Pentax Q-S1 review

It's the world's smallest compact system camera, but is that enough?

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Our Verdict

Although it's the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera, it doesn't offer a huge amount aside from that. Image quality is decent, but not amazing. Consider the fantastic Panasonic GM5 instead which is a little more expensive but gives you much more flexibility.

For

  • Small size
  • Easy to use
  • Manual control
  • DNG raw format

Against

  • Small sensor
  • No touchscreen
  • No WiFi
  • Limited lens range

Ricoh's latest super small Pentax interchangeable lens camera enters a crowded marketplace of diminutive system cameras vying for a place in our pockets. At its launch, Pentax claimed that the QS-1 is the smallest interchangeable lens camera currently on the market.

Unlike the majority of compact system cameras on the market, the Pentax Q range features small sensors the same size as you might find in a compact camera, but of course the big difference here is that you can change the lenses, of which there are eight different available for the Q mount.

Key Features

That sensor is a 1/1.7 inch 12 .4 million pixel backlit CMOS sensor. There's also a three-inch TFT LCD screen with 460,000 dots and, while there's no viewfinder, there is a hotshoe which means you can attach external accessories, such as a flash or external viewfinder.

Pentax Q S1
The Q-S1 is a compact system camera but uses a much smaller sensor than other CSCs.

Pentax Q S1
There's no viewfinder, so images must be composed on the 460,000-dot screen on the back.

Other features include SD card compatibility, full HD (1080p) video recording and a ISO 100-12,800 range.

One of the key selling points of recent Pentax camera is the staggering array of colour combinations that are available (some better than others). The QS-1 is no different, pairing up with the standard 5-15mm kit lens to create 40 different colour combinations.

Build Quality and Handling

Although the body size of the QS-1 is certainly very small, the kit lens sticks out a fair way from the front of the body, so you won't be able to fit it in your jeans pocket – it should just about fit in a reasonably large jacket pocket though.

Pentax Q S1
The Q-S1 is small but the kit lens sticks out quite a long way, so it's not particularly pocketable.

On the plus side, despite the fact that it is very small, it is still equipped with a decent range of buttons and dials, placing most of the key controls at your fingertips.

On the top of the camera there's a mode dial for switching between the different exposure modes the camera offers, including aperture priority, fully automatic and shutter priority. The movie mode is also found here.

Pentax Q S1
The mode dial offers all the auto/manual modes you'd expect from a serious/enthusiasts camera.

Also on top you'll find a shutter release button, an on/off switch, a second dial which performs different tasks depending on other buttons that are pressed, a playback button and switch for raising the camera's inbuilt flash.

The buttons on the back of the camera are all found on the right hand side and here we have an exposure compensation button, which is also used to switch between altering shutter speed and aperture when in manual mode. Just underneath this button is a green button which performs different functions.

A four way navigational pad has buttons which all have a dedicated function, for instance up for ISO (sensitivity) and down for white balance. Simply press the button you need and then use the scrolling dial at the top of the camera to make the change you need.

Pentax Q S1
The four-way controller on the rear is used for changing common shooting settings.

To set the autofocus point, press the OK button in the middle of the navigation pad then move across to the point you need. You can also adjust the size of the AF point by using the scrolling dial on the top of the camera. Press the green button to return the AF point to the centre of the frame.

A sort of quick menu can be reached by pressing the info button. Settings such as metering, aspect ratio, custom image and so on. There's also a main menu accessed by pressing the Menu button, which is pretty sensibly arranged by different functions that you'll need to access.

Pentax Q S1
You press the Info button to activate a quick menu screen...

Pentax Q S1
This lets you check many more of the camera's key settings.

Flip to the front of the camera and there's a dial with a dot and the numbers 1-4 on it. By default, this controls Smart Effect, as in you can change between the four available (or switch it off altogether), but you can also customise this dial to control a different function, such as focus peaking.