A cut model of the Pentax K-5 as shown at Photokina 2010
"The engineering masterpiece" (photo © 2010 Falk Lumo)
Pentax K-5 hands-on preview report. A short blog article turned out to be the wrong format and therefore, I posted it on my website. Here you go:
Don't miss the exciting news. Moreover, I tried to answer as many questions I received as possible in the report and to skip as much redundant info as possible too.
However, a small number of questions didn't fit the K-5 context so I am putting them here:
DA 35mm f/2.4:
The new DA 35/2.4 introduced short before Photokina is specified here:
The kit will be black only and non-black versions are said to be unavailable (at least outside Japan).
DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6:
This lens was announced together with the K-5 at Photokina and is specified here:
- The aperture ranges are as follows:
18-19 mm f/3.5
20-29 mm f/4.0
30-79 mm f/4.5
80-135 mm f/5.6
- DC focus motor:
"DC" stands for direct current according to one source, and for dual current according to another. That needs further clarification although my bet is with the direct current camp ;)
- Focus motor noise:
The focus motor almost certainly is not ultrasonic. I tried to listen despite the show's background noise. It sounds different than an ultrasonic motor (it's more motor-like, less twitter-like) but isn't necessarily (much) noisier.
- Focus motor speed:
The focus motor appeared to be about as fast as a DA*16-50mm ultrasonic motor. Which isn't fast exactly. The DA 18-55 WR kit lens is a lot faster!
Pentax missed a chance to deliver a higher speed focus motor (e.g. ring type) rather than a lower production cost one.
- Image quality:
I don't know. From the specs, it could be better than that of a usual floating aperture lens.
Pentax showed its 1.4x autofocus teleconverter at Photokina 2 years ago. It has disappeared. I asked what happened to it. The response I obtained was hard to accept: Pentax Germany requests production of the teleconverter but Japan denies saying that teleconverters aren't required anymore in the digital age. Pentax Germany tried to explain that a digital magnification may actually have a negative impact on image quality (as we all know) but obviously it did not help much. What shall I say...?
Post Photokina Pentax strategy (as I guess it):
Overall, Pentax is a bold performer in 2010: 645D, K-5 and K-r seem to be 3 winners. And the company itself is making profit. So what else should it take to make a Pentaxian a happy Pentaxian? Not much should one think. Esp. as an Olympus E-5 (good-bye gift?), Canon 60D (downgrade?) and Nikon D7000 (Pentax clone?) are not particularly exciting. But the grass never is green enough ;)
It's because many Pentaxians are addicted to their hobby. They want to invest further in their system and are imaginative enough to foresee "their" camera and lenses in one or two years time.
Therefore, it's a bit irritating that all signs emanating from Pentax at Photokina (foremost but not only from Pentax Germany staff) cry out: we're not going upstream with the K mount. Not now. The 645D digital medium format is as professional as one may actually desire. "Unfortunately" however, cameras in the tradition of the *istD or the higher end film bodies attracted quite a few rather professional photographers into Pentax. Over the last couple years, their fraction is shrinking though and this Photokina won't halt it. It's no fortunate coincidence either that no new Star-lenses are announced and FA Ltds. are tagged "end of life" (whatever that means...) in Germany. Personally, I also don't expect a revival of non-standard lenses (like 85/1.4, 135/1.8, 300/2.8, 600/4, maybe not even a 400/5.6), based on a statement that the rarer lenses aren't currently profitable for Pentax to make. And I hear a bold "no" to full frame. Pentax doesn't see their enthusiast user base go full frame.
To be fair, nobody knows about the future prospect of mirrored cameras. On the other hand, Pentax seems still to be in an evaluation phase with respect to mirrorless cameras and meanwhile anticipates to sell the K-r against mirrorless cameras from other vendors. This worked out fine in the past (with the K-x) but Pentax may start to realize that this won't continue for too long. So, it may be understandable that in this atmosphere of change, Pentax may not invest in the $1500+ segment in order to re-establish their share in that market segment. On the other hand, Pentax learns that what was the $1500 segment (K-7, D300) now is the $1200 segment (D7000) and soon will be in a region with aggressive price competition. As will be mirrorless cameras.
So, some kind of either upstream or innovation strategy was expected and missed from Pentax at this year's Photokina. That's the one complaint. But I hear it from many, from Pentaxians and all over the press watching the market: "where is Pentax heading?".
As a side note, there has been staff from Hoya visiting Pentax and Photokina. E.g., Ned Bunnell was spotted at Photokina and Eguchi Kazumichi (head of marketing imaging systems division) gave an interview. So, if anybody (not me) had a chance to meet with Hoya Int'l management at Photokina and exchange some ideas, please drop a comment... ;)
Summary and verdict:
- K-5: Very solid and satisfying performance. (as known so far)
- Hoya Pentax: In good shape but tight on resources. Communication skills leave some room for improvement.
I activated some ads on my blog. It enables a certain guy to pay reparations:) (just joking!)