Photokina 2016 Pentax Interview

By PF Staff in Photokina 2016 on Sep 24, 2016

360-degree view of the Pentax booth (click to pan and zoom)

We had the opportunity to sit down and interview Kazunobu Saiki, one of the Ricoh Imaging representatives at this year's Photokina show.  As there were no new Pentax products on display, we focused on more general matters related to current Pentax- and Ricoh-branded cameras as well as the future direction of the company.

Photokina 2016 is the first major trade show following May's public launch of the Pentax K-1, the company's long-awaited full-frame digital camera.  In addition, we've recently seen a mid-range DSLR (the K-70), the Theta S, a silent-focusing 55-300mm lens, a 4K action camera, and a host of full-frame zooms coming out in the past several months.  Thus, there was no dearth of new gear— just no announcements at this particular show.

From the interview, we learned that the K-1 is doing very well, and that Pentax/Ricoh will continue primarily focusing its efforts on DSLRs and the Theta system.  The company wants its products to be seen as premium offerings with superior performance in terms of still image quality.

The interview was conducted in English.  Some responses have been paraphrased for clarity.  Without further ado:

1. How would you describe the response so far to the Pentax K-1? Has the camera attracted users of other camera brands?

We are very happy to see the result of the Pentax K-1. It has attracted a nice audience, so we can say it's very successful, more than what we expected.  Even today, in some markets including Japan, some customers are still waiting for delivery.

We don't have the exact data, but we've gotten a big response from users of other brands, and some users have gotten the K-1 on top of their existing bodies.  Another trend is a big interest in Limited lenses.  Since some are full-frame compatible, those users go for the K-1 plus the FA Limiteds.  Those more "emotional" customers have been interested in Limiteds from the start.

2. Pentax now has product lines within the medium format, FF, APS-C, VR, action, and mirrorless market segments. Do you feel this diversity has strengthened the position of the brand, and the size of the user base?

At Photokina, we have two separate zones: the DSLRs (K-1 and 645Z) and the Theta section.  We believe these two are real assets of Ricoh/Pentax.  With the traditional cameras we have a visual revolution with framing, whereas with the Theta we get visual revolution beyond the frame.

Within the first category, we have full-frame, medium format, APS-C, compact (GR), and compact mirrorless (Q series).  The many formats are a strong point of Pentax/Ricoh, but the various format may cause a bit of confusion in the market.  Overall, we want to develop all products under one slogan: "premium cameras".  We will continue developing cameras that can be recognized as premium products.

Within the Theta, we are the pioneer and want to be the leader in 360 imaging.

Multi-Brand Photokina 2016 Recap

Dozens of cameras and lenses, but none with a Pentax badge.

By deadwolfbones in Photokina 2016 on Sep 21, 2016

Photokina is the granddaddy of camera industry trade shows, and unlike CES, CP+, and PhotoPlus, it only comes around every other year. That means manufacturers roll out the red carpet, showcasing major updates and exciting new products on a global stage.

Well, some manufacturers, anyway…

The Pentax Booth Report

Report on Pentax-related news at Photokina

By PF Staff in Photokina 2016 on Sep 20, 2016

The Ricoh/Pentax booth at Photokina was located in the same spot as in the previous years. While the booth was quite lavish last time with a waterfall and a wall of colorful cameras, it was more down-to-earth this year.

The centerpiece was the K-1 exhibit, which also presented the K-70, the K-3 II and the K-S2, and had a good-sized stack of K-mount lenses on display.

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

The overall layout consisted of five stations with the K-mount and Theta stations being the most prominent:

  • Professional station with the 645Z, K-1, and GR II
  • Waterproof show case with the current WG-M2 and accessories on display
  • K-mount station
  • Sports optics (binoculars)
  • Theta station with rest area

As in previous years there was also a private area for interviews and for Pentax/Ricoh reps to hang out. 

Before we move on to the various stations let's cut to the chase: What's new and where is Ricoh going? Mr. Kazunobu Saiki, senior manager at Ricoh Japan, was kind enough to show us around and also granted us an interview where we got various questions from our users answered (we will cover the interview in a separate post). Mr Saiki confirmed that there would be no announcements of new Pentax products at Photokina.

The news for this show was the significant firmware upgrade to the K-1, developed in response to user feedback. The most significant new feature is the option of using an electronic front curtain shutter in live view mode. This addresses the issue of soft images due to vibrations from the first shutter curtain, most prevalent at speeds in the range from 1/60s to 1/180s. We tip our hat to Ricoh for addressing this issue. The other improvements are the 1:1 aspect ratio crop mode as was seen on the K-1 prototype, an improvement in the usability of the exposure bracketing feature of the function dial, and a two frame AA filter bracketing option.  The new firmware is slated to be released on September 29th.

While we're happy about and impressed with Ricoh swift response to the shutter vibration issue we would like to see a solution for viewfinder mode as well and we do have some hope that this will be addressed in the future.

The future direction of Ricoh/Pentax is to focus on premium photographic products as well as on the application of these products. In particular, the 360-degree Theta line holds some promise for as of yet unseen applications. It is Ricoh's goal to stay at the forefront technologically. This will all be covered in the interview with Mr. Saiki to be published shortly.

Now for the various product stations. First up is the Professional station (click to enlarge):

The pro station with 645Z, K-1, and the GR

K-mount station

Theta S demo station

Dedicated docking station for Theta S demo

We love those chairs!

The adventure and action products cover sport optics and the WG cameras:

Photokina 2016 Introduction

Report on Pentax-related news at Photokina

By PF Staff in Photokina 2016 on Sep 20, 2016

Photokina is among the world's largest photography-related trade shows. It takes place in Cologne, Germany every other year (on even years). Pentax Forums is of course on site also at the 2016 Photokina and we'll be reporting on Pentax/Ricoh related news, as well as interesting tidbits from other companies.

The previous years saw a press conference the day before the show began so that we could give you an early report on the news. Not so this year, the press tour coincided with the opening day of the trade show. Photokina, or Koelnmesse perhaps, for safety reasons no longer want us to walk the floor while the exhibits are being set up. Nevertheless, we went to the press room to scout for news as did many other folk from the press. There was no product news to be had from Ricoh at this time, though we did get a nice firmware update for the Pentax K-1.

Press room (click to pan and zoom)

While we wait for the show to open we walked across the Hohenzollern bridge and got this shot of the Cologne cathedral which is located next to the bridge and main railway station (click image to enlarge).

Near the cathedral we got hailed by a K-3 shooter and forum member from the UK, who was here for Photokina as well. The Pentax camera strap gave us away!

Pentax K-1 Firmware v1.30 Announced

New features for the K-1

By PF Staff in Photokina 2016 on Sep 20, 2016

Pentax threw a very positive curveball at K-1 owners today by announcing a feature-enhancing firmware update for the full frame.  This update addresses a number of issues that we had identified while reviewing the camera.

  • Electronic Front Curtain Shutter in Live View
    EFCS can now be selected.  This will help alleviate shake that otherwise induces a slight degree of blur at shutter speeds in the 1/90-1/180s range.

  • 1:1 Crop Mode
    Originally found on the K-1 prototype, the square crop mode has made a return.

  • Function Dial BKT Quality-of-life Improvement
    You can now go back to single-shot mode while BKT is selected on the Function Dial.  This is a big time-saver, as previously, you had to enter the menu or turn the Function Dial to another setting to exit bracketing.

  • 2-frame AA Simulator Bracketing
    You can now choose to bracket for only the Type 2 AA filter simulator setting.

The most significant feature is the electronic shutter option, as this can be a must-have for certain applications.

We will make a separate post in the firmware updates category once the firmware becomes available for download.  It is expected on September 29th.

Update 9/29: the new firmware is now available here.

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