Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Careful What You Wish For

by Miserere

Reading Yvon's preceding post on Bruce's purchase of a Nikon D700 got me thinking, so I decided to quickly write down what was racing from my brain down through my fingers.

I can certainly see the allure of the D700. I spent Thanksgiving in a dark house trying to photograph children at ISO3200 on a K100D Super. Even with the f/1.8 afforded by the fabulous Pentax 31 Ltd, shutter speeds were not fast enough, and the IQ of the pics is far from great. I may print a few on 8x10 and see what they look like, but details on screen look poor. I'd love to have usable ISO 64000 in these situations! But I cannot afford a D700. I, like countless photographers before me (and scores after me, no doubt) will have to work around the limitations of my equipment, and my equipment is determined by my budget.

Yvon is quite right: If Pentax were to introduce a full-frame camera it would not be priced below $2,500 (and even that price would be great for a FF). Would Pentaxians complain? I wouldn't be surprised if the forums melted down with cries of anger.

If Pentax finally roll out the mythical 645D I doubt it's going to cost less than $6,000, on top of which you will have to buy a whole host of new lenses for it. Will the standard, regular Pentaxian buy it? Not a chance! I don't think people realise just how NOT portable the 645D will be. You won't be hanging it from your shoulder and going out for a stroll with it; you won't just throw it in your bag on your way out of the door. This will be a camera for the semi-professional landscape or studio photographer who produces serious work, but cannot justify the expense of a Hassie, Leica or other medium format camera. Will Pentaxians complain? You bet!

I am actually worried that Pentax have announced that they'll probably pursue the 645D. For the reasons mentioned above, I doubt they'll sell many of them and cannot imagine they will make a significant profit. As Pentax only have limited resources, any manpower channelled into the 645D project is going to be at the expense of the APS-C camera and lens line. Imagine they invest a large amount of money in this new project and never make it back; what would happen to Pentax? Could it bankrupt the Imaging division? Is Hoya willing to take such a gamble?

I believe Pentax will introduce a FF camera when/if it becomes clear that it's going to become the standard for amateur cameras. At this point they will discontinue their APS-C camera line (or maybe keep one as an entry-level model) and start producing FF lenses. I think this is the only way it makes sense for Pentax given their limited budget and production capabilities. Any other approach might ruin them, and none of us wishes the demise of Pentax, right?

So be careful what you wish for, my friend.
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