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09-13-2012, 07:08 AM - 2 Likes   #1

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Mixed emotions about Pentax lenses development

I feel rather mixed emotions about Pentax lenses development...I don't understand - who rules it? Nobody?

I'd like to clear my thought.

1. Well, someday Pentax began to produce DA limited and DA stars lenses - well, it was a good move ... but then it SUDDENLY stopped .
It will be 4 years soon from DA15 and DA*55 release time...No new DA* and DA limited primes in roadmap.
Only first DA limited wide-angle zoom....

2. Pentax SUDDENLY decided to produce two plastic primes . OK. Let it be. But this line of lenses is vague now...
The roadmap is empty. 2013 year are only zooms.

3. WR Zoom was released - well ... rather good center sharpness, comfortable focal range and good DC motor....OK. Lets continue line of WR zooms with DC motor and good price..
Although 18-135 was designed by graduating student of university

But DA18-270 is SUDDENLY launched .... NO WR. With SDM and it's $ 800 Tamron.

4. The users were waiting for something like the DA * 300/4, but longer. Not above than $3000-4000. But...
We see DA560/5.6, converted from the telescope with very simple optical formula and for $7000 ... It could be produced DA*400/5.6 (400/4.5) + WR TC 1.4 - cheaper and lighter.

5. Pentax SUDDENLY remade DFA100 macro in WR metal design version - I have it...It's cool. But this idea is died too....

I don't understand logic.... Is there any serious plan or only impulsive rushing of any top-manager?

Is there responsible man for optical engineering?

Pentax was well-known with HQ primes and zooms...

Last edited by ogl; 09-13-2012 at 08:45 AM.
09-13-2012, 07:21 AM   #2
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I think - if Adam's hidden thread is any indication - these items were all HOYA's plans.

Ricoh's plans will start this year and next.
09-13-2012, 07:36 AM   #3
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Pretty good critique, Ogl. I'm not sure if there's anything I would disagree with and I could even add in a few more comments in the same vein. And you didn't even get into the camera body situation.

On the other hand Pentax has been sold a couple of times in the last 10 years, and has had some staff turnover. That's got to be hard on them. And Ricoh is really the first owner they've had where they have the resources they need to compete.

This said, I think the main thing they are missing, as you pointed out, is a sense of coherence in direction so Pentax fans can know where things are headed. Olympus, for example, is betting on the success of M4/3. The 4/3 fans might not like it sometimes, and the occasional person still asks them for full frame even though that makes no sense at all, but for the most part they understand where things are going and each release seems to confirm that. Meanwhile, Fuji seems tied into building on their excellent APS-C sensor and companies like Nikon and Sony have emphasized their commitment to full frame by releasing multiple bodies this year.

With Pentax it's a lot of mixed messages. Many of their great, desirable lenses still in production (the FA Limiteds) are still full frame. Their DA line, as you noted, is growing stale and incoherent, and there aren't as many must have items as there should be. If you're going to stick with APS-C, fine, show that and commit to producing a pro APS-C body with a refresh to the DA* zooms and high end and budget primes. If you're going to go full frame, show that by coming out with new D-FA lenses and eventually a camera to match it.

Until that point where you can really have a vision and commit to it, consumers are going to be a little bit confused on what your intentions are. This year's Photokina (at this point) has not really helped that situation.
09-13-2012, 07:45 AM   #4
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Totally agree on all points. There just don't seem to be any real vision of were the company is going. The lack of high-end lenses since the DA15 Limited, DA*55 and the DFA100 Macro is really odd. There are gaps in there lens line-up and money to be made from filling those gaps. At least the lack of new lenses has cured me of my LBA.

Hopefully Pentax will give us vision of where they want to go.


09-13-2012, 07:52 AM   #5

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1+2. Maybe Pentax Ricoh is recognizing the weakness in their lens line - the zooms - and are acting accordingly? They have a nice collection of primes, they launched 3 more this year.
A roadmap full of zooms is not empty.

3. The 18-270 is just because they had to have one. Whatever.

4. You have no idea how (in)expensive is the optical formula formula for the 560mm, and what the other costs are.

5. Not necessarily died, but for now there were other priorities

Don't forget, Pentax has a plan. But it takes time to even start it, let alone complete it.
09-13-2012, 07:54 AM   #6
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HOYA was focused oh what they could get out the door cheap. They were looking to sell the company and did not want to invest anything in R&D.

Lenses made like the D-FA 100mm macro need to get back on the road map. I would be happy to stick with screw drive if the other option is SDM.

If we (customers) can see the holes in the road map/lens line up then surely people at Pentax can see the holes. The new telescope is pretty much a "who cares" lens. I think maybe Pentax knows this and really does not want to make any. The have priced the lens out of the market to insure they never have to make one. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe people who do astro-photography with the O-GPS1 will find this lens appealing. I don't know how big that market is and how much money there is there. Obviously the 560mm is not a lens for the masses.

I just don't know why Pentax can't fill in the middle of the line up. 85mm, 135mm, 150mm and bring back the 24mm F/2. Give us D-FA* Limited in 24mm, 31mm, 43mm, 77mm, 85mm, 135mm with modern coating and a drive system better than SDM. All metal and weather sealed. I know they need to have the plastic fantastic's and the super-slow, super-soft, super-zooms in the line-up.
09-13-2012, 08:01 AM   #7
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I'm not overly comfortable with the idea of outsourcing their lens development, however good Tamron may be. For me it respresents a drain of knowledge away from Pentax.

In all honestly I can't say I'm overly fussed about the lens roadmap just because I have a niche that I do which doesn't involve Pentax lenses. So I don't buy any.

What I do find a bit disappointing though is the accessories situation. No teleconverter and no tubes, they're really silly basic omissions.

Pentax just strikes me as a very conservative company directed by people in Japan that don't really listen to anyone but themselves.
09-13-2012, 08:04 AM   #8
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FWIW the O-GPS1 delivers extremely limited movement of the sensor in conjunction with the DA560, so it's not a valid excuse to buy that lens. A dedicated astrotracking device is almost mandatory when using telescopes.

09-13-2012, 08:08 AM   #9
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I agree totally. Under Hoya, the goal seemed to be to pick lenses where there could be a quick return for minimal investment. In particular, this seemed to be spending a lot of time puting weather sealing on existing lens designs.

I am hopeful that under Ricoh there will be a more coherent plan. It's just probably a little soon to see the results -- early next year would be about the soonest we could see Ricoh initiated gear. I just really hope that at the least, they update the lens map at Photokina and give some indication of direction they are going through that. Wide, but fast lenses are completely absent. Rerelease FA * lenses with sealing and faster motor.
09-13-2012, 08:18 AM   #10

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It doesn't look like a company that has it's act together at the time. Things are to spread around, and it needs more focus. The R&D staff is limited and can't do all things at once. Resources are still limited, since the sales are low (in comparison to CaNikon) and no signs of cash/knowledge going into the company to give it a firm boost. On the other hand, it is not yet one year since the takeover. So things take time and we still have some great photographic tools to use in the meantime.
09-13-2012, 08:19 AM   #11
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I agree, Pentax has been very inconsistent in their plans and even their terminology for lenses (50 f1.8 is a DA, not a DA-L, the limited-styled DA100 WR Macro, the DA17-70 having a mount sealing gasket {but no others in the DA line}).
09-13-2012, 08:22 AM   #12
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DA* 55mm f/1.4, DA* 200 mm f/2.8, DA* 300mm f/4, DA* 60-250mm f/4, DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited and DA 17-70mm f/4 for sure, DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 and DA 15mm f/4 Limited most probably, were designed or mostly designed before the listed company called Pentax lost its independence when Hoya bought it in August 2007.

Hoya's only strategy for Pentax was to cut cost to turn it around and be in a position to resell it. So they chopped the Japanese production, international network, museum and so on, including R&D teams, in particular optical engineers.

From then on, they had to "faire du neuf avec du vieux", as one says in France, i.e. propose new stuff made from old stuff:

- WR versions of 18-55mm and 50-200mm kit lenses
- DA-L versions of 18-55mm, 50-200mm and 55-300mm
- WR version of DFA 100mm macro
- DA 35mm f/2.4 from FA 35mm f/2
- DA 50mm f/1.8 from FA50mm f/1.7
- rebadged Tamron superzooms (18-250mm then 18-270mm)
- DA 560mm f/5.6 from a telescope lens

In K mount, the only original lens of the Hoya period seems to be the DA 18-135mm and it can hardly be qualified as ground-breaking.

So the only logic was: cut costs! and do what you can with what's remaining.

Pentax people did their very best at this, I think.

Last edited by Mistral75; 09-13-2012 at 08:38 AM.
09-13-2012, 08:51 AM   #13

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QuoteOriginally posted by Nass Quote
I'm not overly comfortable with the idea of outsourcing their lens development, however good Tamron may be. For me it respresents a drain of knowledge away from Pentax.
What "drain of knowledge"?
FFS, Pentax and others used since decades ago to rebadge some cheap, entry level Tamron junk since they couldn't be bothered to design it themselves.
09-13-2012, 09:04 AM   #14
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In this business, you are either moving ahead, or you are falling behind. a $7000 lens with a notoriously "cost conscious" base is not going to be a hot seller. The K-5 II is great for Pentaxians that don't already have a K-5...but for users that do have a K-5, it does not move the needle.
Hell, I personally don't need nor desire a full-frame, but a Top Notch APS-C camera, with very high-end AF (yes, same level or better than Canikon), WR, SR, Focus Peaking, and flip screen LCD would give me a reason to sell my K-5 and stay put.
09-13-2012, 09:28 AM   #15

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ogl, this is the best post of the year - it captures my sentiments and the responses so far show many agree with you.

This is the crux of the problem:

QuoteOriginally posted by ogl Quote
I don't understand logic.... Is there any serious plan or only impulsive rushing of any top-manager?
Since the digital age (or maybe before?) Pentax has floundered. It reverted from adulthood back to being an infant. Like a ship without a rudder, Pentax hasn't gone in any one direction long enough to make any progress. They have the talent - that's not the problem. I have a K200D and a couple of DA limiteds. Absolutely fantastic gear!

Pentax still hasn't decided what it wants to be when it grows up.

The $64M question (or was it $90M?) is, will Ricoh's ownership catalyze that transition back to maturity?

Last edited by cfraz; 09-13-2012 at 09:35 AM.

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