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12-27-2013, 07:21 PM   #1
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What next for Pentax Q?

Yesterday I started a thread about the 2013 sales data for Japan in the industry forum. One of the most interesting aspects was that Q models gave Ricoh/Pentax a 9.8% share of the market, pushing them just above Nikon 1 and Canon M. You can see the original data at this link.

2013??????????????????????????3??????

What is not shown here is the lens sales, but throughout the year, Q lenses have been selling considerably better than K lenses according to the same same BCN data. At one point in the year (summer, after the release of the Q7), they had three lenses in the top 10. The lenses that sold best were the 01 Prime, the 06 Telephoto and the Fisheye. So the idea that Q users just stick with the kit lens is not right.

This made me think about what it could mean for the Q system in future. It seems assured that there will be a successor to the Q7 and that Pentax will continue to develop lenses for it. I also think that Pentax will release a high-end model, above the Q7. There are some obvious ways it could be differentiated - build, better screen/EVF, new sensor, battery, etc.

In my opinion, Pentax should come out with a faster standard zoom, a wide-angle prime (developed from the GRD IV's lens) and a longer telephoto, to take advantage of the tele centric nature of small sensors. Another speculation on my part is that I think a third party will start to make lenses for Q. My money is on Kenko-Tokina or Tamron.

I think CP+ in Yokohama in Febriary would be the most likely timing for more Q news. What does everything think?

12-27-2013, 08:09 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
In my opinion, Pentax should come out with a faster standard zoom, a wide-angle prime (developed from the GRD IV's lens) and a longer telephoto, to take advantage of the tele centric nature of small sensors.
The roadmap only indicates a telephoto macro:
http://www.ricoh-imaging.co.jp/japan/products/lens/images/Q_Mount_Lens.pdf

For longer telephoto, the adapter is available.

Since the wide-angle zoom appeared,
it could be a while before we see a wide-angle prime,
at least from Pentax.

It would be good to have mass-produced third-party lenses,
as opposed to the artisan Sonnetars from Miyazaki-san.
12-27-2013, 08:31 PM   #3
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I think Ricoh has a different approach to the roadmap. Pentax clearly put things that were nowhere near production on the roadmap, which I think was counter productive. This is especially true for a better standard zoom, which might cause people to stay away from the current standard zoom. I assume that they now have plenty of stuff in development that is not on those roadmaps.

The adapter is only useful if you have K-mount lenses. I can't see the average Q buyer seeing that as a practical solution. At present, the Q is a good alternative to a super zoom camera up 200mm equivalent, but not beyond that.
12-27-2013, 08:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
In my opinion, Pentax should come out with a faster standard zoom, a wide-angle prime (developed from the GRD IV's lens) and a longer telephoto, to take advantage of the tele centric nature of small sensors.
I think the Pentax people do not have a clear idea of what they want the Q series to be. They want to claim that it is designed for both casual users who are looking to have fun (colors, size), but that it is also designed for "serious" photographers (build quality, RAW, manual controls, etc).

For me, the biggest problem is the lens selection. I like my 01, but the barrel distortion is severe. The telephoto zoom seems nice, but I don't have it. Nothing else in the system, in my opinion, is for "serious" photographers. What I mean by that is that nothing else is designed to put image quality first. Everything else is about "fun," or convenience (zooms). What really bugs me is that the standard and wide zooms are almost diffraction limited from wide open. Fast primes would seem to be the solution, and with an image circle this small, you would think they wouldn't be so impossible to offer. They haven't been offered, though. It is really frustrating, considering that I bought my Q because of the promise of having a compact system camera that works like a DSLR. That wide prime looks like a dud (based on specs, which obviously don't tell the whole story).

A fast wide prime and a fast telephoto prime would be wonderful additions to the system. The fact that they haven't been offered makes me think there isn't a single photographer who works for Ricoh who wants to use the Q system and also wants the best image quality possible in their photos.

My brother, who isn't a photographer, received a Q and 02 over a year ago. He sent me a message lately asking me if it is possible to get sharp images from his Q, because he can't figure out how to do it. He can, however, get sharp image from his cell phone. That is unacceptable, in my opinion. Any of the auto modes should be capable of giving him sharp images. Quality control issues with the lens, if they are the culprit, are unacceptable, in my opinion.

12-27-2013, 08:37 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
t would be good to have mass-produced third-party lenses, as opposed to the artisan Sonnetars from Miyazaki-san.
It would be good if Ricoh acted like they give a crap what their customers want.
12-27-2013, 09:22 PM   #6
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According to Ricoh executives in the US, Ricoh Japan views Q as a true growth System platform and have a very real, very detailed long term plan to extend the line. I was shocked last spring to hear Pentax-US ask me to speak about the serious uses of Q after waxing euphoric about the fun aspect, saying I use a serious camera for serious photographs.

Looking at the changed design ethos of Q10/Q7 (polycarbonate body, lower cost, colors) versus the original Q we in the West and Ricoh Imaging-US may suffer from an expectation for Q not shared in the primary Japanese market. I enjoy Q and have given many of them to friends and family members (just this week, in fact), who prefer to use them over a phone for the astonishing flexibility - but only for web posting.

Ricoh Japan might actually be designing the Q System for the customers who are its intended primary buyers.
12-27-2013, 09:23 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by fuent104 Quote
It would be good if Ricoh acted like they give a crap what their customers want.
What if they do - and what if they are listening to the majority of their customers?
12-27-2013, 09:51 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
What if they do - and what if they are listening to the majority of their customers?
Then they, at best, can be said to have accidentally used misleading marketing tactics. Do you remember the advertisement that showed the range of cameras, which included spotmatics and ended with the Q? That want about fun, it was about photographic history. I don't think it included any point and shoot or toy cameras.

12-27-2013, 09:51 PM   #9
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All I really want is touch screen for AF selection, but don't lose any physical control (i.e. going touch screen menu based control like GM1). I'll probably upgrade my Q when that happens.
12-27-2013, 10:02 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by fuent104 Quote
Then they, at best, can be said to have accidentally used misleading marketing tactics. Do you remember the advertisement that showed the range of cameras, which included spotmatics and ended with the Q? That want about fun, it was about photographic history. I don't think it included any point and shoot or toy cameras.
IIRC the original Q was broadly panned as another lame Pentax attempt - along the lines of the K-01. The colors and polycarbonate body - selling them as fun cameras - intentionally changing the marketing tactics to meet the needs of people who actually bought Q - actually listening to their customers seems to have changed the market acceptance of the camera.
12-27-2013, 10:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
IIRC the original Q was broadly panned as another lame Pentax attempt - along the lines of the K-01. The colors and polycarbonate body - selling them as fun cameras - intentionally changing the marketing tactics to meet the needs of people who actually bought Q - actually listening to their customers seems to have changed the market acceptance of the camera.
You are trying to convince me that it is okay that they have abandoned the promise of their original marketing for people, such as myself, who purchased Q cameras because of that promise. it won't work. Further, if I recall, the toy lenses were part of the original release, and they have added only one premium lens since that time (unless we count the slow, wide, variable aperture zoom, which I would not). heck, I don't think they have even added any toy lenses since the original release.

If you can make any argument for why it is good that there are no premium primes primes since the 01, I will be impressed.
12-27-2013, 10:38 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I enjoy Q and have given many of them to friends and family members
The Q is fine for web posting, but it is also fine for making small prints, like most people did. I don't think they are well represented on camera forums like this or social media, but there are still a lot of people who just want a camera to take nice pictures of their family events and travels and print them out. The Q is fine for that and it is small and nicely-designed.

Compared to a standard compact - Better IQ, more versatile, handles more like a traditional camera, is still very small and light.
Compared to an "advanced compact" (1/1.7 and above) - Kit lens is slower, but no other camera in this category has a ultra-wide zoom, a telephoto zoom at f2.8 or the option for a fisheye.
Compared to a superzoom - Bigger sensor, faster at the long end of the 06 zoom, more compact design.
Compared to other MILCs - Smaller, lighter, cheaper.

I think the Q is taking a bit of share from all these categories and the priority is not enthusiasts.

fuent104 - I can see your point about the lack of primes. It should be a priority. But given your understanding of photographic principles (diffraction, etc.) I can't see why you bought a Q in the first place. I don't use a Q myself for those reasons. I'm just happy that Pentax seems to be making a success of it.

Last edited by JPT; 12-27-2013 at 11:09 PM.
12-27-2013, 10:54 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by fuent104 Quote
You are trying to convince me that it is okay that they have abandoned the promise of their original marketing for people, such as myself, who purchased Q cameras because of that promise. it won't work. Further, if I recall, the toy lenses were part of the original release, and they have added only one premium lens since that time (unless we count the slow, wide, variable aperture zoom, which I would not). heck, I don't think they have even added any toy lenses since the original release.

If you can make any argument for why it is good that there are no premium primes primes since the 01, I will be impressed.
Nope. Can't. Ricoh is probably trying to do many things at once with fewer resources than necessary. Ricoh brand is stagnant outside GR, Q, K-mount 3 bodies, 645, Theta, HD coatings. I know Ricoh Imaging was capital-starved from summer 2011 until spring 2013 while Ricoh restructured, and that might have something to do with your laments in both threads.

I believe they changed tactics for Q in response to poor sales of the premium body version. I believe Q was designed for the 1:1.7 sensor and the 1:2.3 sensor was introduced to save some money in version 1. Using a poly body, colors and a better sensor is different marketing tactics. Product decisions that obsolete early adopters happen all the time. That's why many people wait until early majority. I pre-ordered a K-01. I could choose to be upset, but I just used it. I skipped the K5's altogether. Until I got the K3 that gave the best images I've ever taken.

You and I aren't people. We are a cell in a spreadsheet. Blame the Harvard Business School.

FWIW, I started the "Ricoh has a Plan" thing in December 2011 when word on the street was Ricoh was going to attack the pro market with gobs of capital and marketing money and dethrone Canon. In a sense I'm in the same boat you are, except I might only need to admit someday I was wrong on the Internet and never come back.

Things change. It isn't breast cancer. It's only money.

They are going to make a FF camera and a few FF lenses. It will be an excellent camera, different, but it will make a lot of people unhappy because of what it won't be.

I choose to be happy.

Last edited by monochrome; 12-27-2013 at 11:00 PM.
12-27-2013, 11:06 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I believe Q was designed for the 1:1.7 sensor and the 1:2.3 sensor was introduced to save some money in version 1.
I'm not so sure about that. The original Q doesn't look like many corners were cut with it's production. The 1/1.7 sensors of the time couldn't do HD video, so they were faced with an uncomfortable choice: release the camera with a small sensor or release the only MILC system which can't do HD video.
12-27-2013, 11:30 PM   #15
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I can see a high resolution EVF and a higher resolution touch screen on the next Q. That's easy to guess.

The tougher question is what will the next Q camera be called!
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