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08-31-2010, 11:19 PM   #1
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Lookin around in History

Milestones

After reading that, I feel simultaneously proud and a bit down to be a user of the Pentax system, what with all the innovations it's brought about to the world of photography. I wonder though, what happened? Where did Pentax go from being the top of the pack to the forgotten brand? History's pretty interesting, indeed.

09-01-2010, 03:54 AM   #2
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They gradually fell behind. Pentax has always been a glass company first and camera company second and in particular, when digital cameras came out, they waited too long, worked on too many different concepts and ended up coming in at the tail end.

Film cameras were different -- things could stay the same for years and no one would complain. These days, you have to release a new camera every eighteen months (or sooner) in order to keep your faithful happy.
09-01-2010, 04:02 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
These days, you have to release a new camera every eighteen months (or sooner) in order to keep your faithful happy.
I know you didn't mean to be funny, but this line made me laugh. How 'faithful' is someone whose eye wanders every year or so?
09-01-2010, 04:11 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I know you didn't mean to be funny, but this line made me laugh. How 'faithful' is someone whose eye wanders every year or so?
True but sad. "I'm committed until I find someone/something better!" With the emphasis on technology, most photographers blame their cameras rather than themselves when photos don't turn out well.

There was a time when I thought that pros were just better at photoshopping. Now, I understand that pros do their best to get things right in the camera, precisely to limit that need.

09-01-2010, 04:57 AM   #5
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You don't need to be the market leader to be a profitable company making great products. Even today, Pentax innovate in camera design, features balance, and lenses lineup. They are not a world leader, because of marketing (just as Apple is a world leader because of marketing) but they are making great products, and are allowing users to take great pictures.
09-01-2010, 07:26 AM   #6
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As has been repeatedly mentioned elsewhere, Pentax does not have a global professional support network, while Canon and Nikon do. Marketing puts products in front of eyeballs; support networks keep the professionals on-board. And as I've mentioned before, PenHoya is a corporate dwarf. Canon, Casio, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, are all (or are parts of) global giants with rather small consumer-photography divisions. Both innovation and marketing require large resources, and PenHoya just has less $$$ than the competition.

Back in Ye Olde Days, as mentioned, photographic hardware development could and did take time, and didn't require immensely expensive semiconductor fabrication facilities. Designing and building quality mechanical-optical cameras requires skilled workers but can be done on a fairly small scale. The vast number of players in the film camera market attested to that.

Digital indeed changed everything, and not just because of shifting consumer demands. I've read that a chip fab plant costs about US$1bln (that's a billion bucks, kids) to build, and it ain't cheap to operate; and large critical components like big sensors have high rejection rates. You can't get away with stuffing substandard chips into cheap sub-entry-level trash, like you can with miserable optics. I've read of 1980's Russian/Soviet semiconductors, where each individual CPU would be tagged with a list of THE OPERATIONS THAT CPU COULD NOT PERFORM!! "Sorry, no XOR's, you'll have to program a workaround." Digicams with such hardware just couldn't function.

Will Pentax ever be a world leader in photography again? Maybe if it's devoured by some corporate monster, with better management than Sony, who'll pour a sh!tload of cash into development and marketing. Let's see, Google could afford that... Are we ready for gPen?
09-01-2010, 07:39 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jaieger Quote
Milestones

After reading that, I feel simultaneously proud and a bit down to be a user of the Pentax system, what with all the innovations it's brought about to the world of photography. I wonder though, what happened? Where did Pentax go from being the top of the pack to the forgotten brand? History's pretty interesting, indeed.
Thanks for the link, hopefully with the 645D Pentax will put it back on the Map.
09-02-2010, 10:20 PM   #8
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QuoteQuote:
I've read that a chip fab plant costs about US$1bln (that's a billion bucks, kids) to build, and it ain't cheap to operate;
I have not been in the industry analysis end for a while, but my memory was that was the cost c. 1997, building in developing countries. I don't want to imagine what a plant in the US, Japan, or Europe would cost today. I would imagine at least 3bn to 4bn.

09-03-2010, 08:57 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Oro Quote
I have not been in the industry analysis end for a while, but my memory was that was the cost c. 1997, building in developing countries. I don't want to imagine what a plant in the US, Japan, or Europe would cost today. I would imagine at least 3bn to 4bn.
I work next door to one such plant....yes, the investment is in multiple Billion$$.

But its not really as bad as it sounds. In order to recoup such a huge investment, most chipmakers work as independent profit centres, separate from who the owners are. They will sell the electronic chips to anyone willing to pay, at commercial rates.

So Sony , for example, will happily sell its sensors to Pentax, as long as its a profitable deal. There may be some deliberate (?) delay before they sell their sensors to 3rd parties, but that's up to the buyer to negotiate the best deal they can get.
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