Pentax doesn’t want to compete against m43 :)


Pictured above: The Pentax Auto 110 analogue camera.

We just published a few details on about the ucoming Pentax mirrorless system. The huge suprise is that it will use a 5.6 crop sensor taht is even smaller than the one used inside the new Olympus XZ-1. So Pentax is not going to compete against the m43 system. I guess it would have been better for Pentax to join the m43 coalition!

More about the Pentax system at

  • Martin

    ‘The huge suprise is that it will use a 5.6 crop sensor as small as the one used inside the and the new Olympus XZ-1.’

    False – it is even smaller. The XZ-1 sensor is aprox. 4x crop.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      ZX-1 sensor’s “crop” is ~4.7x.

      But damn… I started photography with 4x crop prosumer “compacts” (no way it would fit into pocket) and this one has lot smaller sensor with lot more Marketing Pixels.
      With those Marketing Pixels in that 1/2.33″ sensor already f3 is over diffraction limit of pixel size:

      This would mean that only difference to run of the mill compacts with noise reduction in use from lowest sensitivity is that it has interchangeable lenses.

  • Mahahaha hehehe.I’m sorry but this kind of toys belong to 1st April, hope for pentax that it will stay just a rumor

    • Flash

      XZ-1 sensor have 4.6x crop. 4X crop have 2/3 sensors.

    • mihai

      i say the same. I just imagine their engineers: now we transfer the technology from 645 to a smaller camera

  • If they can make primes with specs around, say, 6mm f/1.0, then perhaps you are interested anyway? Such specifications are more achievable with a smaller sensor.

    Otherwise, the will need to price it fairly low, or make very compact cameras.

  • I’m not interested in it because of poor DOF control but the idea is not bad. Fixed focal lenses for that sensor size could be really small, fast and cheap. Face it, with a sensor which delivers decent performance up to ISO 400 and a 24mm equiv. f/1.0 or a 50mm equiv. even faster you can do a lot of things.

    The pity is that there is no good 1/2,33″ sensor in the market, unlike what happens with Panasonic’s 1/1,63″ and Canon’s 1/1,7″. Yes, BSI and that sort of things, but 14mpx is way too much. If they just managed to deliver a clean base ISO, it may have its market niche.

  • shutterwill

    do they want to compete against camera phone???

  • Aisha

    huh, this is just weird. Who will buy that?

    • Duarte Bruno

      Ken Rockwell for sure. It will drag millions to his website! :O

  • twoomy

    If true, it will be an interesting niche product for some, but I’m glad I’m in M43 right now. For me at least, it’s the perfect balance of quality and size between my big honkin’ Nikon SLRs and my crappy little P&S.

    I’m much more curious to see what Nikon comes out with in the next few months.

  • analog camera? not in digital but using film?

  • safaridon

    One thing this Pentax digital 110 like model will have over the super compact competition will be a built in EVF or OVF/EVF combo in the middle. The other thing will be to have smaller fast interchangeable tele lenses that can extend its reach further than the present crowd with similiar size sensor. This camera will be built for a series of very small fast primes and zooms while with a larger sensor camera fast does not come small when designing a zoom.

  • > I guess it would have been better for Pentax to join the m43 coalition!

    Yeah, combined with the rumors that Nikon takes similar approach, it is rather sad state of affairs.

    Or Nikon and Pentax know something we do not?

  • I guess we see here another victim of unclear strategy as Olympus showed, that a vendor realizes that DSLR is declining, but is not brave enough to engineer something mirrorless, which would cannibalize their DSLR line.

    Anyway, absolutely no interest in such crap.

  • Ulli

    first i want to see how that damned camera looks like! ;-)

  • Jón

    A lens system with even smaller sensor? That will be interesting…

  • Medved

    “So Pentax is not going to compete against the m43 system. I guess it would have been better for Pentax to join the m43 coalition!”

    Not necessarily true. I’ve just read the comments here. For Pentax that may make sense.

    Pentax is a price breaker. Even recently, a medium format at $10 000, the K-x, not any worse than a 500D and better than a 1000D for only £380 in UK and the all new K-r only £500, the K-5 currently £974 for a fully weather-sealed body, full of features and with the class leading APS-C sensor technology… You can hardly justify the premium commanded by canon or nikon if not for their lens range…

    So I guess Pentax assumed they would make money by providing a very compact interchangeable lens system, for those who usually stick to bridge and travel zoom compact cameras, with wich they could use more specialized glass with more decent results, while being really pocketable.
    If MFT can do smaller than APS-C, then 1/2.33 can do even smaller… I guess.

    Pentax probaly tries to fill a potential niche.

    Maybe my reasoning might sound stupid to some, I don’t know if I’m the only one seeing it under that angle, but to me it makes some sense. After personally I have no interest in such camera, and it also has in practice a lot of disadvantages, but it might find a market…


    • Godot

      Your reasoning makes sense, but barring a breakthrough in 1/2.33 sensors it still doesn’t seem to make enough sense to me. At ISO 100 in nice light you can take decent photos with a camera using 1/2.33 sensor, assuming the lens is good. By ISO 400, things are usually looking pretty bad.

      Who wants a system camera limited to ISO 100-200? Seems to me the weak link in such cameras tends to be the sensor, not the lens, so better lenses are not going to provide enough improvement.

      A couple of stops of light-gathering ability will definitely help, but you’re still going to run up against the limits of the noisy little sensor in a hurry.

    • mihai

      I like your reasoning but in this case is like getting a solution to an inexistent problem. If someone wants snapshots will get a PS, better photos get anything from u43 to full frame. Nobody accepting PS quality will ever look for a specialized lens. I think is a false rumor otherwise is going to be one of the greatest blunders of digital era

      • the other Rob

        I am guessing that 90% of the people that will buy this camera will not even know what ISO is, or what function the sensor has. I think that is thier strategy, as dumb as it sound.

        • Medved

          Agree with the two comments above… But also think people likely to be interested in such cameras would not have the expectation of slr users as the other Rob suggests…
          Or else you’re right it would be a blunder…

  • spam

    Interesting news. Still not sure if it’s true though, but the market for high quality small sensor cameras like LX5, S95, G12, P7000 and XZ-1 seem to be growing at the moment. These cameras have slightly larger sensors than 1/2.33, but image quality isn’t that different.

    I’d prefer a 1/1.6″, 1/1.7″ or (even better) a 2/3″ sensor, but I’m not sure if Pentax has much choise if they want to use an off the shelf small sensor. They’d certainly want a sensor with Full HD video quality and you simply can’t find that unless you go to 1/2.33″ ones.

    All the bigger (small) sensors are CCD with max 720p video output. Maybe Pentax are big enough to simply order a slightly bigger CMOS one, but it would probably increase development costs and time.

    Anyway, it’s going to be interesting to see the exact specs if/when they launch this systems. It’s about time someone made intechangeable lenses for small sensor cameras. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, the GXR is partly there, but the module system makes the camera too expensive for what you get.

  • CML

    The original rumour suggested two mirrorless systems were being developed by Pentax…

  • wow … this is gonna be TINY!

    I would hope that it will be super cheap. The Pan 14 + 20 primes are no cheaper than the full-frame alternatives. Okay, you don’t mget ashperical elements in the 50/1.8 from anyone … but still, the 20/1.7 is at 50/1.4 price point! And we are supposed to benefit from the small size meaning cheaper prices?

    I welcome the price pressure that the Pentax will put on the m43 system … looking forward to seeing one in action too!

  • eric

    It might appeal to consumers that have no understanding of sensor sizes but think that because it has interchangeable lenses it is somehow equivalent to a MFT or dSLR camera?

    I am sure all the hype will say something like… “Look! You can change the lens! Just like the 5D mark II or the Leica M9!!!”

    • spam

      It might also appeal to consumers who understand the technology and know exactly what they want. Why do you believe that everyone who understand sensor technology and sizes also want as large sensor as possible?

      • Henrik

        You have a good point Spam. I just dont understand why they didnt make the sensor atleast bigger than the ones found in LX5 and XZ-1 but still smaller than the m4/3 one.

      • Scott

        I understand sensor technology and I sold a full frame to get an E-5

      • eric

        OK, well I guess now consumers that want a very small sensor will have a choice?

  • Jules

    From my day job, I get to see many tourists. Here are my observations over the last years:

    Majority of the cameras they use are compacts.
    Majority of the compacts they uses doesn’t save RAW.
    I have seen more bridges than enthusiast compacts à la LX5, G10, etc.

    I would be tempted to conclude that Pentax’s move is questionable, but I say it is a smart gamble. Lets face it: very few will ever print large, and web images has taken over as the dominant medium. For those concerned, it arguably becomes a compromise on size and cost over DoF control.

    • Jules

      Oh, and I totally agree with what Spam just wrote about understanding sensor technology!

      If the prices are down to earth, this may become a very cool complimentary system. Actually a cool system for those that doesn’t need anything else.

  • YeahYeah

    Ok, they’re crazy.

  • I remember my friend’s father bought him an Auto 110S when we were at school. He had a beautiful little foam-filled brief case for it, the kind an expensive jeweler might handcuff to his wrist on the way to show necklaces to royalty.

    Every lens and attachment, including a beautiful little motor wind, had its own recess. We thought it was fabulous, like something for James Bond.

    And that is why this will sell. For the novelty. The quality in good light will be fine for most people. Not loons like us, but most people. And if they make it pretty, and well made, it will sell like hot cakes. If they make some fast lenses for it and a nice flash, the low light performance will not be an issue to the majority.

    Imagine what a miniature piece of kit like that is going to look like in a shop window amongst all the boring DSLR’s that look IDENTICAL to each other and all the boring COMPACTS that look IDENTICAL to each other. It will stand out. It will get a ton of interest. “Oooh what’s that? THAT looks amazing…”

    People will buy it because they’ll have the coolest camera at the dinner party.

    People will buy it because IT’S FUN!!!

    Some of you guys really need to lighten up, honestly.

    • And as soon the short hype is over, that system will be consequently ignored. No system, where I would base a new product strategy on.

      • what if it comes out at 1/3 the price of a PEN?

        • Medved

          I think the same. Pentax hits hard on pricing.

    • the other Rob

      the same reason why people buy the Minox Leica M3. maybe?

    • Medved


  • Joel

    Considering the size of the camera and the sensor, I don’t see why the XZ-1 or similar cameras wouldn’t be a better option for most people in the market for this type of camera??

  • maybe it’ll be this chip from this £89 compact

    as a comparison the epl2 + zoom kit is £499
    if pentax can get their mirrorless camera out for less than £199 body and lenses at £99 we’re in for a m43 price drop

  • DonTom

    Well, at least they’re being different. Besides, look what having the “smallest interchangeable lens camera” campaign did for the NEZ! Many users think that ILC means higher quality….
    The original Pentax A110 was very limited by only having a fixed aperture, but it still did very well. And there is that retro thing going for it as too (think the E-P1 campaign). Maybe they are planning to hit the Lomo crowd with the thing as well.
    But I wish they were joining m43 instead!

  • Sandy

    The whole thing is silly…. with a 5.6x crop, there is no advantage in noise performance over P&S cameras, but bigger package that people won’t want to lug around. They would have been better going with micro 4/3

    • Joel

      Exactly my thoughts..

  • Don

    whether they go “auto 110” mount or (look at thier huge catalogue of cctv lenses) c mount, either way the tiny sensor (still just a rumor) is for one body, no rule to suggest a second body with same lens mount and larger sensor couldn’t be made…. (aps- ff for 35mm lenses sound familiar?) Both those lenses will cover the 4/3 sized sensor…. if pentax wants to partner with somebody to release a 4/3 sized camera with it’s own mount.

  • I think this is not meant to be a complete system to put a lot of $$$$s or €€€€s in, it´s maybe just a uww and 1 or 2 other lenses. the uww makes it interesting for the compact camera buyers. this is not something for dslr-people and it´s ok. we already have nx, nex and m43.

  • Medved

    Olympus E-5 In Depth Review at DPR out, if some folks here are interested…

  • Who hasn’t wished/thought about being able to change lenses on their LX3? I think this is fun prospect. Although it will likely lead users on a quest for better image quality much as my LX3 led me to m4/3. The trade-off of size precludes me from going any larger than that.

  • Camajan

    5.6 crop? Why is this even interchangable?
    It could have a x10 built in zoom easy…

  • cL

    It’s obviously target toward Urbanoutfitters crowd. Pentax already have a similar camera in the market.,

    It’s not going to be a serious camera, but a novelty camera and probably will only get sold in selected channel like Urbanoutfitters (which also sells Holga and Diana cameras). They’re for fun, okay?

  • Pdhobby

    I agree with voiceoverman, you know what happened to the music industry… an inferior format, based on compression has basically replaced superior ones, like CD, SaCD and even LP. Yet in ten years most teenagers won’t even know what a compact disc is. This could do something similar to photo taking teens or early adopters. After all, m43 has taken %40 share of the market in Japan. Besides, those of us who have traveled to Japan have seen many bizzarre and unique products, destined for failure outside Japan and therefore sold domestically.

    • cL

      It’s all marketing. Capitalism is a system based on needs (does it says somewhere that a product must be superior? Quality is a very subjective measure also).

      History repeats again and again, general consumers usually prefer inferior products. SACD never took off. VHS wins over Beta. HD-DVD lost to Blu-ray. MP3 is the most used format despite there is advantage over other formats (but can be shared easily, which is its only virtue), GSM wins over CDMA in cellphone. It’s not absolute quality people want, but what they prefer (and how well the marketing department is doing).

  • kmfan

    Until M4/3 can find a way to lower costs of cameras, there’s no point in getting into M4/3. APS-C mirrorless is here and will continue to grow. M4/3 is a losing battle at this point in time.

  • assuming the rumor is true, this system will compete with high-end compacts (G12, S95, SX30, P7000, XZ1, LX5, FZ100, … etc), not with m4/3 or any large-sensor system camera. If Pentax can make excellent lenses that you can carry on when you upgrade the body and the body-only costs much less than a comparable fixed-lens body, then it is the end of high-end compacts as we know them today. it is very stupid having to re-buy the same or very similar lens (eg Canon G10, G11, G12 all with same/similar 28-140 eq lens) in order to get the new sensor and/or the new features of the latest model.

    maybe Pentax just want to “experiment” first in a small format that doesn’t cost them or the customer much, then after few years introduce their large sensor mirrorless system specified based on their experience. if so very wise, given that these are new systems built from scratch that cannot be changed much once introduced.

  • n3eg

    Darn. Pentax would have been second on my m43 choice list, right behind JK Kodak.

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