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07-11-2013, 12:51 PM   #391
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QuoteOriginally posted by Old Film Guy Quote
Now, during all the talk...I heard no mention of "the future." We all know that cell phone manufacturers are racing to have a 20 megipixel camera in their phones, including an easy-to-use version of Photoshop Junior. With the exception of some very high-end models for expensive working photographers...the camera as we know it, film or digital, is probably on the road to extinction. Text or call your buddy, take a pic, process immediately, then upload to a web site, share with friends...and also pay your rent...all from one device, all within minutes. How long it will take, and what the toll will be on existing companies...that's the part where we will have to wait and see.
But every time someone sees me with my K-5 they say "Oh you have the camera that takes the good pictures".

The $30 p&s you buy at the drugstore is on the way out. MILCs are the next step up for the cell phone shooter, but those who want to "take the good pictures" are going to get an SLR. Even if they never take it out of Auto mode and shoot with the lens hood reversed.

07-11-2013, 12:59 PM   #392
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QuoteOriginally posted by Old Film Guy Quote
I probably sold three Pentax SP500's and K-1000's for every Nikon. Canon...who heard of them? All that began to change when Pentax entered the 120 roll film market.
On a point of accuracy, Pentax entered the 120 roll film market in 1969 with the Asahi Pentax 6x7, before either the SP500 or K1000 were introduced.
07-11-2013, 01:04 PM   #393
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QuoteQuote:
Greetings! Typically, I browse through here, searching to expand my limited knowledge base of digital photography. I do remember back when Pentax was a revered brand in photography. Nikon was #1, and very costly. They wanted to be known as "the professional's camera," and they were. But, Pentax was next. I probably sold three Pentax SP500's and K-1000's for every Nikon. Canon...who heard of them? All that began to change when Pentax entered the 120 roll film market.
The Pentax 6x7 came out in 1969 and the K-1000 years later. When I purchased my first Pentax 6x7 in 1974 Pentax still did not have the K-mount.
07-11-2013, 01:20 PM   #394
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Personally, I think there will be a body above the Q7 eventually, probably bringing back the magnesium body, a better screen and who knows what else
I believe Q will eventually become a system mount with several price point / feature combinations. I'd love another magnesium body with the 1/1.7 sensor inside. For now the original Q is enough.

FWIW, when I take the Q out in a group setting I can't keep my hands on it. Everybody wants to try it out ... "Whoa! Is that an interchangeable lens camera?" Yep. "Can I ..." You get the picture.

If I had to choose one I'd also prefer a screamingly competitive pro-spec (flash sync, FPS, ISO, dual slots, battery life, bus, buffer, LV, IBIS, outs, etc.) APSc camera in a functional, ergonomic body (K50-style?) over a FF camera - especially a mid-range FF camera.

07-11-2013, 02:05 PM   #395
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
Lack of profit.

Remember that Pentax have an installed user base willing to pay from their 45 years medium format presence...
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And they don't have a 10,000 x more people willing to pay for their 60+ years in 135 format presence?
Such argument to fortify their 645D commitment and on the same go 'explain' lack of FF commitment doesn't really work.

The real reason they have gone into 645D is simple: they could bring in tech and expertise in the MF market that was light years ahead on others present there: a DSLR class AF, handling, weather sealing, much better software, DNG support, etc. All with a minimum of effort, they have made an MF body that is an upscaled DSLR. Thus the price could be lower too. Only thing they didn't have was enough of new lenses. Since launch, only two new lenses were added.

For the FF market though, they could theoretically go there, and people would buy. But it required much more investment in time and money because in FF market they already had a competition that is rather light years ahead of them. Not just feature wise, but in years of commitment to that market. Under Hoya, no, they probably could not get that money needed to even up their chances in FF market.

However, I think that was rather a wrong decision made by Hoya. If Hoya helped them to at least start something, they could give them a momentum and Pentax might have created an entry class FF market with a twist all by itself, and which was not present before the D600 and 6D. They could thrive there. But instead, Hoya gave them green light for the Q. Which isn't bad though, because Pentax needed an answer for the mirrorless too.

Ideally, they should have both, but weighing the each to decide which one to pick, hmm .. maybe the Q idea was still better. But it's impossible to say now, after the act.

Under Ricoh, well, it seems something is moving. But they must know that from the beginning they cannot go head to head in pure specs war and comparisons with Nikon and Canon for the missed FF opportunity. That's why they are exploring avenues and strategies — to innovate, differentiate, and see what others have not explored yet, and buy them time.

Last edited by Uluru; 07-11-2013 at 02:26 PM.
07-11-2013, 02:18 PM   #396
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QuoteOriginally posted by Uluru Quote
/
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And they don't have a 10,000 x more people willing to pay for their 60+ years in 135 format presence?
That would make for an initial monthly production volume of 5,000,000 units, 3-3.5 times than the entire ILC market
07-11-2013, 10:23 PM   #397
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+1 with Uluru, let appart the figures.
07-11-2013, 11:13 PM   #398
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I don't think Pal was wrong, either - the potential market is a significant factor, albeit not the only one. Hoya, unfortunately, acted to reduce the potential market by sacrificing market share for margins.
Combined with the other factors Uluru mentioned, well... we know the effect.

07-12-2013, 08:24 AM   #399
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Hoya, unfortunately, acted to reduce the potential market by sacrificing market share for margins.
Yes, and more generally speaking, Hoya seems to have exchanged financial short-term rewards against long-term burdens and problems.

Seemingly to such a radical extent, that I suspect, that Hoya always wanted to get rid of Pentax' cameras division (as their strategically unimportant, unbeloved child), as soon as the managed to sex up the division's financial statement short-term as a preparatory step for the resale plan?

That would make plausible, why Hoya acted like a bit like a financial 'locust' (corporate raider) would have done!

For their goals, financial locusts would have sacrificed (sold and disbanded) all assets and resources (including human resources) of "only" strategical (=long term) importance, unfortunately those which are essential for sustaining/building market share in the medium to long run. Hoya did that.

We know that they liquidated local service orgs, as well as Pentax' japanese manufacturing operations. But even worse, I suspect they also disbanded their lens engineering resources to save costs? That does explain to me a couple of circumstantial evidences which accumulated by now,

- why former Pentax lens engineers left, and now work for the competition (e.g. Jun Hirakawa, a 'master designer' of the AOC/Pentax Corp era, now for Tamron)

- why there have been so few (three?) lenses released recently

- why Hoya (thus now Ricoh) had difficulties to plan for the future (=no lens roadmap updates released or lens line strategies developed)

- why the recent few lenses had to be developed "in cooperation" with Japanese lens companies, which probably just means, hat Hoya had to ask someone else to do the job for them, and had to share some of their lens profits in return for that;

- why the recent few lenses have difficulties reaching former Pentax standards in terms of optical performance, occasionally with flaws that Jun Hirakawa would have forbidden during the AOC/Pentax Corp era.

If these circumstantial evidences indicate a loss of Ricoh-owned lens design resources, this would be a strategical issue, since the lenses are the cash cows of a company. Hopefully Ricoh was aware of this when they acquired Pentax cameras, and didn't fall into the trap of just looking at the last financial statements that Hoya produced for Ricoh to support the success of the cameras division's resale.

Hopefully this doesn't have to be "the end of the world" though? Sony once disbanded Minolta's operations, as well (both manufacturing and lens design resources AFAIK), and got themselves a reliable partner instead (Cosina now doing Zeiss-branded lenses for Sony). But such partnering setups make it difficult to build up or maintain a quality legend, and to command high prices. Sony probably circumvented this by occupying the sexy brand name "Zeiss", so that customers are not worried about Sony not making their own lenses, and even accepting higher prices for "Zeiss" branded stuff.

However, Ricoh doesn't have someone comparable for this smart marketing trick (unless they manage to get a license from Leica for borrowing out this brand name), so Ricoh will have a hard time for commanding higher prices, or for getting away with 'average-only' optical or mechanical quality (when taking e.g. Tamron's or Sigma's price/performance ratios as a comparison benchmark, or when just reviewing the well-known camera gear testing sites).

Not sure where we'll stand in one or two years time from today. At least today, there's still the mitigating factor of Pentax K being regarded by Sigma (and Tamron, but to a lessening extent), but there's the risk that this may fade out in the long run (seing Tamron as an early indicator). If true due to low volume=low profit reasons, then any other lens makers may have no interest in partnering up with Ricoh for designing new Pentax-branded lenses and producing their parts, for the same volume=profitability reasons.

And potential new Pentax DSLR customers, even those who don't care who's making what for Ricoh, may not like to see evidences, that the lens industry regards Pentax as a sinking ship. That just wouldn't look good if noone would be keen to support Pentax any longer.

Last edited by Frater; 07-12-2013 at 09:17 AM.
07-12-2013, 08:32 AM   #400
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Thank you for this interesting analysis : recent 645 and Q lenses capabilities are still a positive element towards this potentially dangerous situation.

Also, modernizing old legacy lenses design doesn't look too much of a bargain imho : just "think" FF first...
07-12-2013, 09:22 AM   #401
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Frater:
Aren't Sony "Carl Zeiss" lenses manufactured by Sony? Please give us some more details on this. Anyway, Sony is also making non-Zeiss lenses, thus they have design&manufacturing capabilities.

Ricoh Imaging/Pentax has no reason to give up on their lens design and manufacturing capabilities, nor to associate themselves with other brands. First is incompatible with their ambitions, the second is already done by Panasonic and would not necessarily be better than using one of their own names (Limited, *...).

I'm not sure who's the "lens industry" who is regarding Pentax as a sinking ship... care to elaborate?
Please be aware that Pentax is in the process of recovering from what Hoya did to them. They barely started rebuilding their DSLR line (first 2 cameras, more to follow), they are talking about a FF, they are talking about growth. I'd say starting with their next year's financial data we'll see (if they'll publish it) a constant albeit not very fast upward slope.
07-12-2013, 10:20 AM   #402
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frater Quote

We know that they liquidated local service orgs, as well as Pentax' japanese manufacturing operations. But even worse, I suspect they also disbanded their lens engineering resources to save costs? That does explain to me a couple of circumstantial evidences which accumulated by now,

- why former Pentax lens engineers left, and now work for the competition (e.g. Jun Hirakawa, a 'master designer' of the AOC/Pentax Corp era, now for Tamron).

Nothing of this was done by Hoya but by Pentax before the Hoya takeover. Same with Hirakawa. I was told in the late 90's that he was only used in consultant manner; hired for certain projects. Besides, he is not behind Pentax best lenses.

In addition I believe lens quality is higher now than in the early 90's; the FA* were riddled with problems.
The lens hiatus can be explained by the two change of owners in the last years that oviously must have had an impact on plans and schedules.

Hoya may not have expanded Pentax camera division but it is hard to see that they downgraded it...

Last edited by Pål Jensen; 07-12-2013 at 10:27 AM.
07-12-2013, 10:37 AM   #403
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
The lens hiatus can be explained by the two change of owners in the last years that oviously must have had an impact on plans and schedules.
You have a point and it is wrong to think that Pentax was doing very well until 2007, then Hoya destroyed everything; however AFAIK Hoya operated cost cutting and downsizing on them; and they were often talking about their precious margins.
07-12-2013, 10:43 AM   #404
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Aren't Sony "Carl Zeiss" lenses manufactured by Sony? Please give us some more details on this
I never have been reading anything else then Cosina being the subcontractor for Zeiss lenses. The last time I Google-researched this more extensively was when I was iterested in the RX100 as pocketable second cam. Never saw a guarantee though, that Cosina is the exclusive producer for all contemporary Zeiss branded (consumer level) lenses. These subcontracting relationships could change any time anyway, and most companies seem to avoid advertising these setups too much.

Anyway, since I regard the RX100's optical 'Zeiss' performance very high, I would be quite excited if Ricoh wins Cosina for doing the future Pentax lenses for Ricoh (and be it only the design and the lens elements).

QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Ricoh Imaging/Pentax has no reason to give up on their lens design and manufacturing capabilities
I believe from my interpretations of the circumstantial evidences, that Hoya abandoned these already, so that there's nothing left for Ricoh to 'not give up'. I don't mean the Vietnamese lens assembly site, where parts (produced whereever by whomever?) are assembled. Hoya raised that site as a replacement for having abandoned the Pentax Corp owned Tokyo factory sites.

Unsure about how Hoya/Tokina are intertwined, AFAIK the bottom line is that there's no formal part-or-full ownership of Tokina by Hoya documented in statements, but a less transparent but similar tight relationship is established by means of family relationships among founders, presidents, CEOs, chairmans, and principal shareholders. This is informal, but that doesn't matter anyway, as long as such a close cooperation in many areas is evident, as if they were belonging together. For example Hoya's filter division (hoyafilter.com) uses Kenko Tokina Corp to present and distribute Hoya filters (and to operate hoyafilter.com under Kenko-Tokina copyright).
Assuming a very, very close relationship, then Hoya already had access to Tokinas lens design resources, and Pentax' would have been redundant. At least this would help understanding, if Hoya disbanded Pentax designers (maybe gradually) in favour for their long-term cooperation with Tokina. That would have made sense economically. No blame. Hoya were not interested too much in Pentax' camera division anyway, they acquired Pentax because of Pentax' other divisions' value to them. At least Tokina and Pentax had a one-off benefit from their mutual lens design pooling, thanks to them being two children of Hoya (one loved, one owned), but that was a one-off thrust to their respective lens lines, which can't be extrapolated into the post-Hoya future?

QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
I'm not sure who's the "lens industry" who is regarding Pentax as a sinking ship Please give us some more details on this
With that I mean the 3rd party lens supplier industry, where Sigma and Tamron represent the few left in this industry not having stopped producing for Pentax-K under their respective own brand, but Tamron seemed to have stopped offering newer lenses for Pentax K (including interesting ones, for which there's a demand evident in forums), and Sigma is very slow and shows delays when offering their new lenses also for Pentax K. Both is a mutually consistent indication, that they seem loosing interest in Pentax-K coverage, i.e. seem regarding them as "a sinking ship" from their very own business perspective (at least Tamron serves here more obviously as an early indicator).

Another indication: The ex-Pentax senior designer Jun Hirakawa now works for Tamron (as per patent application evidence), therefore Tamron posesses true and deepest insider knowledge about where Pentax-K stands currently and may stand in the future. Maybe this made them stopping to support Pentax K for their newest-generation lenses? Even though Tamron is not representig the lens industry, their Pentax-K insider knowledge gives their decisions a special weighting. This is worrying in so far, as it indicates, that Tamron doesn't have much hope in the K bodies' market share future (if only Pentax lenses were worrying, then Tamron woudn't mind too much, being a lens competitor).

But Tamron's insider knowledge is of course only a snapshot in time, which is aging (unless there's still good networking among former colleagues). Else, they probably don't have Ricoh insider knowledge.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Please be aware that Pentax is in the process of recovering [...] starting with their next year's financial data we'll see (if they'll publish it)
Yep, we'll see. Would be great for us Pentax users, if we'll see an upwards trend. This may not be reflected yet in their next financial P&L statement(s), and nobody should ask for this. Hoya had laid the foundation for a '?'-shaped profit trend (short term increase, medium-to-long term decline). Now Ricoh has the challenging task to lay the foundation for a J-shaped profit. Which is the much harder task out of these two options, assuming that liquidating (or sacking) resources is quick, but rebuilding own resources is costly and would take many, many years of time. If they manage, I will admire them. But I'm afraid, that this task may be just too hard. The guy responsible for the DSLR business will have to convince his bosses (who will have to convice the shareholders), that Ricoh has to invest substantially (even if this makes the DSLR business facing a loss) for some time, if they really want to turn the '?'-shaped future profit trend into a 'J' shape. That's why I believe that Ricoh will avoid such investments, and will want to [continue to] partner up with a capable lens maker, who can be convinced (won't be Tamron) that low-level market shares will still be profitable for their involvement. During Hoya ownership, the partnering lens maker was Tokina, which probably didn't need to be convinced much because of their special close (a bit intransparent) relationship with Hoya.

Back to R&D resources, I mentioned before that Jun Hirakawa, a (or the?) leading lens designer of former Pentax Corp, had filed a patent for his new employer Tamron recently. Is anyone aware of any Hoya/Ricoh lens objective patent been issued during the years of Hoya/Ricoh era, and be it only a single one? If there's a recent lens patent, then this would be a strong argument against my suspicion, that Hoya had disbanded Pentax' lens R&D resources along with the their Japanese lens production business. I assume, that a new lens objective design would be filed as a patent application ASAP by its inventing company.

Last edited by Frater; 07-12-2013 at 03:50 PM.
07-12-2013, 10:51 AM   #405
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
You have a point and it is wrong to think that Pentax was doing very well until 2007, then Hoya destroyed everything; however AFAIK Hoya operated cost cutting and downsizing on them; and they were often talking about their precious margins.
AFAIK Hoya expected 20% Return on Invested Capital to retain a business line. Cameras in general and Pentax in particular have (I think) 8-10% ROIC, so cameras was not a desireable business for Hoya at all.

We love to hate Hoya, but in fact Hoya cleaned up Pentax's operations and SG&A expenses and made Pentax ready for sale to another company, while maintaining at least some of the product pipeline under their stewardship. And did that during the global fincial crisis and the Tsunami.

They could have just closed it, sold the patents and we'd be long gone by now. $125,000,000 isn't chump change, but it isn't all THAT much money in global finance, either - tax writeoff money, at worst.

Let's face facts. Pentax Camera has been damaged goods for at least 15 years, if not 25.

Last edited by monochrome; 07-12-2013 at 12:56 PM.
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