In North America, Kenko is probably best-known for its line of filters and conversion lenses, as well as its mirror lenses and a variety of accessories. In certain other markets, however, the company also offers 35mm film SLRs with Nikon F, Pentax K, and Yashica / Contax mounts, as well as quite a range of electronic gadgetry including compact digital cameras, camcorders, flash strobes, light meters, medical devices, and plenty more besides. Hence, while an in-house, interchangeable lens digital camera is still quite an undertaking for the company, it's perhaps not quite the leap it might seem.
The as-yet unnamed Kenko SLD was apparently previewed at last year's Photokina tradeshow, according to DC Watch, but the camera mockup didn't make it to the show in time. The Japanese-language press was instead shown several photos of the camera, which they duly reported on -- but doubtless due to the rush of simultaneous announcements, the news slipped by unnoticed in the English-language media. The magnesium-bodied camera will include a 14 megapixel image sensor of unspecified size and type, as well as offering C-mount lens compatibility. The C-mount format is a screw-mount best known for its historic use in 16mm movie cameras, as well as appearing in business applications such as closed circuit TV cameras and microscopes.
As of last September, the plan was that the camera would ship this February, and would offer only JPEG still image capture, with no raw format available. That ship date has now slipped to a somewhat vague "Summer 2011", and we're not sure if the plan is still for JPEG-only shooting. (We'd hope not; as a camera likely aimed at enthusiasts, it would seem logical to include an open raw format such as Adobe's DNG.) A mockup shown to DC Watch at the Tokyo International Gift Show also includes a hot shoe for external flash strobes, but no built-in strobe. Images will apparently be stored on Secure Digital cards, with no word on SDHC or SDXC support. Planned pricing is in the region of ¥30,000, or approximately US$370, ignoring exchange rate fluctuations, taxes, and duties. As well as C-mount lenses, Kenko plans to offer adapters for Nikon F-mount lenses, and for T-mount compatible telescopes or spotting scopes.
More details (if you speak Japanese, that is), plus a variety of images can be seen on the DC Watch blog.
Kenko's SLD camera mockup on display at the Tokyo International Gift Show.
Photo provided by Kenko Co. Ltd.