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02-10-2023, 06:17 PM - 33 Likes   #1
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Pentax Interview in Cameraman Magazine from Late 2022

At the end of 2022, there was a article in the Japanese magazine Cameraman #7 (2022-2023, p.59-63) with a lengthy panel discussion on Ricoh Imaging. Representing Ricoh was Hiraku Kawauchi, in charge of marketing. Some other photographers and journalists were in the discussion, which covered a lot of topics.

In terms of timing, this magazine came out after the KF had been released, but the discussion had taken place before that. Therefore, there was no specific mention of the KF, the K-3 III monochrome or the Film Project.

This is not a paragraph by paragraph summary of what Kawauchi-san said. Iíve summarised in the way I see fit. Also, please note that I cannot use machine translation with this, so my translation may be less than perfect. Finally, the agenda was basically what the panelists asked and they just didn't ask about lenses much.

Separating Pentax from GR
- In 2022, Ricoh Imaging has separated GR and Pentax and reviewed their sales strategy
- Separating them financially gives more clarity and freedom to use their brand strength to come out with new products
- Kawauchi-san covers both brands
- They still share parts and technology where itís efficient or cheaper. For example, purchasing LCD screens
- The OS development is another point of collaboration
- They had had some push back from brand-loyal customers who didnít like some sharing of functions that they perceived to weaken the brand. For example, some GR users reacted badly to the extra Pentax exposure modes that appeared on the GR (and GR II), such as SV

About the 645z
- They are currently considering new sensors for the next 645 camera, but they donít have anything specific to say
- K-mount is the number one priority at the moment
- Demand is also a problem
- There is an issue with to what extent older lenses will be usable on a new sensor
- The current 645z is extremely good value
- It would not be possible to come out with something at the same price now
- (Asked about a mirrorless 645) It would be unfair to the people who had gathered their existing lenses
- (When suggested that an adapter would solve this) Yes, but there would be an expectation that they would come out with a whole set of new lenses, which would not be realistic for many years

Seasonal lens-specific custom image profiles
- Lots of criticism from the panelists about the profiles being limited to only certain lenses and only the HD variants
- Kawauchi-san explained that the idea was to give a small gift to people purchasing the senses as a thank you or incentive
- The panelists were not having this, and said it was really ďmeanĒ
- I think itís fair to say that Pentax is hearing this feedback loud and clear in Japan too

GR III and GR IIIx
- They had been concerned that making the GR IIIx would take sales from the GR III
- This was not the case and in fact both cameras have been selling above projections
- In fact, many GR III users are also buying GR IIIx cameras in addition
- People with both often want to have the second one in a different colour to distinguish
- Ricoh has kind of committed to always having a colour variant available to allow this

About the K-mount cameras
- The panelists were saying that they donít like or donít use the K-1 II flip screen. Kawauchi-san responded that they have great feedback from it and that they hear many people wanted the screen on the K-3 III. Interesting to hear the Pentax guy defending the flip screen.
- There was a discussion about the new OS (firmware) on the K-3 III, and Kawauchi mentioned that a hypothetical K-1 III would have the new OS too. At no point did the panelists ask about the K-1 II successor and he just came out with that as an example
- The K-70 was known to have been discontinued at this point, and Kawauchi said that a the K-3 III is to expensive as an entry point for beginners and students, so there would be a standard model going forward. This was obviously the thinking behind keeping the KF in the line-up

Other topics (of less interest outside Japan)
- J Limited was discussed. The concept was explained and panelists said how they had not been able to understand the appeal from images. They only got it when they saw the models in reality.
- The Club House and other recent face-to-face marketing events for Pentax and GR were discussed
- At the time CP+ participation was still not confirmed, but we know they decided not to have a booth in 2023.

The final comments were that 2022 had been year where a lot happened for Ricoh Imaging with reorganizations and other changes. Kawauchi-san apologized that they hadnít been able to come out with many new products. It was a year of taking important steps for the future. Although 2022 was a quiet year, expect more to be excited about in 2023.

Another disclaimer at this point that I may have misunderstood some things while reading.

My interpretation - The opinion part
I got a few impressions from the interview.
- Ricoh Imaging have not been idle in 2022, but just not able to release many products. Their company is now reorganized in the the way they want it.
- 645 is not abandoned and there will be a new model at some point. However, it is not the priority. I get the feeling that we will not see a camera based on the 100mp sensor. Total speculation, but larger, less dense sensor would seem to be a better solution for the problems they mentioned, or even a new film model.
- If their focus is on K-mount, it must mean a full frame camera at this point. A ďK-1 IIIĒ will come and when it does, it will likely retain the flip screen.
- I think they might yet come back to exhibiting at CP+ at some time in future. Perhaps they just want to see how it goes in 2023.

02-10-2023, 06:50 PM   #2
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Fujifilm GFX is selling so strong (as a Medium Format), many customers use the GFX system only to pair with 3rd party FF Lenses, just like how the mirror less system thrives

Can a new 645 survive? I wonder
02-10-2023, 07:11 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
They are currently considering new sensors for the next 645 camera
Are you serious?! Even Hassy moved their behind and joined the party. Realistically, it is now a one man race, Fuji. For a new 645Z, they do not have lenses for it and they are 200 meters behind in a 400 meter race. Why bother?

Focus on a new K1 and hope people still care enough to buy it. Flippy screen is one feature I loved about the K1 line. Do away with it and watch what happens. Talk about backward thinking. Pentax used to innovate now they are reverse innovating. What a shame.
02-10-2023, 07:23 PM - 3 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
Focus on a new K1 and hope people still care enough to buy it. Flippy screen is one feature I loved about the K1 line. Do away with it and watch what happens. Talk about backward thinking. Pentax used to innovate now they are reverse innovating. What a shame.
Here:
QuoteQuote:
- The panelists were saying that they don’t like or don’t use the K-1 II flip screen. Kawauchi-san responded that they have great feedback from it and that they hear many people wanted the screen on the K-3 III. Interesting to hear the Pentax guy defending the flip screen.


02-10-2023, 08:00 PM   #5
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ďYou have such a head for knowing!Ē a line from the movies Moonstruck.
02-10-2023, 08:09 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
Realistically, it is now a one man race, Fuji.
Because 51 MP isn't enough?
02-10-2023, 08:29 PM - 16 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
Are you serious?! Even Hassy moved their behind and joined the party. Realistically, it is now a one man race, Fuji. For a new 645Z, they do not have lenses for it and they are 200 meters behind in a 400 meter race. Why bother?

Focus on a new K1 and hope people still care enough to buy it. Flippy screen is one feature I loved about the K1 line. Do away with it and watch what happens. Talk about backward thinking. Pentax used to innovate now they are reverse innovating. What a shame.
Was my writing so bad that it could be interpreted as the exact opposite of what I intended?

I mean they understand there is limited demand for a new 645 and that the existing lenses would have performance problems. Anyway, they are focusing on K-Mount.

Also, the Pentax rep was speaking in support of the Cross-tilt screen.

In both cases itís the exact opposite of what you said.

02-10-2023, 08:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
“You have such a head for knowing!” a line from the movies Moonstruck.
Moonstruck was on just the other day, my wife was watching it.

Last edited by luftfluss; 02-10-2023 at 09:01 PM.
02-10-2023, 08:59 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Because 51 MP isn't enough?
It is probably tough from a marketing perspective, being that there are $2000 FF cameras that are just barely behind in resolution, not mention several FF bodies offering more MP.

If Pentax doesn't bump up the MP, they really need to come up with something novel, other than it being a DSLR.
02-10-2023, 09:07 PM - 10 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Was my writing so bad that it could be interpreted as the exact opposite of what I intended?
Not at all, it happens surprisingly often that someone's misdirected outrage causes problems with their vision. Your wording is clear and perceptive, as usual.

---------- Post added 02-10-23 at 10:25 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
It is probably tough from a marketing perspective
The problem is that the extra pixels don't add anything of value to the photographs themselves; at the cost of extra computing power (both in camera and in post), the extra resolution is only of value to "measure-bators" and makes it easier to pick out fly poop from ground pepper. Any comparison of images between the GFX and the 645Z that I've seen, the 645Z images are noticeably better. A 645Z that tries to compete with the feature list of the GFX is going to be far too expensive to be attractive to the type of buyers that are excited by the GFX.
02-10-2023, 09:59 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
The problem is that the extra pixels don't add anything of value to the photographs themselves; at the cost of extra computing power (both in camera and in post), the extra resolution is only of value to "measure-bators" and makes it easier to pick out fly poop from ground pepper.
I mostly agree with you, at least as far as it pertains to my own photography. I can't speak for the needs of other individuals, though.
02-10-2023, 11:24 PM - 3 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
Are you serious?! Even Hassy moved their behind and joined the party. Realistically, it is now a one man race, Fuji. For a new 645Z, they do not have lenses for it and they are 200 meters behind in a 400 meter race. Why bother?
I think it's a misconception to believe that Pentax (Ricoh) are even trying to compete. What they do is to capture pocket of cash from their (slowly shrinking) customer base. The K1 was banking on loyal customers having legacy glass. The 645 was banking on loyal customers having legacy 645 film glass. They ignore time, ignore competition, ignore market share. You can stay with Pentax if you like Pentax style of gear or having a raft full of Pentax lenses, but if you want competitive gear you have to leave because Ricoh only care about juicing or milking the Pentax cow (for the quarterly profits). So Ricoh may be making a 645z successor if they can make profits out of it by charging appropriate price to loyal or lens hooked customers.

---------- Post added 11-02-23 at 07:37 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
Pentax used to innovate now they are reverse innovating. What a shame.
Ricoh does the financial engineering, Pentax crew do what they can to please CFOs, not customers. It's one of these mistakes large companies do, when they start to give more importance to the CFO and shareholders than they give to customers, although customers are the primary source of money for any business. Good businesses put customers first, and that's how CFO get their numbers, not the other way around.

---------- Post added 11-02-23 at 07:43 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Because 51 MP isn't enough?
Because full frame does 50Mpixels, and medium format is more than full frame. There is a market for medium format, but I reckon the market is small.

---------- Post added 11-02-23 at 07:55 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
The problem is that the extra pixels don't add anything of value to the photographs themselves; at the cost of extra computing power (both in camera and in post), the extra resolution is only of value to "measure-bators" and makes it easier to pick out fly poop from ground pepper.
If that was truly the case, and everyone agreed on it, the camera market would have imploded long ago. YMMV, depends how large you print, what subject matter and quality you expect. If the "measure-bators" have enough money to spend, then why not, and BTW any fresh money coming from customers is the starting point to please financial officiers, not the other way around. Just make the products people want to buy. Telling people that they don't need new products is the opposite of marketing, with such approach all economies would collapse and plunge everyone in the dark.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-10-2023 at 11:44 PM.
02-11-2023, 12:06 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
- K-mount is the number one priority at the moment
QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
- There was a discussion about the new OS (firmware) on the K-3 III, and Kawauchi mentioned that a hypothetical K-1 III would have the new OS too.
QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Although 2022 was a quiet year, expect more to be excited about in 2023.
All this sounds awesome!

A K-1 III in 2023 would be fantastic.

As for the profiles that are limited to only certain lenses, I struggle to relate to the criticism. These are JPEG profiles and I while I shot JPEG in the very beginning, it did not take me long to fully move on to raw files.
02-11-2023, 01:50 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Just a question about the sense of increasing pixel density on the 645. What is the diffraction limit on 100mp at crop medium format size? Would it be like 26mp on APS-C or 60mp on fill frame? That seems to be about f8, or something like that.

It strikes me that that would be a problem for a system that is mainly used by landscape photographers. A lot of the images I see taken with 645 cameras are on film and stopped down to f16 or f22. Wouldn't the increase in megapixels be pointless for these users? That's why Pentax is really thinking hard about how this mount can coexist with full frame K-mount and offer something of value over GFX. Going up in sensor size is one way but not feasible yet. Either that or a film model.

But anyway, it's clear from Kawauchi-san's comments that this is not the priority and K-mount is.

QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
A K-1 III in 2023 would be fantastic.
I really hope it happens. I don't want to get false hopes up though. I thought it would happen late last year, so what do I know?
02-11-2023, 02:03 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
Just a question about the sense of increasing pixel density on the 645. What is the diffraction limit on 100mp at crop medium format size? Would it be like 26mp on APS-C or 60mp on fill frame? That seems to be about f8, or something like that.
The diffraction limit where no further detail is recorded is very very far. Typically, the MTF50 of diffraction is 2000 lppm / f_number. So, MTF50 of f/10 diffraction is 200 line pairs per mm, that's four times higher than the MTF50 of optical elements usually around 50 line pairs per mm. Extinction diffraction limit (MTF contrast = 0) is much further than MTF50. I've made an experiment with my K1, I stitched 4x4 image mosaic shot at f32 (lots of diffraction), and compared to a single shot at f/8 (32/4=8). The stitched image composite at f/32 contained way more details than the single image at f/8. An 8x10 film capture at f/64 will noticeably outre-solve a 4x5 capture at f/32, so diffraction at f/64 is still not limiting system resolution. Currently, for digital cameras, the only practical limit of pixel count is image processing time vs processing power and memory depth and speed of data buses.

One of the thing, where I think there is a difference is the wall sizes available in different parts of the world. I can see for framing, frame sizes are larger in the US than they are in Europe. In Europe, commonly available tools for fine art framing usually top at around 40 to 48 inches (70x100 cm to 80x120 cm), whereas in the US I've seen a lot of fine art pieces easily exceed 60 or 70 inches (150 cm wide to 180 cm wide) is not usual. In Japan, the market may be different because accommodation tend to be smaller, especially in highly populated cities like Tokyo, so I guess the need for high mega pixel cameras would be less in Japan. When Pentax displayed framed pictures in galleries, glass frames were no larger than 16"x24". So the kind of cameras Ricoh would develop may depend on how much priority they assign to the European and north American market. To me it looks like Fujifilm GFX100s was aimed at serving the US professional market segment, as the 102 Mpixels is fully used when making 60" prints or larger framed fine art pieces sold in the US real estate / home market. I don't see a lot of market for Pentax in the medium format high resolution, simply because most people on the forum will say that they don't need a lot of megapixels for their hobby / posting images on social media, the majority of people who never print usually give a hint of a hobby camera market.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 02-11-2023 at 02:25 AM.
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