Pentax Some Thoughts on the K-01 and Mirrorless From Pentax

Biro

Hall of Famer
Aug 7, 2011
Jersey Shore
Steve
Luke's brief interest in the Pentax K-01 got me thinking about that camera - an interesting experiment and valiant but misguided effort to produce a stylish, mirrorless camera that preserved the K-mount. Alas, the K-01 seems to have generally failed in the marketplace - at least at its original price point. But people scooped it up with the DA 40mm XS lens on closeout. Size didn't help the fate of The Brick, methinks. Nor did the styling, lack of a viewfinder and so-so auto-focus speed. But the K-01 did, in fact, have (and continues to have) a quirky appeal and delivers excellent image quality on par with a K-5 and K-30. And, frankly, the K-01 is fun. Just like the Q.

I hope, outside of the Q, that Pentax hasn't given up on mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras. Actually, after seeing what some other companies have done in the mirrorless APS-C space (Sony NEX, Fuji XE-1, X-M1 and X-A1), I think Pentax could rework the K-01 concept into something more compact and every bit as appealing as the competition - even while retaining the K-mount. Fuji's X-mount lenses - and Sony's E-mount glass, for that matter - are not what I'd consider tiny. So I don't think the K-mount is a problem: Consider the DA Limited primes. Or the new DA 20-40mm Limited zoom. Even the hoary, old DA 18-55mm and 55-200mm kit zooms. All are small and light enough for such a camera - and give good results. And the best part is, they're already in stock.

I'd love to see Pentax's unique take on the Fuji formula. It's something they could easily do with a lot of existing technology that they already have on the shelf. What's more, contrast-detection auto-focus has come quite a way since the K-01 first appeared. I think this concept for Pentax would work in the marketplace, now that the company has had a chance to see what others have done and what people are buying. But I'd want a viewfinder - either built-in or as an add-on option. Any thoughts? Do only Pentaxians who already own Pentax glass want such a camera? Would you be seriously interested in one? How much would you pay for it? Or am I deluding myself?
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, VA
Steve
I'd like to see Pentax make a mirror less system or a compact based on a 1" or m43 sensor. Scale up the Q, which is a very friendly little camera, but improve the IQ.
 

Yeats

All-Pro
Jul 31, 2012
New Jersey, USA
Chris
Steve, as you know, I really like my bumblebee K-01. I think there were several errors by Pentax at launch:

1. Introducing it in yellow. As silly as I think the whole "serious cameras have to be black" thing is, it's simply a fact that this mindset exists. If Pentax had introduced the K-01 to the world in its silver & black iteration - or even better, all black - the first impression of the K-01 would have been better. Pentax was already the butt of jokes for the multicolored K-x's and K-r's.

2. Brickness. I realize that the K-mount requires a long-ish registration distance relative to other MILC's, but surely it could have been contoured more gracefully.

3. Lens. I think the 40/2.8 XS is very nice. And it is extremely slim and relatively easy for Pentax to create since it's based on the existing DA 40 Ltd. However, if Pentax could have done an XS version of the DA 21 Ltd, I think it would have gone over better, so close to the classic 35mm FOV.

4. AF performance. Shame on Pentax for putting beta-quality firmware on the K-01. First impressions are lasting impressions, and the dodgy AF performance on many lenses really hurt the K-01's reputation. Firmware updates truly alleviated the problem to a great extent, but the the odor lingers.

5. Price. $899 for the body + lens kit was simply too much.

I have more thoughts and ideas for further K-01 development, but I'm currently multitasking and will have to come back to this in a little bit. I'm glad you started this thread, Steve. :thumbsup:
 

kyteflyer

~@¿@~
Jan 31, 2011
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
I just think a different designer is what would have made the difference. It looked like a child's toy. I was never into it because a) I already had a K5 and b) it looked like a child's toy. Marc Newson was a poor choice. You don't get a designer to design a camera. You get a photographer to tell the designer whats needed.
 
Nov 11, 2011
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
I just think a different designer is what would have made the difference. It looked like a child's toy. I was never into it because a) I already had a K5 and b) it looked like a child's toy. Marc Newson was a poor choice. You don't get a designer to design a camera. You get a photographer to tell the designer whats needed.
I understand your point, Sue. But if you would get a photographer to design a camera, it would just be a K-5 :biggrin:
 

Yeats

All-Pro
Jul 31, 2012
New Jersey, USA
Chris
I actually agree with not having a photographer coming up with the design concept, but a guy like Marc Newson wasn't the correct choice, IMO. An industrial designer who is more ergonomics-oriented would have been more appropriate.

My expectation is that Ricoh will be the brand - and designer - of the successor to the K-01, if there is one.
 
Nov 11, 2011
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
When I look at Fuji's X-A1 or a Sony NEX5 or NEX6, I always think about what Pentax could do that those prices.
But they both came up with a new mount that allows a smaller flange distance to take advantage of the mirrorless concept. Pentax can't do mirrorless AND retain K mount universality. So you can have a chunky mirrorless K-mount body or can do any size you want and not be able to use all the Pentax glass (like the Q).
 

Biro

Hall of Famer
Aug 7, 2011
Jersey Shore
Steve
I wonder where we would be now if the Pentax/Samsung relationship had continued beyond the K-7?
I've asked myself that a number of times. It's a valid question. I suspect Samsung simply mined Pentax for technology and then dumped them - and had planned to do that all along. For a while, many Pentaxians thought it would be Samsung who ended up buying Pentax.
 

john m flores

All-Pro
Aug 13, 2012
The selection of Newson suggests to me that we (traditional, older, dare I say set-in-our-ways photogs) weren't the target market. My theory is that Pentax was hoping to attract trendsetters and fashionistas, thus the bold design and color options. Have you seen the fluorescent colors of running shoes these days? Or the new Nokia and Moto G phones? Or the clean, geometric lines of the MacBook. That was the zeitgeist of the the K-01, not a retro Leica or an ergonomic masterpiece. And the target audience were creative types that flock to the aforementioned items, the Etsy/Zazzle/Indiegogo crowd, the freelance web designer, the creative professional for whom photography is but a piece of their arsenal, an aspect of their creative expression. A cool-looking camera that took good pictures and had some room for expansion would be a good fit for them. Where Pentax failed was reaching this market in any meaningful way; they had neither the marketing, PR, or distribution to make an impact.

Ultimately, I don't think size doomed the K-01 with this crowd, although I do wish that Pentax would try again with a more progressively styled Q, and then really get their marketing and distribution in place. They've made some significant strides since Ricoh's taken over, so this time may be a charm.

My $.02, non-refundable.
 

Yeats

All-Pro
Jul 31, 2012
New Jersey, USA
Chris
I think the K-01 was too bulky for those folks, and in a sense the design was not daring enough. I don't find much of an ethos in the K-01 design... it's not bizarre, it's not sleek, it's not retro, it's not Cupertino, it's not geeky, it's awkwardly conventional.
 

Yeats

All-Pro
Jul 31, 2012
New Jersey, USA
Chris
For the K-02:

1. Keep the APS-C sensor, and if a K-02 is coming in 2014, keep it 16MP. For a while I had a hankering for a full frame K-02, but as Steve mentioned the DA Ltd's are so perfect for it, I think APS-C is the way to go.

2. It needs an EVF, either integrated or optional.

3. Rear screen needs touch-focusing. Articulated would be nice. High-res, fast updates.

4. A daring design. Not outlandish, but focused on ergonomics and haptics. Why is the shutter button on top? Why not near the lens mount, where the fingertips naturally lay when you grip the camera?

5. Re-introduce the official m42 to K-mount adapter.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
I've asked myself that a number of times. It's a valid question. I suspect Samsung simply mined Pentax for technology and then dumped them - and had planned to do that all along. For a while, many Pentaxians thought it would be Samsung who ended up buying Pentax.
I've read a bunch of theories that Japanese industry would not have stomached a Korean company buying out a Japanese company, but whether there's any truth to that I have no idea. I think that a Samsung/Pentax partnership with the NX series may have benefited both, but history suggests that the deal between the two companies was simply business.
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
Lexington, VA
Steve
But they both came up with a new mount that allows a smaller flange distance to take advantage of the mirrorless concept. Pentax can't do mirrorless AND retain K mount universality. So you can have a chunky mirrorless K-mount body or can do any size you want and not be able to use all the Pentax glass (like the Q).
You could do both as long as you designed an efficient adapter which just added a little flange distance. You could also design a retro MX/LX style body with an EVF.
 

Steve Noel

All-Pro
Oct 5, 2010
Casey County, KY
Anything, that gives up the PK flange mount, and I walk away. I have one good Pentax-M 50mm, f1.7 lens! :biggrin: My decision to abandon K-01, was mainly the ridiculous rubber flap/door, for the SD and outlets. But, I do miss the great camera, hiding inside the miss guided "hull".
 

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