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07-15-2012, 03:05 PM   #1
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Pentax Lens Catalog: What can go, what must stay, what's missing, what needs updating

In regards to the current Pentax lens catalog, I'm interested in hearing people's opinions about the following:
  1. Which lenses can go, i.e. which lenses are unessential because they are redundant or poor performers?
  2. Which lenses must stay, i.e. which lenses are absolutely essential to the lineup because they are unique and have excellent performance?
  3. Which lenses are missing, i.e. where are the gaps in the lineup?
  4. A combination of #1 and #2 above: Which lenses should stay but need to be updated?

I think that the third question has been the most discussed. Perhaps that's because human nature is such that we notice what we don't have more than we appreciate what we do have. I find the first two questions the most interesting so hope to see more discussion around them. That's just my opinion though.

You can look at these questions from whatever angle and in whatever light you like. That's to say, you can consider these questions from the point of view that the Pentax lens catalog need only consist of APS-C capable lenses or from the point of view that there should be both APS-C and full frame lenses in the lineup. You can consider these questions in terms of what would be best for you or what you believe would be best for Pentax. I'm only concerned with the K-mount lenses but feel free to throw in your opinions on the Q and 645D lens lineups.

With Ricoh's reported rehiring of lens designers and their stated objective to increase their market share, I suspect we can expect more lenses in the coming few years than just the ones on the roadmap. Along with that, I would suspect that we can expect to see a handful of lenses fall out of production and be either discontinued or replaced/updated. There will probably need to be some production capacity freed up to allow for the new additions to the catalog. These suspicions are what have prompted my interest in this topic.

I look forward to reading your thoughts and opinions.


Last edited by TomTextura; 07-15-2012 at 03:22 PM.
07-15-2012, 03:09 PM   #2
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To kick start the discussion here is a long list of my initial thoughts on the subject.

1. Which lenses can go?

It seems there's some redundancy in the 31mm to 43mm focal length range.
DA35 f/2.8 Ltd Macro
DA35 f/2.4
FA31 f/1.8 Ltd
DA40 f/2.8 Ltd
DA40 f/2.8 XS
FA43 f/1.9 Ltd
Surely one of these can be put on the chopping block to make room on the production line. My vote would probably be for one of the DA40 lenses. I have the FA31 and love it and I have my sights set on the FA43 so would hate to see either go. There are fans of all these lenses so someone is bound to protest discontinuing any one of them.

Next place I see a lot of overlap and redundancy is in the 16-70mm range for zooms.
DA 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 AL
DA 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
DA 17-70 f/4
DA 16-45 f/4
DA* 16-50 f/2.8
My votes would be to keep the two weather resistant lenses (perhaps with an update to the DA*), scrap the non-weather resistant kit lens (DA18-55), and maybe cut one of the constant f/4 lenses.

There are two DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro lenses. My opinion is that the WR one needs to stay, the other could go.

The entire Q line could be discontinued without me being heartbroken.


2. Which lenses must stay?

All the Limited primes (FA and DA) are great lenses and I feel they should stick around. Of these I believe that the one that could not be replaced, at least for APS-C, and is unique to the DSLR world is the DA15 f/4 Ltd. I would hate to ever see that one go.

The DA* f/2.8 zooms also hold an important place and are fairly unique for APS-C lenses due to their focal lengths and weather sealing. I'd be happy to see any of them updated though with faster focusing. I think they should stick around along with any possible FF lenses with equivalent angles of view.


3. Which lenses are missing in the lineup?

I don't think my opinions about what gaps exist in the Pentax catalog are unique at all but here they go... All the ones I list can be assumed to be 135 full frame capable.

Primes:
A fast wide angle like the FA*24 f/2
A 135mm between f/1.8 to f/2.8
A 200mm macro would be very cool

Zooms:
A normal constant f/2.8 around the typical 24-70 range (this might already be on the roadmap)
A telephoto constant f/2.8 to match the above in the 70-200 range
An ultra wide angle to compete with the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 (this slot might be filled with what's on the roadmap too but maybe not at f/2.8)
A long telephoto to compete with the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 (this slot might be what's also already on the roadmap but perhaps not at f/2.8)


4. Which lenses should stay but need to be updated?


I'll repeat what plenty of others have said about the FA Limiteds: they should be updated with the digital coatings and given the ability to do Quick Shift focusing. I don't think WR on the FA Limiteds is a must but I certainly wouldn't complain as long as it didn't make them a lot bigger.

The DA* lenses could be updated to have faster auto focus.

Last edited by TomTextura; 07-15-2012 at 03:20 PM.
07-15-2012, 03:29 PM   #3
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I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the DA40's go. If the K-01 and it's successor(s) prove to be successful, then maybe the DA 40 Ltd dies. Otherwise, the 40 XS will probably be discontinued along with the K-0x.

I agree with you, scrap the DA L 18-55. The DA 16-45 can go, too, as it's "only" $150 less than the DA 17-70. The DA* 16-50 stays as the pro-level option.

The non-WR DFA 100/2.8 has been discontinued.

I know nearly zilch about lens coatings, but one thing to keep in mind about replacing the FA coatings is you don't want the ruin the "magic" of the FA's.
07-15-2012, 03:38 PM   #4
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The question is an interesting one, but I doubt that production capacity is an issue. What is more pertinent is marketplace presence in the various segments. An apparent overlap based on focal length isn't real if there are sufficient buyers with different needs for each. Having said that, you can go too far chasing a tiny, unprofitable group of buyers, if in doing so you confuse the larger groups - the DA17-70 is probably the best example of that, although I don't know how well it sells now. Maybe the widely unappreciated DA14/2.8 (I have one) is another example, although the better-built and lighter DA14/4 is a whole stop slower, but I'm not sure if that counts for much now.

The subject of which lens ranges need developing have been well-discussed elsewhere here, and I agree with your list of primes and zooms so I won't repeat that, but I do think Pentax missed an opportunity to quietly develop their DFA range with some of the recent releases. A prime (no pun intended) example is the DA35/2.8 Limited Macro, but maybe that would have raised expectations unreasonably.

07-15-2012, 03:40 PM   #5
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For APS-C, a weather-sealed prime of a focal length wider than the current DA*55 would be nice to have, preferably a DA* 28 f/2.8 or DA* 24 f/2.8. Even faster than f/2.8 would be great but might approach the FA*24's size.

Tweak the DA 17-70 by swapping out the SDM and replace it with DA 18-135's DC motor, and complete the weather sealing on the 17-70 (it already has a rubber O-ring on the lens mount). Get rid of 16-45 and the DA-L 18-55.
07-15-2012, 03:43 PM   #6
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Also, I agree with RobA_Oz. We have overlapping lenses but not in prices and build quality. So more price-conscious consumers can have their DA 35 f/2.4 and DA 40XS, while others who want metal build and quick shift can get the limited versions of these focal lengths. Nice to have some choices there.
07-15-2012, 03:44 PM   #7
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Pentax needs more DA* prime in the 'normal' and wide range. Now there is only DA*55.
A DA*21 (or wider), and DA*35 (or 28) would be great to "complete" the DA* line.
07-15-2012, 03:48 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
I know nearly zilch about lens coatings, but one thing to keep in mind about replacing the FA coatings is you don't want the ruin the "magic" of the FA's.
Interesting point that could indeed be important. Would hate to lose the FA Limited pixie dust. I still want the Quick Shift feature pretty badly though. I've always read that the new coatings are meant to reduce the reflections coming back from the sensor. I wonder if anyone has any pics from the FA Limiteds exhibiting these unwanted reflections. I'd like to see what the symptom looks like specifically. I have one picture from my FA77 that I think might be an example of the IQ being hampered due to sensor reflection but have no way of knowing without having something to compare it to. I've never seen the little blue/white spot that's shown on this webpage as an example of the effect from either of my FA Ltds.

07-15-2012, 03:59 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
An apparent overlap based on focal length isn't real if there are sufficient buyers with different needs for each.
Quite true.

QuoteOriginally posted by seventysixersfan Quote
Also, I agree with RobA_Oz. We have overlapping lenses but not in prices and build quality. So more price-conscious consumers can have their DA 35 f/2.4 and DA 40XS, while others who want metal build and quick shift can get the limited versions of these focal lengths. Nice to have some choices there.
Agreed. To a degree I think Nikon and Canon do a better job of hitting both ends of the market (i.e. the price conscious vs. performance demanding crowds). Pentax plays in this odd middle ground not hitting either extreme head on, well unless you count the 645D. The lower priced side is beginning to be better addressed recently in terms of prime lenses with the DA35 f/2.4 and DA50 f/1.8. I wonder if there will be a medium telephoto that will follow their lead. I'm really curious if there will be a body positioned below the K-30 to attract the more price-conscious.
07-15-2012, 04:36 PM   #10
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Scrap the 18-55? Really? And what would take its place as a kit lens? Would you only produce the 18-55WR then or would you eliminate at least one of these DA 17-70 f/4, DA 16-45 f/4, or DA* 16-50 f/2.8? The 16-45 seems the likely candidate as it overlaps with the 17-70 and has the same f4 rating while the 16-50/2.8 is higher end. But what would be sold as the default kit lens?

As for the primes - the economy lineup should be expanded and the 35/2.4, 40XS, and 50/1.8 are great starts. The 40LTD does seem rather redundant at this point though.
07-15-2012, 04:53 PM   #11
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The DA 16-45/4 is already discontinued in the Japanese market:
Interchangeable Lenses (Models discontinued in the Japanese market) : Digital Cameras : Products | PENTAX RICOH IMAGING

We've had polls as to which lenses to add.
My own priority, and a second favorite in Ron Hendriks poll, would be a 24mm prime.
I'd like to see a FF Pentax lens of the quality of the Zeiss ZA 24/2 (Sony mount),
which could round out the FA Ltd 31/43/77 troika at the wide end.

Also, can't wait for the DA Ltd Zoom (FA 20-35 replacement?)
as an almost perfect walk-around lens.

Finally, the DA 35 Ltd Macro is as special as the DA 15 Ltd,
even though the former has its Tokina clone for Canon and Nikon mounts.
07-15-2012, 05:06 PM   #12
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Anything with a variable aperture can go, with the exception of the 18-135 and the 55-300. All primes and fixed aperture zooms can stay, but the 16-50 and the 50-135 need to be revised to include a more reliable motor.

Replace all the removed lenses with full frame glass that includes an aperture ring. Simple.
07-15-2012, 05:09 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
But what would be sold as the default kit lens?
Why, the WR 18-55 version to match the lovely WR body it'll be coupled with of course.
07-15-2012, 05:15 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomTextura Quote
Why, the WR 18-55 version to match the lovely WR body it'll be coupled with of course.
For the K-30 and the K-5 replacement that will be excellent. However, there is an entry-level dSLR coming along that will very likely not be WR - what will be sold with it?
07-15-2012, 05:57 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
The DA* 16-50 stays as the pro-level option

I believe this is the Pentax lens that retails for between nine hundred and about one thousand. It has above average optics for a zoom and an imoressive aperature, but that is where it ends. Most professionals would in fact NOT use it.

If Pentax has or had a worse lens example that woud be it. Rather large problems with zoom lock and also focus issues that cause the need for it to be repaired even in moderate and rather delicate use. Most pros would rather carry around three lens than use this one from Pentax
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