Irreversible Photography Gets Quter – Pentax Q 07 Shield Mount Lens

Irreversible photography – making images in camera that then cannot be (or are not) altered in any way afterwards – is hugely appealing to me.

With my Pentax Q and the 01 Standard Prime 47mm equivalent f/1.9 lens it came with, this is pretty easy. I’ve set the camera up (using the Quick Dial on the front) essentially for two colour modes – one for contrasty b/w, the other, muted winter colour.

Then, all I decide shot by shot is the composition, focus and aperture.

But since the 01 lens is really sharp at f/1.9, and the Q’s small sensor gives plenty of depth of field when focused on more distant objects, and up close I can force a pleasingly shallow depth of field, the aperture is not something I need to switch often. Leaving composition and focus as the two variables.

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I also have the option to lock exposure, apply exposure compensation, or change the ISO, each with a simple button press or two. But rarely need to.

Overall it makes a compact and very capable set up.

Nine shots out of 10 I just compose, focus and shoot. Plus I can use the JPEGs straight out of camera, requiring zero processing.

It’s as close as I’ve come yet to irreversible photography with a digital camera.

Looking into the Pentax Q system more (there are four cameras and eight lenses) I discovered the intriguing “07 Mount Shield Lens”.

It’s best described as a body cap (I guess the Japanese called this a mount shield) with a tiny fixed lens in it.

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Focal length is fixed (like the 01 Standard Prime), this time at 11.5mm (63.5mm equivalent on the Q).

The aperture is fixed at f/9. So no need to adjust aperture.

And the focus is fixed (at a guess, around 0.5m), so no need to focus. With the relatively small f/9 aperture, Pentax claims this allows objects between 0.3m and 2m to be in focus. More of the reality of this later.

This means with the 07 lens on the Q I’ve taken a further couple of leaps into irreversible territory.

Essentially I choose either my preset b/w or muted colour mode, leave ISO fixed at ISO800, then compose, and shoot.

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What makes the 07 lens even more appealing is the size and weight.

It protrudes no further from the camera than the front Quick Dial, so adds no extra depth to the camera body. And it weighs 8g.

Mounted on the Q the combined weight is a shade over 200g, even lighter than the Ricoh GRD III, and smaller in every dimension.

Also, because it has no lens cap, it’s even quicker to shoot with, as well as more compact to keep held in your hand.

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Now all of these pluses would be redundant if the lens was rubbish in the final image.

Obviously it’s not pitted against the, in comparison, incredibly sophisticated 01 Prime lens, and placed amongst the “toy” lenses in the Q range (along with the fish eye, toy lens wide and toy lens tele). So I wasn’t expecting miracles.

For me, aside from the joy in the simplicity of setting up and using the lens on the Q, what the final images may lack in conventional terms of measure like sharpness or IQ (I don’t even know what this means – whether a lens is smart enough to qualify for Mensa?), it makes up for in abundance with charm and character.

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I love the output from the 07 lens, and the challenge of finding its best uses.

Initial playing suggests that if you’re up close and everything in the frame is within 0.3 – 2m, it’ll all look pretty sharp centrally, with increasing blur around the edges.

Start shooting beyond 2m, or something closer with the background far beyond 2m, and you start to get a kind of dreamy alternative world appearing, combined with the feeling that you’re being sucked into the centre of it.

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The 07 lens isn’t for everyone, in fact I would expect the majority seeing the results here will dismiss it as lo-fi, next to useless toy.

But for me, the ridiculously small size, immediacy in use, absence of any unnecessary frills, and abundance of character of the images, make it a lens I know I’ll be using extensively in the coming weeks and months.

How do you feel about irreversible photography, or indeed the Pentax Q, if you have one?

Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

29 thoughts on “Irreversible Photography Gets Quter – Pentax Q 07 Shield Mount Lens”

  1. That Q looks plenty pocketable with the 07 lens. Looks like you’re having a grand time exploring that lens’s limits.

    The more I consider small mirrorless cameras the more I gravitate toward the Olympus OM-D. It’s just a little too big to slip into my front pants pocket, which would be a bummer after being able to do that with my Canon S95 all these years. But a buddy of mine shoots one, including some pro work, and the JPEGs he gets straight from the camera are astonishing.

    1. Thanks Jim, yes it’s very pocketable, and very compact in the hand too, especially with the 07 lens, but even with the 01 Standard Prime lens it’s not much bigger. Nothing like having a DSLR swinging around your neck.

      Mirrorless is definitely worth exploring. What I struggled with when I had a Sony NEX was that once you used an adapter for vintage lenses, it wasn’t any less deep in dimensions than a DSLR , so not pocketable. With a pancake native Sony lens I’m sure it could be.

      With the Pentax Q although it doesn’t have quite the performance of a DSLR plus great M42 or K mount lens (like the lovely K10D), it performs well enough for my needs, and the compactness and fun factor is a worthwhile exchange in my view for the slight loss of “quality”.

      Plus I’ve really come to appreciate smaller sensors, what to watch out for (highlight clipping!) and how to manipulate the depth of field. With a DSLR if you want deep DOF you usually have to go to f/8 or f/11. Then you can be struggling with slow shutter speeds. With the Q and 01 Prime I rarely stray from wide open (f/1.9).

      I probably shouldn’t mention that the Q can be adapted to a bunch of other lenses, including Pentax K, though you need to remember the 5.6x crop factor. In other words a 35mm K mount lens will give approximately a 200mm field of view on the Q.

      There’s quite a following of photographers that use the Q like this for super telephoto work, like birds etc. A very sharp 50mm becomes 280mm field of view on the Q and a 135mm becomes 756mm!!

  2. Hi Dan,

    Glad that your liking the Pentax Q range…. I told you it was a very versatile camera…and very usable in the field….it really is a very underrated set up…. some say the crop factor of 5.6 isnt easy to work with, but for me I use this to my advantage…. as like you say 135mm becomes 756mm…. just imagine the cost of a 750mm lens…. put on a 135 takumar and the world’s your oyster…
    I’m so glad you went for a Q…. welcome to the Q club….

    BR Lynd

    1. Yes you were right Lynd, fantastic little things. I’m holding back on the adapter for now, not least of all because I’m very happy with the results of the 01 and 07 lenses. Debating whether I want something wider or longer. If longer, maybe the K adapter is a good bet. I already have 24, 35, 50, 55, 58, 105 and 135 K and/or M42 lenses which would cover an insane tele range on the Q, something like 135-750mm! If wider (more likely, it just seems to make more sense shooting wider with compacts, like the 28mm of the Ricoh GRD) then either the 02 zoom (affordable) or the 08 wide zoom (how much?!) are the options… If I did get the wide though, covering 21-32.5mm, it might even put the Ricohs out of business…

  3. Hi Dan, No, but remember that a friend who loves Pentax was raving about his. He appreciates how compact and easy to carry it is. When I see him in May I must ask him for more details. I have a sweet Panasonic LX-7 that is nice and small. I have spent the last several years reading and re-reading the book that goes with it, and I feel like I am finally figuring out how it works. I usually use a film camera or my phone because they are simple for me to use.

    1. Oh I was looking at the Panasonic Lumix before I got the Q, almost bought an LX-3. But it was too similar in spec to my Ricoh GX100, and bigger, so I decided to look for something more different. The LX series have very good reviews though.

      Sometimes it’s worth reading the manual, just to be able to set a camera up once how you want it, then save that as a custom/user setting and from then on you need only tweak very few settings.

  4. Well, I am not to familiar with any digital cameras, and the manual was pretty sketchy, so I had to get a book.
    Thanks to that and tips picked up from your blog I was able to set it up pretty well. The lens is really nice. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Jon, that’s great to hear! Oh and yes I’ve heard very good things about the lenses on all Lumix. Something to do with Leica or something, don’t know who they are or what their history is… : )

      Let us know if you have photos online anywhere…

  5. Yes I’ve been using my new Lumix GX7 in a similar way; I usually just stick to the Dramatic Monochrome and Expressive art filters and overexpose by 1-2 stops, and I have an body cap lens for it as well, the Olympus 9mm f8. It’s my favourite setup at the moment. I also have an adaptor so I can use my Nikon fit lenses with it. I stopped using Photoshop and lightroom to edit photos over 6 months ago, moved over to VSCO and Snapseed, and now I only use those for photos I take with my D300 (which I rarely shoot with!). Other than the Lumix, I mostly shoot film, and I let my lab do all the processing, I like what they do to my photos so I never edit my scans.

    1. Sounds very similar to me in a number of ways, especially moving towards minimal or zero processing.

      I used to think that in camera filters etc were too fake and gimmicky but with the Pentax Q they give me results I really like, especially the Bold Monochrome and Bleach Bypass options.

      How do you find the Nikon lenses on the Lumix? Are they 2x crop factor? I like the idea of getting an adapter that makes use of lenses you already have, so I’m considering a Pentax K mount adapter for the Q so I could use my K mount and M42 (via an additional M42 > K adapter I already have).

      1. Yep it’s 2x. Very handy, means my 50mm makes a nice compact telephoto 🙂 and my Sigma 24mm focuses down to 0.18m so it’s a great all around option if I don’t want to take out the huge macro lens. The focus peaking feature works really well so I don’t feel like I’m missing out without autofocus.

        1. Incredible all the Frankenstein options available to us these days with adapters… on the one hand I find it intriguing and exciting, but in the other hand I just love the simplicity and directness and calm of using one camera and one lens it was designed for…

          1. I agree, I prefer using an actual M4/3 lens on my GX7. I’m in two minds about whether to sell my Nikon gear. If I do, I’ll definitely get a macro lens that works fully with the Lumix. If I don’t, I probably will still buy one anyway but can’t afford it right now, so it’s handy being able to use the Nikon ones until I can.

          2. Yeh I just did all that Frankenlens stuff for about four years with my Sony NEX and it was a relief to just use say a Pentax K film camera with a Pentax K lens and forget about all the adapters and crop factors and awkward handling etc.

            I really love this about the Pentax Q, it was designed as a whole system for scratch.

            I’m thinking even with my Pentax DSLR stuff (where’s there’s still the crop factor issue with their APS-C sensors) if I even sold a few bits I would then get the wide angle zoom they do for the Pentax Q and I really wouldn’t need any other lens for it – or on any other camera.

  6. Another Q enthusiast! I love my Qs, I have most of the lenses although I don’t have the 07 lens. This post may make me change my mind about it. I really enjoy the 03 fisheye, especially for extreme close-ups (minimum focusing distance is 1 inch from the front of the lens), it give a really interesting perspective. I’ve also been using some older CCTV C-mount lenses with it, a vintage Cosimcar 25mm f1.4 is a good starting point for experimentation. The Pentax 110 lenses (with their original close-up lenses) is also a good way to do practical macro on a budget. You have to fit a stop into the adapter (simple rubber washer) to reduce the aperture a little to get best results.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks Stephen. I love that 07 lens. I was out at the weekend with the 01 Prime, which I also love, but after a while it was just too much control, too complex. I switched to the 07, b/w and ISO800 and focused purely on pointing and shooting. Such a liberating experience with the already tiny Q and this ridiculously compact lens.

      I am slightly curious about the other “toy” lenses, but want to get to know the 01 and 07 inside first. Plus the next lens that appeals most is the 08 wide zoom. Which costs about as much as all the others put together!

      I have been looking at 110 lenses – I actually had one with three lenses maybe 18 months ago but never got around to shooting any film with it.

      Not sure how useful the lenses will be for me with the crop factor, even the 18mm I think will equate to 100mm equivalent field of view, which is a bit long for what I like with compacts.

  7. I’ve got the 08, it is great, but you have to be ready to embrace the ultra wide concept.
    The 110 lenses are tricky as well. I use the 50mm a lot, but there is a learning curve. It is nice to have a long lens that still has some depth of field, the lack of adjustable stops makes it a natural for your “irreversible photography” concept.

  8. I love the Q’s ability to directly output that contrasty B&w at the turn of a knob. In case you did not know, there are possibilities to modify the 07 to far focus. Combined with the out of the box blurry edges are wonderful and now getting it to focus further away makes it a lens I will always have nearby my Q no matter what.

    1. Thanks for your input, I took the Q out for the first time in about a month yesterday, and conclude that it really is a DSLR killer for my needs, with the 47mm f/1.9. Then yes of course there’s the intriguing 07 lens which makes it even smaller. Do you have more info on the further focus hack?

    1. Very interesting, thank you for the link. I will have a play with my 07 in the coming days and report back. The limitation out of the box is not so much the close focus but the range of focus. You can get things surprisingly sharp, but the DOF is shallow. This mod appears to increase the sweet spot of focus and the DOF. I hadn’t consider unmounting it a few mm to get closer, though I’ve done this with other lenses on cameras in the past, as well as freelensing, so thanks for the reminder of these techniques too!

    2. I figured it out, the three plastic tabs were kind of melted/glued in so you had to break the seal on them, then it popped out. Will experiment over the coming days with the modded 07!

      1. Sorry only just saw your replies now. Yup you worked out the breaking of the 3 hot glue segments. The lens element only needs to be ever so slightly eased out from its original fully seated position to get more DOF as you say. I sugest a dab of glue to secure the lens element once happy with it’s position. Otherwise a sharp knock could unseat it. If you want it back to the original focus behavior, its easy disassemble and to push it all the way in again before securing again. Note somebody commented that they mixed up the direction when reinserting the lens and could not get it to focus. If you have an issue, try flipping the lens over.
        Can’t wait to see what your results are!

        1. Thanks, I might have flipped it over inadvertently!

          I got some fairly interesting shots, the focus was almost random and there was more swirl in the background.

          I’ve pushed it back in a little and it’s now focusing far better, though slightly further away from its original range I’d say.

          It’s also got me wondering about removing the lens and replacing (temporarily) with something out of another camera, a cheap plastic film camera for example.

          An ongoing experiment!

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