When you first see Pentax's new Q7 interchangeable-lens camera, you think your brain is playing tricks on you. How can it be so small? This must be a replica. But then you hold it in your hand and squee with delight because it's so maddeningly adorable.
The Q7 is the follow-up to last year's Q10. Pentax's concept for these little guys is to take the mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera and smash it into a body that's colorful like a retro Lomo film camera but compact like a point-and-shoot.
Of course, to shrink the interchangeable-lens design down to these cuddly proportions , Pentax had to use a point-and-shoot-sized, 1/1.7-inch sensor (the same size as the chip in the excellent Canon S110), as well as design a new range of lenses for the format.
It's an odd design choice, which is clearly targeted at people who want to be able to swap between different lenses but refuse to compromise the slightest bit on size. How many of these people exist? Who knows.
As Pentax execs repeatedly pointed out when presenting us the Q7 this afternoon, the camera market has hit a plateau of sorts on technology. If you can't beat everyone out with tech, maybe 120 different color options and an irresistible design will move some units.
The Pentax Q7 is available for pre-order tonight. It ships with a tiny "O2" lens for $500, which is the price of a very good point-and-shoot. [Pentax]
Photos by Nick Stango