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09-28-2008, 08:02 AM   #1
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Future laid out by Pentax -- no full-frame

Someone must have noticed this already, but I cannot find the thread. An interview with the Pentax Manager of Business Development. It sets out the future of Pentax quite clearly. Interview in Japanese. Google translation. (Quite entertaining.) Discussion thread at dpreview.

The highlights (Japanese speakers please debate these interpretations):

1. Updates to K200D and K20D next summer with improved ASP-C sensor to rival full-frame image quality.

2. There are no plans for 35mm full-size sensor but instead development of superior 645 digital is ongoing, the result targeted to serious amateurs. (Therefore cheaper than rival systems?)

My opinion: this is brilliant news. Rather than playing in the already crowded FF sandbox, Pentax will leap-frog to medium format, leveraging the skill and lens availability they already have in this area. Meanwhile their concentrated focus on APS-C will be developed to the max.

09-28-2008, 08:55 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote

My opinion: this is brilliant news. Rather than playing in the already crowded FF sandbox, Pentax will leap-frog to medium format, leveraging the skill and lens availability they already have in this area. Meanwhile their concentrated focus on APS-C will be developed to the max.
I dont disagree with the rest of your post I just wanted to mark some facts about this afirmation:

Crowded Full Frame makers: Nikon, Canon and Sony
Medium Format makers: Leaf, hasselbladt, mamiya, Leica, Phase one, Nikon MX?
Cropped sensors: Sony, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Fuji (dying), Sigma, Olympus, Panasonic...

I dont know, I dont see FF being crowded compare to the rest. At any case, I wouldnt buy a FF or a MF from Pentax. They are way behind in what they need to make those systems really compelling but I do see them being able to put together a really nice APS-C system with just a couple of tweaks in the AF capabilities.
09-28-2008, 09:36 AM   #3
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It is true that there are many players in MF. But how many of them offer inexpensive products? I believe this is the market Pentax is targetting. Hasselblad has lowered the price of the H3DII-31 significantly to $18K. Pentax apparently thinks they can aggresively compete even with that price point, likely because a good amount of their R&D has already been done and written off with the Hoya purchase.

In the other arena FF prices have come down a good deal as Canon and Nikon desperately compete for a small market slice. By avoiding this profit disaster Pentax seems to be making a good move.
09-28-2008, 11:12 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gruoso Quote
Crowded Full Frame makers: Nikon, Canon and Sony
Medium Format makers: Leaf, hasselbladt, mamiya, Leica, Phase one, Nikon MX?
Cropped sensors: Sony, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Fuji (dying), Sigma, Olympus, Panasonic...
I don't think Fuji is dying; rather, they had a few niche-market products they were experimenting with and may continue to experiment with. It's all Nikon mount, so no one in that system is trapped in a dead-end.


Olympus and Panasonic should be put into a separate 4/3rds bin. Sigma's main characteristic is Foveon sensor size is secondary. And presumably, Sony, Canon, and Nikon are going to aim at full frame for their "serious" offerings and leave cropped sensors for the low-end.

That leaves Pentax alone in a pretty sweet niche of 1.5 crop advanced cameras.

09-28-2008, 11:17 AM   #5
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this was discussed in this thread here https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-news-rumors/37971-pentax-interview.html
09-28-2008, 11:22 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote
I don't think Fuji is dying; rather, they had a few niche-market products they were experimenting with and may continue to experiment with. It's all Nikon mount, so no one in that system is trapped in a dead-end.


Olympus and Panasonic should be put into a separate 4/3rds bin. Sigma's main characteristic is Foveon sensor size is secondary. And presumably, Sony, Canon, and Nikon are going to aim at full frame for their "serious" offerings and leave cropped sensors for the low-end.

That leaves Pentax alone in a pretty sweet niche of 1.5 crop advanced cameras.
Which means folks that Pentax are the only people likely to make quality glass for APSC cameras while N, C and S are forced to hang on their their expensive legacy lenses and their customers are forced to pay for them even if they use a cropped sensor camera.

Hence: If your budget for a new camera is $1000 or less, Pentax offers the best overall solution in that price bracket.
09-28-2008, 12:38 PM   #7
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QuoteQuote:
Which means folks that Pentax are the only people likely to make quality glass for APSC cameras while N, C and S are forced to hang on their their expensive legacy lenses and their customers are forced to pay for them even if they use a cropped sensor camera.

Hence: If your budget for a new camera is $1000 or less, Pentax offers the best overall solution in that price bracket.

I agree with this comment
09-28-2008, 01:38 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by *isteve Quote
Which means folks that Pentax are the only people likely to make quality glass for APSC cameras while N, C and S are forced to hang on their their expensive legacy lenses and their customers are forced to pay for them even if they use a cropped sensor camera.

Hence: If your budget for a new camera is $1000 or less, Pentax offers the best overall solution in that price bracket.
Exactly. I'd like to drool over a $2000 camera, but I'd rather spend less than a thousand and have the rest to spend on lenses.

Or more realistically, on heating my house.

And maybe I can then afford to upgrade that sub-$1k body every two or three years (hopefully reselling the old one at a decent price), which will provide much greater value to me than breaking the bank once on a high-end model that I can't afford to replace. If you happen to be in the price bracket where that's not a concern, I guess I'm sorry for you (okay, not very sorry), but personally I'm happy that Pentax's target market appears to be me.

09-28-2008, 01:46 PM   #9
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Yes, I too agree. The money should be in the lenses.

And for those with more money, Pentax will offer a MF camera with significantly larger sensor size than even Hasselblad, likely for a good deal less money. The full-frame market will then be even more squeezed.
09-28-2008, 02:11 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote

...And presumably, Sony, Canon, and Nikon are going to aim at full frame for their "serious" offerings and leave cropped sensors for the low-end.

That leaves Pentax alone in a pretty sweet niche of 1.5 crop advanced cameras.
I agree that FF will become the standard for "serious" cameras, probably within the next 18 months and that the entry point will be in the $1200 range.

I guess that leaves Pentax keeping company with the low-end toys. (No offense intended to buyers in that price bracket, I do truly appreciate the current bang-for-the-buck of the current Pentax line.)

Now you have ask, why the move to FF for the "serious" cameras? The answer is easy...better performance match to existing optical technology. Just take a look at any recent lens review for FF lenses at dpreview.com. They test these both for APS-C and FF. The FF results generally blow the APS-C results away. The reason? You need more than just higher pixel density on the detector to produce results equivalent to even 35mm film. You need lenses capable of resolving to the APS-C format that are relatively free of aberration and distortion. Resolving to the APS-C format means resolution 1.5 times the historical standard set for film.

Good as the current crop of cropped-sensor lenses are, they really are no competition with what you can do on film with FF glass of similar quality and design. This is particularly true at the wide-angle end of the spectrum. With the development of high-resolution FF and larger sensors, the APS-C format may truly become somewhat of a dead-end except to support smaller lighter cameras.

Before everyone starts picking up rocks to hurl...

I would not be speaking so strongly except that I took some time this week to take a good look at a 11x14 black and white print that I made in the mid-1980's. The print was made from a 35mm Kodak Technical Pan negative on a LPL medium format enlarger sporting a Schneider Componon-S. The taking lens was a Tamron Adaptall-2 28/2.5, the exact same lens as is listed in my signature.

Now, I can take a loupe and scan that print and see extreme detail in the wooden door and rusted hardware of the subject (an old barn door). (I guess that is the old school equivalent to pixel peeping.) There is NO WAY that lens will provide an equivalent level of performance on my K10D. I know that for sure, I have tried!

So, why did I choose that particular print for comparison? It is because of the Technical Pan negative. The film is widely acknowledged to have had the ability to out-resolve the best optics that were put in front of it due to its virtually grainless thin emulsion. (Very, very difficult to use a grain focusing aid with, BTW.) There truly is nothing that compares in the current crop of consumer digital detectors or film, for that matter.

So, we have a middling lens, superb capture medium, and really, really good results. What, I now ask, would have been my results if I had cropped the subject to a 1.5 factor? I would have 2/3rds the detail based solely on the resolution of the lens. Simply put.

Now to muddy the waters further, what if I were to attempt the same shot today (the barn is still there) with my K10D? I would not be able to do it with my Tamron 28/2.5. Instead I would have to use a 18mm ultra-wide costing 2-3 times the inflation-adjusted price of the Tamron. It will likely not offer the low-distortion, rectilinear view of the Tamron, nor will it likely offer the center to edge sharpness. Do I need to mention the image degradation due to CA that characterizes this class of lens?

Now, that is the end of my rant. I could say quite a bit more, but the central issue of image quality remains.

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 09-28-2008 at 02:35 PM.
09-28-2008, 02:32 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
2. There are no plans for 35mm full-size sensor but instead development of superior 645 digital is ongoing, the result targeted to serious amateurs. (Therefore cheaper than rival systems?)

My opinion: this is brilliant news. Rather than playing in the already crowded FF sandbox, Pentax will leap-frog to medium format, leveraging the skill and lens availability they already have in this area. Meanwhile their concentrated focus on APS-C will be developed to the max.
This is definitely one of the best news I heard lately. Some of my 645 lenses are seldomly used with a couple of ruined films hehe. I would love to see this being looked into further...
09-28-2008, 03:24 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I agree that FF will become the standard for "serious" cameras, probably within the next 18 months and that the entry point will be in the $1200 range.
Except that FF cameras are monsters. Even the D700 is a very large camera by any measure. This is very restrictive to amateur sales. Physics and design limitations can only shrink the form factor marginally. Pushing 1 kg just for the body and battery, they inhibit portability and can be lugs to carry and hold, especially for persons with smaller hands. Throw in big glass and they quickly veer into the real of tripod only use. Even the 5D feels big and is 40% more mass than its APS-C relatives. Larger form factors always entail bigger production costs. Thus, FF will always have an affordability issue in relative terms.

I do not see them becoming the sole offering for "serious cameras". They have demonstrable negatives. Remember: in the pre-digital days the biggest gains in sales for SLR's occurred when Minolta spurred sales with a smaller form factor.

As for IQ, the film versus digital debate rages on and on on.
09-28-2008, 04:03 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Except that FF cameras are monsters. Even the D700 is a very large camera by any measure. This is very restrictive to amateur sales. Physics and design limitations can only shrink the form factor marginally. Pushing 1 kg just for the body and battery, they inhibit portability and can be lugs to carry and hold, especially for persons with smaller hands. Throw in big glass and they quickly veer into the real of tripod only use. Even the 5D feels big and is 40% more mass than its APS-C relatives. Larger form factors always entail bigger production costs. Thus, FF will always have an affordability issue in relative terms.

I do not see them becoming the sole offering for "serious cameras". They have demonstrable negatives. Remember: in the pre-digital days the biggest gains in sales for SLR's occurred when Minolta spurred sales with a smaller form factor.

As for IQ, the film versus digital debate rages on and on on.
I disagree; this argument is repeatedly made, but rarely on a "like kind and quality" basis. The sensor size does not have to result in big size/weight gains at all. If you compare the Nikon D700 and D300, you'll see there is very little difference, and the main growth is the bigger prism.

D300 vs D700 - size compared - Nikon D700

Weight difference (body only, w/o batteries):

D700: 33.6 oz./995g
D300: 29.2 oz./825g

4.4 oz is hardly a huge difference - in fact you'd be hard pressed to feel a difference that small without actually measuring it.
09-28-2008, 04:10 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Except that FF cameras are monsters. Even the D700 is a very large camera by any measure. This is very restrictive to amateur sales. Physics and design limitations can only shrink the form factor marginally. Pushing 1 kg just for the body and battery, they inhibit portability and can be lugs to carry and hold, especially for persons with smaller hands. Throw in big glass and they quickly veer into the real of tripod only use. Even the 5D feels big and is 40% more mass than its APS-C relatives. Larger form factors always entail bigger production costs. Thus, FF will always have an affordability issue in relative terms.

I do not see them becoming the sole offering for "serious cameras". They have demonstrable negatives. Remember: in the pre-digital days the biggest gains in sales for SLR's occurred when Minolta spurred sales with a smaller form factor.

As for IQ, the film versus digital debate rages on and on on.
I agree with the comment about the large size of FF bodies. Actually, I have wondered about the large size of most pro-level digital SLRs. It can't be the sensor size. The Nikon D40 is almost too small for my big hands, but it has the same size sensor as its monstrous brothers. It might be the AF motor. Who knows.

BTW, which Minolta model are you referring to? I remember things getting hot with the release of the Olympus OM-1 and the whole flock of smaller, full-featured cameras that followed. Exposure automation, electronic shutters, and light nimble cameras...yep, those were the good old days...

Steve

(He who hijacks threads...)
09-28-2008, 04:44 PM   #15
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A week ago no one would have been able to dismiss FF in this way without considerable more resistance from those many strong advocates for FF at this forum. Were are they now, after a photokina without Pentax FF? Busy selling their Pentax gear and buying canikony?

Now if one just know that 645D would become true, one should start buying some old 645 lenses...I've seen some go quite cheaply and whenever Pentax really begins to produce a 645D, the old glass is likely to go up in price, right? I'm not thinking as an investment, but I've always wanted a 645, and even if Pentax tries a price below Hasselblad and others, it is likely to cost a bit. So it would help to be able to start with some old glass.
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