Friday, March 7, 2008

Goodbye Pentax 645D, but not digital medium format says Pentax

We were checking our favorite Japanese site, and we noticed that Pentax is officially pulling the plug on the 645D medium format camera, but they are not giving up on medium format digital. To paraphrase the translated text, "they are examining the future". They are continuing with the medium format firm.

Goodbye Pentax 645D! This is the second Pentax DSLR that did not make it out. There was also the old 6mp 35mm full-frame DSLR of a few centuries ago that got canceled.

Reactions from the Pentaxians
dpreview Pentaxians say goodbye in this thread.

Also discussed in the Pentax forums.

And a bonus discussion from, will the new Kodak-Vivitar KV100 35mm film SLR be using the K mount?


IsamuM said...

Not to pick nits, but the Japanese actually says that the Pentax spokesperson said that they "are putting development of the Pentax 645 Digital on hold," and "we are not cancelling development of medium format digital cameras." They also said, "We shall consider the future of this format after watching market trends." IOW Pentax wants to call time to see if they can make a profit with the Pentax 645 Digital. If they think they can, then development will restart.

BTW, I'm a professional Japanese/English translator, so I think I'm a bit more accurate than any machine translation. ;)

1001 noisy cameras said...

Thanks for the update with the direct J2E translation! Nitpicking is also fine. We love nitpicking :)

Is "on hold" a polite/saving-face way of saying it is pulled (like a politician "suspending" their campaign), or do they really mean that the 645D may resurface as it was shown in mockups and such in the last few years?

It may be interesting to see if there's any Samsung involvement in the future of MF digital. If Samsung wants to be taken seriously by the photography traditionalists, jumping in and funding MF development will get them a lot of bonus photographic points.

IsamuM said...

Since they specifically say that they aren't canceling development, I'd take their comments at face value. IOW, as usual it's all about money. If they think there is a viable market, I'm sure they'll restart development of MF digital cameras, specifically the Digital 645.

However, I haven't seen much data on the sales of MF digital cameras, so they could just put this project "on hold" indefinitely.

Re Samsung's involvement, I'm still not sure how serious Samsung is with respect to digital cameras. I'm sure they'd love to make money off of them, but putting money into the development of a MF would be a serious commitment as even MF film cameras only appealed to really hard core photographers. Somehow, I have a feeling that Samsung isn't that hard core. ;)

1001 noisy cameras said...

During one the interviews with one of the camera reps by Let's Go Digital, one of them mentioned that "professional" DSLRs make about 5% of DSLR sales. Given that medium format is a smaller segment than 35mm (D)SLRs, and costs more...

That is true, Samsung would have to make a sizable investment both financially and otherwise. It would give them an advantage over the other brands, and since they are so focused on being #1.

Buy one Samsung Medium Format digital, receive one 32" Samsung LCD free and a bonus microwave by mail-in rebate :)

I think it's the "on hold indefinitely" that probably best describes the current status of the 645D.

Although one could make a reasonable argument that they are just waiting until prices drop and technology continues to improve, so they can offer it at a more "reasonable" price.

Alex said...

I don't think Samsung is interested in this market segment. They have no chance to get at the Hasselblad/Mamiya/Contax level in development of MF Digital cameras. They are a different kind of manufacturer. They're on the end-consumer market, not the professional.
As photographer, i'm very disappointed of the Pentax 645D holding on, I was waiting to try to get one because my Contax 645 + Phase One back are getting old but i can't spend 40.000 EUR for an Hasselblad H3D kit! :-(

1001 noisy cameras said...

They haven't said anything about doing anything MF, but they had said in bold terms that they want to be a global #1, so they may use the same logic they used for doing Pentax-Samsung DSLRs, to go to the next level. Plus it would set them apart from Canon/Nikon since they don't do medium format.

Corporate pride, just like human pride, sometimes defies common sense :)

But obviously this is only speculation.