Pentax is showing some small signs of life, despite a nightmarish treatment from its parent company, Ricoh. If Ricoh were an parent, Pentax would be a ward of Protective Services (probably roommates with Olympus). In an act of either desperation or self-delusion, the Pentax division was forced to announce in January that it was suspending “mass production,” and would be working more like a bespoke camera workshop.
The first efforts of this bespoke model have surfaced, showing – as feared and expected – that it’s an existing camera in a different color, with a badge and a upgraded price tag.
And then Pentax recanted with a strange release that sort-of-denied that model, indicating that the workshop method may be more about the Japan market specifically.
So yesterday, to ensure that no clarity could be had by anyone, Ricoh chimed in, telling the market that it is indeed going to sell direct to customers – mostly online – and that some or all of future camera development would be done via crowdfunding. It made no mention of markets outside of Japan, but presumably if there aren’t factories producing cameras, those markets will have to rely on the quaint “Koubou-like manufacturing.”
But beneath those releases that seem to indicate Ricoh is washing its hands of Pentax liabilities, there are some small signs of life. Pentax released new firmware for the K1, K1 II and the K3 III, which ads a new Astrotracer mode (for the K3 III in addition to improving autofocus and nipping some bugs. So, somewhere, there is a programmer getting paid to write code for Pentax bodies. At least that too hasn’t yet been open sourced.