Pentax reveals development of new APS-C flagship for 2020 (Edit: Now with additional observations)

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posted Friday, September 20, 2019 at 12:26 PM EDT


 
 

It's been a couple of years now since we last saw a new APS-C camera from Ricoh's Pentax brand, but it looks like that will be changing next year, as the company has today announced development of a new flagship-level APS-C DSLR for introduction in 2020. And if you're an APS-C shooting Pentaxian, your ears probably perked up immediately at the word "flagship".

When the previous-generation Pentax KP launched at the start of 2017, many sites reported on it as being a replacement for the K-3 II, a mid-2015 flagship model. We never really saw it that way, though. There were simply too many flagship-grade features the KP lacked, including dual flash card slots, top-of-the-line performance with a really generous buffer, a top-deck LCD info display, a PC sync terminal for external strobes, front and rear IR receivers for remote control, an in-camera GPS, a headphone port for audio levels monitoring and more. But while we confidently expected a K-3-series followup to arrive in short order, relegating the KP to mid-range status, it never did. The K-3 and K-3 II were eventually discontinued, and the plucky little KP -- which, to be fair, did best them in some respects too -- took on the mantle of de facto flagship.

 
 

It looks like the as-yet unnamed Pentax APS-C flagship in development for next year is going to address at least some of our concerns with the KP's shortcomings, though, and that's great news for Pentaxians! Although we don't yet see evidence of dual flash card slots, the new model's body -- which looks a lot like a shrink-rayed K-1 II crossed with a K-3 II -- does boast a top-deck info LCD, a PC sync terminal and what look to be IR remote receivers front and rear. Unlike the KP, there's no consumer-oriented popup flash either.

Up top, it looks like the new APS-C flagship will include a Smart Function dial like the K-1 series and KP a new capture mode selection dial used to switch between viewfinder, live view or movie capture. Sadly, there isn't an articulated LCD on the rear deck, which is a bit of a shame since both Pentax's full-frame DSLRs and the sub-frame KP did that feature. You can't win 'em all, though, and while the new camera may lack LCD articulation it makes up for it with a brand-new joystick control for autofocus point selection, plus a new proximity sensor beneath the viewfinder that can detect when you raise the camera to your eye.

The new camera does still sport a KP-like sub dial that sits atop the rear of the handgrip, a ths well as one mounted within the rear panel as in Pentax's other flagships Nearby, there's a new Function button which, perhaps, controls the function of this new dial, whilst the mode dial now sports a whopping five user modes as in the K-1 series. And on the back, there's one still as-yet unlabeled button at the top left corner, hinting at a possible future surprise Ricoh wants to hold back. (Or perhaps it just hasn't entirely settled on what it'll be using this control for.)

Overall what we're seeing so far looks to our eye to be more of a followup to the K-3 series than it is to the KP. The upcoming Pentax APS-C flagship will be launched in 2020, and Ricoh will be previewing the new model at a meeting in Japan acknowledging the company's hundred-year history on September 21st. No further info is available on the new model, so watch this space for more news as it comes to light!