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11-08-2013, 12:50 PM   #1
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Treading The FF Waters

Hello All,
Since it appears R/P is on track to jump into the FF market eventually, possibly as soon as 2014, it is in their best interest to observe what's already out there and what they're up against. Warning, it's pretty intimidating!
Let's just use the mighty Nikon FF line as an example. Which body market pricepoint should Pentax shoot for?
D3X- $6300
D4- $6000
D800E- $3000
Df- $2700 (note; This is a retro-style body)
D610- $2000 (replacing the D600- $1900)
I'm guessing most would say the $2000-$3000 point, which means conceding the upper-tier and 'pro' market altogether. Probably a good choice, since we now come to a crucial issue, the elephant in the room; Lenses.
Oh, sure, the chorus of Pentaxians exclaim, we have 26 million FF lenses available! More than Canikony combined!
Let's think that logic through, OK? Do you really believe Pentax should introduce an entirely new (for them) digital format camera, adding that we don't have many lenses YET. However, these fine folks, who just plunked down 2-3 thousand dollars can simply go on eBay for used lenses?
There's a market tactic with absolutely no upside, sorta' like selling a car with no tires. What could possibly go wrong?
Forum members tend to overlook this major issue, since we all (or, most) have legacy lenses. Here's the key phrase; NEW customers. As long as the FF Pentax uses the K-mount, they won't lose the existing ones. This is about increasing the market share, not just selling a new product to a handful of the old ones.
But Pentax does have SOME newer FF-compatable lenses, don't they? Well, the FA's are originally 35mm lenses. And 20 years old. Let's hold off on that.
The DA's are primarily APS-C design, some may work, many won't. Leaving a few D-FA's. Raring to compete against this lineup (Nikon, again);

20mm f/2.8- $600
24mm f/3.5 Tilt/Shift- $2,000
28mm f/1.8- $700
35mm f.1,4G- $1,700
40mm f/2.8 Micro- $300
45mm f/2.8 Tilt/Shift- $1,700
50mm f/1.8G- $200
58mm f/1.4G- $1,700
85mm f/1.4G- $500
200mm f/2.0- $6,000

14-24mm f/2.8G- $2,000
18-35 f/3.5-4.5- $750
24-70mm f/2.8G- $1,900
24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G- $600
24-120mm f/4.0G- $1,300
28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G- $1,000
70-200mm f/2.8G- $2,400
80-400mm f4.5-5.6G- $2,700
I'll bet there's more, this was from the first few pages of B+H's Nikon lens selection. Plus, grips, teleconverters, all other accessories.
Even if Pentax chose to address HALF these focal lengths at first, that's 8 or 9 premium quality primes and zooms, most of which don't even exist in modern Pentax FF stock. Try to wrap your mind around the R+D resources needed to fill that quota!
Oh, yes, and stay on top of APS-C, also?
Still sound like a good idea? For the lower-end of the FF market, not the high end/pro segment?
Even the bottomless pockets of Sony Corp gets slammed for a short FF lens lineup. Could R/P do better in a short time?
Lots to lose, little to gain. Worse, if the LX-D or K-1 isn't at least as good as the Canon and Nikon (and Sony) price-range competition, everything to lose.
Stick with what you do best. The premimum APS-C market is there for the taking. Pick your fights well.

11-08-2013, 01:12 PM   #2
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Good analysis. But Nikon didnt have all of that available on day 1, right? A complete lineup is a slow process. If Pentax releases FF, the first FF would have to be a) better than the K-3 b) better than the low-tier FF cameras of rival brands. So the price range you listed seems about right.
Pentax could do the FF breakthrough in steps: start with an odd FF like a mirrorless K-02, so it would be cheaper and would exploit a niche (and also avoid comparisons with real DSLRs), then release a couple more FA lenses, and finally a flagship FF DSLR. All of these within a year or two, learning from each of the steps along the way.
Or Ricoh might buy some FF lenses from other brands and rebrand them as Pentax, until Pentax starts producing FF lenses. It all depends how much capital it has to work with.
11-08-2013, 01:31 PM   #3
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Sort Of?

QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Good analysis. But Nikon didnt have all of that available on day 1, right? A complete lineup is a slow process.
No, but Pentax won't be competing against Nikon's first-day lineup. Or Canon's or Sony's. They'll be competing with, measured against, evaluated by the yardstick of what's available now. And they'll come up short, very short. 5 good primes and a couple zooms? Sony gets ridiculed daily for that lineup.
In business, especially one as bloodthirsty as the camera trade, there's no 'grace' period, no honeymoon. Do or die.
Worst case; Ricoh invests buckets of money in a FF lineup, including one or two bodies and several lenses. It doesn't make a dent in the existing market, dies a slow death and Ricoh cuts their losses and bails on the Pentax camera brand.
Your ideas about a measured, planned entry into the FF market could work. Hopefully, Nikon, Canon and Sony will all be sitting still while it happens. Not trying to one-up the newcomer and each other, and stop flooding the market.
Which seems about as likely as my scenario.
11-08-2013, 01:36 PM   #4
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All that Ricoh would need to launch a full frame camera (more than what they have now) would be a kit lens 24-70 f3.5-5.6, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 and a 20 f2.8 prime. In the long run, they would need a longer consumer zoom that is full frame compatible.

11-08-2013, 01:42 PM   #5
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The real risk is the commercial one. Nikon sales and profit figures are just out - declining DSLR sales, declining profit and no end in sight.

At the moment the Pentax K3 is probably the premier APS-C DSLR on the market - features, usability etc.

FF as pointed out by the OP - there is a big Nikon line up, and also a good Canon line up competing, As the market contracts then these two big players are going to complete furiously to maintain market share. Nikon is more vulnerable as it is more focused on cameras than Canon - which has a much broader range of markets it competes in.

So, whilst Pentax/Ricoh continues to face calls for a FF camera, and the marketplace shows a steady trickle of users selling Pentax gear to move to FF - it seems pretty minor in the big scheme of things. Yes, having halo products is always good - but only if you execute them exceptionally well. If you execute poorly then it adds to problems. Nikons recent issues with the D800 and D600 have shown this.

QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
Stick with what you do best. The premimum APS-C market is there for the taking. Pick your fights well.
I agree - Pentax has the opportunity to remain the leader in this segment, with an excellent lens line up (way better than Nikon), innovative product, and a WR system - with increasing lenses arriving. The competition here will be from the excellent Olympus OMD m4/3 models which are smaller, lighter, have really good lenses, and give up very little in terms of IQ.

If Pentax do decide to enter the FF market it will need to be in a very well defined niche - my guess - the smallest FF camera, using the K3 body, pro level outdoors / WR model and very ruggedised. To try and compete with Nikon and Canon head to head with general large DSLR would add nothing to the market, and would struggle to have have unique selling point.

We live in very interesting times, and in reality are spoilt for choice with camera systems and bodies
11-08-2013, 01:52 PM   #6
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Ok, hands up every that buys a FF camera including complete lens line-up... Anyone? Most people who go FF, add it to their existing APS-C system and go from there. If Pentax releases their FF with a few really very fantastic lenses, people are going to want more and be willing to wait for them too. The real problem is... Will they really go FF? Other then words there has been nothing. And those could just have been produced to keep existing Pentax users spending a little while longer. Don't worry, next fake Pentax FF rumor coming in a month or so.
11-08-2013, 03:14 PM   #7
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Welllook at this:

Nikon cut again their sales forecast for high-end cameras in Q2 | Nikon Rumors

And the Df isn't a big seller.
11-08-2013, 03:17 PM   #8

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I'm happy with my ASP-C DSLR system.....Pentax...3 bodies...K10D, Km, K-5. Ten lenses...9 digital Pentax, one Sigma...wide angle zoom, fisheye, macro, 50 normal, Limited primes....two telephoto zooms....the Sigma...a 150-500.

I find with many years (45 +) of experience...if I don't say so brag...I seem to have the hang of it pretty well. My photo's quality wise....up to 8 X 10, 11 X well with a friend's Canon 5D11 and L lenses.

I work on lighting, shutter speed, ISO, F stop, etc. Think these factors might be as important contributors to a good final photo product..... as the gain one might get with a full frame over an ASP-C sensor.

I think if a photographers knows his/her stuff....and if they are using really good equipment....K-5, K-3, D300s, D 7100, 7D...throw in 5D2, D 610....maybe the more important factor is the person behind the viewfinder...than the size of the sensor.

I don't go over 11 X 14....mostly 8 X 10 is my favoured size and my ASP-C sensor also compares quite well with my medium format 6 X 6
film system. Mamiya TLR...with 3 lenses.

Would I go to the great expense of conversion to Pentax FF....or selling my ASP-C DSLR system to go Canikon full frame ?

No. I can't see the advantage. If there is one it's pretty small and perhaps only visible at the poster size enlargement.

Last edited by lesmore49; 11-08-2013 at 03:23 PM.
11-08-2013, 03:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
Stick with what you do best. The premimum APS-C market is there for the taking. Pick your fights well.
It would be fine given that the FF and APS-C markets stay unchanged, but things could be entirely different if FF enlarges its market share due to cost reduction and APS-C is pushed to the corner between FF and m43 or other small-sized cameras. Even smartphones can make APS-C shrink next to nothing. Canon's executive once said that the replacement of 7D would be the last APS-C in the prosumer market.

So, FF is well positioned to be kind of insurance for Ricoh. If FF doesn't sell good, get out of there and stay with APS-C. If APS-C runs out of steam, go with FF. It must be a huge risk for everybody in the market, which Ricoh would have to take.
11-09-2013, 03:57 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonHendriks1966 Quote
"High End" in this case means interchangeable lens cameras.

You remember the quote from Nikon's CEO in March?

"Tough competition for entry-level single-lens-reflex models has led to a large price decline since around mid- November"
11-09-2013, 06:13 PM   #11
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finally a thread where I agree with all of the comments.

Ricoh have a BIG job ahead of them re-establishing the Pentax brand into the dSLR market. They are continuing to refine products to fit a niche, products that the Pentax brand can become known for. It makes sense to put capitol into this r&d and marketing, rather than blow your budget on competing with the big sellers.

The question is, when Sony is one of the biggest corporations in the world, why do they not swallow everyone up and take over the dSLR market? there is probably more money to be made selling $100 point and shoot cameras than dSLRs.
11-09-2013, 11:23 PM   #12
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One thing to consider is that Nikon never discontinued their 35mm film cameras completely and they still sell them. All their FF lenses were still in production, as was Canon's. Pentax/Ricoh has to start making a lot more FF lenses than the handful that are still in production. If and when the FF arrives, It's not going to be cheap. Showing up late to the party, they can't cut any corners.
11-11-2013, 09:20 AM   #13
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I would argue that the next big jump isn't into FF. It is into cameras that are completely at home with mobile + apps, and that means rewriting the camera operating system from the ground up. If a company wants still to be around in five years' time, this may well make a lot more difference than having a small line in FF cameras.

I don't see much point in Ricoh producing a line of me-too FF DSLRs. The potential market is small and the majority of those who would be interested are existing Pentax owners. That's just more selling to the faithful; and, in any case, a lot of the faithful wouldn't bite. Why? Because when it comes to spending serious money, a lot of the faithful will buy Canon or Nikon FF instead. Those companies have the lenses, the system, the experience and by now several years of honing their products. In a year's time, Sony will have much more of a system up and running too and Sony has the branding advantage of being able to plaster "Zeiss" all over their products. As a little-known newcomer with a vestigial system, Pentax would find it fantastically tough to gain traction, I'd have thought (little known to the general public, that is).

I'd be very surprised if FF wasn't somewhere in Ricoh's plans and it may have to be if APS-C starts being seriously squeezed between FF above and the mass of other things below it. However, perhaps Ricoh would be better off doing FF under their own name with cameras that are mirrorless and much more post-DSLR, like Sony?

Anyway, who knows. Whichever way, deep pockets for a long haul will be needed and so Pentax is fortunate to have an owner which has them.
11-11-2013, 07:25 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Daikokuya Quote
Even smartphones can make APS-C shrink next to nothing.
11-11-2013, 08:25 PM   #15

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Reasonable analysis suggests that Pentax will never sell another camera body.

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