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11-01-2011, 05:05 PM   #811
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Which Sensor?

Since Pentax originally intended to produce a FF with it's first DSLR (MZ-D) and only went to APS-C because of inadequate or overpriced FF sensors, I'm sure it has kept up with FF development. There have been consistent rumours over the years of a Pentax FF being imminent, so I'm guessing at various times it has considered entering the market? That leads me to believe that it wouldn't take long to have a production ready FF DSLR if it so desired?

I guess if Pentax brought out a new FF DSLR next year, it would likely choose one of the new Sony sensors. It would be either the new 36MP version to appear in the Nikon D800 or the new 24MP sensor which Sony will use in at least one of it's new FF models, and likely to be far superior to the 24MP sensor used in it's A900/SA850. Which one would you prefer? I would have a slight preference for the 36MP, but 24MP with good noise figures at high ISO would be fine too.


Last edited by markac; 11-01-2011 at 05:10 PM.
11-01-2011, 05:28 PM   #812
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QuoteOriginally posted by markac Quote
Since Pentax originally intended to produce a FF with it's first DSLR (MZ-D) and only went to APS-C because of inadequate or overpriced FF sensors, I'm sure it has kept up with FF development. There have been consistent rumours over the years of a Pentax FF being imminent, so I'm guessing at various times it has considered entering the market? That leads me to believe that it wouldn't take long to have a production ready FF DSLR if it so desired?

I guess if Pentax brought out a new FF DSLR next year, it would likely choose one of the new Sony sensors. It would be either the new 36MP version to appear in the Nikon D800 or the new 24MP sensor which Sony will use in at least one of it's new FF models, and likely to be far superior to the 24MP sensor used in it's A900/SA850. Which one would you prefer? I would have a slight preference for the 36MP, but 24MP with good noise figures at high ISO would be fine too.
I think either of those sensors would be brilliant. Personally I'd like to see 24mp.
11-01-2011, 05:41 PM   #813
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I posted in the Ricoh "plug the gap" thread (and apparently RioRico posted about this 3 weeks ago) that it looks like Ricoh is going to reveal a new MILC in 2012 with a sensor bigger than the Q (but they didn't say how big the sensor was going to be):

EXCLUSIVE: Ricoh to Beef Up Digital Camera Biz [Jiji Press English News Service]

Who knows about FF now....
11-01-2011, 06:06 PM   #814
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QuoteOriginally posted by markac Quote
Since Pentax originally intended to produce a FF with it's first DSLR (MZ-D) and only went to APS-C because of inadequate or overpriced FF sensors, I'm sure it has kept up with FF development. There have been consistent rumours over the years of a Pentax FF being imminent, so I'm guessing at various times it has considered entering the market? That leads me to believe that it wouldn't take long to have a production ready FF DSLR if it so desired?

I guess if Pentax brought out a new FF DSLR next year, it would likely choose one of the new Sony sensors. It would be either the new 36MP version to appear in the Nikon D800 or the new 24MP sensor which Sony will use in at least one of it's new FF models, and likely to be far superior to the 24MP sensor used in it's A900/SA850. Which one would you prefer? I would have a slight preference for the 36MP, but 24MP with good noise figures at high ISO would be fine too.

I would prefer the sensor which has the best DR.

11-01-2011, 06:32 PM   #815
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QuoteOriginally posted by markac Quote
I guess if Pentax brought out a new FF DSLR next year, it would likely choose one of the new Sony sensors. It would be either the new 36MP version to appear in the Nikon D800 or the new 24MP sensor which Sony will use in at least one of it's new FF models, and likely to be far superior to the 24MP sensor used in it's A900/SA850. Which one would you prefer? I would have a slight preference for the 36MP, but 24MP with good noise figures at high ISO would be fine too.
I think the 24 mp sensor would be a great companion to my 10 mp K10D. The 645D currently has a 40 mp crop sensor, so I'd be surprised to see a 36 put in a FF unless Pentax has plans to upgrade sensors in the 645D. Besides, what do I need 36 mp for? My K10D has produced photos for billboards that looked great. I definitely wouldn't mind a bit more mp, but only at the cost of a bigger sensor.
11-01-2011, 07:20 PM   #816
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QuoteOriginally posted by markac Quote
I guess if Pentax brought out a new FF DSLR next year, it would likely choose one of the new Sony sensors. It would be either the new 36MP version to appear in the Nikon D800 or the new 24MP sensor which Sony will use in at least one of it's new FF models, and likely to be far superior to the 24MP sensor used in it's A900/SA850. Which one would you prefer? I would have a slight preference for the 36MP, but 24MP with good noise figures at high ISO would be fine too.
The only reason I can think of to justify a MP count that high is for extremely large prints. At 36 megapickles f/11 shows diffraction, whereas it doesn't set in until f/13 or f/16 on a 24MP full frame sensor. There's also the issue of file size. No, my vote is for 18~24 megapickles, any more than that and you really should be shooting medium format, or cropped MF as it were with the 645D.

Even though I'm not frightened by a $3000+ price tag, I'm not anxious to pay more than is necessary, I think a 36MP sensor would be big bucks, you're talking something more along the lines of the new Canon 1DX in terms of price.
11-01-2011, 07:37 PM   #817
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QuoteOriginally posted by Oog Quote
I posted in the Ricoh "plug the gap" thread (and apparently RioRico posted about this 3 weeks ago) that it looks like Ricoh is going to reveal a new MILC in 2012 with a sensor bigger than the Q (but they didn't say how big the sensor was going to be):

EXCLUSIVE: Ricoh to Beef Up Digital Camera Biz [Jiji Press English News Service]

Who knows about FF now....
I can only hope they are talking about the next step in R&D for the Q and Q-mount.. time will tell.. if not Canikon will continue to pickup the people wanting to stretch upto a FF setup due to lack of other FF alternatives.. would be different if Sony didn't sell their sensors to the competition, I bet Sony would be doing better in the Camera market.. Probably makes a mint from selling those sensors though..
11-01-2011, 10:31 PM   #818
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
The market has decisively spoken that features trump compactness.
Is that the chicken or the egg?

11-01-2011, 11:18 PM   #819
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QuoteOriginally posted by Oog Quote
I posted in the Ricoh "plug the gap" thread (and apparently RioRico posted about this 3 weeks ago) that it looks like Ricoh is going to reveal a new MILC in 2012 with a sensor bigger than the Q (but they didn't say how big the sensor was going to be): EXCLUSIVE: Ricoh to Beef Up Digital Camera Biz [Jiji Press English News Service]
Who knows about FF now..
I really can't see the point in all these interchangeable lens compacts. I either use my DSLR if I want to take some serious photos, or I use my compact which has a a 24-120mm equivalent lens and I'm fine with that. When using my compact, I certainly wouldn't want to fiddle about changing lenses. In fact I'd prefer something like Fuji's new X10 instead even though it has a smaller zoom range than my current compact.
11-02-2011, 01:14 AM   #820
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QuoteOriginally posted by markac Quote
I really can't see the point in all these interchangeable lens compacts.
It's not for you and not for me (I'm saving for a K-5), but it makes sense for anyone who would like to carry a camera with them all the time without compromising on IQ - and who thinks a K-5 is too large and heavy. That's why my daughter has decided to use her photo competition prize money on a NEX-7, but if NEX-7 delivery is postponed long enough and Pentax is fast enough, she may still change her mind
11-02-2011, 01:34 AM   #821
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This thread makes excellent reading for people like me who are not deeply into microelectronics or closely acquainted with the darker mysteries of latest camera design.



So what are we to conclude so far?
  • The FF pro sector is sewn up and not worth Pentax-Ricoh's time and effort?
  • To satisfy the enthusiast FF market Pentax's marketing people would want a chunky K-20 size body to include all the goodies they can think of and try selling it at 2,000 rather than a stripped-down *istDS-size containing the bare essentials at sub-1,000?
  • Alternatively, the APS-C dSLR sector has progressed so well that FF potential is now quite limited and entry would be risky at any price level?
  • An FF mirrorless solution would mean abandoning the K-mount because of registration distance?
  • What remains is an FF along the lines of the G12 or X100, with fixed fast prime of short-ish zoom.
As a G12 owner whose next purchase might well be an X100 I favour that last point as worth exploring but nobody seems to have covered that.
11-02-2011, 02:39 AM   #822
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QuoteOriginally posted by unfocused Quote
This thread makes excellent reading for people like me who are not deeply into microelectronics or closely acquainted with the darker mysteries of latest camera design.



So what are we to conclude so far?
  • The FF pro sector is sewn up and not worth Pentax-Ricoh's time and effort?
    No. Pentax can target advanced amateurs. It would be IMO next to impossible to go directly after the Canikon's pro market.
  • To satisfy the enthusiast FF market Pentax's marketing people would want a chunky K-20 size body to include all the goodies they can think of and try selling it at 2,000 rather than a stripped-down *istDS-size containing the bare essentials at sub-1,000?
    Yes. A sub-1,000 FF DSLR, no matter how stripped down is, IMHO, not feasible (that's way below K-5's launching price). And I'm afraid few would buy what will be called a "crippled" camera, instead of the "better" and only slightly more expensive competitors
  • Alternatively, the APS-C dSLR sector has progressed so well that FF potential is now quite limited and entry would be risky at any price level?
    No
  • An FF mirrorless solution would mean abandoning the K-mount because of registration distance?
    Yes
  • What remains is an FF along the lines of the G12 or X100, with fixed fast prime of short-ish zoom.
    Not sure it would work; too expensive to accept having a fixed lens
As a G12 owner whose next purchase might well be an X100 I favour that last point as worth exploring but nobody seems to have covered that.
11-02-2011, 03:25 AM   #823
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QuoteOriginally posted by markac Quote
Since Pentax originally intended to produce a FF with it's first DSLR (MZ-D) and only went to APS-C because of inadequate or overpriced FF sensors, I'm sure it has kept up with FF development. There have been consistent rumours over the years of a Pentax FF being imminent, so I'm guessing at various times it has considered entering the market? That leads me to believe that it wouldn't take long to have a production ready FF DSLR if it so desired?

I guess if Pentax brought out a new FF DSLR next year, it would likely choose one of the new Sony sensors. It would be either the new 36MP version to appear in the Nikon D800 or the new 24MP sensor which Sony will use in at least one of it's new FF models, and likely to be far superior to the 24MP sensor used in it's A900/SA850. Which one would you prefer? I would have a slight preference for the 36MP, but 24MP with good noise figures at high ISO would be fine too.
I would like the sensor that performce the best at iso 3200-6400 settings, since they probably are both very good in the iso 100-800 section.
11-02-2011, 04:49 AM   #824
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QuoteOriginally posted by wjjstu Quote
Originally posted by Aristophanes*
The market has decisively spoken that features trump compactness.
QuoteQuote:
Is that the chicken or the egg?
It's the historical data.

Whether it's the chicken or an egg depends on whether you are a fox or a possum.
11-02-2011, 05:31 AM   #825
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jan67 Quote
I am afraid, that there is no choice between features and compactness in FF now, except Leica M9.
First, the M9 is not really all that small. It's a 600g camera worth a huge amount of $$$. I have not been totally impressed with sample images from the sensor. I think the Sony and Canon sensors better. IQ is only as good as the weakest link.

QuoteOriginally posted by Jan67 Quote
Your business case remains in pro domain with relatively small amount of sold pcs and high price > $3000. No wonder, that FF market is so small !!
I am still convinced, that "walk around FF camera" has a potential to address many enthusiasts from all brands and would be therefore sold in much bigger pcs
The kicker with FF is the price per unit of the sensor. FF sensors have to be stitched. There 's some information out there this has become cheaper, but some that says FF sensor prices are high because neither Sony or Canon want to get into a price war and cannibalize their very lucrative APS-C business where the sensor price is as low as $80 per unit compared to the FF's $500-800 per unit.

At these prices, if Pentax gets into FF, it's going to be a me-too, Nikon D700/800 clone. Pentax would, like Canon or Nikon, require a fair bit of price separation between the K-5 or successor, and its FF flagship. The current separation between a Nikon D300 and D700 is almost $1,000.

Once you get well above $2,000 per camera body, the whole system on offer from the manufacturer is critical. At these prices one cannot under-spec the product. A lot of Sony rumour is that they pulled the A900 in part because of the lack of video. The camera was not drawing in any new consumers and the installed base was already sold through. That's a problem with pro quality gear: it's so durable and the product turnover so slow, that once the flurry of initial sales is over, there is no growth unless you poach from the other guy. Residual market appeal is tiny for discretionary spending products at these high prices.

Sony did try and grow the FF market by offering the A850 at less than $2,000 per body. And they put out some less expensive FF glass as well. Sony figured they could tap into the Minolta user base at leverage that with a lower-end FF, and then on price alone they could take some Canikon customers, and potential new customers as well.

It sounds like Sony ran into a revenue wall. The A850 has slightly inferior specs to the A900 at $500 more. Neither competed well with the Nikon D700 at about $600 more. The A850 simply did not achieve its market objectives. It did not sell well.

The conclusion from industry watchers, especially at retail, was that the market elasticity for cameras over $1,500 is really small. Above that price point competing on price alone is not enough. Compounding this is the issue of lens prices for FF and the whole cost of system buy-in. The A850 was rapidly cancelled and now the A900 has ceased manufacture. Sony has supplied some vague information about 1-3 new FF models in 2012. Rumour has it one will be an E-Mount.

If you're Pentax, and you have 40% of Sony's installed base (from Minolta Maxxum/Dynax days) the cost problem is even more acute because you have a smaller base to draw upon, and, worse, unlike Sony, you do not make your own sensors. Sony does. The supposed Holy Grail of a smaller DSLR package as a breakthrough sales tactic is a fantasy; there may be marginal form factor gains, but nothing to shake the market. You're still looking at a rather large camera...larger than APS-C. So how does Pentax compete for new customers in the FF market when Canon and Nikon have such huge advantages like flash systems and twin lines of FF glass (f/2.8 pro and f/4 prosumer)? Price? Is Ricoh going to take staggering losses that Sony was not willing to take? I doubt that. Lenses? Realistically zooms far outsell primes, so that Pentax advantage is not a sales driver.

And no one really knows how the overall DSLR vs. mirrorless duel will play out, throwing another wrench into the market size issue. If the DSLR form factor starts to look out-of-date and bulky compared to, say, the NEX-7, and perhaps any E-Mount FF from Sony next year (and whatever Canon has in their skunkworks), then a Pentax DSLR may have zero traction to attract any new customers from what is a shrinking market profile. If the ILC market grows at 8% per annum, but the FF DSLR market grows only at 0.5% per annum, Pentax has a serious revenue problem and likely no ROI on an FF investment. It's not the first year of FF sales that kill you because the pent-up demand is there from a core base, for sure; it's years 2-5 of the product's life cycle. For that to play out you need strong sales of that product over that timeframe. Unlikely if the FF market grows much slower than other ILC markets.

The biggest hope for Pentax FF is for Sony, Nikon, and Canon to willingly chew up their own top-end APS-C user base (Nikon D300, Canon 60D) by getting into a FF sensor price war. Then the price per unit drops and Pentax can make a move. Until that happens, I cannot see a Pentax FF in the near future. The price is a huge barrier.
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