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06-01-2014, 05:39 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Full Frame Not Practical in the Long Run?

To get the pleasantries out of the way, I wouldn't poo-poo the idea of a Pentax/Ricoh full frame body. This isn't an anti-FF post, but rather the view that there is a changing tide in the industry that might render the idea of Pentax FF obsolete. That tide is currently being pushed by Olympus, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Fuji; the mirrorless market is expanding and we all see a future where a flipping mirror might be archaic and unnecessary.


If this is true, then the argument brought on is what's the sweet spot for sensor size. If most of the M4/3s and mirrorless tend to go towards a sub-APS-C and APS-C sized sensors, then we can assume that the market, for the most part, is being pushed from the bottom up in sensor size. Cameras that look like SLRs of yesteryear are starting to bring the compact and lighter ergonomics that some of us have wanted, and to some degree, Pentax has given us. Even Canon, with its SL1, has tried to trim the DSLR to size in order to compete in this new sector. Full frame and all its resolution glory, isn't the harbinger of things to come, but rather a format that a small section, professionals and serious enthusiasts, clamor for in their equipment.


So if the changing tides are promoting sensor sizes that Pentax is already comfortable with, the real dilemma is where should Ricoh pool their finite resources? By the way that Canon and Nikon have been relatively poor in adapting to the changing market, Pentax has a small leg up by their Q and KO-1 offerings, but it feels like they could end up in the same boat as Canon/Nikon. With that in mind should their focus be in bringing small, mirrorless cameras to the table to ride the wave of the mirrorless craze?


After all, Ricoh has to "win" at the consumer market, rather than the pro market and its Full Frame demands. Full frame isn't a huge share compared to crop sensors and M4/3. The real deal is if Ricoh can develop mirrorless cameras that harken back the days of the film SLRs like the ME Super and K1000. It seems the nostalgia is one of the driving factors of camera design (Nikon, anyone?) and I'm sure the same guys who asked Marc Newson to design the KO-1 can bring something more stated and reminiscent of those wonderful film cameras.


Would you guys be okay without a full frame Pentax camera if it meant that Ricoh could be a competitive and relevant company in a future of mirrorless cameras?


Thoughts?

06-01-2014, 06:09 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I think they need a FF but it needs to excite people like Sony A7. Since they don't have a FF currently, at this stage of game it would be a mistake to bring a K mount FF to the market. In order to shrink the size they need a new mount. So a new mount with K adapter needs to be released at the same time. That's probably going to piss some fans off so I'm guessing they will introduce it under Ricoh name. Then they can introduce K mount FF under Pentax name afterward for those who want DSLR style camera. Then some parts can be shared.
06-01-2014, 06:22 PM   #3
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Is Pentax ahead of Canon and Nikon in mirrorless sales?

Either way, the Sony is a great deal for consumers and is the only MILC I would consider purchasing.

I'm fine with Ricoh/Pentax not pursuing a FF. I'd prefer a FF though.
06-01-2014, 07:17 PM - 4 Likes   #4
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Choose all or any of the below and run with it:
  • APS-C not practical in the long run?
  • M4/3 not practical in the long run?
  • Phone cam not practical in the long run?
  • Digital MF not practical in the long run?
  • LF scanning backs not practical in the long run?
  • Human eye not practical in the long run?
And when the discussion is exhausted, substitute "short run" for "long run" and start over. I will be collecting everyone's eyes at the end of the thread.


Steve

06-01-2014, 07:31 PM   #5
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I think if Ricoh want to be a serious competitor in the pro/semipro market with the Pentax brand, which they have shown they are by redeveloping the 645, then they need FF SLR. After all what brands do people see the professionals using, "Canon" or "Nikon" which helps drive those brands across all segments.

Last edited by Cee Cee; 06-01-2014 at 09:08 PM.
06-01-2014, 08:31 PM   #6
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A full frame Pentax may be practical but it should be carefully executed. They are entitled to a certain marketshare for their camera (i.e. Pentax Forums enthusiasts ) but the big question is can they grow beyond their entitlement and win new users or even converts from other brands? The mirror box may actually be one of their selling points and differentiators. EVFs are becoming more popular and they will probably take over as the dominant viewfinder behind live view LCDs. Even then, there is something to say about the beauty of an optical viewfinder which could attract a decent following. The K-3 has an OVF and nobody is really complaining about it. In fact, the camera seems to be doing well enough. The price stabilized and people are buying it.

So depending on what they design, how they price it, how they introduce it, and how they supply it Ricoh could do well with a Pentax branded FF camera. I would seriously consider a Pentax FF body but I wouldn't run headfirst into it and get the first one that comes out with v1.0 of the firmware either.
06-01-2014, 09:31 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Choose all or any of the below and run with it:
  • APS-C not practical in the long run?
  • M4/3 not practical in the long run?
  • Phone cam not practical in the long run?
  • Digital MF not practical in the long run?
  • LF scanning backs not practical in the long run?
  • Human eye not practical in the long run?
And when the discussion is exhausted, substitute "short run" for "long run" and start over. I will be collecting everyone's eyes at the end of the thread.


Steve
M4/3 is not practical in the long run because it has a fraction in the name, thereby making it too complicated for newbies.
06-01-2014, 09:54 PM   #8
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How shall the eating occur?

QuoteOriginally posted by DarCam Quote
...


.. With that in mind should their focus be in bringing small, mirrorless cameras to the table to ride the wave of the mirrorless craze?
Possibly. But to really compete in that arena, and if 'spreading to thin' is a concern as you imply, then they'll need to ditch K-mount. The K flange register distance is too big to make a MILC camera as small/compact as the competition.

The problem for Ricoh is that their aps-c DSLR product is going to be squeezed by entry-FF on the upper end and MILC on the lower end, with both options eventually eating towards each other and meeting. Why buy a $700 aps-c DSLR when you can get an aps-c MILC that's smaller, the same price or cheaper, just as good in IQ, just as good or better in AF with next-gen on-sensor PDAF, with a really good hybrid OVF/EVF? (That's where things appear to be headed in MILC-land.) Or say you really just want an OVF, like the DSLR form, and want to stick with that - why pay $1200 for an aps-c version when a FF version is almost the same price? If you want to continue to sell K-mount DSLR, you'll need to have an FF option.

Otherwise, you're just deciding between moving up the tree toward the leopard, or down the tree toward the lion

.

06-01-2014, 11:59 PM   #9
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Ditching the K-mount is not an option; and I'm once again amazed how on a forum supposedly for K-mount users, this is considered desirable.
The main reason: lenses. With K-mount, newly introduced "FF" lenses would also be bought by the much larger APS-C user base. Going directly for a new mount, guess what:
- no user base to buy lenses (except those who'll buy into the new FF system)
- K-mount users upset and worried about K-mount's future, likely impact on the APS-C user base.

I'm not saying they won't/shouldn't launch a new, large sensor MILC system (i.e. with a new mount), sometime in the future. But that would have to be done starting with higher volume APS-C, building an user base and then, when that user base is large enough, a FF option would be viable.
MHO.
06-02-2014, 12:30 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by DarCam Quote
That tide is currently being pushed by Olympus, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Fuji
Who AFAIK are haemorraging cash doing so, without inroads into Canikon.

Nothing you've said is controversial, DarCam. It's presumably what desperate marketers are telling angry boards writing out cheques one more time ...

But the results aren't there. I've seen this year in Melbourne lots of billboards and bus shelter advertisements advertising a perfectly fine Olympus m4/3, but haven't seen a single paying customer.

An interview with the Ricoh marketing manager said FF will come, but not at the expense of the Q, K and MF mounts.

Maybe a company in financial freefall would be forced to act rapidly and radically (read: discard the past), but as Uluru points out, Pentax's current owners are a conservative, long-term profit outfit - a photocopier producer.

Last edited by clackers; 06-02-2014 at 12:39 AM.
06-02-2014, 01:50 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DarCam Quote
After all, Ricoh has to "win" at the consumer market, rather than the pro market and its Full Frame demands. Full frame isn't a huge share compared to crop sensors and M4/3. The real deal is if Ricoh can develop mirrorless cameras that harken back the days of the film SLRs like the ME Super and K1000. It seems the nostalgia is one of the driving factors of camera design (Nikon, anyone?) and I'm sure the same guys who asked Marc Newson to design the KO-1 can bring something more stated and reminiscent of those wonderful film cameras.


Would you guys be okay without a full frame Pentax camera if it meant that Ricoh could be a competitive and relevant company in a future of mirrorless cameras?


Thoughts?
Even the consumer market is changing and without a full format offering Pentax may find itself in a bind rather sooner than later. Led by the K3, they have carved themselves a very solid 'niche' in the world of full featured aps-c dslr's, while CaNikon and Sony were busy mainstreaming the 35mm format. But what will happen when Canon brings out a new 7D mk II and Nikon releases a D400 (or D9400 or whatever)?
So I'm with you that Pentax should take pointers from the past like ME super, K1000 or the LX. A dF done right. But if you want mirrorless, it's all been done. They are called Olympus OM-D or Fuji X-T1 or Sony A7. The only thing those cameras share in common with the classic SLR's is the look.

The one digital camera that has not been released yet (it happens to be the one I am hoping for ) is a DSLR optimized for manual focus. You know that old matte screen, micro/split prism marvel. Big and bright as they were before pdaf sapped the light. Think of the way Leica took the M6 to digital. Pentax has a loot to offer here: a ff camera coupled with limited primes. A camera no one has, relatively easy to manufacture and sure to get the attention of every enthusiast photographer irrespective of the brand they currently use.
06-02-2014, 02:00 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Who AFAIK are haemorraging cash doing so, without inroads into Canikon.

Nothing you've said is controversial, DarCam. It's presumably what desperate marketers are telling angry boards writing out cheques one more time ...

But the results aren't there. I've seen this year in Melbourne lots of billboards and bus shelter advertisements advertising a perfectly fine Olympus m4/3, but haven't seen a single paying customer.

An interview with the Ricoh marketing manager said FF will come, but not at the expense of the Q, K and MF mounts.

Maybe a company in financial freefall would be forced to act rapidly and radically (read: discard the past), but as Uluru points out, Pentax's current owners are a conservative, long-term profit outfit - a photocopier producer.
Well, a plausible option would be a K-mount FF and a Ricoh-based MILC system in the longer term. The K-mount system could be altered later, if the demand is there, by replacing the OVF with a hybrid VF or an entirely EV one using on-sensor AF. The Ricoh-based MILC could start as APS-C but be designed from the ground up to be FF capable if/when the need arose. Fuij's big mistake, if one thinks it a mistake, is that they haven't done this with their system and are stuck with APS-C. For FF, Fuji would have to start all over again. So would Olympus and the m4/3 crowd. Sony has a case of multi-mount craziness, a hangover that might not wear off for quite some time. Depending on how the market evolves, the Ricoh system might need to be started fairly soon or much later in the day. For example, the market might evolve in such a way that the most tempting opportunity isn't any of the above but something else, like a Q system on steroids (a much smaller line of ILCs using a 1" sensor with very, very good video). The Q seems to have a very solid track record out East which we tend to overlook. The whole pot is swirling around and it must be quite hard to know what is best. To an extent all the smaller makers are at the mercy of Canonikon. If the big two make a major change, it would influence everything quite heavily.

Another challenge for the smaller brands may be how to set up your business in such a way that major moves by others will not have too much of an impact. For example, what would happen if over the next few years, Apple, Samsung and Nokia doubled the average size of the camera sensor in their phones/tablets and introduced clever and highly effective ways of allowing variable focusing? At that point, nearly anything below FF would start to look vulnerable and sales volumes might reduce. It's a pretty difficult chess game.

Last edited by mecrox; 06-02-2014 at 03:06 AM.
06-02-2014, 06:47 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Quite aside from everything else discussed here, the old argument still holds true about why FF is practical for Pentax: FF fills a missing step in the ladder for Pentax between medium format and APS-C.

You see this regular movement around here of people who want to upgrade from APS-C (for various reasons) who come to the top of the APS-C ladder, but then have nowhere to climb that's financially sensible, or which will let them use their existing glass (with AF...), so they go to Canon, Nikon, or Sony FF.

A FF Pentax (or two - maybe one mirrorless, another a classic OVF design) would provide a more sustainable camera eco-system for Pentaxians.
06-02-2014, 07:03 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
You see this regular movement around here of people who want to upgrade from APS-C (for various reasons) who come to the top of the APS-C ladder, but then have nowhere to climb that's financially sensible, or which will let them use their existing glass (with AF...), so they go to Canon, Nikon, or Sony FF.

A FF Pentax (or two - maybe one mirrorless, another a classic OVF design) would provide a more sustainable camera eco-system for Pentaxians.
Exactly, and of that list only the Sony FF provides a way for the Pentax upgrader to (kinda) keep using their existing lenses. Pentax should have filled that gap themselves. They can still do it. Basically a Pentax A7 with an AF PK adapter.
06-02-2014, 07:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clavius Quote
They can still do it. Basically a Pentax A7 with an AF PK adapter.
Pentax (or Ricoh-branded) would need to offer something Sony doesn't - and do it at a somewhat lower price and higher quality - but yes, that's the path forward, I think.
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