Dear World,

     My name is Bob, and I am the founder of Konost. We’ve been under wraps for a long time, and as the end of the year approaches, I think this is a good time to tell our story.

     Konost started in 2014 when I decided to leave my full-time job to design and build my own cameras. I’ve been an avid amateur photographer for over a decade, and had even worked odd jobs just to save for my first DSLR. I had always dreamed of owning a high-end digital rangefinder and thought making my own one would be a good project.

     My vision was to make affordable digital rangefinders for consumers like myself who could not afford other systems on the market, and to share with people the beauty and experience of simple photography.

     We launched our website in early 2015 after designing our first hardware prototype using a 20mp CMOS 35mm sensor. The idea was a hit, and people talked about us all over the internet. Some of you were excited, while many more have been passively observing to see if we could actually pull this off. Nonetheless, we decided to take the project forward feeling confident there was a market for our product.

     The time between the launch of our website to the present day has been the craziest rollercoaster of my life. Technical development itself was full of challenges. There were different prototypes that had to be supported and iterated, manufacturing changes that had to be made, hardware and software bugs that had to be fixed, and custom optics that needed improvement.

The time between the launch of our website to the present day has been the craziest rollercoaster of my life.

     We were also completely self-funded and by late 2015 we knew we needed major funding. This brought us into the world of entrepreneurship as we traveled the globe to raise funding. We pitched to angels, VCs, and even investment groups overseas. There were some interests, but the rise of smartphones was clearly the main retort against our little venture.

     We did receive enough to get by, and stubbornly pushed ahead in our development, trying to get to a pre-order stage by Winter 2016. (We’ve clearly miscalculated that deadline). As an MBA student at Duke University (Fuqua), I also grew strong connections in the Duke community, and our project even became a class study. Additionally several professors got involved and have helped us in countless different ways.

     As all of this took place, people sent us messages every day, wondering about the launch date and pricing. We remained in stealth mode to avoid unnecessary media attention, and we also decided against a crowdfunding campaign until we were sure we could deliver.

     That brings us to today, the end of 2016, and unfortunately, we are still not ready for pre-order. One of the visions I had when I started this was to make digital rangefinders that were not only well-built, but also reasonably priced. However, we have not been able to drive down the cost enough. We have tried many design changes, but I am still not satisfied with what we have. I want to continue to push my team to design well-built products that are also affordable by our target consumers.

     Despite all this, we actually have a very exciting future ahead. We’ve switched to a custom sensor, one that has been designed and manufactured specifically for the Konost cameras. This allows our business model to be more cost effective, increase our margins, and provide competitively priced full-frame digital cameras.

We’ve switched to a custom sensor, one that has been designed and manufactured specifically for the Konost cameras.

     We have also been able to work out key strategic alliances, partners, and funding, which will help us bring our products to the market. Additionally, our team has grown significantly in experience, talent, and headcount.

     This will push production versions of the Konost rangefinders to Q3-Q4 of 2017. We’re still working on releasing limited edition beta versions of the rangefinder in the first half of 2017. Despite the delay in launching, we’ve actually been able to cross major hurdles in order to move forward in creating amazing cameras.

     We thank everyone who’s written to us and supported us along the way. Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our progress as 2017 will be a very big year.

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Bob

contact@konost.com

53 Comments

  1. SO SO HAPPY.

    You guys will be a smashing success entering a market that EVERYONE has ignored. There are many photographers who DO NOT want to spend 7k to shoot a rangefinder.

    How oh how do I get a beta to test? I’m a pro and have shot a variety of rangefinder systems as well as large and medium format. My current DSLR setup is Nikon. I wish it was in the cards to just shoot the rangefinders, I’m hoping you are the answer to my prayers.

  2. Just subscribing to your site. Intrigued with the intent and will surely subscribe to ore order once avail. Wishing you success with the venture and looking forward to updates down the road in 2017. A journey of thousand miles starts with a single step. You will be a success story!

  3. Being an old Leica M user, with a small collection of lens, that has migrated to Fuji I look forward to seeing a new production rangefinder in the future. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and wishing you and your dream much success in the near future.

  4. Have a GREAT 2017 Bob and don’t forget that the best things are the simplest. Build a machine to make every photographer an artist. Great idea 💡

  5. I think the way the Leica MD did es the way to go, maybe a simpler design of the body geometry and the cost of a live view screen, and other innecesary things can be dismissed from the camera, making affordable and pure the experience of shooting a rangefinder. Love to see in what this gonna end. I´d love to have a camera for my M mount Lenses, with no complications. (maybe with the output of the M9).

    Good luck and best wishes for you with this very good idea.

  6. Thanks for so much good news this year end, I hope that soon we can see something definitive with definitive specifications.
    Happy 2017.

  7. I started photography with a match/needle SLR and have been waiting for someone to produce a camera with simple traditional manual controls and without the endless junk menues to dive through. Full frame would be icing on the cake.

  8. Very best wishes for your project. You’re living the dream for many of us. I’ve been following (with fingers crossed) for a couple of years and really pleased to hear you’re progressing and hoping you succeed.

    I agree with some of the other comments; As simple as possible please. I also hoped for the M-D concept, but was disappointed by the price when it arrived. With a left master eye my nose makes a mess of anything with a screen….;-( I’d very happily live with RAW only and no screen. Maybe a review screen in viewfinder only, if absolutely necessary (for secret chimping…)

    ‘Would be very interested to know if your custom sensor will have a thin enough cover to enable wider mount lenses to be used than on the Sony A7r (35mm and less)?

    Good luck!!

  9. Sadly, I have not learned I have from this communication. Several years later there is very little or no specific information about the product. There should be at least a projected price, date pertaining to the rangefinder design and importantly, a sensor performance data to make any sense of this project. This could just as well be a plastic body with a plastic rangefinder mechanism, an inferior sensor, horrible market research and a lack of reasonable perception real market size. I don’t see how this would attract sober invesors, I don’t see a viable product here.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Our projected price is to be competitive with other products in the market. Placing an exact number at this time would be premature. We now plan to launch around the third-fourth quarter of 2017.

      • If it is only going to be ‘competitive’ with other digital rangefinders on the market then stop now, walk away and enjoy your life.

        *no one* will buy it over a digital M if the price is similar, they would be foolish to do so.

        I have spent a long time shooting with rangefinders and selling rangefinders, both film and digital. As soon as the price of any alternative to a M gets close to M pricing the customer will *always* choose the M.

        I wish you the best of luck with your project, but unless you come in at a significantly lower price point than the current production M’s then you’ll get very little traction.

        Where I live digital M’s go for around $8000; you’d need to be under $6000 to get any takers, then a lot of those people will likely just get a second hand M; at the time of writing used M9’s are going for about $3500 here.

        On top of getting the price right you’ve then got to compete against the company that invented 35mm photography and has made the ‘best’ rangefinders for nearly 100 years.

        The M camera doesn’t need to be cheaper; there are plenty of people buying them. People who cannot afford them want them to be cheaper, those same people once they get something at the price-point they will want something else, or have some other thing to complain about. You could give them $2000 M9 equivalent cameras and they would complain about the screen, lack of wifi, SD write speed and whatever else they can find *and* they won’t buy your camera.

        By the time you get to 4th quarter 2017 you’ll be up against the new M10, second hand M240’s and M9’s.

        All that said, it would be great to see another major digital RF on the market, good luck.

  10. J’ai déjà 500.00 $ de ramassé uniquement pour un Konost télématique et je continue à mettre de l’argent de coté pour faire aussi l’achat d’un objectif Voigtlander pour accompagner le Konost. J’attend avec patience

  11. I already have $ 500.00 picked up only for a Konost telemetry and I keep putting money aside to also make the purchase of a Voigtlander lens to accompany the Konost. I wait with patience

  12. you talking about competitive with Leica M.

    You know if you made a digital M3 for less than 2K usd, wed buy it . No need for lcd on the back and no need for light meter. Just a rangefinder and soft shutter would be fine.

    If you could get it to send jpegs to my phone and use dng on internal storage and internal battery that would be fine. I can charge it with and external battery just like I do with my phone.

    Keep it simple guys

    Good luck, fablulous thing you`re doing

  13. Happy to hear things are moving along, very interested to see what you guys come up with. As to the mirrorless model, in order to keep costs down and extend battery life, it might make sense to omit the rear LCD and simply rely on the EVF. The main thing I would be interested in seeing is a thin sensor stack to ensure no corner smearing, and if there is a way to do so economically, a silent shutter option (or at least a very quiet mechanical shutter).

    Looking forward to the final product!

  14. Maybe a ISO dial to avoid getting into the menu for that? I can live without LV as well and use the screen just to see the pictures. Really looking foward to see this camera on the market.

  15. Dear Bob,

    Best of luck to you and your team. We all wait patiently for what we expect will be great.

    Please careful attention to wide angle and summilux lens performance with your custom sensor. The ray angle on those lenses, particularly in the corners of the sensor is very severe and can cause smearing of the image. Thin or minimal sensor cover glass is your best friend.

    Fred

  16. Great Idea ….. a welcome addition.
    Please …..Please keep the menu items to a bare minimum…..Just include what a photographer needs and nothing more.

    Think simple ….please

  17. Hello,

    Longtime film and digital rangefinder user. I have great hopes for this
    project and believe there is a market for this camera. Please include a
    manual ASA dial so I don’t have to fiddle with menus and buttons.

  18. As others have said, keep it simple. We want a purist, simple no gimmicks photography camera. No video, no 10 million ISO, no 20 fps etc. This is what the market needs. Simple controls, pure classic experience!

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