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11-26-2017, 10:34 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Reconciling the Kenspo/Normhead Lens Discordance... rampant speculation...

Before anyone takes this too seriously (especially Norm or Ken, who as far as I know had nothing to do with coming up with the terminology...so apologies to them in advance), I started thinking about this after reading a bit in this thread...
Is there a high quality compact prime around 17-18mm for K1? - PentaxForums.com

I like to think most of us here generally wish success on our chosen favorite camera company, and there are threads about how to best have that happen. This is one of those... And like most, it's being started with no special insight or knowledge...

One of the points in the thread linked above is that there seems to be a divergence in the Pentax K-mount lens lineup between large, highly-corrected, fast, expensive lenses (Kenspo lenses, as exemplified by the recent 15-30 f2.8) and Pentax's former expertise in compact, slower lenses (Normhead lenses, as exemplified by the SMC-M 20mm f4.0, let's say).

The conundrum, as I see it, is that the market is in such a strange state right now, Ricoh is in a place where they really need to do both, but in a way that keeps them unique in the marketplace without bankrupting them. I think the way to do that is with four basic classes of lenses:

The Kenspo lenses... DFA*/DA*
Pentax needs these to be considered viable as a 'real' camera company. These are what I like to think of as industrial output lenses. Designed for production and high output, working pros. Highly corrected, rugged, and suited to high-volume workflows. The lenses need to be competitive with Pro offerings from Canikon, certainly, but also to alternatives like Fuji and micro 4/3. But Pentax can't keep up with the Canikon lineups in breadth, so I think they're following the right path here for their lineup, even if I never end up buying their new 50mm, for example. And it will say a lot about them if they keep a strong lineup in both K-mount formats.

The Limiteds (DFA and DA)
Part of what makes Pentax different from Canikon, and I think essential. Lenses with character, but optically excellent and fully compatible with all of the latest gear. The priority here is creativity, with a bias toward smaller size, perhaps at the expense of workflow. As an aside, I'd like to see aperture rings on future DFA limiteds, but I have a bias... and a K1000...

The 'Regular Lenses'
This includes the consumer zooms as well as the non-limited primes. The other classes of lenses will sell the brand, but this is where the money will be made. Parts of this lineup are pretty well represented (35-55mm, for example, and 18-85mm on APS...), others, not so much... FA wide prime anyone? Fixing this is its own thread or two already, I think...

The Normhead lenses... HD Takumar?
This is where I wandered off a bit, so apologies to Norm if I got him completely wrong.
The 20mm f4 is what got me started here. That's not really a lens that fits into any of the existing categories. It's slow, manual focus, and old.
The only things I've seen like that lately are the absurdly overpriced Kickstarters from companies that share names with folks who made lenses 50+ years ago.
But I'd buy one in a hot second if it were reasonably priced, especially if it talked to my camera.
And that's where the speculation comes in...

Pentax has an interesting back catalogue of lenses with some fantastic characteristics that I think are ripe for a revisit. Maybe things like...
18mm f11 pancake
20mm f4
24mm f3.5
28mm f3.5 (or heck, the Ricoh 28mm f3.5 pancake)
55mm f1.8 (or 2.2...)
120mm f2.8
The idea would be that each lens would be manual focus, with the mechanically-excellent feel of the original Takumars and robust construction to make them, if not completely WR, at least pretty tough. They wouldn't have to be all-metal, but they should feel substantial and solid (though I would prefer all metal...). They should also be relatively compact and less expensive than, say, a $1200 retro imitation Zeiss (that's not distortion, it's character!). And all the ones I listed are really small compared to most new lenses.

Optically, the lenses are relatively simple, though a few tweaks and some modern coatings should be able to tame the CA of the older lenses while maintaining the personality. But these would not need to be packed with the same level of Pixie Dust as the Limiteds...

They would come in what I'll call the Ka+ mount, which is basically FA without the autofocus. This would include a working aperture ring as well as the digital pin to send focus distance and lens correction data. I'm guessing that implies a mechanical aperture (see below). Some of these lenses are also probably pretty easily adapted to short-register mounts if Ricoh ever decides to do a mirrorless...

Crucially, the lenses should also be available in M42, not so much for use on Spotmatics, though that would be fun, but for users of other digital brands who would be allowed a sneak-peak into the Pentax ecosystem, though they would miss out on the extras, which provides a path to switch to Pentax...

Heck, if it made sense from a marketing perspective, Pentax could even float these things on Kickstarter...
And then who would buy them?
Hopefully, Norm...
A bunch of people across brands who like the look and feel of older equipment but who want modern, 'I bought it new, not at a junk shop' reliability.
Pentaxians who want to stretch a bit outside of what they can get from other brands.

So, if nothing else, I feel better for having written this down

-Eric

11-26-2017, 11:02 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Mmmm - there were traditionally two Pentaxes - Quality Pentax and Quirky Pentax* -in some eras one was ascendant, in others the other. What people love about the Ltds is that they are both.

And then there were the cheap and cheerful kit lenses

It seems to me that Ricoh is less interested in quirkiness - it's always been an un-flamboyant company - and becoming less interested in kit lenses - the quality and price of consumer zooms is steadily rising.

So Ricoh are currently majoring on high quality highly corrected lenses. As you say, I think they need to - they need to show that they can play in the big league and produce an offering that firmly associates the Pentax name with quality. I happen to think that that is vital to their survival, others might disagree,

So, the question is, will quirky Pentax show its face again after the serious stuff has been blocked in?

Well, you need a unique offering to get people into your system - and the quality-quirky of the Ltds provides that. I think Ricoh might need convincing, but the fact that the FA ltds still sell as 20 year old lenses at inflated prices might just convince them. I hope so - having tasted quality, I don't want to go back to consumer, but I love the stand-out difference that the Ltds can bring.

*this is in no way intended to characterise the two protagonists in the original post ( and similarities to persons, etc etc) - it-s just my take
11-26-2017, 12:48 PM   #3
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I guess what norm is referring to is a set of lenses such as the DFA28-105 for full frame, for when equipment weight is a constrain, typically for landscape use. The way I see it, it would be 2 additional lenses in the lineup: 1 WA f4 prime or zoom, and something like 70-200 f4/5.6 but with up to date correction, coatings and AF. Ricoh announced that they'll release a DA*11-18, it could mean that they assign apsc for the light weight gear and full frame for shooting on location, but given that K1 is kinda more for landscape, where's the logic? how does it makes sense for the users? My guess is that with 4 camera lines (theta, apsc, full frame and medium format) , Ricoh Imaging don't have the resources to be on all fronts at the same time. In the meantime, photographer can still use their apsc camera for hiking.
11-26-2017, 01:18 PM   #4
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There is another telephoto zoom on the roadmap, and the ultra wide is not a D FA* (although that can change, until we get a name for the lens).
While the D FA* primes (and the DA* zoom) are the current priorities, we should not assume that all future Pentax lenses will be high end


Last edited by Kunzite; 11-26-2017 at 01:25 PM.
11-26-2017, 02:58 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
.... we should not assume that all future Pentax lenses will be high end
The DFA 28-105 is an interesting case in point. It's has no fancy stars or Ltd appellation, and is presented as a mid-range lens. However, optically it is far better than many of the older high-end zooms. The goal posts have shifted, to our benefit.
11-26-2017, 03:29 PM - 1 Like   #6
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"Basically FA without the autofocus" - in other words, an FA lens with a much longer focus throw and the screwdrive hole permanently blanked off. Make mine in metal with Takumar styling, yes please.
11-26-2017, 03:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
The goal posts have shifted, to our benefit.
For new products, absolutely. Most of the appeal of the old lenses is that they aren't being manufactured anymore.
11-26-2017, 04:34 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
The DFA 28-105 is an interesting case in point. It's has no fancy stars or Ltd appellation, and is presented as a mid-range lens. However, optically it is far better than many of the older high-end zooms. The goal posts have shifted, to our benefit.
Exactly!

I wonder if this is one the "benefits" of smartphones for us more enthusiastic, serious, or professional photographers? Camera makers are facing an existential threat. Camera makers need to more strongly differentiate themselves from snap-shot quality lenses and bodies. That's forcing them to create products that justify consumers buying a second camera to augment the one that they already have (and did not by from a camera.maker).

In particular, that's pushing camera makers to create lenses that can create images that no smartphone could ever create. And that means bright apertures (shallow DoF and low-light performance not attainable with smartphones), edge-to-edge sharpness on high-resolution sensors for great looking large prints, and zooms or focal-length choices that are unavailable on phones.

11-26-2017, 09:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Exactly!

I wonder if this is one the "benefits" of smartphones for us more enthusiastic, serious, or professional photographers? Camera makers are facing an existential threat. Camera makers need to more strongly differentiate themselves from snap-shot quality lenses and bodies. That's forcing them to create products that justify consumers buying a second camera to augment the one that they already have (and did not by from a camera.maker).

In particular, that's pushing camera makers to create lenses that can create images that no smartphone could ever create. And that means bright apertures (shallow DoF and low-light performance not attainable with smartphones), edge-to-edge sharpness on high-resolution sensors for great looking large prints, and zooms or focal-length choices that are unavailable on phones.

I think you are right about this. I have used digital medium format and currently use a K-1. I wanted a smaller camera to compliment the K-1. It was between the iPhone X and the Pentax KP. The KP won for just the reasons you stated. Also the ability to shoot RAW. It is so frustrating to capture a really good photo with an iPhone, but then not have much to work with in post processing because it is a jpeg file.
11-26-2017, 10:06 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by loveisageless Quote
I think you are right about this. I have used digital medium format and currently use a K-1. I wanted a smaller camera to compliment the K-1. It was between the iPhone X and the Pentax KP. The KP won for just the reasons you stated. Also the ability to shoot RAW. It is so frustrating to capture a really good photo with an iPhone, but then not have much to work with in post processing because it is a jpeg file.
My Android phone (LG G6) shoots RAW, in manual mode. It's useful on occasion.
11-26-2017, 11:38 PM - 3 Likes   #11
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I was hesitating between smart phone and Pentax K1. I had difficulties to mount the DFA150-450 on my phone, I tried everything including cardboard and loads of superglue (not to mention the 5kg of quick mortar purchased at OBI), I wanted the phone to win, after 3 month spoiling the garage with superglue mix and mortar, I gave up, I purchased a K1 mounted the DFA150450 in 10 seconds and it worked immediately. You can believe me, the choice was painful. Please learn from me, buy a K1 or KP , don't waste your time with superglue.

---------- Post added 27-11-17 at 07:44 ----------

But there is still a possibility for Apple to please wildlife shooter, they could offer a retractable 600 f60 lens (very small aperture) so that the from element can fit on the phone.
11-27-2017, 12:02 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
I was hesitating between smart phone and Pentax K1. I had difficulties to mount the DFA150-450 on my phone, I tried everything including cardboard and loads of superglue (not to mention the 5kg of quick mortar purchased at OBI), I wanted the phone to win, after 3 month spoiling the garage with superglue mix and mortar, I gave up, I purchased a K1 mounted the DFA150450 in 10 seconds and it worked immediately. You can believe me, the choice was painful. Please learn from me, buy a K1 or KP , don't waste your time with superglue.
... but unfortunately the K1 no longer makes phone calls.
11-27-2017, 03:55 AM   #13
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I thought Norm just wanted a mixture of f4 stuff and variable aperture lenses that would be smaller size (and hopefully cheaper), but still decent quality. I think eventually when the line up is complete both will be there, although I doubt they will bring most of the manual focus models of the past. I doubt aperture rings would be present on any of these lenses. Even with the relatively small refit they did on the 100 WR macro they took the aperture ring off.
11-27-2017, 07:46 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
... but unfortunately the K1 no longer makes phone calls.
That's the new K-1 II. Your choice of Siri or Alexa. All controls will work via voice. Touch screen for focusing and PP. Will work with your choice of cellular network for voice and data. Also an optional dashboard mount for filming your drive and providing GPS directions. :-)

Last edited by steve_k; 11-27-2017 at 07:48 AM. Reason: Addition
11-27-2017, 08:58 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I thought Norm just wanted a mixture of f4 stuff and variable aperture lenses that would be smaller size (and hopefully cheaper), but still decent quality. I think eventually when the line up is complete both will be there, although I doubt they will bring most of the manual focus models of the past. I doubt aperture rings would be present on any of these lenses. Even with the relatively small refit they did on the 100 WR macro they took the aperture ring off.
I should appoint you to be my spokesman.

My travel kit for the K-3. Sigma 8-16, DA 18-135, DA*60-250 (or DA*200) and 1.4 and 1.7x converters, 21 ltd and 40 xs. A five lens relatively compact kit that covers 8mmm to 476mm.

I never thought the K-1 could cover the long end. Had hope it could cover the wide end. I currently go out with the K-1 and 28-105 an DA*200 or DA*60-250, but the plan was all landscape would be tight the K-1 and macro and wildlife would be with the K-3. I was willing to pick up the extra weight of the K-1. What I wasn't prepared for was not being able to get under 28mm with a portable lens.

I'm getting along with an FAJ 18-35 which weighs next to nothing, but has pretty severe distortion, and I'm a guy who doesn't really mind distortion. SO when I'm noticing distortion, 90% of the forum would probably just toss the lens. I need something light, hopefully lighter than the Sigma 8-16 I now carry to be somewhere in the 14 to 20mm range. I can live with a prime, but I can't live with too heavy.

It just blows me away that there is absolutely nothing. All I'm looking for is one little UWA lens. I've heard it said on 35mm film that a 35mm lens is not really a wide angle lens. 28mm is definitely wide angle but barely so. But, 28 is close enough to 24 that 24 is not really a solution.

I find it hard to believe that a "modern" camera company has no offerings in Ultra Wide Angle. That is a category of lens everyone else covers is it not? I do have many images taken with my Sigma 8-16 that I absolutely love. Does Pentax really think I'm going to give up on taking those images just so I can shoot with a K-1 instead of a K-3?

I'm a guy who has carried Medium format film cameras on canoe trips, and somewhere actually have some medium format moose images... so don't tell me I'm expecting too much of a larger format, I've carried larger, its about the missing capability in portable glass. It's about not having the capability with my K-1 that I would have had with my Program Plus when I bought it in 1989, had I chosen at that time to go the route.

I'm glad Kenspo and shooters like him are getting the lenses they want. Pentax is making an effort to satisfy that type of shooter as do other manufacturers.. I'm annoyed I'm not getting the lenses i want and as far as I can tell, Pentax is making no effort at all to fill that gap, unlike other manufacturers.
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