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05-18-2012, 11:03 PM   #1
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Pentax's mirrorless strategy

From the information we have to hand, what can we glean about Pentax's strategy for MILC? The current lineup seems like a flanking movement, with the Q staking out the bottom end in terms of size and IQ, and the K mount bodies staking out the high end in these same respects.

I think that the Q will seem increasingly compelling as sensor technology improves, whereas K mount MILCs will evolve into a product line that parallels the SLR range, with a lot of shared technology and overlapping feature sets. In this connection, I'm inclined to give credence to the rumour that we'll see articulated screens soon on SLRs, since this feature is plainly needed for the mirrorless line.

In short, I'm expecting Pentax will take a holistic view of their research priorities, and roll out new/improved tech as broadly as possible.

05-18-2012, 11:28 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by asw66 Quote
From the information we have to hand, what can we glean about Pentax's strategy for MILC? The current lineup seems like a flanking movement, with the Q staking out the bottom end in terms of size and IQ, and the K mount bodies staking out the high end in these same respects.

I think that the Q will seem increasingly compelling as sensor technology improves, whereas K mount MILCs will evolve into a product line that parallels the SLR range, with a lot of shared technology and overlapping feature sets. In this connection, I'm inclined to give credence to the rumour that we'll see articulated screens soon on SLRs, since this feature is plainly needed for the mirrorless line.

In short, I'm expecting Pentax will take a holistic view of their research priorities, and roll out new/improved tech as broadly as possible.

I agree with the Q, I just think it needs to be marketed as a competitor to G12s/LX5s rather than m4/3s.
I actually believe its more likely for a redeveloped GXR body and bring out a K-mount module than work on the K-01 further- I frankly believe it was used to get market exposure for Pentax with a product from the days of Hoya. On this front it has worked.
The only way I see it surviving is that it becomes the new entry point into K mounts- however then it should be marketed in with DSLRs rather than MILCs.
Thats how I see it anyway-
05-19-2012, 11:09 PM   #3
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I don't think Ricoh has a coherent strategy for the Pentax brand yet. They seem to do one of two things:

1) Continue projects that were initiated under Hoya
2) Try to address historical weaknesses of the Pentax brand

What worries me is that they don't seem to understand that the market is changing. They are still focused on the K-mount and SLRs, as the release of the K-01 shows. The K-01 is technically a MILC as much as it is technically a stripped down DSLR. And the problem with this focus on SLRs is that it comes too late and it is directed at what I expect to become a niche market by the end of this decade. So Pentax may end up with a revamped DSLR offer exactly at the time when the interest in DSLRs is going to fade away.

Even if I am wrong all the way and DSLRs endure as a mainstream high end design (there is no technical argument supporting such version of the future), Pentax is getting its act together too late. Canon and Nikon (the only other purveyors of DSLR equipment left around, ignoring Sigma) have strengthened their entry level offerings and already have all the lenses that Pentax just starts working on delivering. When you are behind in a race, there is no way to get ahead if you just do what the guys ahead are doing - you need to do something different from them. What does Pentax do that is different and can have mass appeal? Sadly, the answer is: nothing. The Q and the 645D are niche products and the rest is covered by Canon/Nikon. Good luck competing on that front.

What could Ricoh do with Pentax? Well, as it turns out, there are still a few things that no one did right. The companies that produced MILCs did so by catering to P&S upgraders and in this process they provided entry level cameras and missed on the high end market. This is starting to change, but there is still a window of opportunity: the XPro1 system is glitchy and the E-M5 was just introduced. Pentax could still introduce an appealing product for this market. They would have to leave the K-mount behind, but they can finally put their skills together and craft a nice system. Making it FF would guarantee attention from users everywhere, but even a well built APS-C system with high quality lenses would work. Sooner or later Pentax will have to move to producing high end products that are easily distinguishable from the competition. They will need to do that at least for a while until they build brand recognition so they can sell entry level stuff too. Or perhaps they'll just fade away and all that is going to be left of them will be a K mount module for the GXR system. We'll see.
05-20-2012, 01:30 PM   #4
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I would doubt that Ricoh would ever reveal their market strategy completely, as that would give an advantage to their competitors.

So we can primarily judge by their actions, and its probably still too soon to see where they are headed.

Its interesting to note that neither Canon or Nikon have issued an APS sensor camera with mirrorless design. Do they have a coherent strategy regarding mirrorless cameras? Its surprising to me how many vitrolic posts on PF get originated over the lack of a VF (as in K01) or the possibility of a EVF. Successful companies like Canon and Nikon are probably loathe to lead the way in mirrorless cameras when there doesn't seem to be any consensus in their base.

Panasonic only makes mirrorless m4/3 cameras, and some PS, but they lost more money last year than Sony did according to one thread on Sony. With Sony's financial problems, are they going to be able to push ahead with their Nex series and e-lenses? Their initial attempts on e lenses have been disappointing judging by the soft borders, but perhaps Sigma and Tamron can bail them out. I do like their fold-out lcds and am still interested in their bodies - but have to spend more time with one.

I think Pentax could very well develop the K01 to out perform the Nex, and i agree that a fold out lens is a necessity to market the camera.

I suspect after Photokina, we'll have a much better idea of where Ricoh is headed - its still to early to tell. But the K30 is a good step, even though we don't have the spec sheet yet.

05-20-2012, 09:04 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Its interesting to note that neither Canon or Nikon have issued an APS sensor camera with mirrorless design.
It is not surprising though. We see the market leaders being cautious about cannibalizing their successful products. But like Steve Jobs said: "if you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will".

I am pretty confident that if pushed into a corner, both Canon and Nikon can release a system within less than a year. I would be surprised if they don't already have prototypes, just in case.
05-21-2012, 06:25 AM   #6
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To be honest, Pentax is behind the curve technologically in several respects, saved mainly by its prowess at design and getting the most out of current Sony sensors.

-Olympus and Nikon are making advances in AF for MILC
-Olympus are also making advances in sensor stabilisation
-Fuji seem to be consigning AA filters to history
-Nokia have revolutionised our thinking about sensor size and pixel counts in compact packages

So while Pentax is playing catch up, we can expect that its R&D efforts will focus on both the most important technologies as well as the "quick wins" of easily duplicated technologies. I'd put improved CDAF in the high priority category, and eliminating the AA filter under "quick wins".

That much seems obvious. But I'd be fascinated by the prospect of a super Q mount body that borrows a few tricks from Nokia. GXR might be another fitting application of these technologies.
05-21-2012, 09:51 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by asw66 Quote
To be honest, Pentax is behind the curve technologically in several respects, saved mainly by its prowess at design and getting the most out of current Sony sensors.

-Olympus and Nikon are making advances in AF for MILC
-Olympus are also making advances in sensor stabilisation
-Fuji seem to be consigning AA filters to history
-Nokia have revolutionised our thinking about sensor size and pixel counts in compact packages

So while Pentax is playing catch up, we can expect that its R&D efforts will focus on both the most important technologies as well as the "quick wins" of easily duplicated technologies. I'd put improved CDAF in the high priority category, and eliminating the AA filter under "quick wins".
I agree. Plus, high technology requires a lot of manhours to research and test various solutions. The experience and numbers of personnel that Ricoh added to pentax's staffing would be very useful in accomplishing tasks like AF algorithyms for focus and tracking. It isn't just numbers either, the personnel need experience in the field. Management often wants to just "buy" solutions by hiring people, but it isn't always that simple.
05-21-2012, 12:37 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
It is not surprising though. We see the market leaders being cautious about cannibalizing their successful products. But like Steve Jobs said: "if you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will".

I am pretty confident that if pushed into a corner, both Canon and Nikon can release a system within less than a year. I would be surprised if they don't already have prototypes, just in case.
Did Steve Jobs really say that? It sounds like something that Yogi Berra would say. Or maybe we really are all one? In that case, taking a bite out of my neighbor makes perfect sense.

I agree about Canon and Nikon being apt to quickly develop most any format camera when the market is right. They should thank Pentax for the testers.

05-21-2012, 01:03 PM   #9
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I think Pentax tries to go after dslr users with the Q but because of its size they failed to grab the masses. The Q has more in common with today's dslr cameras than the nex or 1 series. Especially the 1 series.

So they tried to do a very well built high performing camera using a small sensor and being truly pocketable. The problem was there is little to no advertising for Pentax. And no one knew if the Q was supposed to be a bridge system, m4/3 competitor, or a toy?

Now can we even see what Pentax's new owners are doing this year? I think everything in the current release schedual for 2012 is still mostly, if not entirely Hoya.
05-21-2012, 02:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by lammie200 Quote
Did Steve Jobs really say that? It sounds like something that Yogi Berra would say. Or maybe we really are all one? In that case, taking a bite out of my neighbor makes perfect sense.

I agree about Canon and Nikon being apt to quickly develop most any format camera when the market is right. They should thank Pentax for the testers.
Cannibalize Yourself (Before Someone Else Does)
05-21-2012, 08:25 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
I think Pentax tries to go after dslr users with the Q but because of its size they failed to grab the masses. The Q has more in common with today's dslr cameras than the nex or 1 series. Especially the 1 series.

So they tried to do a very well built high performing camera using a small sensor and being truly pocketable. The problem was there is little to no advertising for Pentax. And no one knew if the Q was supposed to be a bridge system, m4/3 competitor, or a toy?
Pentax definitely have a marketing issue with the Q, but perhaps not the one you indicate above - most consumers do not know what "bridge" or "m4/3" means anyways, that only matters to folks like us.

I picked up my Q to be a highly portable "high performing" camera, for when my DSLR wouldn't be with me - a briefcase-camera, if you wish. I did a load of research first (and am happy with the Q)....but of course, then I hang out also on this forum.

Having had the Q for a few months now, most people who have seen it have fallen in awe over how tiny it is, "how much like a real camera, except stylish" [I have the white version] it is, and how robust and well-built it is "It doesn't feel plasticky like my pocket-camera". Often followed by "I had no idea they make cameras like that, where can I get one, or is it a special limited version thingie?"

I live in France, and Pentax isn't very visible here, unfortunately: I've seen nobody other than myself waltz around with a Q so far. What they really need is to get the word out, and get more people to awe over it like that.

Two of my colleagues ordered a Q last week, after fondling mine for an afternoon - there's clearly a market, I think that Pentax actually hits a nice spot between "awwww, cute" and "real camera, not a toy" once people get the Q in their hands.
05-23-2012, 07:11 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tonto Quote
I agree with the Q, I just think it needs to be marketed as a competitor to G12s/LX5s rather than m4/3s.
I actually believe its more likely for a redeveloped GXR body and bring out a K-mount module than work on the K-01 further- I frankly believe it was used to get market exposure for Pentax with a product from the days of Hoya. On this front it has worked.
The only way I see it surviving is that it becomes the new entry point into K mounts- however then it should be marketed in with DSLRs rather than MILCs.
Thats how I see it anyway-
With the Nikon 1 system out there, now there is yet another competitor for the Q, with some of the same questions being asked about the new format between that of the Q and the 4/3. This market is in chaos all the way around.
05-23-2012, 09:58 AM   #13
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The 1 system compares to the Q only in the fact that it too is a MILC. Having owned both thats where the comparisons end. The Q is much more of a full featured camera than the Nikon. The Nikon is more of a point and shoot with a changeable lens system. Which I know is opposite to what you initially think when you look at the two. It when you use that you realize that the Q focuses more on advanced camera control and the 1 is closer to P&S for operation.
05-23-2012, 11:04 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
The 1 system compares to the Q only in the fact that it too is a MILC. Having owned both thats where the comparisons end. The Q is much more of a full featured camera than the Nikon. The Nikon is more of a point and shoot with a changeable lens system. Which I know is opposite to what you initially think when you look at the two. It when you use that you realize that the Q focuses more on advanced camera control and the 1 is closer to P&S for operation.
Are you talking about the V1 or J1? The J1 looks more like a point and shoot version.

What I find interesting is that Nikon has gotten some of the same criticism for putting this system on something smaller than micro 4/3.
05-23-2012, 11:47 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Are you talking about the V1 or J1? The J1 looks more like a point and shoot version.

What I find interesting is that Nikon has gotten some of the same criticism for putting this system on something smaller than micro 4/3.
either or, the control layout is the same. I had both and felt neither one gave me the control I wanted over my shooting. The Q and the NEX5n were closest out of the MILC's I've owned. The Q was of course easiest as...well its setup like a Pentax DSLR>
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