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01-18-2012, 04:55 AM - 1 Like   #1
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the Pentax situation

hi!
I've decided to write a small summary of my views on Pentax and its position right now in the photography business market. English is not my native tongue so excuse my grammar errors.
I'm writing this because I'd like to hear what others think about it and because I am currently in a position of "wait and see" regarding my investments in Pentax. I see this as an interesting time in photography. A turning point even.
I own a K20d kit, a DA* 16-50, DA Limiteds 40 & 70 and a m42 Tokina 300mm RMC f5.6. I don't think Pentax is doomed but I am unsure if its my cup of tea anymore.

Why did I go into Pentax? Well, I had a Canon prosumer named Pro 1 (which I loved and hated for all its glory and shortcomings) but wanted something with more low light capabilities. Pentax dazzled me with its pancake lenses and its value for money. The fact that it was WR helped. Unfortunately, it seems to me that some of those selling points are gone. So here is my list of the Pentax cons:

Pentax isn’t cheap anymore. Sure a K5 is a steal now, but other than that, the prices are to high to be considered a "value brand". The DA 35/2.4 was a step in the right direction but considering the value lenses from other brands, Pentax seems to be lacking. Sure, there is a broad spectre of manual glass to be found but with the mirrorless systems popping out, we are not the only one interested in that glass. Plus, the prices of good manual glass are on a steady rise to the sky (and have been since I started to watch them). And some mirrorless systems offer aid (peaking) that ease manual focus while we still have our sad, small, optical APS-C viewfinder to rely on.

Pentax isn’t small anymore. The pancakes are not a Pentax-only thing anymore. One might say that Pentax is currently the only brand making good pancake lenses (my DA 70 alyways comes to mind) but I'm sure others will soon catch-up. A Pentax DSLR with a pancake lens is still the smallest DSLR on the block, but with the coming of mirrorless, it isn’t the smallest package anymore. Small wideangle lenses are easier to make for a mirrorless.

These are the two selling points of Pentax that hooked me in, but are now slowly vanishing. There are other major weaknesses in my view.

The flash system. It is in dire need of an update. But I did not use it extensively enough to comment further. I'd like to see others comment.

Video. No manual controls and overheating while recording. This is a major K5 weakness in my eyes . Let’s face it, people look for video capabilities in their cameras today. Any why shouldn't they when the competition can offer it?

AF. The K7 and the K5 were a step in the right direction, but the problems with the K5 in low light are a bit off-putting. Also, I've tried a Nikon D300s and I was amazed. It is hard not to notice the difference.

SDM. Unfortunately, I too have been struck with SDM issues. Lucky for me, It happened 3 day before my warranty expired. I felt like an idiot thinking that it could not happen to me. I can say for myself that I do not intend to buy anything with SDM until I am sure the problems are finally fixed. I think that’s a view that many share with me and it is hurting Pentax sales.

Lack of modern fast lenses. I know a lot of you love the FA limiteds but they are too expensive for what they offer in my view.

Lack of tethering . The official one.


Now for some pros:

The colours . I love the colours I get from my Pentax DSLR. Especially the greens. I was in love since my first outing with my K20d and still am. Off course, the lenses play a big part of it.

The WR. Pentax should really play more on this card since it is one of its main selling points in my view. Also, if you are looking for a WR system, Pentax still is the "value for money" brand.


As it stands now, I think the coming of mirrorless had endangered a lot of Pentax selling points and I am waiting in anticipation to see what the Pentax answer will be. Lets hope its a good one.
What do you think?


p.s. If you find this boring or a rant please forgive me, but I have a bad cold and nothing to do but to hang out with my computer and think

01-18-2012, 05:31 AM   #2
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Why startinng another thread on this subject.?..
01-18-2012, 05:46 AM - 1 Like   #3
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If you're listening Ricoh/Pentax, please please... for the love of God.. PLEASE hurry up and announce something. These threads are getting tedious.
01-18-2012, 05:52 AM - 1 Like   #4
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This is a very obvious rant. Nothing wrong about that... That's why I'll answer it with a rant! (But only because I'm sick at home too, like the OP.)

The OP is forgetting about lots of pros:

- Backwards compatibility.

- Inbody SR. Generally accepted to be better then in the lens.

- SR with manual glass.

- More bang for the buck. No, Pentax isn't cheap, and that's a good thing. Having a 'cheap' image isn't very good marketing. But buying Shake reduction again and again in every lens you need is more expensive. In that way, Pentax beats the competition.

- The OVF isn't a con, but a pro. It's the real thing you see in there. I prefer real coffee over coffee pads. I prefer real breasts over fakes. And I prefer a OVF over a EVF. When I shot with a EVF, it felt like isolating stills from a video.

01-18-2012, 06:38 AM   #5
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I won't be buying any new Pentax SLR gear for a while, but that's only because I'm very happy with my K10D and 5 lenses. Sure I'd like a K5, and would buy it in a second if I needed a new dSLR, but the K10D is still a great cup of tea.
01-18-2012, 07:07 AM   #6
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Clavius Quote
The OP is forgetting about lots of pros:

- Backwards compatibility.

- Inbody SR. Generally accepted to be better then in the lens.

- SR with manual glass.

- The OVF isn't a con, but a pro. It's the real thing you see in there. I prefer real coffee over coffee pads. I prefer real breasts over fakes. And I prefer a OVF over a EVF. When I shot with a EVF, it felt like isolating stills from a video.
good! I forgot about those

I have to say, inbody SR makes me a happy Pentax customer. The lack of it in the Fuji X Pro 1 has made me sad.
Also, I too prefer real breasts! But I think that EVF will become a worthy substitute for 90% of camera users. Something like peaking has made it more appealing even now for the people that like manual glass.
01-18-2012, 08:19 AM   #7
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I don't mind another thread puzzling out strategies for coping with the significant developments which seem to be just over the horizon. Personally, I'm not particularly anxious. Granted, with two K-5s and a stash of very good glass, I have a fairly substantial investment in the K-mount system but--since I'll turn 70 in March--it's an open question whether the gear will become obsolete before I do. In the meantime I'm having a lot of photo fun. If I were younger and had a less complete kit, I'd be more concerned. OTOH, if I were younger, other things would probably distract me from this question (speaking of which, I prefer small & real to big and plastic.;~)
01-18-2012, 08:22 AM   #8
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The pros of using older lenses that in some cases are better then newer ones with the built-in SR is a big plus. It is sad that there is no news to date on replacement D-slr models. The mirrorless market is growing and could have an effect in the D-slr market place. I am using a Fuji S1500 with a EVF/ LCD viewing system. The system allows one to see any colour correction in the view finder. The D-slr with the mirror is in some ways prefered since the camera can be used with no power to see through the view finder.

Hopefully Ricoh will be doing something soon with the Pentax side of things. Otherwise I could see newer customers jumping ship to other brands. The current owners like myself will be using Pentax as long the cameras being used are working. The design of the cameras is something I like so far. I hope they do not do any major changes that will put off existing users.

01-18-2012, 09:21 AM   #9
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TBH now is the first time I've ever thought about other systems since I got my first Pentax DSLR about 5 years ago. If I were buying DSLR now (with this experience), most likely it wouldn´t be Pentax. Back then there were plenty of old good 2nd hand lenses in the market with cheap prices which I really loved and which drew me into the system. And I still own some excellent and exciting lenses which I wouldn´t want to part (Tokina AT-X 90mm macro, K 135 and A* 300 F4). But lately I've been frustrated about the AF speed and accuracy in lowish light (K20D and K7) and the lack of 2nd hand lenses in the local market (especially fast 70-200 zoom and longer than 300mm lenses). Im not too eager to invest 1000€ to the lens which I know would lose about 25% of it's value right after purchase. And if I would be buying now, there would not be those old lenses in the market with same prices (if at all).

I'm now in the spot where I need to invest significantly into the system if I would want what I need. And as always, theres never enough money for everything. My fiancee also shoots with Pentax so it would be easier as we can share the lenses and costs. But we could as well change systems.

But then there's always "being different" -factor. None of the other brands gives the same feeling as shooting with Pentax. I've never cared about brands, but strangely it's different with cameras If there only were 70-200 2.8 lens for 500ish then I may be ok with K5 (which apparently should be better AF than K7 or K20D in lowish light). So I'm also in the "wait and see" situation.
01-18-2012, 09:37 AM   #10
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I think the OP hit the proverbial nail, Pentax isn't the only one with pancake lenses anymore. Its only one factor but its a sign of the new trend.

IMO, the Km thru Kr line with the mirror'd boxes can struggle but not compete successfully in the marketplace with the newer MILC. I'm pretty confident we will see a mirrorless Kr replacement in 2012 with a 16 megapixel sensor. This conclusion is within the bounds of the somewhat vague at times, discussion from the Japanese technical manager earlier in the year and the Jonathan Martin UK interview.

As some have suggested, the 2nd mirrorless Pentax line camera may have been shelved to be replaced by a new GXR mount that is more K-mount friendly, but i don't think so.

I've got a significant investment in Pentax lenses and the K5/K20. No problems with their operation. But long term, i could be tempted by a mirrorless camera with the K5 sensor performance. If Pentax doesn't come thru this year with a more significant mirrorless than the Q, my next camera will be the Fuji or Sony. The manual focusing aids in those brands outstrip what is available from Pentax. But when i read that the Japanese technical manager talk about FF and MF cameras potentially going to mirrorless, that tells me that Pentax is not unaware of future trends. Thats a good indicator IMO.

Last edited by philbaum; 01-18-2012 at 09:47 AM.
01-18-2012, 10:04 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Since the development of the K-5, I've never been more happy with a DSLR than I am today.
However, I really think Pentax should get back into producing legacy lenses like their infamous FA series so I can stop buying and cannibalilzing lenses.
01-18-2012, 10:13 AM   #12
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I think Pentax is in a position where they can't move forward trying to compete with Nikon and Canon with a similar but less robust lineup. Pentax needs to play off its strengths which are compatibility, intended use (less so reportage and PJ, more artistic, hobby, semi-advanced to advanced amateur), access to similar technology as Nikon and Canon, price, and user base.

Adapting a role in the Ricoh hierarchy, I think Pentax should:

1.) Offer one entry level APS-C or similar kit camera and lens series with maybe a one-size-fits-all zoom plus a macro lens.

2.) Offer a medium priced advanced camera, full format, with a series of a few high end lenses. A short zoom, a long zoom, a high quality fast normal prime and a longish macro lens kit would be perfect.

3.) Evolve the 645D into a high end pro-grade system with a modern form factor and a series of high end lenses. Keep it as simple as possible. This camera system could prove to be a hit with portrait photogs, fine art folks, etc.

4.) Offer the above three with continued backward compatibility for lenses.

5.) Offer an evolved Limited series of lenses which is better targeted with less overlap and priced reasonably considering the quality offered. $1000 to $2000 US is not too expensive for a Pentax Limited lens, especially for the high-end system, provided it is a best in class product.

These represent evolutions of the current product mix and are certainly possible. Pentax will eventually lose all of the soccer mom market, they lost the PJ market in the 1980s, and they never had the sports photog market so there is no point in competing in those areas. I think the way forward for Pentax is as the high end product produced by Ricoh but priced for the average person.
01-18-2012, 10:42 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I don't understand all the fretting I see on Pentax boards these days. I am extremely excited about having Ricoh behind Pentax. They aren't saying much yet, but anything I've heard has been encouraging; i.e. grow the brand, compete with Canon & Nikon, new bodies on the way, etc. They have an interest in riding Pentax into the future and they have deep enough pockets to make a splash. Give them a chance to get started for pete's sake, it's only been three months. They need time to have a good look at Ricoh/Pentax synergies, market research, staffing, programs, patents, future plans, financing. This is a complicated deal.

Some people just react badly to change, and that's what we're seeing on the boards.
01-18-2012, 11:07 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I don't understand all the fretting I see on Pentax boards these days. I am extremely excited about having Ricoh behind Pentax. They aren't saying much yet, but anything I've heard has been encouraging; i.e. grow the brand, compete with Canon & Nikon, new bodies on the way, etc. They have an interest in riding Pentax into the future and they have deep enough pockets to make a splash. Give them a chance to get started for pete's sake, it's only been three months. They need time to have a good look at Ricoh/Pentax synergies, market research, staffing, programs, patents, future plans, financing. This is a complicated deal.
I can't agree more. Ricoh clearly stated they wanted to go head to head with Canon. Planning such an operation takes some time...

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Some people just react badly to change, and that's what we're seeing on the boards.
Yes, I fear change a lot. Change is bad.


BTW, cool avatar...
01-18-2012, 11:45 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dankoBanana Quote
Why did I go into Pentax? Well, I had a Canon prosumer named Pro 1 (which I loved and hated for all its glory and shortcomings) but wanted something with more low light capabilities. Pentax dazzled me with its pancake lenses and its value for money. The fact that it was WR helped. Unfortunately, it seems to me that some of those selling points are gone. So here is my list of the Pentax cons:

Pentax isn’t cheap anymore. Sure a K5 is a steal now, but other than that, the prices are to high to be considered a "value brand". The DA 35/2.4 was a step in the right direction but considering the value lenses from other brands, Pentax seems to be lacking. Sure, there is a broad spectre of manual glass to be found but with the mirrorless systems popping out, we are not the only one interested in that glass. Plus, the prices of good manual glass are on a steady rise to the sky (and have been since I started to watch them). And some mirrorless systems offer aid (peaking) that ease manual focus while we still have our sad, small, optical APS-C viewfinder to rely on.
What is cheaper yet of the same quality in other systems? The DA* 300mm f4 for example is cheaper than the Canon/Nikon 300mm f4 equivalents.

I for one don't have much interest in plastic cased prime lenses, however I think if Pentax can gain marketshare they can eventually offer 2 or 3 versions of focal lengths in different price ranges. If you want cheap fast primes, Pentax isn't the system to be using and I don't think they have ever been that way. Now if you want cheap WR lenses, Pentax is the system to use.

What I'd like to see is even further improvments in the construction quality of their lenses. All metal, internal focus, and weather resistent with the same casing look throughout the range. I think lenses like the FA limited could stand to have a D-FA WR treatment to them like a high-grade improvement compared to the D-FA 100mm f2.8 WR upgrade they did.


QuoteOriginally posted by dankoBanana Quote
Pentax isn’t small anymore. The pancakes are not a Pentax-only thing anymore. One might say that Pentax is currently the only brand making good pancake lenses (my DA 70 alyways comes to mind) but I'm sure others will soon catch-up. A Pentax DSLR with a pancake lens is still the smallest DSLR on the block, but with the coming of mirrorless, it isn’t the smallest package anymore. Small wideangle lenses are easier to make for a mirrorless.
I think the only reason for this is the advent of mirrorless systems. Given them some time, Pentax has made hints at a mirrorless with larger sensor. I'd say their current SLR gear is still smaller than anything of equivalence. If someone wants the smallest semi-pro SLR body, the K-5 is still it.


QuoteOriginally posted by dankoBanana Quote
The flash system. It is in dire need of an update. But I did not use it extensively enough to comment further. I'd like to see others comment.
I agree with that 100%. I'd actually like Pentax to take a step past everyone else and include a RF wireless trigger and TTL system inside the camera body. This is really an aspect where Pentax could actually draw in pro users if they did it right.


QuoteOriginally posted by dankoBanana Quote
Video. No manual controls and overheating while recording. This is a major K5 weakness in my eyes . Let’s face it, people look for video capabilities in their cameras today. Any why shouldn't they when the competition can offer it?
I agree and I also assume the next SLR from Pentax will have manual control. The Q is newer than the K-5 and has manual control...
However, I haven't had any issues with my K-5 actually preventing me from recording when the high temperature light is on. I record many videos for my Youtube channel without issue.
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