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03-03-2014, 03:02 PM   #31
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Pentax was very nearly as popular as Nikon for the Vietnam war and they remained popular with the press for a long time. I've met several people now who were there as photographers, or just as soldiers and a lot of them used a Pentax camera actually. The army used to requisition them for their photographers, that much I do know. I've seen quite a few Pentax cameras of various types marked for use by the US Army in particular. Last year someone showed me a Spottie that had belonged to his Dad who was a photographer when he was there, with the army, and it even had been painted in camo colors. According to him that camera had survived not only Vietnam but a couple of decades of shooting for newspapers in Boston and NYC too. It rather looked like it. That was one venerable and very beat up Spottie. It looked like it belonged in a museum.

03-03-2014, 04:09 PM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
So my question is for those who were around then: was Pentax THE camera in the 1970s? Or at the very least, was it a Canon/Nikon equivalent of today?
Olympus OM-2 (1975) had off the film metering system that actually worked reliably every time. And some decent lenses.
03-03-2014, 05:25 PM   #33
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Yeah, the Olympus SLRs were very interesting cameras in the 70s, but mainly for their quirkiness and innovation. Also, people liked them because they were smaller and looked more stylish. A bit like Pentax now, maybe. But in those days camera manufacturers didn't spread themselves so widely, so Olympus suffered a bit from its reputation for good P&S cameras. And it was yet another lens mount system, at a time when Pentax mount ruled.
03-04-2014, 11:29 AM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bagga_Txips Quote
I just smiled inwardly, wondering why he wasn't using a Nikon F1.
Because there was not a Nikon F1. Nikon did follow the plain "F" with the F2, F3, etc but there was never a Nikon F1 but I know you just meant this as the first Nikon F . . .

Then Canon complicated this further by releasing the Canon F-1 followed by a F-1N then a New Canon F-1.

03-04-2014, 11:40 AM   #35
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Back in the early eighties, when I first started shooting with an SLR (the K1000), most of my parent's friends who owned cameras, as well as my uncle, all shot Nikons. Nikons were represented to me as "the gold standard," but rather expensive. My dad and his business partner shot Canons, which were represented as the less expensive option to Nikon. Pentax was represented as a good brand for students (like myself). Pentax was the "value brand," inexpensive but not cheap; "serious" photographers, however, prefered Nikon or, if they did not want to pay Nikon prices, Canon. That, in any case, were the memes I was exposed to in the early eighties. I knew nothing of LX or the MX or the K 50/1.2 or the K 28/2 or any of the other legendary Pentax products of the time (and neither did any of the photographers I was acquainted with). This was well before the advent of the internet, when information was not always so easy to come by. The K1000 was Pentax's big seller (perhaps best selling SLR of the period), and that camera defined the Pentax brand for far too many photographers.

I also recall that camera store advertising in photography magazines tended to give most prominence to Nikon, Canon, and Pentax, which reinforced in my mind that those were the three major brands. That would all change when Minolta and Canon introduced their AF systems.

Although Pentax was represented to me as "inferior" to Canon and Nikon, my experiences involving these three systems didn't bear this out. My uncle and I both took a bunch of shots on a Lake Powell trip. About a third of my uncle's shots (taken with his "gold standard" Nikon F3) were ruined by flare. I suffered no such problem with K1000 and a hoodless M 28/2.8. Few years later while working on a video shoot, I shot colored stills with a Canon, and B & W stills with the K1000. All the Canon shots (inexplicably) suffered from lens flare, but all the Pentax shots (and they were pretty much the same shots) were fine. Back in the day, SMC was really more important than it was ever given credit for. Even though I've been shooting SMC lenses for almost 35 years, it's only in the last ten years that I came to know what the letters stand for and what they mean for photography. Pentax was never able to build quite the narrative around its brand in the way that Nikon and Canon did around theirs.
03-04-2014, 09:06 PM   #36
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Wow, some simply marvelous history in here! Thanks guys--I learned a ton!

I think I knew that Nikon was the "pro camera" then but just forgot. I remember my dad telling me how expensive Nikon was, but these days, it's the same price as anything. Also, Paul Simon made a big deal out of having a Nikon camera in "Kodachrome," so it must have been the thing.
03-04-2014, 09:11 PM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
Also, Paul Simon made a big deal out of having a Nikon camera in "Kodachrome," so it must have been the thing.
Big deal...



03-04-2014, 09:31 PM   #38
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My photography 'obsession' goes back to the '60's.

Back then ('60's) and through the '70's Pentax was one of the best selling SLR's, if not the company that sold the most.

The Spotmatic was one of the cameras back then. In '74 or thereabouts the K series came out. New bayonet mount, the KM, KX , K2. They sold well.

Pentax had the K1000 at that time....1970's to 1990's and this was a very common camera...sold by the 1000's.


Nikon had excellent equipment in the 1960's and early '70's, but you didn't see many as they tended to be high end equipment...for example the Nikon F. There was also the Nikkormat...a more reasonable cost Nikon, but still not that common.

Nikon also started to cater to the consumer market when they introduced their economical Nikon EM and the cheaper line of lenses...the Nikon lenses. The Nikkor lenses were the high end lenses. Think the EM came out around '78.


Canon as a SLR manufacturer...they really weren't all that big SLR wise till the AE, etc. came out in the mid 70's. Most Canons back then seemed to be of the 35mm point and shoot variety. However back in the 50's Canon did compete with Nikon. Both then , before they had slrs...were producing very fine rangefinder 35 mm cameras...interchangeable lenses. These were pro level cameras.

In '70 or '71 Canon introduced the F-1 a professional body and really started to build up their pro lens catalogue with, IMO, to compete with Nikon Pro cameras. It took them a long time, but they eventually did oust Nikon as the most common pro camera.

Canon has done a remarkable marketing job....both with their pro and their consumer lines. To the point that currently they absolutely dominate the dslr market.


BTW...all these dates are approximate....going by memory.


Last edited by lesmore49; 03-04-2014 at 09:39 PM.
03-05-2014, 09:36 AM   #39
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Where exactly did Pentax pricing fit into the market? I have a Henry's catalogue for Fall/Winter 1979/1980 (the leading Canadian photo retailer, still today) and dug out prices for SLRs from major brands equipped with a normal f/1.8 (or nearest) lens. Sorted here by premium priced model. The prices are as discounted by the retailer and shown in Canadian dollars which were worth about 85 cents US at the time. Pricing strategies between countries could also be very different, as not all brands treated North America as a single market (hence the Asahi name here, Honeywell in the US).

Leica R3 $1300 (the famous 4-2 rangefinder body alone was $875)
Nikon F2AS $950; F2 $700; FE $540
Canon F1 $800; A-1 $590; AT-1 $320
Olympus OM2n $625; OM10 $360
Minolta XD-11 $530; SRT200 $240
Konica FS-1 $440; TL $320
Pentax MX $420; ME $400; K1000 $250
Yashica TL Electro $210

The catalogue advises prices were volatile at the time, many being reduced. I was surprised to see how 'economical' the Pentax cameras really were. I didn't remember them being that way, but I wasn't particularly interested in other brands at the time.
03-05-2014, 09:55 AM   #40
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Dunno about the 70s, but back in the early to mid 80s I knew a few people with SLRs. Three (other than me) had Pentax. The one guy I knew without a Pentax had a Ricoh.

I had a K1000 at the time, btw.
03-05-2014, 10:11 AM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bagga_Txips Quote
Yeah, the Olympus SLRs were very interesting cameras in the 70s, but mainly for their quirkiness and innovation.
The Olympus shooters I knew appreciated the very small size, performance, and bulletproof build. Oh yeah, great glass too. In short, the OM-1 (Olympus' first full-frame 35mm SLR) turned the entire industry on its ear.


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03-05-2014, 10:23 AM   #42
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My brother was in Nam back then and would send back 35mm exposed film for us to have developed and save for his return. Years later we are sorting through some of the prints and I asked him what camera he used. He replied it was a Pentax Spotmatic because that was what all the war photographers were using and Pentax had the reputation of being more robust than the other available cameras.
03-05-2014, 10:25 AM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by Elroy Jetson Quote
Where exactly did Pentax pricing fit into the market? I have a Henry's catalogue for Fall/Winter 1979/1980 (the leading Canadian photo retailer, still today) and dug out prices for SLRs from major brands equipped with a normal f/1.8 (or nearest) lens. Sorted here by premium priced model. The prices are as discounted by the retailer and shown in Canadian dollars which were worth about 85 cents US at the time. Pricing strategies between countries could also be very different, as not all brands treated North America as a single market (hence the Asahi name here, Honeywell in the US).

Leica R3 $1300 (the famous 4-2 rangefinder body alone was $875)
Nikon F2AS $950; F2 $700; FE $540
Canon F1 $800; A-1 $590; AT-1 $320
Olympus OM2n $625; OM10 $360
Minolta XD-11 $530; SRT200 $240
Konica FS-1 $440; TL $320
Pentax MX $420; ME $400; K1000 $250
Yashica TL Electro $210

The catalogue advises prices were volatile at the time, many being reduced. I was surprised to see how 'economical' the Pentax cameras really were. I didn't remember them being that way, but I wasn't particularly interested in other brands at the time.
These prices look about right when you correct for currency differences. As for Asahi vs. Honeywell, you have to go back several years to find Honeywell-branded Asahi cameras.


Steve
03-05-2014, 10:25 AM   #44
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I started in photography about 1972. The way I remember it, Nikon was the brand of pros, but Canon was making progress. Everyone else was scattered below there. Pentax was very much in the hunt, but I'm not sure it was ever THE camera...at least not since I've been taking pictures. In my camera club, which I've been involved with since the early '70s, Pentax was probably the 3rd most popular camera, with Nikon being the most popular, Canon being a distant 2nd, and Pentax close behind. We had a few Minolta and Olympus users, but not many. Today, there's only 2 of us who still use Pentax. One guy shoots with a Sony, but everyone else is Nikon or Canon.
03-05-2014, 10:28 AM   #45
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In photography class at Ryerson Polytech, in 68, the school owned Spotmatics. If you wanted to sign out school lenses you had to have a Pentax. And all the film Departments in Toronto High Schools used K1000s right up until when I retired. In 1994 I equipped my first classroom , that I designed from the ground up in a new school with 30 K-1000s, so while they may not have been in production, there were still a lot of them around for sale new. I seem to remember we could order them new until 98. After that we were reduced to combing the pawn shops with illegally obtained funds. In my class at Ryerson, there was one guy with a Canon, which his dad bought for him, and a couple Nikons and at least 14 guys shooting Pentax, SVs or Spotmatics. In 68, no one else had a coupled meter built in to the camera, so those of us shooting Pentax wondered what was wrong with the other guys. Canons had this weird thing that attached to your hot shoe and had a mechanical connection to the Shutter speed dial. Nikon had zip, you used your hand held meter. At least that's what the guys in class had. But you had to buy a hand held meter for the 8x10 cameras anyway, so it's not like it saved you any money buying the Spotmatic. But, I could sign out a Spotmatic for the weekend whenever I wanted, as long as I got there before the more senior students. I never did though. IN those days we all learned to use our eyes for light meters and just calculate exposure in our heads. We'd check with the light meter if we had time, but most of the time there was no need. My SV did me just fine.
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