Sunday, March 29, 2009

645D Has Interchangeable Digital Back?



Here found a series of leaked images of a prototype 645D:-

http://www.digitalcamera.jp/html/HotNews/image/2008-03/07/p645d/index.html

It seems that this version of the 645D is a real Evil! It has interchangeable digital back or sensor!

However, the above shown prototype is not the latest version, as the back colour LCD display is just smaller than the prototype that has just been shown at the PIE lately. Let's see if the final production version will have this evil feature or it was just made for convenience as a testing prototype in which the sensor could be changed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

PIE Live Report, with Various New Product Images



The biggest Japanese online DC/DSLR resource, the Impress DC Watch has done it again! Well Done!

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/cda/other/2009/03/26/10547.html
(Report in Japanese)

From these photos, the 645D Prototype just looks like workable, I guess.

It is also interesting to note from the fourth photo above that Pentax have developed a new type of optical coating - The "Aero Bright Coating", of which the first lens which has adopted this new technology and coating type is the DA*55/1.4. Is this coating even better than former Ghostless SMC which was developed by Pentax in the late 90s, I think I shall know later if I have the chance to use the DA*55.

Whilst I am almost certain that the new coating will have superb flare resistance which should surpass almost all other manufacturers' in the market (as Pentax always do! And, IMHO, Canon's coatings are Junk, even for those L lenses'), I have big doubts about the colour rendition of the new Pentax glass, some of which often produce strange colour rendition.

Once again, the colour rendition of the latest and newest DA*55/1.4 does not look right. It looks rather strange and unnatural to me, just see the new DA*55 sample photos as posted by Ned Bunnell here. Anyway, whilst I found that the strange colour rendition is a result of the combination of any Pentax DSLR bodies with many contemporary Pentax digital glass, when they are used in conjunction, but however I have recently found that when I used my "colour incorrect" DFA 100 Macro on my Canon 5D, surprising the problem went away! So, I guess there are two clear conclusions can be drawn from that: 1. Some of those latest Pentax glass is not so colour correct, but the old FA film glass are/were; 2. But, a more advanced and more intelligent digital DSLR body can rectify the "colour incorrectness" problem! (and thus the resulted pictures come out to be good again!)

So, when will there be such a better Pentax DSLR body that will cure the problem? K20D? No, it failed. Honestly speaking, I found that the K-m is far better in colour rendition and correctness than the K20D so far! Just see this series of sample for the high image quality and superb colour rendition and skin tone reproduction and you will know what I am talking about.

To make a huge difference, just look at Ned Bunnell photos made with a DA*55 on his K20D again. I think you can always judge yourself! Even some of photos are underexposured. The skin tone and texture are strange..

Ned used to apply +0.5 to 1 EV exposure compensation quite frequently for new DA lenses "tested" on his K bodies and the pictures come out to be almost exposure correct. I just wonder why this time even he had done it, some pictures are still looking dark - see this one, for example:-

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Imqe7pprpvs/ScEz_qzCdfI/AAAAAAAACPM/0hj8KvVYfuo/s1600-h/San+Jose+Poster.jpg
(From the EXIF, an positive +0.5EV had already applied. And, do note that the scene is not of more high keytones and high reflectance. In contrast, the central part of the scene is dark and has low reflectance.)

And, I wish to repeat again that I found the colours of most shots terrible, in addition to the underexposure issues found in quite some photos. As for the unnatural skin tone (which maybe just an issue of the overall colour incorrectness), see his this sample:-

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Imqe7pprpvs/ScEoh_5bY9I/AAAAAAAACOc/mWOl9SHk41I/s1600-h/Boy+on+Ride.jpg

Last but not least, I have an humble suggestion to Ned. Ned, if you read this, please does not feel offended. I would suggest you to use K-m with new lenses to post new samples next time, the results might be or should be better! I dare to bet! And, if you have the time, you should "re-do" your samples and post them with the K-m body - we bet many of my readers here will be very interested to see the results! With better samples shown to the world, it will help Pentax, instead of doing harms. Once again, I have to say there is no offence intended. I always found that and believe that you're just an honest and nice guy but as for the colour incorrectness issue, I think I just can't help to not to air it out, maybe once again, as this issue is just so critical..

Listened Q&As about 645D at PIE

See this post at the Photo.net for more information (mostly technical) about the upcoming 645D:-

http://photo.net/medium-format-photography-forum/00SsTT?unified_p=1

Quoted (my comments without brackets and in Italics):-

"Today, I went to PIE 2009 Tokyo (Photo trade show) and attended Pentax 645D talk session. One of Japanese professional photographer asked several question about 645D to Pentax guys. (Sorry I am not sure they are R&D guy or marketing guy.)
Here are questions and answers:
1. When will it be on the market?
-- Some time next year. They have target date but it's not possible to reveal now."

Well, we all know that, as it has been officially announced already.

"2. Pricing?
-- Pentax wants it to be under 1,000,000 yen (roughly, $10,000) "

Wow, what a large figure! They ask for big money!? I guess it is just a price which 99.99% of existing Pentax DSLR users could not afford! :-( They really targeted this market for existing film 645 professionals.

"3. Shake reduction?
-- It's unlikely. The MF sensor can be "move" but hard to stop."

The inertia of such a big sensor is huge (because of the large mass and great weight), thus the damping is not easy and fast damping is almost impossible.

"4. What is the exact sensor size?
-- They can not answer at this point."

Well, I have made a speculation here! It is 4433. ;-)

"5. Which medium to store the photo data?
-- SD (No CF) and they say it's going to be double slots."

SD(HC) is the future of memory card and storage. Dual slots is good.

"6. Any specific data of Super Wide lens?
-- They can not answer."

I guess they are still working on it, or maybe just started their work.

"After the talk show, I personally asked about DFA 55mm lens. A Pentax guy said that
it can be used with film camera body but there is some "limitation" in operation.
He could not tell me what that means. It might be SDM?"

This "DFA" does NOT have an aperture ring! Just see the prototype image here. In Contrast, both Pentax 135 DFA Macros do have aperture ring and they are full frame (on 135). So, I am almost sure that the "limitation" is about the omission of the aperture ring. Hence, on film 645 bodies, there will be no A (Av) or M exposure modes, but just P and S (Tv) modes.

Yet, fortunately, this DFA 645 lens is designed to be a Full Frame lens on the old 645 film form factor, which is still a good thing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sensor Size of the 645D (and More Technical Talks on DSLR Form Factors)

The standard lens of the Pentax 645 system used to be a 75mm lens, like the SMC Pentax A 645 75mm/2.8, which can be used on the original Pentax 645, 645N and the newer 645NII bodies.

To explain why 75 would be the ideal standard lens, the maths is actually easy. The dimensions of the 6 x 4.5 120 film size is simply 6 x 4.5cm, of which its name is self-explanatory, or 60 x 45mm. The diagonal length of such a film is thus 75mm, exactly.

In fact, I believe Pentax is the only manufacturer who has ever made a true standard lens for 135 film also, which is the FA 43/1.9 Limited, of which this focal is almost the diagonal of a 135 film frame of size 36 x 24mm (exact diagonal length is 43.2666 mm).

In fact, by looking at how compact the size and weight of both of the standard lenses 645 75 and the 43 Limited, we could know that such a standard lens is the easier lens to make for a properly designed interchangeable lens camera system, of which the back focus register distance (aka flange to film-plane or focal-plane distance) should be set as close to the standard focal length as calculated above as possible. That is, 43mm for the 135 system and 75mm for the 645 system.

In practice, the K-mount system was chosen to have a back register distance of 45.5mm, as seen in the summary table in the above link, whereas the EOS system is now being the one who has the closest to ideal standard focal value of 43.2666mm, amongst all current interchangeable systems, which is 44mm for the back focus register distance. The obsolete Fujica X-mount and Minolta MD are even closer, with a value of 43.5mm.

So, the rule for defining the back focus register distance is just that simple, for what I have already explained. So, for an APS-C system with a sensor roughly equal to 24 x 16mm, the ideal back focus register system should be 28.8444mm.

Now let's talk back some history. In 2003, in order to match better the smaller APS-C sensor size of Pentax's new *ist D body, which has a K-mount and old mirror house assemblies of Pentax film bodies, Pentax opted to create a new DA form factor in K-mount as their new digital lenses with a smaller image circle. The first DA lens was the DA 16-45/4, which was designed to maintain the old back focus register distance of 45.5mm of the classic K-mount spec. Whilst the true reason(s) for this "decision" is unknown, I must say this is just a very unfortunate thing, IMHO. Undoubtedly, they had made a very wrong decision, if they had really thought a bit more thoroughly before decided. Follow this article and you will know why..

Well, as a long time Pentax fans and supporter, I bought both the *ist D and DA 16-45 from the very first batch of goods when they were first marketed.

However, as I have explained about the rationale behind the design of the DSLR system form factor, the DA lens specification is just a compromise. As such, the DA lenses are forced to make larger as the optical formulas are complicated as a paid-off (not trade-off) for what the basic design rule is NOT followed. This explains why DA lenses, especially wide ones, cannot be made smaller but just larger and bulkier than all the film lens counterparts. For example, the DA 16-45/4 is larger and bulkier than the FA 24-90/3.5-4.5 (which has even longer focal range, but both effectively are starting from an effective AOV of 24mm wide), the DA 14/2.8 is larger and heavier than the FA 20/2.8, with a larger filter thread too.

Even worse, the optical performance of those corresponding DA lenses could not be better but worse, owing to the violation of the basic rule, again. Another good example is that it is almost well known that the newer DA 10-17 Fisheye by no means can match the superb corner to corner sharpness of the old FA 17-28 Fisheye of the past. The DA Fisheye is particular infamous for its pronounced CA and purple fringing at image corners.

Now, Pentax have announced the new DFA 645 55mm/2.8, which is supposed to be the new standard lens of the 645D, which has a smaller sensor than the size of 6 x 4.5 cm.

So, what's the new sensor size then? Suppose 55mm is the diagonal length of the new 645D sensor, the crop factor is hence 75mm/55mm, which is equal to 1.36363636..

Thus, the new sensor size can be calculated by dividing 6 and 4.5 cm with the above crop factor, which is exactly equal to 44 x 33mm. Or, this new DSLR should be called 4433D instead of 645D! ;-D

But yet again, with such a cropped frame without shortening the back focus distance, problems will arise, as what has happened for the DA lens system. But since now the crop factor is smaller than the 1.535 of the Pentax APS-C DSLRs, the adverse effect will not be as dominant.

Unless Pentax has made the DFA 645 55mm lens full frame, i.e., meant to be covering the whole 6 x 4.5cm image circle, it is meaningless to sacrifice. If it is "645 Full Frame", then it would be a better planning for future if some days later they can really make a 645 Full Frame body with a 6 x 4.5 sensor.

In fact, on the other hand, Canon was smarter to make the EF-S system with a shorter back register distance so that they could almost get the best of both world with backward compatibility with old EF lenses are ensured. Do note that the S in the name EF-S stands for "Short" (back focus register distance). They were indeed smarter than both Nikon and Pentax in this aspect. Practically, putting aside the better image quality and smaller/lighter lenses are made possible, the more important thing to the lens maker is that those new digital lenses are easier to make with lower costs, as the optical formulas and constructions can be simplified (and actually it is just the case that they have not been complicated).

Last but not least, the 645D sensor was once rumoured to use one of the Kodak large size 18MP sensor with size at around 48 x 36mm (I had the link of the datasheet but it is just a dead link now at the Kodak website). With this size, the standard lens should be 60mm then. But since Pentax is now telling us that the 645D will have 30MP+, I think they have sourced a new sensor, but the size would be different. Anyway, let's wait and see what the 645D will be when it really comes out! One to 1.5 years to come, probably..

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Colour Schemes of K20D and K-m



Prior to the PIE, here comes more news of Pentax for new stuff! :-D

First, it is a new Special Edition of the K20D with Titanium colour finish, the press release can be found at:-

http://www.pentax.jp/japan/news/2009/200908.html

(or to see the Google translated page in English here)

One more photo of the product photo, for the separated titanium coloured body and D-BG2, can be found here:-

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/cda/parts/image_for_link/169934-10507-2-2.html

Well, I myself do like very much this lovely colour scheme. So did I like my Silver *ist DS body, which was destroyed at Pentax Japan during the course of a hardware focus calibration, very unfortunately and it is indeed rather sad.

But this time I am sure that I won't buy this titanium special edition again, for one simple reason - the K20D is already an outdated model now which has come near the end of its product lifetime. It has many reported issues and bugs which are to be resolved and removed. Many of those are documented in my Blog.

For more information on those problems, you can search my K20D tag here. In particular, the super hot pixels issue (the problem was only partially hidden by the old but yet latest K20D firmware) and the forced Dark Frame Subtraction for long time exposure plus the cold weather banding issue, which are all rather annoying and upset much the affected users. All those problems are real killing issues, IMHO, which are very possibly caused by various design problems plus quality issues, I would say.

Moreover, I do wish a true flagship or at least a K20D replacement should come soonest for improved focusing speed, for both AF Single and Continuous, focusing accuracy, exposure accuracy and consistency as well as of higher system performances, e.g., shorter shutter lag and mirror blackout time and more frames-per-second.

Now, let's look at the announced released date, which is "late October 2009"!? My pardon please, Pentax? Pardon, Hoya? Are you kidding?? Do you really want to tell us that by October 2009 your company still only have a K20D as the "current model" and as the "flagship" of the Pentax lineup?! I am really shocked! Sigh. . . :-((

On the other hand, if it really comes a new Pentax DSLR body priced in the same range as the K20D by this Summer, undoubtedly it will just replace the K20. So, what's the meaning of marketing such a special edition of an obsolete model in the late October if so?? This must be the utmost stupid thing that a company would do!

Next, we have the K-m Olive, the official announcement is here:-

http://www.pentax.jp/japan/news/2009/200909.html

But, that isn't a new idea indeed. In fact, I posted an even better looking and more exciting "design" of a "new" K-m back to December last year at my Blog:-

http://ricehigh.blogspot.com/2008/12/star-wars-stormtrooper-k2000w-le.html

Did Hoya/Pentax designers actually read my Blog and copied the idea? ;-D LOL..

Oh, Hoya and Pentax, thank you for reading! But what's Next? An Hello Kitty DSLR K-m? ;-)

645D Confirmed - 2010



See the latest official Japanese announcement at the Pentax Japanese website:-

http://www.pentax.jp/japan/news/2009/200907.html

Targeted Megapixel Count: More than 30 Megapixels

On the other hand, film 645 and 67 bodies will be discontinued in September:-

http://www.pentax.jp/japan/news/announce/20090324.html

Reason given: Difficulties in sourcing the required electronic components.

Related Article: 645D Revived?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Latest Interview with Pentax Europe

Here is an recent interview with the Marketing Communication Manager of the Division of Imaging Systems of Pentax Europe by one of Germany's bigger print magazine, the Foto Magazin, in the current month's issue (4/2009), as posted in a major German DSLR forum:-

http://www.dslr-forum.de/showpost.php?p=4660033&postcount=656

And a human translation in English has been made by a DPR poster:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=31381584

So, in short, those are what Pentax/Hoya will do and will not do:-

The Negatives

- Full Frame DSLR system? No - because there is no FF lens system built yet.

- Digital MF difficult to make? Yes - "Development of MF cameras slipped down on the priority list."

- Limits of sensor resolution reached for APS-C and FF? Yes. Well, isn't that the FF has a higher limit than the APS-C here?

- EVFs? No.

- LiveView? No and Yes.

- DSLR with video mode? Didn't answer.

- Future DSLRs with CCD or CMOS? Didn't answer.

The Positives

- They are still striving to improve the picture quality! Lower noise, more image details, wider dynamic range. But, who else isn't?

- LiveView? Still Yes, although also No, she said for some models, say entry level ones. But, the damn cheap Canon EOS 1000D still has the LiveView with full functions. So? And so do some basic models of Olympus.

- They will continue to make the OVFs! But that representative stated very wrongly for the advantage of the OVFs - they are not to be used with the DSLRs at power off! The true and only important advantage is that they are offering much better visibility! How can we take any photo with a powered-off Digital SLR?? Funny..

- Not sure for CMOS or CCD - they are still striving to source better sensor! Maybe just because they don't rely on Samsung anymore and/or Samsung won't give Pentax much support as they were, and in fact Samsung just haven't told Pentax/Hoya anything about their latest plan and development, but just kept them in the dark!

- She admitted that, "For Pentax, speed is an issue. Higher FPS is certainly desirable". Well, glad to hear that Pentax are still willing to increase the speed and system performance of their DSLRs, finally!

- "No manufacturer would disregard video.." - But she had just not answered directly the exact question about DSLR with video above! So?

- "Size and weight are as well important … but we have to have a close look at ergonomics too … what's the use of tiny cameras if you can't operate them decently?" Good! We shall have no more those bulky K10D and K20D clones anymore, but hopefully a brand new more compact body design which is yet feature-rich.

Well, anyway, let's see what will soon happen at the PIE.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Canon 500D and Nikon D400 are Rumoured to Come

Before the Japanese PIE, the following rumours/leaks have come:-

New Canon 500D (Digital Rebel) coming on March 25 - 1001 Noisy Cameras

Nikon D400 is here? - Nikon Rumors

Both of the above models, if the rumours are true, will have Full HD movie recording function on a DSLR.

So, what Pentax will offer? Still Nothing?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hoya to Cut Digital Camera Workforce Worldwide

See the latest online news article: http://www.cnbc.com/id/29740645

Quoted:-

"Hoya Corp plans to cut the Japanese workforce in its digital camera operations to less than 400 employees from about 800 currently, the financial daily Nikkei said in its Wednesday edition."

"Nikkei said most of the Japanese job cuts will come from sales, production management and development."

"The paper said Hoya will also cut its overseas digital camera workforce, mostly in sales."

Read Also: Hoya Closing Pentax Production Facilities in Japan

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some New Macro Photos to Share (DFA 100 on 5D)



Note:-

1. Click on any of the small preview photos above will download the larger size photo which is in about 2 megapixels.

2. All photos were taken (today, outdoor, handheld, no flash) in large fine jpeg mode, directly out of the camera, Av mode, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation, auto white balance, manual focusing with the aid of electronic focus confirmation and a special type of focusing screen for the 5D. Lens used was Pentax DFA 100/2.8 Macro; Body used was Canon EOS 5D. (See here for more information on how different Pentax Film Lenses could be put on the Canon Full Frame Bodies.)

3. Picture Style used: Fuji RDP III (aka Fujichrome Provia 100F); The Picture Style File can be Download Here. Well, this simulation is almost perfect, really amazing! I found it is indeed better than *any* of the Canon original Picture Styles (for its colour and tone responses)!

4. All photos taken are originally resized without any correction or retouching except for the fly(?) photo which is 100% cropped as it is just so tiny so that I have to do the cropping to get enough magnification! All EXIF data are retained in all other photos. Aperture used is either f/5.6 or f/8 (the f-stop as recorded in EXIF is fixed as reported by the K-to-EOS adaptor and thus not correct), ISO used is either 400 or 800.

5. All photos are copyright by me and unauthorised copying in any means including direct linking in Internet without acknowledgement are strictly prohibited.

I hope you like them and all comments are welcome! :-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

No More "Collaboration" between Samsung and Pentax?

Further to the recent interview with Hoya Senior Official at the PMA, there are more news about Samsung and their way forward on their camera business in the near future:-

http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/NEWKHSITE/data/html_dir/2009/03/10/200903100030.asp
(by the Korea Herald: "The Nation's No.1 English Newspaper", as claimed)

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0903/09031301_samsunginterview.asp
(by DPR)

After reading all the above three articles with two interviews (one with Pentax/Hoya, and the other with Samsung, respectively), we have got known to one clear fact and the officials of both companies told the same thing:- Pentax and Samsung has not collaborated in the latest NX project, no even for the part on the optical system and lenses. Even worse, Pentax have not even had *any* involvement to just make a "K-mount adaptor" for the NX system, as told by the Samsung official, although he said there would probably one.

Well, if Samsung really intend to make a K-mount adaptor, it is really ridiculous that they should ignore Pentax(Hoya) totally. In fact, the Hoya senior has told us that Samsung had been keeping their secret well and even Hoya/Pentax knew nothing about the NX until they saw the press release at PMA! So, that must a good "collaborative" way to treat (cheat?) one's "partner"!

Now, Hoya have told that they would do things by their own in the coming seasons and the same happens for Samsung for what they are to offer and with the highest priority, i.e., their NX system. Practically saying, their informal partnership has just come to an end, I would say. They are actually separated (not even could use the word "divorced", as they had never married).

Nevertheless, Samsung are actually very unwise for not seeking any help from Pentax when they come to the camera business, especially for the optical related areas. In fact, they are just rather over-ambitions and over-optimistic than real as shown in their latest DPR interview. Once again, I predict at this moment that it is very hard for them to succeed with their new NX system, for quite some reasons, say:-

- Samsung has no expertise in making lenses and optics. If they really want to formulate the NX specifications all by themselves, they bear high risks (nor they have enough technical knowhows, really);

- Hybrid camera and mirrorless DSLRs are still an unexplored area in market which is not proven for the actual market size and profitability. Although Panasonic have been able to gain some (maybe momentary) minor success, I don't think they have been able to make their business profitability so far, neither;

- Where is the brand attractiveness of Samsung for being a "DSLR" *system* maker (nor for "their" lenses nor for "their" bodies, really) and a video camera/equipment maker? They are not Canon nor Nikon as they in the SLR field, nor they are not JVC, Sony, Canon or Panasonic in the video equipment field. Do they really have the charm, and/or all those leading edge technologies that are mature enough, as required for such a high-tech "hybrid camera"?

.. and so on.

As I and some people predicted years ago, the relationship between Pentax and Samsung will not last long, nor they could "collaborate" well to make something that are really great and seek much market share and be profitable (A more recent example here). Actually, I told all my predictions on day one since they told the world they would "collaborate", but I just talked about "pessimistic" things - but which have now all happened one by one during these years!

In fact, there was sign of the "deteriorating" relationship between the two in the Photokina last year, already. A Pentax senior official just told us that, "Pentax and Samsung Partnership Not Perfect".

As a super die-hard (although not the "blinded" type) Pentax fans and supporter, I think the broken relationship between Pentax and Samsung yet might be a good thing for Pentax. I think if Pentax did not use the Samsung sensor in their K20D, they might have made a better DSLR than the K20D, which is somewhat buggy and problematic. In contrast, Nikon also had no sensor of their own (almost). They have been relying heavily on Sony in making new DSLRs for supplying sensors, but Nikon have still been able to get huge success and have acquired considerably very large amount of market share for their DSLR business.

In fact, as long as the avaiability of sensors is concerned, there are still other choices outthere, say, Kodak, Fuji(film), Cypress and Philips etc. So, why stuck with Samsung - I don't see that the sensor used in the K20D is anything mature and proven enough that could be put into a popular product, frankly (just read my Blog for all those K20D problems that are related to its sensor).

Now, both Samsung and Hoya have told the world that they will go their own ways in the (near) future and will give us some new products within this year. Let's wait and see what will happen and finally who will be the one who can succeed (or fail at last).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Alexa Ranking Display Box Removed from Blog

The Alexa web traffic data have been rather weird for my blog traffic since early February. Actually, Alexa has stopped recorded traffic to my web blog despite that my Statcounter has recorded much traffic and consistent increasing visits and large number of pageviews to my blog site during the same period.

Whilst I don't know the actual reason(s) for why Alexa now won't work for my site, I have decided to remove the Alexa traffic ranking display box from my site from now on, as the displayed figure is just wrong and hence misleading.

Btw, I have googled for why Alexa could fail, a quick search on key words like "Alexa problem" or etc. reveals many cases where errors and inaccuracies had arisen or could arise. Particularly, I have found this one to be quite interesting, for what it was played (paid) and shared. However, I have not yet found anyone actually have specifically reported that the Alexa data for his/her site had completely stopped, like what has happened in my case! :-(

Quite some people have written something on the net to explain why Alexa data could be inaccurate as it counts only the web traffic by sampling the web users/webmasters who have installed the Alexa toolbar and visit different websites (but not installing code at the web sites, unlike the principle of how Statcounter, Google Analytics or AWStats, etc. works). Yes, I know no sampling is perfect on this planet and it can always have the chance to deviate from the true statistics by the total population in realworld. But I just puzzle why the Alexa robot has totally "ignored" just(?) my site since early February? Bug in their software algorithms? Other problem of their system? Or, is what has happened actually related to what I wrote about Amazon at my blog earlier, in this article? Or for (any) other reason(s)? I dunno, really.

Whilst I think I shall never know the answer anyway, someone at Alexa may know, or may not even know (if it is just a bug or simply a system error).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some "Better" K-m Large Size Sample Pictures ;-)


(Click to download large size photo, not original full size though)

Well, here is an excellent (really! ;-)) practical review of the K-m with various large size sample photos with superb quality posted. Many of the photos were taken with the almost perfect Pentax FA 43/1.9 Limited (my most frequently used lens now, on my K5D). Some others were with the DA 21/3.2 Limited:-

Page 1: http://www.impresswatch.com.cn/xchjzl/489/8713989.shtml

Page 2: http://www.impresswatch.com.cn/xchjzl/489/8713989_1.shtml

Page 3: http://www.impresswatch.com.cn/xchjzl/489/8713989_2.shtml

Page 4: http://www.impresswatch.com.cn/xchjzl/489/8713989_3.shtml

It is also told that "Portrait" colour mode was chosen (which the author found to be best) and shot in RAW mode and then processed using the Pentax Photo Lab for the final pictures.

I hope you guys could withstand the super high image quality before you . . ! ;=D Enjoy!

Read Also (newer first):-

Some More New K-m Tests and Samples

More K-m Sample Pics by Users

K-m Sample Photos Carnival (as at Oct. 26)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Interview with Hoya Senior Official on Pentax's Latest Directions

Japanese DC Watch have done it again at the PMA! (Bravo!)

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/cda/other/2009/03/09/10386.html

(Report fully in Japanese. The author writes in the beginning that "many people have worried much about the future of Pentax after the PMA".. Well, me too!)

The interviewee was the Head of the Product Planning Team of Hoya's Business Division, Mr. 川内拓. (not the official English name for his post and division, but just my translation from my best understanding and translation. Ditto for all of my reports below.) Well, now let's go on my highlights on the key important points (IMO) of the interview (Well, I may write some short comments of mine in Italics within brackets):-

- As responding to what was told in the Photokina last year for two new Pentax DSLRs to come, he (the HOYA official I mean, and will be referred to be as "he" thereafter) responded that the K200D replacement would still come at the end of this year whilst "a DSLR in the same price range of the K20D" would come this summer holidays.

- They (Hoya as a company, referred collectively thereafter) are reviewing the marketing position of the K20D in a very serious way (including and particularly for the oversizing issue of the K20D), and together with the Pentax lens system as a whole. It was therefore the lens roadmap needed to be adjusted and this explains why some (previously promised) lenses have (been) disappeared from the latest lens roadmap. In order to get most of out of the new body, they were seriously reviewing the specifications of their new lenses and modification on the standard DA specifications would be made.

- There would be no "K20D Replacement/Successor" (as the author emphasized that there would be only "a new DSLR in the price range of K20D). He also said that "K20D is a good name for a body". Then he was asked if there will be a new name (lineup) to come, he didn't answer that.

- They would put more concerns on "detailed characteristics" (style?) and "mobility" of their new DSLRs so as to increase the competitiveness, but not solely on specifications alone (he once again hinted on the shortcomings of the K20D, quite obviously).

- He talked something about the design of the DA 15 to illustrate how Pentax had been putting much "heart" (designed thoughfully) in making good camera gear. (The details are facts on design which I guess we know most of them already and thus I shall not elaborate.)

- The previously "frozen" 645D project had been de-frozen (which has also been reported just earlier here, from another source). There would be announcement on the actual product plan as soon as in late March at the Japanese PIE 2009.

- He said that you might treat the development of Samsung NX (a mirrorless interchangeable lens hybrid camera) was nothing related (to us) and there was no co-development as opposite to what some reports had told overseas, i.e., Hoya/Pentax had no involvement in the NX project. But at this moment the design of the NX and the mount that would be used had not yet been finalised, it was also told.

- Hoya also had no involvement for the optics to be used for the NX and there was no further information given but just hearsays were discussed (and, even Sigma was mentioned).

- The development of the 645D system had also led to some "motivation" and new "driving force" in the development of "new(?) 35mm full frame system". It should not be seen as we had aborted the K-mount (full frame) lens system, as it wasn't. (Well, what is the 645D to do with K-mount 135 full frame DSLR system?? I really scratch my head very hard this time!)

- At the end of the interview, he put some remarks about the current poor global economy and environment, "Pentax need some "unique" products, which people will still be willing to spend their money and will love their purchases." He further said that they would not cut corners in their products, of which they had been feeling proud of. (Here I do agree to a certain extent, I think the Pentax K-m has some really good qualities inside, although there are still some shortcomings which I don't like about it, e.g., the ridiculous longish shutter lag and could be slower AF when NiMH batteries are used.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"More Advanced" Pentax DSLR to Come this Summer

From an interview video clip with a Pentax official at PMA by a Swedish online magazine:-

http://tv.mediaprovider.se/pentax_visar_nya_kameror_och_objektiv_1236215964346.html

The following dialogues are recorded (at around 1:00 from the starting):-

"We have planned to introduce a new SLR, it's also a new concept, by the summer."

Q: "Is it a direct successor to the K20D?

A: "No, it is not a direct successor of the K20D, the concept has changed during the development in the past months, the concept is slightly different."

Q: "Is it a more advanced or less advanced than the K20D?"

A: "It will be more advanced I would say."

Although it is not a new thing for a new upper level Pentax DSLR (within their family) to come this Summer, which was disclosed last year at Photokina by a Japanese senior Pentax official, the above interview re-confirms the thing lately, at least. Btw, I think whether it is a "K20D Successor" is almost meaningless, as the K20D is virtually a dead model now, in terms of its sales volume: ridiculous low price but yet still low popularity. So, if a new Pentax model above the K-m is not to come sooner, Pentax will just have no market share on anything at all other than only a little bit share in the entry level DSLR segment. Hence, they should act faster. And indeed, much faster, as it should be.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Some Food for Thought - Hybrid Cameras

Well, Panasonic have made the GH1 (previously rumoured to be as G1-HD by the Pana community), which IMO is the first "perfect" hybrid interchangeable lens camera with a not-so-small sensor (a 4/3 one, which is by no means large for a DSLR, and is even smaller than the 135 cropped APS-C):-

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0903/09030315panasoniclumixdmcgh1.asp

While I am now tempted to buy the GH1 (which I have been waiting for and knew that it would come) as my compact all-in-one DSLR and Full HD movie camera that can be carried around more easily, I have some hesitations on the image quality and workability of its EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), which I think this Pentax poster has started a thread whom has stated out most of my main concerns:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&thread=31188683

Anyway, Pentax and Nikon already filed patents for hybrid viewfinder designs which can have both overlaid colour LCD/LED display integrated with an optical viewfinder. Whilst such similar designs may be able to get the best of both worlds, I think there should be some trade-offs on the other hand, e.g., degradion of viewed image quality both optically and electronically and even worst metering accuracy might be affected (as there is no free lunch on Earth). You can have a look at the Nikon's design (As for the Pentax design, I have lost the link for the patent. But if anyone read here knows, please provide it at the "Comments" section at the bottom. And I must thank you :-)).

Now, Samsung has shown a mock up of their new NX hybrid camera at the PMA, I just wonder if they can make it better than the Pana (I do have no good experience with Samsung for their AV products, Pana always blows them out of the water clearly in most performance, accuracy and reliability aspects). And, the question we should think about is that: Is there actually any practical real meaning if they will make the NX with a K-mount form factor? (which IMHO is very unlikely, I bet. It is just because Samsung will also need to make the NX system smaller and thus shortening the back register distance from the mount to the "film" plane is inevitably required).

Well, to use the camera as a true and fully functional movie camera, the lens needed to have the ability to control the aperture and focus at full time, and more importantly, silently. That's why Pana needed to introduce their new GH1 kit lens, the 10X superzoom 14-140 HD G Vario, not only for the providing the zoom power, but also and mainly for the sake of full-time slient operation of both functions, which are crucial for real movie recording, as I have just said. Otherwise, the HD movie camera will just work like a 5D MkII, that is, when the user takes the movie, there is no real-time AF (and even if AF is required, the movie recording must be stopped) nor the exposure can be adjusted with the change in scene.

Despite one of the two major shortcomings of such "DSLRs" which lack a reflex mirror is the limitations of the EVF, the Micro 4/3 and NX etc. actually have many other advantages. And with the advancement in technologies which have to become more and more mature, the edges will become more and more differentiative when new features become more useable. Just say metering and AF, i.e., exposure and focus control, are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) with those LiveView "DSLR" and thus they are more accurate undoubtedly. And, with the additional features and functions like Live Histogram and Face Detection etc. which are now possible and the LCD monitor, like the design of the G1/GH1 already, can be made more versatile, those new type "DSLRs" are really very attractive, especially when they are treated as the most updated gadgets.

In fact, everything you get with such a LiveView only "DSLR" is WYSIWYG, including framing, which can be easily made 100% without any misalignment.

Another major shortcoming of any "DSLR" in LiveView mode or just DC I would say is that it does need some time to discharge / reset the imager before it can take the real picture (for more technical details, you can read my earlier technical article for all about LiveView here). Thus, this introduces some time delay and lag. On the other hand, without the reflex mirror, time for raising the mirror (and thus the time lag involved) is saved.

Nevertheless, talking all the above are actually not so meaningful or can be even totally irrelevant as far as Pentax's products are concerned, as there is nothing, nor there will be one as told! And probably, by the time Samsung launch the NX (K-mount or not), I would probably have already acquired the GH1 and also, I am quite sure that those Chinese made adaptors in K-mount (to m4/3) will be available everywhere. And, I shall yet once again be able to put my excellent Pentax glass on my new GH1, as I have done that for many of my Pentax film glass on my Canon 5D, and have been using them for quite a while now (instead of hopelessly waiting things from Pentax - but there is just nothing). In the meantime, I will not buy the K-m (which I have been considering for quite a while), as I would rather save my money for the GH1 - after the PMA, the decision making is just much easier.

So, as you can see, for a company whom is always late and without any innovation now and never to be the first one but only the last one, they will get little to no market share in the end. As such, finally they will die - the world is cruel but this is the reality. Even sad, when it really happens, we have to face it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

645D Revived?

News at PMA from the Amateur Photographer:-

http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/news/PMA_Pentax_revives_medium_format_digital_camera_plan_news_278069.html

It is told that the 645D will go on sales in Japan (but not in the US). There is no time frame disclosed, though.

Anyway, I think Pentax should think twice whether they should really go the digital Medium Format path, which the market is very small but with huge investment which is not easy to be just paid back, not even for it to be profitable, which simply means Highly Risky for this *business*. And, with the weak financial position and closed factory at Japan (which produced the film 645 bodies and lenses) and now the current limited production facilities of Pentax/Hoya, I really doubt that if they could make it. And even they can, is it really worth it?

In fact, a 645D actually won't help Pentax/Hoya to do any better in the consumer/advanced amateur DSLR market (not even to mention anything high-end, as they have none so far), nor any of existing Pentax K-mount users would benefit from it. The reverse always holds true as the 645D project has consumed much of Pentax/Hoya's already limited resources: money, manpower and time!

Nonetheless, I hope Pentax/Hoya will show us something *real* at the Japanese PIE 2009 later this month instead of giving the world ever waiting vapourware, if they have really decided this time.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The End of the DA Line?

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&message=31172123

Latest Pentax DSLR system lens roadmap as at March 3, 2009:-


(Click to see the full picture, or to download the official pdf file here)

There is no more SDM DA rear convertor as promised nor the DA*30, which are both removed.

The latest time line shown is Spring 2009 and there is *no future*!

Really sad, unless there is something new to show. Pentax/Hoya should at least let us know the way forward and if they really have any new plan, it should be told.. (But if there is actually no "further" plan? Then??)

I bet this PMA would be the most disappointing one for Pentax in the recent years and there should be no more better news. We shall know by tomorrow very soon.

First "Convincing" Pre-PMA Pentax Leak

I have seen at the Photo.net forum today a post which I believe to be the first valid Pentax pre-PMA product leak which looks quite real to me:-

http://photo.net/pentax-camera-forum/00Sc7o

The attached product image is directly linked here:-



I think the source is more reliable by judging from the "quality" of the image, which does not look fake but even more like an official one. Besides, which can be important is the maybe indirect but still somehow close relationship of the poster with the Pentax Imaging.

Actually, more than one month ago, someone has told this before. But since it lacks reliable and "authoritative" source as it looked, I just regarded this as a pure rumour. However, but with the above photo.net post and image, this post now serves as a good supportive "evidence" for what it is going to happen!

Btw, I guess this new camera is not necessary to be a Prosumer, despite that it has EVF (and thus of course with LiveView and possibly also with Video Recording/Movie function). And, I do still put some of my bets for that it could still be a K-mount camera, just with the Pentamirror and reflex mirror removed (i.e., a K-mount version of the Micro 4/3), especially by judging its size which is not as small as those Prosumers and more like the K-m! Sensible speculation?

Well, more for why such a guess? I guess Pentax needed to do something more "ground-breaking" than what others have already had. If they just market a "Prosumer", why people would choose a Pentax, but not a Fujifilm? Considering also that the market of Prosumers is shrinking..

Lastly, it seems that there is a new Optio to come, as seen in a latest PMA booth photo here that is still under decoration, it is printed "Sport Optio" for one of the counters. I hope not this counter is just used to promote those old W series Optios, anyway, although possible.

There are just two days to come, let's wait and see and we shall know very shortly!

Update (3-2 p.m.): Pentax X70 Super Zoom DC @ $399.95 (Yes, it's just a DC! :-()

Update (3-2 late evening):-

I am rather disappointed with this "Pentax" X70, it is yet another mediocre OEM product of the Nikon P90 and Olympus SP-590UZ clone, with a small 1/2.33" sensor, and without full HD video capability (just 1280 x 720 "HD" video). Full specs and images of the "three" cameras are as follows:-

http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Product/Digital-Camera/26171/COOLPIX-P90.html#Tech

http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/product.asp?product=1450&fl=4

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-news-rumors/52847-pentax-x70-full-specs-image.html

And, note also that the X70 does not have a "SMC" Pentax lens, but just a "Pentax" lens. I think this would be the last time I write about the X70, I shall just forget about it from now on.. (Sighhh..)

Yet again, Pentax let many Pentaxians down, I believe.

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