I'm sure most of you have heard that Ricoh (owner of the Pentax brand) is developing a full-frame DSLR. For now, it's called 'Full Frame by Pentax' (but probably will be called the K-1). Pentax has been slowly teasing this camera now for a few months and they added another picture today of the camera on their mini-site, see above.
I've got a soft spot for Pentax cameras. One of my absolute favourite cameras is the Pentax 67II. It's also a favourite with many other photographers — including film shooters today. It's easy to see why — they're built like a tank and the lenses are fantastic. The Pentax 67 series cameras were huge medium format cameras that shot 10 55x70mm (6 x 7) photographs on 120 film. It was a beast of a camera but I think it looks terrific.
The reason why it looks great, from a styling point-of-view, is because of the distinctive pointed pentaprism shape. I'm talking about this:
Of course, the industrial designers at Pentax are well aware of this form and how popular it is. It's a brand defining shape, especially if you consider that the name 'Pentax' comes from pentaprism.
Fast forward a few decades and now we are getting teasing glimpses into their most serious DSLR to date:
See any resemblance? From what I can see in the dramatically lit teaser photographs, the new industrial design looks brilliant. The designers took what was already an iconic product in the 67 and took that as an inspiration to create a thoroughly modern-looking and an undeniably Pentax-looking camera. And a well thought out human interface design to boot it seems.
I'm liking what I see — the leather texture looks great, the various dials and switches placement seems good, the diamond pattern on the dials for a sure grip, the classic moulded handgrip, embossed logo, ISO button near the shutter release, neat function selector next to the pentaprism (less menu fiddling maybe?), Wi-Fi, GPS, the crazy articulated LCD, the overall rugged aesthetic... and the singular pentaprism shape. Of course, without spending quality time with it, one can never know but so far, so good I think.
Pentax has never been afraid to be an 'indy' of the photographic equipment industry and with this new camera, Pentax looks set to establish the K-1 (?) as a serious contender. Of course, to compete with Canon and Nikon, they will have to have compelling glass. To that end, they've announced the D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR zoom lens, which is the most popular focal length for zoom and aperture for FF DSLR's.
Pentax started out as a lens maker (first for eye glasses in 1919 and they still make them today). Their photographic lenses are well known for their quality and its this aspect that makes for an exciting year ahead — the (presumably) great looking/functioning industrial design of the K-1 by Pentax paired with brilliant Pentax lenses makes for a tempting purchase. Imagine what'll happen if Sigma and Tamron joins the fun...
A Pentax industrial designer stated that their goal was to create 'a camera that makes you want to run out take pictures'. Like I said, looking good so far.
Could this be the camera that makes 'mirrorless' camera enthusiasts look at DSLR's again?
I joke. Alas, probably not.
A full write up will be published here on Senzo when the Full Frame by Pentax is released. Grab the RSS feed, follow Senzo on Twitter, or subscribe to the newsletter so you won't miss any posts on the only photography website that delves into the industrial design and development of cameras — and much more besides.