Ricoh Opens Up About its Pentax Film Camera Project and More

Ricoh selected to not exhibit at CP+ earlier this 12 months, so I took benefit of my prolonged keep in Japan to go to their company headquarters in Ota-ku, Tokyo. (Ota is southwest of central Tokyo, a few 50-minute practice experience from the place I used to be staying in Asakusa, on the northeast aspect of the town.)

These are the individuals I met with, their particular person feedback are indicated by their initials within the dialogue beneath. (I’m “DE”.)

  • Noboru Akahane, Consultant Director and President of Ricoh Imaging Firm, Ltd.
  • Takeo Suzuki (“TKO”), Product Planning Improvement, Improvement Headquarters, Pentax Division, Ricoh Imaging Firm, Ltd.
  • Ryutaro Aratama, Group Chief, Oversales Part, Enterprise Administration Division, Ricoh Imaging Firm, Ltd.
  • Hiroku Kawaguchi, Product Spokesperson, Enterprise Administration Division, Pentax Division, Ricoh Imaging Firm, Ltd.
  • Kazuhiko Shibuya, Enterprise Administration Improvement, Abroad Gross sales Part, Pentax Division, Ricoh Imaging Firm, Ltd.

Within the following, I’ve loosely paraphrased the dialog to make it simpler to learn for English audio system. The feedback from Ricoh, due to this fact, aren’t in their very own phrases as spoken, so please attribute any inaccuracies to my interpretation of the dialog.

Noboru Akahane is the Consultant Director and President of Ricoh Imaging Firm, Ltd. That is Akahane-san’s second stint heading up the imaging group; he oversaw a number of the firm’s most profitable merchandise, together with the Ok-1 and Ok-3 cameras when he was final in cost.

Akahane-san has total accountability for the Ricoh Imaging Group, which manages each the Ricoh- and Pentax-branded cameras and lenses. He instructed me that his return to main Ricoh Imaging got here as a shock, as he’d been working at reviving a Ricoh subsidiary in India after a large accounting fraud there.

I did just a little Googling and located that this was an enormous story in India in 2015 and 2016: Insiders apparently cooked the books to the tune of greater than $160 million on the then-current trade fee. He stated there had been “false conveyance” and what amounted to a small gang working inside the corporate that was behind the fraud. It seems like a wild experience; he struck me as very pleasant and personable however should have a spine of metal to tackle company corruption of that magnitude.

It seems that Akahane-san has really had quite a lot of expertise checking out and revitalizing struggling firms: Earlier than becoming a member of Ricoh, he’d labored in funding banking, the place he was usually the one that’d be despatched in to kind out firms needing restructuring and redirection. Like most Japanese, he’s very modest when speaking about his personal skills, however there’s no query about his turnaround expertise.

That is really his second stint as head of the Imaging Division; he oversaw the event and launch of a number of the firm’s most succesful and profitable merchandise, such because the Ok-1 and Ok-3 when he was final in cost. The picture market may be very totally different now, however I personally have quite a lot of confidence in Akahane-san’s instincts and talents. I feel his return to the Imaging Division is excellent information for Pentaxians all over the place.

With out additional ado, let’s dive into the interview:

The Movie Mission: Not Simply About Design, however Provide Chain as Nicely

David Etchells: I feel Ricoh’s announcement of the Movie Digicam Mission final December is likely one of the most intriguing developments within the business. After studying the feedback on the video that includes Pentax digital camera designer TKO (Mr. Takeo Suzuki), it appears that evidently many individuals share my enthusiasm. Some experiences counsel that step one is to find out the feasibility of a brand new movie digital camera, however from the video, it seems like you have got already made a conclusive resolution to develop one. Are you able to make clear whether or not you have got certainly made a agency resolution to develop a brand new movie digital camera?

Noboru Akahane: We haven’t made a ultimate resolution but relating to promoting or not promoting a digital camera. That facet remains to be undecided. Nonetheless, we now have already made the choice to embrace the problem. This problem pertains as to whether we will collect the mandatory components to fabricate a movie digital camera. It’s been a very long time since we final developed a movie digital camera, and lots of different digital camera firms are in the identical scenario—they haven’t ventured into movie cameras both.

DE: Ahh, so the movie digital camera provide chain…

NA: Sure, there’s a important distinction. It’s not only a minor distinction, however a considerable one. Moreover, we have to examine the soundness of the movie provide, establish the primary movie suppliers, and perceive the market itself, together with the preferences of younger individuals, males, and ladies. On our aspect, we have to discover the suitable one who can design an appropriate plan for creating a movie digital camera. We have to collect skilled people to provoke the engineering course of.

DE: So, you emphasize the significance of discovering the suitable individuals. The older engineers who possess the mandatory experience and the youthful engineers…

NA: Completely. It’s essential that the expertise is handed all the way down to the youthful technology. Even when it turned out that we weren’t in a position to develop a movie digital camera proper now, it’s important that the expertise continues to evolve.

This hadn’t occurred to me however makes quite a lot of sense. Whereas they’re much less complicated than digital cameras in some ways, movie cameras have a novel set of elements, a few of which haven’t been manufactured for years now, or solely in very restricted portions. On condition that it had a sweeping title of “The Movie Mission”, I had assumed that Ricoh already had a well-developed plan in place. Because it seems, they’re nonetheless very a lot nonetheless finding out the feasibility of producing trendy movie cameras. A part of this course of entails figuring out the suitable individuals internally to work on it and recapturing the data of their engineers who’ve expertise with movie digital camera design and manufacturing. We’ll hear extra about their causes for saying the venture so early within the additional dialog beneath.

Ricoh posted several YouTube videos concerning the Movie Mission underneath their company account. They generated quite a lot of curiosity, given the slender viewers (principally current Pentaxians who had been excited about movie taking pictures.) The 4 movies garnered over 1,600 feedback between them, primarily all of them constructive. Pentax wants to search out potential prospects exterior the prevailing Pentaxian neighborhood for the venture to be a hit, however the overwhelmingly constructive response from the Pentaxians is definitely a great signal.

Is Movie Nonetheless Related, within the Digital Period?

NA: However earlier than that, that is possibly my private mind-set, however I feel movie cameras is likely one of the areas that we have to concentrate on. We’re often called a DSLR firm and likewise make waterproof cameras, that are in style now, however we’re encountering challenges with the shrinking DSLR market. Personally, I really like pictures and taking footage, and the DSLR is the one kind of digital camera that I really love. To elucidate exactly, I can’t stand having any barrier between the topic and my eye; solely gentle and air ought to come between them. With mirrorless cameras, the viewfinder adjusts the picture electronically, which detracts from the scene I noticed that impressed me to take the image within the first place. It could seem to be a small element, however it’s an necessary level for me. On condition that we live on this earth with pure air and lightweight, it makes me really feel that movie cameras are the way in which to go. That is simply my private feeling, however I don’t suppose I’m the one one who feels this manner, an exception. I feel there’s a vary of individuals worldwide who really feel the identical manner I do.

DE: Sure, as you say, some individuals will favor the direct visible expertise.

NA: Completely, capturing the scene precisely as seen by my eye.

DE: I feel one of many points of interest of movie is that it’s a novel medium. It’s exhausting to place into phrases, however taking footage with movie feels totally different, maybe as a result of you’ll be able to’t simply rattle off 100 pictures after which choose one. There’s additionally a sure sense of thriller and anticipation concerning the end result. Once I was younger I had a darkroom in my father or mother’s basement (it was solely black & white), and the method of creating prints was at all times very interesting to me.

NA: Do you encounter any limitations in capturing images throughout your travels at present? In my youthful days, after I traveled around the globe, I needed to fastidiously think about the variety of images I may soak up a day as a result of movie’s restricted capability, simply 24 or 36 exposures. Despite the fact that I’d see many lovely locations or scenes, I had to decide on the place I might use these restricted frames.

DE: Yeah, someway it entails you with the picture extra, since you’re pausing to consider you realize, I solely have 36, so what am I going to take?

NA: Sure, it’s essential to determine whether or not to take footage within the morning or daytime or in the event you ought to avoid wasting for later within the day.

DE: Possibly you can make a digital SLR that has a counter, so you’ll be able to solely take 36 pictures in a day. .

NA: However the issue is after taking the image, learn how to choose the suitable one.

DE: Yeah, it’s fascinating, there actually appears to be a resurgence of movie with younger individuals, I feel much more so than with individuals our age. There’s an attraction to it, possibly as a result of it’s simply *totally different*, it’s form of retro, … I can’t fairly put it into phrases, however then, I’m not precisely an adolescent myself.

NA: Even my youthful feminine kinfolk in Japan are excited to listen to a few new movie digital camera.

DE: As I discussed, the response to your YouTube video was overwhelmingly constructive, there have been simply lots of and lots of of very constructive feedback.

NA: Sure, I used to be stunned, actually.

There’s so much to unpack right here. What’s it about taking pictures with movie that makes it distinctive and interesting, relative to digital? For Akahane-san, quite a lot of it has to do with the sense that there’s nothing between him and his topic, no complicated imaging system rendering a model of the scene to show on an EVF or LCD, however simply his eye wanting by means of a viewfinder. For him, the direct reference to the topic is vital.

He additionally mentions the affect of coping with movie’s restricted capability. Except you have got an infinite price range, it’s essential to take into consideration the way you’re going to make use of your allotted variety of pictures for the day. Do you burn extra of them within the scenic place you’re within the morning, after which not have as many left when one thing much more scenic or enjoyable comes alongside within the afternoon?

That form of exterior limitation on the variety of pictures you’ll be able to take leads you to suppose much more about each you’re taking. With digital, I’m inclined to simply rattle off a dozen pictures at a time, figuring I’ll simply decide the very best one afterward the pc, and possibly perform a little Photoshopping or re-cropping. Movie forces me to decelerate and truly take into consideration the image and the way I need to take it.

However I can see Akahane’s level as nicely; trendy EVFs are phenomenal, usually exhibiting element you’ll be able to’t see along with your bare eye, particularly in low-light circumstances. However there’s a degree of actuality and reference to the topic that I see when wanting by means of an optical viewfinder vs an EVF. It’s potential it’s simply nostalgia, and glad reminiscences of many hours of taking pictures with my movie SLRs after I was youthful, however there’s a je ne sais quoi concerning the movie expertise that’s simply totally different from digital.

How Did the Movie Mission Come About?

DE: I’m excited about how this venture happened. TKO-san is the face of the venture and is answerable for product planning and design for it, however did the thought originate with him? How did it come about inside the corporate? What earlier designs was TKO concerned with?

Kazuhiko Shibuya: This venture was initiated by TKO-san. When he first proposed the thought internally, it took everybody unexpectedly, inflicting a momentary freeze. Nonetheless, as he defined the movie digital camera market’s background and our place in it, the belief dawned that this was one thing we should always pursue. Steadily, individuals started to agree, and assist for the venture began to develop. Finally, there was an optimistic feeling that the venture may go nicely. At that time, we concerned prime administration for it to go ahead.

DE: TKO-san, what earlier designs had been you concerned with, what tasks had you labored on earlier than this?

Takeo Suzuki (by way of KS): There have been varied designs, together with the Pentax K30, Pentax MX1—the compact digital camera with brass on the floor— the WG collection, the waterproof cameras like WG 90, WG1, and WG2. I additionally labored on the Pentax J restricted collection, which consists of particular version fashions ranging from KP.

DE: The J collection had been form of restricted version fashions?

KS: Sure.

DE: I’m not really aware of the J restricted collection, however I’ve been within the business so lengthy that I instantly bear in mind “Oh sure, the WG1”…

The way in which the Movie Mission happened is directly each uncommon and typical for Japanese firms. For probably the most half, Japanese enterprise tends to proceed extra by means of group consensus moderately than particular person motion than is typical within the US. It’s uncommon for people to face out, particularly to push a brand new or probably unpopular concept. However, important advances can normally be traced to the passions of key people, moderately than committee deliberations.

This was the case with the Movie Mission; engineer Takeo Suzuki (“TKO”) had what was initially a startling and radical concept: Why not a movie digital camera once more? It apparently took some explaining and convincing, however steadily others got here on board, and my impression is that enthusiasm for the venture is now widespread.

DE: Do you have got any numbers for what number of photographers are presently taking pictures movie? What’s their demographic make-up, when it comes to age, gender, and many others? Are there any geographic variations? (That’s, are there extra movie shooters in a single space of the world vs one other?) Do you have got a way of what proportion of the film-photography market is presently utilizing Pentax gear?

KS: Truly, we don’t have exact info on the scale of the movie digital camera market as a result of most digital camera producers transitioned to digital a very long time in the past. Consequently, present market information isn’t available. Nonetheless, we performed market analysis in Japan involving roughly 3,000 customers. From this analysis, we found that about 20% of all digital camera house owners right here have a movie digital camera (excluding disposable cameras).

DE: So, roughly 20% of photographers who presently use digital cameras additionally personal a movie digital camera?

KS: Sure, that’s right. Nonetheless, we don’t have particular info relating to the proportion of movie photographers who use Pentax gear. However, we’d like to supply the primary movie digital camera expertise to youthful people who’ve not too long ago develop into excited about movie pictures, along with serving current movie digital camera customers.

An fascinating level: How do you get market information for a product that hasn’t been bought for a few many years? Not solely that, however the market was totally totally different again within the early 2000s. Take into account that the primary iPhone solely went on sale in June of 2007; individuals’s relationship with photos and cameras is totally totally different now. It’s protected to say that nobody has any concept simply how in style (or not) a contemporary movie digital camera could be.

Do You Have Any Market Data From Movie Producers?

DE: That is skipping forward in my questions a bit, however you talked about that you simply’re collaborating with movie producers. Have they been in a position to present any insights into the quantity of movie being bought and the demographics of movie customers?

Hiroku Kawaguchi: We don’t have direct info from the movie producers, however there are sellers and distributors who promote movie, and we now have been attempting to collect info by means of them.

DE: I’d suppose that the movie producers themselves would have some understanding of their market by means of their very own market research. However then I haven’t seen a lot movie advertising myself, so I don’t know the place they’re reaching out to search out potential prospects.

HK: Sure, we’re working to acquire such info from the movie producers.

DE: It appears that you’re nonetheless within the strategy of understanding the market panorama. Certainly one of my questions was concerning the typical Pentax film-camera purchaser, however it sounds such as you’re simply now working to find that.

KS: Sure, you’re right. We don’t have clear info on that facet in the intervening time.

Will Having New Cameras Obtainable Improve the Attraction of Movie?

DE: As TKO stated, it’s changing into increasingly more of a problem to maintain film-era cameras functioning correctly. Do you suppose having a contemporary digital camera system accessible with a full guarantee and components availability would considerably enhance the variety of movie shooters? (I’ve to confess that the thought of holding and utilizing a brand-new movie digital camera is sufficient to make me consider dusting off my outdated darkroom gear! 🙂

KS: Sure.

HK: For positive.

KS: We expect that new fashions will contribute to a rise out there. Our focus is on how youthful people can take pleasure in taking pictures with movie, with a way of safety. The reliability of movie cameras has develop into tougher, particularly as movie costs rise and older merchandise have a tendency to interrupt down. By providing a sturdy and repairable digital camera with a guaranty, we goal to supply customers with a way of safety. We consider this might be a big benefit for each customers and ourselves.

DE: It’s fascinating as a result of it is a market the place there’s just about no competitors, apart from used fashions accessible on platforms like eBay.

The Pentax *ist SLR was the final interchangeable-lens movie digital camera the corporate manufactured. It was first launched in February of 2003 and was touted because the world’s smallest SLR, at simply 122 x 84 x 64 mm (4.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in) and 335 g (11.8 oz)

What’s going to a contemporary movie digital camera appear to be?

DE: Past simply having a newly-manufactured physique, picture expertise has come a good distance for the reason that days of the final Pentax or Ricoh movie digital camera. (I feel the final Pentax movie physique was the *ist, right? right?) What kinds of recent options or improved efficiency may we see in new movie cameras from Ricoh? What’s your imaginative and prescient of a contemporary movie digital camera?

KS: Sadly, we’re unable to supply particular details about the product’s specs. Nonetheless, what we will say is that we goal to develop cameras that folks can take pleasure in utilizing casually and carry with them anyplace. Will probably be a digital camera that enables them to expertise the pleasure of utilizing it each time they decide it up. However I apologize that we don’t have detailed solutions concerning the specs.

DE: It happens to me that with developments in expertise, the brand new movie cameras might be a lot simpler to make use of. Autofocus might be extra correct and sooner, and publicity management might be extra clever. That final was at all times a problem with movie. Certainly one of my private frustrations was attempting to take very low-light exposures with movie; I had no concept what the publicity was going to be like, so I’d should bracket and use half a roll simply to verify I had one good shot. Trendy expertise ought to make it a lot simpler to get good pictures in difficult circumstances.

NA: Deciding on that facet is kind of tough. What I wish to categorical is that some degree of uncertainty after taking an image is important to seize the essence of movie pictures.

DE: So, if there’s a little bit of a raffle concerned, if there’s some uncertainty, that’s a part of the movie expertise?

NA: That’s proper. That’s how I bear in mind it from the previous. It’s why a fantastic image feels good. Though too many blackout frames generally is a downside, in fact.

To me, the query of what a contemporary movie digital camera may appear to be is intriguing to think about and thrilling to ponder. Customers today have *very* excessive expectations for what a digital camera ought to have the ability to do, so a easy field with a lens on the entrance and a shutter button on prime received’t reduce it. Customers received’t settle for poor-quality photos simply because they’re utilizing movie; they’ll anticipate perfectly-exposed and -focused photos with a “movie look” to them. Whereas filters that create an “old-timey” picture with vignetting and comfortable corners are in style, I don’t suppose individuals will need to shell out their hard-earned money for a digital camera that may solely ship that.

It’ll be fascinating to see what Ricoh comes up with and the way they go about attaining it. Will old style AF methods be ok, or will individuals be disillusioned if the digital camera can’t discover and concentrate on a topic that will not be dead-center? In all probability not.

The engineer in me is curious to see what Ricoh comes up with to satisfy these expectations. A profitable answer goes to require some out-of-the-box pondering.

In movie’s heyday, Pentax produced a variety of compact cameras. One in style line was the IQ-Zooms (Espios exterior the US), nicely-featured zoom-lens fashions with inexpensive costs. The picture above exhibits the EZR, with a zoom vary of 38-70mm, and the 130M, masking the vary from 38-130mm and likewise that includes a “real-image” viewfinder (the viewfinder optics zoomed together with the lens) and date-imprinting so that you’d know when every picture was taken. Good-condition fashions fetch upwards of $180 and $200 respectively on the present market. (Curiously, a great bit greater than an excellent-condition Ok-1000 SLR package talked about beneath.) It’s possible that the primary consequence from the Movie Mission might be a compact digital camera of some kind, vs an SLR.

What Are Your Plans in Phrases of Kinds of Digicam Fashions? (SLR, Compact, and many others.)

DE: TKO talked about that there might be a variety of recent movie cameras. From what I perceive, the primary mannequin we’ll see might be a compact digital camera, with SLRs probably coming later. Are you able to present extra particulars about your plan for our readers? Which fashions may come first, second, and so forth?

KS: At the moment, our predominant focus is on creating and releasing the primary compact digital camera. That’s our major aim—bringing that product to the market efficiently. As soon as we obtain that, we will think about the following steps. We’re creating the present compact digital camera so we will use the know-how and features in future merchandise.

DE: Sure, there’s a saying that you need to stroll earlier than you’ll be able to run. So, it’s necessary to focus on getting the primary digital camera proper earlier than you go off exploring different potential fashions and instructions.

NA: This strategy represents a brand new technique for coming into the market. Often, most digital camera producers announce a brand new product just some months earlier than its precise launch on the market. Nonetheless, on this case, we haven’t selected the gross sales date. It’s extra about speaking with potential customers. The market dialogue can affect how we develop the product. So, let me ask you: Have you ever ever skilled this type of advertising strategy?

DE: No, I don’t suppose I’ve ever seen this earlier than, definitely not so early in a product’s evolution.

NA: We haven’t made a ultimate resolution but, however we needed to problem ourselves with this product improvement.

DE: I feel your early publicizing of your plans may be very constructive as a result of it creates a dialogue between you and potential customers. It provides individuals a way of collaboration and possession, the place they really feel concerned within the course of.

NA: That’s one of many adjustments from the outdated Pentax to the brand new. Co-creation with the customers is likely one of the key elements.

I’ve blended emotions concerning the resolution to start with a compact movie digital camera, moderately than reviving a film-based SLR design. On the one hand, I perceive the necessity for Ricoh to stroll earlier than they run, and a less complicated compact-body design might be simpler to fabricate. However, it appears to me that the individuals who’d be probably to be significantly into movie could be lovers, who’d like to make use of interchangeable lenses.

The extra I’ve thought of it although, the extra I feel Ricoh is heading in the right direction with the compact-first technique. Fanatic shooters can simply (and cheaply) scratch their movie itch by shopping for used gear on eBay. There are tons of movie our bodies accessible at low price, many nonetheless in high quality form. Had been Ricoh to easily come out with a newly-manufactured *ist physique, chances are high quite a lot of the individuals most excited about it will have already got happy that urge by shopping for a used Ricoh or Pentax movie physique for underneath $100. However, a brand new compact movie digital camera would enchantment to everybody from Gen-Z on up, picture lovers included. Sensible name, I feel.

Can US Customers Contribute Concepts and Suggestions for the New Idea?

DE: Sure, I can see that. Alongside these strains although, I’ve heard so much from U.S. customers who need to really feel included someway.

NA: Sure, certainly. I remorseful about that. Though we obtain many feedback from U.S. customers and movie lovers, we haven’t been in a position to set up a direct channel to speak with all of them over there. That is my headache, we’re attempting to think about how we will handle this.

DE: Maybe even when it was only one individual or a gaggle that might have a presence on platforms like Fb… I’m simply pondering out loud right here. What in the event you may announce that you simply’ll have a web based dialogue or one thing related? I perceive that it is likely to be difficult…

NA: Even when we obtain quite a few feedback from customers, we’d not have the ability to reply to all of them simply. We don’t need to create any frustrations for the end-users, however there is likely to be some if we ask for enter, however then can’t reply every part. Communication is so necessary, and we have to incorporate as many feedback as potential into the event of our merchandise. A few of them simply received’t be potential although.

How Are You Reaching Potential Customers, to Research the Market?

DE: So inside Japan you’re having this dialog, what kind does that take? How do you work together with customers? Is there one thing like focus teams?

KS: TKO and the product planning group generally go to movie digital camera shops to listen to what persons are pondering. We additionally obtain contacts from photographers by means of Instagram. Moreover, we now have a showroom in Tokyo the place prospects can go to and have interaction in discussions. Generally we additionally attend picture artwork college exhibitions, and recently we’ve been lively on social media. Customers usually depart feedback and requests on social media, not nearly specs but additionally asking for successors to outdated fashions.

DE: Ah, so some persons are wanting on the *ist for instance, and asking for a 2023 or 2024 model of it?

KS: Additionally, we verify the feedback on social media very regularly. And certainly there are extra feedback from abroad markets for the primary video we posted on YouTube about our movie venture. So really we do learn all of the feedback on social media.

NA: We incorporate each on-line and offline occasions right here in Japan. We collect Pentax GR customers and create pleasing occasions, not simply centered on instructing individuals learn how to take footage with their cameras however for them to easily have a great time collectively. As for our showroom, the idea has modified dramatically from the earlier one. Till final 12 months, our showrooms in Tokyo and Osaka largely had area for picture galleries. Nonetheless, the brand new showroom that opened in July final 12 months has a clubhouse idea. It’s a spot the place individuals who love Pentax and Ricoh cameras can collect and have conversations. The event workers and engineers are current there, so if there’s one thing somebody desires to share with us, they will. It’s like an off-the-cuff chatting area although, not like a conventional showroom idea.

DE: The place in Tokyo is it positioned?

NA: It’s in Yotsuya, close to Shinjuku. We determined to shut the earlier showroom in Shinjuku and relocated to this new area with the brand new idea.

DE: I perceive that language boundaries could make informal interactions difficult, and it’s additionally a matter of practicality. As a lot as you may need to do one thing related for the US shoppers, it simply wouldn’t be sensible to create a clubhouse in a spot like New York for instance. Even in the event you made one, there’d be no manner for product planners and engineers to simply drop in on it, and there’d be a language barrier on prime of it. It’s a tricky downside, I ponder if there’s any manner I’d have the ability to assist facilitate it? I’ll give it some thought…

NA: TKO says that he generally visits universities with pictures packages and interacts with college students there.

This can be a criticism I’ve seen from quite a lot of US customers on-line. A variety of US Pentaxians wish to take part within the suggestions course of however don’t have a discussion board to do it by means of. For Ricoh’s half, I perceive their dilemma, as a result of their location in Japan makes it straightforward to work together one on one with customers there, and the language barrier makes dialog with US customers all of the tougher.

Right here’s a query I’d just like the neighborhood to offer me some suggestions on: Might I presumably play a task in facilitating suggestions and communications? I clearly have quite a lot of background in pictures and interacting with English-speaking photographers on-line, and have had quite a lot of publicity (no pun meant) to manufacturing processes from my years of interacting with engineers within the business, manufacturing unit excursions, and my unique engineering background.

Maybe I may act as a form of a proxy or interface between Ricoh/Pentax and the English-speaking picture neighborhood. I don’t know precisely what it’d appear to be, however may think about speaking with the Pentax engineers and product planners, to know the suggestions they’ve acquired thus far and their ideas on it, summarize and current that to the US consumer base, dialog with you-all to get your suggestions, then summarize and produce it again to the engineers in Japan. This might occur in an open discussion board, or there is likely to be a non-public area by which extra proprietary concepts might be mentioned. – Or possibly a mixture of each.

What do you suppose? Would you be excited about being a part of a gaggle the place you realize that your enter and feedback could be taken on to the Pentax engineers, and their responses communicated again?

Ricoh/Pentax clearly desires to listen to from US and different English-speaking customers however doesn’t presently have any method to make that occur, and US customers need to contribute however really feel pissed off and shut out. Are there any dedicated Pentaxians studying this? Please let me know what you consider setting one thing like this up, and whether or not you’d be excited about contributing.

The Pentax model had an extended and storied historical past within the movie period. The K1000 was one of many all-time classics of the movie world. Launched in 1976, it was a hands-down favourite as a “starter” digital camera for brand new photographers, with primary options, stable efficiency, and a rock-bottom worth. It bought for $299 with a bundled 50mm f/2 package lens when it was launched, however the worth decreased with growing manufacturing to a low of simply $220 for a similar package in 1983. From there, inflation took a toll, with the value growing to $315 in 1994, the place it stayed till it was discontinued. Be aware, although that these had been the official “record” costs; again then SLRs normally bought for 30 to 40 p.c of official record. So the road worth of the 50mm package in 1983 was as little as ~$132. That was a fantastic cut price on the time for a primary SLR, however word that the 40 years of inflation since then translate to a 2023 worth of $375, and the K1000 was certainly a bare-bones entry-level mannequin with guide publicity management. Even so, a worth of $375 for a whole primary digital camera/lens package would depend as a cut price even at present. Photo by Martin Taylor and licensed underneath CC BY-SA 2.5.

What Form of Particular Ability or Data is Wanted to Design Movie Cameras?

DE: TKO talked about that the talents and data wanted to make a movie digital camera are a lot totally different than these required to make digital fashions. I really feel it’s so necessary to protect prior-generation data and expertise earlier than it fades away. What kinds of particular data do Ricoh’s senior engineers have that’s important for producing movie cameras? (Additionally, I used to be to listen to TKO describe a number of the conferences
between the younger and outdated engineers as “heated” – what had been the factors the place the older and youthful engineers disagreed?)

KS: Constructing a single unit of a movie digital camera could also be achievable, making a number of particular mechanical components, however in the case of mass manufacturing, every unit should meet a sure degree of high quality. It’s exhausting to search out the very best fine-tuning methodology simply based mostly on design paperwork. As an illustration, there was a element that we didn’t perceive why it was there. So we had been about to take away it, however then we discovered from the recommendation of certainly one of our retiring engineers that it’s really a vital part. So it’s not a lot a battle between younger and outdated engineers, however moderately variations in interpretation of drawings or meeting strategies. Each younger and outdated engineers actively talk about learn how to obtain constructive outcomes.

DE: So in different phrases, when you can design one thing mechanically, understanding what the manufacturing unit is able to producing reliably comes from expertise in working with the manufacturing course of.

I hadn’t considered this, however it’s no shock; there are quite a lot of mechanics in a movie digital camera that both don’t exist or are totally different from what’s in digital cameras. It’s fascinating to me {that a} succesful mechanical engineer however one missing particular expertise with movie cameras may have a look at a set of drawings and suppose {that a} half was superfluous that was really essential.

Is There Pressure Between Youthful and Older Engineers?

DE: I used to be too, that TKO stated that a number of the conferences between younger and outdated engineers had been heated. “Heated” seems like there have been knocking heads (gestures, laughter) and disagreement. What kinds of, the place had been the factors that there was that rigidity?

TKO (by way of HK): It’s not a lot a battle of various opinions. The youthful technology of engineers doesn’t have a data of movie, in order that they merely don’t understand how the mechanics needs to be. So it’s extra nearly much less expertise vs extra expertise.

DE: Ah – so it’s not a lot arguing about issues however simply speaking data that the youthful engineers don’t have.

KS: Precisely, it’s not about arguing, however moderately the youthful engineers studying from the older engineers. It’s not a battle, however a matter of information switch.

NA: It’s additionally a matter of various approaches and methods of pondering. When beginning to develop digital cameras, the youthful engineers are likely to concentrate on one space after which broaden from there. However the older engineers say no, no, it’s essential to begin from this space. This may be exhausting to clarify. The mind-set and the steps of improvement are principally totally different.

DE: So it’s about understanding the place to begin and the underlying ideas.

NA: Sure, precisely.

Are You Working With Movie Producers?

DE: We touched on the movie producers earlier, however I need to hear a bit extra on that matter. You talked about in passing at one level, I feel in one other interview, that movie is steadily disappearing and the processing for them as nicely. You talked about that you simply may work with movie producers to broaden the choices accessible for finish customers. Are you able to say something about discussions you may need had with movie producers, or is that also sooner or later?

KS: Sadly, we can’t present particular particulars right now. Nonetheless, our intention is to ascertain connections with all the businesses concerned in movie manufacturing and distribution. It’s essential for the movie market to broaden and thrive.

DE: It appears logical that movie producers could be excited about collaborating with you, as it will profit each events by growing the variety of movie customers…

Some present Pentax customers have expressed concern that the Movie Mission may draw engineering sources away from the digital product line. Ricoh assured me that this wasn’t the case: The Movie Mission has been making very modest calls for on their engineering capability. (The picture above exhibits the most recent iteration of Pentax’s flagship DSLR, the Ok-1 Mark II.)

Is the Movie Mission “Stealing” Sources From Your Digital Designs?

DE: In fact, with all this speak of movie, lots of your digital customers are involved that it’d detract from developments on the digital aspect. When you’ve stated that you don’t have any intention in any way of shifting away from digital, what are you able to say to customers involved that the Movie Mission will drain essential sources out of your digital product line?

KS: Truly, the affect on digital cameras from the movie venture isn’t so large. We don’t have to drag quite a lot of sources from digital to work on movie. Movie cameras don’t have issues like sensors, LCD screens, or firmware in them, so we will develop them with minimal engineering sources. It’s not a significant burden, actually.

DE: So, the engineers engaged on sensors, processors, firmware, and all that stuff, they’re not being closely concerned within the movie venture.

NA: That’s the purpose of distinction between the youthful and older engineers, and their mind-set. When the youthful technology begins creating a digital digital camera, they first concentrate on the sensor—what number of pixels, what kind, and so forth. Then they transfer on to different elements. However beginning a movie digital camera follows a distinct course of. It’s not a battle, only a totally different strategy.

DE: I see. So, the movie venture isn’t drawing from the identical sources wanted for digital. Proper now, it’s extra about understanding the necessities and priorities for the movie digital camera venture.

NA: Precisely. It’s about deciding what comes first, what comes subsequent, that form of factor

This can be a concern I’ve seen on-line and one I’ve had myself. The Ricoh/Pentax digital camera division is a very small producer in comparison with the business giants, in order that they should be frugal with their engineering sources. Akahane-san’s reply is smart, although, particularly given the stage of the method they’re at. Proper now, they’re very a lot within the definition and feasibility part, and the analysis wanted to supply elements is unlikely to be greater than a really part-time job for an engineer or procurement specialist.

Once they’re prepared to maneuver on to the precise design of a product, it nonetheless received’t be practically as labor-intensive as designing a brand new digital digital camera physique: There’s no sensor, EVF, reminiscence card interface, picture processor, and many others. to design, structure, and write firmware for. Positive, there’ll be some form of microprocessor inside, however the electronics of a movie digital camera are orders of magnitude easier than these of a digital digital camera, and the event effort for a movie digital camera might be small as a proportion of Ricoh/Pentax’s total product engineering.

What About Updates to Your Digital Lineup?

DE: Let’s speak about your digital line. When the Ok-1 was launched in early 2016, it impressed us with its construct high quality and options like multi-shot high-res mode, built-in GPS, Dynamic Pixel Shift Decision, Astro-Tracer, and the distinctive digital low-pass filter utilizing the image-stabilization actuators. It was extremely aggressive in its worth vary. Since then although, competing merchandise have considerably superior their capabilities. Are you able to present any insights into the plans for the Ok-1 going ahead? I perceive you’ll be able to’t share particular particulars, however can Pentaxians anticipate an up to date mannequin within the close to future? (There are numerous feedback on-line from Pentaxians expressing their anticipation for a brand new full-frame physique.

KS: Sure, we’re conscious that customers are eagerly the following superior mannequin. We goal to create a digital camera that meets their excessive expectations and displays a excessive degree of perfection. We’re repeatedly engaged on technological improvement. Nonetheless, I’m sorry to say that we can’t disclose when the brand new mannequin might be accessible. Within the meantime, we’ll proceed to enhance the satisfaction of present house owners by offering providers that improve the efficiency of the cameras they presently personal.

DE: Ah, reminiscent of firmware updates for the prevailing cameras?

NA: Sure, that’s right. It will not be the best reply, however it’s the proper reply at this second, I consider.

DE: So it’s protected to say that you’re engaged on updates for the Ok-3 Mark III and the Ok-1?

NA: Sure, certainly. Because the market continues to shrink and we face competitors from different main digital camera producers, we have to concentrate on our benefits and technological strengths. We’re at all times contemplating what units us aside at this stage.

DE: That’s reassuring. I feel present Ok-1 house owners will admire that. It’s an necessary level.

NA: The one problem is that we will’t present a selected timeline.

DE: In fact, however at the very least they perceive the strategic strategy you’re taking.

Because it seems, Ricoh has greater than stored their phrase on this entrance: Within the time since my assembly with them, they’ve launched at least 4 firmware updates throughout a number of our bodies and three updates to desktop/digital camera connection software program.

Pentax K-3 III Monochrome Camera Review
Simply this 12 months, Ricoh launched the Pentax Ok-3 Mark III Monochrome physique. Reviewer Jeremy Gray found it quite compelling, with wonderful ergonomics, and real advantages for black and white pictures, together with increased efficient decision and decreased picture noise when in comparison with standard RGB cameras taking pictures in monochrome mode. It’s an admittedly area of interest product, however in the event you’re severe about digital black-and-white pictures, it’s distinctive out there, at the very least at its worth level. (As Jeremy identified, different choices embrace the Leica M11 Monochrom, at a body-only worth of $9,195, or the Section One IQ4 150MP Achromatic digital again paired with an XF or XT digital camera physique, which can set you again about $60,000. On condition that, the $2,199 worth of the Ok-3 Mark III Monochrome physique counts as a cut price.

Can Ricoh/Pentax Preserve Tempo With the Newest Know-how?

DE: Trendy digital camera improvement is a really complicated and dear course of, and within the mirrorless world, issues like AI-based topic recognition and monitoring have develop into necessary options. Ricoh/Pentax’s small market share means you don’t have the R&D price range to match your bigger rivals. On condition that, what’s your technique to stay related out there? What’s Pentax’s area of interest that may guarantee its long-term survival? The Movie Mission looks like an necessary (and distinctive!) route, however how will you maintain tempo within the digital world?

KS: The Ok-3 Mark III additionally has AI-based recognition and monitoring capabilities. Even when utilizing the optical viewfinder, the digital camera can detect topics like individuals’s eyes or birds in flight utilizing info from the autoexposure sensor.

DE: Ah, so the autoexposure sensor has sufficient decision to do eye detection. Acquired it, fascinating…

KS: And likewise, the Ok-1 is provided with features that use deep studying to acknowledge topics with excessive accuracy and routinely choose the customized picture setting. We at all times concentrate on the usability to make the taking pictures expertise extra snug. So mechanics is necessary for us in improvement, even within the digital period. Pentax has additionally developed distinctive features like astro-tracer, due to our distinctive electronics expertise. Our aim is to proceed being a producer that provides distinctive and modern options.

DE: So that you consider you’ll be able to introduce distinctive features that others might not have thought-about or integrated.

In my thoughts, that is the important thing query in the case of their future viability. I used to be pleasantly stunned to listen to that they’re really already utilizing machine studying for topic identification, working from the autoexposure sensor. (If I’d refreshed my reminiscence by taking a look at my former company’s own review of the K-1, I might have seen that it sported an enhanced Actual Time Scene Evaluation system.)

I don’t know the decision of the AE sensor within the Ok-1 or different fashions, however it’s possible rather a lot lower than that of their predominant picture sensors. Which means that they’ll be restricted in how small topics will be inside the body and nonetheless be correctly recognized, however the primary functionality of AI-based topic recognition is there nonetheless. (There are different trade-offs between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras in the case of autofocus, however a full therapy of professionals, cons, and certain advances that might be delivered to DSLRs could be so long as this complete article, so I received’t try to deal with any of that right here.)

Ricoh not too long ago launched three new “Particular Version” customized picture modes. What’s uncommon about them is that every of them solely works with a selected set of Particular Version lenses. The linkage to particular lenses has disillusioned some customers, who’d wish to see them accessible no matter what lenses they personal. Ricoh’s place is that they view them as “items” to customers of the lenses concerned. I can see either side, however am not stunned that some customers are sad.

What’s the Story With the New “special-edition” Customized Picture Modes?

DE: You launched the KF as an improve to the Ok-70 final 12 months, and its new Customized Picture modes caught my consideration. Along with the wide selection of general-use Picture Modes, I discovered the Particular Version FUYUNO, KYUSHU, and KATEN modes intriguing. These modes are completely accessible with particular Restricted-series lenses. Every mode is designed to work with a novel set of lenses, with none overlap between them. The KF physique helps the FUYUNO mode (the KYUSHU and KATEN modes are pre-installed), whereas the Ok-1, Ok-1 II, and Ok-3 III assist all three modes. Why are these modes solely accessible with particular lenses? Are they merely meant to encourage individuals to purchase totally different lenses, or is there another excuse behind it?

KS: We wish customers to see these customized picture specializations as a present for many who buy the particular version lenses, moderately than an extra operate of the digital camera physique. By making use of picture tuning to maximise the distinctive rendering traits of every lens, you’ll be able to obtain expressions that can’t be obtained with basic customized picture modes. We now have restricted the mixtures to be able to enable customers to completely benefit from the synergistic impact of mixing the lens and customized picture. By combining the lens’s distinct rendering with the customized picture operate, we wish customers to know that altering the lens isn’t just about altering focal size, but additionally an necessary think about enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures and stimulating the photographer’s creativeness.

DE: Hmm, that’s an fascinating reply. I used to be simply pondering “Nicely, possibly it’s only a method to get individuals to purchase lenses”, however it may also be seen, as you say, as a lens function that’s within the digital camera now, or as you say that it’s a present to individuals who purchase these lenses.

KS: If you connect the 43mm lens, KYUSHU seems within the customized picture menu. If you happen to change to the 31mm lens…

That is an instance of a customized picture choice menu display screen, this one for the FUYUNO mode. (A 77mm f/1.8 lens is connected). You may see the default settings for the mode for seven picture parameters alongside on the backside left of the display screen. When you can match these settings manually in different picture modes, the brand new Customized Picture modes additionally map colours in a different way than the digital camera’s default, so it’s not potential to attain the identical results aside from the precise lenses the modes are tied to.

DE: So KYUSHU exhibits up with this lens, however while you use a distinct lens, you see a distinct choice.

HK: With the 35mm macro lens, you see a distinct customized picture choice. [Further Japanese conversation, swapping lenses]

HK: Immediately is March seventh, proper? In two days, we’ll announce one other customized mode.: That is the brand new mode we’ll announce in two days for spring, enhancing the pink coloration when photographing Sakura (cherry blossoms). [This mode is called “HARUBENI”, it boosts pink tones and lightens blue hues, to make Japan’s famous cherry blossoms stand out in photos.]

DE: I can look forward to the announcement, however does it work with the 77mm lens and another lenses as nicely?

HK: Sure, there are two lenses which are appropriate with the Spring model.

All the Customized Picture modes work with the Ok-1 and Ok-1 Mark II, the Ok-3 Mark II, and the KF our bodies. Right here’s a breakdown of which modes can be found with which lenses:

HD PENTAX-FA 77mmF1.8 Restricted
HD PENTAX-DA 20-40mm F2.8 ED Restricted DC WR

HD PENTAX-FA 31mmF1.8 Restricted
HD PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Restricted

HD PENTAX-FA 43mmF1.9 Restricted
HD PENTAX-DA 21mmF3.2AL Restricted
HD PENTAX-DA 40mmF2.8 Restricted
HD PENTAX-DA 70mmF2.4 Restricted

HD PENTAX-D FA 21mmF2.4ED Restricted DC WR
HD PENTAX-DA 15mmF4ED AL Restricted

In fact, something an organization does is meant to become profitable, so in fact Ricoh is hoping that their Particular Version customized picture modes will result in extra lens gross sales.

I believe quite a lot of Westerners like me will have a look at the Particular Version picture modes and simply see a gimmick to promote extra lenses. They aren’t bodily objects, simply firmware working within the digital camera. There’s nothing about them that requires the lens to make them work, so the choice to tie the modes to sure lenses appears synthetic.

If Ricoh selected to bundle a polarizer or some color-effects filter with the lens, we’d most likely really feel in a different way. In that case, the freebie could be a bodily object, so we’d be much less more likely to view it as a man-made tactic.

I’ll admit that I got here to the dialog pondering of the Particular Version customized picture modes with simply that mindset, however the extra I’ve thought of it, the extra snug I’m with the framing Akahane-san proposed – items to customers of the lenses concerned. I wouldn’t purchase a Restricted lens simply because it unlocks a Particular Version customized picture mode, however I’d admire the particular mode if it was there. On the similar time, I don’t see myself out taking pictures with a Ok-1 and feeling cheated someway as a result of I can’t use KYUSHU mode with my 24-70mm. Would I chafe over time at not with the ability to use KYUSHU with different lenses, if I actually preferred it? Possibly, however I don’t really feel as strongly as I initially did about this “digital bundling”.

However I’m nearly definitely not a typical Pentax shooter, and I’m interested by how Pentaxians really feel about this. What do you consider having particular picture modes tied to sure lenses? Depart your feedback beneath; I’d actually like to listen to your ideas, and if there’s sufficient suggestions to warrant doing so, I’ll go it alongside to my contacts at Ricoh.

You’ve Executed Nicely With Updating Lenses, What’s Subsequent There?

DE: I discover it encouraging that Ricoh has continued to launch new lenses yearly (a complete of 10 new fashions within the final 4 years) and a few customers agree with me, however others are clamoring for extra up to date fashions. Do you have got a roadmap for deliberate lens introductions that you can share with our readers? What new or up to date lenses are most requested amongst your customers?

KS: We are able to’t disclose the entire roadmap for interchangeable lenses; sadly, we will’t share it right now. Nonetheless, it’s value mentioning that lots of the lenses customers request are already best-selling lenses for different firms. We consider that our lens lineup must also have a novel id. We’re contemplating reaching out to customers to share our concepts and collect their opinions, particularly if there are high-priority requests from many customers.

DE: So, it seems like there might be alternatives for customers to supply enter in some unspecified time in the future. As we talked about with the Movie Mission, it will be nice if there’s a method to embrace suggestions from US customers as nicely… [Here again, I’m wondering if there might be some way I could facilitate such a dialog.]

DE: When you’ve had these discussions and gathered consumer enter, will you then launch a roadmap exhibiting the upcoming lenses and their launch dates, or will or not it’s extra of a case-by-case foundation as every lens is prepared for launch?

NA: We’re in fact at all times fascinated by the lens roadmap and future plans. There might be one thing within the close to time period [ed. Note: Probably the 50/1.4 released in mid-May], however principally we’re reshuffling our lens technique fully proper now, we’re aiming to create a novel and distinct lens lineup for the long run. That’s why we aren’t sharing a lens roadmap right now. Despite the fact that it will not be till someday sooner or later that we now have our full technique, it’s potential that there could also be some info launched earlier than that.

DE: Nearer to the discharge date.

NA: Sure, that’s our place for the second.

DE: Your total strategy is fascinating to me. Whereas customers are requesting updates for generally used lenses, you have already got lenses that cowl these focal size ranges, even when they may focus just a little slower, for instance. You need to give individuals distinctive causes to personal a Pentax and shoot Pentax.

NA: Precisely. Why are you selecting Pentax? That needs to be increasingly more clear, that’s our technique now. We aren’t an enormous producer, so that’s the reason we need to do one thing that makes that clear.

DE: That makes quite a lot of sense.

Pentax has at all times been identified for having nice glass; they had been an early innovator with anti-reflection coatings (their Tremendous Multi Coating or SMC anti-reflection expertise was an actual breakthrough when it was launched in 1971), and have at all times provided a broad vary of lenses together with a wealthy assortment of primes.

For years, they’ve maintained a gentle circulation of 2-3 new lens designs per 12 months, with at least 5 new fashions in 2021. The tempo slowed in 2022 although, once we noticed only a single new mannequin, a 100mm f/2.8 macro, and thus far this 12 months we’ve seen a recasting of their 50mm f/1.4 design in two variations, one with trendy coatings and the opposite with the basic SMC tech for a nostalgic look.

Per Akahane-san’s feedback, they’re presently rethinking their total product line. Relatively than updating a roughly commonplace lens with the most recent and best expertise, what may they bring about to their customers that might be distinctive to Pentax?

I feel it is a sensible technique. Would somebody decide one producer over one other simply because that they had a very spectacular 15-30mm f/2.8? – I believe not. However, somebody who was actually into macros may see an excellent wide-angle macro zoom as a purpose to get on board. I don’t know what kinds of lenses this strategy may flip up, however I feel Ricoh is wise for asking the query.

Whereas they have already got a sizeable lens lineup, Pentax has continued to launch new fashions over time, though the tempo has slowed considerably within the final two years. The pleasant 77mm f/1.8 proven above on the KF physique was introduced alongside two different wide-aperture primes (the 35/1.8 and 43/1.9) in February of 2021. Since then, we noticed a brand new 100mm f/2.8 macro in 2022 and two barely totally different variations of a 50mm f/1.4 thus far this 12 months.

How About Lens Updates With Quicker Focus Motors?

DE: On the lens entrance, I don’t need to get too far into specifics, however there’s a powerful basic curiosity in up to date designs with sooner focus motors, and lots of, many customers are on the lookout for an replace to your DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 mannequin particularly. Are you able to provide them any encouragement that such a lens is likely to be coming? Do you intend to introduce new variations of older lenses with sooner PLM focus motors?

KS: I’m sorry, I can’t. At this second we don’t have a concrete plan for a brand new lens with a PLM motor. Truly, a PLM-equipped lens can’t be realized with out designing a brand new optical system.

DE: Ah, I perceive, you’ll be able to’t simply drop it into an current design, it’s essential to prepare the optics, and the main target group must be smaller or no matter. Acquired it.

DE: I feel that’s all my questions, thanks very a lot in your time! All: Thanks!


This ended up being a really prolonged interview, because it’s the primary alternative I’ve had in a very long time to talk to prime Ricoh administration, and the Movie Mission may have made an article all by itself. It was an fascinating dialogue, significantly given Akahane’s return to go up the imaging division once more.

Listed here are some bullet factors on what we’ve discovered:

  • The Movie Mission to develop a contemporary film-based digital camera remains to be at a really early stage.
  • The Movie Mission started within the thoughts and coronary heart of certainly one of their engineers, Takeo Suzuki (“TKO”). It took some promoting on his half, however administration all the way in which to the highest degree is now onboard and enthusiastic.
  • They’re soliciting suggestions from photographers, to know what individuals need and anticipate from a movie digital camera.
  • They’re attempting to know the extent of potential demand, however it’s very tough as a result of it’s been nearly twenty years since mainstream movie cameras had been final bought. (Apart from disposable cameras, that are a completely totally different market section.)
  • They’re evaluating whether or not provide chains nonetheless exist or will be recreated for film-camera elements.
  • They’re working to switch data about movie digital camera design from the older technology (together with some engineers who’re already retired) to the youthful technology to hold it ahead.
  • The data wanted for movie digital camera design primarily entails non-obvious mechanical components.
  • The primary mannequin might be a compact digital camera, not an ILC/SLR.
  • I requested Akahane-san what the attraction of movie pictures was. For him, it’s about having nothing between him and the topic however air and glass. Even a wonderful EVF show nonetheless entails a pc decoding a scene, moderately than him connecting with it straight. (I believe it is a feeling quite a lot of movie lovers can establish with.)
  • Ricoh has been gathering suggestions on the Movie Mission from photographers in Japan, the place engineers and product planners can simply work together with them. They’d very very similar to to have related suggestions from the English-speaking world, however the language barrier and bodily distance stored them from doing so so far.
  • Ricoh desires to work with movie producers however declined to say whether or not or to what extent they may have already got performed so.
  • Some customers have fearful the Movie Mission may draw sources away from Ricoh’s digital merchandise. They assured me that this wasn’t a difficulty; the hassle required to design a movie digital camera is drastically lower than that concerned in digital designs. There’s no sensor, processor, reminiscence interface, LCD and EVF shows, and many others, and no complicated firmware, so the Movie Mission is just occupying a small fraction of their total engineering price range.
  • As regards to digital merchandise, Ricoh is unquestionably investing effort and sources there. In the case of new digital camera our bodies, Akahane-san stated that they should concentrate on what units them aside from their bigger competitors. He clearly couldn’t touch upon new fashions however stated that within the close to time period, they’ll proceed engaged on firmware updates to their current fashions, to reward their current customers.
  • I had some considerations about Ricoh having the sources to compete in an age the place AI and deep studying expertise have develop into so necessary to the digital camera market. Shibuya-san identified that Pentax’s current Actual Time Scene Evaluation system really already employs deep studying algorithms, working with information from the autoexposure sensor.
  • Ricoh not too long ago introduced a number of “Particular Version” customized picture modes which are tied to particular Restricted-series lenses. Whereas they’re in fact centered on promoting extra lenses, Akahane-san positioned these new Particular Version modes as “items” to these buying the related lenses, moderately than merely a gross sales approach.
  • A variety of customers have been requesting updates to earlier lens fashions, profiting from new expertise. They’ll definitely do that as demand signifies, however they’re presently re-evaluating their total lens lineup. Right here once more, their key technique is to search for methods to ship distinctive worth, moderately than simply “me too” variations of ordinary focal size/aperture mixtures.

Phew, that was quite a lot of materials. This is likely one of the longest interviews I’ve performed in current reminiscence, however it’s been some time since there’s been any deeper protection of Ricoh for English-language readers. Hopefully, it’ll be definitely worth the effort for all of the Pentaxians on the market.

As I discussed in a few locations above, seeing the frustration of each US customers and Ricoh themselves, I’m questioning if there is likely to be a manner I may facilitate communications between the 2. That is one other space I’d like to listen to suggestions on; do you suppose I may serve a helpful operate, gathering enter from US photographers to carry to Ricoh in Japan, and speaking responses again? Please depart your ideas within the feedback.

As common, I’ll monitor the remark thread right here for every week or so after posting this, so I can reply to any questions anybody may need.

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