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My rant: 100 years (-1) or why I care for those who remain silent
Posted By: JaroslawBrzezinski, 02-26-2018, 01:40 PM

This is a translation into English of an entry posted at my Polish blog: Towarzystwo Nieustraszonych Soczewek: 100 lat (-1), czyli dlaczego mi zale?y na milcz?cych
As we are approaching the 100th anniversary of Asahi Optical Co., I will be posting more entries on Pentax cameras and tests of some quite rare lenses, particularly of Pentax-A* line. Because I have always thought Asahi has not been receiving the praise it deserves, here is my short rant:
After a 20-year break I decided to write a column. Perhaps because of the reborn love for products with Pentax logo; perhaps because of the irrational and bound-to-faill rebellion against the contemporary world; or perhaps just to check if I am completely alone on this desert Island or maybe someone else is wandering around here.
We are constantly attacked by pieces of news on premieres. Each of them shouts at us that the best camera or lens in history is going to be just launched; that’s OK, everyone has the right to praise even the most trivial and least outstanding product in an attempt to sell it and it is then up to us to separate the wheat from the chaff. The problem is, this is getting more and more difficult because genuine progress is increasingly illusive, while marketing is becoming increasingly aggressive and removed from real virtues of the advertised equipment. The same happens in the fine arts: the more similar all artists get, the more each of them shouts how original they are. So the louder someone shouts, the more I tend to think they have nothing to shoutabout. Parole, parole, parole.
And on top of that, some companies are fighting for top positions in the rankings so they are forced to constantly outshout each other. The silent ones apparently are never right. Originality, long traditions recede into the background if Pentax K-1 – one of the most interesting DSRLs on the market today – vegetates somewhere on the margins as a curiosity, and while everyone knew well ahead about celebrations of the hundredth anniversary of Nikon (2017), or Leica (2014) then hardly anyone mentions the fact that 2019 will mark one hundred years since establishment of Asahi Optical Co. Leica is a separate matter altogether: for some people it is not a brand but a cult, M6 is a shrine, and Leica Monochrome is God incarnated himself. When I look at the best cameras and lenses made by AsahiOptical Co. I just say that in terms of quality Pentax is a true Japanese Leica,only not so famous and not that expensive.
Proof? Let’s take Pentax LX. A small, lightweight professional SLR, that was clearly superior to the rivals of its times, i.e. Canon New F-1 or Nikon F3, in all respects except popularity and sales volume. The marketing department in Asahi always seemed inert. Or perhaps this was the philosophy of modesty, typical of some authors of great works: yes, we have created a masterpiece, but it would be tactless to praise it; let it defend itself. I am joking a little, I am exaggerating a bit, but not by much. On many occasions I was under an impression that beautiful things created by Asahi Optical Co. were thrown at the mercy of the marketplace and had to cope on their own. And their proved to be too delicate and not feisty enough to do well. Customers rarely want brilliant solutions invented by engineers. Sometimes such solutions sell poorly in terms of image,particularly if one is unable to demonstrate the benefits to be ripped from them by mass users.
I am not going to beat my head against the wall, tilt at windmills and so on. I will not delude myself that if a hundred other people convinced of the benefits of the products of Asahi Optical Co. join me, we will be able to influence mass tastes. But I can do my own thing, i.e. in the year preceding the 100th anniversary ofthe establishment of the company, write more about it, test lenses, discuss cameras, and constantly raise the element of its philosophy that matters to me most, and one that has constantly resurfaced throughout the history of Pentax like a leitmotif in a musical piece: to do everything the best one can at a given moment in history, regardless of the costs entailed or the possibility of suffering a market failure. And with time a camera considered to be a niche product, or a lens that was awarded a top score in an industry test but did not make it to the top of sales rankings, comes to such a person as me, who handles them, delights in the uniqueness of their solutions and magic properties oft he generated images. And such a man starts talking about them. Even if only twenty people read this, ten believe in what I am saying and five decide to try Pentax products for themselves, it will be worthwhile.

Last edited by JaroslawBrzezinski; 02-27-2018 at 04:49 AM. Reason: Spaces between words missing
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06-29-2018, 04:37 AM   #16
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There's been a whole bunch of folks (me included) who have ranted and raved about how poorly Pentax's marketing dept has done it's job. I do believe Pentax has (and had) some of the best cameras - film and digital - on the market, but the marketing dept failed to do their job to get that info to the mainstream!! Enough - just enjoy taking photos!

06-29-2018, 04:59 AM   #17
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The pentax marketing department is one thing, modern consumption is another. People nowadways have a really awkward sense of individualism where the bulk ends up doing exactly what everyone else is doing or has done (check the snapshots on instagram, for example) and they feel good about this. If, out of 100, 40 people buy sony, 30 buy nikon and another 20 canon, people feel most comfortable buying sony or nikon. They will ignore the 10% very capable cameras out there. This effect is enlarged by the way the market works: bigger numbers means more turnover, means more profit and a bigger more prominent spot in the shops. In my book it's not so much the numbers, but the quality that matters. Pentax is quirky, but it has some great features that won me over easily when I went digital.
06-29-2018, 10:15 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by HoutHans Quote
The pentax marketing department is one thing, modern consumption is another. People nowadways have a really awkward sense of individualism where the bulk ends up doing exactly what everyone else is doing or has done (check the snapshots on instagram, for example) and they feel good about this. If, out of 100, 40 people buy sony, 30 buy nikon and another 20 canon, people feel most comfortable buying sony or nikon. They will ignore the 10% very capable cameras out there. This effect is enlarged by the way the market works: bigger numbers means more turnover, means more profit and a bigger more prominent spot in the shops. In my book it's not so much the numbers, but the quality that matters. Pentax is quirky, but it has some great features that won me over easily when I went digital.
Part of marketing is availability. Today, I don't know any retailer in my area that sells Pentax. When someone is thinking of purchasing a new camera, s/he will tend to purchase only what s/he is familiar with, or can handle in the store.
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