The British Journal of Photography, as I mentioned earlier in the K20D roundup, spoke with Hiroshi Onada of Pentax Europe just last week. They managed to tease some very revealing details about the 645D Medium Format camera Pentax has been working on, namely how it was almost announced a year ago, and why it's still not the right time... yet.
"And what of Pentax’ digital medium format camera? Publicly, Onada re-iterated the line Pentax has been peddling since news of Hoya’s proposed ‘merger’ first broke in 2005 – that ‘it’s too early to say’. He said that the company had been concentrating on ‘core business’, which apparently means medium format is on the back-burner.Link: BJP (thanks, George)
However, in an interview with BJP, Onada revealed just how close Pentax had come to launching the 645 AFD. ‘Before the Hoya deal went through we were actually quite ready. We were very much prepared for a launch. But one of the key issues was with distribution. You need huge resources to launch across many countries.’
He was equally reluctant to say when Pentax might introduce a pro-level DSLR, saying it didn’t have the ‘resources or the desire’ to compete with Canon and Nikon at this point. However, he did say that Pentax’ eventual ambition is to have three levels of camera, with one a higher-end model.
The same applies to high-end lenses. ‘Once we have enough resources, we can concentrate on development,’ says Onada. ‘I thought Hoya might invest separately, but no one is going to give you money for no reason. Hoya is unique in that’s it is extremely profitable. But there’s a reason for that. Working with them these past months, I have learnt that they never lose money – and that’s a very strong philosophy. In the past, management would often say, “If you have the guts and commitment, go and do it”. Hoya takes a longer view.’"