Pentax shows connected APS-C DSLR, possible full-frame lenses at Consumer Electronics Show!


posted Monday, January 12, 2015 at 7:04 PM EDT


Last week, Ricoh Imaging showed reference designs for several upcoming products in its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time, we were flooded with meetings, so we're only just now getting a chance to cover the news, but we stopped by Ricoh's booth during the show to get some shots of the products under glass. They look to be pretty interesting for several reasons, hinting at the debut of some brand-new features in the Pentax DSLR lineup.

Perhaps the most immediately exciting of the group is a new (and as-yet unnamed) digital SLR, tentatively slated to hit retail this spring. Based around a 23.5 x 15.6mm sensor -- the same size featured in the 20-megapixel Pentax K-S1 and 24-megapixel K-3 -- this new DSLR looks to sit somewhere in between the two in terms of specifications. Several color variants were on display, including an all-black body, an all-white body with light grey accents on the grips, and an interesting black body with charcoal gray grips and an orange base plate.\

Pentax's as-yet unnamed APS-C DSLR, shown under glass at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The color variations suggest more of a consumer-oriented focus than the flagship K-3, which is offered only in black or silver. In terms of the few specifications we can glean from the body itself, though, this is a higher-end model than the entry-level K-S1. Features include twin control dials front and rear, twin User modes on the Mode dial, a new A-HDR mode (perhaps an automatic high dynamic range mode?), and a couple of Pentax firsts.

Close-up of the unnamed DSLR reference design in all-black color scheme.

A Wi-Fi button on the top deck tips us off to the fact that this will be the first Pentax digital SLR with built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking capability, and it's paired with an NFC logo in the side of the handgrip, indicating that Near-Field Communications will also be included for swift pairing. Perhaps even more excitingly, there's a side-mounted tilt/swivel LCD display, shown opened for a forward-facing selfie or portrait shot on the black model, and closed to face inwards on the other bodies.  We find tilt/swivel designs like these to be much more versatile than tilt-only designs as offered by some competitors, both because they allow for a much greater range of motion that makes it easier to frame from unusual angles, and because they can be closed facing inwards to protect the screen from smudges or minor knocks and scrapes.

Top view of the unnamed Pentax APS-C DSLR.

Equally interesting is the lens shown mounted on all three bodies. It's Pentax's first retracting kit lens for APS-C DSLRs, and surprisingly given that retracting design, it carries the WR mark indicating a weather-sealed design. (That could also be seen as a hint that the camera bodies themselves are likewise weather-sealed, which if true would be an impressive feat, given that fully-articulated screen.)

The forthcoming DSLR, shown here in white with light grey accents, is expected to ship this spring.

Focal lengths marked on the lens range from 18-50mm, suggesting a 35mm-equivalent range of 27-75mm on an APS-C body, and maximum aperture varies from f/4 at wide-angle to f/5.6 at telephoto. Badged as a DA-L lens, this compact optic retracts using a small button on the frontmost ring that surrounds the lens barrel, helping to keep it compact when not in use. It also bears the DC mark for a Direct Current motor, suggesting that it will focus both quickly and near-silently. This product, too, is slated for release this spring, according to Ricoh.

A look at the rear of the DSLR. Sadly, a wall behind the display prevented us shooting straight-on.

Finally, there were two further K-mount interchangeable lenses on display, and these get our juices flowing for a different reason. While neither bears any markings whatsoever, and so we can't guess at their features, both designs look a lot like full-frame lenses to us. According to Ricoh, no market launch timing has been decided for either optic, and the model names too are still under wraps. We do know that one lens will be a high-magnification super-telephoto zoom, and the other a large-diameter telephoto zoom, but as of right now, that's all we can say with any certainty.

Ricoh's two new Pentax K-mount lens reference designs.

Could Ricoh have something up its sleeve that will finally answer Pentaxians' call for a middle-ground between its APS-C DSLR lineup, and its medium-format 645-series DSLRs? We can only hope it's so, as we've routinely heard from Pentax shooters asking for a full-frame option whenever we've solicited interview questions for the company over the last few years.

A view of both upcoming lenses, with their K-mount interfaces shown.

We will, of course, have more news on all of these products just as soon as Ricoh makes a formal announcement. Watch this space for more!