Earlier this week, Ricoh Imaging introduced the Pentax 645Z, a high resolution 51.4 MP medium format DSLR camera. While Nikon has been relatively quiet on the resolution front with its now 2+ years old 36 MP D800/D800E models and Canon has not stepped up above 24 MP, Pentax is stepping in with a larger sensor that provides super high resolution 51.4 MP images. With its 43.8 x 32.8mm size sensor, the 645Z has a smaller version of the medium format (MF) sensor that is similar in size to the Leica S-System, although with a different aspect ratio of 4:3 vs 3:2. Compared to full-frame sensors, the physical size of the 645Z MF sensor is about 166% (or 1.66 times) larger, which is a huge difference. Enough of a difference to allow for relatively large pixel size of 5.3 microns – bigger than 4.8 microns on the Nikon D800/D800E. Why does this matter, you might ask? Well, that’s because the Pentax 645Z comes with a CMOS sensor, which is similar technology as we see on all modern DSLR cameras. Compared to traditional CCD sensors used on medium format cameras, a CMOS sensor is capable of yielding images with very little noise at high ISO sensitivity levels. As a result, the Pentax 645Z has an ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 204,800, which is a mind-boggling number for a medium format camera.
A number of our readers have been asking our team about our recommendations on different mirrorless cameras. With so many different options on the market today, choosing a mirrorless camera can get very confusing. In the new series of articles, we will compare all the options on the market today starting from entry-level, mid-level to high-end. In this particular article, I would like to start off by comparing mirrorless camera systems that are available today from different manufacturers. This below charts will be updated periodically with new / updated information. Please note that the below comparisons are only for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Discontinued systems such as Pentax K-01 and Ricoh GXR are not included. The list is sorted alphabetically and had to be split into two parts to fit. Also, please keep in mind that some of the benchmarks presented in this article are very subjective, based on our prior experience using the cameras.
Today, Pentax has released the replacement for its popular and highly-regarded K-5 (II) models. Being one of those manufacturers who know how to offer plenty of bang for your buck, the new Pentax K-3 offers a lot of improvements over the older model. This time, though, the headline feature is not a new sensor or improved AF system, but the AA filter that you can adjust on the go for more resolution or less moiré.
Along with the mirrorless Q7, Pentax has just announced the entry-level K-500 and a slightly more advanced K-50 DSLRs. The new DSLR cameras packs a very competitive APS-C sensor and a lot of tempting features into compact bodies. Both K-50 and K-500 offer a lot of the same specifications, but K-500 further knocks around $200 off K-50’s price and costs around $600 to purchase. Pentax has also revised two kit zoom lenses. Both 18-55mm and 50-200mm class lenses are weather sealed. Let’s see what the two cameras can offer in terms of specifications.
Main Pentax K-50/K-500 Specifications
Traditionally, Pentax DSLRs have always been about good value with competitive prices that become even more tempting thanks to generous specification. The story is no different with K-50/K-500. I can’t help but admire the effort Pentax is making, because, coupled to the excellent Limited series lenses, these cameras can be great for casual shooting. As with Pentax q, 120 color combinations are available. Both DSLRs offer 16.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensors with ISO sensitivity of up to 51200 and 3″ LCD screens with approx. 921k dots. Couple that to a 100% optical pentaprism viewfinder (glass, not mirror) and built-in, sensor-based image stabilization and you end up with a very attractive package indeed. What’s more, K-50 comes with weather sealing.
It’s not hard to see Pentax (now owned by Ricoh) as one of the “quirky”, bold camera companies, and mirrorless Pentax Q system is a great testimony to such a claim. While Sony, Olympus and other manufacturers busied themselves launching extremely competitive and, in a way, predictable compact system cameras, Pentax decided to take a risk and released the original Q back in 2011. A camera that was essentially an unconventional-looking compact point-and-shoot with interchangeable lenses never really caught on. Even so, Pentax today announced the latest member of the compact system – the Q7.
Pentax Q7 Specifications
I’ll go ahead and say it – I was never a big fan of Pentax Q and thought it to be too expensive for what it was. But I also don’t think it’s a bad system as long as you realize that intended competition is advanced point-and-shoot cameras, such as Nikon P7700. With that in mind, Pentax has a few fun things on offer with the system. For example, the Q7 can be ordered in any of the 120 color combinations. That’s right. One hundred and twenty. With a bit of effort, one can turn this into a very handsome camera, or a very ridiculous one.
Today, Pentax-Ricoh announced a new high-end compact camera. Not someone you’d call a conventional camera manufacturer (neither Ricoh nor Pentax, for that matter), the new camera seems extremely tempting, especially considering its price. Ricoh GR features a 16.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a fixed 18.3mm f/2.8 lens (equivalent to 28mm on a full-frame camera), and will set you back around $800. At least on paper, it seems to be targeting potential Fujifilm X100s buyers, only with a couple of features missing and at a considerably lower price. Another (even more) direct competitor is the Nikon Coolpix A, which is also much more expensive.
Specifications and Commentary
As I have already mentioned, a 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor is at the heart of this new compact camera, which is in line with its closest competition, the Fujifilm X100s and Nikon Coolpix A. Following the same decision made by several other manufacturers so far, the camera does not have an AA filter. While I strongly believe 35mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length to be the most flexible when it comes to prime lenses, 28mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length in the case of Ricoh GR is likely to be appreciated by street photographers just as much. You may find f/2.8 to be somewhat slow for a fixed lens, but the Ricoh GR compensates by being very small and potentially capable in low light thanks to the ISO range of 100-25600. Even though you should take “paper” specs with a grain of salt, modern sensors, even smaller ones, seem to do rather well up to very high sensitivities in noise department. There’s no reason to think Ricoh GR will be sub-par in this regard or, at least, one can’t be blamed for hoping.