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01-04-2010, 03:41 PM   #1
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Came to My Senses

I really don't intend for this post to be a rant - but it probably will be. But I've been paying a lot of attention lately to my search for a fast, normal prime lens. Some of you may have read my posts.

On New Year's Eve - perhaps motivated by post-Christmas cheer and bright anticipation for the new year ahead - I pulled the plug and ordered an FA 35mm f/2.0 lens from Pentax - the only place I've been able to find it lately. It must have been my mood because the Pentax Store charges about $475. At least it's new-old stock and comes with a warranty.

At least that's what I repeatedly told myself as I tried to justify my purchase. 24 hours later, I came to my senses and cancelled my order. To their credit, the Pentax Store cheerfully complied with my request without any problem.

I am normally not one to suffer buyer's remorse - because I generally know what I want and am honest with myself about it. And, yes, I'd like this lens - but $475 is WAY too much money. At $250, it's a no-brainer. At $350 it's borderline - one can understand whatever decision a given buyer might make. But over $400 - and nearly $500 - is ridiculous.

This lens was originally intended to be a value lens and it offered lots of it. And I understand how its relative rarity now has driven up the going rate - particularly for an unused example. What'ds more, I don't expect good lenses to be dirt cheap. But the price for this (very good but imperfect) lens - new or used - is now several classes higher than is reasonable.

Look, I enjoy my Pentax gear and I would really like to stick with all Pentax glass. But for about $70 more, I could have bought the 43mm FA Limited. I could buy the DA 40mm Limited for around $150 less. For about $200 more, I could buy the DA 12-24mm. All excellent lenses that many Pentaxians have a hard time justifying nonetheless.

So why don't I buy those leneses? Well, in the case of the DA 40mm, I might. But I'm not sure the FA 43mm is really that much better and the DA 12-24mm needs to be $100 cheaper.

One could respond to my post by pointing out that I had merely seen what's obvious to many others - and one would be correct. If I paid $475 for the FA 35mm that would have been my fault and I can't blame the Pentax Store for charging that much for a relatively rare lens that' still in demand.

But the fact that the lens is still in demand and a good contingent of Pentaxians has been screaming for a fast, affordable normal lens in the 28-35mm range seems to be lost on the home company in Japan. Pentax (again, the home company) is not taking care of its people. They are not offering products that are desired by many of its customers. It's very frustrating - and it means many of us will end up going elsewhere for what we want.

I'm not saying I'm ready to bolt from the Pentax camp. But, unless we get some pleasant surprises from Pentax in 2010, I'll probably be buying third-party lenses in the future. It's too bad. I and many others want Pentax to survive and thrive. But we're not made of money. And just as I had to face the law of the market in this episode, Pentax may have to face it as well as more people find other ways to fill the glaring holes in Pentax's product lineup.

Thanks for indulging me. I'm stepping off the soapbox now.

01-04-2010, 03:49 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biro Quote
......

Thanks for indulging me. I'm stepping off the soapbox now.
"Problem" is that you make the point ...
01-04-2010, 03:52 PM   #3
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Pentax has a few percent of the photography market. The FA 35 may be in demand but that may also mean nothing. In demand probably means relatively few people are scrambling for relatively few of these lenses. The prices are that high because they can get away with it. It's true, Pentax is having a little upswing at the moment due in large part to the K-x but Pentax aren't really producing lenses in the sort of numbers to take full advantage of it. Instead they charge a premium for the relatively few that they have available. It's good for the bottom line in the short term but they run the risk of driving people to third party lenses and then the whole house of cards is in danger of collapsing.
Pentax has no choice but to do things the way they are unfortunately the customer is just cannon fodder in this battle to remain a viable business.
01-04-2010, 03:53 PM   #4
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Well, they're real concerns to you - probably wouldn't have been as big an issue a year or two ago.
C'est la vie.
But I'm tipped to believe Pentax will remain the cheaper system that appeals to the niche group it has always aimed at.
As for the choice of lens, the FA 35 may not be a bad choice, but for the money, the DA 35 ltd is a much better option. If to save even more money, the DA 40 has got to be top of the list.
Hope you're not too disillusioned by this and you'll come to find better deals with time.

01-04-2010, 03:57 PM   #5
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remember that you are buying a brand new lens. the FA35/2's price is also affected by the recent price hikes that Pentax had implemented last year. if I'm not mistaken, it was sold for 300 and under before the increase in April 2009. anyway, I'm sure you can find a used mint copy around 300. just make sure, you'll be the first to jump on it first though.
01-04-2010, 04:09 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Well, they're real concerns to you - probably wouldn't have been as big an issue a year or two ago.
C'est la vie.
But I'm tipped to believe Pentax will remain the cheaper system that appeals to the niche group it has always aimed at.
As for the choice of lens, the FA 35 may not be a bad choice, but for the money, the DA 35 ltd is a much better option. If to save even more money, the DA 40 has got to be top of the list.
Hope you're not too disillusioned by this and you'll come to find better deals with time.
You're right, even a year ago this might not have been a major concern to me. And I certainly hope you're right about Pentax working out in the long run as the cheaper system overall for the niche group of enthusiasts. I am not so disillusioned as to walk away form Pentax completely. I just want them to understand there is a problem that needs addressing.

And, here's the thing: If I could easily afford the FA 31mm Limited, I'd buy it. I might grumble, but I'd buy it. Because it's one of the best lenses around. If Pentax made a fast prime in the 28-35mm range for $350 or less, it wouldn't prevent me from buying the FA 31mm if I could afford it. But I can't - and neither can many other Pentaxians. And the same goes for many of Pentax's other lenses. I bought my DA* 16-50 and 50-135 when I could afford them (and they were less money than they are now). If I were starting out with Pentax gear right now, they wouldn't be serious considerations.

If Pentax can't afford to sell its better lenses at the price they did a couple of years ago, fine. I understand. But then they should offer their customers a lower-priced option. If they have to rebrand other lenses - as they have done with products from Tokina and Tamron, fine. But at least offer an option and fill the hole in the product lineup so people will continue to spend money with Pentax.
01-04-2010, 04:35 PM   #7
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I stick to kit lenses and various cheap oddball solutions (manual lenses, third party lenses, film cameras) unless im going into professional (profitable) photography or the prices change.

Currently most decent lenses by MOST MANUFACTURERS for an average citizen are limited exclusive offers, which may have good qualities but are way too good and expensive for a humble amateur having some good time with camera. Either you must get into obsolete or even vintage photography or live with lowest quality products to be within reasonable or justifiable price range.

Majority of the decent lenses are priced more than highest end P&S cameras, which usually sport broad zoom range, bright optics and optical stabilization. Think about it...

Currently photography might be one of the most expensive usual hobbies.

Last edited by ytterbium; 01-04-2010 at 04:49 PM.
01-04-2010, 04:55 PM   #8
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Well if you're complaining of high prices and are not inclined to spend, then don't spend pretty simple. The old saying "Good things not cheap, cheap things not good" best describes it.

If you're unwilling to invest/spend on what is commonly acknowledged to be a good lens, that is something only you will have to decide. I dare say even if Pentax comes out with say a new 28mm f/2 or 135mm f/2 tomorrow, or in the current situation the new DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR, there will still be a segment who will grumble about how expensive it is. Pointless to dwell in the past and face present realities that have a big impact on final prices (currency fluctuations, cost of doing business, transport/warehousing, stock order, etc.). And it not any cheaper with other camera manufacturers, all things considered.

01-04-2010, 05:10 PM   #9
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A plastic fantastic has it's place too . I wonder how hard it is to make one. Most costs would go to the optical glass and manufacturing i guess.
01-04-2010, 05:11 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
And it not any cheaper with other camera manufacturers, all things considered.
I think the third party manufacturers are taking the opportunity to up their game though Denis. Most of the 'good' lenses have a Sigma or Tamron (sometimes both) rival. They have the advantage in that they have to produce multiple mounts but the lens itself is the same for all systems.
01-04-2010, 05:40 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
I think the third party manufacturers are taking the opportunity to up their game though Denis. Most of the 'good' lenses have a Sigma or Tamron (sometimes both) rival. They have the advantage in that they have to produce multiple mounts but the lens itself is the same for all systems.
You're still sacrificing on certain aspects of quality by going with let's say a Tamron 17-50 vs a Pentax DA* 16-50. It still matters, only the third party companies offer a cheaper option to each system's users.
01-04-2010, 05:43 PM   #12
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Interestingly, the $475 Pentax Web store price is the current list price and has been the list price for some time. I don't know that it ever was a "bargain" lens in my book. It has always been more money than both the FA 50/1.4 and FA 28/2.8 despite similar build and cost to manufacture. Maybe it is the aspheric element? Go figure...

Steve

(Wondering what the street price in Japan is...according to a recent post, the lens is readily available and in stock in stores there...)
01-04-2010, 05:46 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
remember that you are buying a brand new lens. the FA35/2's price is also affected by the recent price hikes that Pentax had implemented last year. if I'm not mistaken, it was sold for 300 and under before the increase in April 2009. anyway, I'm sure you can find a used mint copy around 300. just make sure, you'll be the first to jump on it first though.
There is also the S-K Samsung equivalent that is available for less money. (Assuming you don't mind the hashed labeling...)

Steve
01-04-2010, 05:54 PM   #14
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Buy used here on PF if you want it so m uch. I think they are sold for $300-$350 from time to time, for a mint copy.
I got my copy for $250 a year ago. It is a good lens, sharp at F2, but definitely not in the $500 category.
01-04-2010, 06:11 PM   #15
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In Japan -

Rakuten - [Free Shipping] PENTAX (Pentax) FA35mm F2AL ? Card No items

Prices for FA35mm are around 380-450.

I'm seriously thinking about having a major shopping spree there when I go in March.

Last edited by herzzreh; 01-04-2010 at 06:25 PM.
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