As 2012 comes to a close, let's take a look at the highlights of this year in the Pentax world and on our web site!
We'll start by looking at Pentax's camera systems. While Pentax hasn't delivered the breakthrough products that many enthusiasts have been hoping for (i.e. a full-frame DSLR or new high-end APS-C camera), overall, it has been a great year, and Pentax is doing better than ever. Most notably, the Pentax K-30, launched this June, has proved to be a very successful upper entry level DSLR.
In addition to becoming popular thanks to its intuitive user interface, superb image quality, and weather sealing, the K-30 ended up winning the iF Product Design Award just last week! If you're a beginner that has a budget of around $650-800, we can highly recommend the K-30 as a first DSLR or as an upgrade over older Pentax cameras. The K-30 competes primarily with the Nikon D5100/5200 and the Canon 650D, and we've recently posted an in-depth comparative review of these three cameras in case you're still trying to decide on what to get.
Another noteworthy camera is the mirrorless Pentax K-01, launched in February. Thanks to its K-mount, the K-01 was the first mirrorless camera to natively support DSLR lenses. At first, the K-01 didn't get too much attention among photographers due to it's bold design and $749 price tag, but after being reduced to just $316 in November, it's been selling like crazy! At this price it truly is a steal, considering that its image quality is almost on par with that of the Pentax K-5 and Nikon D7000 at a fraction of the price.
Finally, Pentax should also be commended for the expansion of the Q system: now that the 15-45mm (~80-250mm eqv.) telephoto zoom and the K-mount adapter have been launched, the Q has become a much more versatile camera, allowing photographers to use it for much more than everyday snapshots. Pentax will be stressing that one should look at the entire system, and not just the Q camera body, when deciding to get a compact mirrorless. On top of that, now that the Q has fallen in price by up to 75% (from a launch price of $799 to approximately $250), it has become a much more attractive option for many Pentax fans outside of Japan.
Pictured above is the Pentax adapter which allows you to put K-mount lenses on the Q. This will turn just about any lens into an extreme-telephoto lens, allowing you to easily capture great tele or macro shots.
Lastly we'd like to mention the K-5 IIs, which is the first APS-C DSLR to feature a sensor without an optical low-pass filter. This bold launch will show Pentax whether or not a filter-less camera will do well among enthusiasts. Overall, we believe that the K-5 II was launched to keep a Pentax enthusiast DSLR on the market with minimal R&D costs, allowing the company to work on other, more significant cameras in the mean time. But that's not to say that we don't like the K-5 IIs- don't miss our review of it!
This year was the first year in which we offered live coverage of Pentax trade shots as well as excluside interviews with Pentax representatives.
Pictured above is Albert Siegel (representing PentaxForums.com) interviewing Mr. Hiraku Kawauchi at CP+ in Japan. In September we also interviewed Mr. André Dierickx and Mr. Shigeru Wakashiro at Photokina in Germany.
Finally, this year we published the first World Pentax Day book which featured the best of the World Pentax Day event held in February. Expect another event to be announced shortly!
You can also expect us to kick off the new year with coverage of the next CP+ show, so stay tuned!
Over the course of the past year we've made many improvements to the site, ranging from new sections to silent enhancements and bug fixes. One of the key behind-the-scenes improvements was an overhaul of the forum search system. You can now search for common words as well as keywords of arbitrary length (i.e. searching for just "q" will show threads related to the Pentax Q), which we hope will improve overall forum browseability.
In terms of major site features, the most recent addition was our Pentax Sample Photo Search Engine, which allows you to search for sample photos from any modern Pentax camera or supported lens.
Several months earlier we launched a series of dark forum skins, offering enhanced readability for those two prefer dark backgrounds. The dark skins can be selected using the style selector, linked to in the lower-left corner of all forum pages.
Last but not least we'd like to talk about photo uploads on the forum. We've tweaked the system so that you can upload photo straight from your camera without losing the embedded EXIF data. EXIF will now be shown in attached photos, member photo albums, and the user photo gallery.
On top of these enhancements, we've increased upload quotas for all of our users, and Loyal Site Supporters will now enjoy unlimited forum attachments!
This year we posted over a dozen in-depth reviews, and we already have many more lined up for the first few months of 2013. We are only a handful of lenses short of having reviewed every Pentax lens currently available, and once we accomplish this, we plan on focusing on third-party lenses.
We'd like to extend a special "thank you" to B&H photo (the latest Pentax retailer, located in NYC) for working very closely with us to coordinate Pentax deals, promote the brand, and sponsor giveaways over the course of the past year. We would also like to thank Pentax Ricoh for their appreciation of our site and the their time at Photokina and CP+.
We'd also like to thank you, our members, for supporting PentaxForums.com and remaining loyal to Pentax. We'd like to wish you a Happy New Year and we hope to see you around next year! Expect some great new features and content to be added to the site in the coming months, so stay tuned!