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09-02-2011, 07:56 PM - 8 Likes   #1
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Some Thoughts Pentax and Full Frame

So there is A-LOT of chatter about when, if, Pentax is going to go full frame. Pentax has the most well developed line of APS-C specific lenses, and that in some ways makes them the best option for entry level professional photographers, and for adventure photographers on a budget. On the other hand, it makes Pentax look a little "less than" Canikon. I've traded systems a lot even though I'm not wealthy. I just work at a camera store so I get discounts. But I've sold a Nikon D700 to get a 5D Mark II, and then I sold that to get a Pentax K-5. I'm settled with the Pentax now. I can finally afford the lenses I want, and I'm more confident than ever with my gear. I personally have one thing to say about full frame, it's not as big a deal as it seems. It's basically great for depth of field control. But it doesn't get you better image quality. I know this from specific experience. The D700 was a tiny bit better than the K-5 in low light, and the 5D was a tiny bit better at resolving detail. But the K-5 has the latitude that the 5D II lacks, and the 95% of the low light performance of the D700. Coupled with the fact that all my lenses are affordable, image stabilized, and for the most part BETTER than pretty damn good, I'm more than satisfied.

Still though, Full Frame, like any format upgrade is something worth it based on the 'look' of full frame alone. I don't think it's "better" in terms of IQ, but I do think it has a recognizable look that I like very much. Just like Large Format has over Medium Format in a moderate print size. And owning the 31mm 1.8 Limited makes me really want to use it on full frame, and it would give me a reason to buy the 43mm. (Don't tell me to use film, I do. Not the same).

So how would Pentax do Full Frame? Well they currently aren't set up to really support a full frame camera. They would need to introduce at least 3 lenses, probably zooms, to make it work. Then they'd be playing the game everybody else is, picking which format to design for. However they do have the advantage that their APS-C system is extremely developed. No other maker can boast lenses like the DA* and DA Limiteds. Nikon has their 35mm 1.8 and mediocre zooms, but Pentax has a 14, 15, 21, two 35s, the 40, the 70, the DA* line of 16-50, 50-135, 200, 300, and 60-250mm. Couple that with the DA zooms I didn't mention, and the FA lenses still in production (few, but the real gems), and I have NO idea why people complain about an insufficient lens selection. Personally I just think people just get nervous when a company ACTUALLY innovates instead of just offering the exact same options as the competition, i.e. full frame vs APS-C, Canon vs Nikon. I DO think certain lenses could be a little better, but not by much. The 16-50 is only good enough, IMO, but the primes I own (15, 31, 70) are (to me) jaw dropping. So that would leave them open to, for the most part, leave the APS-C line just in production, and secondarily develop a FEW key full frame lenses. 3 or so zooms (wide, standard, portrait tele), and 3 or so more primes (super wide, tilt shift, super tele). Not such a big deal actually if spread out over two years. Personally I wouldn't even buy any Full Frame zooms. And THAT'S what brings me to the key point of this post: a Full Frame camera with APS-C.

The Nikon full frame systems are CAPABLE of shooting the DX lenses. Nice, but when using their D700, D3(s) bodies you get a 5mp crop. Not all that appealing, and anyway I guess maybe someone would want to use the 10.5 fisheye or the 35mm 1.8, although I really don't know why... However the D3X offers a 10mp file. Not too shabby. However, still, no really appealing lenses. Nice feature, not much use. However, enter Pentax with a similar feature. A full frame 25mp sensor with K-5 like low light and latitude performance. Use your lovely FA Limiteds to your hearts desire. Like I said: IMO the depth of field control, and the "look" of Full Frame is why I love 24x36. Primes shine here, zooms are nice, but not super necessary. I personally would keep my DA limiteds, and my DA* zooms to use in a 10mp crop mode, that would I'm sure increase in resolution over camera generations, and enjoy new Full Frame primes for the look. You switch to zooms when you need to, you switch to FA primes as you can. That way I don't have to spend obnoxious amounts that Canikon users do on zooms, saving crucial cash for my business. And anyways my K-5 isn't going anywhere, and a Full Frame body - DX body combo is IMO a perfectly cost effective main body/back up kit. As long as the APS-C bodies are still developed in combination with a single MZ-S like full frame body for pros, everyone's happy.

Sony took a risk with the A900 and A850. Two great DSLRs, that few purchased. Look at that lens line: Zeiss 16-35, 24-70, 24 f2, 85 1.4, 135 1.8, and Sony G 70-200 etc etc etc... They copied Canikon and it did nothing for them. Now their truly innovative APS-C bodies are making more press than the full frame cameras ever did. Still though, people grumble always hoping for full frame, seemingly whether they'd buy or not. So that to me proves full frame isn't a magic bullet. Following Canikon to the letter, is not the answer. The whole reason I personally purchased the K-5 was because they were the only company offering solid build quality, lens artistry, and great real world performance at a competitive price. Not because I thought their nifty 50 is 'better' than Canon's. I bought into Pentax for actual practical reasons.

If Pentax can integrate just ONE full frame option, with a limited lens selection, and a great DX crop mode, I believe they'll not only have a winner camera, but also a reason for certain people to take the brand more seriously. But to be honest, at least this generation, I don't think that will happen. Despite all the "experts" in the A77 thread, I do think Sony designed a great 24mp sensor, and if the K-3 is a 24mp sensor with modest improvements over the K-5, then I'll be happy to purchase it to augment my K-5 as a new main body. However I think my wedding photography kit will be perfect when I have a Pentax full frame kit with FA Limiteds, and a DA 2nd body with DA* zooms. That's for what I'm hoping.

I hope Mr. Bunnell is reading, and sending these observations to Japan. I'm excited about the future of Pentax with Ricoh. Thanks for reading.

09-02-2011, 08:09 PM - 4 Likes   #2
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Oh good, I was worried we wouldn't get another Pentax/FF thread.
09-02-2011, 08:12 PM - 1 Like   #3
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My intention was less a "pentax full frame thread" and more a "how would this really work" thread. But thanks.
09-02-2011, 09:35 PM   #4
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You forgot about 645D??

09-02-2011, 10:07 PM   #5
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The 645D is awesome, and have made HUGE strides putting Pentax on the map. I have seen many more people walking in the store with Pentax cameras than before. But it's still a "halo" product IMO. It's still unaffordable the the vast majority. I hope to own one some day, but that's a dream. A full frame Pentax priced at even $3000 dollars I would have no problem buying tomorrow. It's more within the average persons grasp, and more akin to the K-mount upon which the Pentax built it's legacy.
09-02-2011, 10:17 PM   #6
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Nice perspective ... please ignore the rumblings about "another FF thread".

FWIW, I'm looking forward to seeing who will have the cojones to produce a mirrorless FF body, and hoping that it's Pentax. As you say, simply following Canikon is no way for other camera makers to succeed -- they all have to differentiate themselves in some way.
09-02-2011, 11:06 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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I agree, especially the part "doing the same things others do". I think that many people want "words" they read on different media, (FF, mirrorless, ILDC, translucent mirror, etc) just because everyone talks about it, but not thinking if they could benefit in their photo making.

As for me, I really don't need a bigger sensor or a high megapixel count. APS and 14-18mp is enough. What I would love though, is a pentaprism as big as it is in my ME Super. I remember the first time I looked on my K200D viewfinder, I was shocked how tiny and dim was the image projected. And thinking of the vast legacy pre-AF lenses a Pentax user could afford, a big bright viewfinder would help A LOT on focusing. (send this observation to Japan also!!)
Maybe I'm weird, but moving those focus rings on old lenses is something out of this world, it feels like you're building your house with your own hands. Nothing like a long travel focus ring. For me, that is.
09-03-2011, 12:09 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sperdynamite Quote
I don't think it's "better" in terms of IQ
It's better in terms of IQ: better details for the same FOV. Simple.
As for me, I don't need much DOF. I just want two my incredible wide angle lenses to function properly and I would likely use them at f8 and infinity.


Last edited by Emacs; 09-03-2011 at 12:16 AM.
09-03-2011, 12:55 AM   #9
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I sincerely wish Pentax will never produce a full frame camera body.

Not that I don't like full frame - I'm considering buying a 5D Mark III if/when Canon releases it.

I prefer Pentax continue to invest in the APS-C/K mount and Q system, which is where my interest is with this brand. I like Pentax, and I think they are one of the more innovative (or perhaps just quirky) camera brands around - I hope Ricoh will further improve the brand and the products.
09-03-2011, 12:59 AM   #10
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You called me an "expert"! Thanks, you are an expert too.

Jokes aside, I have very similar opinion of the FF. Sony failed on it because they failed to be different. They had the 5Dmk2 copy with higher price, lower performance and lenses plagued with mechanical failures.
I believe Pentax could succeed it this fiels, but they need to be different.
09-03-2011, 02:47 AM   #11
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Is full frame format relevant anymore?

Given that it is now getting easier to combine multiple images to get gigapixel files and the old 35mm film camera glass is not optimized for digital, do we really need a full format digital camera? Some of the full format digital cameras are as big as the old medium format SLRs. The extra megapixels of a full frame camera probably do not justify the extra bulk and cost. With smaller format cameras now exceeding the magic 20MP barrier, the quality now rivals 35mm film. Here is the calculation:- with the old film, best case using Kodak tech pan or K25 professional, best glass at best aperture yielded 80MP equivalent. Given that you cannot get these films anymore (not for 10 years) you can halve that to 40MP. Photoshopping can double the quality so the 20 MP sensor gives the same as the best that film can.For those that want to take gigapixel files, you do not need a monster camera. All you need is good stitching. One way of doing this is with a GigaPan device/software. You can use any old digital camera here. The machine snaps hundreds of individual images, each shifted a bit then combined to create a file with monstrous detail. Obviously this is only suited to static scenes, but then again, the photographer who wants ultimate detail would otherwise be lugging around a 4x5 camera, which is even more cumbersome than a GigaPan. A GigaPan is about 3kg and about $1000. It is about the size of a 4x5 camera too. I do not know about you, but I think technology has caught up with the need for a FF Pentax- it is not really of any use. If you want the higher quality in a single shot, get a 645.
09-03-2011, 04:10 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sperdynamite Quote
  1. Pentax has the most well developed line of APS-C specific lenses, and that in some ways makes them the best option for entry level professional photographers, and for adventure photographers on a budget.
  2. I can finally afford the lenses I want, and I'm more confident than ever with my gear.
  3. So how would Pentax do Full Frame? And THAT'S what brings me to the key point of this post: a Full Frame camera with APS-C.
  4. However the D3X offers a 10mp file. Not too shabby. However, still, no really appealing lenses.
  5. If Pentax can integrate just ONE full frame option, with a limited lens selection, and a great DX crop mode, I believe they'll not only have a winner camera, but also a reason for certain people to take the brand more seriously.
#1 I do think that is the strengthend of the Pentax brand. I think they should turn into this direction more in future and make all products sealed. There is just today an article on DPreview about wheatersealing and I noticed that there is no classification on the camerasealings in DSLR. I think they should work on this.

#2 A client of mine just rescently bought a D700. We talke about it and I said that for her, now going to photographic school first year a D7000 would be more then enough, buying later on into a more advandced system. She doesn't have enough cash to buy all things she would want now. Big mistake to take on a full frame system at this time for her.

#3 Well I see that a lot. 1D with 50D and D700 with D300, so that is not new. Making the full frame camera APS-C connectable is one thing, but to carry around an expensive camera and only use halve of it is just stupid.

#4 You have to be insane to buy a D3x and only use 10 megapixel. Just before the Tsunami in Japan I explored the possibillity to migrate to Canon/Nikon. I do like D3s but it is a Full Frame camera, making me buying more expensive and longer lenses. I explored more on 1D, wich has a 1,3x crop sensor, and really really really really really really really liked that camera. Dit I say really? To get a full set camera/lenses I had to come up with at least 15.000 euro. Wich is not an option for me at the time. My total set in Pentax cost 7.500 euro. You don't buy such a camera and slap on some peace of glass (I know people do that, just rescently met someone with D3s and a mediocre lens, but those people don't make great pictures).

#5 Yes I think so.

On a personal note I think that if an APS-H size sensor can pare with more DA- and DA*-lenses (excluding the wide-angle section) then I would prefer that as a new top of the line camera for Pentax. Think of having a 1,2x to 1,3x crop sensor (between 30x20mm and 27x18mm), or a big 4:3 sensor (between 28x21mm and 24,8x18,6 would be great if that works with some DA lenses). That would fit in at least 20 megapixel giving a stellar image quality with hi-iso noise free images.

Great post! I Like!

Last edited by RonHendriks1966; 09-03-2011 at 09:47 AM.
09-03-2011, 04:52 AM   #13
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There are 24 million FF K-mount lenses out there so just come out with a FF Pentax and I will worry about the lenses. When shooting 2mp 1080p I don't need 24mp detail.
09-03-2011, 06:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by fisheye freak Quote
Is full frame format relevant anymore?
It's apparently relevant to those folks who buy the stuff! Yes, MF and FF are niche markets, but that's mostly due to cost, not functionality. Notice that used older FF cams still demand premium prices, even with much fewer megapickles per sensor than with current-generation dSLRs; their diminished functionality is still seen as being worth the premium.

Why? Not just sex appeal. The larger frame mostly supports 1) wide FOV and 2) thin DOF. Yeah, wide and fast lenses for crop-sensor cameras are cheaper than new FF cameras; my Tammy 10-24 was US$375 (new, with discount) and my K50/1.2 was US$250 (used). Those give me much of the benefit I would gain from a FF dSLR, although a bigger brighter FV would sure be nice too. But the combo of FOV, DOF, FV, and lower-density sensors, are what give FF an edge.

IMHO it comes down to 1) price, 2) not sucking, and 3) price. Sony's FF offerings apparently fail those tests: wrong sucks-per-bucks ratio. If they offered a sucky FF cam for US$1k, it would sell, U-betcha! If they offered a perfect pro FF cam for US$2k, it would sell -- but to sell for more $$$, Sony would also need a pro-class support system.

So there's the nub. A low-cost FF offering *could* succeed, but not as a pro item. Any alternative (non-Canikon) FF gear has to be at a price point to attract the hoi polloi, and that price point won't pay for pro support. Will we see Pentax-Ricoh build a pro-support network? Can a non-pro FF system survive?
09-03-2011, 07:36 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Full Frame Dslrs already exist !

Most every one in the local camera club own full frame dslrs and have for years !

Pentax owners who require full frame have already bought into other systems to fullfill their imaging needs.

Usually Nikon, but some go Canon.

Going on three years I've not spent ONE CENT on any brand new Pentax item as I bought into full frame & related lenses elsewhere.

The Q tip sized Q based Sensor System costs more than my K20D ran me new.
If tiny sensor Q concept is a Ricoh idea, then Ricoh will fail again.

Or looking at it right now, the silly Q is only $400 less than Pentax best ever K-5 using US market pricing .


Any idea when 645D will be offered in its native full frame instead of the current crop format ?

I waited for Pentax to provide before they got bought out, then I waited for Hoya to provide, now I await Ricoh to provide full frame.

Some Day, Maybe...

Last edited by Samsungian; 09-03-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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