The Pentax Q10, like its predecessor, is quite an interesting camera. With it being no bigger than many other advanced compact cameras, yet able to accept interchangeable lenses, it fills the gap between traditional advanced compact digital cameras and larger mirrorless camera systems well.

The price is reasonable too. At £379.99/US$529.99 (around AU$579) with the standard 5-15mm lens, it's competitively priced when compared to rivals, such as Canon's PowerShot S110.

The inclusion of a Pentax K-mount adaptor into the Q-series system is an added bonus for those with an existing collection of Pentax lenses, although the 5.5x crop factor will need to be taken into account.

However, those in pursuit of the best image quality for their money, while retaining the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, may be better served by a mirrorless camera with a larger sensor, such as the similarly priced Sony NEX-F3 or Panasonic Lumix GF5.

Although the Pentax Q10 performs well in lab tests, its shortcomings can be seen in real world images. Heavy-handed noise reduction can result in fine detail being lost at high sensitivities, and blown highlights can have an unnatural appearance as the camera struggles to capture detail in these areas.

We liked

The Pentax Q10 holds its own well against high-end compact cameras. It is well built, offers plenty of features and is reasonably priced too. As the Q-series lens lineup is growing, and a K-mount lens adaptor is available, having the flexibility of interchangeable lenses is a definite bonus.

We disliked

Real world image quality isn't up to that of similarly priced mirrorless cameras sporting larger sensors. Heavy-handed noise reduction can blur fine detail, and the output from the automatic HDR mode can look very unnatural.

Final verdict

When compared to advanced compact cameras, the Pentax Q10 has a lot going for it. Image quality falls short of cameras equipped with a larger sensor. This camera is better suited to those who value compactness above all else.

Those looking for a quirky alternative to the current crop of compact system cameras, with portability being their main concern, may be well served by the Pentax Q10, so long as you're well aware of its strengths, and its weaknesses.