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12-15-2009, 10:34 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote

It is a simple construction and has payed back its design and production setup decades ago. I don't spot any expensive parts (metal case, aspherical lens elements anyone?).

I don't know about the profit margins of the Canikony lenses but I don't buy the conjecture that Pentax was selling the FA 50/1.4 with a loss or no profit. Who has access to Pentax' books to state that with confidence?

The second part of your statement is undeniably true.

Maybe, but lesmore49 has a point:

... if everything is "in line" with the competitors except the many areas where Pentax still lags behind?

Maybe old but still unpleasant news. To be honest I was so shocked by the Pentax store price that I started the post and then -- as an afterthought -- checked the current B&H price. Was less of a shock but not sufficiently low to make me stop posting.

It is useful as a portrait lens if you keep your distance, sometimes by cropping later.

The FA 50/1.4 with its old price was also a great way to attract zoom shooters into prime and shallow DOF land. It was a great "first, non-zoom, next after your kit lens"-lens. Many support Pentax' pricing policy and praise it as good business practice but what about the loss of the "quick fix" that wetted your appetite for more Pentax prime glass? I would have kept shooting my first zoom a lot longer, if the FA 50/1.4 would not have led me the way into LBA.

It seems that new management introduced a new calculation model that suggests that you can win more by selling less but at a higher price. Let's see how it works for them. I want Pentax to do well and still see some advantages compared to other brands. However, the same people that state Pentax is a business and not a welfare organisation will have to accept that customers will turn to other brands if they no longer see the balance tip to Pentax's favour. That's business.
My guess is:
  1. Since [EDIT: there is significant conjecture that] they are no longer manufacturing the lens, just running off held stock, they are pricing to demand.
  2. Since [EDIT: there is significant conjecture that] they are no longer manufacturing the lens, just running off held stock, they are pricing to reduce/eliminate competition with the DA*55/1.4
As I have stated in another thread, Hoya is using Cash Flow to finance development of their next generation of products. Capital is scarce and expensive globally. Get used to it.

Regarding the next generation, Hoya changed the direction of the K-7 to incorporate 645D technologies (spread costs over more units); removed the lens roadmap; is letting sneak releases out such as the pressplate for the 645D Inx manual cover; is advertising in Pop Photo a bit; is doing co-op TV advertising in certain markets with B&M camera stores (I have actually seen these ads); I believe the release of the WR D-FA100/2.8 Macro is intended to telegraph a "larger sensor" camera in the wings at a small R&D investment cost.

A lot of things appear to be headed in the direction we have asked for - we cannot complain about the cost of moving things in that direction (well, we CAN complain, but then we can eat cake, too)

We just enjoyed great lens prices for several years, then the world changed. Things won't be normal again for another 18 months or two years, but they WILL be normal again.


Last edited by monochrome; 12-18-2009 at 04:11 PM.
12-17-2009, 12:05 AM   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
Hey Marc,
If you have stats to prove your assertion that the Fa 50 1.4 was "way underpriced" I would love to see those.
Underpriced relative to the competition. Stats: the fact that everyone else also charges $300-$400 for their 50/1.4's.

QuoteQuote:
Are you honestly saying that you feel this truly a $350 dollar lens? If so, I will happily sell you mine.
No 50 is worth that much to me, frankly. But if Canon's and Nikon's are worth $350 to someone, then Pentax's should be too, as far as I can tell.

QuoteQuote:
Now I could care less if you have "run the numbers" and averaged the cost increase of every lens available in the pentax line up to come up with your 20% number...
Well, if you're going to claim that number is incorrect, you *should* care where it came from. I *have* in fact done just what you described. Not so much for the $1000+ lenses, but for the FA50, all the DA Limiteds, all the DA non-* zooms, the DA* 16-50 and DA*50-135, etc.

Anyhow, yes, I too would love to see some inexpensive AF primes available.

QuoteQuote:
Nothing but love to you Marc...
Gus, I hope you know I have the utmost respect for you as a photographer and contributor to these forums. It's inevitable that folks will disagree on occasion; it needn't change anything about how they feel about each other.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 12-17-2009 at 12:16 AM.
12-17-2009, 12:13 AM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
Can you imagine how great it would be to have a series of inexpensive prime lenses like that to go with the amazing new Kx.... I know I could!
Me too. Of course, those lenses you listed were all very old film lenses. It's probably an unfortunate fact that Pentax, being a smaller company, doesn't have the production capacity to keep so many older lenses around. So I think they've chosen to distinguish themselves by having a larger lineup of *new* prime designs. With that in mind, I'd be surprised to see them resurrect the older lenses "as is" (or "as was", anyhow). But with the new D-FA100 Macro to serve as a model, I could see Pentax putting updated versions of some of the older lenses. Chances are they wouldn't be *as* cheap, because they would be at least partially new designs, and would sell in smaller quantities, but I think they could fill some holes at meet some decent price points.
12-17-2009, 12:28 AM   #49
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Just a little anecdote... I started out with the Minolta/Sony camp and got used to their $900 85/1.4 AF lens. I then switched over to Pentax and learned about their $1000 FA 85/1.4 and $800 77/1.8 Ltd lenses, and figured "hmm, that sounds about right".

Then I almost crapped my pants when I learned that Canon and Nikon both have an 85mm f/1.8 AF lens for about $350! Why can't we have that...

12-17-2009, 03:32 AM   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by wallyb Quote
Just a little anecdote... I started out with the Minolta/Sony camp and got used to their $900 85/1.4 AF lens. I then switched over to Pentax and learned about their $1000 FA 85/1.4 and $800 77/1.8 Ltd lenses, and figured "hmm, that sounds about right".

Then I almost crapped my pants when I learned that Canon and Nikon both have an 85mm f/1.8 AF lens for about $350! Why can't we have that...
Because that lens is... cheap. May be optically o.k., but machanically sure not en par with the 77 Ltd. and the FA 1.4 is simply another league. The Nikon 85/1.4 is around 1200USD and the Canon 1.2 version is around 2000USD, though half an f-stop faster...

Why is it, that Pentax lenses are always compared to the cheapest offer of the competition?

Ben
12-17-2009, 09:44 AM   #51
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I seem to have read multiple times that "if Canon and Nikon can charge ~$350 for their 50mm 1.4 prime, why can't Pentax?" While I agree that as a company, Pentax can choose to sell their lenses for whatever price they want - they do have that right - I still personally think it is a colossal mistake on their part. When I chose to go with Pentax, it was significantly based on the availability of high quality glass that cost less than the more main-stream choices.

Since Pentax doesn't choose to still produce a lower cost 50mm prime (or any affordable primes) anymore that is comparable to the Canon and Nikon offerings that sell for approximately $100, the FA50 1.4 is the comparison for people trying to decide what system they are going to buy.

For example, my co-worker was going to purchase his first DSLR. Due to my recommendations and his own research, he's been leaning very heavily towards a K2000 or possibly the K-x. As part of his getting into higher end photography, he's interested in honing his skills by using prime lenses. How does a beginning photographer afford to do this with Pentax? The only way is through buying manual lenses, that these days cost as much as the AF entry level lenses from Canon and Nikon (yes, I realize that the older manual lenses are certainly better optically, and are going to do even more to hone skills, but AF has an attraction too).

Even as a beginning photographer he realized that at $200, the FA50 1.4 was a better deal than the competitors 1.8 lenses that were half the cost. But this just doesn't hold true when the lens is now 4 times the cost, and he's re-thinking if he wants to go with Pentax at all now.
I'm just glad that I got mine off Ebay for $129 (after the 35% bing cashback).
Chris

Last edited by rcs914; 12-17-2009 at 11:54 AM. Reason: reformatting text
12-17-2009, 10:54 AM   #52
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Hey Marc

QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Underpriced relative to the competition. Stats: the fact that everyone else also charges $300-$400 for their 50/1.4's.
Marc, It has already been said that the Nikon and Canon 50 1.4's that you are referencing are motor driven lenses... so the closest thing in Pentax you can compare them to is the DA 55 1.4 with sdm at $640... So again, even their 300 and 400 dollar variants are a lot cheaper than the Pentax version as entry level 50 1.4's with motor drive. There is not much more to say about this. Obviously we will never see eye to eye on the direction Hoya is taking with the Lense prices. But to make a great little entry level camera like the Kx, and have no inexpensive AF primes to sell to go with it is a wasted opportunity if you ask me.
QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Gus, I hope you know I have the utmost respect for you as a photographer and contributor to these forums. It's inevitable that folks will disagree on occasion; it needn't change anything about how they feel about each other.
I so agree with this Marc... There is nobody on this forum that gives lens advice/breakdowns any better than you do. When someone comes on here asking what lens to get next... you break it down perfectly. For a 'Negative Ned' like myself, I find myself agreeing with you at an almost uncomfortable level ... And your photos speak for themselves.

But I had read that 20% figure being bandied about at least 5 times that day between the two forums, and I just blasted away...

It is like a real estate agent telling you the housing prices really have not fallen that much, because the million dollar houses up on the hill are still selling for $800,000. "It's only 20%"
Meanwhile my little shack in town has lost 70% of its value.

I know if you got all kinds of money it does not matter what Hoya charges for a lens. And if you are one of our resident lens collectors, it does not matter that you have not shot a macro shot in 3 years, you are still gonna buy the WR DFA 100mm macro and tell us all how great it is, before you put it on the shelf.

But we will just have to agree to disagree about fewer choices, and higher prices being the way to get new customers to buy into the system.

gus

Last edited by Igilligan; 12-17-2009 at 12:32 PM.
12-17-2009, 11:31 AM   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Because that lens is... cheap. May be optically o.k., but machanically sure not en par with the 77 Ltd. and the FA 1.4 is simply another league.
That's the point. I want a cheaply-made Pentax equivalent. I want one made out of plastic and that rattles a little bit. I want one that's f/1.8 or f/2, and not f/1.4. And above all, I want it under $400 new. I don't think I'm alone in this. It's not out of Pentax's brand expertise to produce cheaply-built lenses, just look at the Takumar-F line. And for all intents and purposes, this hypothetical lens should be of much nicer optical quality than the generally awful Takumar-K/F line. The Canon and Nikon 85/1.8 AFs are both stellar in optical performance, too. There's no reason Pentax can't do the same, and they should be able to do it better.

12-17-2009, 12:27 PM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by wallyb Quote
That's the point. I want a cheaply-made Pentax equivalent. I want one made out of plastic and that rattles a little bit. I want one that's f/1.8 or f/2, and not f/1.4. And above all, I want it under $400 new. I don't think I'm alone in this. It's not out of Pentax's brand expertise to produce cheaply-built lenses, just look at the Takumar-F line. And for all intents and purposes, this hypothetical lens should be of much nicer optical quality than the generally awful Takumar-K/F line. The Canon and Nikon 85/1.8 AFs are both stellar in optical performance, too. There's no reason Pentax can't do the same, and they should be able to do it better.
Pentax simply cannot afford to do that. There is a reason, why the Pentax "Limited" lenses are sold under that label: There are only always made a couple of handfuls of these lenses at a time. Lenses are not conveyor belt products. Pentax could not afford to use up the limited production capabilities to produce cheap lenses. If you search a bit in the web, you'll find quite some information about the manufacturing methods of Pentax, which really are expensive and small-scale. That does not go well together with cheap end products.

What they could do and have done, is buying in third party lenses, like the old Tamron 28-200 and later 18-200 etc. So, what you would likely get for cheap is a rebranded Bowers/Phoenix/Vivitar 85/1.4 for 400USD. It is easier to buy that direct and safe another 100 bucks.

Ben
12-17-2009, 12:41 PM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Pentax simply cannot afford to do that.
Pentax can't afford to participate in a money-making venture?

QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
There is a reason, why the Pentax "Limited" lenses are sold under that label: There are only always made a couple of handfuls of these lenses at a time.
We're not talking about limited lenses, and limited lenses are not the only lenses Pentax produces, so I'm not sure how that's relevant.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Lenses are not conveyor belt products.
Sure they are! The kit lens comes to mind, and I'm sure tons of other Pentax lenses. Believe it or not, not everything "Pentax" is hand-ground and forged in the fires of Mt. Doom.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Pentax could not afford to use up the limited production capabilities to produce cheap lenses. If you search a bit in the web, you'll find quite some information about the manufacturing methods of Pentax, which really are expensive and small-scale. That does not go well together with cheap end products.

What they could do and have done, is buying in third party lenses, like the old Tamron 28-200 and later 18-200 etc. So, what you would likely get for cheap is a rebranded Bowers/Phoenix/Vivitar 85/1.4 for 400USD. It is easier to buy that direct and safe another 100 bucks.
Right, that's exactly what I want. Why would it matter to me if Pentax themselves make all the parts inside the cheap but fast portrait lens? It wouldn't matter to anyone. But Pentax has yet to brand a lens like this, from any glass maker, with a KAF assembly. This is a major gap in the Pentax lineup, and can't simply be swept under the rug with the guise of Pentax not having the capacity to do it. If they have the capacity to make any lens, they have the capacity to accomplish this.
12-17-2009, 12:50 PM   #56
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That is such a great story...

QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Pentax simply cannot afford to do that. There is a reason, why the Pentax "Limited" lenses are sold under that label: There are only always made a couple of handfuls of these lenses at a time. Lenses are not conveyor belt products. Pentax could not afford to use up the limited production capabilities to produce cheap lenses. If you search a bit in the web, you'll find quite some information about the manufacturing methods of Pentax, which really are expensive and small-scale. That does not go well together with cheap end products.

What they could do and have done, is buying in third party lenses, like the old Tamron 28-200 and later 18-200 etc. So, what you would likely get for cheap is a rebranded Bowers/Phoenix/Vivitar 85/1.4 for 400USD. It is easier to buy that direct and safe another 100 bucks.

Ben
A great story... And truly a historic part of the "Legend of the Limiteds" as they were hand crafted by the Japanese artisans... But they are not made in Japan anymore, and I got a nickel that says those DA 40's and DA 70's are rollin' off an assembly line/conveyor belt in Vietnam without a whole lot of hand crafted attention. But I am Negative Ned

We are not expecting cheap 'limiteds'. What we are asking for is inexpensive options to the 'limiteds' for a majority of folks who cant spend $500 to $1000 for a prime lens.

I will quote someone much wiser than myself and a real 'Class A' guy.

"Pentax already makes a cheap plastic lens the FA 50 1.4, they just charge too much for it."
12-17-2009, 01:20 PM   #57
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It is quite sad that the plastic fantastic is getting quite dear now.
12-17-2009, 04:14 PM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
A great story... And truly a historic part of the "Legend of the Limiteds" as they were hand crafted by the Japanese artisans... But they are not made in Japan anymore, and I got a nickel that says those DA 40's and DA 70's are rollin' off an assembly line/conveyor belt in Vietnam without a whole lot of hand crafted attention. But I am Negative Ned
The same handcraft was applied to all the better Pentax lenses in the past. I know that for sure from the FA*, like the 300/2.8 or the FA 600/4.

QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
We are not expecting cheap 'limiteds'. What we are asking for is inexpensive options to the 'limiteds' for a majority of folks who cant spend $500 to $1000 for a prime lens.

I will quote someone much wiser than myself and a real 'Class A' guy.

"Pentax already makes a cheap plastic lens the FA 50 1.4, they just charge too much for it."
The point is very different: I can really understand the longing for cheaper prime lenses. But Pentax cannot do that. because the vast majority of their customer base wants simply the kit zoom and perhaps one or two other cheap zooms. The demand for prime lenses is not really high, compared to the ubiquous zoom lenses. But for small numbers, there cannot be cheap manufacturing.

The FA 50, may have looked cheap (a common fault of quite a few Pentax lenses, their design department is as bad as their marketing), but inside it isn't. In fact it had a very high reputation for its mechanical quality.

May be that situation changes in two or three years, if the cameras sell so good, that the customer base grows and grows and finally there will be enough real demand (not only inside a small dedicated community) for these lenses.

But for the time being, there are in my view more pressing things for Pentax to do: longer lenses, tc, something like the good old versatile 80-400 etc.

Ben
12-17-2009, 05:33 PM   #59
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
Marc, It has already been said that the Nikon and Canon 50 1.4's that you are referencing are motor driven lenses... so the closest thing in Pentax you can compare them to is the DA 55 1.4 with sdm at $640...
Not a fair comparison, because these lenses are in entirely different classes optically (and mechanically as well from what I understand). The existence of the motor does not give the Canikon's any particular advantage, so I think the FA50 is the proper point of comparison.

QuoteQuote:
But I had read that 20% figure being bandied about at least 5 times that day between the two forums, and I just blasted away...

It is like a real estate agent telling you the housing prices really have not fallen that much, because the million dollar houses up on the hill are still selling for $800,000. "It's only 20%"
Meanwhile my little shack in town has lost 70% of its value.
OK, but it's not just the "million dollar" lenses that have only gone up 20% on average. The FA50 (and FA35, if you believe it to still be a current lens) are basically the *only* ones that have gone up by huge percentage margins in the US. The other lenses I was comparing were $275 lenses that now sell for $350, $425 lenses than now sell for $500, $475 lenses that now sell for $550, etc. And those are at least partially offset by $250 lenses that now sell for $180; $500 lenses that now sell for $450, etc.

QuoteQuote:
But we will just have to agree to disagree about fewer choices, and higher prices being the way to get new customers to buy into the system.
This is of course a very unfair characterization of my viewpoint. I'm not saying it's the best way to get new customers; I'm saying that I doubt Hoya/Pentax has as much choice in the matter as those who wish for cheap primes would like to believe, and that will clearly having inexpensive AF primes would be nice, their absence isn't the end of the world - Pentax has other things going for it.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 12-17-2009 at 05:40 PM.
12-17-2009, 05:43 PM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
A great story... And truly a historic part of the "Legend of the Limiteds" as they were hand crafted by the Japanese artisans... But they are not made in Japan anymore, and I got a nickel that says those DA 40's and DA 70's are rollin' off an assembly line/conveyor belt in Vietnam without a whole lot of hand crafted attention. But I am Negative Ned

We are not expecting cheap 'limiteds'. What we are asking for is inexpensive options to the 'limiteds' for a majority of folks who cant spend $500 to $1000 for a prime lens.

I will quote someone much wiser than myself and a real 'Class A' guy.

"Pentax already makes a cheap plastic lens the FA 50 1.4, they just charge too much for it."
With all due respect, Gus (and Class A), [EDIT: there is significant conjecture that] Pentax doesn't make the FA50/1.4 anymore, and hasn't for several years. [EDIT: They assembled some lenses in Vietnam. It is unclear whether they are in fact still manufacturing the lens.]

Last edited by monochrome; 12-18-2009 at 04:06 PM.
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