The Nikon Z50 marks the end of Pentax Locked

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Richard Murdey
Richard Murdey Senior Member • Posts: 2,918
The Nikon Z50 marks the end of Pentax

The thing is about slow trajectories is the transition to the inexorable downward spiral is almost imperceptible.

With the introduction of the Z50, every major camera manufacturer now has full-frame and APSC/m43 mirrorless models in their product lines.

The Nikon Z50 is not an especially interesting or exciting camera, but it is a hugely significant one. After the catastrophic failure of Nikon 1, and the generally positive reception of the Z mount FF models, we now have a first glimpse of Nikon's future strategy for the mid-range. And make no mistake: that strategy is 100% mirrorless.

It is telling that despite the relative success of the D5600 - a very small, full-featured, and popular dSLR - Nikon clearly positions the Z50 to supersede it. It's not hard to see why: the Z50 is smaller, more attractive, faster, more accurate, and better at video. The size is very important: A Z50 can be carried as a compact camera, the D5600 is always stuck as a "small dSLR" class carry. And Nikon is clearly not done: there's plenty of room for Z30 and Z70 models to fill out the range. K-70 and K-3iii, take note.

So anyhow back to my central thesis: when the history books are written, it's the Z50 which will be cited as the turning point for when the market finally switched over to mirrorless. Olympus/Panasonic switched years ago, Sony faded out their dSLRs and SLTs a while back, Leica has had both FF and APSC models now for a while, too. Canon did it a bit more gently, growing out a separate APS compact-style mirrorless system in parallel with the EF-S dSLRs. Panasonic, Nikon, and Canon all released FF mirrorless in the last year. Finally, with some fanfare, the Z50 arrives to signal that Nikon is getting out the APSC dSLR business. That's a seismic change. Canon still has a stake in ASPC dSLRs, but it's fairly easy to see that it wont be for much longer.

That leaves Pentax as the only manufacturer still relying on sales of APSC dSLRs for the bulk of its revenue.

I'm telling you what most of you already know deep down: that is not sustainable. Sales are going to drop from trickle level to drop-wise, there simply won't be the income there to support R&D, there's no userbase to draw on to feed new K-1 sales. Sooner or later, and I can only imagine sooner rather than later, the bean-counters at Ricoh will have had enough of seeing all the red ink and pull the plug.

The K-3iii will come out next spring, and it will be a nice camera. But it will be very heavy and bulky compared to the competition, which by that point will be exclusively mirrorless. The K-1ii, also, is looking heavier and heavier as the years pass and customers are no longer comparing it with a D800/5D/A99, but a Nikon Z7 or Canon Rp or Sony A7.

Even the 645Z is looking less and less viable as mirrorless medium format models are introduced like the GFX 50R which are both cheaper and smaller.

Realistically, Pentax can continue to incrementally update the K-3 and K-1, but they will only fall further and further behind. There will always be a market for those cameras - I have two boxes of KA and m42 lenses to say that I will be part of that market - but Ricoh is not a charity and I cannot imagine that Pentax can profitably exist only to serve that market.

I'm calling it: Pentax (as a Ricoh company) has 3 years life left.

 Richard Murdey's gear list:Richard Murdey's gear list
Nikon D750 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/21 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/25 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2/35 Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/50 +8 more
Fujifilm FinePix Z30 FujiFilm FinePix Z70 (FinePix Z71) Nikon D5600 Nikon Z7 Pentax 645Z Pentax K-1 Pentax K-3 Sony a7
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