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07-13-2013, 09:58 AM - 1 Like   #31
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Lauren, here's my take on the State of Ricoh/Pentax -- Innovation almost always starts at the top of the product line and then is trickled down from there. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any real innovation since the release of the K-5 which is pushing toward three years ago. Therefore there hasn't been any technology to trickle down to the mid and now entry level offerings. Why is that? We can only guess that Hoya shut down most if not all of that activity and you can't restart it overnight (or even in a year or more). The Ricoh/Pentax litmus test may very well be the level of innovation and/or advancement seen in the K-5 successor. I think it will tell us a lot about what to expect throughout their product line down the road.

07-13-2013, 10:11 AM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaurenOE Quote
If Ricoh wants to be the Walmart/Sears/JCPenney/KMart of the camera world and pitch to the Honey Boo Boos, be my guest.
WOW! Well, Wally world has done rather well for itself. Sears/JCPenny/KMart (and I'll add Montgomery Wards) not so much lately but they all had their day. And I believe Honey Boo Boo needs a camera too.

Let me sum up:
Pentax Enthusiast goal for Pentax/Ricoh: Make world class professional level cameras and lenses that are better than Canikon offerings at about 2/3 the price. With 100% reliability and zero failure rate. Add new totally innovative products to the line on a weekly/monthly basis. A return to glory days of Spotmatic, so that all third party manufacturers will wait in line outside Ricoh office building to beg to be allowed to make their products for Pentax.
Pentax/Ricoh goal: Make money.

Despite what we enthusiasts might think or want I respectfully suggest there is a disconnect between what we want and what Ricoh wants. Lauren I feel your pain but what do you expect them to do? What "innovation" are you looking for? The sensor has to come from a sensor manufacturer, and I don't see an APS-C sensor out there that is significantly better than the one in the k-5. Better AF? What if you already know how to do that, but you cannot because the tech to do so is patented? Penalty for being behind is that someone else already patented the tech and there are limited ways to achieve things.

DSLR's are a mature market. Innovation now is being able to make something incrementally better at a lower manufacturing cost. The 'innovation' in the k-50/k-500 is not evident because it is (IMHO) in the manufacturing processes that we as consumers will never see. But if those changes allow Pentax to make a k-30 comparable camera at a lower cost how is that bad? More units sold, more margin dollars to Pentax.

Pentax Enthusiast concept of 'innovation': really cool new technology that has never been seen before and will force Canikon to close up shop in embarrassment.
Pentax/Ricoh concept of 'innovation': really boring new technology that makes it cheaper/faster/more efficient to build cameras and make money.
07-13-2013, 11:32 AM   #33
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Many of us started using Pentax when there was a clear, bright halo around their best equipment. Pentax regularly produced a milestone or masterpiece of one sort or another. Some of us even today will lust after and purchase such an item, even though 40 or 50 years old, and cherish and/or use it effectively (in some cases this is a mid-life crisis, but, hey!).

More recently there have been flashes of brilliance - FA Limiteds, K10D, DA15, maybe K5, but the halo was flickering.

Lots of us yearn for the excitement, the sublime thrill of using something better than the humdrum and we often had that with a Pentax label on it.

I think Lauren has twigged onto the idea that there won't be many more milestones from Pentax - alas, no more halo.

[EDIT] Following up from the post below: Somehow Ricoh has to tell the surfer grad student to think of a Pentax instead of a D600. That's what the halo is for. My "surfer grad student" switched from a my KX / her K1000SE to a Canon Rebel and hasn't ever looked back.

Last edited by monochrome; 07-13-2013 at 02:02 PM.
07-13-2013, 01:12 PM - 2 Likes   #34
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There are no "luxury" DSLR brands. Just models aimed at the pro market. Prosumers buffer the bottom line but basically about half the top-end DSLR market is made up of tax and capital depreciation.

Some aspects of the the product lines (FA Ltd's) edge up into luxury brand pricing, but not really escaping the boundaries of hobby pricing. People spend $80k on boats for their fishing "hobby" so a $1,200 birder long glass is a pittance. Really only Leica has ever pushed into the bling luxury realm. As with the failed attempt at smartphones going luxury (remember Nokia saying that's the only place the market could grow?) any attempt to turn your snapshot camera into anything more than a sophisticated macro shooter is going nowhere.

Photography is lifestyle discretionary spending. Pentax has always been a mainstream SLR brand, like all of them. That's what K-Mount is.

In order to keep higher-end products going at all, you need to pump out reasonably priced lower end to keep gross revenues up and pay the wages of the assembly one. Volume counts in photography. It makes this industry work at all. Don't forget that, despite huge success, Olympus exited the SLR market in the 1980's because it was so low margin. They became an almost exclusively P&S manufacturer. Konica, Yashica, Contax, Bronica, Minolta, are all gone.

If I buy a Porsche911 it will always be a Porsche 911. A luxury car that will beat out a Mazda 5.

But in the world o photography, my equivalent to a Mazda (K-x) can easily beat out a Porsche (Leica M8). Photography has always seen a higher-end compete against the vernacular. And most of the time, more in digital via Flickr etc. than ever before, the vernacular has won the day.

Today's anecdote:

Went to the beach with the kids. Took my new K-30 and 18-135. Got some family snaps. Went to the wash station after with a 2 year-old, my K-30, and a bunch of surfers. Took out the K-30 and lens, and ran them under the shower to clear off any salt spray and errant sand.

Within seconds I had 2 guys asking me about the camera. Their jaws literally dropped when they saw me holding it under the shower. I told them it was a brand new $880 Pentax K-30 with 18-135 lens, both weather sealed. One guy said: "I gotta get me one of those". I told them about this forum and the Pentax Canada ad. I also mentioned that only Pentax has WR at this price range. That REALLY impressed them. One of the guys has a Nikon D70 his parents got his for high school grad and was looking at the D600 but he's a grad student and money....suddenly my Pentax looked like an affordable option for a surfer/student vernacular lifestyle.

That is how you sell cameras and who you make them for and why. Get the shot, where you can, with the camera in the hands of the most keen people.

And just to prove I'm not making my story up:

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07-13-2013, 02:02 PM   #35
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QuoteOriginally posted by IchabodCrane Quote
Lauren, here's my take on the State of Ricoh/Pentax -- Innovation almost always starts at the top of the product line and then is trickled down from there. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any real innovation since the release of the K-5 which is pushing toward three years ago. Therefore there hasn't been any technology to trickle down to the mid and now entry level offerings. Why is that? We can only guess that Hoya shut down most if not all of that activity and you can't restart it overnight (or even in a year or more). The Ricoh/Pentax litmus test may very well be the level of innovation and/or advancement seen in the K-5 successor. I think it will tell us a lot about what to expect throughout their product line down the road.
Agree 100%
07-13-2013, 02:09 PM - 1 Like   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Many of us started using Pentax when there was a clear, bright halo around their best equipment. Pentax regularly produced a milestone or masterpiece of one sort or another. Some of us even today will lust after and purchase such an item, even though 40 or 50 years old, and cherish and/or use it effectively (in some cases this is a mid-life crisis, but, hey!).

More recently there have been flashes of brilliance - FA Limiteds, K10D, DA15, maybe K5, but the halo was flickering.

Lots of us yearn for the excitement, the sublime thrill of using something better than the humdrum and we often had that with a Pentax label on it.

I think Lauren has twigged onto the idea that there won't be many more milestones from Pentax - alas, no more halo.

[EDIT] Following up from the post below: Somehow Ricoh has to tell the surfer grad student to think of a Pentax instead of a D600. That's what the halo is for. My "surfer grad student" switched from a my KX / her K1000SE to a Canon Rebel and hasn't ever looked back.
Yep. I'm not seeing it anymore.

I don't have much confidence in the Ricoh brain trust. I will be the first to say I was wrong, and I would LOVE to be proven wrong. So far, the Ricoh acquisition is underwhelming.
07-13-2013, 02:15 PM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
While I'm inclined to agree that making cheap products is not the way to go, I don't see any evidence that Ricoh is doing that. Nor do I agree that the lack of any "new" high-end DSLR indicates a race to basement. On the contrary, it can easily be construed as evidence of how seriously Ricoh takes the brand. Ricoh knows that there are serious issues that have to be resolved in order for Pentax to become a credible competitor with Nikon and Canon. The most serious of those issues is AF. In the last PF interview, Pentax said that their development team wants to be number one in autofocus. That's not going to be easy. If it were easy, Pentax would've fixed the problem years ago.

There are any number of reasons why Pentax has shrunk from being a major player in the camera business back in the late seventies and early eighties to being the marginal player they are now; but the number one reason probably relates to autofocus. They were two years late to AF party and they've never been able to keep up with Canon or Nikon. And it's not like this is intentional. Pentax's top executives and engineers didn't get together in 1987 and say they wanted to have an inferior AF system to the competition. They just haven't been able to get it done, regardless of intentions. Fixing this problem is going to take time. People who want something new and compelling are going to have to be patient. But won't having a system with competitive AF be worth the wait?
Lots of good points here.

However, I feel the momentum since the Ricoh acquisition has stalled in a worse way than just restarting the R&D that Hoya continues to take the heat for. I gave Ricoh a wide latitude at first, but now it's looking not so much like Hoya did such a terrible job as so much of what is on sale now, is based on iterations of the Hoya brain trust.

The clock is *seriously* ticking on Ricoh in my perception.
07-13-2013, 02:24 PM   #38
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I would rather say momentum is lost, not gained when a company is sold/bought. In 2011, Pentax released no DSLR - something that never happened since the *istD. Now, they're trying to gain momentum again - and fix stringent problems like no true DSLR range.
Be patient for a little while; good things come to those who wait.

07-13-2013, 02:33 PM   #39
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The discussion here is chiefly based on personal opinion and expectations. A photographer of the mindset that a brand must meet a certain set of criteria to be successful in their eyes will consider that brand doomed quite often. Few companies remain set in their business model and style. Fewer still are consistently at the cutting edge of technology for all the industry's advances in the field. So with unrealistic expectations put on a brand, there will be a lot of disappointment.

Accepting Pentax as is means that we can either enjoy their products, or find a product by another brand that will meet our photographic demands, without having to call Pentax a failed brand for inadequacies we might personally consider they have. None of us run Pentax and as such we don't have a dog in this fight, and of course that doesn't mean we can talk about it, but Pentax has become what the company leaders have desired it to be, consistently low market share and all, and its products speak for themselves.

'Underwhelming' is the attitude we acquire when our expectations are set too high or in a direction that differs from the brand's own dynamic raison d'être. Rather, with contentment we can focus on the positives and just move on when we know there is a product available elsewhere that meets our needs better.


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07-13-2013, 02:54 PM   #40
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I lost a long post because I was timed out. Maybe that's a good thing.

Pentax won't be Canon and it won't be Nikon and we don't want it to be either. We want Pentax to be different.

Well, maybe our hopes are being realized. Now we seem to be saying, "But this isn't what I meant."

I still have hopes but my fingernails are getting short.
07-13-2013, 03:07 PM - 2 Likes   #41
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Damn, they are just human engineers, not Hogwarts magicians.
But even Harry Potter and Mr Albus Percival Dumbledore would be impressed with things that will be showed in the next 6 months;
- 4 new cameras in K mount
- 1 new camera in 645 mount
- 1 new in Q mount
- new TC and flash(es)
- new lenses
- compact hi-end cams
If they dare to show more, they'd be charged guilty for practicing witchcraft and Japanese inquisitors, Canon and Nikon, would light up the pyre.
2013/2014 will mark the best and the most productive time in the entire history of Pentax and Ricoh.
Damn, can't you hear the sound of hooves behind the hill, that will show up on the peak with first rays of dawn?
07-13-2013, 03:10 PM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Well, maybe our hopes are being realized. Now we seem to be saying, "But this isn't what I meant."
+1 We will get the Pentax that Ricoh wants, not the Pentax we want. Possibly, those two things will coincide but if not, then it will be time to look at a new brand. In the mean time my k-5 is making me happy. If Pentax comes out with an APS-C replacement I have the money already saved. if they come out with a FF then I will look and evaluate whether I want to make that move. If in a year or so they still don't have a new APS-C that I want, then I'll start looking elsewhere (very sadly).

If I derived all of my income from photography and I needed something better than the k-5 I would buy it tomorrow. A camera is just a tool, get the one that makes you the most money or the most happiness.
07-13-2013, 03:19 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by Uluru Quote
Damn, they are just human engineers, not Hogwarts magicians.
But even Harry Potter and Mr Albus Percival Dumbledore would be impressed with things that will be showed in the next 6 months;

This is going to ruin me
07-13-2013, 03:34 PM   #44
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This is all really a bunch of noise. Nothing has really changed.

They'll have a K-5 replacement by fall. It will have some advances and it will be criticized for some shortcomings. The body will be conservative but the ergonomics will be exemplary. K-30 people will complain about the body; K10/K20 people will like it.. There will be new lenses and there will be some bad news (the FA35/2 seems to be on closeout pricing at B&H. FA Limiteds next?). There will be an accessory but not the one some people want. There will be one major surprise but it won't be the one people expect.

Ricoh Imaging Americas will do a very good job demonstrating products at in-store events throughout the holiday buying season. No one will notice. The RIAC website will be updated late, riddled with errors and oversights. Listed items For Sale at UPP prices - everyone will nitpick.

James Malcolm will give a number interviews with digital and print media and the articles will be "qualified positive." DPR won't do a full review of anything until spring 2014 (meanwhile every pedestrian Canon, Nikon and Sony product will receive trumpets and hosannas). Thom Hogan will proclaim the death of Pentax. Mike Johnston will write something over-the-top positive about a Pentax lens that is no longer in production. The Luminous Landscape will write a fair and balanced review of the 645DII. There will one link thread at Pentax Forums about the review.

We will order from B&H and Adorama and Amazon and complain about no stores in our areas and write snarky posts and some of us will post image files.

So how is Pentax any different than it has been since 2006?

Last edited by monochrome; 07-14-2013 at 10:08 AM.
07-13-2013, 03:57 PM   #45
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