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05-12-2010, 07:03 AM   #1
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Why don't Pentax make some of their older classic lenses?

If we take the 85/1.4 as an example... everyone seems to rave about it, yet it's rarer than hen's teeth.

If they reintroduced it, they could ask US$1K+ no problemo.

They're sitting on so much great legacy glass... why mothball it?

05-12-2010, 07:13 AM   #2
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I suspect that they could not produce it for the price you indicate

The tooling, if it still exists would be out of date for the machines they use today and may not (for get this, WILL NOT) match their new factories which are in the phillipenes and china.

As a result, there would be a significant engineering redesign effort to bring the lens bodies up to current production standards.

The optical designs, however are perhaps interesting, however, again, I doubt they could be produced for anything near the price you indicate.

It may be more economical and possibly result in higher optical quality to start from the old designs and introduce new materials (glass, coatings, etc) and come out with revised versions. Unfortunately they in all likelyhood would not perform the same.
05-12-2010, 07:41 AM   #3
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I think the #1 reason is production capacity. It hasn't been easy for them to introduce new lenses and shift all production to Vietnam over the past 5 years. They've had trouble matching worldwide demand with supply with some models.

They apparently have built some A50/1.2s and AF 1.7x Adapters recently. Based on their limited availability (Japan-only) and quiet introduction, I think these were assembled from remaining parts. If there were enough parts for other lenses, they would be sold the same way.

If you are super-optimistic, imagine a huge secret operation rebuilding the whole FA* line to prepare for the launch of the K-Awesome in the fall. The K-A starts with a 36mm x24mm sensor, and adds every Pentax feature previously known or imagined. It has an optical scanner within the lens mount that tells the camera when you've mounted the SMC Pentax 135mm f2.5, and the camera automatically adjusts to that lens. It doesn't just shoot tethered, it has full mind control.
05-12-2010, 08:02 AM   #4
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QuoteQuote:
If you are super-optimistic, imagine a huge secret operation rebuilding the whole FA* line to prepare for the launch of the K-Awesome in the fall. The K-A starts with a 36mm x24mm sensor, and adds every Pentax feature previously known or imagined. It has an optical scanner within the lens mount that tells the camera when you've mounted the SMC Pentax 135mm f2.5, and the camera automatically adjusts to that lens. It doesn't just shoot tethered, it has full mind control.
While at it, it has your credit card number and a direct connect to the lens factory. Each time LBA hits, an order goes to the factory, and a true 'Limited' rolls off the line, into its bubble wrap bed, and to your door, to the ka-CHING chimes on your credit line.

It would be cool to reintroduce some classics - the marketing angle has worked e.g. in the car industry and hi-fi as well as in cameras, where some classic is introduced either as a replica or as a modernization.

05-13-2010, 05:16 AM   #5
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Hi Lowell,

Surely $1K is plenty. To get scale, I'd even suggest Hoya making Canikon mounts for it under the Tokina brand.
05-13-2010, 05:21 AM   #6
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Could it be the market it too small!!!
05-13-2010, 05:24 AM   #7
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At Last Pentax will release the function Mindread.exe!

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
It doesn't just shoot tethered, it has full mind control.
I have been waiting for midnread.exe to be put in a camera, no actually any device for almost 30 years. It surely won't happen in my lifetime
05-13-2010, 05:25 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Unsinkable II Quote
Hi Lowell,

Surely $1K is plenty. To get scale, I'd even suggest Hoya making Canikon mounts for it under the Tokina brand.
Maybe they can release a new lens, weith new components, and fully re-designed, but I doubt they can set up to manufacture old lens designs and meet the price.

for one thing the cost is kept down today by extensive use of plastics, much more than what was in the A and F lenses.

05-13-2010, 05:42 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Maybe they can release a new lens, weith new components, and fully re-designed, but I doubt they can set up to manufacture old lens designs and meet the price.

for one thing the cost is kept down today by extensive use of plastics, much more than what was in the A and F lenses.
I am in the plastic business for the last 30 years and being involved with designer and engineers for many consumer products
What is very expensive is the injection mold for parts to make a lense.You have probably 7-8 plastics part and the tooling can cost probably for what we call a familly mold about $100,000+. And because we have different diameter that can not use it for all lenses.
Also the main plastic that is used in Camera and lenses is Glass fill polycarbonate or Polycarbonate ABS.
These plastics are not cheap either Cost is about $3.00 per lbs, You do not need a lot but you need a mold. Sometime for small volume machining is cheaper.

The glass is machine and that not the problem because the machining is all computerised

Very simple you need volume.

For the K-X camera , I count about 25 plastics parts. The injection molding tools are probably costing to do that camera over $1 millions. The die cast for the internal frame probably a few $100 grant.

That why they try to keep similar parts from one generation of camera to another
05-13-2010, 05:52 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Unsinkable II Quote
Hi Lowell,

Surely $1K is plenty. To get scale, I'd even suggest Hoya making Canikon mounts for it under the Tokina brand.
That legend again. Tokina is not owned by Pentax or Hoya.

If they decided to use the old design again, that's all they would do. Use the old design. If you prefer, all that they would/could do would be to use the same values for lens elements thickness and curvature. And the glass materials, assuming they are still being manufactured.

They would have to adapt the design to the new coatings, the new requirements from digital (the angle of incidence of the rays needs to be different for a purely digital design). the barrel of the lens would have to be redesigned. I'd bet a good sum that the glass materials would NOT all be available today, which brings you near square 1 regarding the lens design.

It's really not that simple.
05-13-2010, 05:59 AM   #11
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Zeiss seems to be doing ok with their re-release of older manual focus lenses. Pentax could release a "Signature" series. They could even produce them in other mounts if they wanted to.

The question is... would they want to. Start writing letters now.
05-13-2010, 06:15 AM - 1 Like   #12
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There is a brass anodized German pen and pencil line manufactured by Rotring that has been in high demand by pen aficianados for 40 years - something similar to what we in the US know as Cross Pens. I recently had my pen and pencil appropriated from my suit jacket, which I had hung on the back of a chair.

Looking for a replacement set I discovered they are no longer made. I was told by our local pen seller the tools and dies had finally simply worn out and Rotring couldn't justify the capital investment to replace them.

There is any number of reasons why Pentax could not / would not simply re-release an old lens design:
  • Tools formerly used to machine parts no longer exist (building new is too expensive)
  • Experienced assemblers are no longer employed (training new is too expensive)
  • Suppliers of parts no longer exist (contracting new suppliers is too expensive)
  • Glass formulations for blanks used in the original design no longer made, requiring re-working the optical design (custom formulations is too expensive)
  • Similarly, EU no longer permits the lead formerly used as an element of the coating, changing the optical properties of the old design, which would require redesign of the optics (the real reason A50/1.2 and AF-TC 1.7x are home-market only - Pentax doesn't have the lead issue in Japan)
You get the idea.

Last edited by monochrome; 05-13-2010 at 06:24 AM. Reason: A
05-13-2010, 07:41 AM   #13
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I would tend to discount the cost of new tooling. Lens mechanical lens parts, made from metal would be machined on CNC machinery, requiring only the design, and the code for the machine, and minimal special fixtures, most likely able to be the same as ones used to manufacture new lenses. Molds for plastics would be more expensive, and if the original cavities are no longer in existence most likely be cost prohibitive to remanufacture. Considering most legacy lenses were made of metal I would see no reason a limited run couldn't be feasible.
05-13-2010, 07:47 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
. . .
They apparently have built some A50/1.2s and AF 1.7x Adapters recently. Based on their limited availability (Japan-only) and quiet introduction, I think these were assembled from remaining parts. If there were enough parts for other lenses, they would be sold the same way.
. . .
I notice BH has a stock of the FA 50mm f1.4 recently as well.
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