HD Pentax D FA★ 50mm F1.4 Coming Soon

A high-performance standard prime lens

By PF Staff in Pentax Announcements on Feb 22, 2017

Ricoh Imaging has unveiled a prototype D FA★ 50mm F1.4 lens, previously roadmapped as the "wide-aperture standard" prime.  This lens will be on display at CP+ 2017, which kicks off on Thursday at the usual location near Tokyo.  We will be interviewing Ricoh Imaging representatives at the show.

The new D FA★ 50mm is slated to replace the 25-year-old FA 50mm F1.4.  Unlike its predecessor, it prioritizes image quality over compactness, and thus reminds us of the acclaimed Sigma 50mm F1.4 "Art" which was not produced in the Pentax mount.

D FA★ 50mm F1.4 mock-up (click to enlarge)

Only a few concrete details have been revealed about this lens:

  • Tentative name: D FA★ 50mm F1.4,
  • Image circle: full frame
  • Star series: high resolution, high contrast, smooth bokeh

Based on the mock-up photo, though, we can see that the lens will feature silent autofocus— most likely DC, as SDM has seemingly been retired in new Pentax designs.  As a premium star-series lens, we can also expect it to have weather sealing (All Weather), the HD coating, and full time manual focus override (Quick Shift) just like the existing lenses.

Views of the lens mock-up at CP+ 2017:

Four other full-frame lenses are currently roadmapped.  For reference, we provide last year's road map below:

Pentax KP Officially Announced

A high-performance APS-C body with ISO 819,200

By PF Staff in Pentax Announcements on Jan 25, 2017

Ricoh Imaging has officially announced the Pentax KP, the latest high-performance APS-C DSLR camera with a focus on compactness.  The KP boasts an all-new body design with interchangeable hand grips in three different sizes, new e-dial positions, and an updated user interface. 

Moreover, the KP is designed to deliver the best available image quality within the APS-C format: it packs a new 24.32 megapixel APS-C sensor with ISOs up to 819,200 thanks in part to an "image accelerator unit" coupled with the PRIME IV image processor.  In addition, the KP inherits 5-axis Shake Reduction II from the Pentax K-1 flagship.  While the mechanical shutter is limited to 1/6000s, the shutter speed can be increased to 1/24000s in live view.  Finally, the camera has received some intriguing new functions, such as depth of field (aperture) and motion (shutter speed) bracketing.

To recap, some of the KP's new features include:

  • Depth of field bracketing, something that macro shooters in particular will appreciate
  • Motion bracketing
  • Electronic shutter topping out at 1/24,000s
  • Very high ISO

Pre-Order - Black:

Pre-Order - Silver

A tilting LCD screen (similar to that of the 645Z), on-board flash, and built-in Wi-Fi add to the KP's everyday usability.  The KP has a user friendly interface with five USER mode settings on the exposure dial and three control wheels like on the K-1. It also has a pre-programmed HDR mode. Many users will probably appreciate that a built-in flash is back, albeit at the expense of built-in GPS. The GPS functionality and iconic Pentax astrotracer can easily be obtained through the O-GPS1 accessory, though.

Like the Pentax K-3 II, the KP features Pixel Shift Resolution, ultrasonic Dust Removal II, 27-point SAFOX 11 autofocus, and a 86K-pixel metering sensor.  Similar to all other current Pentax DSLRs, the KP is of course weather-sealed and packs a large optical viewfinder with 100% field coverage.

To reduce weight, the KP uses the D-Li109 battery.  This combined with its body design means that the overall weight is about 100g less than the K-3 II (643g empty / 703g loaded and ready).  Users who need more endurance can pair the KP with the optional D-BG7 battery grip that can use both the D-Li109 and larger D-Li90.

The Pentax KP is expected to start shipping on February 23rd, 2017.  It will retail for $1099 in the US, €1299 in the EU, $1499 CAD in Canada, £1099 in the UK, and ¥137,700 in Japan.  Color options include Black and Silver.

For users who have been waiting for the next Pentax APS-C flagship, small hints suggest that the KP is in fact not a direct replacement for the K-3 II. While the KP is more sophisticated than the K-3 II in core imaging areas, it has a smaller burst buffer, slower mechanical shutter, slower burst rate, single card slot, and smaller battery.  It also doesn't use the latest SAFOX 12 autofocus system that debuted in the K-1 last year, nor does it incorporate any advancements in video. We do not currently know if the KP has a full magnesium alloy body. All this suggests that it's possible that Pentax will release a high-speed, fully-featured APS-C body for users who focus on moving subjects and sports.  Pentax is thus back to a 4-body DSLR lineup, which we believe is important for the company to remain competitive within a shrinking market.

Visit our Pentax DSLR comparison tool to compare the KP to other Pentax models, or discuss the camera in our new Pentax KP forum.

Pentax KP at a Glance

Below are the KP's highlights as we see them:

  • 24 megapixels, ISO 819,200
  • 7 FPS burst
  • Built-in 5 axis Shake Reduction
  • Several bracketing modes: DOF, motion, AA filter, exposure
  • Tilting LCD screen
  • Pixel Shift Resolution with motion correction
  • External mic input
  • Weather-sealed, outdoor-friendly monitor
  • Three control wheels
  • Compact body with grips in three sized to choose from
  • Optional battery grip
  • Wi-Fi
  • Built-in flash
  • 27-point AF system inherited from the K-3 II
  • Pentaprism viewfinder, 100% coverage

Overall, the KP promises to deliver exceptional still image quality thanks to the latest Pentax technologies.  In a statement posted on January 26th, Ricoh describes the KP as a "mid class" camera, so it is being positioned between the Pentax K-70 and the flagship line.

Pentax KP Key Specifications

Sensor
Sensor Resolution 24.32 MP
Sensor Size APS-C
AA Filter No, AA Filter Simulator available
Super Resolution Yes, Pixel Shift Resolution
ISO Range
100-819,200
Bit Depth 14
Image Capture
Shutter Speeds 30s-1/6000s (up to 1/24,000s with electronic shutter)
(up to 300s in Astrotracer mode)
(up to 20 minutes selectable in Bulb mode)
Stabilization 5 axis sensor-shift Shake Reduction
Light Meter 86K RGB sensor
Max Frame Rate (buffer) 7 fps (28 JPG, 8 RAW)
Focusing
AF System and Modes * SAFOX 11: 27-point phase detect (25 cross-type)
   w/ AF.S, AF.C

* Live View: contrast AF
* AF assist LED
AF Sensitivity -3 to 18 EV
Focus Peaking Yes
Movie Mode
Video Mode 1080i: 60/50 fps
1080p: 30/25/24 fps
720p: 60/50 fps
Interval movie: 4K

Electronic stabilization


MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (.MOV)
Clips up to 4GB / 25 minutes
AF During Video AF.S or AF.C
AF.C supported w/DC and PLM lenses
Video Sound External stereo mic input

Stereo mic built-in
Flash
Built-in Flash Yes
Flash Sync. 1/180 s
Hot Shoe Yes
General
Viewfinder Pentaprism, 100% coverage, 0.95x magnification
Interchangeable focusing screen
LCD 3.0-inch, 921,000 dot
3:2 aspect ratio
Tilting design
Outdoor view setting
Red light illumination function
Processing Engine PRIME IV w/ accelerator unit
Weather Sealed Yes
Battery D-LI109 rechargeable
Battery Grip Optional, D-BG7 w/ D-LI109 and D-LI90 trays
Media Slot(s) 1 SDXC / SDHC / SD (UHS-I)
Wi-Fi
Built-in
GPS Via O-GPS1
Connectivity USB 2.0, HDMI out (SlimPort adapter required)
Tethering Support Wireless tethering
w/ Image Sync
Dimensions (WxHxD) 131.5 x 101.0 x 76.0 mm
Weight
703g with battery and SD card
643g empty
Colors Black, Black/Silver
US Launch Price (Body)
$1099

Full specifications for the KP are available in our camera database.

Ricoh R Debuts 360-Degree Video Streaming

Specialized camera and software for spherical video streaming

By PF Staff in Pentax Announcements on Jan 4, 2017

Ricoh has unveiled the latest development in its Theta line of 360-degree cameras at this year's CES show in Las Vegas.  The new Ricoh R is the industry's first camera capable of long-term continuous streaming of spherical video.  Recording can be carried out for up to 24 hours thanks to an AC adapter, stand, and dedicated PC connection via USB and HDMI.

More importantly, the Ricoh R will come with a software development kit (SDK) giving programmers full access to process and display the camera's video in custom computer applications.  This will make 360 video far more accessible than it has ever been, and it secures Ricoh's spot at the forefont of innovation within 360-degree photography and videography.

Ricoh R connected to power adapter and PC

While the Ricoh R has a form factor very similar to the popular Theta S and Theta SC spherical cameras that we recently reviewed (designed for hand-hend photography and shorter video clips), its mission is entirely different: it focuses primarily on continous video streaming. The underlying lenses are the same, and the output video resolution is 2K at 30FPS.

Interestingly, the Ricoh R does not appear to be marketed by Ricoh Imaging, but rather the parent company, Ricoh Inc.  The model on display at CES was a prototype; market availability is expected in the Spring of 2017.

We will post an update once the full specifications of the camera are released.  Until then, you can learn more about on the R's official web site, http://ricohr.ricoh/en/.

Ricoh Theta SC Officially Announced

New compact 360-degree camera

By PF Staff in Pentax Announcements on Oct 12, 2016

Ricoh Imaging has just announced the fourth model in the rapidly evolving Theta spherical camera lineup: the new Theta SC is a 360-degree camera with similar hardware to what we saw in the Theta S, albeit in a smaller form factor.

The Theta S, which started shipping earlier this year, represented the next step forward for the Theta lineup.  It delivered a 14-megapixel resolution— a considerable improvement over the 6 megapixels of previous models— alongside wireless live view and streaming video.

According to the press release, the Theta SC is a mid-range model positioned between the current Theta S and the outgoing Theta m15.  More specifically, it appears that the Theta SC simply makes all the Theta S features available at a lower price point of just $299, with only one change compared to the S: no HDMI out.  If we were to guess, this means that a new "flagship" model will be rearing its head in the coming months.  In the meantime, the Theta SC will carry on as a highly-capable offering for those who want to take the Theta system for a spin (no pun intended).

Order the Theta SC on Amazon

Alongside this new camera model, Ricoh will soon be launching an updated model app to further streamline the spherical shooting and sharing process.

Learn more about the Theta's capabilities in the Theta S Review

The Theta produces standard .JPG files which can be viewed conventionally or interactively via a 3D viewer (such as theta360.com, the Theta app, or third-party solutions). Our forum supports spherical image sharing: any link to a photo on theta360.com will automatically be converted into a widget similar to the one below.

We recently used the Theta S to cover this year's Photokina trade show.  We feel that the interactivity of these images takes event photography to a new level:

360-degree view of the Pentax booth taken with the Theta S (click to pan and zoom)

While the Theta S seems to continue being underrepresented amount our Pentax community, this innovative camera managed to make it to Amazon's best-seller spot within the compact camera category, and continues flying high within that market segment amidst declining interest in conventional compact cameras.  The Theta is popular not only in the US, but also Europe and Japan.

The Theta SC will be available in four colors: white, red, blue, and beige. 

Plan to get a Theta SC?  Leave a user review and tell us how you like it!

Read on for the full press release as well as product photos.

Pentax K-70 Officially Announced

Advanced entry-level DSLR with video AF improvements

By PF Staff in Pentax Announcements on Jun 8, 2016

Ricoh Imaging has just officially announced the Pentax K-70, an advanced yet affordable weather-sealed DSLR slated to succeed the Pentax K-50 (now discontinued) and K-S2.  In terms of specifications, this new camera is very similar to the K-S2, though it also debuts a few new autofocus technologies and inherits advanced features from the K-3 II, including a 24-megapixel sensor resolution and Pixel Shift support. 

The K-70 is being launched at $649 in the US— well below its predecessors a highly competitive even with enthusiast models.   The increased feature set available at a lower price point suggests a shift in the camera market to which Pentax is adapting very well.  Gone are the days of basic DSLRs!

Like most Pentax DSLRs, the K-70 is fully weather-sealed and designed for outdoor use.  The articulating LCD has a new red light mode to allow you to adjust your vision to the darkness while out photographing stars.  It also has an outdoor view setting that can greatly brighten/dim the backlight as needed.

The key addition to the K-70 is a hybrid live view/video autofocus system that includes phase detection AF points on the sensor.  This will enable faster live view/video autofocus without the guesswork typical of contrast detect systems.  Ultimately, the main benefit is that focusing on moving objects while in live view will be more reliable, and AF during video recording will be more responsive.  Previous Pentax DSLRs struggled in this respect.  Like more advanced bodies, the K-70 has an external mic port as well as HDMI out.  These combined with the AF improvements make it without question the most capable Pentax body to date for video.

To help showcase the improved autofocus for video, Pentax has also launched the HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED WR PLM, which debuts new Pulse Motor autofocus as well as an electromagnetic aperture diaphragm (learn more about these features in the lens announcement).  When paired with this 55-300mm lens, the DA 18-135mm kit lens, or any lens with a DC motor, the K-70 offers continuous autofocus in video mode.

The K-70's three USER modes are pre-programmed for "clear tone", "HDR landscape", and "astrophotography", though they can be fully customized just like on any other Pentax.

Another handy feature among the software tweaks made to the K-70 is a timer setting in Bulb mode, which allows the user to enter a shutter speed up to 20 minutes without having to press the shutter button again to end the exposure.

Finally, the maximum sensitivity has been increased to ISO 102,400 and thus it's possible that the K-70 has a tweaked sensor compared to the K-3 II.  Unlike other sub-flagship models, the K-70 does capture 14-bit RAW files.

Visit our Pentax DSLR comparison tool to compare the K-70 to other Pentax models, or discuss the camera in our new Pentax K-70 forum.

A shipping date for the K-70 will be announced in July, though the camera is already available for pre-order.  The K-70 is available as a body only or in a bundle with the DA 18-135mm WR for $899- a $250 savings over regular retail for the lens.

Pentax K-70 at a Glance

Below are the K-70's highlights as we see them:

  • New hybrid live view/video AF system with phase detection
  • Supports electromagnetic aperture control for smooth video adjustments
  • Pixel Shift Resolution with motion correction
  • External mic input
  • Weather-sealed
  • Outdoor-friendly monitor illumination
  • Dual control wheels
  • Large grip, compact body
  • Affordable price
  • Features from the K-S2: articulating LCD, Wi-Fi, external LEDs, face-lifted menus
  • Features from the K-3 II: 24-megapixel resolution, 4.5 stops of Shake Reduction compensation

Overall, the K-70 promises to deliver an enjoyable user experience and high performance for both still photography and video shooting, all in a rugged weather-sealed body with an intuitive user interface.

Pentax K-70 Key Specifications

Sensor
Sensor Resolution 24 MP
Sensor Size APS-C
AA Filter No, AA Filter Simulator available
Super Resolution Yes, Pixel Shift Resolution
ISO Range
100-102,400
Bit Depth 14
Image Capture
Shutter Speeds 30s-1/6000s
(up to 300s in Astrotracer mode)
(up to 20 minutes selectable in Bulb mode)
Stabilization Sensor-shift Shake Reduction (4.5 stops)
Light Meter 77-segment
Max Frame Rate (buffer) H: 6.0 fps (40 JPG, 10 RAW)
L: 3.0 fps (100 JPG, 16 RAW)
Focusing
AF System and Modes * SAFOX X: 11-point phase detect (9 cross-type)
   w/ AF.S, AF.C

* Live View: contrast hybrid AF (new)
* AF assist LED
AF Sensitivity -3 to 18 EV
Focus Peaking Yes
Movie Mode
Video Mode 1080i: 60/50 fps
1080p: 30/25/24 fps
720p: 60/50 fps
Interval movie: 4K

Electronic stabilization


MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (.MOV)
Clips up to 4GB / 25 minutes
AF During Video Yes, contrast hybrid AF

AF.S or AF.C
AF.C supported w/DC and PLM lenses

Video Sound External stereo mic input

Stereo mic built-in
Flash
Built-in Flash Yes
Flash Sync. 1/180 s
Hot Shoe Yes
General
Viewfinder Pentaprism, 100% coverage, 0.95x magnification
Interchangeable focusing screen
LCD 3.0-inch, 921,000 dot
3:2 aspect ratio
Vari-angle design
Outdoor view setting
Red light illumination function
Processing Engine PRIME M II
Weather Sealed Yes
Battery D-LI109 rechargeable
Media Slot(s) 1 SDXC / SDHC / SD (UHS-I)
Wi-Fi
Built-in
GPS Via O-GPS1
Connectivity USB 2.0, HDMI out,
cable release CS-310 via mic terminal
Tethering Support Wireless tethering
w/ Image Sync
Dimensions (WxHxD) 125.5 x 93.0 x 74.0 mm
Weight
688g with battery and SD card
Colors Black, Silver
US/UK Launch Price (Body)
$649 / £559

Full specifications for the K-70 are available in our camera database.

These specifications do leave a number of questions unanswered, including the availability of focus peaking during recording, nature of the new hybrid AF, and the way video aperture control works.  We will investigate these points in our upcoming in-depth review of the K-70.

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