Monday, August 08, 2011

Q Shutter Sound and Some Related Random Ed-Ops

Focus Numerique has first tested the Pentax Q and recorded the shutter sound, here it is (in wav format). (via 1001 Noisy Cameras)

Well, what I have to say, although I really don't want to speak more, is that this is the most terrible and ugly sounded shutter sound that I have ever heard, no matter for what camera of any type! :-x Do note the annoying slow and prolonged motoring noise following the mechanical shutter opening sound..!

Sometimes, I just wonder, why Pentax usually wasted efforts in creating something that lacks something important and have been rather meaningless since their first attempt in the digital era, ten years before. The Q sensor lacks in size and for just non-beginner digital users (not even saying they are to be veterans), we all knew that no miracle should be expected for the IQ. This reminds me once again the repeated marketing failures of Pentax of these ten years, since their very first EI-2000 and EI-200 digital cameras..

(Source: Steves Digicams, here and here)

Having said that, the EI-2000 is actually a very innovative pseudo DSLR, which is actually a SLT using the current terminology for the Sony Single-Lens "Translucent" (SLT) cameras. Just look at its full specifications here.

The EI-2000 has a true TTL optical viewfinder, a larger than others high-grade 2/3" professional "frame-transfer" CCD in 36-bit colours with RAW shooting mode supported (other DCs in its era typically has 1/1.8" sensor with less than 12 bits per colour channel and no RAW mode), a fast phase-matching AF for a digital camera (which is yet very uncommon by that time and is actually the same concept nows Sony adopts for their AXX series SLT cameras), a 3X powered zoom with large apertures, a hybrid AA and proprietary lithium-ion battery power source and *without* the need of any adaptor (even better and more user-friendly than the K-r actually!), a flipped-up very large 2" monitor with high resolution (by the standard of ten years ago) which provides Live View image (and of course)!

Yet another interesting feature of the EI-2000 is that its user menu is actually programmable and that the user could write scripts of their own with the development kit provided to custom the firmware extension and the user interface! :-o The user menu and interface actually looks quite nice by the old standards. This recalls me one of the best and most beautiful user menu of the old-day DCs that I used, which was the one of the Casio QV-3000, look at these:-

(Source: Steves Digicams)

The most impressive thing is that the QV-3000 has the (software simulated) virtual e-dial/i-dial which now is the main operation concept of the Sony NEX cameras!

Now, let's talk back the Pentax EI-2000 and history. Despite the many innovations and research efforts that Pentax had put into and spent for the EI-2000, the sales of camera was a complete failure marketing wise and Pentax suffered great loss and the project was forced to cease. In fact, the EI-3000, the 3 mega-pixel upgrade model of the EI-2000 had already made but it was never launched to the market. So, what made this marketing disaster of the EI-2000? First of all, the sensor of the EI-2000 is in 2.24M in total pixels, but Pentax had chosen to make it only with 2.0M effective pixels and with a strange aspect ratio of less than 4:3 in 1600 x 1280 (more squarish) and waste about 10% of the pixels that it could be used. The worse thing is people were mistaken that it is just a 1.9MP DC with an aspect ratio of 4:3 in 1600 x 1200 as people thought that it was just a typo for the vertical pixel count of 1280. In fact, even DPR made the same mistake and quite some people believed that the EI-2000 was not a 2MP DC but just a 1MP+ DC and this made the EI-2000 lost in the MP race in the very beginning..

The second thing that created the big failure is the lack of IQ, the SLT light-splitting prism of the EI-2000 made by the Pentax simply drew too much light to the OVF than to the sensor, which affected much the IQ of the final pictures. The OVF of the EI-2000 is nice to look through and at, nevertheless! Users were complaining about the IQ of this camera and old Pentax supporters were upset. My own opinion is that the JPEGs of the EI-2000 came out too soft and resolution and details were worst and noise was a major problem, unless the user used the ISO 50 or 25, but then the Dynamic Range was suffered then. The colour response of the EI-2000 was really superb by the old day standards but then few people appreciated this advantage when the blurry JPEGs and noise issues prevailed! And, with the original high suggested selling price tag of the EI-2000 at about US$800, Pentax had promtly put their hard-efforts spent and difficultly created new camera to death which was quickly killed in the cruel market and this camera prompted disappeared from the goods shelves of the camera stores. Just for less than half-an-year after first launch and on-sales, the EI-2000 stocks had been reduced to price to about 1/2 to 1/3 of the original suggested selling price, but still people did not buy it, as many new 3MP models had already came out!

Now, I am afraid that Pentax has committed the very same two mistakes for the Pentax Q as their first trial to the digital market ten years ago of the EI-2000, that is, very high suggested price being asked for and the lower image quality!

However, there is still hope. The Q may not commit the same last mistake as being ugly and bulky as the EI-2000. I could see quite clearly of the intention of Pentax for selling the Q actually. The Q is actually intended for random new buyers of ILDCs whom knew nothing about the basics of digital cameras! :-o My bet is that the Q may seek some short marketing success for those new users who knew nothing about sensor size and IQ but just randomly shopped for an ILDC (just for the sake of that the lenses can be exchanged!) which look quite funny and/or elegant and being smaller. But however, once when the users have learnt that what they have purchased actually and would sooner or later realise that their purchased unit and system is just utilising a smallest DC sensor and maybe also that they will not be satisfied with the IQ anymore (as there will be be huge difference in IQ against typical DCs), they might feel that they have been cheated and brand image is affected.

P.S. Above is my objective analysis on the Pentax Q marketing position. But being an irrational but whom might have yet "too much money to spend" Pentax fanboy myself, I might still buy the Q! ;-D (Fanboys are always irrational!! Lol..)

P.S.2. Ed-Ops used in the title is a term created by myself for Editorial Opinions, but not Op-Ed which simply means Opposite to the Editorial (page)! I am the only Editor of this Blog, right? ;-p


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