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View Poll Results: Would you be interested in 'remote viewing'/wireless & a dedicated 'remote' body?
Yes...and a $500 'RemoteK30' would be great tool for me. 240.00%
Yes...but I'd rather just have the 'remote viewing' features on my regular K30 for +$100.   00%
Maybe...I can see it being useful for pros or others. 120.00%
No...for my photography, it does nothing & I think it's only a distraction 240.00%
Voters: 5. You may not vote on this poll

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09-10-2012, 12:57 PM   #1
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MonoK30...a $500 compact, 'bear-proof' 'remote image' camera body...

...said body intended to thrill 'skateboard shredding' videographers and 'backyard birdfeeder' enthusiasts...in equal amounts.

In a pentax forum thread discussing the viability of adding GPS/Bluetooth/Wifi/cellularLTE wireless features to a DSLR, the question arose: Why?

The 'for' scenario presented was one of 'remote viewing'. No, this is not a CIA type 'psychic' project of the 1950's ("what are they saying now in the Kremlin"). That being said, the concern over government takeover of your brain via the wireless equipped DSLR was indeed a concern cited by some. Before you don your tinfoil hat and point the tinfoil (?) sword in my direction, please note that I am not dismissing privacy concerns, but rather feel that gaining new technology does not always mean losing privacy.

Indeed, new technology does not also mean losing creative control or diminishing the soul of the photographer, but rather will enhance and expand our imaging possibilities.

So, focusing on the benevolent features of wireless, I concocted the following simplistic scenario:

QuoteOriginally posted by dmytty Quote
Wifi and Bluetooth doesn't just mean connecting to the internets.

Bluetooth 4.0 can be used to create a wifi 'ad-hoc' connection, or device to device connection with no wireless lan base station. Over wifi, it is certainly possible to transmit the Liveview feed - and even the 1080p HD video stream (20-30 Mbps h.264 video from the onboard video codec). This would allow a 'remote viewfinder' function.

Imagine going up to Alaska during the salmon run and setting up a camera on a concealed tripod mount. Now you move a safe distance away and open up your tablet. Viola, you're getting a Liveview from 200 yards away. A bear approaches the camera...you wait a second more, and then trigger the shutter. On the off chance that you're within range of a celltower, your camera could start backing up the pictures to your Fort Knox-like private server (with tinfoil shroud to keep the CIA away). Then, when the bear mauls your camera (because the iK30 shutter is loud), and you drop the tablet in despair (losing that copy), you can still sell the stunning backed up picture for enough money to replace your equipment and buy some yummy bear-captured Pacific Salmon steaks (that's what Wild Caught means right?).

Remember, this remote viewfinder scenario could easily be accomplished with an $810 K30 body and a $500 Ipad.

Instead of a story about another photographer being eaten, you have a great picture.

So remember photographers, wireless could save your life!
The cost of the wireless features would be about $50 to Pentax. Challenge that number if you like, but there's some component costs and discussion of development and production costs to back it up. As to the technical feasibility, I cited an HD Pro/Hero 'action' camera add on costing $100 which promises Iphone/Android viewing from 600 feet under 'optimal conditions'. Again, one may question marketing claims (always good), but a near line-of-sight radio link in the Alaska outdoors (away from Radio Frequency pollution) is almost spot on to the definition of 'optimal conditions'. Indeed, even with the 3 year old wifi standard, there's ample evidence online of establishing connections at ranges greater than 600'.

I added to the discussion by also discussing how photography might be changed, and whether a new body type might be warranted (see bold, underlined text in the linked comment).

QuoteOriginally posted by dmytty Quote
My point is that I can't think of anything Pentax could do for $50 (cost) which would create more buzz or useful features that separate it from the competition.

Wildlife, bird feeder, studio, street and extreme action photographers would love the 'remote viewing'. Especially for extreme action, the weather sealing and relatively low cost would make for a very appealing combination (ie it might survive, and even if it doesn't the shot might be worth a $1000). I can see the 'bird feeder people' permanently mounting a camera on a tree (they are a different sort after all).

For birdfeeders and other 'out of body' applications (bear feeding), there should be a lower cost and more compact model mirrorless model with no screen or on camera controls...just an extremely robust body attached to the great Pentax primes with control via a tablet. Wedding and indy video/still productions would welcome the 'discreet yet capable' APS-C imager.

I can see the headline now "The first DSLR with wifi, bluetooth, and 4G LTE!" If there was an open source API (or even firmware), the DIY modder community would love it even more.
However, a dear reader did in fact move on to the next challenge: the viability and costs of the 'remote sensing' body. I will now discuss the cost element for something I called the RemoteK30 (as in 'pick up your tablet and step back from the camera').

To be clear, the cost of developing and producing a robust physical casing is quite low. Remember, there are far fewer openings due to removing the screen and physical controls (which could really be limited to an on-off switch and battery door). Removing the buttons, screens, prism viewfinder, etc removes a significant amount of cost. The result is a monolithic type casing with a lens mount, battery/sd card door, on/off switch, and maybe a hotshoe/external power port.

My cost estimates:

Development
1. ~$20-30k for development and prototyping of a milled plastic/metal body casing
2. ~$100,000 for polycarbonate body mold and production line jigs

Production
1. Body cost of about $5 (polycarbonate is cheap material) - maybe 30% of the cost of a K30 body and all the doors, etc.
2. Assembly and Quality Control cost of about $20 - ~25% of the cost of a K30. This is a much simpler body.
3. Bill of Material (BOM) for battery/electronics-PCB/imaging sensor/ae/focusing ~ $150 - ~75% of the cost of a K30 BOM. Would use all of the same electronics and imaging components as the K30, K5 MkII, and any future cameras.

Figuring a production run of 10,000 pieces, development costs are ~$15 per body. The production costs are ~$175, or about half the cost of a K30 body. So, rounding off, Pentax could produce these bodies for ~$200/each - on the same production line as the K30.

Figuring a very handsome profit margin (better than the K30), Pentax could still sell the RemoteK30 (ie the robust remote body) for $200-$300 less than the K30. At 30% smaller volume and dimensions, it would be instant buzz and instant competition for HD Hero/Pro type cameras.

Would a $500 RemoteK30 'remote imaging' body with Pentax K mount be attractive to many photographers and videographers? I think so.

Whether catching an unobtrusive, up-close picture of a bear, or a predatory groom at the wedding altar, it's clear that sometimes removing the photographer from the scene can make for a safer, better photo or video.

All in favor say 'aye'!


Last edited by dmytty; 09-10-2012 at 01:10 PM.
09-10-2012, 01:26 PM   #2
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Just one minor issue. I've seen many bears strong enough to "open or destroy" what is literally refered to as a bear proof (food) container. Bears seem to have a rather advanced sense of problem solving - or would that be probem causing??

I'd still risk most of my cameras to get the shot though.

I'm even working on a type of full frame (also easily able to house non full frame) shell to protect the camera at items like sporting events. My idea doenn't have much marketability though outside of just protecting some of my personal camera equipment.

As for the brief description of your proposal; I strongly consider purchasing a version myself
09-10-2012, 01:44 PM   #3
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
Just one minor issue. I've seen many bears strong enough to "open or destroy" what is literally refered to as a bear proof (food) container. Bears seem to have a rather advanced sense of problem solving - or would that be probem causing??
There's always testing and the tradeoff of weight vs. strength...but mechanical force is one of the easier things to design for. The big thing is to limit protrusions and use an inherently strong shape. I'm fairly confident that as I envision it, you could drive a car over the RemoteK30, drop it over Niagra falls, etc.

QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
I'd still risk most of my cameras to get the shot though.
Good...because for a fraction of the cost of your lenses, the 'remote' body could protect them as well. There are certainly pictures/videos I would risk my (camera) body for, and I thought that attitude would be widespread amongst enthusiasts and pros.

QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
I'm even working on a type of full frame (also easily able to house non full frame) shell to protect the camera at items like sporting events. My idea doenn't have much marketability though outside of just protecting some of my personal camera equipment.
I'll PM you...would like to see what you have come up with.

QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
As for the brief description of your proposal; I strongly consider purchasing a version myself
First post gets you first right of purchase (if I'm involved in this...which I hope I'm not...as it will take me years to get to this project).
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