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03-16-2013, 08:31 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Pentax at WPPI in Las Vegas

Just thought I would share this since I didn't see anyone else post it... I went to the Wedding and Portrait Photographer's International conference in Las Vegas this past week. There was a MASSIVE expo as a part of the conference and I heard over 10,000 photographers there from all over the USA, Canada, and beyond. In the main expo hall were the big 3 sponsors of Nikon, Canon, and Sony with MASSIVE walk in displays, big displays of all of their lenses, on-site repair services, over a dozen representatives per company, and sponsored guests on stages doing demos and talks about photography for 3 days. Panasonic also had a rather large booth that you could walk into along with half a dozen representatives. Fujifilm was in the same room with a nice display in a high traffic area and had 3-4 reps there showing off their high end compact cameras as well as their instant print cameras which are fun ideas for using at weddings. Leica was also in the room. Tamron and Sigma also had a large presence.

I just assumed Pentax was not there...but then I realized there was a second expo room and they were listed in the directory. So day 2 I went in search for Pentax. The second expo room was much larger than the first but was predominately printing companies, props, backdrops, and small manufacturers of lights, albums, and other accessories. Most of these were startups or companies that the average person had not heard of before. And tucked toward the far back corner, in the last row farthest from the entrance, was a tiny little Pentax booth with 2 staffers (one of which was a photographer whose name I didn't get and wasn't actually a Pentax employee). Attached is a picture (sorry not a very good one...I was a little tired by the time I found their booth and it was darker side of the room and I apparently needed to up the ISO a little more).

I approached the table and jokingly said "wow...I finally found you...I thought maybe you would be in the room with the other camera companies." No response. I showed them that I was carrying my Pentax K-5 with DA* 50-135mm and said I had been a loyal Pentax shooter for the last 5 years or so. "That's great" was the response I got with zero enthusiasm behind it and no "well we are always pleased to meet a Pentax user" kind of response that I was expecting.

On hand, they had a couple of Pentax pens, and a few K-5 II cameras with appeared to be the DA* lenses...but I honestly didn't look that long. They also had a 645D.

On the plus side, it was nice to be able to actually hold a 645D. And they had a model and a little studio set up in the tiny little booth and gave people a generic memory card that could be used to take some photos with the 645D...so that was a little thrilling to me. I can share some of those photos if you are interested...but I will say that the ergonomics were really amazing and the output of the camera was just stunning!

While I understand that Pentax has not traditionally been a wedding camera....seeing such a weak presence especially with the 645D deals and appeal potentially to this crowd was indeed disappointing.

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03-16-2013, 09:11 PM   #2
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Even that model looks bored! :P
03-16-2013, 09:31 PM   #3
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That is sad to see. I think the company as a whole has a good deal of enthusiasm and devotion to their products and consumers; especially since the Pentax/Ricoh merger. I just wish they could make a better presence at shows and they really need to send some high-energy, devoted staff members who are passionate photography enthusiasts themselves. Get people motivated Pentax!
03-16-2013, 09:39 PM   #4
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I'm interested in seeing the photos. It's unfortunate that they didn't have a stronger more enthusiastic presence.

03-16-2013, 10:39 PM   #5
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Thanks pghwarrior23 for the news and photo, even if it is depressing. It seems obvious now that the key compatibility between Pentax and Ricoh is dysfunctional marketing.

I'm sure that there was plenty of lead time for Ricoh to secure a preferred booth space with the other camera brands. The WPPI crowd is the ideal audience to pitch the 645D to. Most of my wedding/portrait shooting friends still have a Pentax 645 & 2-4 lenses in their possession. But they are dumping them quickly.


Whereas Hoya treated Pentax as a bothersome remnant of the medical imaging business, Ricoh treats Pentax as its little hobby driven by sentiment. So that means that our expectations as customers have to be put into a very different place than usual for matters of business.


A good example is the decision to manufacture and market the 560mm tele and sell it for a very high cost. A hobby business, maybe acting to satisfy the vanity of an executive, would do this. A real business would shift development resources to something more actionable by loyal customers such as a 100-400mm f4.5 zoom. And then release a new body that incorporates predictive AF to fully utilize this kind of lens. I don't understand why Pentax simply doesn't license the AF and predictive AF logic and code from Nikon or Canon or another third party? Or staffs a booth that looks vital.


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03-16-2013, 10:48 PM   #6
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That is most disappointing. A bit of enthusiasm especially when someone actually hunts you down. For a few hundred dollar$ more, they could have had a pretty girl walk the general floor handing out cards, inviting folks over to the Pentax booth with the K5 and 645D. A bit of imagination can go a long way. They paid for the booth, setup, staff and everything else. At the very least try to maximize the return.

03-16-2013, 11:35 PM - 1 Like   #7
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John Carlson probably selected the employees by hand, and told them to make sure not to share any information or smile.
03-17-2013, 10:35 AM   #8
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I should post photos of the Nikon, Sony, and Canon booths for comparison. Or even Fuji. But yes the lack of enthusiasm was especially disappointing even more so than the bad location, small booth, and lack of wow factor from the display. Canon also had their mega long lenses on mounts in little areas that you could walk up to and see their power...got people really excited since most can't afford those lenses. I think a better display of the 645D definitely would have appealed to this crowd, but so would the size, weight, weather sealing and quality of the K-5 compared to the expensive competitors. Heck even the display of all of the color options of the Q would have gone over pretty well as their were thousands of female fashionistas there shopping for fancy camera straps and bags and would have gone bonkers over a custom color designed little portable camera I think! Not like this was a tiny little show either...easily one of the largest attended photography related events in the USA. They could have Benjamin Kanarek there and his shots in major fashion mags shot with Pentax and really opened some eyes!

03-17-2013, 10:38 AM   #9
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And I will try to share my shots from the 645d sometime tonight...wish I would have filled the memory card but the model was kind of bored too and I was a little nervous with a $8k camera in my hands haha
03-17-2013, 11:05 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pghwarrior23 Quote
..............
I approached the table and jokingly said "wow...I finally found you...I thought maybe you would be in the room with the other camera companies." No response. I showed them that I was carrying my Pentax K-5 with DA* 50-135mm and said I had been a loyal Pentax shooter for the last 5 years or so. "That's great" was the response I got with zero enthusiasm behind it and no "well we are always pleased to meet a Pentax user" kind of response that I was expecting...........
Maybe you were their first visitor and they were beyond hope ....

I can image them moaning at the office on monday morning...
' It was like the grave...they booked us in the dead corner in the second hall that no one came too.
the second day we started dropping the cameras to see how shock proof they were...
then some swine bubbled along with ' wow...I finally found you....'

Last edited by Transit; 03-17-2013 at 11:18 AM.
03-17-2013, 11:43 AM   #11
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This smells to me like a typically out-sourced Ned-and-John job, not like something James Malcolm would have ordered if he had known it was going to happen this way. Unless someone can show me I am wrong I point the finger (you know which one) right at John Carlson. Sometimes I wonder if he isn't taking money under the table from Canon.

Marketing is his job and it happened on his watch. Really - WHY EVEN BOTHER? Where was the Restroom relative to the booth?

Unfortunately it is Malcolm's watch, too. Hope he's reading.
03-17-2013, 12:25 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
This smells to me like a typically out-sourced Ned-and-John job
Blaming folks in power during the Hoya era is silly. Ricoh has owned Pentax long enough to be in control of everything and responsible for the public face of the division. I've worked in corporate marketing (perhaps you have as well) and have planned and provided art for trade shows. This stuff gets--or should get--high attention. These days sales materials should be flexible until at most, a month, prior to going live. So Ricoh has had plenty of setup and coordination time.

My experience-based guess is that Ricoh is only spending the bare attention and support budget necessary for the relatively meager purchase price of Pentax photography-related assets. Let's face it, there is just not much there.

M
03-17-2013, 12:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Blaming folks in power during the Hoya era is silly. Ricoh has owned Pentax long enough to be in control of everything and responsible for the public face of the division. I've worked in corporate marketing (perhaps you have as well) and have planned and provided art for trade shows. This stuff gets--or should get--high attention. These days sales materials should be flexible until at most, a month, prior to going live. So Ricoh has had plenty of setup and coordination time.

My experience-based guess is that Ricoh is only spending the bare attention and support budget necessary for the relatively meager purchase price of Pentax photography-related assets. Let's face it, there is just not much there.

M
Yep - Ricoh 2011 revenue was $49.5 Billion. Pentax cost $125 Million.

Which just reinforces my question - if they aren't going to make an effort why even bother? That's so Hoya.

Last edited by monochrome; 03-17-2013 at 12:55 PM.
03-17-2013, 12:45 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pghwarrior23 Quote
I was a little tired by the time I found their booth
They weren't bored, they were tired too having to walk to it.

"I thought maybe you would be in the room with the other camera companies."
They did too!
03-17-2013, 01:08 PM   #15
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Check out the Pentax Facebook page for images from WPPI. Note the first photo - the model is holding a.... K1000! Of course, the K1000 prompted numerous positive comments, and plenty of 'likes.'. However, we'll note that whoever wrote the accompanying 'caption' refers to this world-famous camera as the "K1,000."

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