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10-15-2013, 05:19 PM   #1
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What Is It About Pentax that Builds Brand Loyalty?

I'm a long-term Pentax user. My first SLR was a Pentax S3 (H3 to my US friends), followed by an SV, a SP-F, an ES, ES11, K2DMD, LX, *istD, K20D, K-5 and Q. A K-3 is on order. I looked at the Canon offering before deciding to stick with Pentax when I bought the *istD, not because I was locked into the Pentax system, but because the *istD was compact and solid, whereas the Canon was not. I should say that I had owned and used a Canon Digital Ixus for a couple of years beforehand, and it was solid and compact. I've also had the odd Leica, Minox, Ricoh and Miranda. K-mount LBA set in for a few years, as I added to my lens collection, but that has now largely been satisfied - if I take up bird-watching, that may change, but for the past 12 months, the addiction has been dormant, let's say.

Lately, we've seen some heated debate in the Forums, centred on Ricoh's ownership of the Pentax brand, and the prominence of the owner's stamp on both product and publicity. It's all about brand loyalty, as far as I can see. Some people say that Pentax is just a brand, but, if that's the case then the term should encompass more than just the label on it. My take on it is that there's tangible heritage in, for example, the way products are formed, intellectual capital in the workforce as well as the patent portfolio, customer loyalty and so on that are integral to the brand. The brand is not the label, nor is it the firm that owns it.

So, the question here is why those who are brand loyal feel the way they do about Pentax. Some claim to not be brand loyal, and that's fine and proper. While it would be interesting to explore why they are that way, this is not what I'm concerned about identifying in this thread - that's for another day.

To start the discussion (I hope it isn't too brief, although brevity of individual responses would indicate that some thought has gone into it, as in the famous words of Pascal "Had I more time, I would have written less") let me state just why I've stayed brand loyal all this time (40 years, this year). In no particular order, my reasons, in short, are:
  1. Value for money;
  2. A good range of bodies to choose from;
  3. (Generally) good optics;
  4. Ergonomics that facilitate ease of use;
  5. Compact size;
  6. Little touches that show consideration for the photographer.

I could add more, had I more time (paradox!), but I'll leave it to others to contemplate and make their contributions. If you don't mind, I'd like to avoid arguments about whether, for example, the current range of lenses offers good value for money, because that's a personal judgment to make, and I'm looking for the outcomes of judgment, not the processes or rights and wrongs of each person's judgment. I could have taken a great deal more time to refine my own thinking on these issues, and create a poll, and maybe that will come from it, but, for the moment, this is more the brainstorming end of the process. Thanking you, in advance.

10-15-2013, 05:39 PM   #2
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Hi RobA,
for me it was easy - I loved my old camera (Pentax MZ50), wished I could replace it after it died, and had some Sigma and Pentax lenses left over - hence the choice of K30. Call it perverse or deliberate obtuseness, but I see enough Canons and Nikons out there and I didn't want to hold one (a sneaky dSLR survey at a recent holiday at a popular beach-side resort netted me a total count of 17 Canons, 9 Nikons, one Sony NEX and a sole Pentax - mine!).
10-15-2013, 05:46 PM   #3
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Thanks, John.
I guess I should have thought about non-conformity!
10-15-2013, 06:07 PM - 5 Likes   #4
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Pentax owners are weird.

There, I said it.

And weird people are incredibly loyal to the things that make them that way.


10-15-2013, 06:16 PM   #5
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I'm a new Pentax owner, but am already rather conscious of a tug to remain Pentax-loyal ;-) The reason I bought the K-30 was more than anything the noise test shots on dpreview, and my intention to get better shots of the Milky Way, with a secondary factor being how much less crap the Pentax seemed to have shoehorned in compared to the big two's cameras, and how sensible were the things they do have (the RAW button, TAv mode...) - just right for me.

The seed, however, was also sown by my father's loooooooong-standing Pentax loaylty; I've never seen him with another camera (film, then digital) until he was given a Lumix compact camera. ;-)
10-15-2013, 06:22 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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We've been down this road before in other threads, but I'll go in one more time.
30 years ago I took a Pentax K1000 with me on the adventure that was my life.

A Pentax has been in my hand making memories of every place on earth I have traveled to.

I've changed over the years, but when I look down at that Pentax logo, and the feel of a Pentax in my hands, I am young again and with a friend that has been with me through it all.

Those Japanese engineers have been true to their ethos and their passion, and that too, has sealed the deal.
10-15-2013, 06:24 PM   #7
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As a teenager, I wanted the Canon Aex-1 or thereabouts. But more or less against my will, my parents and the seller forced a Pentax ME on me. I never bonded with the camera. But I soon bought a KX and loved it. Why? Manual control, full viewfinder, DOF, solidness. I recently sold it and regretted it so much that I bought a K2 although I rarely use it.

It's not about 100 ticks against 100 boxes, it's about the ticks that count for you.
For me, that's now Pentax 645N and Rolleiflex.
If Pentax bring out a new 645D, I'm sure I'll stay with them.
10-15-2013, 06:28 PM   #8
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I've owned a K2, Mx with winder, LX with sports finder and drive, 3x K-5's and a K-01. I also used to own a 28mm Shift, 15mm F3.5 superwide, 300 F4, 17mm FE, 50mm (obviously) a Viviter Series 1 90-180 flat field zoom.. and I bought a 28-70 vivitar series 1 as well before finally selling the lot and forgetting about photography for 28 years. I couldn't afford to pump film through the cameras in the end but would never have moved them on had they been digital.

To me, it's quite clear Pentax have a philosophy (compactness & SMC coatings being my main big deals back then) which was clearly missing from the other brands at that time apart from Olympus. You can recognize a Pentax camera, just like you can now look at a new Olympus and see and old OM-1... there's a lineage. Nikon and Canon look like they've been chewed up and spat out by someone to be honest.. they are not elegant nor as ergonomic for my requirements even though I own two D800e's.

I have an emotional bond to Pentax whereas when I look at my Nikons I see just cameras.

10-15-2013, 06:39 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I started off with a Yashica in film days and after a gap without photography, I tried a Canon 50D. It was fine but never felt comfortable. When I read positive reviews about the K-5, I had to try it. Love at first sight and hold. The quality, value, and ease of use was apparent - it seemed like the Subaru of dslrs, a brand I'm also fond of...

For that and all of the reasons cited by others, I've become loyal to the Pentax brand (although I also like the Sony A99 but don't feel the same about Sony as a brand).

Maybe I'm just a sucker for an underdog.
10-15-2013, 07:35 PM   #10
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For me (in no particular order):
1. Focus on being an efficient tool for the photographer
2. Value for money (my K-x was wonderful value for money)
3. Backward lens compatibility (which includes in body SR!). I used to have a Canon AE1 and have never quite forgiven Canon for the change in mount without so much as an adaptor. So Canon was out anyway.
10-15-2013, 07:46 PM   #11
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Interestingly enough I was just at Best Buy tonight returning something and decided to look around in the camera section at the competitors' DSLR's. I played with their standard 24-105 zooms and the bodies, and the quality didn't seem to be there - the lenses felt too loose or too tight, much cheaper feeling, not to mention overpriced when compared with say, an 18-135 or 55-300 zoom from Pentax. I too, also love the "weird" stigma associated with Pentax bodies and lenses. I am always the only one rockin' a Pentax!
10-15-2013, 08:07 PM   #12
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Brand loyalty is, in part, a reflection of an emotional attachment held by the consumer. As noted above, it can be linked to and passed on by generations; Ford, Chevy, and Mopar, and maybe Macy's have similar connotations for families. I also think some folks "imprint" on Pentax if it was their first serious camera, especially if they were in their youth and they associate that time with Pentax as being very positive.

A brand with such positive emotions is a very valuable goodwill asset in business. For Ricoh I think it was the most important part of their meager purchase price of Pentax a few years ago.

10-15-2013, 08:11 PM   #13

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Just because I own an Optio S5n, had an *istDS, own a K-7 a K-01 a Q and a pair of Papilio binoculars doesn't make me brand loyal, it's just one of those incredible coincidences 'tis all.
(Oh wait, Specsavers use Pentax lenses and I have two pairs from them!)
10-15-2013, 08:15 PM   #14
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If the company doesn't drop there oldest customers--then they get my loyalty in return.

When i had to go digital b/c fast tungsten slide film was no more:
1. the pentax dslr took all my old screw mount lenses
2. Nikon took AI lenses but not pre-AI
3. Canon, etc took none of older lenses
4. Leica was not a possibility
I had Nikon (AI) and Pentax (M42) lenses, and I was most impressed by 1.
10-15-2013, 08:27 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sledger Quote
Just because I own an Optio S5n, had an *istDS, own a K-7 a K-01 a Q and a pair of Papilio binoculars doesn't make me brand loyal, it's just one of those incredible coincidences 'tis all.
(Oh wait, Specsavers use Pentax lenses and I have two pairs from them!)
I was almost peculiarly pleased to find Pentax lenses in my glasses after going to Specsavers last year

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