras.) The idea is that the Shield lens is placed on your camera when not in use, but you can still grab a quick unanticipated portrait or snapshot without first fumbling for and mounting another lens. It gets a no-brainer pricetag of just US$80 list, and ships from July 2013.