Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Q-code

Hi there, sorry for the misleading title, this post is not about amateur radio, this still is about my photography adventures.

Coming from SLRs, I had severe doubts about the use of mirror-less system cameras. Yep, past tense, since the purchase of my first digital system camera, the Canon EOS-M my appreciation for mirror-less digital cameras changed. What triggered my initial interest was that the EOS-M employs an APS-C size sensor and no mirror to flip up and shake the camera. ("Haha", I here you thinking, "mirror, no mirror, what is this guy all about"). The initial plan was to mount the EOS-M behind a decent telescope, for astro-photography (makes sense now?). Whatever the EOS-M's reputation is, this is a very good camera, not only for video, but also for stills, despite the slow auto-focus.

From there, I moved down in sensor size (MFT aka m4/3), by getting an Olympus PM-2, which I love a lot.

Now my interest for mirror-less cameras was ignited.
Following the scene, it did not take long and I was intrigued by Pentax's Q system. Sooooo small! Well, also the sensor. Hence, I had my doubts, and stayed away from the Q.

And now, it struck me, the Q has got no mechanical shutter in the body, the sensor is back-lit, the firmware has got a built-in intervalometer and there are plenty of adapters available (including T2).
For astro-photography, the Q system might just be the thing!
Also, the Q-system sports in-body "shake reduction" by sensor shifting, allowing for manual/old lenses to be used with image stabilization.

So, I got one.

Now, out and about, I learned to love the Quirky little camera. Small enough to fit in any of my coats, including a wide arsenal of lenses.
Concerning which, I presently own the following genuine lenses:

  • 01 - standard prime (8.5mm f/1.9)
  • 02 - standard zoom (5-15mm f/2.8-4.5)
  • 04 - wide toy lens (6.3mm f/7.1)
  • 05 - toy tele-lens (18mm f/8)
  • 06 - tele zoom (15-45mm f/2.8)
  • Holga lens for Pentax Q (10mm f/8)
Some of the genuine lenses are supplied with a lens internal leaf shutter and a neutral density filter. Of course you know what that means... using strobes or speedlights at very fast shutter speeds.
When using lenses not equipped with a shutter, e.g. legacy glass of the toy lenses, shooting is entirely quiet, due to the electronic shutter. On the downside, the electronic shutter can be used up to 2s only,

By now, I also own a Q7 body. Despite the Q and the Q7 bodies have the most recent firmware, there are remarkable differences.
While the Q seems to handle a lot more easily, the Q7 got some feature I really miss on the Q.

Advantages of the Q
  • metal body, creating a very balance experience
  • intuitive dial customization
  • stereo audio in video recording

Advantages of the Q7
  • bigger sensor
  • records RAW when using smart filters or effects
  • slightly elevated buttons
There are probably more differences, but those are the ones that struck me most.
To me, it is impossible to pick a winner between the Q and the Q7. Although, the Q gets out a lot more often, probably because of the balanced feel of the metal body camera.

Another thought about the Q-system: C-mount lenses, which will fit the sensor just fine and can be really inexpensive.

Should you get a Q or a Q7? Well, I don't know! Just don't get a Q10, which is just a Q in a plastic body.

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