Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

Started Feb 28, 2012 | Discussions
Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 31,882
Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

I am usually pretty cool about this. I am happy just to be amazed from time to time at Ricoh taking a new direction with another great product.

I am not one to demand "a roadmap" and in that regard it might be comfortable for others but it is a bit restrictive to a company issuing the roadmap as it appears that the lines on the maps soon enough become regarded as a future direction compact written in blood.

However a teeny hint at what might be in store would not go astray. Not so much that "we will produce this" or "that" specifically as a "certainty" but more what they might see as the future direction and thrust of the GXR concept, the GRD and even the CX series.

Even confirmation that the GXR and GRD do have a future would be nice.

We have come to the end of the predicted GXR roadmap - the M mount module is here and the aps-c zoom will be in the shops soon enough. If you discount the paparazzi frippery of the very early days considering cameras that might see around corners, x-ray modules, and bolt on print modules that were so convenient but you still have to carry print medium and and "paper" then the future of the GXR is a blank sheet.

Some talk hopefully of new modules where the existing lenses are recycled with larger sensors. Other have their own lists of requirements that will keep Ricoh backroom boffins glued to their cad design screens for years to come.

I have put all this quiet down to a restructuring process after the Pentax takeover. Like Ricoh-Pentax is a subsidiary where the tail wags the dog? The K-01 seems to be driven by madder designers than the careful Ricoh precision meisters ever designed.

Possibly mad enough for me to buy one some time in the future but probably not enough to convince Joe buying public out there that Pentax HQ were not in the midst of one huge sake party with the lead karioke singer from the r&d department.

Meanwhile I remain optimistic that something intersting will turn up in the GXR department. For me the M mount module was the best thing ever produced for any digital camera to date bar none - a close second is the mode 2 focus peaking function. Two winners there are enough to keep me very happy for a longer time than any digital camera has ever kept me happy before.

Who needs a new camera every/every-second# year? (#cross out which does not apply to you). But the great buying public out there just keeps buying other cameras and for some reason seems oblivious to the Ricoh system merits. Even dpreview rarely mentions a Ricoh product in it's definition of "enthusiast camera".

Maybe we need a new definition "nutter's camera". This might be the only way to describe the unique staus of the Ricoh brand. Perhaps only "nutters" deliberately buy cameras that (only) do manual focus and walk around with a permanently-fixed beaming smile that is surely misinterpreted as madness.?

On the other hand we must all know some abject nutters in historical terms who went about designing great objects that were so ahead of their time that they were thought akin to being madmen. Leonardo da Vinci was one, there were others. LIke who was ever going to buy/use one of his designs in his heyday? Is the true greatness of Ricoh only going to be recognised once their cameras are no longer made?

Or is the future roadmap an electronic one and we simply need to switch on our gps and all will be revealed?

In any case roadmap or no roadmap the next product from Ricoh is going to be a surprise - roll on a few surprises ...

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Tom Caldwell

Pentax K-01
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zigorus Regular Member • Posts: 199
that would be silly

i'm sure Ricoh has a plan for developing their product offerings. they're just choosing not to share it with the outside world until they feel the time is right.

don't you think it's nice to be surprised and delighted now and then?

z

OP Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 31,882
Re: that would be silly

zigorus wrote:

i'm sure Ricoh has a plan for developing their product offerings. they're just choosing not to share it with the outside world until they feel the time is right.

don't you think it's nice to be surprised and delighted now and then?

z

I tend to agree, I quite like the surprise element and, as noted, don't get overly excited by road maps. In the past Ricoh might have had reason to regret announcing road maps as their customers tend to want to hold them to "the promise" and use the road map as a stick to beat them with.

However Ricoh have in the past been reticent with announcements but there has been a little information about. Things have been even quieter since the Pentax acquisition but not as quiet as what Canon might have in mind for an EVIL type I suppose.

What brought this about was a respected industry person who I know made a sage prediction that the Ricoh camera division (product) might not be around much longer.

To me this seems a nonsense. But in support of the argument it was pointed out that Ricoh have retreated into a more specialist camera area where they get a smaller sales volume.

I still thought that Ricoh could always sell every camera that they could make and profits are more importtant than huge market share. So I am hardly believing the pronouncement although Ricoh in itself must have microscopic market share in Australia.

More like their Pentax division might make the volume products and the Ricoh badge become the flagship for their highest quality product. This might lead to more expensive elitist form of camera. If this is the object then Leica might have more reason to worry and the only Pentax-Ricoh cameras ever seen in your regular stores would be Pentax branded. However there would be room for Ricoh products to continue to be made and sold as speciality items through a small recognised network in any country.

Pentax dslr's are not commonly displayed in shops around here any more either.

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Tom Caldwell

dorfinator Forum Member • Posts: 58
Re: that would be silly

I'm surely not one that knows how companies operate and plan for future products. However, I would have to assume that with the purchase and merger of the Pentax unit and the current roadmap for the GXR completed they have other matters to handle in the near term.

But, you have to also assume that they are watching very closely to how well some of their latest offerings are doing in the marketplace. I sure don't have any idea on how well the M Mount is selling for example. It would seem to me thought that if it were doing well and was selling beyond their expectations then maybe we could see the possibility of a FF Module along with an updated GXR body to go along with it to compete with say, the NEX 7.

So I think those of us that are happy with how things are now to just enjoy the great tool we have and get out take some photos! At least I am!
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Harold66
Harold66 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,959
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

Hello

I think one of the things Ricoh need to do by this Photokina is have some of the non lenses modules ready . it would have been 3 years by the time they announce the possible non photo modules and I think if they do not have at least ONE ready by this Kina , it would make the credibility of such modules sigma-like
I for one would love to see the hard drive storage module

Harold
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squareaffair Forum Member • Posts: 80
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

i agree, especially given a storage backup module does not seem like a particularly r&d heavy product. id settle for a sd card duplicator for back ups on the go.

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iaredatsun Contributing Member • Posts: 732
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

Tom Caldwell wrote:

the next product from Ricoh is going to be a surprise - roll on a few surprises ...

Tom, sorry to disappoint you.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1013&thread=40156049

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OP Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 31,882
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

iaredatsun wrote:

Tom Caldwell wrote:

the next product from Ricoh is going to be a surprise - roll on a few surprises ...

Tom, sorry to disappoint you.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1013&thread=40156049

So I guess nothing much has changed? We have the K-01 from Pentax which is back compatible to all K mount lenses. We have a GXR with M mount which can take an adapter to K mount that works fine for manual lenses and can take those without aperture rings at a pinch. Rumours and rumours until announced and then they become road maps.

Exciting ennit?

Actually I am fairly replete in camera gear at the moment - I need more temptation like a hole in the head (grin).

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Tom Caldwell

OP Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 31,882
Re: that would be silly

dorfinator wrote:

I'm surely not one that knows how companies operate and plan for future products. However, I would have to assume that with the purchase and merger of the Pentax unit and the current roadmap for the GXR completed they have other matters to handle in the near term.

Duane,

Those are my thoughts also.

But, you have to also assume that they are watching very closely to how well some of their latest offerings are doing in the marketplace. I sure don't have any idea on how well the M Mount is selling for example.

I surely don't know how well it has sold but others who might know have said it has sold very well.

It would seem to me thought that if it were doing well and was selling beyond their expectations then maybe we could see the possibility of a FF Module

Somehow I think that a FF module would tax the resources a bit - but who am I to tell - surely it is an interesting concept.

along with an updated GXR body to go along with it to compete with say, the NEX 7.

The GXR body is pretty schmick I think - slip a glass cover over the lcd to satisfy my latest whinge and an additional back with evf inbuilt would surely sell to most existing GXR back owners to give them a choice - make it part of a (say) aps-c kit and they would surely sell quite a few zooms in the process as well.

So I think those of us that are happy with how things are now to just enjoy the great tool we have and get out take some photos! At least I am!

Been doing just that myself - don't know how I fit it all in ....

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Tom Caldwell

Andrewteee Senior Member • Posts: 2,755
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

I have to admit I don't understand the desire for the non-camera units. IMO they don't increase the appeal of an already fantastic photographic tool and I don't they would sell very well. I buy cameras to take pictures and nothing more. For storage, I have my computer as well as numerous backups.

I'm not trying to denigrate anyone else's wishes, I just think that as a matter of practicality and business sensibility these non-photographic units would have little appeal.

I would find a 24mm A16 or 90mm A16 far more interesting and valuable than anything else. (Yes, I can essentially get these in the new A16 zoom, but I'd rather have fast primes.)

But if I'm honest about it, it may be that Ricoh considers the GXR system complete - a couple of fast primes, macro, a zoom, an m-mount unit... what more would Ricoh really add? Maybe a 21mm A16 since 21mm was a focal length that Ricoh used in the past. I don't consider the small sensors appealing either, and they certainly are out of date.

If that is the case, does Ricoh shelf the GXR system - still build and sell units but not release anything new? Or does it continue to update the existing units to current specs every 18-24 months?

Or does Ricoh both update existing units and continue to release new ones (the stated plan was to release 2 new units per year)? If they release new units then will they also update existing units over time?

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Midwest Forum Pro • Posts: 17,223
Re: that would be silly

zigorus wrote:

i'm sure Ricoh has a plan for developing their product offerings. they're just choosing not to share it with the outside world until they feel the time is right.

don't you think it's nice to be surprised and delighted now and then?

Surprise and delight are wonderful for birthday parties but a poor way to run a company. People need at least a fundamental knowledge and commitment of what they are buying into and whether it has a future that coincides with their own goals. They want to know what they are investing money in when they buy a system rather than spending the first $1500 and then wondering when something wonderful might happen.

If they want to spring some good news over and above their stated plans then fine, but that is not a substitute for running a business in a businesslike way.

sroute Senior Member • Posts: 2,497
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

Andrewteee wrote:

I have to admit I don't understand the desire for the non-camera units.

Neither do I.

But if I'm honest about it, it may be that Ricoh considers the GXR system complete - a couple of fast primes, macro, a zoom, an m-mount unit... what more would Ricoh really add?

An image stabilized telephoto lensor maybe? I shoot a 75mm short tele with an effective field of view of 112mm and find it more challenging to use across different conditions than I'd like; I think I'd actually break down and buy a 75 - 90mm prime lensor module if it offered a workable, optional, IS system.

Beyond that my top three, no four, wishes are:

  • Full frame 135 format sensor in a M Mount module. There's no doubt at all this would sell well at any price under $2,000. Where can I pre-order mine?

  • An updated body, with a built in and updated EVF, allowing flash and EVF use

  • An updated body / camera units should eliminate most of the current lag; some is shutter lag but much of the lag is in the EVF / LCD finder responsiveness.

  • Last but probably more important to me than anything else, I'd like to see them improve shot to shot responsiveness, reducing blackout and card write times, adding single shot buffering. Why have effective multi-shot raw buffering but not single shot? May need a new processor which speaks to new body and/or modules.

As for the lack of a roadmap, like anyone I'd love to know what the plan is going forward but am in no hurry to make significant changes to my gear and don't feel the lack of a road map hinders what I need to do in any way at all.

I can understand why coming out with a public statement of direction might take longer given the flooding and merger. No doubt by now they've brought the two groups together to hash out a strategy. Is that process finished? Maybe, maybe not. It'll take more than a sit-down over beer or sake to come up with an enduring plan.

It may be there is more to be gained by keeping their new directions, if any, secret for the time being.

I just hope the design influence of the Pentax K-01 does not find its way to the GXR. Equating smaller with "cute" is a mistake in my opinion. I love my plain black serious looking GXR especially with a heavy hunk of serious metal mounted up front. Cutesy-pie designers stay away!

Andrewteee Senior Member • Posts: 2,755
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

sroute wrote:

Andrewteee wrote:

But if I'm honest about it, it may be that Ricoh considers the GXR system complete - a couple of fast primes, macro, a zoom, an m-mount unit... what more would Ricoh really add?

An image stabilized telephoto lensor maybe... Beyond that my top three, no four, wishes are...

Right, everyone wants something, but my point was, what if Ricoh considers the system complete.

I just hope the design influence of the Pentax K-01 does not find its way to the GXR. Equating smaller with "cute" is a mistake in my opinion. I love my plain black serious looking GXR especially with a heavy hunk of serious metal mounted up front. Cutesy-pie designers stay away!

Agreed! But I doubt Ricoh would go for the fashionista consumer. Every now and then they release a unique model (like the white GRD4), but they are based on the more pedestrian designs. Pentax had the precedence of having so many colors available for their DSLRs, but I don't see Ricoh doing that kind of thing.

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zigorus Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: that would be silly

Midwest wrote:

zigorus wrote:

i'm sure Ricoh has a plan for developing their product offerings. they're just choosing not to share it with the outside world until they feel the time is right.

don't you think it's nice to be surprised and delighted now and then?

Surprise and delight are wonderful for birthday parties but a poor way to run a company. People need at least a fundamental knowledge and commitment of what they are buying into and whether it has a future that coincides with their own goals. They want to know what they are investing money in when they buy a system rather than spending the first $1500 and then wondering when something wonderful might happen.

If they want to spring some good news over and above their stated plans then fine, but that is not a substitute for running a business in a businesslike way.

i suppose my perspective is different. i bought the GXR for its ability to be an excellent fixed lens camera and for its ability to be a TTL camera that is capable of utilizing a wide range of available lenses. it performs well in the context of these two goals just as it is, i have no need of additional system 'investment'. the GXR will meet my needs for a long time to come.

when next i need a camera to meet some other needs, i'll consider what Ricoh products might be appropriate as well as the products of all the other manufacturers. i own and use cameras from seven different manufacturers to do my photography, several of which are no longer in business (and i bought them after the parent company had gone out of business ...), and they all serve the purposes i put them to well. i am not 'locked into' any one brand or another, nor do i see my cameras as some kind of investment as i am not a business investing in equipment purchases for a monetary return.

if i were a professional photographer purchasing equipment to meet my business commitments, then i'd likely be more sensitive to the future plans of my provider. for that context, i'd likely own Nikon or Canon equipment and stick with them as they have the largest selection of equipment offerings at all levels of quality and pricing. they also tend to have more regular release and upgrade cycles that a pro can take advantage of.

Ricoh cameras can produce professional quality results, but Ricoh cameras are not offered as professional systems to invest in. they're just nice cameras that do a good job—i buy them for what they are, what they do, not for what Ricoh might produce at some time in the future.

z

Remko Westrik New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

I say buy the product based on what is available. Each and every roadmap is mostly a plan not a commitment (neither in time nor in content).

If you buy a product based on a roadmap you are likely to be disappointed sooner or later. Since plans can change and developments can be cancelled or delayed due to engineering issues or market developments.

Yes I agree it would be great to know if, what and when Ricoh brings out new GXR modules and bodies. And yes there are loads of suggestions floating around (have done some myself).

In the mean time just enjoy your GXR. I know I do, my A12 28 & 50 modules make great pictures.

OP Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 31,882
Re: that would be silly

Midwest wrote:

zigorus wrote:

i'm sure Ricoh has a plan for developing their product offerings. they're just choosing not to share it with the outside world until they feel the time is right.

don't you think it's nice to be surprised and delighted now and then?

Surprise and delight are wonderful for birthday parties but a poor way to run a company. People need at least a fundamental knowledge and commitment of what they are buying into and whether it has a future that coincides with their own goals. They want to know what they are investing money in when they buy a system rather than spending the first $1500 and then wondering when something wonderful might happen.

If they want to spring some good news over and above their stated plans then fine, but that is not a substitute for running a business in a businesslike way.

MW you are always a breath of straight-forward thinking and I basically agree with your assumptions.

But there is another factor known simply as "industrial intelligence".

A large company might put out a detailed road map knowing quite well that they have the resources to tough it through quickly and on time. A smaller company might be more reluctant to signal it's future products due to the set in stone commitment it's customers then expect. Politicians seem to reserve the right to change their mind and sometimes get punished in the polls for it but at least it usually doesn't sink the company.

Furthermore if a smaller company sets out it's product line for the future it is open to have it's products blocked by counter-products on every move. Ricoh has reason to rue it's GX camera being targeted by the Panasonic LX. The big bear moved into their niche. Of course loyal Ricoh people always reserve the right to buy another brand if it has more features and it suits them better at the time.

Even Canon are very coy about their road map and I as a substantial owner of their product am at a bit of a loss as to whether I should contine to invest in their newer dslr bodies. I have said so on this forum.

If they would say "we will have dslr bodies from entry level to professional level forever" we might be re-assured even if they were lying and there would be a road map for their customers to beat them over the head with. If they said "we will make entry level dslr cameras for another 2/3 years and then phase them out for an EVIL type replacement, we estimate that we will continue to be making professionall level dslr's for another ten or however long there is a viable market for them" then we might know better how our investment will stand up and that there is indeed something to plan for.

If they said "we are going to phase out the EOS EF mount over the next 10 years and introduce a smaller purpose built mount for new glass and a purpse built series of EVIL type cameras" then we woul know precisely where we stood and Canon's dslr business and EOS EF lens sales would quickly hit the wall.

So we cannot blame poor little Ricoh for being reticent when Canon are not overly forthcoming either. Industrial knowledge is precious and a road map is a dangerous one-sided bond carved in rock.

So we have to have surprises, but for myself I would not at all mind the odd selective "unofficial" leak to give some idea of each company's future direction. "Unofficial leaks" are not carved in stone and if the reaction is adverse the project can be quietly dropped, if the story is changed or it simply never happens, then it was only the figment of some blogger's imagination and does the company no harm. However we might just be able to filter the gems from the dross.

Besides a few false (but believable and from a reliable source) leaks can send your opposition off on some tangent blocking move resulting in some merriment at the after work drinks session ...

We tend to forget that these companies are making multi-million dollar investments in a high technology product for a very competitive market and selling to a largely fickle customer base that reserves the right to buy or not buy or change brands in a flash.

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Tom Caldwell

OP Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 31,882
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

Andrewteee wrote:

I have to admit I don't understand the desire for the non-camera units. IMO they don't increase the appeal of an already fantastic photographic tool and I don't they would sell very well. I buy cameras to take pictures and nothing more. For storage, I have my computer as well as numerous backups.

The commercial numbers game says that although such units could be produced they would certainly be very low volume and therefore very expensive. Consequently Ricoh would have to factor in an even llower sales rate to break even and they would be even more expensive. Note how a clip on evf - any clip on accessory - is relatively expensive because it does not necessarily sell with every camera body. Lens units by themself are relatively expensive as well for much the same reason.

I'm not trying to denigrate anyone else's wishes, I just think that as a matter of practicality and business sensibility these non-photographic units would have little appeal.

Agreed - their retail pricing would kill them dead in the water. They practically give away cheap serviceable printers there days.

If that is the case, does Ricoh shelf the GXR system - still build and sell units but not release anything new? Or does it continue to update the existing units to current specs every 18-24 months?

An interesting problem. If they merely started to upgrade the sensor on existing lens units then I think that those that bought them would soon become wary of investing in them - especially those that had been around for a while. The only commercial sense I can make out of it would be for them to make (say) an A16 50mm f1.9 non-macro and reduce the price of their current 50mm macro unit and keep selling it in parallel. In this way user of the current module would still have a use for it and it would continue to perform as well as it ever did. In this way Ricoh could increase their effective range of modules without rendering the existing modules obsolete. Some time down the track when stocks of the present A12 50mm module were runnng low they might make a new batch with a 20mp sensor?

Or does Ricoh both update existing units and continue to release new ones (the stated plan was to release 2 new units per year)? If they release new units then will they also update existing units over time?

See above - once they have the basic range of focal lengths covered they will be re-issued with enough subtle twists to make them not exactly directly competitive with previously released modules. So you can have a macro 50mm on A12 or a fast non-macro 50mm on A16.

I have no inside knowledge of Ricoh's planning and will be as surprised as the next man when we discover what they actually will do.

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Tom Caldwell

sroute Senior Member • Posts: 2,497
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

Andrewteee wrote:

Right, everyone wants something, but my point was, what if Ricoh considers the system complete.

You made an excellent point - it certainly is a possibility. I hope not but you never know. The world needs at least one modular system to stick around, right?

Barry Fitzgerald Forum Pro • Posts: 29,888
Re: Does Ricoh's lack of roadmap mean there is no roadmap?

Tom Caldwell wrote:

I have put all this quiet down to a restructuring process after the Pentax takeover. Like Ricoh-Pentax is a subsidiary where the tail wags the dog? The K-01 seems to be driven by madder designers than the careful Ricoh precision meisters ever designed.

Tom I think the K-01 isn't a very practical camera for most people (no VF at all and not that small) And it's quite ugly IMO too

(Hey it's amazing that the designer got away with that let alone paid for it!)

Onto Ricoh well I have always said they have a lot of potential. But they have to decide if they want to be a niche player or take the fight to the mainstream. I'd love to see them starting to compete properly with premium compacts (S100, Lx-5, X10..G12/P7100) and similar models.

I do think Fuji grasped my pet issue, viewfinders optical. It's a shame they messed up elsewhere (big time with orbs and stuff) I can't seriously take a look at Ricoh unless they start to get this part

As for GXR I'm sure it will tick along. Pentax will tick along too. But I don't think either company has either the resources or the vision to make both brands a hard hitter. And the Pentax road map didn't do much on that side anyway (not bad but hardly game changer)

GXR is a niche product no matter how you look at it.

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