K-3 vs. M10 vs. Q7

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by 6BQ5, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    I originally posted this thread on the Pentax Forums site and I would like to cross post it here to capture a wider audience for feedback. There are some gentle edits as I re-read this and massage the text. Please forgive me if this is against forum rules.

    Earlier this week I took possession of an Olympus OM-D E-M10 kit that included a 14-42mm lens. I recently got access to a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake as well. My intention for this camera is to have it slot between my Q7 and K-3. I love both of those bodies but they represent two extremes. The Q7 is teeny tiny and makes for a great travel kit but I sometimes wish for better low light performance, more high quality primes, and even a WYSIWYG viewfinder of some sort. I can get all of that and more with my K-3 but now I am saddled with significantly more bulk. That by itself is not bad but there are some situations where it doesn't suit me. Traveling by plane is one of them. Carrying my K-3 kit when I already have a suitcase and a carry on is too much for me. The K-3 is perfect when I travel by car or go for a local walk. The u4/3 system always seemed like a good in-between fit between my Q and K systems. There are many sharp pancake prime lenses available. The bodies are reasonably small and lightweight. Sensor IQ is very high. The price has always been a barrier to entry for me until now.

    The M10 is a very pleasurable camera body to use. Ergonomics are good. Response time is quick. I wanted to know how well this camera performs compared to my Q and K systems so I performed an informal, subjective, unscientific test. My desk has a row of dusty vacuum tubes that are real easy to photograph. Just set the camera on the desk, enable the 10 second timer, and press the shutter button. I did just that and cycled through the ISO settings in 2x steps to understand the sensor noise levels. All three cameras cover different a different ISO range so I picked a range that all three can do: 200 to 12,800. I don't have lenses for all three bodies that give an exact same FoV but I tried to cover approximately the same FoV by adjusting the position of the camera. The M10 had the Panasonic 20mm which is 40mm in FF-speak. I mounted my FA 31mm Limited on my K-3 and pulled the camera back. My Q7 got the 01 prime and I positioned it at almost the same spot as the M10.

    All the test shots were shot in RAW and processed in Capture One. I adjusted the white balance, contrast, highlight recovery, and sharpening on one image and copied the settings to each of the other images in the set. There were some slight differences in the resulting histograms but nothing so huge that would completely invalidate the test. It was "good enough". I captured 100% crops for each image and collated them into a single image. Here is a link to the result on my Dropbox drive. Please let me know if the link doesn't work.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/1fixkk5q02os0aa/K3 vs M10 vs Q7.jpg?dl=0

    The organization of the image should be self explanatory. Cameras in columns, same ISO in rows.

    What did I discover? A few things ...

    All three cameras work very well at low ISO. Noise levels are low. Each camera resolves the fine dust revealing plenty of texture and detail. Even the Q7 with its tiny sensor fared admirably. Of course, the larger resolution of the K-3 reveals a bit more detail than the Q7 and the M10. As the ISO is increased the question becomes which camera starts to lose detail first? The Q7 faltered first at ISO 800 where the fine dust starts becoming a grey smear. Both the M10 and K-3 continue to show some detail. I feel like the M10 started smearing the dust significantly at ISO 3200 but the K-3 continues to show some detail. Finally, at ISO 6400 the K-3 starts smearing some of the detail too. By ISO 12.8k it's time to convert all images to B&W and accept the noise a simulated film grain.

    The K-3 was helped a lot by the extra resolution where the additional pixels kept resolving the dust. Couple the resolution with the lower noise and the K-3 will always come ahead. Still, the M10 did great in this pixel peeping test. Even the Q7 did well at the low ISOs. The Q7's lower resolution hindered it a bit since there is less to resolve the details with. We have to remember that viewing this 100% crop is like looking at a small mural. For small prints up to 8"x10" all three cameras will do well. Another good test would be to take some shots like this but in bright daylight conditions. Maybe another day.

    This test wasn't about proving anything. I just wanted to begin to understand the noise levels I can expect at different ISO settings. The Q7 is definitively a camera for good light but will fare well in darker and dimmer areas if you crank up the ISO and go for small prints. I was impressed with the M10 seeing how close it came to the K-3. Of course, the K-3 can pull ahead as it should. When the absolute best possible performance is a must then the K-3 must answer the call. However, when the bulk of the K-3 is a show stopper then the M10 is an obvious choice. I can see coupling the M10 plus three primes with the Q7 plus the 06 and 08 zoom. Now I can leverage the strengths of both systems in a lightweight travel package if I can handle the bulk.

    Now I need to just shoot more and make the M10 second nature to me like the Q7 and K-3 are now. :) 
  2. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Nice presentation Boris. I too was out shooting both the E-M10 as well as the Q7 today. It took me a bit of time to get familiar with the Olympus menu but using the touch screen made adjusting initial settings quiet easy. I did get a bit confused because the Q7 and E-M10 zooms worked in opposite directions. How do you like the feel of the Olympus when compared to the Q7?
  3. saladin

    saladin Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 29, 2015
    I too am a Pentaxian. I have a Q with the 01 prime. The Q is definitely a half step down on the Q7 for IQ, but i like it in use. I just picked up an Em5 . 12hrs in, i'm still trying to learn a "foreign" system and settings, lol. Its a beautifully built and styled camera, though.
  4. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
  5. saladin

    saladin Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 29, 2015
    I have an original K5. I also had a K10, the theft of which (along with a heap of lenses) prompted me to start considering a mirrorless line. Id always liked the styling of the Omd's and IQ has always seemed excellent. If i was buying top models, Fuji's XT1 might have given the EM1 a run for its money, but i wasnt. The Em5 was a great price on runout, so here i am.

    I think Oly appeals to pentax users because we value ergonomics and customisable technology. The controls must be right where i want them and make sense. They feel like photographers camera's, not electronic toys.
  6. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    @Denny : The M10 is about as small of a camera with an EVF I would want to use. Anything smaller would feel cramped because there has to be enough room for both hands and my face. I'm not a JPG shooter so I don't use any of the built in art filters or image settings. Give me a raw file and I'm good to go. Oh, and I turned off the touch screen. It's just another thing that gets in my way of "pure camera". Other than that, I really appreciate most of the dials and buttons. They are well placed, easy to reach and learn, and give good tactile feedback. The on/off witch is in an odd spot but when I look at the body I can't think of a better spot. I'm not a big of the grip. It's too small for what it could provide ... but make it any bigger and the camera becomes chunky. I would rather have a flat body like my Spotmatics and ME Super. Overall, even with my gripes, I think Olympus did well here.

    @saladin@saladin : Retro can be cool when done right and Olympus did it right with the M10. The M10 is a beautiful camera. It's small but well proportioned. The customization of the dials and buttons doesn't go as far as Pentax. I wish I could control ISO with the rear wheel but that doesn't seem to be an option. ISO control may be accessed by using one of the Fn buttons to switch the rear dial from aperture, exposure compensation, etc. It sounds goofy but in practice it's not that bad. I'm just used to it on my K-3 where you can get access to almost every logical combination of function to dial ... almost.

    I've been thinking more and more about how the M10 will fit in with my Pentax gear, especially the K-3. There's more to cameras than just tech buzz words, sensors, specs, and sharp lenses. Shooting with the K-3 is an absolute joy - borderline orgasmic - and the M10 cannot compete with that. I built up a small but nice collection of lenses that suit me and I don't think I could find anything in the u4/3 ecosystem that could replace them with much, if any, optical advantage.

    The Q7 will remain my esoteric camera. It's for the weird shots that other cameras can't do without carrying ten kilos of gear. The M10 will be my pancake lens based traveler with one nice zoom lens. It's the fun time camera. The K-3 will be my magic wand that drizzles pixie dust. I'll be jumping on the Pentax FF bandwagon eventually and then I will have my small, medium, and large systems to play with.
  7. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Panasonic zoom lenses zoom in the opposite direction of Olympus lenses. All µ4/3 AF lenses are fly by wire in MF mode, and the focus direction can be changed in the menu to match Pentax/Nikon lenses. At least the lenses mount by being turned in the same direction as Pentax lenses.
  8. Theo

    Theo Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2013
    Theo K.
    From what I understand, they are fly by wire but focus direction can't be changed. Enlighten me.
  9. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Focus direction can be changed in one of the menus,
    of course zoom direction cannot.
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  10. pat_rice

    pat_rice New to Mu-43

    Jun 7, 2015
    It looks like I am in good company. I have a K5iis, EM-5 and the original Q myself and have wondered if there are others with similar system combinations. The OMD is my latest acquisition and am learning to get the hang of it. Sorry to hijack the original thread but for those who have at least 2 of the 3 camera systems, do you use/recommend camera accessories that are compatible across the Pentax and OMD cameras (third party flash, remote shutter, Nd filters etc..)?
  11. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    The Pentax Q series 01, 02 and 06 lenses take a 40.5mm filter and a few of the Olympus lenses take a 37mm filter. I have ordered a 37-40.5mm adapter ring so I can use all my 40.5mm filters on the Olympus lenses. I am really enjoying configuring the E-M10 to suit my personal shooting style and the associated learning experience.
  12. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    Question from an interested bystander - there are great deals on the older Q & Q10 models, are they still worth considering ? I've heard AF speed and shooting speed (FPS) can be a little lack-lustre.

    I'm interested in a secondary system and considering Nikon 1 and Q, but the size advantage seems to have largely disappeared with the GM1 (granted, the lenses will always be smaller with the Q).
  13. grcolts

    grcolts Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2010
    I too came to the m4/3rds with both a Panny G6 and recently, the Olympus EPL-7. I still have and use my Pentax system but wanted something smaller for taking with me on my bicycling rides, etc. I have been thinking about selling off some of my Pentax gear in order to pick up one or two micro-four/thirds lens. Comparing images taken from both systems, I don't see any particular or earth shattering differences between the two except as Boris explained in the beginning of this thread. They compliment each other more or less.
  14. saladin

    saladin Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 29, 2015

    The build quality of the Q was outstanding. The Q10 moved to more plastic, Pentax claimed a small improvement in IQ but few of us could spot it.

    The Q with the 01 prime would still be an excellent buy at the right price. Imo, that lens is still the pick of them. I like the Q for monochrome shooting, but yes the AF is not terribly rapid. Size wise, its only a jacket pocket camera -certainly smaller than my Em5, though- so whether that is small enough depends on your needs.

    Interestingly, my 12 year old daughter loves the Q. Shes recently discovered she can shoot video in Bold Monochrome effect and she uses the camera more than i do. Consequently, i'm considering picking up a Q10 with the zoom lens for her birthday. The prices make it quite a good buy.

    And like Railman, im enjoying learning how to drive my new Oly.
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  15. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    I might upset a few folks that like the original Pentax Q but knowing what I know now which is based on owning all of the Q series I would not consider the Q or Q10. I went through both in a period of three weeks then settled on the Q7 and now have two of those. The larger sensor producing improved RAW files and better JPG engine in the Q7 make it worth the few bucks more. Later I purchased another Q just to get the 01 prime lens off of it. While it was here I did additional testing and found a big difference between the IQ of the original Q and the Q7. (Yes I was pixel peeping.) The original Q owners keep talking about the metal body but that metal body does not make up for the difference in IQ. Google the Blunty tests of the Q7 and see what he has to say about it. There are also comparisons of the Q and Q7 on the Pentax forum page you can check out without becoming a member of that forum. As far as AF speed, I have never quite understood why that is so important to shooters unless they are shooting sports or something. If that is your interest, there really is no Pentax camera that will suit your needs as none are really designed for shooting fast action. That is Canon's main focus.
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  16. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    QS1 has Q build quality with a Q7 sensor. Around $400 with the normal zoom. I have a Q with the 01 prime. I also discovered a $259 QS1 body at Adorama which is very tempting. (Another forum thread leads me into temptation :shakehead:) The Q is a funny little camera but for some reason I really enjoyed shooting with it. Coupled with a 50 mm legacy macro it makes a heckuva macro setup.
  17. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    I owned a Q before upgrading to a Q7. The small sensor is a serious limitation. It has limited dynamic range and poorer high ISO performance. This may not be a problem in good light and good shooting scenarios but as enthusiasts who shoot in dim light the shortcomings will quickly become apparent. Shooting in RAW will help since you can post process on a computer and utilize software that is much more advanced than anything programmed into a camera's firmware. But ... even then, noise is noise and there's only so much you can do to mask it. As I always say, the build quality of the Q7 is excellent and the naysayers just too fixated on an old design. Get over it, I say. Plastic, when done right, can be better than metal.

    The Q line is very esoteric. It straddles the fence between a mini-DSLR with its controls and shooting capabilities and a P&S for it's size and simplicity when properly configured. Serious compromises were made in order to cover both territories. Compared to a DSLR the AF speed and general responsiveness is slow and some controls like a second wheel are lacking. On the other side, compared to a P&S, there's almost too much! It's way over the top in how much you can control the camera and customize it. So you get a little of each without too much of either. In order to be successful with the Q you have to embrace a new photographic philosophy. You must experiment with settings and shooting conditions. Do all the things that the Lomo photographers do but do it with higher IQ and more precision. Shoot into the sun for flare without washing out details. Get that lens adapter and reach for extreme telephoto if the microscopic 06 lens isn't enough. If you are willing to break a few eggs to make an omelette then you will be very successful with the Q. However, if you try shooting with the Q as if it were a M10 or two e-dial DSLR then you will get frustrated. Personally, I think the Q is all about fun, fun, and fun. Stretch yourself and take that experience back to your "classic" camera. You won't regret it.

    Q7 or Q-S1? Get whatever suits you, comes with an 01 lens, or is cheaper. I chose my first Q kit to get the 01 lens. It was nearly impossible to get it separately at one time. I got another Q kit with the 02 lens and sold the body. Then I got a Q7 kit with the 02 and 06 lenses so I sold my Q with the extra 02 lens. I ended up doing really well by waiting for the right price.
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  18. Sinister

    Sinister Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 15, 2014
    Berlin Germany
    Thanks for the report!

    I used to own an extenive Pentax Gear, until I by chance acquired an EPL3 which soon was accompanied by an EM5. Since then I hardly touched the Pentax, and consequently sold my DA*. The difference in image quality is in my opinion marginal, but the increase in satisfaction, picture results and handling is tremendous (EVF, size, flipscreen)...
    • Like Like x 1
  19. panonski

    panonski Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 13, 2014
    I feel like I must say something here...
    First of all, I assuming to buy K-3, because I feel like I must have it for "more pro" scenarios.
    I would not get in to this story, why is K-3 better, because it's obvious where and when is larger sensor and bulkier camera better.
    It is written many times and so on...

    But the real reason I coming in, is thet you're talking about Q series ... Little wonder cameras, which can be suite for most situations except low light, tracking and serious pro photos.

    My first "serious" camera was in THAT Q SIZE. That was increadibly light, RICOH CAPLIO GX 200, which is not produce any more.
    And I still have it. It was realised in 2007, and as I know was absolute hit. I red about it, and many pro's was shock how quality it is, and small, and shots even RAW. RAW in 2007, from camera of that size?

    The ISO is acceptable till 400, and 800 is horrible, 1600 - no chance for any detail.

    But for 64, 100, 200, and 400 was prety much fine.
    This camera was zoom.

    Optic was superb, and I do much much ART photos.

    Why is this important?

    Because I will say it one more time. FOR ME, BULKIER CAMERAS ARE ENEMY FOR SHOTTERS. Why ?
    Because you can't carry it arround so easy, and it will cost you many great shots.

    Once I heard "The best camera is one you have it when you need one" and that is exactly my philosophy, so I buy small and great camera!

    Ricoh Caplio, and Ricoh GR and GRD series are maybe the first cameras with so superb manual capatibilities, and RAW shooting.

    I was just amazed with menu, physical shortcuts, and pictures.
    Why is this important to compare with Olympus ? Because it's obvious. IQ in smaller size make things much different, and many photographers accept it, if ... IF suite their needs from work.

    I was, and I'm still ART photographeur. I have my exibition two years ago, and I love contests . ALL pics on exibition was from RICOH, and nobody was't beleive me. ( to be true some of them are from old Sony Eriscsson K series - and nobody ever noticed any difference )
    Every picture was print in 40 x 60 cm format, and one of them even 100x150 cm )

    PRINTS was very fine from 12 MPIX, even cropped, and with sometimes on purpose ruined pixels to get more art look.

    Many of them, I didn't touched at all. Everybody was expected some bigger camera, and not one in your hand, which size is like any idiotic camera in women's purse.


    One more thing, PENTAX was BOUGHT by RICOH. That's why they are good.

    I was long waiting the successor of my Caplio GX 200, but it never came out. Insteed of that, a year ago I buy PEN E5, and I love it. It is very versatile camera.
    and I know how to get maximum from it. And that's second more important to know.
    How to get maximum from your camera when you have or want to shot something.
    I always knew that particular details, that's why I have many great shots. Even with old mobile phones.

    GR have now IV generation, and is still availeble, but it's not the zoom. Yet, it's even better ever, maybe even better then Q.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
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  20. saladin

    saladin Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 29, 2015
    Ha! Nice post, panonski. I have a Gx100 ! Its a heap of fun to play with. As you say, IQ is rubbish above Iso 800 - in fact i can find noise in shadows at base Iso if i look hard enough - but theres some enjoyment to be had in trying to work with such camera's. And the camera handles brilliantly.

    I will own a Gr or a Coolpix A one day. Or maybe even a Dp Merrill. Although the Merrill would in truth appeal purely for outrageous base iso detail rather than handling characteristics.

    What i find interesting in this thread is how so many different cameras are getting mentioned that appeal to us all. Common factor seems to be small size and good control? Outright IQ isnt always number 1 priority. Depends on use, of course.

    Which is why , even though the Q7 is without doubt better in the IQ area, the Q and Q10 could still make people happy on price, rendering, functions and printing.

    Getting a Gr or similar ( even a Gr III or Gr IV appeal because i like the ccd look) would probably consign my Q to little use though. The dslr and long lens for field sports, an Omd kit in a bag for everyday use and a Gr on the belt when really going light. Thats how i envisage things for me down the track. At this stage, lol.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
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