An Ode to the Cutest Digital Cameras Ever Made: The Pentax Q Series

The Pentax Q series of cameras were in some ways a horrible idea that didn’t embrace their toy-like nature enough.

If you’ve been in the photo industry for around a decade, you probably remember this cutie: the Pentax Q series. These cameras were all about being tiny and fun, but they didn’t embrace it fully. This was a toy camera that tried to do all the things bigger cameras could at a time when the technology wasn’t available yet. And that’s sad. If it were around today and it embraced its flaws, the Pentax Q could be an incredibly fun camera system.

The Pentax Q was small. In fact, it fit in the palm of your hand. They had interchangeable lenses and in some ways were based off of the Pentax Auto 110 camera system from the film days. And the Pentax Q series would have been spectacular if it just embraced all those film-like, vintage-looking flaws everyone wanted during those days. It could have done with black and white film looks, tilt shift looks, Holgaroid looks, bleach bypass, etc. This would have made the Pentax Q stand out to a bunch of creators who wanted something different. They already were really small and came in a bunch of cool colors. They were built well and even had IBIS.

On reading our old review, I’ve realized that no one, including us, was testing it for what it was. Our review of the Pentax Q7 SR states:

“The Pentax Q7 is a small, but formidable entry into the mirrorless space. A Sony NEX-7 it is not, but what it sacrifices in power, it makes up for in portability. If you’re keen on entering a camera system with a sizable catalogue of glass, you’ll be disappointed on the third-party front, and first-party front to a degree. The Q7 is the third installment in the Q series, and there’s only a handful of lenses available for it. There is a K to Q-mount adapter which opens more doors, but imagine Pentax’s 560mm f5.6 ED AW lens on the Q7. My neck hurts at the mere thought of it.”

That review is from 2013, a time when we still cared a lot about image quality. It was slightly before no one was making a bad camera. But if the Pentax Q system were alive today, it would provide a much different alternative to everything else on the market. With photography going the way it is, cameras will eventually go the way of the watch. When that becomes the case, it really just makes sense to have fun with it because we’re going to be charged an arm and a leg anyway.

Why not make a Pentax Q with a brass body that developed patina as it aged? Why not take away the RAW shooting capabilities and just embrace a bunch of retro aesthetics? Why not make it something that just uses the LCD to shoot but still have a top section that looks like a viewfinder? And why not give it a fully touchscreen interface? Better yet? Why not make it always connected to your phone via low energy bluetooth? Just imagine something with a 1-inch sensor or smaller constantly delivering better images to your phone! Give it some weather sealing and this would be a camera you’d want to carry everywhere with you. Considering that Pentax mostly uses old parts anyway, it would be easy to do.

Come on Pentax, do this please.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.