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10-29-2013, 08:51 AM   #1
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How Far Is Pentax From Becoming A Major Player In APS-C?

Although I'm as loyal to the Pentax brand as anyone, being realistic also, there's a concern that we're not really competitive with those who shall not be named.
Putting aside past ownership failings, poor or non-existent marketing, little product placement at major outlets, timid 3rd-party support and any other woes covered fully and often by the rabidly obsessive haters here, who (also) shall not be named, how do we stand, equipment-wise?
Let's take a look, OK?
DSLR APS-C bodies; Info from B+H Photo, as of 10/29/2013, US dollars.

K-3, $ 1,300, 23.35MP, user-selectable anti-aliasing filter
K-5IIs, $ 1,000, 16.3MP, no low-pass filter
K-5II, $ 900, 16.3MP, AA filter
K-50, $ 700, 16.3MP
K-500, $600, 16.3MP (only shown with included kit 18-55mm, no body-only price)
K-30, $ 580, 16MP, Shown 'In Stock' but generally considered discontinued.
So, 4 to 6 different bodies, depending upon how you count them. Starter-$600 to Advanced (or semi-pro) -$1,300. A decent but not overwhelming selection, usually described as good value WR SR bodies, but limited by some functions like flash-sync speed, no tethering (except K-3), slow AF, etc.

Lenses. Here's where it gets interesting! I'm not listing the nearly-duplicate non-WR vs WR versions separately, as well as the non-HD vs HD versions, for a couple of reasons. One, they're pretty much the same optically and Two, I have a sneaking suspicion the 'non's' may be discontinued in the future. YMMV.
These listings were copied from the current Ricoh/Pentax USA lens page today. I understand that some of the FA's and DA's may be (or are) discontinued, but since P/R and B+H still show them, they're included. Again, YMMV.

Zooms;
1) DA 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ED (IF) Fish-Eye
2) DA 12-24mm f/4.0 ED AL (IF)
3) DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM
4) DA 16-45mm f/4.0 ED AL (still shown as available on P/R USA)
5) DA 17-70mm f/4.0 AL (IF) SDM
6) DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL (and AL WR)
7) DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR
8) DA 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 ED SDM
9) DA* 50-135mm ED (IF) SDM
10) DA 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6 ED (and WR)
11) DA 55-300mm 55-300mm f/4.0-5.8 ED WR
12) DA* 60-250mm f/4.0 ED (IF) SDM
About a dozen, 10mm to 300mm. No huge gaps there but only a couple of f/2.8's and nothing over 300mm. No 80-200mm f/2.8, no longer zooms.

Primes. Here's a Pentax strong suit, with a few gaps.
1) DA 14mm f/2.8 ED IF
2) HD DA 15mm f/4.0 ED AL Limited (also WR available)
3) HD DA 21mm f/3.2 AL Limited (also WR available)
4) FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited
5) DA 35mm f/2.4 AL
6) HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited (also non-HD available)
7) HD DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited (also non-HD available)
8) DA 40mm f/2.8 XS
9) FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited
10) DA 50mm f/1.8
11) D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro
12) FA 50mm f/1.8da8 55mm f/1.4 SDM
13) HD DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited (also non-HD available)
14) FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited
15) D FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro (also non-WR available)
16) DA* 200mm f/2.8 ED (IF) SDM
17) DA* 300mm f/4.0 ED (IF) SDM
18) HD DA 560mm f/5.6 ED AW.
Between 18-24 lenses, depending on the HD/WR choices. No ultra-wides, pretty large gap between 21mm and 31mm (mentioned many times previously!), no 'pro' 300mm f/2.8, another gap between 300mm and 560mm, nothing longer.
Also, no new AF teleconverter.

How do we stack up?
Ron

10-29-2013, 08:59 AM   #2
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In terms of capability, they've always been a major player.
10-29-2013, 09:09 AM   #3
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Just as soon as John Q Point-and-shoot recognizes the name "Pentax" as a household word. So, maybe 30 years.
10-29-2013, 09:10 AM   #4
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Depends on who you are and what you want. I have a full range of lenses, Sigma 8-16, a DA 10-17, DA 18-135, DA*60-250, 21 ltd. DA 35 2.4, FA 50 1.4, Sigma 70 macro.. A-400 5.6. My wife has a Tamron 17-50- 2.6 and a SIgma 18-250.

I'm not really looking for any lenses right now, and the K-3 will probably be the last body I buy for a long time. SO where we stand right now is, I have more than I need. While I'm quite willing to ad, others may need something else, that they don't find here, those holes are being filled all the time. Mostly by third party vendors.

For example Sigma, after already producing the fastest K-mount sports zoom ( the 70-200 2.8) and the 8-16 super wide zoom, has now produced a the 18-35 1.8 zoom, for people who want a fast wide angle. It's quite possible you still can't get something that's available on other platforms but the list is slowly diminishing.

I'm not sure Pentax is keeping up, but if you look at K-mount, there's not a lot you can't find. Although a tilt shift mechanism that would allow me to use my 645 lenses on a K mount camera comes to mind.

The point being, we probably all have something we'd like that we aren't going to get. The big question is always, how much of what you like, that you've got, are you willing to give up, to get what you want.

10-29-2013, 09:38 AM   #5
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The APSc equipment is credible. Aside from one or two issues - Flash sync speed, shutter speed (perhaps related) and lack of system accessories the Pentax APSc system is robust and a great value at each price point. However, no amount of product character or quality alone will make Pentax a major APSc player. You can't "put aside" the marketing support and make a reasonable hypothetical. Such is a fatal contradiction. Marketing is every bit as much a feature as megapixels.

Pentax will be a major player in APSc outside Japan, when - and only when - Ricoh makes the necessary commitment to a multi-tier marketing effort so retailers have the desire and opportunity to show the product and consumers have the desire and opportunity to sample it.

There is much more to a multi-tier marketing effort than magazine and broadcast advertising to establish the brand name for Costco. You must pay for dealer reps. You must pay to attract dealers at Trade Shows (PhotoPlus, anyone?) You must pay for dealer co-op advertising. You must pay for local market wholesale inventory. You must pay for dealer incentive specials.

And most important, you must pay for dealer agreements with acceptably small minimum annual volume at fair direct pricing and reasonable dealer credit arrangements. Dealer Credit is the big dog.

I have no idea what all of that costs, but I suspect the sell-through volume of Pentax is not large enough to warrant the expense; yet without the expense I cannot see how Ricoh can increase the sell-through volume in the reasonably near term.

At this time I don't believe Ricoh Imaging is structured to add all the marketing features into its cameras at the current price structure. The cost per camera body is likely prohibitive. They have before them some years of increasing unit volume and reinvesting margins into increasing volume further by focusing on a value proposition of ergonomics, engineering excellence, durability and weathersealing and Image quality - a reputational value proposaition - before they can apply higher volume merchandising tactics.

That is why, whenever I say Ricoh has a Plan, I qualify the statement with the phrase, "over the intermediate term, whcih is 5-7 years." They're just not going to get it done in two or three years.

Last edited by monochrome; 10-30-2013 at 01:31 PM.
10-29-2013, 09:41 AM   #6
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The main problem I think is Pentax is a great overall performer but doesn't have a couple things really stand out as marketing bullet points. Until they have something that make a lot of people turn their heads and give the system a chance, people aren't going to realize how good the system is. WR is a great feature, but others are slowly catching up, although Pentax still have the consumer grade WR advantage for now. With Ricoh's resources, hopefully they can move faster to stay ahead of curve on what they are good at while closing the gap in the other areas.

The other big part is just marketing, which Ricoh seem to be picking up pace in that area. So, I'm hopeful we will see more Pentax cameras out in the wild in a couple years.

One thing I noticed a lot of people seem to think WR is only useful if they live in rainy regions. I live in sunny Califronia and I find WR to be useful because it keeps the dusts out. Even though I'm careful with my gear, I noticed my 50-300 had gathered quite a bit of dust inside after a couple years but 18-135 is still dust free.

For me, I'm a hobbyist, I don't have a lot of extreme demands as long as the products work well.
10-29-2013, 09:43 AM   #7
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We are all hoping Pentax will return to its former glory, but ya, what monochrome said. I open my 12-15 year old magazines and there are Pentax ads everywhere. At this point I wonder if Pentax has enough production capacity to sell enough cameras to pay for a major ad campaign, if they sold every camera they can produce.
10-29-2013, 09:51 AM   #8
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Its difficult to buy Pentax DSRL if there is only few places to sell them. Mostly here is Canon and Nikon sold in market. Pentax DSRLs are made in Cebu city philippines. I have spend a lot of time there, but i know only one place there where to buy Pentax DSRL. And I have not seen another Pentax there, not even one, but so many Canons. U must have Canon cos its best camera there in Cebu...same here best is Canon or Nikon cos pros uše them, other brands are not so good.

I would say pentax make very good cameras, but nobody is selling them to people. Thats major problem if want to become major player

10-29-2013, 09:59 AM   #9
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Pentax's pride should are in its latest products, the K-3, K-5 II series, K-50, K-500 and the Q lineup. The APS-C setup is second to none now in their performance and end results. Having the K-3 rate more favourably than the D600 is testament to this. I also think Pentax has come of age in terms of bringing the ILC desirability and utility to the consumer market in the compact Q system. It would be interesting to see sale numbers of all these cameras with time and note how they compare with Pentax's past numbers. I for one am glad they were able to get to the bottom of their AF and sensor noise issues, especially in low light photography, but they still have to work on P-TTL accuracy.
10-29-2013, 10:04 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
The APSc equipment is credible. Pentax will be a major player in APSc outside Japan, when - and only when - Ricoh makes the necessary commitment to a multi-tier marketing effort so retailers have the desire and opportunity to show the product and consumers have the desire and opportunity to sample it.

There is much more to a multi-tier marketing effort than magazine and broadcast advertising to establish the brand name for Costco. You must pay for dealer reps. You must pay to attract deaers at Trade Shows (PhotoPlus, anyone?) You must pay for dealer co-op advertising. You must pay for local market wholesale inventory. You must pay for dealer incentive specials.

And most important, you must pay for dealer agreements with acceptably small minimum annual volume at fair direct pricing and reasonable dealer credit arrangements. Dealer Credit is the big dog.

I have no idea what all of that costs, but I suspect the sell-through volume of Pentax is not large enough to warrant the expense; yet without the expense I cannot see how Ricoh can increase the sell- through volume in the reasonably near term.

That is why, whenever I say Ricoh has a Plan, I qualify the statement with the phrase, "over the intermediate term, whcih is 5-7 years." They're just not going to get it done in two or three years.
I generally agree with Monochrome.

I think Pentax has a very good line up...equipment wise. There are a couple of areas they could add in terms of lenses. \I've bought a Sigma 150-500...because Pentax did not have a reasonably priced (read...one I could afford) lens in this focal length.

I'm also considering the Sigma 18-35mm F 1.8...as I think Pentax also has a gap here.

But other than that I'm generally happy with my Pentax equipment and think the variety is wide enough.

I have a K-5, K10D, K-m in bodies. At this point no desire to get another body, however if one body dies...than a K-3 to replace.

Lenses...I have a 50 F 1.4, 50 Macro F 2.8, 10-17 Fisheye, 12-24, 16-45, 40 Limited F 2.8, 70 mm Limited F 2.4 and 55-300mm....plus the Sigma 150-500.

All Pentax lenses, except for the 150-500. At this point I don't feel the need for any other lenses...except maybe the Sigma 18-35 F 1.8.

With this equipment I certainly do not feel second best to any Canikon ASP-C system. My system does all I want.

But I constantly hear from photo store clerks that consumers don't know, don't ask about Pentax...even though the Pentax system is excellent.

Canon does a fine job of marketing....Nikon is right behind.

I'm pleased to see that Pentax advertisements, once again grace the pages of Popular Photography...last two issues after an absence of some years.

That advertising is a very good start. Now some national TV advertising...particularly before Xmas. Consumers seem to go with what they view, see and hear about.
10-29-2013, 10:14 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Pentax's pride should are in its latest products, the K-3, K-5 II series, K-50, K-500 and the Q lineup. The APS-C setup is second to none now in their performance and end results. Having the K-3 rate more favourably than the D600 is testament to this. I also think Pentax has come of age in terms of bringing the ILC desirability and utility to the consumer market in the compact Q system. It would be interesting to see sale numbers of all these cameras with time and note how they compare with Pentax's past numbers. I for one am glad they were able to get to the bottom of their AF and sensor noise issues, especially in low light photography, but they still have to work on P-TTL accuracy.
Unfortunately I had to recommend against Pentax just the other day to a pro who uses a lot of flash in his wedding work. He likes everything else Pentax, he currently uses a D7000 for his flash work.. what's a guy supposed to say? Pentax, you're breaking my heart here.
10-29-2013, 10:14 AM - 1 Like   #12
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When/if Pentax becomes a major player, I think I will have to switch. It just does not feel right to be "common".


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10-29-2013, 10:39 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Unfortunately I had to recommend against Pentax just the other day to a pro who uses a lot of flash in his wedding work. He likes everything else Pentax, he currently uses a D7000 for his flash work.. what's a guy supposed to say? Pentax, you're breaking my heart here.
It's not as bad as needing to switch systems IMO. I shoot weddings and don't find the P-TTL workaround a significant handicap pragmatically.
10-29-2013, 10:43 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
It's not as bad as needing to switch systems IMO. I shoot weddings and don't find the P-TTL workaround a significant handicap pragmatically.
Good to know Ash, what I said to him, is "try and get ahold of a system to see if you can live with it." But that's a lot different from being able to say "If you like the D7000 system, you'll like the K-5." SInce he already has a D7000, I would have had to say it would be worth his while to switch, and I couldn't say that.
10-29-2013, 10:44 AM   #15
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Next time I'm talking to one of the old-timers at a pretty big camera store for my area, I'm going to ask him why they no longer carry Pentax in the store. They use to have a Pentax gear including Pentax 6x7 and 645. But they don't even have a 645D there which seems really strange given high profile photographers do business there.
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