Brian's Photo Blog — Article 252
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Are the Nikon 1 and Pentax Q Cameras Pocketable?
Tuesday 18 June 2013   —   Category: Equipment
Are the Nikon 1 series and Pentax Q series cameras pocketable? That is the question I set out to answer on a shopping expedition to Portland today.

My first stop was Pro Photo Supply, where I was able to get some hands-on time with a Nikon 1 series camera, and compare it with a smallish Olympus PEN Micro Four Thirds camera.

My next stop was at Fry’s Electronics in Wilsonville, just south of Portland, where I was able to fondle a Pentax Q camera, which seems harder to find in a store than the Nikon 1 cameras.

Both the Pentax Q and Nikon 1 series camera bodies are quite small — approximately 4 inches wide, less than 2.5 inches tall, and less than 1.5 inches thick. This is about the same size as many pocket point-and-shoot cameras. In and of themselves, these camera bodies are quite pocketable.

But once you attach a lens, the situation changes completely. The once-thin body suddenly becomes two, three or even four times thicker. A svelte camera body which could easily slide into a pants pocket suddenly becomes chubby and unwieldy, with a relatively huge lens hanging off the front, like a traditional SLR. The 10-​30​mm lens on the Nikon 1 body shown to the right illustrates this problem clearly.

Of course, there are smaller prime lenses which do not protrude as far. But if you go that route, then you’re stuck with a fixed focal length and NO zoom capability. And even the 3x zoom capability of the 10-​30​mm lens pictured above is quite paltry compared to the 5x, 10x and 20x zoom lenses on many of today’s point-and-shoot cameras. The Pentax Q series does not have any zoom lens with more than 3x magnification. The Nikon 1 series does have a 10x 10-​100​mm zoom, but it weighs 50% more than the camera body, and is almost 2.5 times thicker than the body. That is definitely NOT pocketable!

In the end, it’s hard to see what purpose the Nikon 1 and Pentax Q series cameras fulfill. They are still too big and bulky to replace a pocket point-and-shoot, but their image quality, features and lens selection can’t match the Micro Four Thirds cameras, which are not too much bigger and heavier. In my view, you have the worst of both worlds instead of the best. Therefore, I can definitely scratch both of these camera systems off my list of possibilities.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 252
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