Snapshot Voyager is about my own personal photography journey. I am always looking to try something new, inquisitive as to how it works, and to the end results I might achieve.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Pentax Mirror-less mysteries

You have to admire Pentax, they are small enough to come up with some hair brained ideas, some great and others daft, but something you would never ever see from Nikon or Canon.  The Pentax Q is one of those great ideas (the price tag less so), however I am not sure how this new K-01 will go.  

On paper it looks promising – a mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor that takes the legendary and plentiful Pentax K mount lenses.  But there-in lies the problem.  K mount lenses have a sensor (or film plane) to lens mount distance of about 45mm to get around a traditional SLR mirror box.  To put that into perspective, this is 6mm GREATER than the entire depth of a Sony NEX-5!  So even without looking at the dimensions, you know this mirrorless camera is gonna be big.  In fact the K-01 is 20mm taller and 20mm deeper than a NEX-5, and almost twice the weight, and this really defeats the whole purpose of a mirrorless camera. 
The only way around this would be to use a body mounted optic to shorten the effective sensor to lens mount distance, but this would result in all sorts of potential optical issues to overcome.

The really interesting point though is the joint release of a new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens.  This lens is truly the smallest I have ever seen – it protrudes less than 1cm in front of the camera.  A quick look at the profile of the lens suggests that the optics have been moved back into the cavity in the mirrorless body where the mirror box on an SLR would normally be, thus creating the tiny size (and likely inability to be used on any other Pentax SLR).  This does make the total depth of the camera a manageable 61mm, which compared the 72mm of my NEX-3 with the Leica to NEX adapter and the compact Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 Nokton attached, doesn’t seem so bad.  However the NEX-3 with the Sony 16mm f2.8 attached is tiny at just 54mm deep.

The other issue is that just as the 16mm Sony lens is a bit too wide to be used as a standard lens, the 40mm Pentax lens is a bit too long; and this limits its street shooter appeal.

Sony NEX-3 with Leica 50mm Summicron M

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