Ricoh Opens Up About its Pentax Movie Digital camera Venture and Extra

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 trip from the place I used to be staying in Asakusa, on the northeast aspect of the town.)

These are the folks 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 Growth, Growth 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 Growth, 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, subsequently, 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 among the firm’s most profitable merchandise, together with the Ok-1 and Ok-3 cameras when he was final in cost.

Akahane-san has general 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 a little bit Googling and located that this was a giant story in India in 2015 and 2016: Insiders apparently cooked the books to the tune of greater than $160 million on the then-current change price. He stated there had been “false conveyance” and what amounted to a small gang working inside the corporate that was behind the fraud. It appears like a wild trip; he struck me as very pleasant and personable however will need to have a spine of metal to tackle company corruption of that magnitude.

It seems that Akahane-san has truly had a variety of expertise checking out and revitalizing struggling corporations: Earlier than becoming a member of Ricoh, he’d labored in funding banking, the place he was typically the one who’d be despatched in to type out corporations 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 abilities.

That is truly his second stint as head of the Imaging Division; he oversaw the event and launch of among the firm’s most succesful and profitable merchandise, such because the Ok-1 and Ok-3 when he was final in cost. The photograph market could be very completely different now, however I personally have a variety of confidence in Akahane-san’s instincts and talents. I believe his return to the Imaging Division is superb information for Pentaxians in all places.

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

The Movie Venture: Not Simply About Design, however Provide Chain as Effectively

David Etchells: I believe Ricoh’s announcement of the Movie Digital camera Venture final December is likely one of the most intriguing developments within the trade. 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 stories counsel that step one is to find out the feasibility of a brand new movie digital camera, however from the video, it appears like you’ve gotten already made a conclusive choice to develop one. Are you able to make clear whether or not you’ve gotten certainly made a agency choice to develop a brand new movie digital camera?

Noboru Akahane: We haven’t made a ultimate choice but concerning promoting or not promoting a digital camera. That side continues to be undecided. Nevertheless, we have now already made the choice to embrace the problem. This problem pertains as to if we will collect the required elements to fabricate a movie digital camera. It’s been a very long time since we final developed a movie digital camera, and plenty of different digital camera corporations 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 vital distinction. It’s not only a minor distinction, however a considerable one. Moreover, we have to examine the soundness of the movie provide, determine the principle movie suppliers, and perceive the market itself, together with the preferences of younger folks, 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 folks. The older engineers who possess the required experience and the youthful engineers…

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

This hadn’t occurred to me however makes a variety of sense. Whereas they’re much less advanced than digital cameras in some ways, movie cameras have a singular set of parts, 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 Venture”, 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 fashionable movie cameras. A part of this course of includes figuring out the suitable folks internally to work on it and recapturing the information of their engineers who’ve expertise with movie digital camera design and manufacturing. We’ll hear extra about their causes for asserting the venture so early within the additional dialog beneath.

Ricoh posted several YouTube videos in regards to the Movie Venture underneath their company account. They generated a variety of curiosity, given the slim viewers (principally present Pentaxians who had been fascinated about movie capturing.) The 4 movies garnered over 1,600 feedback between them, basically all of them constructive. Pentax wants to search out potential prospects exterior the prevailing Pentaxian group for the venture to be a hit, however the overwhelmingly constructive response from the Pentaxians is actually signal.

Is Movie Nonetheless Related, within the Digital Period?

NA: However earlier than that, that is possibly my private mind-set, however I believe movie cameras is likely one of the areas that we have to concentrate on. We’re generally known as a DSLR firm and likewise make waterproof cameras, that are widespread now, however we’re encountering challenges with the shrinking DSLR market. Personally, I really like images and taking footage, and the DSLR is the one sort of digital camera that I actually love. To clarify exactly, I can not stand having any barrier between the topic and my eye; solely mild 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 appear to be a small element, however it’s an vital level for me. On condition that we live on this earth with pure air and light-weight, it makes me really feel that movie cameras are the best way to go. That is simply my private feeling, however I don’t assume I’m the one one who feels this fashion, an exception. I believe there’s a vary of individuals worldwide who really feel the identical means I do.

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

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

DE: I believe one of many sights of movie is that it’s a singular medium. It’s onerous to place into phrases, however taking footage with movie feels completely different, maybe as a result of you possibly can’t simply rattle off 100 pictures after which choose one. There’s additionally a sure sense of thriller and anticipation in regards to the consequence. Once I was younger I had a darkroom in my mum or dad’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 pictures throughout your travels as we speak? In my youthful days, once I traveled world wide, I needed to rigorously think about the variety of pictures I may absorb a day because of the movie’s restricted capability, simply 24 or 36 exposures. Although I’d see many stunning locations or scenes, I had to decide on the place I’d use these restricted frames.

DE: Yeah, by some means it includes you with the picture extra, since you’re pausing to consider you understand, I solely have 36, so what am I going to take?

NA: Sure, you should resolve whether or not to take footage within the morning or daytime or in case you ought to avoid wasting for later within the day.

DE: Possibly you possibly can make a digital SLR that has a counter, so you possibly can solely take 36 pictures in a day. .

NA: However the issue is after taking the image, how you can choose the suitable one.

DE: Yeah, it’s fascinating, there actually appears to be a resurgence of movie with younger folks, I believe much more so than with folks our age. There’s an attraction to it, possibly as a result of it’s simply *completely 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 a whole bunch and a whole bunch of very constructive feedback.

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

There’s lots to unpack right here. What’s it about capturing with movie that makes it distinctive and interesting, relative to digital? For Akahane-san, a variety of it has to do with the sense that there’s nothing between him and his topic, no advanced imaging system rendering a model of the scene to show on an EVF or LCD, however simply his eye trying by way of a viewfinder. For him, the direct reference to the topic is essential.

He additionally mentions the influence of coping with movie’s restricted capability. Until you’ve gotten an infinite price range, you should 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 type of exterior limitation on the variety of pictures you possibly can take leads you to assume much more about each you are taking. With digital, I’m inclined to only rattle off a dozen pictures at a time, figuring I’ll simply choose the perfect one afterward the pc, and possibly do some 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; fashionable EVFs are phenomenal, typically exhibiting element you possibly can’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 trying by way of an optical viewfinder vs an EVF. It’s potential it’s simply nostalgia, and completely satisfied recollections of many hours of capturing with my movie SLRs once I was youthful, however there’s a je ne sais quoi in regards to the movie expertise that’s simply completely different from digital.

How Did the Movie Venture Come About?

DE: I’m fascinated about how this venture took place. TKO-san is the face of the venture and is accountable for product planning and design for it, however did the concept 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 concept internally, it took everybody unexpectedly, inflicting a momentary freeze. Nevertheless, as he defined the movie digital camera market’s background and our place in it, the belief dawned that this was one thing we must always pursue. Progressively, folks started to agree, and assist for the venture began to develop. Ultimately, there was an optimistic feeling that the venture may go nicely. At that time, we concerned high 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 numerous 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 truly aware of the J restricted collection, however I’ve been within the trade so lengthy that I instantly keep in mind “Oh sure, the WG1”…

The way in which the Movie Venture took place is without delay each uncommon and typical for Japanese corporations. For probably the most half, Japanese enterprise tends to proceed extra by way of group consensus slightly 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 thought. Alternatively, vital advances can normally be traced to the passions of key people, slightly than committee deliberations.

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

DE: Do you’ve gotten any numbers for what number of photographers are at the moment capturing movie? What’s their demographic make-up, when it comes to age, gender, and so on? Are there any geographic variations? (That’s, are there extra movie shooters in a single space of the world vs one other?) Do you’ve gotten a way of what share of the film-photography market is at the moment utilizing Pentax gear?

KS: Truly, we don’t have exact info on the dimensions 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 knowledge just isn’t available. Nevertheless, we performed market analysis in Japan involving roughly 3,000 customers. From this analysis, we found that about 20% of all digital camera homeowners right here have a movie digital camera (excluding disposable cameras).

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

KS: Sure, that’s right. Nevertheless, we don’t have particular info concerning the share 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 turn out to be fascinated about movie images, along with serving present movie digital camera customers.

An fascinating level: How do you get market knowledge for a product that hasn’t been bought for a few a long time? Not solely that, however the market was completely completely different again within the early 2000s. Take into account that the primary iPhone solely went on sale in June of 2007; folks’s relationship with pictures and cameras is completely completely different now. It’s secure to say that nobody has any thought simply how widespread (or not) a contemporary movie digital camera can 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 capable of 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 have now been attempting to assemble info by way of them.

DE: I’d assume that the movie producers themselves would have some understanding of their market by way of their very own market research. However then I haven’t seen a lot movie advertising and marketing 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. One among my questions was in regards to 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 side for the time being.

Will Having New Cameras Accessible Improve the Enchantment of Movie?

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

KS: Sure.

HK: For positive.

KS: We expect that new fashions will contribute to a rise available in the market. Our focus is on how youthful people can get pleasure from capturing with movie, with a way of safety. The reliability of movie cameras has turn out to be more difficult, 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 intention to offer customers with a way of safety. We imagine this might be a major benefit for each customers and ourselves.

DE: It’s fascinating as a result of this can be 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 is going to a contemporary movie digital camera seem like?

DE: Past simply having a newly-manufactured physique, photograph expertise has come a good distance for the reason that days of the final Pentax or Ricoh movie digital camera. (I believe the final Pentax movie physique was the *ist, right? right?) What types of recent options or improved efficiency would possibly 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 offer particular details about the product’s specs. Nevertheless, what we will say is that we intention to develop cameras that individuals can get pleasure from utilizing casually and carry with them anyplace. Will probably be a digital camera that permits them to expertise the pleasure of utilizing it each time they choose it up. However I apologize that we don’t have detailed solutions in regards to the specs.

DE: It happens to me that with developments in expertise, the brand new movie cameras may very well be a lot simpler to make use of. Autofocus may very well be extra correct and sooner, and publicity management may very well be extra clever. That final was at all times a problem with movie. One among my private frustrations was attempting to take very low-light exposures with movie; I had no thought what the publicity was going to be like, so I’d need to bracket and use half a roll simply to ensure 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 side is sort 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 images.

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

NA: That’s proper. That’s how I keep in mind it from the previous. It’s why an excellent image feels good. Though too many blackout frames could be a downside, in fact.

To me, the query of what a contemporary movie digital camera would possibly seem like is intriguing to contemplate and thrilling to ponder. Shoppers nowadays 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 high received’t reduce it. Customers received’t settle for poor-quality pictures simply because they’re utilizing movie; they’ll count on perfectly-exposed and -focused pictures with a “movie look” to them. Whereas filters that create an “old-timey” picture with vignetting and delicate corners are widespread, I don’t assume folks 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 reaching it. Will old school AF methods be adequate, or will folks be upset if the digital camera can’t discover and concentrate on a topic that might not be dead-center? Most likely 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 widespread line was the IQ-Zooms (Espios exterior the US), nicely-featured zoom-lens fashions with inexpensive costs. The picture above reveals the EZR, with a zoom vary of 38-70mm, and the 130M, protecting 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 photograph was taken. Good-condition fashions fetch upwards of $180 and $200 respectively on the present market. (Curiously, bit greater than an excellent-condition Ok-1000 SLR equipment talked about beneath.) It’s doubtless that the primary end result from the Movie Venture will likely be a compact digital camera of some sort, vs an SLR.

What Are Your Plans in Phrases of Varieties of Digital camera Fashions? (SLR, Compact, and so on.)

DE: TKO talked about that there will likely be a spread of recent movie cameras. From what I perceive, the primary mannequin we’ll see will likely 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 would possibly come first, second, and so forth?

KS: Presently, our essential focus is on growing 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 subsequent steps. We’re growing the present compact digital camera so we will use the know-how and capabilities in future merchandise.

DE: Sure, there’s a saying that you need to stroll earlier than you possibly can run. So, it’s vital 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. Normally, most digital camera producers announce a brand new product just some months earlier than its precise launch on the market. Nevertheless, 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 and marketing strategy?

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

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

DE: I believe your early publicizing of your plans could be very constructive as a result of it creates a dialogue between you and potential customers. It provides folks 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 previous Pentax to the brand new. Co-creation with the customers is likely one of the key features.

I’ve combined emotions in regards to the choice to start with a compact movie digital camera, slightly 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 will likely be simpler to fabricate. Alternatively, it appears to me that the individuals who’d be almost definitely to be critically into movie can be lovers, who’d like to make use of interchangeable lenses.

The extra I’ve considered it although, the extra I believe 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 value, many nonetheless in positive form. Have been Ricoh to easily come out with a newly-manufactured *ist physique, chances are high a variety of the folks most fascinated about it will have already got happy that urge by shopping for a used Ricoh or Pentax movie physique for underneath $100. Alternatively, a brand new compact movie digital camera would attraction to everybody from Gen-Z on up, photograph lovers included. Sensible name, I believe.

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

DE: Sure, I can see that. Alongside these traces although, I’ve heard lots from U.S. customers who need to really feel included by some means.

NA: Sure, certainly. I regret that. Though we obtain many feedback from U.S. customers and movie lovers, we haven’t been capable of set up a direct channel to speak with all of them over there. That is my headache, we’re attempting to consider how we will tackle 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 case you may announce that you simply’ll have an internet dialogue or one thing comparable? I perceive that it could be difficult…

NA: Even when we obtain quite a few feedback from customers, we would 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 could be some if we ask for enter, however then can’t reply every thing. Communication is so vital, 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 type does that take? How do you work together with customers? Is there one thing like focus teams?

KS: TKO and the product planning crew typically go to movie digital camera shops to listen to what persons are pondering. We additionally obtain contacts from photographers by way of Instagram. Moreover, we have now a showroom in Tokyo the place prospects can go to and interact in discussions. Typically we additionally attend photograph artwork faculty exhibitions, and currently we’ve been lively on social media. Customers typically go away feedback and requests on social media, not nearly specs but in addition asking for successors to previous fashions.

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

KS: Additionally, we examine the feedback on social media very steadily. And certainly there are extra feedback from abroad markets for the primary video we posted on YouTube about our movie venture. So truly 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 folks how you can take footage with their cameras however for them to easily have 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 house for photograph galleries. Nevertheless, 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 employees 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 house although, not like a standard 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 house with the brand new idea.

DE: I perceive that language obstacles could make informal interactions difficult, and it’s additionally a matter of practicality. As a lot as you would possibly need to do one thing comparable for the US shoppers, it simply wouldn’t be sensible to create a clubhouse in a spot like New York for instance. Even in case you made one, there’d be no means for product planners and engineers to only drop in on it, and there’d be a language barrier on high of it. It’s a troublesome downside, I’m wondering if there’s any means I’d have the ability to assist facilitate it? I’ll give it some thought…

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

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

Right here’s a query I’d just like the group to provide me some suggestions on: Might I probably play a task in facilitating suggestions and communications? I clearly have a variety of background in images and interacting with English-speaking photographers on-line, and have had a variety of publicity (no pun meant) to manufacturing processes from my years of interacting with engineers within the trade, manufacturing facility 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 photograph group. I don’t know precisely what it would seem like, however may think about speaking with the Pentax engineers and product planners, to know the suggestions they’ve acquired up to now and their ideas on it, summarize and current that to the US person 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 could be a non-public house during which extra proprietary concepts may very well be mentioned. – Or possibly a mix of each.

What do you assume? Would you be fascinated about being a part of a gaggle the place you understand that your enter and feedback can 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 at the moment have any strategy 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 fascinated about contributing.

The Pentax model had a protracted 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 fundamental options, strong efficiency, and a rock-bottom value. It bought for $299 with a bundled 50mm f/2 equipment lens when it was launched, however the value decreased with rising manufacturing to a low of simply $220 for a similar equipment in 1983. From there, inflation took a toll, with the worth rising to $315 in 1994, the place it stayed till it was discontinued. Be aware, although that these had been the official “listing” costs; again then SLRs normally bought for 30 to 40 p.c of official listing. So the road value of the 50mm equipment in 1983 was as little as ~$132. That was an excellent discount on the time for a fundamental SLR, however notice that the 40 years of inflation since then translate to a 2023 value of $375, and the K1000 was certainly a bare-bones entry-level mannequin with handbook publicity management. Even so, a value of $375 for a whole fundamental digital camera/lens equipment would rely as a discount even as we speak. Photo by Martin Taylor and licensed underneath CC BY-SA 2.5.

What Type of Particular Talent or Information is Wanted to Design Movie Cameras?

DE: TKO talked about that the talents and information wanted to make a movie digital camera are a lot completely different than these required to make digital fashions. I really feel it’s so vital to protect prior-generation information and expertise earlier than it fades away. What types of particular information do Ricoh’s senior engineers have that’s important for producing movie cameras? (Additionally, I used to be to listen to TKO describe among the conferences
between the younger and previous 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 elements, however in relation to mass manufacturing, every unit should meet a sure degree of high quality. It’s onerous to search out the perfect fine-tuning technique simply primarily based on design paperwork. As an example, 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 one in all our retiring engineers that it’s truly an integral part. So it’s not a lot a battle between younger and previous engineers, however slightly variations in interpretation of drawings or meeting strategies. Each younger and previous engineers actively focus on how you can obtain constructive outcomes.

DE: So in different phrases, whilst you can design one thing mechanically, understanding what the manufacturing facility 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 a variety of mechanics in a movie digital camera that both don’t exist or are completely 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 assume {that a} half was superfluous that was truly essential.

Is There Pressure Between Youthful and Older Engineers?

DE: I used to be too, that TKO stated that among the conferences between younger and previous engineers had been heated. “Heated” appears like there have been knocking heads (gestures, laughter) and disagreement. What types of, the place had been the factors that there was that pressure?

TKO (by way of HK): It’s not a lot a battle of various opinions. The youthful era of engineers doesn’t have a information of movie, so that they merely don’t know the way the mechanics ought 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 information that the youthful engineers don’t have.

KS: Precisely, it’s not about arguing, however slightly 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 develop from there. However the older engineers say no, no, you should begin from this space. This may be onerous to clarify. The mind-set and the steps of growth are principally completely different.

DE: So it’s about understanding the start line 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 subject. You talked about in passing at one level, I believe in one other interview, that movie is regularly disappearing and the processing for them as nicely. You talked about that you simply would possibly work with movie producers to develop 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 not present particular particulars right now. Nevertheless, our intention is to ascertain connections with all the businesses concerned in movie manufacturing and distribution. It’s essential for the movie market to develop and thrive.

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

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

Is the Movie Venture “Stealing” Assets From Your Digital Designs?

DE: After all, with all this speak of movie, a lot of your digital customers are involved that it would detract from developments on the digital aspect. Whilst you’ve stated that you don’t have any intention in anyway of transferring away from digital, what are you able to say to customers involved that the Movie Venture will drain essential sources out of your digital product line?

KS: Truly, the influence on digital cameras from the movie venture just isn’t so huge. We don’t have to drag a variety 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 serious 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 era begins growing a digital digital camera, they first concentrate on the sensor—what number of pixels, what sort, and so forth. Then they transfer on to different parts. However beginning a movie digital camera follows a special course of. It’s not a battle, only a completely 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 type of factor

It is a concern I’ve seen on-line and one I’ve had myself. The Ricoh/Pentax digital camera division is a extremely small producer in comparison with the trade giants, so that they need to 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 parts 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 so on. to design, structure, and write firmware for. Certain, there’ll be some type of microprocessor inside, however the electronics of a movie digital camera are orders of magnitude simpler than these of a digital digital camera, and the event effort for a movie digital camera will likely be small as a share of Ricoh/Pentax’s general product engineering.

What About Updates to Your Digital Lineup?

DE: Let’s discuss 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 value 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 possibly can’t share particular particulars, however can Pentaxians count on 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 subsequent superior mannequin. We intention to create a digital camera that meets their excessive expectations and displays a excessive degree of perfection. We’re repeatedly engaged on technological growth. Nevertheless, I’m sorry to say that we can not disclose when the brand new mannequin will likely be accessible. Within the meantime, we’ll proceed to enhance the satisfaction of present homeowners by offering companies that improve the efficiency of the cameras they at the moment personal.

DE: Ah, resembling firmware updates for the prevailing cameras?

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

DE: So it’s secure 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 believe present Ok-1 homeowners will recognize that. It’s an vital level.

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

DE: After all, however not less than they perceive the strategic strategy you’re taking.

Because it seems, Ricoh has greater than saved 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 Grey discovered it fairly compelling, with wonderful ergonomics, and real advantages for black and white images, together with larger efficient decision and decreased picture noise when in comparison with standard RGB cameras capturing in monochrome mode. It’s an admittedly area of interest product, however in case you’re critical about digital black-and-white images, it’s distinctive available in the market, not less than at its value level. (As Jeremy identified, different choices embody the Leica M11 Monochrom, at a body-only value of $9,195, or the Part One IQ4 150MP Achromatic digital again paired with an XF or XT digital camera physique, which is able to set you again about $60,000. On condition that, the $2,199 value of the Ok-3 Mark III Monochrome physique counts as a discount.

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

DE: Trendy digital camera growth is a really advanced and expensive course of, and within the mirrorless world, issues like AI-based topic recognition and monitoring have turn out to be vital options. Ricoh/Pentax’s small market share means you don’t have the R&D price range to match your bigger opponents. On condition that, what’s your technique to stay related available in the market? What’s Pentax’s area of interest that can guarantee its long-term survival? The Movie Venture looks like an vital (and distinctive!) path, however how are you going to 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 folks’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. Bought it, fascinating…

KS: And in addition, the Ok-1 is supplied with capabilities that use deep studying to acknowledge topics with excessive accuracy and mechanically choose the customized picture setting. We at all times concentrate on the usability to make the capturing expertise extra snug. So mechanics is vital for us in growth, even within the digital period. Pentax has additionally developed distinctive capabilities like astro-tracer, because of our distinctive electronics expertise. Our aim is to proceed being a producer that gives distinctive and progressive options.

DE: So that you imagine you possibly can introduce distinctive capabilities that others might not have thought-about or integrated.

In my thoughts, that is the important thing query in relation to their future viability. I used to be pleasantly shocked to listen to that they’re truly 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’d 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 doubtless rather a lot lower than that of their essential picture sensors. Because of this they’ll be restricted in how small topics may be throughout the body and nonetheless be correctly recognized, however the fundamental functionality of AI-based topic recognition is there nonetheless. (There are different trade-offs between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras in relation to autofocus, however a full therapy of execs, cons, and sure advances that may very well be delivered to DSLRs can be so long as this whole article, so I received’t try to handle 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 upset 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 shocked 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 big selection of general-use Picture Modes, I discovered the Particular Version FUYUNO, KYUSHU, and KATEN modes intriguing. These modes are solely accessible with particular Restricted-series lenses. Every mode is designed to work with a singular 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 folks to purchase completely different lenses, or is there another excuse behind it?

KS: We would like customers to see these customized picture specializations as a present for individuals who buy the particular version lenses, slightly than a further perform of the digital camera physique. By making use of picture tuning to maximise the distinctive rendering traits of every lens, you possibly can obtain expressions that can not be obtained with common customized picture modes. Now we have restricted the combos with a view 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 perform, we would like customers to know that altering the lens isn’t just about altering focal size, but in addition an vital think about enhancing the enjoyment of capturing and stimulating the photographer’s creativeness.

DE: Hmm, that’s an fascinating reply. I used to be simply pondering “Effectively, possibly it’s only a strategy to get folks to purchase lenses”, however it will also be seen, as you say, as a lens characteristic 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. When you change to the 31mm lens…

That is an instance of a customized picture possibility 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. Whilst you can match these settings manually in different picture modes, the brand new Customized Picture modes additionally map colours otherwise than the digital camera’s default, so it’s not potential to realize the identical results other than the precise lenses the modes are tied to.

DE: So KYUSHU reveals up with this lens, however whenever you use a special lens, you see a special possibility.

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

HK: Right now 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 shade 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 await the announcement, however does it work with the 77mm lens and another lenses as nicely?

HK: Sure, there are two lenses which might be suitable 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

After all, something an organization does is meant to earn cash, so in fact Ricoh is hoping that their Particular Version customized picture modes will result in extra lens gross sales.

I believe a variety 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 otherwise. In that case, the freebie can be a bodily object, so we’d be much less more likely to view it as a synthetic 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 considered 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 recognize the particular mode if it was there. On the identical time, I don’t see myself out capturing with a Ok-1 and feeling cheated by some means 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 appreciated it? Possibly, however I don’t really feel as strongly as I initially did about this “digital bundling”.

However I’m nearly actually not a typical Pentax shooter, and I’m inquisitive about 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 cross it alongside to my contacts at Ricoh.

You’ve Finished Effectively 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’ve gotten a roadmap for deliberate lens introductions that you possibly can share with our readers? What new or up to date lenses are most requested amongst your customers?

KS: We will’t disclose the whole roadmap for interchangeable lenses; sadly, we will’t share it right now. Nevertheless, it’s price mentioning that most of the lenses customers request are already best-selling lenses for different corporations. We imagine that our lens lineup also needs to have a singular identification. 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 appears like there will likely be alternatives for customers to offer enter sooner or later. As we talked about with the Movie Venture, it will be nice if there’s a strategy to embody 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 person enter, will you then launch a roadmap exhibiting the upcoming lenses and their launch dates, or will it’s extra of a case-by-case foundation as every lens is prepared for launch?

NA: We’re in fact at all times serious about the lens roadmap and future plans. There will likely 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 utterly proper now, we’re aiming to create a singular and distinct lens lineup for the long run. That’s why we’re not sharing a lens roadmap right now. Although it might not be till someday sooner or later that we have now our full technique, it’s potential that there could also be some info launched before that.

DE: Nearer to the discharge date.

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

DE: Your general 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 could focus a little bit slower, for instance. You need to give folks distinctive causes to personal a Pentax and shoot Pentax.

NA: Precisely. Why are you selecting Pentax? That ought to be increasingly 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 a variety 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 gradual movement 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 up to now this 12 months we’ve seen a recasting of their 50mm f/1.4 design in two variations, one with fashionable coatings and the opposite with the traditional SMC tech for a nostalgic look.

Per Akahane-san’s feedback, they’re at the moment rethinking their whole product line. Quite than updating a roughly commonplace lens with the newest and biggest expertise, what may they convey to their customers that might be distinctive to Pentax?

I believe this can be a sensible technique. Would somebody choose one producer over one other simply because they’d a very spectacular 15-30mm f/2.8? – I believe not. Alternatively, somebody who was actually into macros would possibly see an excellent wide-angle macro zoom as a purpose to get on board. I don’t know what types of lenses this strategy would possibly flip up, however I believe Ricoh is sensible 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 completely different variations of a 50mm f/1.4 up to now 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 robust common curiosity in up to date designs with sooner focus motors, and plenty of, many customers are in search of an replace to your DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 mannequin particularly. Are you able to provide them any encouragement that such a lens could be coming? Do you propose 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 possibly can’t simply drop it into an present design, you should prepare the optics, and the main focus group must be smaller or no matter. Bought it.

DE: I believe that’s all my questions, thanks very a lot to 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 high Ricoh administration, and the Movie Venture may have made an article all by itself. It was an fascinating dialogue, significantly given Akahane’s return to move up the imaging division once more.

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

  • The Movie Venture to develop a contemporary film-based digital camera continues to be at a really early stage.
  • The Movie Venture started within the thoughts and coronary heart of one in all their engineers, Takeo Suzuki (“TKO”). It took some promoting on his half, however administration all the best way to the highest degree is now onboard and enthusiastic.
  • They’re soliciting suggestions from photographers, to know what folks need and count on 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 20 years since mainstream movie cameras had been final bought. (Apart from disposable cameras, that are a wholly completely different market section.)
  • They’re evaluating whether or not provide chains nonetheless exist or may be recreated for film-camera parts.
  • They’re working to switch information about movie digital camera design from the older era (together with some engineers who’re already retired) to the youthful era to hold it ahead.
  • The information wanted for movie digital camera design primarily includes non-obvious mechanical components.
  • The primary mannequin will likely be a compact digital camera, not an ILC/SLR.
  • I requested Akahane-san what the attraction of movie images was. For him, it’s about having nothing between him and the topic however air and glass. Even a wonderful EVF show nonetheless includes a pc decoding a scene, slightly than him connecting with it instantly. (I believe this can be a feeling a variety of movie lovers can determine with.)
  • Ricoh has been amassing suggestions on the Movie Venture from photographers in Japan, the place engineers and product planners can simply work together with them. They’d very very like to have comparable suggestions from the English-speaking world, however the language barrier and bodily distance saved 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 could have already got executed so.
  • Some customers have frightened the Movie Venture would possibly draw sources away from Ricoh’s digital merchandise. They assured me that this wasn’t a problem; the trouble 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 so on, and no advanced firmware, so the Movie Venture is simply occupying a small fraction of their general engineering price range.
  • As regards to digital merchandise, Ricoh is certainly investing effort and sources there. Relating to new digital camera our bodies, Akahane-san stated that they should concentrate on what units them other than 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 present fashions, to reward their present customers.
  • I had some considerations about Ricoh having the sources to compete in an age the place AI and deep studying expertise have turn out to be so vital to the digital camera market. Shibuya-san identified that Pentax’s present Actual Time Scene Evaluation system truly already employs deep studying algorithms, working with knowledge from the autoexposure sensor.
  • Ricoh not too long ago introduced a number of “Particular Version” customized picture modes which might be 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, slightly than merely a gross sales method.
  • Quite a lot of customers have been requesting updates to earlier lens fashions, profiting from new expertise. They’ll actually do that as demand signifies, however they’re at the moment re-evaluating their whole lens lineup. Right here once more, their key technique is to search for methods to ship distinctive worth, slightly than simply “me too” variations of normal focal size/aperture combos.

Phew, that was a variety of materials. This is likely one of the longest interviews I’ve executed in latest reminiscence, however it’s been some time since there’s been any deeper protection of Ricoh for English-language readers. Hopefully, it’ll be well 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 could be a means I may facilitate communications between the 2. That is one other space I’d like to listen to suggestions on; do you assume I may serve a helpful perform, gathering enter from US photographers to carry to Ricoh in Japan, and speaking responses again? Please go away your ideas within the feedback.

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