PentaxForums.com had the chance to interview Hiraku Kawauchi and Shigeru Wakashiro of Pentax Ricoh Japan at the 2013 CP+ show yesterday. We started off by asking about the status of the Pentax full-frame, and to our surprise, we got a much more definitive answer than we did at Photokina.
Pentax essentially states that they think full-frame is the way to go, and that development of a full-frame camera has been advancing. Wakashiro added that even during Photokina he had mixed feelings about the prospect of making such a camera, but now both he and the company are open to it. The way he phrased this implies that full-frame is about to be a permanent Pentax product line. Although what he said is still subject to interpretation, there is much less uncertainty now than there's ever been before.
Wakashiro also said that while small size is important, the full-frame will also be unique in other ways compared to what's already out there.
Here are the two questions that we asked:
We're sorry to say that we've lost many enthusiasts over the course of the past few months due to compelling full-frame deals from competitors. Do you have any updates about the Pentax full-frame (for the enthusiast community) since Photokina? Are you able to officially confirm that such a product will be released in the future?
You once mentioned that a full-frame Pentax would need to have a unique selling point in order to be marketed. Would you consider in-camera stabilization or a small form factor to be a unique feature in a full-frame DSLR?
Of course we can only speculate about what features the Pentax full-frame will have, but at least now it's practically no longer a question of if, but rather a question of when we will be seeing the full-frame camera. Based on what we know, our best guess would be that the camera will be announced in early 2014 and made available in mid-2014.
Here is the translation/transcript of the CP+ interview clip:
In regard to full-frame cameras, at this point to be honest, even I also thought about whether we should make them or not, but right now I think that we should make them. Even within the company this idea had many opinions on it and some who thought it was a bad idea, but now many people are open to the idea of making full-frame cameras. The development of the technology is advancing and at this point it is being presented.
Small cameras are very important to Pentax, but that’s not what is only unique. Minimizing the cameras is important but having something else is important.
Compare it to the answers we got at Photokina:
Ok, well you know the letter was telling you that although we did not have specific plans of development, we were following and analyzing the possibilities to use full-frame. I would say that we even analyze this more now. But I still cannot tell you about any concrete plan, but definitely it's of course something which is "in the air for the moment", I would say.
Combined with what we heard from Tokina at the show, we are treating yesterday's interview as concrete evidence that a full-frame will be a part of a future Pentax lineup. We all know very well that Nikon's current full-frame offerings are very tempting to enthusiasts (and those of Canon, to an extent), and that many loyal Pentax users will be switching to those systems if they haven't already. However, we remain confident that the Pentax full-frame camera won't make any compromises, thus winning back many fans. After all, it's better late than never!