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02-02-2014, 05:17 AM   #1
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mirrorless lens mounts

It seems like we've danced around this subject, and sometimes touched lightly upon it, but...

Pentax (really Ricoh) needs a strategy for mirrorless lenses, going forward. Let's just ponder their options together, shall we? Here's how I see them:

1. Rely on the existing K-mount, which is basically the K-01's approach. We've already seen the result of this. It's certainly expedient and cost-effective in terms of not having to develop yet another standard and new line of lenses, but... It's never going to allow the kind of size reductions that other companies are getting, and that many people think are the whole point of going mirrorless to begin with.

2. Develop a new mount derived from K, but with a shorter flange focal distance. This would be just like what Olympus did in developing the M4/3 mount from the original 4/3. We might call it an L-mount, since L is what comes right after K? And of course, there would also be an adapter (should be pretty simple) to allow putting K-mount lenses on the camera. So... That way they don't have to field an entire line of L-mount lenses from day one. They could even ship the first generation of L cameras with the K adaptor. (The question of full-frame or APS-C sensor coverage remains open.)

3. Use the Q-mount for all your mirrorless needs. The Q series has staked out a successful niche, but that small sensor is the limiting factor. If you tack on an EVF and tilting LCD and other such features, then the camera is going to get bigger, but you'll still be stuck with the Q7-sized sensor. Sensors are always getting better, and the system's performance could be highly viable in the long run. However, the rest of the photography world is going gaga over full-frame systems, and we have fanboys ragging on M4/3 for being slightly smaller than APS-C. Focusing all effort on Q would certainly mean swimming against the tide of fashion.

4. Join the M4/3 consortium. M4/3 is quite a good standard in most respects. However, this would be a hard road for Ricoh. (I almost didn't even list this option, but... Let's cover all the bases!) Pentaxians with lots of K glass would feel thrown under the bus. Ricoh would immediately be selling cameras that they produce very few lenses for, but which Olympus and Panasonic produce many lenses for. That's not a good business situation. It would require a lot of resources to develop their own stable of lenses, too. When they eventually did so, however, then M4/3 could present an extremely strong front against the likes of Canon and Nikon.

From where I sit, option 2, the "L-mount", is the most straightforward and obvious way to proceed, and most in line with Pentax's tradition of advancing the system while maintaining backward compatibility with their lens catalog. However, the most straightforward and obvious answer isn't always the best one. So... What would you do?

02-02-2014, 05:48 AM   #2
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I think the L mount is actually the wrong direction. Adapters suck and creating an independent mount that likely wouldn't get a 2nd manufacturer to support it could kill Pentax. Everybody is going after that market. Pentax shouldn't avoid it (Q and GR) but K mount and higher end lens lineup is its biggest strength.

The better direction imo is to do option 3 for compact cameras (and expand the GR lineup) and go for the higher end APSC and FF market with mirrorless (at some point). The K01 didn't fail because it wasn't technically a good product. It failed because it was priced as a mid range DSLR with entry level specs aside from an excellent but dated sensor. One of the biggest reasons to stick with K mount is that large aperture, larger format lenses won't get smaller and you still need a decent sized camera to hold onto. The only reason that it makes sense to get rid of K mount is if you want to go away from larger sensors and bigger lenses.
02-02-2014, 06:47 AM   #3
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I always thought the GXR was the route to go because then you're not limited by sensor or mount.
02-02-2014, 06:50 AM   #4
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I think Pentax could carve a niche with the Q system but only by keeping it tiny. If the camera size gets bigger while the sensor stays smaller, folks will just pick up some other brand.

02-02-2014, 07:19 AM   #5
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I think Ricoh-Pentax already has a strategy and the time ahead will tell what that is. It may not be what you or I* think it should be but if they don't have a strategy now they will exit that market. I agree with abacus07 that I think it would be a mistake to not use the K-mount. I just think adding another mount is spreading the resources too thin. The Q mount was added just to get to that tiny camera size, I believe they will stick with the Q mount, they have 8 lenses and an adapter now, and I'm I'm pretty sure they are fine with no third party offerings.

At this point why would they join the 4/3 consortium so we could use a bunch of lenses from Olympus and Panasonic? They would have to introduce it with several lenses that had a real reason to buy them, either very good, different, of cheap.
02-02-2014, 07:34 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I think Pentax should stick to K-mount, but keep developing XS lenses for mirrorless cameras.
Think about it, a K-01 with 40mm XS fits into bags and takes almost no space, due to its shape. The brick is great for storage and it doesn't get caught on straps or anything. It is much more compact than a smaller camera with a big lens. There were comparisons that showed the K-01 as being more compact than a Nex with its huge lens. And I think the K-01 could be made even more compact - but at the cost of ergonomics.
And Pentax could easily turn 21mm and 70mm ltd into XS versions. Plus it could make lenses that protrude into the mirror box - which I think was the original intent with XS lenses. This saves space, while keeping total K-mount compatibility without the need of adapters

If you want to go smaller mirrorless, you already have the Q btw, as an ultra-compact that still delivers manual controls, raw photos, and pretty decent IQ considering its ridiculous size. If these small sensors keep improving (and mirrorless AF! That's a big thing), the Q will soon rival all other mirrorless cameras and even DSLRs
02-02-2014, 09:00 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
I think Pentax should stick to K-mount, but keep developing XS lenses for mirrorless cameras.
And Pentax could easily turn 21mm and 70mm ltd into XS versions. Plus it could make lenses that protrude into the mirror box - which I think was the original intent with XS lenses. This saves space, while keeping total K-mount compatibility without the need of adapters.
+1

Wide angle lenses are the critical factor for mirrorless,
and keeping the K-mount offers two options.

The first option is with retrofocal (telecentric) lenses,
where the rays coming in from the long K-mount register distance
go straight in to the sensel wells at the edge of the sensor,
with little vignetting or color shift.
The downside of this is the increased size of the lens.

The other option is the XS philosophy,
with wide-angle lenses going deep in to the body of the camera.
The color shifts and vignetting need correction (in the camera or in post-processing),
but the whole package is very compact.
The example I like to quote is the Voigtlaender Heliar 12/5.6
(Voigtlander SL 12/5.6 15/4.5).
02-02-2014, 09:16 AM   #8
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I'm sure there can also be compromises between the two. So a lens that goes into the body, but only so much that the angle of incidence is not problematic.
Man, I would really like a 21mm XS! Bonus points if it somehow keeps distance marks.
XS lenses are also cheaper than "regular" lenses, so they would be more available to amateurs and would in fact draw new people to Pentax. Just look at that 40mm XS - amazing quality at an amazing price

02-02-2014, 11:54 AM   #9
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Absolutely keep develop and extend the K mount. Add a quarter-turn internal extender and have 10-15mm of reduced body depth to placate the "mirror less is supposed to be smaller" and make the 21 and 70 mm lenses in XS versions.
02-02-2014, 12:56 PM   #10
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Mirrorless is a small market and even more fractured than the SLR market. Ricoh has said the Q is their mirrorless offering and I take them at their word.
02-02-2014, 12:59 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Mirrorless is a small market and even more fractured than the SLR market. Ricoh has said the Q is their mirrorless offering and I take them at their word.
Ricoh has also said they are committed to K-mount, Q and 645. They are very clear about it.

They've also intimated that Ricoh brand could be the place where new technology is introduced.
02-02-2014, 01:47 PM   #12
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The "Market for mirror less" is not the reason to market cameras. The idea is to have a superior platform that happens to be mirrorless. Brand it "Pentax" and so much the better. But there have been Ricoh k-mount cameras in the past as there are to be in the future.
02-02-2014, 02:04 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by squareeyes Quote
The "Market for mirror less" is not the reason to market cameras. The idea is to have a superior platform that happens to be mirrorless. Brand it "Pentax" and so much the better. But there have been Ricoh k-mount cameras in the past as there are to be in the future.
The size of the market is the only reason to make a camera, unless your company is named Leica or Hasselblad.
02-02-2014, 02:19 PM   #14
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Here's my guess for how things will unfold.

The K-mount format will stick with a mirror box for a while. There's a whole big group of us who prefer OVF for the clarity. EVF systems will one day catch up or at least come close. Will there be a day when we see EVFs with 10 MP displays? Sure. Why not? When we start approaching that then the K-mount will go mirror-less. Full frame will come way down the road. Maybe full frame and mirror-less will come at the same time.

The Q-mount will continue to evolve. Slowly. I think we'll see a macro, a wide angle prime, and a telephoto prime. With all that I think Pentax will have a good series of lenses to serve as a foundation. Anything beyond that will require some adapting and I think they know that those interested enough in doing that are fearless. There's a reason for the PK-Q adapter's existence. Pentax could install a marginally larger sensor in the Q and start a whole new line of lenses. Notice that the current lenses begin with a "0" - "01", "02", etc. Maybe the larger sensor will spawn a "1" series of the same lenses? "11", "12", etc.

While all that progresses we'll see huge leaps and bounds in the quality of smartphone cameras too. SLR style cameras will always have a secure place in the market, even if it becomes smaller. Compact cameras like the Q will always be trying to stay ahead of the smartphone camera. Since the Q will have to sprint ahead in terms of IQ, noise, etc. there may come a time when small sensors like what we see in the Q will come really, really close to what we see in APS-C sensors today.
02-02-2014, 02:40 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
Compact cameras like the Q will always be trying to stay ahead of the smartphone camera. Since the Q will have to sprint ahead in terms of IQ, noise, etc. there may come a time when small sensors like what we see in the Q will come really, really close to what we see in APS-C sensors today.
When Q instantly and seamlessly links to Instagram or Facebook or whatever social medium is the latest PostIt Noter - maybe even natively, but certainly at least through a synced phone - we won't need the phone cam any more.

In that way a small, competent camera can replace the camera phone app for many users. After all, the phone camera is just an app - the lens is every bit as useful for scanning QR codes and Facetime calls as it is for taking snapshots..

Last edited by monochrome; 02-02-2014 at 08:31 PM.
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