Konost: My name is Bob and I have a new rangefinder to show you
“My name is Bob” starts the latest News update from Konost, the fabled M-mount rangefinder that has had us titivated for the past couple of years. There’s a leaked picture here, a few tidbits of info there, a cryptic comment to suit every occasion. But we have been left wondering who is behind Konost. There have even been suggestions that Leica is involved although this is totally without foundation.
Bob Lian, now named himself for the first time, has explained some of the background to Konost and indicated that a production version will be available towards the end of 2017. He says he is an MBA student at Duke University (Fuqua) in North Carolina and has even used the Konost project as a case study. He has received a lot of support from the academic community and has managed to capture a small amount of VC investment — enough to get by, as he puts it. His team includes Allen Jiang, Michelle Jiang and Jason Lee, each specialising in a different aspect of design, manufacture and marketing.
The specification of the rangefinder certainly sounds interesting. The camera will feature a custom 20/24MP CMOS sensor and a mechanical rangefinder. Earlier there had been hints at a hybrid optical/digital finder but I can find no direct reference to this in the latest announcement. It is something that I am sure Leica has been looking at but, clearly, the technical problems are huge. However, In addition to the rangefinder, the team claims to be working on a full-frame mirrorless camera.
Bob Lian goes on to say that his vision had always been to make “affordable digital rangefinders for consumers… who could not afford other systems on the market, and to share with people the beauty and experience of simple photography.”
I really do not know what to make of all this. Is it simply a design project, a business model, or does it stand a real chance of coming to fruition? It is certainly an interesting project and I hope it can succeed. There is tremendous interest in rangefinders and another contender, especially at a lower entry point, would even be good for Leica — not to mention the market for M-mount lenses in general.
I’m sure Bob has many hurdles to overcome, not least the need to establish a small-scale manufacturing system that can produce the required quality at a price lower than Leica. We have a lot to look forward to in 2017.