Pentax has been the underachiever for so many years; the underdog; the quiet one that sat at the back of the class not because of any inherent coolness but because of quite the contrary. Pentax has been the butt of so many jokes, their mass production of spectacularly mundane cameras – sometimes hidden beneath a thin glossy veil of nauseating paintwork – being the main cause of repeated cases of having their ass handed to them on a platter with fries by haters of the internet. But hold on a minute, people of the internets, because – Dat Full Frame Pentax Tho! (Alright, that meme is a bit two-thousand-and-late now but hey, it’s a Pentax.)
The release of a full-frame Pentax was heavily implied at the beginning of the year, strongly suggesting an end-of-year introduction. An early mockup of the camera was then shown in a glass case at CP+, which was sort of meaningless mainly because:
1) It looked like any other Pentax DSLR and
2) It was just a lump of plastic – solid lump of plastic rather than a more exciting hollow piece of plastic filled with electronics – so, yeah, it looked like any other Pentax DSLR.
Although they won’t be delivering on the previously announced end-of-year release date, Pentax does have a minisite up and running, which makes it somewhat more real despite the fact that nothing else has been revealed in annoyingly sausage-teasing fashion.
Actually, the website shows even less, visually, than before with parts of the camera underexposed to hide parts of the camera that probably haven’t been developed yet and the whole site is strikingly lacking in any colour whatsoever, making it seem more like an obituary than a celebration of the birth of a new camera. Probably. Still, there is something about imagery on the internet that entices one to fantasise versus seeing a similar thing in the flesh. The peephole vision of Pentax’ full-frame glory is not a sight to behold but it does make the mind overwhelmed with wild fantastical thoughts of what it might become. Or maybe that’s just me. That is all you can do right now as no specs have been released but at least we have been informed of a spring 2016 release date.
That is some wait – but is it worth it? Will this be more impressive than anything than Canon or Sony or the other one has released recently. In a word: no. Just guessing, but I reckon the key selling points will be a full-frame sensor sans AA filter with an average count of megapixels – probably at least 24-mp or really not much more than 30-mp – with the benefit of in-body stabilisation, possibly a half-decent burst rate of 7fps, ISO up to 102,400 along with GPS, lots of weather-sealing, HDR and the other things that Pentax owners love. It will still have mediocre video performance and a clunky menu system. I have a feeling the specs won’t be making much of a statement at all. But to be honest, a full-frame Pentax is enough of a statement as it is.
I don’t care about the menu system or a crap video mode. As much as I jest about the digital imaging products from Pentax, I really want this to happen. It still won’t be the camera of choice for professionals, but not every camera purchased has to be a concious business decision. Pentax has a list of very worthy modern lenses – FA Limited were once proclaimed as “the best primes ever tested” by Popular Photography mag – and some top class classic lenses too. The appeal of an array of tasty optics should be the thing that appeals to the enthusiast photographer the most.
I’m sure the Pentax full-frame won’t make the people who are contemplating the purchase of a Canon 5Ds R or Nikon D810 think twice about their choice. But it will certainly make those who have a level of appreciation for the history of the brand that dates back much, much further than the era of hideous limited editions and colour combinations of seemingly randomly plucked hues from the Pantone chart, want to explore the brand again in a new light. Spring 2016 is going to be like a renaissance for Pentax – it seems like the full-frame Pentax is going to be awesome. That is, if it doesn’t completely suck.
Now here we present to you, the good reader who has managed to make it this far in the article, some loosely-related video content produced by DRTV: