Pentax has again confirmed its commitment to the digital SLR, rather than mirrorless camera technology. The company has unveiled a social media campaign and set up a microsite, which is something of a love letter to mirrored cameras, and optical viewfinders/pentaprisms in particular. While there is no explicit reference to NOT going down the mirrorless route, the ‘m’ word never appears on the main microsite; instead, the site reads like an extended mission statement taken from an annual report, with a reminder that Pentax was a pioneer in SLR technology.
Also embedded in the micro site is a somewhat more revealing interview between Pentax president Shinobu Takahashi and Japanese photographer Keita Sasaki, with English subtitles. It is fair to say Takahashi doesn’t exactly get a grilling – Sasaki is no Jeremy Paxman, and the high standards of Japanese politesse are rigorously observed.
The interview video is still worth watching though. When asked about any plans to release a mirrorless model, the company line is “we aren’t prioritizing either SLRs or mirrorless models. The thing that matters most to Pentax is developing SLR cameras that will provide our users with the ultimate pleasure of photography.” And there is a lot of touchy-feely stuff about that (see the ‘Five Principles of Pentax’ at the end of this article).
Customers will make their own mind up, but it’s surely a brave move by Pentax to remain a DSLR stalwart in a tough, shrinking market increasingly dominated by higher-end mirrorless models from Sony, Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm, with their big R&D budgets and marketing spends. Even the biggest Pentax cheerleader would also have to concede that a lot of the benefits of DSLRs spelled out in the new campaign can also apply to mirrorless cameras – including high-quality viewfinders. The days of titchy, poor quality EVFs, for example, are mostly gone.