It is a recurring theme. Every time Pentax is suspected to announce something, people start rumors that the next DSLR will be full-frame. These rumors even make it into magazines. Everyone is excited to get a glimpse of the Pentax full-frame. The good news is that the excitement will continue because there is no Pentax full-frame coming soon.
That’s right it is not coming – not for a while at least – and there is nothing wrong with that! Just because Pentax uses Sony sensors on most of its cameras and that Sony makes full-frame sensor does not mean that Pentax will make a full-frame DSLR. In fact, they probably should not make one yet.
Why? Because Pentax Ricoh is a relatively small player and they placed some big bets on APS-C when they went digital. The built their lens lineup to take advantage of the smaller size required by APS-C sensors and made some of the very best DSLR lenses ever manufactured. The Limited series are still among the sharpest lenses around and pancake lenses are highly sought after for their extremely compact size.
Pentax now has 34 DSLR lenses in production and 27 of those are exclusively designed for APS-C cameras. Among the 7 full-frame lenses, there are only five focal-lengths, all between 31 and 100mm. There is not even a single zoom lens. This set of 7 lenses is so restrictive that Pentax would not be able to sell a volume of cameras to justify the introduction of a full-frame ILC.
Now, they could come out with a full-frame fixed-lens camera just like Sony did with the RX1. That is a completely different proposition but it would still be a niche product, even with the Pentax logo on it. Do not forget that Pentax has a medium-format offering and they certainly intend to continue with it. This product also gives them some breathing room by not competing against the giants of digital cameras.
Pentax Ricoh is continuing to play on their strength and has started to address their weakness with the introduction of the K-5 IIs and K-5 II which is the right thing do. These new K-5 updates feature the most sensitive autofocus in the industry, only matched by the recently announced Canon EOS 6D. The resolution and image quality of the original Pentax K-5 reviewed here is still excellent and this camera remains competitive with among the best ergonomics and most expansive feature set among digital cameras.