Looking back at Photokina 2012

Concluding remarks, and what's next?

By PF Staff in Photokina 2012 on Oct 22, 2012
Looking back at Photokina 2012

It has been about a month since the Photokina trade show ended, and over the course of the past several weeks, we posted articles about our findings in a special homepage category dedicated to the event.  We didn't, however, post any concluding remarks, so we will now take the opportunity to do so.  In addition, for those who will be visiting the PhotoPlus trade show in NYC this weekend, consider this a preview of what you'll be seeing there.

Just before Photokina, Pentax made 8 new product announcements in addition to announcing a new premium lens coating called Pentax HD coating.  We summarize them by category below:

Pentax K-Mount DSLRs

Pentax K-5 II

The Pentax K-5 II is the successor to the original Pentax K-5, which was launched in October of 2012.  Only two things are new in this camera: the autofocus system has been improved, and the LCD should now be easier to see while outdoors.

Pentax K-5 IIs

The Pentax K-5 IIs is an industry first for an APS-C camera: it's essentially the same as the K-5 II, but the anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor has been removed, dramatically increasing resolution while risking the presence of moire in certain situations.

Pentax K-Mount Lenses

SMC Pentax 18-270mm

This superzoom is a welcome addition to the Pentax K-mount lens lineup, even though it's nothing more than a re-badged Tamron lens.

HD Pentax 560mm

This weather-sealed professional telephoto lens looks quite impressive, but it's also very expensive.

Pentax Q Mirrorless System

Pentax Q10 Camera

The Q10 is an improved version of the now-discontinued Pentax Q.  It features better image quality, faster autofocus, longer battery life, and new in-camera capabilities.

Pentax Q 15-45mm

This lens is roughly equivalent to a 83-250mm DSLR lens, and makes the Pentax Q system much more versatile.

Pentax Q to K Adapter

With this adapter, you'll be able to mount DSLR lenses on the Pentax Q, allowing you to take extreme macro or extreme telephoto images with ease.

Pentax 645 Medium Format System

Pentax 645 90mm Macro

Pentax's new medium format macro lens is bound to be extremely sharp.  It also features built-in shake reduction, which Pentax wouldn't comment on at Photokina.

These products ended up being the focus at Photokina; nothing else new was announced during the event itself.  So, what can we take away from all this?

We believe that the most important thing we learned at Photokina was that Ricoh listens to its customers.  During our interview with Pentax Ricoh representatives, they eagerly read our report summarizing suggestions form PentaxForums.com users, and we got the impression that many of these suggestions will actually end up being implemented. 

Pentax Q10 vs Pentax K-5

With that said, for the time-being, Pentax Ricoh didn't have very much to impress us with.  After having the K-5 on the market for almost two years, its successor, now referred to as the new Pentax flagship, will feel like that same exact camera in the hands of many users.  We have no doubt that the K-5 IIs's resolution will be among the highest of any APS-C DSLR on the market, but at the same time, we have to keep in mind that image quality is only part of what makes a camera great, and the competition may be able to offer more well-rounded options than this.  Unfortunately, we have to conclude that most users have been waiting for something more than this, especially considering that the recently-announced Pentax K-30 is superior to the K-5 II in many aspects (that's not to say that the new K-5 II won't be successful, though, as it's still as great as the K-5, and much cheaper than its predecessor at launch).

The two new K-mount lenses are both fine additions to the Pentax lens lineup, though the 18-270mm's high price tag of $800 is hardly justifiable given that it's a re-branded Tamron lens that sells for $550 after mail-in rebate for other camera systems.  At $7000, the 560mm is not only outside of the budget of most Pentax users, but it also doesn't seem like a logical choice for someone looking into a new camera system, considering that the most advanced Pentax DSLR isn't in the same "class" (we hope this changes with the introduction of a high-end APS-C camera or a Pentax full-frame, but nothing is known about this at the moment, beyond a statement from Pentax saying that more cameras will be released).

Pentax 560mm

The new 90mm macro for the 645D seemed like an excellent lens, but Pentax would not comment on where the shake reduction system inside it came from.  Could this be indicative of a Pentax Ricoh partnership with other companies?

We believe that the three products added to the Pentax Q system were the most logical announcements: the Q10 is a significant upgrade over the Q, it is much more affordable than the Q was at first, and the new lens and adapter will bring a great deal of versatility to the system.  In short, Pentax is try to recover from the poor launch of the Pentax Q last year, placing an emphasis on the system as a whole rather than on the camera itself.

Pentax HD Coating Demo

Our second-favorite thing at Photokina was the HD coating, which shows that Pentax is moving toward making more premium lenses with a coating that rivals the that of the competition (a "nano" coating similar to the Pentax HD coating has been around in the photo industry for a while now).

Pentax K-5 vs K-5 II LCD

Today, 6 weeks after the original announcement of all these new products, they have yet to start shipping in the US.  The K-5 II has started becoming available in Japan, but on the other side of the ocean, we have yet to see it.  The only thing we can say is that with each passing day, the chances of seing the new camera are getting higher and higher!

Based on what we heard from Pentax representatives, it's clear that a bright future lies ahead for the company, but that doesn't mean that loyal users will continue to be satisfied by empty talk and promises.  With no intro-level or high-end DSLR in the Pentax K-mount system, many old Pentax users are looking at other systems if they haven't already switched.  Pentax Ricoh must act quickly if they wish to seriously rival the other big brands.

For a first-hand look at what we heard from Pentax, you may be interested in watching our interview!

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