26 January 2011


Some camera forums are currently full of rumors of something EVIL comming from Pentax. Speculations rage back and forth about format, mount, size etc. As far as I've been able to figure out, this comes from some sort of interview with some Pentax representative who refused to exclude the possibility of a Pentax EVIL, and another interview with someone saying that IF Pentax launched an EVIL camera it would be different from the existing. These guys could be politicians! There may be little substance to this.

Three facts that speak against it is:
-Pentax is a conservative company.
-Pentax have been more faithfull to their SLR camera mount than any other company, keeping compatibility with the K-mount since 1975 up to date.
-More so, they have kept the same registration distance since the asahiflex in 1952 over their first m42 camera in 1957 to the K-mount cameras from 1975, 45.46mm, which enables the use of all lenses since 1952 with simple adapters without optical elements.
-No other camera company have been so dedicated to the interchangeable lens SLR camera. They practically invented the modern 24x36mm film SLR by combining the best from earlier German models, and they have produced SLRs in more formats than any other company: 24x36mm, 6x7cm, 6x4.5cm, 110 film, and in digital ages APS-C and the 44x33mm of the 645D.

I think with this background it can be excluded that Pentax would abandone the K-mount entirely.
But my last argument also tell us that Pentax in the past had the courage to run several systems in parallell (and now do again with the APS-C K-mount DSLRs and the 44x33mm 645D). And Hoya may be less conservative? 

But does that imply that an EVIL from Pentax would need to use a different mount and registration distance, one of their own, or the m4/3, NX or NEX? The deep registration distance inherrited from the early German m42 cameras have so far limited the thinnest Pentax film SLRs to about 50mm (see Why my digital Pentax bodies do not fit in my winter coat pocket?), and the DSLRs with sensors, SR system, electronics and LCDs to about 70-75mm, more than twice the tickness of the thinnest current EVIL cameras. It appears that the K-mount is not compatible with a thin EVIL camera.

Or is there any way around that?

I might have a crazy idea: An EVIL mirrorles thin Pentax K-mount camera with a mirror.

Keep the 45 degree mirror but make it fixed. It doesn't have to flip up for each shot. Move the sensor to where the focus screen is located on a SLR/DSLR. Add to this a EVIL viewfinder. In my dream concept version I would skip the back LCD in favor of a camera as thin as 35-40mm, and make the viewfinder interchangeable so that one can chose between a "traditional" EVIL viewfinder and a waist-level 2.5 inch LCD with shades that can be closed over the LCD. Perhaps other viewfinders could be added, like a swivel LCD? With the EVIL viewfinder we could get down to a size of 35-40mm depths and about 85mm height. Give the camera a width comparable to a traditional SLR to make room for batery, a good grip etc. What you would have would be a modern LX. And as far as I can figure out, there would even be roomframe sensor. It will also be silent (no mirror flapp).

Now you say that the mirror will cause image degradation. But of course it will have Pentax SMC coating, so it will not degrade the image more than an additional lens element, and it will be sitting behind the shutter, so it will not be exposed to more dust than the sensor. Some possible advantages will surface from this construction besides the possibility of a K mount on a thin body. 1) Mount the mirror in a similar way as the sensor and couple it to the SR system. This will enable the camera to move both the sensor and the mirror to correct for camera motions. That may be what the in body shake reduction (SR) system will need to catch up with the lens based systems of Nikon and Canon, with the advantage that moving the mirror and the sensor will not distance the lens from the ideal optical solution, which is what happens in the Canikon constructions. 2) As far as I can figure out, being able to tilt the mirror will turn every lens you have into a tilt lens.

Now, I realize that this is a dream camera, but the main point is that one do not have to abandone the K-mount and the 45.46mm registration distance to make a slim EVIL camera. All it takes is a mirror. And it gives some interresting advantages. A more realistc and modest camera would use this consept, but with a back LCD, and APS-C sensor and a fixed EVIL viewfinder. That would also be a cool camera and a small package that would be gorgeous with the DA limited lenses. A modern MX. And I wouldn't mind if Pentax build both of them.

Perhaps I've been too optimistic here and there about the millimeters, I'm not a camera tech. But the main idea remain. Keep a mirror in the EVIL camera and you can keep the K-mount and still make the camera slimmer than any other K-mount camera. It certainly would be different.

Please note, this is not a rumor. I have no inside information from Pentax. I'm sure someone will use this to start a rumor, that is how internet works. But it is just an idea I had all by myself.