In 2011, Ricoh acquired Pentax in order to bring more imaging products into its fold. The company has recently rolled out a number of innovative cameras, including the Pentax 645Z, Pentax K-3 II and Ricoh Theta S spherical camera. “We’ve been able to utilize the engineering solutions of Ricoh and add new technology to the DSLR segment,” explains Jim Malcolm, President of Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation. “We’re bringing technology to cameras that no other manufacturer has offered.”
The 645Z is a medium-format digital camera with 51.4 megapixels. The camera’s sensor is approximately 1.7 times larger compared to full-frame DSLRs, delivering outstanding image quality. Along with high resolution, the camera offers an expansive sensitivity range and continuous shooting at three frames per second. The 645Z also features a highresolution, tiltable 3.2-inch LCD monitor. In addition to shooting still images, photographers can capture full HD video — a new feature in medium-format cameras, according to Malcolm.
He points out that prior to Ricoh’s introduction of the 645Z, most mediumformat digital solutions for photographers totaled around $40,000. “The 645Z’s claim to fame is that it’s cost-effective, with the same sensor used by Phase 1 in its IQ 250 and by Hasselblad in its new 50-megapixel camera.” The 645Z also boasts 27 autofocus points, compared to Phase 1 with three and Hasselblad with one.
With the 645Z, Ricoh has designed a product that allows professional photographers with full-frame DSLRs to move up to medium-format cameras. The filmbased Pentax 645 was considered a quality medium-format camera years ago, “which is why we kept the brand name and improved on it,” says Malcolm. The Pentax 645Z is supported by 16 different lenses, including 10 prime (single focallength) and six zoom lenses, ranging in price from $1,500 to $5,000. “The zoom lenses don’t exceed 2X in focal length in order to maintain image quality,” Malcolm says. “This way we can preserve edge-to-edge sharpness and contrast to deliver the very best picture quality for the professional photographer.” The Pentax 645Z retails for $8,500.
Pentax K-3 II
This DSLR is the successor to the Pentax K-3, which shares its predecessor’s magnesium alloy casing and metal chassis. As with the K-3, it offers 24 megapixels, a 27-point AF system and 8.3 frames per second continuous shooting. Pentax cameras incorporate some innovative technology. “We not only do things better than other camera manufacturers, we do them differently,” Malcolm states. To this end, Pentax has built shake reduction into the camera body itself instead of the lenses. This way, Malcolm observes, every Pentax lens is image stabilized and you don’t have to purchase special lenses for this purpose.
The Pentax K-3 II has a feature called Pixel Shift Resolution, which allows you to shoot four separate pictures in succession then combine them into one highdefinition image. This technology enables you to get higher resolving power and improved image quality when shooting non-moving subjects, like landscapes or studio portraits. “We’ve identified the color of every single pixel,” Malcolm indicates.
The Pentax K-3 II incorporates a GPS module, as well as an electronic compass. “This way, you can identify the location where your picture was taken, the camera orientation and altitude,” he says. By combining GPS positioning with Pentax’s built-in Astrotracer technology, which tracks and photographs astronomical bodies, you can capture sharp images of stars in the night sky. “You can capture an exposure of the stars up to five minutes in length and record them as points of light, rather than as streaked star trails,” Malcolm says. The Pentax K- 3 II is compatible with an array of Pentax lenses, flash units and other accessories, and retails for $1,099.95.
Ricoh Theta S
This is the third generation in Ricoh’s Theta series of spherical cameras, which captures 360° scenes. The new Theta S is lightweight and portable, capturing fully spherical images using dual 12-megapixel sensors. This camera is also capable of recording HD spherical video at 1920 x 1080 pixels and 30 frames per second with a maximum recording time of 25 minutes. “It looks a little like a magic wand,” Malcolm says. “When you click the shutter, two f/2.0 lenses record everything around you.”
These spherical images can be uploaded to Theta360.com, shared on social media and posted to Google Maps, Google+ and the YouTube 360° channel. You can upload an app to your mobile phone or tablet to configure settings and view images. “You can put your finger on the screen and look up, down, left and right — it’s basically a virtual tour,” he explains. Years ago, you would have had to combine about 17 pictures to create a full spherical image. “Now you can do it with the push of a button in less than a second.”
Although the Theta S is not intended to replace users’ primary cameras, it offers some innovative solutions for professional photographers. “It takes a big investment to get the picture right in product photo shoots,” Malcolm points out. Theta’s spherical images let commercial photographers record everything they did to set up a shot, enabling them to reproduce it at any time. “You can also mount the Theta S onto the hot shoe of your camera during a photo shoot with a model to record the entire session, including audio, while you’re shooting.”
Malcolm suggests that at weddings, a Theta S can be placed on each table at the reception to record pictures and video. Afterwards, the photographer can collect them to produce an interactive album for the bride and groom. “It’s an inexpensive way to add excitement to your life,” he concludes. The Theta S retails for $349.99.
To learn more about Ricoh products, visit www.us.ricohimaging. com.