Late yesterday afternoon I received late-breaking news that Pentax plans to offer a limited edition 645D camera kit in celebration of the Pentax 645D being named Camera Grand Prix Japan 2011 “Camera of the Year.” As you can see from the accompanying photos, this camera will have a blood-red lacquer-finished body and will be supplied in a custom-fitted paulownia wood box. Paulownia is a flowering ornamental tree native to China. What better packaging for an ornamental camera?
Pentax made no mention of the cost, but given that the standard body retails for $10,000 and this one will be built-to-order, with a minimum four-month delivery period from the date each order is placed, one should expect to pay considerably more than that. Keep in mind that this price is for the body only. The lens you see in the photo below costs extra.
It's easy to poke fun at a camera that most of us will never see in anything other than press release photos, much less touch and use. In fact, I doubt any of them will ever be used. Lacquer is not the most durable of finishes. This camera will be made only to be displayed.
Still, I wouldn't judge Pentax too harshly. They aren't doing anything Leica hasn't done many times before (and continues to do). A minuscule number of wealthy individuals or institutions will buy these and will be quite happy with them. The rest of us will continue our lives as usual, buying practical cameras we can afford and using them as often as the need or desire arises.
My only hope is that now that Pentax has been acquired by Ricoh, their combined efforts will produce more cameras like the Pentax K-5--compact yet sturdy, reasonably priced, and second to none when it comes to image quality. Oh, and available only in black. I've got nothing against red, periwinkle, or even chartreuse, but black will do just fine, thank you.