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01-05-2009, 11:25 PM   #1
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Why my digital pentax bodies does not fit in my winter coat pocket



What's this?

Well, it is a summary of the development since the first Pentax K-mount camera to the current digital SLR K-mount bodies from Pentax. My purpose is to show how the size of the camera bodies have changed with the technical development. In many ways the depth is the most important factor for where you can fit a camera (in which pocket). If you follow the time line you will see how the initial bulky analog K series bodies (that was basically Spotmatic cameras with a K-mount instead of the m42 thread) are replaced by the minimized M serie and A serie models. Then the size begins to increase with the introduction of built-in winder and auto focus. Pentax tried to turn the trend with the MZ series which mimic the old attempts to minimize the size of the M serie bodies, with the MZ-M being the last really small body (and the last with manual focus). Then came the digital era and since the electronics of the picture sensors are thicker than film, the size increased again, though Pentax has successfully tried to make the *istD serie bodies and the K-m among the smallest digital SLRs on the market. But despite this, the bodies have on average become much more bulky (~50%) than they were 30 years ago. So they don't fit in my coat pocket

Worth notice is that the respectively top models, (semi)professional or advanced amateur, of most body families: K2, Z-1 and Z-1p, *istD, K20D are larger than the rest of their families. The exceptions are the LX and MZ-S.



Next diagram shows camera body weight instead of body depth. If you follow the time line you will see how the initial heavy analog K series bodies were replaced with the M serie models. Then the size begun to increase with the introduction of more electronics and built-in winder and auto focus. Pentax turned the trend with the MZ series where minimized size and plastic materials replacing metal resulted in the lightest 35mm Pentax SLR bodies ever. Then came the digital era. While it is clear to me that the bodies must get thicker because the electronics of the picture sensors are thicker than film, I don't really understand why the digital bodies have to get heavier. But they did, despite all plastic. Must be all electronics and the fact that the Pentax DSLRs appear better built than the 90's SLR bodies, even with similar amounts of plastics. The weight increased allthough Pentax have tried to keep the *istD serie bodies and the K-m compact. Despite all plastics that have replaced all the metal in the K, M and A bodies, we are back were we started: the K20D is about the same weight as the K2 was (top model of the K serie), and the K-m is only slightly lighter than the KM was 30 years ago. There is more than a factor two (100%) reduction between the K2 and the MZ familly and again decrease from there up to the K10D.

I have not put trends for length and height into graphs, but they are partly linked to the same factors as seen in these two figures, with some additional effects. The length took a jump from 130-140mm to 150-160mm with the introduction of the built in winders, which Pentax managed to compensate for in the MZ family. With the introduction of digital SLRs, the size of the smaller bodies decreased to 120mm or below because there is no need any longer to make room for a film cassette to the left side of the camera (seen from behind), while the bigger models remain around 140mm, probably using the space for all the electronics needed in the upper end bodies. With the exception of the initial K family and the LX, all early cameras are less than 90mm in height. Then with the introduction of the built in flash from the SF family and beyond, the height takes a jump above 90mm (*ist being the only exception). The current top model K20D and the previous K10D is above 100mm high. Not only does the built in flash add about 10mm, but the flash-prisma combo is often much bulkier in all directions than it used to be, which is very noticeable when I try to squeeze even the *istDS into my pocket.

I bet that most camera brands (those of the original players that have survived) will show similar trends if you do the work to collect the data graphically, though some will be bulkier on average than the Pentax cameras. Olympus is likely the other manufacturer that will challenge Pentax in the smallest and lightest bodies (over time). Canikon will be bigger with some exceptions, but follow a similar trend with the introduction of built-in driver, autofocus and digital image sensors instead of film. Worth remembering is that not all DSLRs would fit in the pocket even if the body is small, because the brand in question may not have small enough lenses...

In summary: They got shorter (some at least), but higher and thicker, and in terms of weight we are back were we started despite less metal in the bodies. They don't fit in my pocket any longer, not even the *istDS. Maybe the K-m will? Well the *istDS is actually 1.5mm thinner than the K-m. So maybe I should get a DA40 for my *istDS and try to squeeze that into the pocket? But while it will be below 100mm on the width, it will be ~100mm higher than the MX and that might be critical. Maybe just get a coat with bigger pockets? No, it is almost new and I like it a lot.

On the other hand, my MX, Super-A and Program-A easily fit in my pocket with any of several of my lenses, and even the LX and KX can be squeezed down with one of the smallest lenses. So I will keep on having the MX or Super-A there with a 28mm or 50mm lens. While waiting for a thin enough Pentax DSLR!

And don't try to tell me to get a Olympis E-400-something. It is not a K-mount.
And don't tell me to get a P&S. What am I then going to do with the 85/100/135mm lens in the other pocket that is needed to keep me balanced?

Data sources: Pentax own web pages and folders, and the marvelous Bojidar Dimitrov's Homepage
I might have mixed up weight with and without batteries in some cases. These data are not always reported in a systematic way. It will not change the over all conclusions.

01-06-2009, 01:12 AM   #2
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I agree with you, I compared the ME-s to the MZ-7 and to a K100D and the main difference is thickness.

Very cool graphs by the way!

I keep an MEsuper in my backpack, and I think you have a very big coat... well being in Sweden it figures LOL.

Last edited by titrisol; 01-06-2009 at 01:17 AM.
01-06-2009, 03:42 AM   #3
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With a body cap I do believe I could put my ME or my Sv into my front pants pocket. They're both smaller than my folding medium format rangefinders, both of which will fit easily.

I suppose I could superglue a metal ring to a lens and wear it as a pendant on a necklace....
01-06-2009, 04:47 AM   #4
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It isn't merely a matter of pockets - slimness and weight are important when keeping the camera around the neck but inside the winter coat. The size issue is why I tend to take film cameras with me rather than my K100D.

The K-M seems to be a step in the right direction from this pov, as I note my ZX-10 seems much smaller than the K100D; and in fact also seems lighter than the Pgm Plus, perhaps due to it being less dense.

01-06-2009, 05:05 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
slimness and weight are important when keeping the camera around the neck but inside the winter coat.
Are you calling me fat? You're right of course. Every time I pick up the ME Super, I'm surprised at how small it is (both weight and size) compared to the K10/20D's. The PZ-1 is even a feather weight compared to those as well. But I'm happy with the DSLR's and glad they are so solid.

Cool graphs Douglas.

Now I'd love to see a rangefinder DSLR ( Edit- I mean Digital not DSLR - duh) with a great screen, weatherseals and a decent feature set that is nice and small/quiet to use with a couple of pancakes. Imagine that with a DA40mm!

Last edited by Peter Zack; 01-06-2009 at 05:32 AM.
01-06-2009, 05:15 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
It isn't merely a matter of pockets - slimness and weight are important when keeping the camera around the neck but inside the winter coat. The size issue is why I tend to take film cameras with me rather than my K100D.

The K-M seems to be a step in the right direction from this pov, as I note my ZX-10 seems much smaller than the K100D; and in fact also seems lighter than the Pgm Plus, perhaps due to it being less dense.
Thank you for understanding that the pocket is just a measure of how compact the camera is, a test or a standard. Will I be able to fit a camera in the computer-bag I bring to work, in the cabin-bag I use when I travel, in the glove-box in the car...? But I do seriously like to keep a small camera body with a short lens in my jacket and when I go somewhere where I might find a motive, it's often accompanied by one or two more lenses in other pockets. No big bulky camera bag. And as you say, being able to close the rain jacket etc over the camera when it is around your neck is also quite important.
01-06-2009, 05:24 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Now I'd love to see a rangefinder DSLR with a great screen, weatherseals and a decent feature set that is nice and small/quiet to use with a couple of pancakes. Imagine that with a DA40mm!
If it's a rangefinder, it doesn't need to be a reflex camera. If it's a reflex camera, it doesn't need a rangefinder.
01-06-2009, 05:27 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Douglas_of_Sweden Quote
But I do seriously like to keep a small camera body with a short lens in my jacket
Just what the doctor ordered:




The Konica C35


01-06-2009, 05:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by titrisol Quote
I agree with you, I compared the ME-s to the MZ-7 and to a K100D and the main difference is thickness.

Very cool graphs by the way!

I keep an MEsuper in my backpack, and I think you have a very big coat... well being in Sweden it figures LOL.
Thanks!
When I started with the graphs I suspected that there would be some long term trends, but was not sure how clear it would come out. But despite some scatter (with the top and bottom models spread around the mean trend), the long term trends are clear and the major technical innovations are clearly visible.

Let's say that I'm looking for coats and jackets with a good size pocket
I used to have a Goretex jacket with in inside pocket that was able to take the LX with a 400mm lens! But it was a bit uncomfortable I admit.
01-06-2009, 05:31 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
If it's a rangefinder, it doesn't need to be a reflex camera. If it's a reflex camera, it doesn't need a rangefinder.

Yes sorry. I shouldn't have said "DSLR" and instead I want a "Digital" rangefinder camera.

Too early in the morning to make any sense.
01-06-2009, 05:54 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Yes sorry. I shouldn't have said "DSLR" and instead I want a "Digital" rangefinder camera.

Too early in the morning to make any sense.
I thought that was what you meant. It's interesting how word meanings/uses sort of morph on us.

The funniest example I ever saw was an American television reporter doing a live remote from Africa, I believe it was Zimbabwe, concerning the rapid dispossession of the white population. The reporter said something about the whites and then moved on to say something about the other side of the story, got halfway through the word "black", stammered, and then blithely referred to the black citizenry of Zimbabwe as "African-Americans" completely sure he had saved his career by using the politically correct term and utterly unaware of how asinine he sounded.
01-06-2009, 06:01 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
Just what the doctor ordered:
The Konica C35
damn, apparently i really need smaller rangefinder, this one doesn't fit into my pocket:



Yashica Electro 35 GSN
Pentax K100D
Pallas Magenta AD, 28mm f/2.8

01-06-2009, 06:04 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
utterly unaware of how asinine he sounded.
I won't take that as a direct comparison!
01-06-2009, 06:43 AM   #14
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I think it makes little sense to compare body dimensions between film cameras and digital cameras. They may adopt the same form factor but the internals are inherently different. Even with microprocessor miniaturization, internal space in a DSLR is very limited, not even counting the space for batteries and internal motors.

Here's some images of a stripped K10D.

Mirrorbox and pentaprism assembly (notice how tiny the pentaprism is now)


Shutter assembly (made by Copal naturally)


Anti-shake mechanism. The CCD is face down

Last edited by creampuff; 01-06-2009 at 06:50 AM.
01-06-2009, 06:49 AM   #15
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I want Pentax to make an Xpan clone...

While we're talking about rangefinders, I want Pentax to make this dream toy...



The Hasselblad Xpan for those who don't know...
This is way cooler than using a Pentax 67 with a panoramic adapter.
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