Pentax Q vs Sony A7
The Pentax Q and the Sony Alpha A7 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2011 and October 2013. Both the Pentax Q and the A7 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a 1/2.3-inch (Pentax Q) and a full frame (A7) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Pentax Q||Sony A7|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Pentax Q mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor||24 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 125-6,400||ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 51,200)|
|Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 460k dots||3.0 LCD, 1230k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|1.5 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|230 shots per battery charge||340 shots per battery charge|
|98 x 57 x 31 mm, 180 g||127 x 94 x 48 mm, 474 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax Q and the Sony Alpha A7? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Pentax Q and the Sony A7 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The Pentax Q can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the A7 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7 is considerably larger (114 percent) than the Pentax Q. Moreover, the A7 is substantially heavier (163 percent) than the Pentax Q. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7 is splash and dust-proof, while the Pentax Q does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The power pack in the A7 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Pentax Q||98 mm||57 mm||31 mm||180 g||230||n||Jun 2011||649|
|Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599|
|Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|Samsung NX1||139 mm||102 mm||66 mm||550 g||500||Y||Sep 2014||1,499|
|Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Pentax Q was launched at a markedly lower price (by 62 percent) than the A7, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax Q features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony A7 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7 is 2957 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the Pentax Q has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A7 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24MP, the A7 offers a higher resolution than the Pentax Q (12MP), but the A7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 1.53μm for the Pentax Q) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 3 months) than the Pentax Q, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax Q are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Pentax Q has a native sensitivity range from ISO 125 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7 offers substantially better image quality than the Pentax Q (overall score 43 points higher). The advantage is based on 4.6 bits higher color depth, 3.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 3.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A7 provides a faster frame rate than the Pentax Q. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7 has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the Pentax Q relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the Pentax Q can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the O-VF1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Pentax Q and Sony A7 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The Pentax Q has one, while the A7 does not. While the built-in flash of the Pentax Q is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Pentax Q has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The Pentax Q writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the Pentax Q cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Pentax Q and Sony Alpha A7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the Pentax Q does not provide wifi capability.
Both the Pentax Q and the A7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Pentax Q was replaced by the Pentax Q10, while the A7 was followed by the Sony A7 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax Q or the Sony A7 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Pentax Q:
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (98x57mm vs 127x94mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 294g or 62 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (62 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2011).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (43 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (4.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (3.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (340 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 3 months of technical progress since the Pentax Q launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax Q and the Sony A7 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Pentax Q or the A7. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Pentax Q||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jun 2011||649|
|Sony A7||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Fujifilm X10||..||76/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599|
|Nikon D610||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Olympus XZ-2||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-P3||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|Olympus E-PL2||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL3||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Panasonic GF3||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|Panasonic G2||..||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|Panasonic GF2||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|Samsung NX1||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2014||1,499|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||..||86/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|Sony A7R||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Pentax Q vs Sony A7
|Camera Model||Pentax Q||Sony A7|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Pentax Q mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 649||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax Q||Sony A7|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||35.8 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||855.62 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.53 μm||5.97 μm|
|Pixel Density||42.74 MP/cm2||2.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||125 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 51,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||47||90|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.2||24.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||14.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||189||2248|
|Screen Specs||Pentax Q||Sony A7|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax Q||Sony A7|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax Q||Sony A7|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Pentax Q||Sony A7|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||340 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
98 x 57 x 31 mm
(3.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 in)
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||180 g (6.3 oz)||474 g (16.7 oz)|