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Pentax about to announce a mirrorless system with sensors of the same size of Four Thirds sensors?


What a rumor. Pentax is about to announce a new mirrorless system which will de facto be the digital version of the Pentax Auto 110 system. Why should we care about that? The Auto 110 system had a frame size of 13 × 17 mm (0.51 × 0.67 in) which is almost exactly the frame size of (Micro-) Four Thirds sensor (13 × 17.3 mm). Now that part is just speculation. Does it not make more sense for Pentax to join the Micro Four Thirds world instead of making their own “Four-Thirds” system? That’s probably wishful thinking and never going to happen. Anyway we will know soon if those rumors are correct. The digital Auto 110 system will be announced in March.

More info about the Auto 110 system:
History at Wikipedia
Auto 110 Cameras and lenses auctions on eBay

Would you welcome Pentax joining the Micro Four Thirds world?

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  • jshaw6000

    Of course yes! We need the 4/3 army to grow STRONGER!!

  • Bogdan

    Well, no big deal, from the Pentax official interview, it seems that these cameras are meant to compete for the high end consumer market segment, being advanced compacts, rather than prosumer cameras. So some competition for the GF2, but arriving a bit late at the table.

    Right now I’m waiting to see what has Panny in store for us with the professional camera concept. Or else, the professional mirrorless system announced by Nikon will surely do.

  • panka

    … pentax uses sony’s sensor …

    • Miroslav

      … and have used Samsung sensors couple of years ago …
      It’s more likely that they’ll use Panasonic sensors for some of their cameras than that they’ll use m4/3 mount.

  • At best, Pentax might buy Panasonic’s sensors but sadly I don’t expect the mount to be the same. They would probably prefer to take advantage of their “Limited” and 110 lens series which are compact enough for a mirrorless system.

    It makes no sense to me the use by Canon, Nikon and Pentax of different sensor sizes rather than APS-C or 4/3. Canon has its own sensor manufacturing plant so maybe they can afford a new 18x12mm sensor, but Nikon (and now Pentax) buy them from Sony and I don’t expect sales to be so high for mass-producing a sensor on demand and keeping the prices low. Even Sony decided to use an APS-C instead of a completely new formula so I really don’t see too much options left for Nikon and Pentax apart from sharing strengths between them or with other brands. Let’s see.

    • Thinking carefully, the Limited and the 110 lenses series flange distance would be a problem since are noticeable bigger than the NEX and m4/3 mounts. It would be even difficult to make a Leica M > 110 adapter. So I update my last post: if Pentax is not joining m4/3 it won’t be because of their already existing products but for commercial/market reasons.

      On the other side, there have been continuous rumors about Pentax joining m4/3 since march/april 2010, and some of them came from reliable sources. So at any time at Pentax, joining the protocol have been considered. I remain skeptic but that becoming true may not be discarded yet.

  • Zonkie

    It’s a pity that Pentax won’t join m4/3, It would have been their only chance of survival in the mirrorless market.

    Anyway I don’t think they’ll use a 4/3 sensor. Probably they’ll use the same APS-C one from their DSLRs, but we’ll see.

    • Ganec

      The best what Pentax can do is to join m4/3 and convince Sony to produce senzors for m4/3 system.
      I think there is no problem for Sony to produce m4/3 senzors => Sony can still have better senzor in their NEX models (more megapixels or bigger pixels because of bigger senzor)

  • Nick clark

    I think it would be foolish for Pentax to release a mirrorless system with the sensor size mentioned and *not* join the 4/3rds group… After all, Pentax is coming late to the mirrorless party, and unlike CaNikon, they don’t have the marketing strength to force their own format into the industry.

    Joining m4/3rds means they instantly have an established system, to which they can add a new range of their legendary Limited primes (making it work with their existing DA Limiteds would be silly as they’re designed to cater for a mirror-box, so they’re significantly larger than necessary..). God I hope they do…

    • at

      By joining M4/3, the company can at least steal a market from the existing and potential M4/3 users by attracting them to buy Pentax mirrorless cameras and high quality lenses.

  • bilgy_no1

    It would be very smart for Pentax to join the m4/3 mirrorless format and keep the APS-C DSLR format. First they were completely dependent on Samsung, now it’s Sony. Making a deal with Panasonic as well would give them leverage in dealing with Sony. At the same time they are not completely dependent on Panasonic like Olympus are.

    I would very much welcome a Pentax m4/3 product. Love the choice, and wonder what edge they can give to their products (lenses especially). Weren’t there rumours early 2010 of Pentax filing patents for m4/3 spec lenses?

  • Miroslav

    Of course yes! For m4/3 world, it would be the biggest thing since E-P1 launch.

    On one hand, it would be logical and bring them instant success and market share. For a small company it would bring R&D costs significantly.

    On the other hand, all of their recent lenses are made for APS-C sized sensor and they would need some wides to cover the gap. Also, they insist on backward compatibility of their lenses with new bodies and this would make some of them of limited use only. The statements from their managers that they want to make “something different” do not speak in favor of m4/3 as well.

  • Old Story, we did this rumor in 2003 as an april fool’s joke.

    • bilgy_no1

      Yes, but that photo was taken with an Olympus camera, so there must be some kind of secret cooperation between Pentax, Olympus and you!

      • not to mention the xD-Card, that has been taken into consideration at that time ;-)

        • bilgy_no1

          Yes, I expect a revival of the xD format as well!!!!

  • Duarte Bruno

    Pentax joining m43?
    Yabba yabba yabba!
    Who said the door was open? m43 isn’t open as was 4/3 you know?
    What would be Olympus & Panasonic’s interest in letting Pentax in?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see it but I don’t believe O&P would like to give up a share of the meat (lenses)… :(

    • Zonkie

      Exactly. If Pentax is not joining in it’s not because they don’t want, but because they can’t. It’s a pity for Pentax and for m4/3 users, but I guess that P&O already think (rightly so) that with them both on the boat they’re strong enough to compete with any other system, be it from Sony, Nikon or Canon. And why make the system even stronger by letting Pentax in at the cost of dividing the pie in three parts instead of two?

      • Godot

        I think there’s a good chance that working with Pentax could grow the pie enough to make it very much worthwhile for Panasonic and Olympus. So if it turns out Pentax isn’t joining (this is what I expect), I wouldn’t assume it’s because they’ve been shut out, but possibly because they stubbornly wanted to go their own way.

        With Canon and Nikon bound to make a huge splash sooner or later, a serious existing threat from Sony, and Samsung still in the game, I think there’s a very good case to be made for adding another smallish player to the consortium.

        A weakened Pentax hanging around with its own incompatible niche system is of some benefit to P&O, but not much, and could even turn into a threat if Pentax were to team up with Samsung again.

        The much bigger interest has to be in building an insurmountable lead over the big two, and IMHO bringing Pentax into m43 could only help.

        But I still doubt it will happen — I think Pentax/Hoya is the kind of company that’s not afraid to carve out its own niche, even if it means staying relatively small.

        • pdc

          Good points Godot.

          Panasonic should welcome Pentax to the fold to help cement micro43 as the new standard format for enthusiast photography. I’ll not mourn for APS-C. Nikon’s moves in the next few months are going to have a big influence on how this game eventually plays out.

      • Nick clark

        The benefit for P&O (and all the other members like Cosina) is that having Pentax along for the ride presents adds even more depth to the system as a whole.

        This is significant as one of the major limiting factors of all the mirrorless systems at the moment (for enthusiast consumers) is that they don’t offer a great deal of options, and they don’t exactly give the impression of a stable, long-term investment (who knows how long Sony will continue NEX until they move onto the Next Big Thing?). They aren’t yet at the point of being a significant investment as a system, making them less inviting as a high-end option.

        While this is fine at the moment, as mirrorless seems to be targeting mainly the entry level market, as the format expands, consumers are going to want long-term system dependability. What better way than to have four manufactures (Oly, Pana, Voigtlander, Pentax) making compatible gear? I say win win for everyone.

  • 1. Pentax’s new format camera has a Finder, if the photo is true.
    2. I would pray the finder is optical like Pentax 110, however, Pentax may go for electronic finder like Panasonic GH2.
    3. I wish Pentax would make the camera look like Leica CL or Pentax MX/LX, rather than the one in the photo(like 110).
    4. 110 format did not have a good reputation for quality in the film age. However Pentax 110 lenses are of high resolution.
    4. If the shape is indeed like 110, then please offer an accessory grip
    5. We, want a camera with finder. E-pen series is cute, however, lack of finder has made those olympus cameras much harder to use for those more advanced SLR users.

    • Jón

      1. That’s their old 110 SLR :)

    • Tomas

      Why do people think they’re going to get an optical viewfinder on a Mirrorless system camera? Do they not understand what the point of the mirror was for?

      Hint: mirrorless = opticalviewfinderless. ;)

      [Note: Fuji X100 is not a system camera.]

    • pdc

      Good points Godot.

      Panasonic needs to cement micro43 as the new standard for small format
      enthusiast photography – having the long-time No.3 Japanese camera name
      along for the ride cannot hurt, and they are in the leading position to supply sensors, CPUs etc. to all the players. It wouldn’t bother me at all to see APS-C disappear as a format standard – I’ve never liked the
      aspect ratio. However, what Nikon does is going to be a major influence on how the game will eventually play out.

  • WyldRage

    I don’t see Pentax joining M43. Their area of expertise is pancake lenses, their limited line, for which there is already a good presence in the M43. Now, if they join the e-mount, they can catch a large proportion of that lens market, since Sony is uninterested or unable to produce more pancakes.

  • Do pentax mirrorless have better spec than this sony digital camera? lol……

    The HX9v features at 16 Megapixel Exmor R sensor, a 16x wide zoom that starts at 24mm. It records 1080p60 at 28Mbit/s, it has a very fast autofocus (0.1sec.) and 10fps.
    The HX100v has the same features but a wider zoom range (30x that starts with 27mm).

    The HX9v costs $350 and the Hx100 $450.

    • Tex

      e-mount! that would be very interesting!

  • Dan

    If Pentax joins the M43 world I’d be very happy and might well end up owning some of their products.

    On the other hand, if they introduce their own incompatible similar system they’ll be very late to the boat against well established, quite competent, competitors and I can’t see why I’d ever consider their products.

  • zuzu

    if they join mirrorless, they go with Sony, like NEX serie.
    this is the only option for them in this moment, with this market share that they have. making waves in the market with new sistem is not equivalent with market gain or profitability. you can surprise others and public but the results in sales is another story.

  • Jim H

    Pentax M43 cameras would be great, but if Pentax decides to create its own mirrorless system then its only real marketing challenge is lens compatibility, which is no greater challenge than Sony & Samsung have with their own propriatory mirrorless lens systems. Of course if the Pentax sensor happen to be a tiny bit smaller than the 4/3 sensor then an adaptor would give compatibility to M43 lenses too. I bet Pentax could even build an auto-focus friendly M43 adaptor.
    Regardless, Pentax does not need to source sensors from Sony or Samsung. The amazing Pentax 645D uses a KODAK sensor, so there is already a working relationship between the two companies. Say what you will about Kodak, there is no sensor it can’t equal, and Kodak would want nothing else more than a serious partnership with a well regarded pro-sumer camera maker like Pentax.

  • Archer

    I’d love to see Pentax in m43, if nothing else because it would give me more choices in terms of an EVIL camera with IBIS. Right now, its just Olympus.

  • Gene

    I think Pentax would join Micro Four Thirds. Olympus didn’t use the old Pen-Mount for their new camera, Pentax might do the same. Who produces sensors for the Pentax 645D?

  • jpydrg

    Many people here as mislead about Pentax: just look at their recent products (Kr, K5, 645d) and the way these have been received by the press (dpreview, IR, Chasseur d’Images, and also this from a Leica M9 user:
    It is however clear that such an achievement is tightly linked to 1/ the extreme quality of the recent Sony sensors, 2/ the mastering of Pentax software department.
    How could one then imagine that Pentax would ever join the m4/3 consortium while the only available sensor is from Panasonic: no miracle in IQ to be expected in such a perspective…
    My guess: there will be a unique Pentax mirrorless system, perhaps with an Auto 110 shape for the camera but with an APS-C sensor….

  • Mice

    I would rather see a Pentax full frame rather than a half-frame… regardless of it being a mirrorless or not.

  • Sim

    Unfortunately I don’t think they’ll be joining m4/3 because that would mean making lenses in a completely different mount. They would rather use lenses from their own lineup.

    • Nick clark

      If Pentax goes mirrorless (regardless of whether it’s m4/3) they will almost certainly have to develop a new mount anyway. The K-mount would only work on mirrorless if the flange-back distance remained the same, which means that you have zero size benifit of loosing the mirror. Not to mention that none of Pentax’s lenses (especially the Limiteds) are designed for CDAF, so focus is going to be nasty slow.

      • Sim

        That’s true. But couldn’t they do exactly what Olympus did and have their current lenses work on their mirrorless cameras with use of an adapter?

  • bidou

    It’s always fun to see what camera makers where able to make 30 years ago. I mean, fit a mirror, an ovf, a lens system, in a camera body that is mostly half the size of a m 4/3 camera body, even if they share the same “sensor” size (okay, no lcd, no AF) :)

  • three ways of looking at this, for us (43 shooters), for Oly/Pan (the management), and for them (Pentax)

    43 shooters:
    Of course, an added body (from anyone) is great. Some dedicated Pentax shooters will add a new Pentax 4/3~110 body … more shooters in one system is good for growth and stability (anyone remember APS film!)

    mmmm, if only a small percentage of new Pentax 4/3~110 body owners buy one Pan or Oly lens then that is extra money in the bank … and more shooters in one system is good for growth and stability

    are there ‘issues’ with the 4/3 system that prevent them form doing what they want with a Pentax 110 system? Did anyone get together on APS and share a mount, nope! Okay from film to digital APS (and later full-frame), all the Canon/Nikon/Min/Pen had a legacy to look after … they all kept their own mount

    Sony = NEX
    Samsung = NX
    … both going it alone, (with nobody making lenses for them to share, they have to do them all themselves)

    okay … bundle of adaptors available for some of these systems to play with each other’s lenses, but m4/3 looks the strongest.

    If I was Pentax I would want to join m4/3 and step on into the fun – why would Pan/Oly stop that? Perhaps due to lost sales of their own cameras. These little cameras must still be predominately kit things: most people probably still only shooting with their kit lens. I’d love to know what percentage of m4/3 users buy a lens additional to their one/two lens kit.

    • of course the adaptors are for us to play with big old lenses not with each other’s new ones (no NEX on PEN)

  • RW

    I look at the possibility of one or more new mount formats with real concern. Already, we have m43, Samsung, and Sony. It is extremely doubtful that Nikon and Canon will share a mount with anyone else. If Pentax also goes their own way, then m43 loses significant momentum as a new “standard”, and starts to look more and more like the new Betamax. I think that this is too many ways to split a small pie, and I pray that some of the new players (like Pentax for instance) get behind m43.

    • really, we need Nikon or Canon to join the m43 mount (or both) … very unlikely but it would set a standard size/shape and then we could all take our choice from each system. But of course, that is probably the worst thing that someone like Canon or Nikon could think to do – they KNOW that if they do it and do it right they will sell in big numbers. And if they sell lots of bodies then they sell lots of lenses, its the model that has worked for so long.

      how long Oly/Pan can stay in the front in this EVIL idea?

      • RW

        dcap asks: “how long Oly/Pan can stay in the front in this EVIL idea?”

        Really, they aren’t at the front of it right now. I think that spot belongs realistically to Leica – but I get your point. M43 is ahead of the EVIL curve right now (in the sub $2K market) primarily because they were the first one to the dance, and they already have a couple of dance partners. It is the partner alliance that gives the lens mount credibility that it likely would not have if either Oly or Panny went solo. Nikon and Canon don’t feel that they need that credibility – so it is unlikely they will jump on a bandwagon driven by others. I hope that Pentax doesn’t feel that way as well, because with each major player that doesn’t join the alliance, that crucial credibility weakens…

        • Godot

          Leica? Textbook example of a niche brand. Nothing wrong with that and nothing against Leica, but the company doesn’t belong in this conversation at all.

          The M9 has the IL but no EV. And no live view or video. Again nothing wrong with that, but the only thing it has in common with EVIL is being mirrorless. True EVILs are actually much closer to current-generation SLRs than they are to M9.

          As for Canon or Nikon joining m43… never in a million years. Olympus and Panasonic could benefit from letting Pentax into the club, but letting one of the big boys in (if they even wanted in, which is highly unlikely) would be like the goldfish inviting the piranha into the aquarium.

  • Can you imagine if we were talking about trousers instead of cameras?

    Olympus and Panasonic have got together over dinner at Leica’s house designed some really nice trousers. Smaller and lighter than most other people’s trousers, but still very nice quality. Comfortable. Stylish.

    Pentax comes along, sees how well the trousers are selling and wants to make some new trousers that are (wait for it), 0.3 of a millimetre different from the PanOlympus trousers.

    But instead of saying to themselves “Hey, those are nice trousers! And there are all kinds of nice belts that already fit the loops! I wonder if we could just borrow the design?”…

    …they say, “NO! Pentax trousers will be different! 0.3 of a millimetre better! And besides we can waste literally MILLIONS of dollars designing them and hardly anybody will be able to tell the difference!!! We can write it off against TAX and everything…”

    I don’t get it. They better be REALLY nice trousers Pentax, or most people are gonna stick with what they’re already wearing.


    • Nick clark


  • AfganPoppy

    Pentax just released the 645D, and I believe they can’t supply enought bodies even for that…
    I’d love to see them joining m43, as I love the Takumars, but I highly doubt it… I think they might go the stupid fixed lens Fuji way
    sad huh

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