Long gone are the days when digital camera shoppers were made to choose between a small camera body and the ability to change lenses. These days, there are plenty of small interchangeable lens cameras on the market, from all of the current major manufacturers. But the smallest of all are Pentax's Q-series. The Pentax Q7's arrival was announced almost exactly two years after its original predecessor, the Pentax Q
, was unveiled. The Q was the smallest interchangeable lens camera on the market, barely bigger than a point-and-shoot compact, and was announced alongside set of equally diminutive lenses. Though the Q7 (and its immediate predecessor, the Q10
) has picked up a few millimeters in size, it remains one of the smallest interchangeable lens cameras you can buy.
Pentax engineers have been pushing the limits of size in interchangeable lens cameras for some time. The Pentax Auto 110
debuted in 1978 as the smallest SLR with interchangeable lenses to accept tiny 110 film cartridges. An advertising campaign from the time claimed "Now, you can be a great photographer any minute of the day," touting the portability of the ultra-miniature system. Decades later, Pentax is still selling small cameras with small lenses for the exact same reasons.
Pentax's first Q-series cameras attracted a cult following, but critics disliked their small 1/2.3" sensors and high MSRPs. In the Q7, both of these complaints have been addressed. It introduces a 1/1.7" type BSI CMOS, a standard in the enthusiast compact category, and at the time of its announcement, comes with a more reasonable price: $499 including 5-15mm (23-69mm equivalent) kit zoom. Note that existing Q lenses are fully compatible with the Q7 despite its larger sensor size, so it appears that Pentax designed the system around the larger sensor format all along.