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05-17-2008, 11:13 PM   #1
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My Idea of a K1000D

Having seen the ultra success of the ASUS Eee PC (or called the EPC), this let me think about smart marketing decision is always the key way to success for a company.

Even for a weaker company like Pentax, which is actually always lagging behind in the competition, should and could think more about how to determine and create a new marketing segment by making new innovative product which is not present in the current market. The key element to success here is simply product idea but not technology advantages.

So, let's look at the EPC again, it does have smart marketing idea, slogan and promotion by ASUS. It it told that it is Easy to Learn, Easy to Work and Easy to Play (which the 3 Es represent and what its name is formed) but actually it is also very easy to carry with the clear fact that it is very portable and most importantly it is sold very cheap.

The ultra portability and the lowest price tag plus its high practicality for suiting for quite a number of basic daily applications including multi-media ones such as common compressed format movie playback and photo viewing, etc. Despite that the technical specifications of the EPC is not particularly strong, its bundle of advantages have almost overcome all its shortcomings and the lack of high performance by today's standards for sub-notes. It has more innovative unique feature, too, i.e., its static flash memory "hard-drive" which has the advantage of fast read/write speed and lowest possible power consumption to save battery juice and extend operation time.

Well, let's look at the past "recent" successful products of Pentax then. First, we can look at the K10D. The K10D is taking the approach of the more is better in which Pentax gave us many features in a package and on paper we could get a lot in a moderately priced body. However, I don't buy the idea of this as I never think that the K10D is a camera that has the real performance inside, when it is compared the nearly priced products in the competition of the same period. IMHO I must say it is just a re-packaged *ist D which has nearly the same old performance and technologies inside, e.g., the AF and metering parts. In 2003, such low performance and inaccuracy could still be tolerated to a certain extent, but in 2007 I think Pentax should really do much more if they really wished to market the K10D as a mid-level product as it was promoted and priced.

However, I don't think the K10D is a true success for Pentax actually, despite it suddenly gained attentions and some more sales. It is just because quite a lot of the attracted buyers / new users did not find it to be satisfactory as reported quite widely for its sub-par field performance and reliability, nor, there is anything in the Pentax land for those unsatisfied buyers to upgrade. So, Pentax simply could not retain those new customers and the new user base afterall, as those people switched and went away. The worst effect is that it left a really bad impression to them (and other non-users as well, for what it was told by those users) after they switched.

So, let's look back to the earlier previous Pentax successful model then. I think it is the MZ-5 in 1995, which was a true success IMO. The MZ-5 actually had saved Pentax from being dismissed from the SLR market in the mid-90s after the prolonged market loss since the SF series to the Z-series of Pentax SLRs from late 80s to mid-90s. I think the MZ-5 shares very much the successful elements of the EPC. It is very simple to use, not expensive to buy and has all the most basic functions and features but not yet too outdated. It is very clear that the MZ-5 has none of the leading edge technologies which the market leaders had, nor it could compete with any of the Canon and Nikon mid-range counterparts in its era as long as highest system performance aspects were concerned. But why so many people still choose about the MZ-5, including those new comers? .. which eventually suddenly saved the sales of Pentax SLRs and lenses. Just think about it.. It should be noted that the MZ legend lived for many years, until the *ist D came.

If we are to look at another very old truly successful story of Pentax SLR body, it should then be the K-1000 film SLR, I must say. It is of crude specs but it did sell well and for years - nearly two decades! Again, it is just because it is simple and basic *and* sold at a low price. For decades, the K-1000 has been a very good camera for beginners who had limited budgets on *both* body and lenses. The K-1000 can use any of the damn cheap but widely available old original Pentax and 3rd party K-mount lenses in huge number. Owing to its great simplicity, the K-1000 is also ideal for those who like to learn the basics of photography and exposure / metering control (just because it has nothing automatic and the users needed to do all by themselves). Finally, the K-1000 does have a rigid construction and is mechanically very reliable despite its low cost. It does even work and can take pictures without any battery installed.

After all the talks above, I think NOW it's time for Pentax to think about and introduce a K1000D in order to help themselves in getting back some market shares and to get a new beginner customer/user base which can help the company to survive/grow, too. In fact, I bet the K200D and the K20D in fact won't help Pentax much, as both offers are not attractive enough as they are easily replaced by Canon's and Nikon's similar or better offers near the same price that most of the new buyers will choose. Even assuming that the new Pentax products are the same in performance and price, why people would choose a small name instead of the big names (of the big boys)? As for the old K100D and K10D users, I really can't think out a reason why the existing users have any good reason and strong initiatives to "upgrade" to a K200D or K20D respectively.

I think Pentax has been running and heading a wrong way for years since the digital era for their DSLRs. I can bet they could never compete with Canon and Nikon etc. for keeping up the latest technologies in R&D nor they have comparable R&D budget nor they have the same production capabilities as other big boys. So, what they needed to do is to re-introduce a basic, simple and cheap DSLR which is highly preferable to be a small, compact and lightweight one which can be easily carried everywhere (like the EPC). Again, this camera must be very cheap (than ever) and this would attract many beginners who like to try and learn DSLR photography. To make it cheap, it must be very simple in features and specs. And, only to have simple features and specs, the cost of the new DSLR can be lower significantly - just a chicken and egg problem afterall. Of course, to trim down the unnecessary features is the proper way to cut cost, but not to scarify reliability and accuracy.

Nevertheless, even it is made basic, small and cheap, it must have some unique feature(s). I think Pentax had discarded a very valuable thing of theirs since the *ist D, it is the old K lens user and owner base, since they decided to cripple the new body K-mount forever (it is true up till now, at least). By summarising all the above criteria, I think a K1000D has an outlined specs below should sell very well and can attract many new comers:-

1. Weight less than 500g, preferably close to 400g. Size should be smallest or at least it should not be larger than a D60 and a 450D;

2. Keep the full K-mount specifications and compatibility and let the user to use the aperture ring of the K lenses to meter and expose too. I believe that it will be more accurate than the current Pentax digital lens design for the exposure control - the mechanical f-stop positions are individually calibrated, mechanically, for each aperture ring when each K-mount lens was designed whereas the body driven digital lenses' automatic aperture mechanical coupling is just totally outdated and it could just introduce more exposure inaccuracy and errors;

3. Keep only Spot and Centre-weighted average metering to save cost and make the camera simpler. The current 16-segment multi-pattern metering is not needed for those who really want to learn the basics nor it is really much useful owing to its low IQ, poor reliability and low consistency;

4. Keep only the AI predictive Single AF mode which is the only AF mode of the MZ-5 (no Pentax DSLR has been told to have any predictive AF capability now - I just puzzle why). I think only one single crossed AF sensor in the middle is more than enough for such a camera. The crossed sensor is preferably to make with higher pixel density, calibrated more precisely but in a smaller area in the finder for pinpointing focusing so that the highest possible AF accuracy and reliability can be attained. I also suggest that Pentax could make a f/5.6 sensor for the horizontal line and a f/2.8 sensor for the vertical line so as to further enhance the AF accuracy. Furthermore, by concentrating in building only the central sensor, the AF system should be re-built to have better overall responsiveness and better sensitivity in low light;

5. To re-build a focusing screen with more visible matte texture, so as to facilitate better Manual Focusing. Also, the plain very old Minolta/Pentax/Nikon focus indication system should be added to indicate front or back focus - well, just a pair of triangles indication in the finder (to indicate the focusing ring turning directions) is required -> nearly no additional cost to re-introduce but a very useful and unique feature nowadays as all camera makers followed what Canon did with their EOS to delete such useful focus indication;

6. It should support both the old Pentax TTL Auto and newer P-TTL flash guns for the unique compatibility again, so as to attract more old users (or even new ones who just want to get used gear cheap and easily). The K1000D can remove the built-in flash in order to further minimise its size and save weight (and manufacturing cost as well - but not to cut the TTL sensor to save the cost but scarify much compatibility - it is not that expensive to include such a TTL flash sensor afterall);

7. Of course the megapixel should be at least 10MP by today minimum standard. The K10D Sony CCD sensor, which is damn cheap right now, can be used;

8. Only P, A, S and M modes are needed;

9. No other bells and whistles are needed then and of course no Live View. I think even different picture modes/styles are not needed, as these could be included in the RAW convertor instead. I think the "Natural" mode is what most users need if the best colour accuracy is desired;

10. Aggressively priced under (US)$400 for such a greatly simplified design.

Having said that such a K1000D may help Pentax, Pentax should still try to make a true flagship later on which it has the real performance for major camera performance aspects. This would let Pentax to upkeep their outdated technologies in line with the latest in the competition. This flagship is preferably to be a 135 Full Frame DSLR, too, which is just the current trend for flagship DSLRs (at least Canon, Nikon and Sony have been or are now doing the same). The flagship serves as a symbol for marketing as well as practically an ultimate upgrade destination for the current Pentax DSLR users - but then this flagship can be made at a later stage after the success of such a K1000D (if it can be, but I do believe it can) and gaining of a considerably number of new users whom probably are mostly students, beginners as well as those very old Pentax users who just want to have ultimate simplicity and portability (and full compatibility as well). By then, Pentax would have more money and bucks to put back for doing better R&D jobs. All in all, I don't think Pentax is really wise to drop the compatibility and support for many of their older excellent lenses and flashes, which those compatibilities are just the true valuable asset of Pentax and compatibility is actually the true product feature differentiator for Pentax, especially for the full and true K-mount support! (40 millions of EOS lenses have now been produced since 1987, as Canon announced. How many Pentax AF lenses have been made up till now (since 1987 also)? If not all the K-mount lenses are counted, how could Pentax compete?)

P.S. This is a reprinted version of my latest article in my blog, some originally embedded URLs may be missing.

05-18-2008, 12:31 AM   #2
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This camera you're thinking of....would it actually be used to take pictures? Or would it be just one more thing to measurbate over?
05-18-2008, 01:30 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
This camera you're thinking of....would it actually be used to take pictures? Or would it be just one more thing to measurbate over?
I have to agree with Mike, Seems like a pipe dream, but then maybe you might finally have something good to say about a camera, and start taking pictures.
05-18-2008, 05:54 AM   #4
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god, not the K1000D again... its not going to happen, seriously haven't we discussed this enough?


QuoteQuote:
If we are to look at another very old truly successful story of Pentax SLR body, it should then be the K-1000 film SLR, I must say.
it was a success because it was manufactured for a long time, and because it was sold in large numbers to schools for photography classes. not because it was an outright brilliant camera, in fact pentax tried to dump it several times since it wasn't making enough money and the only reason they didn't was because of sales to photography students and the like. don't get me wrong the K1000 is great for what it is and I own one my self but it was never the greatest thing to happen to pentax. I think that would have to go to the spotmatic without a doubt. so why would pentax need another K1000? what good would it do in a market where everyone thinks that to be a good camera it has to be large and have every feature possible packed into it? I don't mind the idea of a smaller camera as I have really grown fond of my MX but I don't much care for the idea of a camera that will only help cement the idea that pentax only designs cheap consumer grade cameras, and thats exactly what will happen I fear. oh and if you don't think the K10 was a success for pentax then you are delusional.

05-18-2008, 06:37 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
This camera you're thinking of....would it actually be used to take pictures? Or would it be just one more thing to measurbate over?
Both, not a case of "either" or "or". :-)
05-18-2008, 06:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
god, not the K1000D again... its not going to happen, seriously haven't we discussed this enough?
So, many old Pentaxians has his own K1000D dream. Why not such a dream? :-)

QuoteQuote:
it was a success because it was manufactured for a long time, and because it was sold in large numbers to schools for photography classes. not because it was an outright brilliant camera, in fact pentax tried to dump it several times since it wasn't making enough money and the only reason they didn't was because of sales to photography students and the like.
So, why so many photo students bought such a "not so brilliant" camera and why so many photo teachers recommended them to buy? It must has its values.

QuoteQuote:
don't get me wrong the K1000 is great for what it is and I own one my self but it was never the greatest thing to happen to pentax. I think that would have to go to the spotmatic without a doubt. so why would pentax need another K1000?
Just for many good reasons I have mentioned in my analysis..

QuoteQuote:
what good would it do in a market where everyone thinks that to be a good camera it has to be large and have every feature possible packed into it?
The market of "entry level" DSLRs which are seems to be full of "useful" features but actually lacking quality and sensibility is actually rather saturated and mostly occupied by C and N. Pentax won't be able to compete here if they won't do something different and explore a new market segment - just see the Eee PC story I quoted.

QuoteQuote:
I don't mind the idea of a smaller camera as I have really grown fond of my MX but I don't much care for the idea of a camera that will only help cement the idea that pentax only designs cheap consumer grade cameras, and thats exactly what will happen I fear. oh and if you don't think the K10 was a success for pentax then you are delusional.
When Pentax really makes a good niche product that really performs, no one will think that they make cheapest stuff again, especially if a true Pentax flagship will follow (but not too lately of course).
05-18-2008, 06:53 AM   #7
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I read this and all I could think about is....you want just the stripped down features that an advanced novice and up will want or need, but none of the technology qualities they would want (such as a more advanced sensor than that of the K10D you mentioned).

Keeping the price at $400 below is great, but would naturally attract beginner users or snap-shooters, and ones that now want a better sensor, live view, more preset modes, etc as this market segment seems to attract..

Honestly, what would be the point of a camera like this, just to have something to "throw in your bag"? Seems like neither a here nor there product.

Jas
05-18-2008, 07:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jasvox Quote
I read this and all I could think about is....you want just the stripped down features that an advanced novice and up will want or need, but none of the technology qualities they would want (such as a more advanced sensor than that of the K10D you mentioned).
I think many old Pentax users want better quality and reliability and a cheaper and lighter body to throw into the bag. No matter it is the 1st or 2nd backup body.

Nowadays, there is no good entry level DSLRs in the market IMHO. The 450D is nice for every feature, its AF is fast, but inaccurate. The D60 and D40X has poor lens compatibility and its AF is terribly slow. And, I don't like those fakely reproduced pics neither, which just like those from a advanced P&S or "prosumer" DC.

So, if Pentax really wish to compete, they cannot compete on quantity, but in another way - quality, as it should be.

Also, Pentax has decades of tradition and (only) successful stories of making compact and highly efficient SLRs. I bet they won't succeed in trying to make bigger DSLRs with more "quantities" inside. Afterall, they still lack a good compact and lightweight model after the *ist DS which is the last model which still had the Pentax's main old spirit of compactness and a easy-to-carry-everywhere camera.

05-18-2008, 08:04 AM   #9
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Unfortunately, I don't think Pentax is going focusing on the "old Pentax users" demographic, rather the mass audience if it produces an entry level body.
05-18-2008, 08:32 AM   #10
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It wouldn't be any good, RH, as you couldn't use your EF lenses with it.
05-18-2008, 11:39 AM   #11
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I expect we will see a K1000D or K2000D anounced this September. The K200D is not really a true entry level camera, and I would not expect Pentax to be left out of the entry level market.

The K1000 is the VW bug of the SLR photo world. Simple basic tough cheap. Just like we will never see another car like the VW, we will never see a simple DSLR camera like the K1000. Products today are driven by focus groups and marketing people. They go through checklists of features and consider the cost/benifit of every item. They compare their product to the compitition. If your compition has shake reduction in the entry level body, then you too add it. People do not buy because an item is simple and straight forward to use. They buy to ensure they are not missing a feature for their hard earned dollar.

A person coming from a point and shoot, looking at an enty levle DSLR would never buy a camera that is as simple as the K1000. They expect every feature their 12mp point and shoot has and more. They are expecting perfect shots first time every time. It is the rare few that will ever switch the camera to full manual.

I expect the K1000D will be closer to a point an shoot camera, and less like a DSLR then anyother camera on the market. I would not be suprised if it does not even have a view finder, and is 100% live view. It would be better then the point and shoot as it has the fast shutter release of the DSLR, the large sensor, and the removable lenses. But it would retain the same ease of use as the point and shoot.

This is not to say I would not like a DSLR with the features of one of the older SLR's from Pentax's past. I would love to have a DSLR that operated like an MX or an ME super. I just do not ever expect to see it.
05-18-2008, 11:45 AM   #12
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Unfortunatelly it seems that Pentax will take the route of "cheap and simple" instead of "cool and different". At least this is my info and I think it's very very bad. To make a camera with a very low margin of profit and no coolness what so ever is useless IMO. We (pentax) don't have either the manufacturing capacities nor the brand awareness to fight canon and nikon on this game. If I was to make any decission I would do NOW:

1) a family of compact cameras with APS senzors and K mount and sold them in a bundle with panckake lenses. Sort of a Sigma DP1 done right. A cool desirable product with minimal competition on the market and high margins. Also a very good way to atract customers with money more likely to expand their Pentax investment in more products. Not to mention that Pentax has extensive know how in both the compact cameras and DSLRs and a lot of a "parts bank" to choose from. I can bet the house they would do a much better camera than the half baked DP1. Nevertheless kudos to Sigma for the way they think!;
2) a digital 645 simply because canon and nikon have none and even if it is a commercial succes or failure it simply doesn't matter. There are no big money to be earn or lose in this kind of "niche" only prestige and bragging rights. Not to mention that 645D was ready to launch and canceled or undefinately postponed. Put a 645D poster in every Pentax shop or space, show it in a corner of every printed magazine advert, make promotions in which you could win one (let's say 20-50 worldwide). Buy a K200D and you could win a 645D! What's that instead of a stinkin' 100 euro Canon cash back? Make people dream because we are afficionados!

Instead the seem to be going to the "mass market" cameras IMO it's possible only if Hoya opens up the treasure chest which I bet they won't. If someone is looking at Sony's last few years after they bought Minolta I bet this is not the way to go. Let alone the kind of money and brand name Sony is!

My 2 cents,
Radu
05-19-2008, 05:19 AM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
So, many old Pentaxians has his own K1000D dream. Why not such a dream? :-)
dream all you'd like.

QuoteQuote:
So, why so many photo students bought such a "not so brilliant" camera and why so many photo teachers recommended them to buy? It must has its values.
no, it was based almost exclusively on the K1000 being the cheapest decent quality SLR available.



QuoteQuote:
The market of "entry level" DSLRs which are seems to be full of "useful" features but actually lacking quality and sensibility is actually rather saturated and mostly occupied by C and N. Pentax won't be able to compete here if they won't do something different and explore a new market segment - just see the Eee PC story I quoted.
and this new market segment is what 'advanced P&S cameras? I believe we already have a market for that, they are called 'bridge cams'.



QuoteQuote:
When Pentax really makes a good niche product that really performs, no one will think that they make cheapest stuff again, especially if a true Pentax flagship will follow (but not too lately of course).
I think you have a skewed view of the mass market for DSLR's.


one thing you have to keep in mind here is that when the K1000 was released there was no such thing as a P&S, thus making the K1000 the only viable choice for allot of people, how can a K1000D compete in a market that now has P&S, and bridge cameras? this isn't the late seventies (as much as Id like it to be) and the market just doesn't exist for a new K1000. does that mean pentax wont release a K1000/2000D, I don't know but I don't think it will do much good if they did.
05-20-2008, 06:11 AM   #14
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You've got me wrong..

QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
dream all you'd like.

no, it was based almost exclusively on the K1000 being the cheapest decent quality SLR available.
Why not now a new K1000D cannot be again "the cheapest decent quality DSLR available"?

QuoteQuote:
and this new market segment is what 'advanced P&S cameras? I believe we already have a market for that, they are called 'bridge cams'.
Nope. Bridge DC are not of decent quality (performance wise and IQ wise), nor they are really cheap (as far as price to performance is taken into account)

QuoteQuote:
I think you have a skewed view of the mass market for DSLR's.
The mass market segment was first created by Canon with their 300D long ago. But it can *only* be changed if someone can make something COOL and with a new market segment *created*.

QuoteQuote:
one thing you have to keep in mind here is that when the K1000 was released there was no such thing as a P&S, thus making the K1000 the only viable choice for allot of people, how can a K1000D compete in a market that now has P&S, and bridge cameras? this isn't the late seventies (as much as Id like it to be) and the market just doesn't exist for a new K1000. does that mean pentax wont release a K1000/2000D, I don't know but I don't think it will do much good if they did.
My proposed K1000D is not something to compete with P&S or those useless (IMO) bridge camera. It is a COOL product which shows it sensibility and is designed to deliver high performance in a highly efficient body at the lowest price. Pentax was able to make a retro-type MZ-5 which saved them from being extinguished in the mid-90s. It's time for them to do it again!
05-20-2008, 06:40 AM   #15
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Give me a 110 digital

The camera segment Pentax should make is the Canon G9 killer in the form of the Pentax 110 Digital. A high quality, small form factor pocketable camera with quality build quality, SR, RAW and a selection of scaled down quality primes. Now that's a camera I will buy, not the K1000D that you propose.

For one thing, even current entry consumer grade cameras today have features that older pro grade cameras didn't even have then. Cameras today can be as simple to use or have progressive features that allow anyone to delve into more creative control.

For the beginner who doesn't know anything about photography, just shoot in the Green Mode. What could be simpler than that? With more confidence, the newbie can try their hand with the different shooting modes and even manual mode. Consumers today react negatively if they knew their cameras had certain feature set disabled, if my memory serves me correctly, the Canon EOS 300/350 had some issue on this.

Last edited by creampuff; 05-20-2008 at 06:45 AM.
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