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11-26-2013, 02:20 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Design critique -- K-01 and the (RED) Leica M

As you may have heard, the (RED) Leica M designed by Apple's Jony Ive and our Marc Newson for the (RED) auction at Sothebys brought in $1.8 million on Saturday Nov. 23rd. Their very special one -off Leica, featuring a body drilled with thousands of very small holes, is being hailed as the ultimate camera design statement.

But is it? I would, instead, nominate Newson's K-01 -- specifically, the white body with black buttons-and-grip -- as the epitome of the design philosophy that he and Ive espoused on last week's Charlie Rose PBS interview show. Simplicity of design... paring down the controls to the bare minimum needed... to the essence of what a camera really is. And that's the K-01, since it is so much more ergonomic (and easier to clean) than the Leica. The K-01 is a joy to hold, a pleasure to use... it lets you just take pictures without unneeded complexity. And that's good design.

As I see it, Newson hit a home run with the K-01 project. Not just a handmade one-off for a charity auction -- a modification to a previously existing design. No. With the K-01, Pentax and Newson made the same sort of design statement that Ive made with the Apple products. Clean, simple, well thought out. But where Apple was entering a smartphone and tablet market with zero tradition, Pentax was up against the expectations for camera design that went back to the turn of the last century. As in -- black body, maybe with a silver top plate and lens barrel... and as many knobs, dials, and buttons as possible, to proclaim the 'professional' nature of the product.

Poor Pentax. Tradition! Easier to bring a miniscule Smart Car to market than to introduce a quality camera by a top-rate designer. Sad for Pentax, but what a deal for us!

One last note. Does function follow form? Seems to, for the K-01... take a minute to compare RAW or JPG images, say at ISO 400 or higher, K-01 vs Leica M9, at the DPreview site... shocking difference. Maybe they should hire Newson to do the M10!

Below, the (RED) Leica M. Clean all those thousands of micro-drilled case holes with an old toothbrush? Try to find the right button in the dark? Well, no. But if you were the $1.8 million buyer, you probably have someone already assigned to clean it, and maybe take pictures for you too.

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11-26-2013, 04:21 AM   #2
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I think I'd really like a K-01. Especially with some nice compact lens. It'd be nice to toss that into a pocket for a Disney day.
11-26-2013, 07:09 AM   #3
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It reminds me of a transistor radio from the early '70s. it would probably be cool as an ultra-compact, but the lens ruins the sleek pocketability.
11-26-2013, 08:16 AM   #4
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I agree. Its just that a name like Nikon, or even more so Leica, will automatically give a product recognition and respect. Even if it isn't that great of a product. But hey, great that they got money for charity..

11-26-2013, 08:33 AM - 1 Like   #5
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To my eyes, that Red Leica just looks like a knockoff of the Werra:

11-26-2013, 08:45 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jon404 Quote
And that's the K-01, since it is so much more ergonomic (and easier to clean)
Well, I got a bloodstain on my yellow one (don't ask how),
and I can tell you that it is not that easy to clean!
11-26-2013, 09:49 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jon404 Quote
The K-01 is a joy to hold, a pleasure to use... it lets you just take pictures without unneeded complexity. And that's good design.
I agree, but Pentax is a minor product in a niche market... if Canon or Nikon had put the K-01 out it would've been hyped and praised, etc., because it would've found the mass audience that rewards the simple=better ethos. I had a few relatives and colleagues who were in the market for a camera and pointed them towards the K-01, and they absolutely love it, but these were people who never would have found it on their own - they would have bought a Rebel from Best Buy or Costco.

We tend to pooh-pooh and guffaw the K-01, but we (and, in the case of misplaced marketing, Pentax/Ricoh) miss the point - it's a brilliant camera for the 'non-enthusiast' that was peddled to persnickety enthusiasts and professionals.
11-26-2013, 04:14 PM   #8
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I've never seen any Pentax in a major big box store. It would be nice to see them in Best Buy, etc.

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