K-7 story in Japanese

Started Jun 15, 2009 | Discussions thread
JanneM Senior Member • Posts: 1,045

Here's a translation. I'm no designer and my Japanese is shaky so I'm probably rather off in places:

The K-7 design, with its straight lines, differs from current K-series cameras with their curved surfaces and sloping shoulders. This design is no sudden departure, though, but is inherited from the Pentax film-camera era.

The design was born out of two oft-expressed opinions: "The K20 is too big. Make another *istD-sized camera" and "Make a body that suits the limited primes unique to Pentax".

The sitD-size criterion is easy to understand. Then, as now, there is no
other SLR quite as compact. On the other hand, those cameras did not have
in-body stabilization, 3-inch LCD screens or water resistance that would not
all fit such a body. With the current approach it was clear even
before the design work started that the size would have to exceed that.

So, even before the design works started, the engineering and design teams
worked together with 3D cad to share information and minimize the size. If you
only work to minimie the dimensions you get a really ugly, hard-to-use

framework. You can't create a good design without caring about the internal construction.

One result of this tag-team approach was alleviate the flash front protrusion. Up until now, the flash has always been the front-most part, and as a result the camera top has become big and front-heavy. By reconsidering the arrangement of all internal parts we could minimize the overhang. Because the engineer who designed this part was no veteran SLR designer [he] didn't get stuck in received wisdom and could implement a fresh solution, so this approach helped achieve this I believe.

You risk doing mistaken judgements by relying on drawings alone so mockups are also necessary. The designers relied on 3D models from the start and this sped up the mockup creation. The A-1 model was very valuable for interviews [meaning mockup usability testing I believe] and it as the base we were able to refine it into the A-3 model.

In order to realize the "suitable for the Limiteds" concept, we wanted a simple shape that plays a supporting role to the lens as the star. This is the main theme for the K-7 design.

The "Penta part" at the top is, as the name implies, a polyhedral-shaped prism and perhaps most significant precision instrument. The film-era flagship LX was "small form-factor waterproof tough body" type, and the K-7 follows this. We want to show respect for this known old-time body and that gave us the trapezoidal form of the top.

And actually, this trapezoidal theme actually shows up on the MZ-5, MZ-S as well as the sitD and others. This is a return to the Pentax roots in small and light form factor units. Needless to say, this is a design challenge; that said this is not a prolonging of an old design but the first instance of a new design line. The straight-edge design of the K-7 is a part of the Pentax design identity in coming models.

if you look at the top from the side, the front-back lines are all as straight as can be and there's no unnecessary level changes. [not sure about the following; I'm no designer] In reality it's better to minimize the level changes but that would harm the simple beauty so we had to accept some. We thoroughly removed any excess bulk from the body, and put in on diet to the point where individual pieces of the frame are discernible. As a side effect we were able to press for a 100% coverage viewfinder, and I think we were able to provide the body with its own personality.

Last year most design was done in 3D CAD, but some parts just aren't possible to do only digitally. The grip is one such element. With todays technology we still can't determine the perceived weight and feeling of the grip on a hand from the screen. [not sure here either] As usual, solid models made from the visual data are subtly difficult to take|hold(?). So only the grip part was planed from modeling clay and interactively formed and shaped to conform. With an experienced manual designer a part can be faster to create by hand than with digital tools. Once the design was satisfactory, it was scanned with a 3D laser scanner and the grip data was repaired (the modeling clay grip had been tested by various people and had become very scratched).

[again not sure] The K10D and others after service grip rubber change [you can get a different kind of grip to the K10 in Japan] was done in the same way. One company employee said "What a problem, right, doing it like this there's no way we'll make any money from the aftermarket change". No, he was joking of course.

Among other things, we fixed the angle along which the index finger ran along the the power dial, made the dial tip itself easier to turn, improved the left-hand wing shape, and fussed over various operation details. Feel it over and you will notice the sensation.

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