Pentax Z medium format camera countdown teaser

Ricoh China has started a countdown teaser for the announcement of a new Z camera which I believe is the replacement of the Pentax 645 mediums format camera that was announced in February:

The official announcement should be in approximately 13 days (around April 15).

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  • Once again, Pentax drops the ball on an opportunity to be the first at producing something new, unique and 100% backwards compatible out of technology that they already have. They should have gone with an interchangeable back (preferably a low profile one with only half the electronics vs. the current style of DMF backs) so that one day they could release a mirrorless body to take these backs once the prices come down.

    • Mr.Black

      Follow the white line.

    • Alex

      Medium format interchangeable backs are neither new nor unique.
      What’s new and unique is the idea to keep the component that would become obsolete, and reuse it on a distant future camera.
      By the way, integrated designs are superior and cheaper.

      • I guess you didn’t read up to the part where I said “preferably a low profile one with only half the electronics vs. the current style of DMF backs”.

        • Alex

          Except of introducing more issues by separating the electronics (fastest deprecating components) in two different housings, and having to design a stable interface between those, it makes no difference.
          What do you thing they could put where? The sensor, obviously, should be in the back. Anything else?

          • LOL you seem to want Pentax to do nothing and get everything.

            So do you think that designing a communication interface is the biggest issue? Something like how pretty much every manufacturer has already done to use between their bodies and lenses, or external devices and bodies (wired and wireless)… or like how you can swap your cpu for a different one on a conventional desktop computer? And go look up Camera Link…

            Can I ask if you have any knowledge in this area?

          • Alex

            No, I want Pentax to do sensible things. Like the K-3 and the 645Z (and maybe a full frame DSLR).

            I said that it would introduce “more issues”. “Is the biggest issue” – those are *your* words, not mine.
            A typical CPU socket like the Intel 1150 has 1150 pins; the processor has an integrated memory controller for reduced latency. The mainboard design is critical for system stability and performance – just try to separate the CPU from its memory, in different housings. Separating your PC from your printer is trivial, in comparison.
            That’s why I’m asking: how would you split the electronics and why?

          • So I take your answer is “no”.

          • Alex

            The answer is actually “yes”. My specialty is software, but that requires knowledge of hardware as well.
            How about you?

          • My specialty is creating algorithms… the stuff that software writers try to understand and implement.

      • hexx

        “By the way, integrated designs are superior…” – in what ways? I prefer modularity of MF/LF world where I can use one digital back on more than one body, or use different backs on one body (mono/colour)

        • malez

          go get one then, your dream has come true mamiya hass are offering them. or if you already have them, go use it to your hearts content.

          but stop reading rumors news

          • hexx

            thank you for your very informative comment, it added a lot to this conversation. i feel enlightened and on the right path xxx

        • Alex

          My bad, “superior” should always be qualified (yeah, the “it’s obvious” thing strikes again…)
          Unless there is a good reason to have a modular design, a separate camera/back would:
          – increase complexity and product cost (by the way, how much one camera + 2 backs?)
          – increase size, make weather sealing more difficult (the 645D is also a field camera)
          – tie up camera and backs with backward compatibility requirements (the 645D is modern by DMF standards, and now they’re going to launch another model – probably based on K-3’s electronics).
          Why I don’t think it works very well (and again, there can be exceptions) is because the bulk of the cost is in the back, not in the camera. Simplify everything by integrating both, that’s the idea.

          • hexx

            i see your point in cost-cutting part of it. frankly, it’s the digital bits you might want to upgrade as the time goes by, not the camera. that’s why i prefer modular solutions (i use back on my hassy V and am planning to add a tech camera to the mix)

          • Alex

            With Pentax you would upgrade the entire camera (including e.g. autofocus), for cheaper. But let’s see the price for this “645Z” first.

            Hassie V is discontinued. Can you buy separate backs for the H5?

          • hexx

            I’m not quite sure how it is with H5, my understanding is that now they’re closed system. If I will be upgrading in the future I’ll got to Phase One/Mamiya camp. I believe that last open H camera was H1/2. You can use other backs on more recent H series cams but it’s better to use Hassy’s backs on them. I would prefer if there was another manufacturer of MF bodies, like in the old days we had Fuji, Bronica, Contax… These days it’s pretty much just Hassy and Phase One (and then integrated solutions from Pentax and Leica -> both smaller formats)

    • sperdynamite

      I don’t think they’re in any position to be that radical. We might just be lucky that they can work with Sony at all to continue the line. I would certainly love an IQ250 for my 2003fcw, that I could also mount on a flexbody (a guy can dream), However I understand and appreciate the market position of the Pentax, price wise. Also, while it won’t work on a view camera, I can mount my existing Hasselblad lenses on it, which is nice, in addition to the great Pentax 645 and 67 glass. I know this is positioned as a landscape camera, but I see it as the ultimate digital wedding camera. If I can get ISO 1600 or even 3200, and TTL flash out of it…hells bells! If this is in the same 11k price range as the original, then payments won’t be as extreme as with the 645DF (about 700+ a month which is out of my range). Even modest shooters could afford that in lieu of 2x 1DX or D4s bodies and lenses. One of these guys with a film or FF 5Dwhatever back up, and that’s a great kit. If it has an SRAW even better, since for me personally MF is all about the look. That’s why you see so many Contax 645 shooters in Martha Stewart and on Style Me Pretty. You just can’t beat an 80mm as your normal wide open to smooth out a brides skin and isolate her in the frame.

      • hexx

        the only problem is that the ‘normal’ 80 on this small sensor becomes short tele-photo

        • sperdynamite

          Yup, 1.3x crop. So 80mm is a 106mm with is close to a 55/58ish focal in 35mm. This will only lessen the distortion and make it even better for portrait work. Sorta like my 110mm that I use as a normal on 645/6×6 film.

    • Rob S

      Right so you are talking about a back where you put all the important “becomes obsolete” electronics on that part and then the rest you leave and attached a new back to. Good idea.

      So obviously the sensor needs to be there. And just by physical location that means the screen. Which is good because screen tech keeps advancing.

      The sensor and the processor are tied together so you need the processor in there.

      This version improves the auto focus – basically going from the K7 subsystem to the K3. So you probably want that in there.

      Exposure metering and sensor go hand in hand since the metering needs to be up to the DR and ISO standards of the sensor.

      So what is left? Pretty much the Pentaprism, grip, grip controls and the physical lens mount. But all that probably cost $150 total so its silly to separate that out so why not just toss it in. So now you have separated the upgrade cycle electronics from the rest……the lens…..and you get……exactly what Pentax made.


      • Rofl… let me guess, you went to business school, if any at all?

        We’re dealing with cmos sensors. The sensor and the LCD can be in a single unit (the low profile back) and have most of the supporting electronics including the battery and processors in the body. Current DMF backs are big because they are self contained, stand alone things which were originally designed to work with existing/film medium format bodies. We’re still in the days of Kodak DCS400 in the medium format world, for most parts.

        I know thinking beyond what you have seen might be difficult for you guys but why not ask instead of saying like you have thought anything?

        • Rob S

          Let me guess, you never designed or built anything with a processor.

          So you think that just slapping a new sensor on the back is the answer? You really don’t know electronics and you don’t know Pentax. Pentax, Sony and Nikon all use identical sensors in their DSLRs. Who gets the best performance out of those identical sensors? Pentax. Why? Processors. Pentax takes the same image data and does more with it.

          Now your mythical version of the 645 would put the processor in the “body” and attach a new sensor to it. So a new – probably larger – sensor is going to have to “speak” to an older, slower processor. Yeah, that ends well.

          Pick up a K-01. Shoot a RAW image. Now pick up a K-50 and shoot the same image. They will be nearly identical because they have the exact same sensor. But while the K-01 shoots 1-2 fps RAW the K-50 can do 6 fps. Why? Processor. The K-01 used a cheap one, the K-50 doesnt.

          Last years top of the line processor becomes this years mid range and next years low end. So now you are going to take a camera that cost 2x-10x more than a typical DSLR and subject it to a death spiral where 3 years in entry level systems are as capable. BTW that is how long it took for the K-5 processor/sensor package to go from top of the line to the entry level K-500.

          Stick to what ever science you do and let Pentax worry about making cameras.

          • ROFL “Pentax takes the same data and does more with it”

            you sound like a kid in a xbox/ps/wii forum. Stick to what you know. I, on the other hand, do computational image processing on a daily basis for work.
            While you’re at it, look up modular design.

        • Alex

          The problem is that you cannot separate the sensor, RAM memory/buffer and the image processor. Both the sensor and the processor needs high bandwidth, decent latency access memory access; because the processor would read out data from the sensor and store it into RAM (at speeds faster than 1 fps, even for the medium format) – and it also needs to process the data.
          You’re not “thinking beyond” by ignoring real life constraints.

          • Alex

            By the way, the Ricoh GXR is including the sensor, image processor and RAM on the same “lens” modules. It’s not like they had much choice.

    • dzadza

      Stop trying to make mirrorless happens, it won’t happen 🙂

      • Even though mirrorless is conceptually nothing new, the difficulty that people have in imagining one in medium format makes me think that even if they’re handed one for free, they’d look completely clueless and keep grunting and sniffing 🙂

  • Jeff Curtner

    Ricoh Japan teaser site: It does mention Medium Format camera.

  • photographer

    Hum… what exactly would a mirrorless bring to the table considering the flange to sensor distance of Pentax 645 lenses? I far prefer a bright optical viewfinder to a digital screen and my guess is that most 645D users share this view.

    • Conceptually it’s not different how things happen in the 35mm world. They can make a mirrorless that can take existing 645 lenses via an adapter, with the possibility of taking purpose-built (short flange) mirrorless lenses later on. They can even make an adapter that has a SLR mechanism in it for those who need it… some might even dare to call such a system a medium format body with an interchangeable back 😀

      • Derek

        Great. A $10k body with an adapter to fit your $5k lens.

        Why would they go mirrorless? What advantage other than a buzzword? The viewfinder on the 645 is the selling point.

        • Zos Xavius

          Don’t argue with genotypewriter. According to him everything should be full frame and mirrorless or it is a waste of time. Kind of like reading half his comments. 😛

          edit: I recently used a bunch of new cameras with “revolutionary” EVFs and was pretty underwhelmed. I totally yearn for a camera with a viewfinder as large as my k1000.

          • Personal attacks are a sign that the other party agrees although they don’t want to admit it.

        • Doesn’t anyone read the entire post through before replying? I said “with the possibility of taking purpose built mirrorless lenses later on”.

    • Robert Martinu

      That would depend on the quality of the VF – the sensor is quite small, with a mirror likely also comes a beamsplitter. So “bright” and/or “large” also means “relatively clear ground glass” – and that’s bad enough on small frame.
      Th A7(r) works nice with e.g. TS-E lenses because you get an actually good impression of where the plane of focus is exactly. You can get a “no guesswork”-VF much cheaper if you use an EVF. For a system that’s positioned as a price breaker that might be relevant.

  • Say What?

    A teaser for something we already know what it is?


    • zaddza

      Putting a prototype (even pre-final version) under glass at an expo do not mean official launch. Just ask the MZ-D…

  • Dave

    In 13 days we will get a mirrorless fixed lens camera with optical viewfinder. Thats all.

    The optical viewfinder will carry a layer to show a number of AF points all over the finder and other information. A distance scale and a focus balance will show distance and direction to focus. It will be the fusion of an optical viewfinder and EVF-AF technology. Nothing more.

    The lens will be around 28mm f2.0 (in 35 format) with a central shutter, silent, and will deliver perfect IQ.

    The camera will be smaller than a FF DSLR.

    A revolution.

    • Alex

      From whom? Another manufacturer announcing in the same day as Pentax?
      Pentax already presented the camera at CP+, so we know what it is:

    • hexx

      let’s dream 🙂

    • LOL

      It is the Sony RX2 compact full frame camera w/ built in optical viewfinder. and the same sony 50mp medium format sensor the pentax Z will be using is going to be used in sony’s future mirrorless medium format camera and it will be able to use any tye of mounts through an adapter

  • sperdynamite

    #1 Why do people even want a MF mirrorless? What a drain on battery…I don’t get it. Let Sony play that game. Seems like they way Biogon type lenses perform on digital (al a the A7/r) shows us that a longer flange distance may have some advantage.

    #2. Could that Z simply be a 2?

    • Rob S

      Rocket Surgeon up there thinks that in the future people will want to put OLD sensor backs on a new mirrorless body.

      • It’s this thing called modularity. Look it up.

        And it’s Rocket God.

        • sperdynamite

          What about the Sinar systems? Copal shutters and interchangable backs. No mirrors to be found and about as modular as one could imagine.

  • Jeff Curtner

    Ricoh Japan has a special page and it does mention the product being a medium format camera.

  • madmax

    Who really needs a MF camera these days? I bet most people commenting here never had, never used MF. 99,9% photographers are well served with 1″, 4/3 or APSC sensors. Maybe very few people really need FF. Why the hell are you thinking in spend a lot of money in something you don´t need?

    • frank

      I believe your comment stems from your belief in the myth that the only difference in a larger sensor vs smaller one is more pixels. There’s so much more being added to the image quality and resolution than you may think.
      1) Size of sensor determines focal length need for any given angle of view. Therefore for 74 degrees of view: APS-C = 18mm, FF = 28mm, and MF = 35mm (645D). Since DOF is based on distance, f/stop, and focal length, the DOF becomes more controllable as the sensor size increases.
      2) Larger pixels. The big deal with larger pixels is two fold. First is low light performance. Since a larger pixels can collect more light than a smaller one, the larger pixel can generate a cleaner signal with less or no noise. The second benefit of a larger pixel has to do with diffraction. The smaller pixels will show diffraction sooner than larger ones. All Micro 4/3 cameras show diffraction at f/5.6 with some it’s as low as f/4. So if your lens starts at f/4, then the whole range could be affected. APS-C cameras show diffraction somewhere around f/5.6 – f/8 depending on pixel size. For FF, it’s f/8 – f/11 and for MF f/11 – f/16.

    • Mike

      That’s a lot of generalities and assumptions. We don’t really need cars over 50hp to get to highway speeds, yet here we are; Fiats with 100+ hp. Some people like the best. Whether working pros need it or camera aficionados want it. There is no disputing discerning tastes.

  • Levi

    So…the clock ran out. Now it just says, Coming Soon. Lame.

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