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07-10-2012, 01:25 PM   #1
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Pentax - What Is Its Enduring Appeal?

This is actually an interesting article from Digital Photography Now. I will leave it to others to critique it. A link to the full article is at the end of the quote.
Pentax - what is its enduring appeal?
[July 10, 2012]

Pentax UK was our guest at DPNow HQ yesterday and I had an opportunity to look at the new K-30 DSLR that should go on sale over the next few days here in the UK.

On the face of it, Pentax is a brand that has really struggled, not just in recent times but since I can remember. When I was a teenager back in the early 70s my neighbour was a proud owner of one of the last 42mm thread lens mount Pentax Spotmatics. I liked the camera, but was swayed by the attraction of bayonet lens mounts featured by many of its rivals at the time. Pentax was the one of the last SLR makers to switch to a bayonet mount, with the introduction of the K-mount with the K1000 SLR in 1975. I have read that the K-mount was originally design in partnership with the German optics company, Zeiss, although eventually only Pentax developed the mount into a product. [Click here to read the rest.]


07-10-2012, 01:36 PM   #2
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Wow. Can't even be bothered to do a little research. The first 3 K-mount cameras were the K2, KX, and KM. The K1000 wasn't released until 1976 as a replacement for the SP1000. I have never heard anything about Zeiss being involved in the development of the K-mount. AFAICT the K-mount is just a bayonet version of the SMC Takumar for the Spotmatic F of 1973. Pentax didn't add anything to the mount until 1983.
07-10-2012, 01:48 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
The first 3 K-mount cameras were the K2, KX, and KM. The K1000 wasn't released until 1976
The author certainly had me wondering. A friend gave me a KX last year, so, out of curiosity, I read about its history. One of the things I learned is that it was the first, or one of the first, K-mount, cameras, and that the K1000 was introduced later. I thought the author's reference to the K1000 as being the first sounded fishy; but I simply could not remember what was what until I read your comment (mostly, I was just too lazy and forgetful to think about it beyond my initial suspicion). Danged aging brain of mine.

Last edited by Welfl; 07-10-2012 at 02:17 PM.
07-10-2012, 01:50 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
I have never heard anything about Zeiss being involved in the development of the K-mount.
While farting around looking for info on MX I came across this link... it also referes to a Partnership with Zeiss Ikon as origin to the K mount Pentax K2 - Camerapedia

Time to go read the article... TFS

07-10-2012, 01:58 PM   #5
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Some truth and bias in that article. However, asking that question is equivalent to asking why we climb mountains -if you understand you don't ask, if you don't understand, you don't understand.
07-10-2012, 02:01 PM   #6
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Pentax has the history of producing strip down versions after the initial success of each series, K1000 was one of them. K2 was the flagship of the K series, with the KX being the mechanical counterpart. KM & K1000 were the lesser models.

The story I have read is that Zeiss & Pentax were developing lens coating, optical designs and bayonet mount in the early 70's, then they went their own way. That's the reason there were a few Zeiss and Pentax lenses with almost identical optics.
07-10-2012, 02:21 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
While farting around looking for info on MX I came across this link... it also referes to a Partnership with Zeiss Ikon as origin to the K mount Pentax K2 - Camerapedia

Time to go read the article... TFS
You have to love wikis. The K2 article claims Zeiss stopped making cameras in 1975. The Zeiss article says 1972.

From what I can find in a few threads here, Zeiss was looking for a Japanese company to make low end cameras. When they dropped the Zeiss Ikon name they took some of the things they developed with Pentax to Contax and made Yashica the Japanese partner (i.e. Pentax rear caps fit C/Y mount lenses). The only thing Pentax got was the K28/2.

Last edited by boriscleto; 07-10-2012 at 02:30 PM.
07-10-2012, 02:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
Pentax has the history of producing strip down versions after the initial success of each series, K1000 was one of them. K2 was the flagship of the K series, with the KX being the mechanical counterpart. KM & K1000 were the lesser models.

The story I have read is that Zeiss & Pentax were developing lens coating, optical designs and bayonet mount in the early 70's, then they went their own way. That's the reason there were a few Zeiss and Pentax lenses with almost identical optics.
That is consistent with my readings and some of the advertisements from the period, as well as what is said in some of the later editions of The Pentax Way.

Some of the rest of the article is interesting but his personal assertions about speed of USM and SDM vs traditional mechanical in body focus speed are just rehashes. He misses the entire Limited lens issue, the ergonomics being superior, the outstanding K-5 sensor, etc., etc.

07-10-2012, 03:24 PM   #9
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Ergonomics, well built bodies, excellent lenses going back 50 years, enough said.
07-10-2012, 06:29 PM   #10
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I bought a used Pentax in a pawn shop in Vancouver BC in 1961. It was from the first run - shutter speeds old style, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500. Preset lenses, I could still use those lenses on my K10D, or a K30 if I bought one. My current "best 5" are DA 12-24, DA* 16-50, DA 55-300, M 100/4 Macro, M 400/5.6. 35 year old lenses mixed with 5 year old lenses, and all working just fine thank you. I've never seen a reason to change brands.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, they say, but I tend to go with the old song "The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see. What did he see? The other side of the mountain."
07-10-2012, 07:22 PM   #11
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Vintage glass. In-body image stabilization. Affordable. Excellent.
07-10-2012, 11:03 PM   #12
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Small size, WR, ergonomics, durability, small primes, use of legacy glass, excellent sensor performance (K5) & in-body stabilization.
07-14-2012, 05:46 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
... I have never heard anything about Zeiss being involved in the development of the K-mount. ....
QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
....The story I have read is that Zeiss & Pentax were developing lens coating, optical designs and bayonet mount in the early 70's, then they went their own way. That's the reason there were a few Zeiss and Pentax lenses with almost identical optics.
QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
You have to love wikis. The K2 article claims Zeiss stopped making cameras in 1975. The Zeiss article says 1972.

From what I can find in a few threads here, Zeiss was looking for a Japanese company to make low end cameras. When they dropped the Zeiss Ikon name they took some of the things they developed with Pentax to Contax and made Yashica the Japanese partner (i.e. Pentax rear caps fit C/Y mount lenses). The only thing Pentax got was the K28/2.
From what I understand Zeiss and Asahi Optical go back a bit farther.

Asahi bought the "Pentax" name from Zeiss Jena (East Germany) for their line of Pentax SLR cameras. Then Asahi Optical Company (remember the AOC etched on the front of the Pentaprism housing on the early Pentax camera bodies) adopted the Pentax name as the name of the company. Then when Zeiss (West Germany) discontinued their Ikon camera line and went looking to find a Japanese partner (to reduce manufacturing costs), there was some sort of interaction first with Pentax, where Zeiss either design or helped design the K mount, and the K28/2 lens optically is essentially the same as the Contax Zeiss 28/2 Distagon lens. I have also read that Pentax traded their SMC lens coating technology - which became the Zeiss T* coating.

Then for some reason, Zeiss and Pentax's cooperation fell apart. Zeiss then partnered with Yashica to restart Zeiss' Contax camera line with the C/Y lens mount. The C/Y lens mount is essentially the same design as the K mount, with the exception that the bayonet's flanges are thicker and thus incomparable (unless you use a Dremel to shave the mount, or better yet (and a bit more expensive) swap the mount using the Leitax.com mount kit). The Contax camera line went for 30 years - and was a very high end professional body and lens system. Contax ended in 2005 with a digital body that was too expensive for the time and did not compete very well. Contax Carl Zeiss lenses are still outstanding and for the most part equal the best glass available - Canon's L and Leica's, and also run about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of Zeiss' current prices.

07-14-2012, 06:32 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
From what I understand Zeiss and Asahi Optical go back a bit farther.

Asahi bought the "Pentax" name from Zeiss Jena (East Germany) for their line of Pentax SLR cameras. Then Asahi Optical Company (remember the AOC etched on the front of the Pentaprism housing on the early Pentax camera bodies) adopted the Pentax name as the name of the company. Then when Zeiss (West Germany) discontinued their Ikon camera line and went looking to find a Japanese partner (to reduce manufacturing costs), there was some sort of interaction first with Pentax, where Zeiss either design or helped design the K mount, and the K28/2 lens optically is essentially the same as the Contax Zeiss 28/2 Distagon lens. I have also read that Pentax traded their SMC lens coating technology - which became the Zeiss T* coating.
QuoteQuote:
There is some confusion about the etymology of the name. Some sources claim it was licensed from VEB Zeiss Ikon, and derived from the combination "PENTAprism" and "contaX". The explanation on pentax.com does not mention Contax or Zeiss Ikon, and states that the name was formed from "PENTAprism" and "refleX", being the reflex mirror of an SLR camera. A third variation substitutes "Asahiflex" for "reflex", which is at least logical as the Asahiflex cameras had waist-level viewfinders and therefore the pentaprism of the Asahi Pentax would have been a significant differentiating feature.
Pentax cameras - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
07-14-2012, 10:28 AM   #15
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There are a number of stories about the name... From Pentax - Camerapedia

QuoteQuote:
Pentax was originally the name of another 35 mm SLR camera model, introduced in 1957 and successor of the Asahiflex. The name is derived from the shape of the prism used in SLR cameras (pentaprism), and the ending deliberately looks like the Zeiss Ikon Contax. In fact, the name Pentax was a property of Zeiss Ikon until they sold it to Asahi Optical Co.
Contax was a name that the original Carl Zeiss had with their Zeiss Ikon Contax. Contax was so famous that in 1945, as part of their war reparations, the Russians demanded that the production of the Contax camera be totally transferred to a factory in the USSR.And here is a bit more on the name Pentax.... from The Contax S

QuoteQuote:
By this time, other changes were taking place: through a series of lawsuits, Zeiss-Ikon Dresden had been deprived of the use of first one Zeiss trademark and then another, resulting in Contax cameras marketed under a number of different names. From the Model D on, all Contax models are also found with the name of Pentacon, standing for “Pentaprism Contax” (the name “Pentax” was also a Dresden trademark, which they licensed to Asahi Optical of Japan in 1954). The Model D itself was also marketed under a number of private labels, which can make for interesting collecting today. A few of the more common names are Hexacon, Astraflex and ConSol; there are others as well.
The bottom line is that in the past - the 50's, 60's and 70's, Pentax was famous for their bodies and optics. I wish that Pentax would get back on track in terms of fine optics. The bodies are coming along, but the optics have been surpassed to an extent by Canon and Nikon.
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