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01-12-2007, 11:59 AM   #1
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I've read that Pentax is preparing to leave the P&S market, and focus mostly on dSLRs. While I think that the entry level P&S market is overcrowded, there is room in certain niches. I'll cite a Pentax & other manufacturers cameras and go into three areas where I think Pentax could excel in the with little competition.

Pentax Optio 43WR - Ultra rugged, all weather, extreme use cameras. I have an Optio 43 WR, and it's anawesome camera for outdoors use in decent light. The biggest feature that differentiates the 43 WR from competitors, and other Pentax weather resistant cameras is the matte black finish. At the time I got the 43 WR I would have settled for a 33 WR - except that the 33 WR has a bright silver finish. I won't upgrade the 43 WR, mostly because it still works well, and also because everything else is some bright fashion finish. Why is finish important? A matte finished, dark colored, ruggedized camera fits the outdoorsman. It doesn't look out of place at the hunter's camp, or in the fisherman's tackle box. An updated version of the 43 WR could be great if targeted at outdoorsmen who want subtle looking, but functional cameras.

Canon Powershot G7 - A co-worker has one. It's an SLR put into a compact P&S package. Good zoom range with decent aperture range, hot shoe, full SLR controls. It's a serious camera that goes anywhere in a pocket. Before deciding on my K100 is looked seriously at the G7 and tried to find alternatives - there isn't a compact that comes close. Pentax should give Canon a run for their money in this class that has no current competition.

Leica M8 - I've just recently discovered the range finding camera. They look very cool, but they're very expensive. The M8 is of course the only digital in this category. Pentax already has a great line of primes. How hard would it be to build a digital k-mount rangefinder body, and make view finders for theses existing lenses? Surely Pentax could do it for much less than Leica does.

With the new money from the Hoya merger I think they should let Pentax Imaging loose to go on the offensive. I may be completely wrong (particularly on the ragefinder idea I know next to nothing about), but those are my rambling thoughts. What do you folks think?

01-12-2007, 09:54 PM   #2
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A K-Mount Rangefinder. Now that's an idea! I'll be one of the first in line if one of these come out, provided that it doesn't cost thousands of dollars like the Leica. Who knows? With Samsung building sister cameras to Pentax, and coming out with some interesting p&s cameras as of late - perhaps another joint venture may be in the works?
01-13-2007, 06:57 AM   #3
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The Pentax Optio 750 was a very well featured camera. Was hoping there would be an 850. Wanted to add two main features. A dedicated hotshoe, and raw. Also get rid of the shiny bright chrome ring on the front. It reflects in everything including Cokin filters ( yes, Cokin makes a universal P&S filter holder). The 5X zoom is sharp with great range. The controls are nice (easy exp. comp, manual etc). I might even be happy if they would make the WP20 with manual over ride and raw.
thanks
barondla
01-14-2007, 02:55 PM   #4
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Barondla, I took a look at the Optio 750. Definetly looks like it has the feature set of a nice compact like I'd like to see Pentax make. Take a body like that, keep the manual controls & optical viewfinder, add something like a 24 to 72mm 3x zoom lens with the K100/K110's 6MP APSc sensor and you'd have a serious compact. I wonder how many here would buy it if it was under $600 street price.

01-14-2007, 10:18 PM   #5
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Don't know how many they would sell. Using such a big APS chip would make the camera bigger than the 750. Look at the size of the 18-55 kit lens its 3X. Granted, a slr lens is always bigger than other lenses. The 750 is the size of a cigarette pack. I should have bought one. It was the only compact I ever used and really liked. Now its hard to even buy a compact with an optical viewfinder!
thanks
barondla
01-27-2007, 08:21 PM   #6
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Did someone say rangefinders? :)

QuoteOriginally posted by ugaarguy Quote
Leica M8 - I've just recently discovered the range finding camera. They look very cool, but they're very expensive. The M8 is of course the only digital in this category. Pentax already has a great line of primes. How hard would it be to build a digital k-mount rangefinder body, and make view finders for theses existing lenses? Surely Pentax could do it for much less than Leica does.
Hi,

I primarily photograph with rangefinders. Leicas are expensive because the quality of their cameras and lenses are second to none and you are also paying for the Leica name. I have a Leica MP, which cost me a lot of money but using that camera is like driving a Ferrari. It's pure joy. Not only is it a joy to use but the camera and lenses themselves are extremely well made. Its a camera for a lifetime and then passed down from one generation to the next. I know people that use Leicas dating back to the 1930 belonging to a grandparent, then a parent and finally to them and they are looking forward to passing the camera down to the next generation.

However, 35mm rangefinder photography doesn't have to be expensive. When it comes to new rangefinders there are three major brands of rangefinders offering cameras for different budgets. For entry level rangefinders, there is Voigtlander. My first rangefinder was a Voigtlander Bessa-T that cost me $185 USD for the body and paired with my $50 50/1,5 Jupiter-3 (Zeiss Sonnar Copy) lens, I've gotten spectacular results. New Voigtlander bodies cost anywhere from $200 to $600 USD and Voigtlander lenses (which are excellent) range from $295 (for a great 75/2,5 Heliar) to $900 (for a spectacular 35/1,2 Nokton). In the mid-range there is Zeiss. New Zeiss Ikon bodies run for about $1200 USD and lenses range from $600 to $3700 with most around the $800-900 mark. Zeiss lens are very good and almost on par with Leica glass. Leica, of course, is the high end. New bodies range from $2600 for an M7 to $5000 for the M8. Then there is the Leica a la carte program where you can customize the Leica in lots of different ways, pushing the price a lot higher. Lenses range from $1000 for the 90/4 to $4000 for the legendary 50/1 Noctilux with most lenses in the $2000-3000 range.

If you want to go the real cheap route, you can get Russian rangefinders for as little as $50. Russian cameras were based on either the Leica II or Zeiss-Ikon Contax cameras. Russian lenses were copies of Zeiss designs and are great lenses. The only problem with Russian stuff is that quality control was non-existent. I got a couple of Russian lenses. One of them had to be adjusted because the focus was off but now its a champ and one of my favourite lenses. I currently have a Zorki Ic on its way to me. This is a pre-war Leica II copy. Paired with an Industar 50/3,5 lens that collapses into the body when not in use, its great camera that I can carry in my pocket.

I do not think that a K-mount rangefinder is feasible. The reason is that rangefinder lenses and slr lenses are not designed the same. SLR lenses are designed to take the mirror box into consideration. Rangefinders do not have mirror boxes so the distance from the end of the lens to the film/sensor is much shorter. The only K-mount SLR lenses that would work on a rangefinder out of the box would be the superwides as the DOF would be so great that one wouldn't even need to focus. For other lenses, an extension tube would have to be added to the end of the lens to make it focus correctly. I have a Leica 135/4.5 Hektor from 1958 that works with both a rangefinder and a Visoflex. A Visoflex was a mirror-box housing that could turn a Leica rangefinder into a crazy-looking SLR. On the end of the lens there is an extension tube of 1.5 to 2 inches in length. You keep it on, when you use it with a rangefinder and you take it off when you use it with the Visoflex. One of the great things about rangefinders is that the close distance between the lens and the film/sensor gives designers more freedom in lens design and results in very high-quality, high-resolution but very compact lenses. Adding an extension to an existing K-mount lenses defeats a key advantage of a rangefinder - compactness. Also, K-mount lens do not have any way of coupling to a rangefinder mechanism so we can only use scale-focusing - again, that's only reliable for superwides. The new Leica M8 is digital but the rangefinder itself (and by rangefinder, here I mean the focusing mechanism and not the camera) is completely mechanical. Another point is that rangefinders cannot accurately focus lenses with focal lengths larger than 135mm so lots of great Pentax glass simply couldn't be used.

I think if a company wants to get into the rangefinder market, they have to use the Leica M-mount. This way, their bodies can use the vast number of great M-mount and Leica screw-mount lenses made by many different manufacturers in the last 70 years. Leica M-mount is very similar to the Pentax K-mount in this regard. Also, by adopting M-mount or Screw-mount, new lenses made by a company would work with existing rangefinders.

Cheers,
Nando
01-30-2007, 10:58 PM   #7
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I have said for a long time, actualy ever since the EL200? that pentax needs a ZLR (zoom lens reflex. A P&S camera with fixed lens, and full "manual" support/controles.
I would say 3 classes of P&S that pentax should stay in/get in:
WR/WP market- As you stated, the rugged water proof cameras are great to have on hand for thoes anytime/where shots. I have carried my WPi everywere ever since I got it, and never worry about where I am taking it (wet, dry, dusty etc)

Ultra compact/stylish- Pentax really started this game with the Optio S, go back to that cameras roots. Make it cheap, make it good. Something that is fashaonable, pocketable, and works well w/ a good price.

ZLR- there are 2 areas for this, compact and DSLR-sized. Since pentax already has a great line of DSLR's I say compact. Something in the G7-coolpix500* area. Compact enough that it can fit in a small belt case/handbag, but large enough so its not a tiny sensor, and no zoom range. Something like a 4-5x built in range (something like 28-105/135mm in 35mm terms w/ dedicated add-on tell and ultra wide screw-in lenses. Also put a darn hotshoe on the thing that uses pentax flashes (and come out with a compact add-on tilt & swivel flash that will work with all the pentax DSLR's etc)
I think with sticking to 3 P&S models they can produce quality and price competive products. This isn't 2 years ago where it was "fashonable" to have 6 P&S in the line. Times are harder and focus needs to be made.

Oh and while they are at it, a nice pro DSLR above the K10D would be great. The K-mt rangefinder is an idea, but it would not save much. Probaly better is a "live preview body w/ no viewfnder, but that takes K-mount lenses
03-08-2007, 03:20 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ugaarguy Quote
I've read that Pentax is preparing to leave the P&S market, and focus mostly on dSLRs. While I think that the entry level P&S market is overcrowded, there is room in certain niches. I'll cite a Pentax & other manufacturers cameras and go into three areas where I think Pentax could excel in the with little competition.

Pentax Optio 43WR - Ultra rugged, all weather, extreme use cameras. I have an Optio 43 WR, and it's anawesome camera for outdoors use in decent light. The biggest feature that differentiates the 43 WR from competitors, and other Pentax weather resistant cameras is the matte black finish. At the time I got the 43 WR I would have settled for a 33 WR - except that the 33 WR has a bright silver finish. I won't upgrade the 43 WR, mostly because it still works well, and also because everything else is some bright fashion finish. Why is finish important? A matte finished, dark colored, ruggedized camera fits the outdoorsman. It doesn't look out of place at the hunter's camp, or in the fisherman's tackle box. An updated version of the 43 WR could be great if targeted at outdoorsmen who want subtle looking, but functional cameras.

Canon Powershot G7 - A co-worker has one. It's an SLR put into a compact P&S package. Good zoom range with decent aperture range, hot shoe, full SLR controls. It's a serious camera that goes anywhere in a pocket. Before deciding on my K100 is looked seriously at the G7 and tried to find alternatives - there isn't a compact that comes close. Pentax should give Canon a run for their money in this class that has no current competition.

Leica M8 - I've just recently discovered the range finding camera. They look very cool, but they're very expensive. The M8 is of course the only digital in this category. Pentax already has a great line of primes. How hard would it be to build a digital k-mount rangefinder body, and make view finders for theses existing lenses? Surely Pentax could do it for much less than Leica does.

With the new money from the Hoya merger I think they should let Pentax Imaging loose to go on the offensive. I may be completely wrong (particularly on the ragefinder idea I know next to nothing about), but those are my rambling thoughts. What do you folks think?
Maybe this is something more for their partnership with Samsung, where pentax supplies lenses, but my suggestion would be the following.

An Electronic Viewfinder (EV) camera, with a great big and fast 20-100 mm (35mm equivelent) zoom lens, shake reduction and full manual and auto controls. It should also be able to do macro at the maximum focal length. 6MP should be enough but i am sure marketing will push for something really stupid.

The idea is an all in one travel camera much smaller than current SLRs, but really good for scenics, and wide enough that you can take photos without standing two blocks away from the church you are trying to fit in to the view finder. I presently have a Kodak 7590 that I use to travel on business, but to go wide, you put one adaptor on and to get close you need another. (lens is 38-380 mm equivelent)

I don't want to carry my SLR stuff on business but I use a camera a lot for close up work, and recognize the need to get wider than the 38mm that is available presently on most of these cameras.

It is a market that pentax is absent in.

03-12-2007, 04:44 PM   #9
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There is a category of advanced digital cameras known as ultrazooms that (supposedly) fit this exact same niche -- more advanced than a typical P&S, but more compact, easy to use, and versatile than a dSLR. The Sony DSC-Hx series is one example, as is the Powershot Pro series.

However, they are about the same price as entry-level dSLRs such as the K100D/K110D. It's a trade-off between function and convenience. The megazooms typically have 10-12x zoom lenses, and Olympus has just released an 18x zoom camera. Most of the ultrazooms, though, are as large as a typical dSLR, but it would be a smart move for Pentax to make an ultrazoom camera because they are still more convenient and easy to use than a similarly-priced dSLR, such as the K100D.

Another niche is a step down from the ultrazoom category: advanced compacts. As previously mentioned, this is where the Powershot G series, as well as the S series, is. Canon experiences virtually no competition in this segment. All Pentax needs to do is take an existing Optio platform, add more creative manual controls, and maybe a larger sensor, and it could be called an advanced compact. By adding an ultrazoom and an advanced compact, Pentax would have captured every niche of the digital camera market, though (unfortunately) it's highly unlikely it will do this.
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