DPR review review

Started Mar 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
viking79
viking79 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,157
Re: DPR review review

someuy wrote:

As a photographer of a certain age, I was completely taken by the design of the new Fujis, and as the owner of a classic Fuji rangefinder I was thinking of picking up one of Fuji's new CSC cameras. But a little research revealed a few too many 'quirks', to put it politely, the main one being the sometimes bizarre output of the Fuji sensor. Now I know some Fuji fans will tell me it's all Adobe's fault, or Apple's, or something, but for me a camera that can't produce useable RAW files is a non-starter.

Adobe didn't support the X Trans sensor well. Available in the last couple days is the Lightroom 4.4 RC1 and ACR 7.4 RC1 that basically eliminates most of the RAW issues with water color artifacts and color smearing.

The K-01 certainly has its quirks as well, but they're mostly design and operational quirks. Its RAW burst speed is mysteriously limited. AF is slow (but accurate). The buttons are in odd places. And it looks... strange. But the output, ah the output. The K-01 was, in my estimation, the sleeper IQ champion of the CSC class cameras of 2012.

It is good, but the problem is the competition is also. All the Sony's use the excellent 16 MP sensor now, the Fuji is based on the same sensor with different CFA, so I don't know that image quality is enough to win this competition.

So we have two cameras, both first attempts at CSC from different manufacturers, both with teething problems. The reaction of the photographic press (and not just DRR), however, was universal: the K-01 was a fatally flawed (no viewfinder! arrgghhh!) hunk-o-junk, and the Fuji X cameras were the most innovative things to come down the pipe in years. Add in the Fuji's premium price (even compared to the K-01's high introductory price) and the imbalance becomes even more apparent.

I don't think they are that kind to the Fuji. I think it has more to do with the perception of lets take an SLR, strip it of the mirrorbox and viewfinder and sell it for more (not saying this is right or wrong, but it is a perception about the K-01).

Now the question is why? Why did the photographic press as a whole (again, not just DPR) trash the K-01 (though the criticisms generally boil down to, "it looks funny") while apparently giving Fuji a pass on much more serious flaws? I'll put on my tin-foil hat and speculate that Pentax cheesed a lot of people off by trying a marketing end-run around the traditional press when they attempted to appeal directly to the 'trend-makers'. Right now a couple of large websites and a handful of powerful bloggers are essentially the gate-keepers of modern photography - people stop and listen when these guys speak. Pentax essentially said, "we're bypassing you guys and are going with an Apple-style marketing campaign of getting these cameras into the hands of the young and trendy".

And the traditional photo press responded. (Again, all speculation on my part).

And so, the future: Please, Pentax, do not abandon the K-mount mirrorless concept. Now the basic engineering has been done, the mirrorless core of the K-01 can be easily morphed into any number of exterior shapes.

I think this was their flaw, they tried to make a K mount mirrorless when they should have made a new mount, microK (mK) or whatever. There really isn't much engineering in what they did, okay, use only live view mode, get rid of the expensive mirror and prism and AF sensors, and call it a mirrorless! We will hire a designer to make it look trendy to appeal to non-K mount users.

My perfect K-mirrorless would be a K-02f - f for field camera. Make it big, Pentax, because you'll need all that space for the iPhone sized hi-rez LCD, the dual card slots, the dual tripod mounts and dual DI-90 batteries. Give it full weather sealing, remote sensors front and back. Put a remote in the damn box. Use the Ricoh style two stage focus peaking. Improve Sony's sweep panorama feature to encompass vertical as well as horizontal sweeps, so we can assemble 80 megapixel images in-camera. In short, just keep making weird, quirky cameras that take exceptional pictures. There's profit to be found in niches, not just for the rulers of the roost.

I agree, I think there is market for a K mount mirrorless, but to appeal to those users they might have needed some of the features you mention, and at minimum an EVF.

My point is though for best CDAF performance Pentax needs a new mount and new lenses with new focus motors if it wants to win any awards. The question is, do they want to win any awards (I suppose if they want to sell well), but at this point the competition is already far ahead.

Fuji is winning awards because they have a retro camera that strikes a nerve with range finder users (and they haven't all been good).

So what can Pentax do? Why didn't they make the K-01 full frame, that would have drawn attention.  Imagine if the K-01 was full frame instead of APS-C, and had nice built in EVF (and ditch the Newson design) and was priced say $1500-2000.  Would that have brought buyers?  Definitely legacy K users.

Eric

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