Takashi Arai (Product Strategy Department, Project Promotion Group)
First, please tell us about the planning concept behind the Pentax K-S2 (hereafter referred to as the K-S2)
The K-S2 is a very portable, high cost performance mid-level model that has a different concept than the K-S1, which had been released earlier. When we started product planning for the K-S2, we realized that we could not leave out weather-resistant/dustproof construction, thinking of its position as a mid-level product. In actual research keywords at the top of our list when considering the use of a model in this class were travel and outdoor leisure activities in ocean, mountains. Because many of these situations are affected by the weather, without weather-resistant/dustproof construction it would be a waste to bring the camera with you, missing out on photo opportunities. We found that many people when considering a camera purchase put a great deal of emphasis on a weather-resistant/dustproof construction so they don’t have to worry about using the camera in outdoor scenes. Although the technology cultivated on the K series is up to the task, part of the plan included a more compact body for the K-S2 and a vari-angle LCD monitor. With more moving construction, the total number of parts including sealing materials increases, making it difficult to achieve a more compact camera body. We also wanted to include necessary component for new functions such as Wi-Fi without increasing the size. We kept the substrate design and parts layout to the absolute simplest configuration and kept space by adding sealing materials to the necessary places only. In order to meet these conflicting requirements, the design team repeated trial and error. As a result, the K-S2 resulted in 100 sealing over the 92 sealing with the K-3; however the team somehow achieved the original intended size. Also, because development was on time for a kit lens that uses the very first retractable mechanism under K-mount, I believe we were able to achieve the most portable and compact size among DSLR cameras of the same class.
Why is a different mechanism than the 645Z used for the vari-angle LCD monitor?
Larger moving parts are used on the K-S2 compared to the 645Z and the screen can be flipped toward the lens. Because we wanted to make the camera itself more compact, development proceeded under quite strict limitations, however, we did not give up on the weather-resistant/dustproof, and somehow kept the camera to our intended size.
This is the first DSLR in the K-series to be equipped with Wi-Fi and NFC functions.
I feel that in these past few years, the ways users utilize the images captured on DSLR cameras has changed significantly. To respond to new needs, we decided to incorporate a built-in Wi-Fi function in the K-S2 camera body from the initial stage of planning. There are usually a number of required steps for connecting to Wi-Fi, so we decided to incorporate NFC (Near Field Communication) so that the camera could easily connect with a smartphone simply by touching them together.
I’ve noticed a number of new features that I’m not familiar with. For example, what kind of technology is the new Clarity Enhancement that is added to image processing?
This technology is actually developed by specialists of an image processing department at Ricoh. Although I can’t give any specifics on this technology, this does not merely enhance sharpness and edges, but enhances the quality of textures and irregularities in gentle changes between tones across a comparatively wide range within the image. For example, this technology can make the outline of a cloud floating in a vast blue sky look distinct and beautiful. Because the effect of Clarity Enhancement is most obvious when the aperture is stopped down to deepen the depth of field when shooting, I believe it is particularly effective when shooting landscapes or buildings. On the other hand, because soft textures are important when opening up the aperture to create defocusing effects, you can normally keep this function off, and then turn it on only when you need it. Also, when shooting with the new A-HDR (Advanced HDR) mode on the K-S2, this function is always applied at a strong setting for processing HDR composite images. Of course, the traditional HDR composite mode is still available.
What kind of shooting is possible with the newly added Star Stream in movie shooting mode?
This is a type of interval movie mode which gradually fades out the composited highlight sections of the previous frames with each successively recorded image. The ordinary brightening composite time lapse movie simply adds to the first exposure, however, Star Stream expresses the changes the transition. Up to now, 4K interval movie functions were only available on models such as the K-3 and 645Z, but this is now available on the K-S2. Clarity Enhancement is also available for use with interval movie shooting.
The other role of the Wi-Fi button on top of the camera
This button is used to turn the Wi-Fi function on and off; however, users can also assign another function to this button. As noted previously, the LCD monitor on the K-S2 can flip 180°. Because of this, you can put yourself in the composition, but the original way of gripping the camera made it difficult to press the shutter button. Now, you can set the camera to Live View, and when facing the lens you can press this button (self portrait shutter button) to activate the shutter. The Wi-Fi button was positioned here to ensure that it is easy to hold with the left hand and press the shutter button with the index finger. Since we went to the trouble of adding a new Wi-Fi button, we wanted to make sure it was used effectively, so we decided to make it possible to assign another function to it than Wi-Fi ON/OFF switch, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was popular even in-house (laughs).
Why is the design of the K-S2 so different than the K-S1?
The K-S2 was designed with an eye toward keeping it compact, and the design and button layout was matched to its position as a middle-class product. Specifically, a simple design with no wasted space was aimed for, with double electronic dials and a control scheme that is necessary for a camera in this class. As a result, it has a very typical camera-like silhouette close to the K-3 and K-5 high-end models, with a universal design that can be used for a long time without becoming boring. Also, because this is a model of K-S series which is stated as innovation line, we incorporated innovations such as the vari-angle monitor and communication functions as well as the weather-resistant/dustproof construction in the world’s smallest size.
Is a previously unreleased two-tone color model now available?
Both black and orange and the color collection black and pink are available. We decided for these designs to cater to the outdoor trend, using colors that are popular for outdoor apparel. The design features more elements such as a dimpled aluminum plate on the top surface, elements other than colors on the bottom. Color collection are also designed with outdoor aesthetics in mind, and there are seven different body colors to choose from in the nature collection and sports collection.
What is the K-S2’s strength as a camera?
Although the image sensor and image processor are the same as the K-S1, the sensor has been good from the beginning. Considerable advances in tuning technology have also been made, and high-sensitivity color reproduction in particular has been improved. Some bragging points are AA-filter less specifications that enable better resolution than the K-5 class, and high-sensitivity noise processing that is the best in its class for current products. Just as with the K-5II, SAFOX X (10) is used for AF and the center is compatible with F2.8 beams, making it easy to use for those who often use large-diameter lenses. Full-featured basic functions are also available, such as a 100% field of view with the pentaprism viewfinder, and 5.5 fps continuous shooting. An external microphone is also available despite the small size, making this a versatile camera for use in a variety of situations.
Lastly, as the person in charge of planning the K-S2, what would you like to tell users?
The K-S2 is a compact, high-performance camera that is equipped with a weather-resistant construction, and a number of new mechanisms and features that provide new ways to use an SLR. Although it appears to be an orthodox, compact design, once you hold it in your hands, I think you’ll feel the solid construction, attention to detail, and the love of photography that went into this camera. I hope you take the opportunity to take the K-S2 to new places and new photographic expressions, and enjoy going out shooting with this camera.