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Friday, 01 July 2011

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Not sure what to think about this: I was convinced that Hoya's plans were to make the digital camera business profitable, and that was the reason why the brand new Q system had been developped and introduced. And the same about the 645 D system.

But this news evidences the contrary. Whether Ricoh will actually take care of Pentax as an independent brand or simply absorb its assets and let it die... is another story.

Oh dear lord no!

Maker of interesting, but doomed, nonsensical camera "system" buys doomed maker of interesting cameras who just brought out an interesting, but nonsensical camera system in the same niche.

I like my K-7, my FA 50, my 77 Limited, and even my WR kit zoom. But I don't really think this endeavour has a great future ahead of it (though I do applaud Ricoh for believing in themselves, in Pentax, and in the validity of quirky ideas).

Whether Ricoh will actually take care of Pentax as an independent brand or simply absorb its assets and let it die... is another story./Cateto/Jose...........Honestly what are Pentax's assets apart from the heritage and name?The FA's?The new Sony sensor(access)?Serious question here.

Too early to say how this will go, but Ricoh has the potential to bring some interesting technology to the Pentax brand - for example they have R&D in Silicon Valley focusing on technology, cloud, and mobile solutions. A 645D that uploaded direct to the cloud, with shooting limited only by battery capacity would certainly give other MF digital platform manufacturers something to think about. Memory cards could become just a backup medium.

Ricoh is a large, well resourced company with innovative enthusiast consumer digicams. Pentax would appear to be a good fit to round out their camera division product line.

It makes sense that two companies with many (some might say oddball) products and small market shares would join forces. Something to watch, but I don't expect dancing in the streets because given the anemic marketing of both companies I wonder about its future. In recent months a lot of Ricohphiles have been concerned about Ricoh's ability to spend r&d to come out with more modules for the GXR system, so it's a bit surprising that the parent company went on this spree, and I wonder how much money will be injected into the new photo subsidiary ... or if Ricoh will expect cost significant cost savings through 'personnel redundancies.'

Wow! Sounds like a good fit. Does this mean Ricoh cameras will now come in different colors?

>>Whether Ricoh will actually take care of Pentax as an independent brand or simply absorb its assets and let it die... is another story.<<

In Pentax's favor is the fact that it still has a fair amount of brand value here in the U.S., whereas Ricoh, at least in the photographic market, has practically none. The challenge for either brand is distribution. They've got to more retailers willing to sell their products.

I think this should be good news for Ricoh fans as Ricoh capacity to develop new lenses was very limited
I assume we should see in 2012 more aps pentax lenses make their way intothe GXR

Harold

I hope Ricoh keeps the camera business rolling. I am a huge fan of Ricoh's old film cameras, which can be had for pennies on the dollar compared to some of the more popular collector brands. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about the GXR system.

Seriously, I'd love to read some analysis of the repercussions of this deal. Ricoh at least have proven their tenacity despite next to non-existant market share, and they do produce some nice niche products that seem to fit the kind of traditional photographer Pentax was also targeting.

But I wonder what this means regarding their camera systems. A Q module for the GXR? A K module? A new mK mount for mirrorless, large-sensor cameras? Ricoh/Pentax DSLRs and lenses? What about 645? Obviously, I'm mostly concerned about the future of the K mount.

One way to look at it: maker of photographer-oriented DSLRs merges with maker of photographer-oriented compacts.

Another way to look at it: maker of GXR merges with maker of Q.

Could be brilliant or could be a disaster.

I have no informed idea of where this will lead, but I'm going to let myself hope that Ricoh will eventually try to merge the GXR system with the Q system and the anticipated larger-sensor Pentax mirrorless system. I'm not exactly holding my breath, though.

Hoya might be thinking Pentax is at an all time high in value, so it's letting it go. Ricoh seems to let its camera branch play a very creative game; who knows what will come out of that? remember Rikenon K-mount lenses?

I am not worrying yet. This could be good news. I just hope the K mount continues to exist. If not, I am going to have a large collection of worthless glass.


Mike wrote "(Coincidentally, the Ricoh GXR just arrived on the porch of Chez TOP today, and I've been futzing happily with it all evening.)"

Hmmm. Pentax is a sponser of this site, seems a remarkable conicidence. Mike did you know this was in the works?

This is a tough one as I'm a fan of both companies and I think they could be a good match. Pentax has never been big in the compact market, where Ricoh has a loyal following amongst enthusiasts with the GR series. Likewise, Ricoh gave up on SLRs when the world went AF and even then, they were never really considered major league. They made some interesting cameras, but never really had the glass to complement the system.

I just hope Ricoh gives the Pentax brand the respect it rightly deserves. Perhaps they should keep the Pentax name for SLRs and Ricoh for compacts (including the thoroughly interesting GXR).

I wouldn't be surprised if the Q gets quietly brushed under the tatami mat though...

I am very optimistic about this sale. I think that ricoh can and will do some great things with pentax, including getting out a large sensor mirrorless on the market combining ricoh and pentax know-how for small photographer oriented cams... yay.

I hope we'll all be cheering Rictax! rather than bemoaning Pentoooooh.

Now the launches of Q and 645 make a lot of sense: regardless of commercial success, they would have contributed to goodwill in the sale (i.e. having a solid product pipeline and unique products in the market place).

Now that the dust has settled I'm a little nervous at what this will mean. Wait and see I suppose...

Pak

"Mike did you know this was in the works?"

Tom,
Nope, not a clue. Yesterday was the first I knew of it.

Mike

If I were a Pentax or Ricoh user, I would be deeply worried about--well--everything to do with this deal. The merger makes a company with _SIX_ very different camera lines:

Pentax 645D
Pentax K-mount
Pentax Q-mount
Pentax APS mirrorless (not yet announced)
Ricoh GXR
Ricoh P&S (do Pentax even make P&S any more?)

Something has got to go. If we're lucky, it will be one or two camera lines. If we're not, it will be all of them, possibly taking Ricoh with them.

James,
It's also possible that Ricoh will go on as it has, and Pentax will go on as it has, as separate entities, just under the same ownership. I don't know anything, but this is at least a possibility. An example of this are Gitzo and Manfrotto, which are established as separate companies and separate lines (that parallel in many case) but are owned by the same company.

Mike

The Pentax APS-C mirrorless can now be a Ricoh GXR K-mount module. Presto. Ricoh GXR can also get a Q-mount module. Presto, everything is tied together.

Well, some thought:

The sales price was really low. Just about two years of Ricoh's camera division's losses worth. This sentence alone could make fans of either maker cry.

They will probably use the Pentax distribution channels (I assume they are at least a little better than Ricoh's for cameras) and name (at least for 645, K-Mount and Q, if they survive).

The rumored Pentax Mirrorless/NC1 was the Q. There was not going to be a second, larger sensor Pentax mirrorless system, so there is no mini-K to kill off.

I don't think they'll continue Pentax's compacts, nor do I think anyone will care a lot. Cheap compacts don't really earn money anymore; big camera companies can make them work by reusing r&d and parts, and through sheer numbers. For smaller players, this equation looks a lot worse.

I think they're going to continue K-mount, maybe even develop a K-compatible APS-C mirrorless mount. Maybe as a GXR module (or maybe as a GXR module and dedicated camera line).

I don't think the Q makes more sense than GXR (which I think makes none) - but maybe together, they have a chance. Or one or both systems are quietly phased out (which will only further weaken confidence in their systems).

In any case, this will be interesting. The owners of Ricoh seem to be photography fans, otherwise they would probably have stopped making cameras themselves. Honestly, I don't think Ritax has a chance of competing with CaPaNiSo in the next ten years. And maybe that's not their plan.

As always we have to wait. I like Ricoh and i like Pentax. Both are underdogs with very good cameras and lenses. Both are very interested to stay in contact with their users and their experiences which is important! With both brands the salesmen have to talk a view sentences more to sell, but mostly a Ricoh Compact and Pentax DSLR fits more well into consumers hands, and both brands have outstanding features no other has. For this reason Ricoh needs better ways to sell their Line-Up, because internetshoppers can't handle a model before buying. I believe they will try to turn their knowledges into gold. It was clear long ago that Hoya was much more interested in the medical pentax line-up, than in the camera division, it was a question of time. Hoya has now what they wanted, and so the camera division is sold to Ricoh. Ricoh's line-up with GRD/GX 200 and GXR can compete with Leica's X1 or D-Lux 5 in terms of imagequality! I had also a GXR from Ricoh Germany for reviewing. The aps-c modules are top of the line in terms of craftmansship and imagequality, so is the body. All in all, in my opinion a better deal than a sale to a big one like Canikon, Sony/Samsung/Panasonic. But let's say it again: We have to wait and going out shooting as always. Cameras are just Tools :)
XebastYan from photoblossoms.wordpress.com

do Pentax even make P&S any more?

Oh, yes. Pentax Optio.

Ricoh bought a historic camera company with some excellent products, including all the patents, brand name, stock, distribution and production facilities....

For $125m. (I know people who paid more for their houses).

Hoya's stock went up sharply, Ricoh's went down. Tells you what the market thinks of the deal.

A lot of doom and gloom out in the internet space and some cautious optimism. Its really too early to say yet but initial indications are that Ricoh wants to keep the Pentax brand alive and in fact strengthen its core abilities. The pdf from Ricoh expands on some of their ideas namely:
they are aware of Asahi Pentax's history mentioning superb lens technology, high consumer satisfaction ratings and strong support from a 'solid fan base' :D - looks like they are reaching out to the community from the off
Furthermore: they want to develop the business with enhanced interchangable-lens cameras, expansion of product lineup and interchangeable lens portfolio - thats a win from the off
They also talk of developing new business with regards to allowing customers easy access to view, save and retouch photos.
Also mentioned is the possibility of using the MFD in image archival.

Two niche especially strong-in-their-niche-but-incompatible players join together may not work. The guys may stay but the product may go or both gone. Given it is Pentax who moved around, one wonder.

But both are good innovator. As it said, one hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Konica-minota --> Sony.

Ricoh-Pentax --> ?

This should have happened in 2007 when Hoya purchased Pentax. Yet another sale means that product development stops before the transfer and then gets re-thought once again for a number of months, while everybody else is firing on all cylinders.

There was an interesting post a couple of days ago on DPreview when somebody was asking "where are the new lenses, Hoya?" - turns out that the last significant lens was the DA 15mm/f4 in March of 2009 (2008 had quite a bit of lenses, probably in the pipeline before the transfer to Hoya). In the last two years since there's only been a mediocre zoom and a cheap 35mm f/2.5 to fend off Nikon's and Sony's faster versions (plus some boring 'WR' lens re-hashing) .

So it's all too clear now how Hoya made the Pentax imaging division slightly profitable by killing the expensive lens R&D: they closed the Pentax japanese lens manufacturing facility and they starved new lens production while planning to sell the division. They also increased the lens prices radically, to either match the yen to the dollar or to just increase the value of their assets.

And yes, they finally came-out with some great K5 & 645D bodies, but you have to develop on all fronts, bodies, lenses, flashes, etc. When was the last time that Pentax really innovated? It was around the K10D era with its great level of features/price (including in-body image stabilization) and the great lenses announced or released around that timeframe (plus the 645D R&D that started around 2005). The Q, unfortunately, is not innovative at its crazy price point.

To the doomsayers ... If Ricoh's intent is not to use the Pentax name and not to continue developing K-mount dSLRs, then what exactly did they pay $120 million for? The right to make Ricoh Optios?

Many Pentaxians are trying to be optimistic about this deal. And perhaps it will work out. After all, Pentax and Ricoh seem to be a great match on several levels. But, frankly, we really need more information.

I hope someone from Ricoh has been perusing the Internet today and is seeing all the questions many of us have. Maybe they can't say much now, but a mission statement that includes at least broad information about their plans for the Pentax brand would be very helpful right after the deal closes.

In the meantime, I was at B&H today where I picked up a DA Limited 21mm lens for my K200D. I really wanted to pull the trigger on a K-5. But, somehow, I couldn't bring myself to do it. Please Ricoh... don't give us the silent treatment the way Hoya did. Let us know what you have in mind. A confide t customer base is a great thing for a company to have.

If I were a 645D owner I would be crapping my pants, probably unnecessarily, but nevertheless. It would behoove Ricoh to announce new lenses for 645 system fast, because anyone who spends $10000 for a camera with "Pentax" on it in this day and age deserves a hell of a lot of credit, and should be rewarded for their loyalty. These folks could help bring Pentax into the mainstream again, because they obviously have buying clout and recognize a good camera when they see one.

I am a fan of both companies, largely because they are underdogs, and seem to want to push the envelope. I see why they would merge. Ricoh was never going to gain ground in the US market selling "Ricoh's", and Pentax, despite its brand clout in the USA, kept playing catchup via similitude vs Nikon/Canon. Perhaps now we will see some real innovation in the compact segment, since both companies have nothing to lose.

Still, 124 million for Pentax, sounds like there is red ink all over the place. If they were really working for 5 years on Q system, then everyone from the top down should have their head handed to them.

This time, they actually talk to their customers:

Open letter from Hoya to Pentax customers: http://www.pentaximaging.com/about-us.aspx?p=press&pid=OPENLETTERFROMHOYATOVALUEDPENTAXCUSTOMERSANDPARTNERS20110701110803

All employees will be transferred, all products continue to be sold. Ricoh buys Pentax Imaging whole, including R&D, design, manufacturing and sales.

Press release: http://www.hoya.co.jp/english/news/latest/d0h4dj0000001fv8-att/d0h4dj0000001fwi.pdf

Ricoh wants to build a consumer camera business, buys Pentax for brand name, "small and lightweight" interchangeable lens technology, sales channels. Ricoh wants to enhance their interchangeable lens camera business.

In their press release - http://ricoh.com/release/2011/pdf/0701.pdf - Ricoh state one of their goals is "[e]xpansion of product lineup and interchangeable lens portfolio"

Whatever comes of this, I think it's safe to say that Ricoh has good intentions. They are also a bigger company than Hoya, and seem to value photography more. I'm starting to be cautiously optimistic.

It would be great if Ricoh concentrate on P&S and Pentax concentrate on DSLR/MFs.

An updated lens line up would be great; tilt/shift and a 100-400 f4 would be nice, as would some extension tubes. I'm pleased they did the WR range, as motorbikes, modern electronic cameras and English weather don't go well together, and on a K20D they are cheap enough (with good quality), that I don't have to molly-coddle my "investment".

You probably all know this anyway, but there can be probs using old Ricoh lenses on Pentax DSLRs;
http://www.theatreofnoise.com/2008/05/ricoh-lenses-on-pentax-cameras-ricoh.html

all the best phil

"If I were a 645D owner I would be crapping my pants, probably unnecessarily, but nevertheless."

I am a 645D owner and my reaction is quite the opposite. Hoya clearly had no interest in camera sales and the positive developments under their management were likely motivated by a desire to make the camera division more attractive to a buyer, not any long range plans. Ricoh has stated an interest in DSLRs. Why else would they buy the camera division of Pentax? I knew I was gambling when I bought a 645D given Hoya's attitude toward the camera division, I'm much more comfortable with Ricoh.

In reply to David Robinson's serious question about what are Pentax assets:

well, in my book they have a know-how about designing a perfectly organized SLR camera that is unmatched; they have the K mount and the prime lenses which are a dream for many photodogs (and for the record, unavailable in any other system, at this time); and they have a long tradition of focus-on-photography (rather than gimmicks) which is well valued. Just look at the reviews of the K-5, or look at the reviews of the K10D, and before the K100D...

And most importantly, look at the pictures.

If those are not asset...

Ricoh, thanks for the Q.

Announced a week before the major acquisition, it only means that a long shelved project by Pentax was in fact resurrected and pushed forward by a new buyer, who wants a head start of advantages for itself, and capitalise as much as possible on its investment.

Q release date outside Japan is late September/October, just in time when the deal between Hoya and Ricoh will be finalised. Negotiations in purchases like this last for months. Last few weeks are left to lawyers to polish the details (even the press releases must be approved ahead, by lawyers of both companies) and no new major camera *system* is released without buyer knowing exactly what they get with it. So, just a week before the acquisition, when lawyers are working silently through the paperwork, Q comes ...

I think it's more than safe to assume Ricoh is Q's fairy godmother. They wanted it. And perhaps this may hint the way they will rationalise their own lineup and what's on their mind.

If all this is a hint of things to come, I bet in $100 that this is what Ricoh wants: build *SYSTEMS* around different sensor sizes. Well, not *all* possible sensors, but approx. small (Q), medium (K) + new one for mirrorless mount (a shelved project by Pentax?) and a large size (645D). Because systems make sense in the long run.

Q would probably never see the daylight under Hoya. If Pentax Q is a sign of new enthusiasm and visions coming from Ricoh, then I welcome their dedication. Hope there'll be more shelved ideas and products (which were long overdue) now resurrected.

i am also not worrying about it. it will be nice that the two biggest "underdogs" will make more photographer-orientated cameras. the only problem i see is the 645D system regarding following lens line-up. but we will see what the future brings.
...i am hot to see the upcoming aps-c module for the GXR with a zoomrange from 24mm-85mm....and the m-mount module.

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