Just a few days ago, Ricoh made an announcement regarding its latest Pentax K and 645-mount lens roadmaps. What’s catching the attention of many is not so much the list of lenses they revealed but rather an unexpected statement from Ricoh. They stated their intention to halt the release of lens roadmaps for the foreseeable future. This move from Ricoh would have raised some eyebrows in an industry where camera brands typically keep customers and potential buyers informed about their upcoming products. I’m not a Pentax user, but this announcement has left even me feeling a bit puzzled and uneasy.
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What Does The Announcement Say
It’s a short statement, but it does make one wonder what led to Ricoh having to make such an announcement:
“RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. is pleased to announce the renewal of the PENTAX K- and 645-mount lens lineups as of today.
At RICOH IMAGING, we have decided to not post our lens development roadmap in advance. Regarding new lens products, we will make an official announcement of their development and marketing details from now on, whenever they become available.
RICOH IMAGING appreciates your kind understanding, and plans to continue to develop and deliver high-quality lens products — equipment that helps our customers to experience all the charms of photography and the joys of picture-taking. Join us in the future as we continue to release these exciting new products.“
Why? No Seriously, Why?
I can’t quite understand what the logic behind such an announcement would be. In the fiercely competitive realm of photography, of which Ricoh doesn’t exactly have the lion’s share, maintaining user engagement and brand loyalty is of utmost importance. It’s uncommon to hear photographers who primarily use cameras from the industry giants – Canon, Sony, Nikon, and Fujifilm – expressing a transition to Pentax K-mount cameras. So retaining their existing user base should be absolutely paramount to Ricoh. This announcement doesn’t seem like it’s going to help with that.
It also makes you wonder if this is the beginning of the end of the road for the Pentax lineup. Ricoh’s GR series of cameras sells like hotcakes, but it’s tough to say the same about their Pentax DSLRs. Pentax is a brand with more than a century of history in the optics industry. They’ve really missed the boat in joining the full-frame mirrorless ILC party, but that hasn’t spelt their demise in the camera industry. Not yet at least.
Lens Roadmaps Are Vital To Brand Survival
If a photographer hasn’t a clue what their preferred camera brand has lined up for the coming months or years, it leaves them in the dark about the future of their photography with the brand. Rumor sites are plenty, but they usually provide information on impending releases at the nth moment, often just weeks or days before the official announcement from the brand. Yes, there are often delays from camera brands in releasing announced products, but at least such roadmaps represent a commitment from these brands to their customers. If we aren’t kept in the loop about what we might see from our favorite camera brand in the near future, that can be perceived as a lack of respect for our loyalty.
If Ricoh is serious about its future in the camera business, I do hope it reconsiders this decision and makes a U-turn. Pentax owners and potential buyers would definitely want to know what their long-term plans are without having to rely on rumor sites.
All images used for this article are screenshots of the most recent lens roadmaps from the Ricoh website.