Pentax Likely Has No Plans for a New Mirrorless Camera

Pentax Likely Has No Plans for a New Mirrorless Camera

Pentax has a small but fiercely loyal customer base, and with the industry gradually transitioning to the mirrorless era, those photographers might be wondering if the company plans to eventually join the rest. Unfortunately, it seems the company has no plans to make a new mirrorless camera, at least for the time being.

I have always been fond of Pentax cameras; they have a lot of unique features that enable unique creative opportunities and that excite the geeky side in me. I was quite impressed by the K-1 when I reviewed it. Honestly, if I did not have an affinity for more esoteric lenses, I would probably gladly own a full Pentax kit. 

Strangely, last year, the company said that they expected mirrorless users to return to DSLRs within a few years, seemingly indicating that they did not intend to push into the mirrorless space. Photo Rumors recently reported that indeed, the company has no plans for a full frame or medium format mirrorless camera, despite the seeming trend of the overall industry, which is gradually leaving DSLRs behind and embracing mirrorless bodies. It is not clear if the company intends to continue developing new DSLR models at this time. 

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31 Comments

Why is it unfortunate they have no plans?

Because, you know, the mumbo jumbo about mirrorless being so much better for everything, including making coffee ...

PhotoRumors and FS completely forgot to think that Pentax is so much invested in the MF / FF / APSC DSLR market AND being a small company (samller than Leica), they can't afford to shout "hey ! we are going full mirrorless, and all you bought will be non-compatible in 5 years times, yeah !"
Even more, it's about jumping in the mirrorless will probably kill them.

Having a K1, the usual trium-virat zoom, it does the job, and will do for the next 10 years. So, why jump ship all of sudden ?

The parent company behind the Pentax brand makes 3 times more yearly revenue than Nikon. Sorry, but this is not a good excuse. We saw a lot of good company disappeard in a second (like Kodak) because they didn't invested in their future.

Matt Williams's picture

Yeah but Ricoh doesn't make 3x more revenue because of their camera or lens sales. They make other products, just like Canon and Sony make most of their $ from other departments. Ricoh/Pentax has very low camera sales, not even comparable to Canon/Nikon/Sony.

It wasn't the case back in the early days of their DSLR lineup before the whole mirrorless story came to the market. They had a clearly visible market share at the time (comparable to Panasonic or Olympus). Wise companies realized that mirrorless is the key to survive, meanwhile Ricoh-Pentax invested their money to make the Pentax Q system (it was a joke) and a Full Frame DSLR lineup, when everybody knows (even Canon and Nikon), that the DSLR technology is sooner or later will be dead.

Spy Black's picture

As long as something works for you how you shoot, that's fine. But Pentax, regardless of whether it's going to stay as a DSLR manufacturer, still needs to modernize their arsenal, especially in medium format.

They could probably do a lot in the MF area. They were the first to bring MF under 10k than 5k.

Spy Black's picture

They also need to get up to speed with AF on all their bodies, they're way behind. Video specs need modernization as well. If they beef up their video, maybe they'll be smart and throw some good codecs right into the body, as well as have high quality feeds out the HDMI port.

There's a fair amount of things Ricoh needs to contend with just to keep the product lines competitive and rolling as best they can.

Couldn't agree more !

Would like if Pentax joins MFT and came up with a body and 1 or 2 lenses. After that they can slowly build a MFT lineup.

Adil Alsuhaim's picture

If they joined MFT (or L-Mount Alliance) they wouldn't need to rush building a lens lineup since there are already plenty of compatible lenses.

And lose any profit? Sell a few cameras and everyone then buys someone elses lenses. I doubt they want to do that. Now if they were bigger and could produce more lenses, they might. But it seems they push out 1 lens every year or so. So their resources are limited.

Glen Barrington's picture

I don't see that as strengthening m43s though. So ultimately it would be a bad move for Ricoh/Pentax. Currently, the world buys enough m43s Enthusiast/Professional cameras to keep Panasonic and Olympus in the market. Can m43s REALLY support a 3rd serious manufacturer?

But to me, this sounds like the death knell of the Pentax line, anyway. Believe me, I don't like saying that. But at least their passing might create some survival room for others.

Spy Black's picture

I'm kinda seeing that too, if they want to stay in the game, they have a lot of catching up to do, even if they continue to make only DSLRs.

Matt Williams's picture

lol at them thinking mirrorless users will return to DSLRs later

Canon has already shuttered development of new EF lenses. Nikon hasn't officially done so, but they won't be making many (if any) more. We'll likely not see many more new DSLR models from either company. The D780/D6/1DX Mark III are probably the last models of their respective lines.

Both companies are fully invested in mirrorless moving forward, as are companies like Tamron and Sigma.

Ryan Ringstad's picture

Those won't be the last DSLR camera's in that lineup. Not because the market is growing or even stable for DSLR but because the commonality of sensors and other components between mirrorless & DSLR. It doesn't require much investment $$$ to transition new mirrorless hardware it into a DSLR body (See 1dx m3 which is basically a mirrorless when used in live view).

Matt Williams's picture

Yeah, but at the same time, what gains are there really to be made in DSLRs at this point? IBIS is about it (Pentax already has it, Canon/Nikon don't). Like you say, the cameras can do incredible frame rates in live view, eye-AF, etc. Frame rates via OVF reached their physical limit a long time ago. AF via OVF is about as good as it can get. All I can see really improving are just the sensors - but will people continue buying new models if all that changes is the sensor? Maybe. But as mirrorless gets better and better (I'd argue that collectively - if you smushed Sony/Canon/Nikon mirrorless cameras into one camera - mirrorless is already the equal of DSLR capabilities, plus a lot more. Sony's AF is pretty much as good as any DSLR (the untested D6 notwithstanding), Nikon has the ergonomics down pat, EVFs are finally mature enough, etc etc.

I won't be surprised if there's a D7 or 1DX Mark IV, but I do see Canikon only coming out with a couple more DSLR models if they do. The shuttering of their lens development is a pretty big coffin nail.

Glen Barrington's picture

With a DSLR, sure, you can emulate a fairly primitive mirrorless camera that lacks all the features that makes mirrorless competitive for many, but you still have to buy the DSLR, you have to carry the DSLR and its lenses around. If you have that much money AND effort invested in the DSLR, why would you want to make a sophisticated DSLR behave like an entry-level mirrorless?

This doesn't make sense to this m43s user.

Matt Williams's picture

lol at them thinking mirrorless users will return to DSLRs later

Canon has already shuttered development of new EF lenses. Nikon hasn't officially done so, but they won't be making many (if any) more. We'll likely not see many more new DSLR models from either company. The D780/D6/1DX Mark III are probably the last models of their respective lines.

Both companies are fully invested in mirrorless moving forward, as are companies like Tamron and Sigma.

roux maxime's picture

On the other hand it might be the best choice, if they become the only dslr manufacturer they carved themselves a niche market for photographer who wants to use dslr.

Glen Barrington's picture

Do you REALLY see Canon & Nikon DSLR users dumping their gear for Pentax?

roux maxime's picture

It's true that most shooter will go mirorless, but maybe a fraction of shooters with no dslr in a few years will buy a Pentax. Even in a couple years current dslr of any brand will be in working condition, but if every company drops the dslr and Pentax is the only manufacturer I don't see why some people won't buy them. I'm not sure they need that many new customers to stay afloat.

I am very fond of Pentax. I shot film with them back in the 1990s all the way to the K1. But the glacial pace at which they accomplish everything is so relentlessly frustrating and worrisome that I had to give up. Best of luck to them, but no way would I go back.

It's been pretty clear for a while now that Ricoh doesn't care all that much about growing the Pentax brand (or even keeping it alive). I think they just view it as something of a hobby at this point... Hell, it might work out for them if every other manufacturer discontinues their DSLR lines. They can be to DSLR's what Leica is to rangefinders.

While I am sure that there will be a contingent of DSLR users who will never switch away, I think that Pentax is incorrect in predicting that any sizable number of people who make the switch to mirrorless will come back to DSLR. Most of the people who make the switch have done their research, understand the cons of mirrorless, and are ok with those cons in exchange for the benefits. Even the ones that do return would likely just go back to the brand they shot before so Pentax wouldn't benefit from them anytime soon.

The price of getting marketshare in a shrinking market (for the last 10 years and the next 5 years forecast), is horrendously high compared to the return expected. It would be the worst move ever.

If you take the time to look up the biggest photography firms from 50 years ago, you will see that a lot of companies went bankrupt and disappeared. It doesn't matter what you personally think of a development. If enough people like the new stuff and quit buying the old stuff, and you don't adapt, your company will die.
It is a simple as that.
And maybe your product will remain a niche product, such as film, vinyl records, cd's, cassettes, dvds, hifi sets (young people don't buy them) and so on. If your are lucky but who is using a steam machine nowadays? In most cases, your company goes bankrupt and that is the end of it.

I don’t know what’s going on with pentax but any manufacturer would be well advised to hire the pentax designers. In terms of robustness of the body and usability pentax cameras have always been excellent. Fuji designers could definitely learn something from them.

Kurt Hummel's picture

I started with Pentax in 2015, but after two years moved on when I realized they were not the best for wildlife. They make some good stuff but other brands just have a larger selection of bodies and lenses for all types of shooters, it's hard to see why anyone just starting out would pick Pentax.

Good for them. May they take their time and let things mature further. Having a mirror less camera didn't make my pictures better, didn't improve the way I shoot, but it have me buy more batteries, worry about senor dust more, EVF eye strain and EVF screen WB/Exp inaccurate. Nah... I'm good. Take your time Ricoh/Pentax if your first mirror less is any indication what's to expect I can certainly wait and don't worry about many of these comments, mirror less add very little to the majority of their needs besides to be justified/validated by their purchase. They the same ones who barely know the full ends and outs of their current gear but are quick to upgrade lol for an incriminate improvement.

TIMOTHY HUNOLD's picture

I loved my pentax K1 so much but it is time for me to move back to medium format so I just listed it the other day with a bunch of lenses on that well known auction site. It really was a spectacular camera

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