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07-25-2008, 09:46 PM   #1
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The K20D may be an underdog...but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Dear Pentax users and friends,

I often hear photographers saying that it's too bad you can't find Pentax cameras and lenses in some of the smaller camera stores and even in some big store as well. Although this may true to a certain extent, brick & mortar stores are disappearing everyday, and not just camera stores, it is the same with all markets. They are being replaced by the Wal-Mart stores of the world, and internet stores. Ebay plays a big part too, as stores like Cameta Camera in New York almost sell exclusively on Ebay.

Canon and Nikon equipment can be found with less trouble than Pentax. It is not necessary because they are better cameras, it because they have the biggest advertising budgets. They have the biggest budgets because they sell a lot. It is a vicious circle. It is sort of like a private club and difficult to get in. Pentax has been an underdog for a while and it will probably never sell the volume of equipment that Canon and Nikon do. However, being and underdog is not necessarily a bad thing for us...the consumers. Underdogs have to work harder and produce better equipment for the money. That is exactly what Pentax did in this new digital world. Almost everyone knows that, dollar for dollar, Pentax offers better DSLRs. Just look at the success of the K10D, and now the K20D with its CMOS 14.6 megapixels and available modes and customizations.

Most newbie want to use what they heard the Pros were shooting with. The Pros are often sponsored, or have tons of C & N equipment already. Canon and Nikon have dominated the market for sometimes and both have Pro-Models in the $5,000.00 range. Pros use the top of the line cameras and newbieís and amateurs rarely purchase the $5,000.00 plus cameras. Many tend to buy the cheapest Canon or Nikon, which in my opinion do not hold a candle to Pentax for the same amount of money. People, as a rule, are followers and they perceive that shooting with the cheapest models of the same make the Pros use the most, will make them better photographers. Some boast about their capabilities as photographers, since they are using Nikon or Canon similarly to what most Pros use. One only has to look at the Pentax Gallery to see the quality of the images presented.

It is almost impossible for smaller brick & mortar stores to make it nowadays because they cannot buy in the same volume as the super stores and therefore cannot sell the goods as cheap. If you are honest about it, most of us go to our local camera store to get our hands on cameras and lenses so that we can decide what we want. We also surf the internet to get as much information as we can to help us in our decision-making. Once we know what we want, we buy online. Many people purchase (Canon & Nikon) from Best Buy or Circuit City, not at a bargain price, but because they offer payment plans.

Soon, the purchasing market will shift toward the Internet based stores. Advertisement will get stronger in the Internet arena and brick & mortar stores will slowly disappear. Once on the internet, any company can look as big as they want. Pentax, in my opinion, is changing its marketing approach toward the internet. I predict that they will be more successful that way. After all, they do make excellent products. It is just a question of budget and marketing. As I learned in my marketing classes, itís 20% product and 80% marketing.

Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque

07-26-2008, 03:19 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by k10dbook Quote
Pentax, in my opinion, is changing its marketing approach toward the internet. I predict that they will be more successful that way. As I learned in my marketing classes, itís 20% product and 80% marketing.
Yvon Bourque
The old 80-20 rule still works in the internet world. Your premise that Pentax is changing their marketing approach is, I'm afraid, wrong. I keep a close eye on their activity in hopes they wake up but see no indication of it happening. Viral marketing is the least expensive but most affective new way of reaching the internet customer. It takes imagination not a big budget. I have found no evidence Pentax is engaging in it at all. There are other new avenues like the ones Lowpro is using and again Pentax is not reacting.

Instead Ned brags about the print ad they will be running in magazines touting the weather proofing, a 20th century approach, time consuming, and costly. The only internet activity I've seen was an ad on dpreview touting the rebate. Nothing to indicate they are going after the niche market they say they want to be in.

The recent move to a distribution based system in the U.S. is also counter productive for internet marketing. The hiring of a new big ad agency that is proficient in traditional marketing plans doesn't indicate an understanding of what is needed either.

Please point me to the evidence that makes you think they are changing their marketing and becoming internet savvy.

Regards,
Ken
07-26-2008, 07:53 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
The old 80-20 rule still works in the internet world. Your premise that Pentax is changing their marketing approach is, I'm afraid, wrong. I keep a close eye on their activity in hopes they wake up but see no indication of it happening. Viral marketing is the least expensive but most affective new way of reaching the internet customer. It takes imagination not a big budget. I have found no evidence Pentax is engaging in it at all. There are other new avenues like the ones Lowpro is using and again Pentax is not reacting.

Instead Ned brags about the print ad they will be running in magazines touting the weather proofing, a 20th century approach, time consuming, and costly. The only internet activity I've seen was an ad on dpreview touting the rebate. Nothing to indicate they are going after the niche market they say they want to be in.

The recent move to a distribution based system in the U.S. is also counter productive for internet marketing. The hiring of a new big ad agency that is proficient in traditional marketing plans doesn't indicate an understanding of what is needed either.

Please point me to the evidence that makes you think they are changing their marketing and becoming internet savvy.

Regards,
Ken

Here here Ken!! It's a new and changing world! But really it's always been changing. The internet is just the latest form of change.

Brick and mortar stores are here to stay for some time but they will have to be willing to change their strategies to remain successful. If you are stuck in the mindset that you want to continue sitting around doing what you've always done, don't be surprised when you lose market share to the imaginative competition and fail. Success is never a destination, it's a constant journey of vigilance.

People still have a need to "touch and feel" the product before they purchase it. You are correct Yvon in that many folks will show up to see the product and then go home and buy it on the internet. To a business-owner with a victim-type mentality, this is just another example of how the evil internet is destroying their business. "It's not fair. I just want to sit here like I've always done and have people drop off their money".

So if you are this business owner, how do you handle this new form of competition? You have to do something, right? So do you sit around talking about how bad everything is or go out and do something about it?

Here's one idea. Why not have your brick and mortar store AND ALSO start selling on the internet. Then you get the sale both ways and also have a new source of advertising! Of course this is just one example, but you get the point. One of our local camera stores does just that and has grown successful at both. It's taken time to get an internet presence, but it took much longer for them to grow their brick and mortar presence! And ALOT more money as well! But they understood early on that if they were to be successful and not just get by or slowly die, they would have to adapt to the inevitable changes. They were proactive!

One of the main traits of a successful business is it's abililty to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. It's always been that way. So Yvon, I wouldn't support the claim that brick and mortar stores cannot succeed. It's easy to get caught up in the negative hype about the economic world coming to an end because of this or that change. I've seen countless cases where "mom and pop" stores have literally thrived after a "Walmart" moved in next door. Instead of trying to compete head on with the new big boy on the block (a losing proposition because of volume, etc.), they tried to see how they could use the situation to their advantage. They changed their approach and/or product and used Walmart to help drive folks to their business (location, location, location!). It's all about attitude and forward thought. Ken is absolutely right....it's about imagination, not a big budget! Nothing new here!

Does imagination guarantee success? Of course not. But there never has been a guarantee, internet or not.

Pentax needs to use their imagination and MAKE people know their product. They have allowed their competition to define them. They need to create a focused image that people will remember...use the "little guy on the block" image to their advantage. Yvon's right on the 80/20 theory. But marketing is even more important on the internet as the consumer cannot touch and feel the product at the moment of sale. It's more like 90/10.

Great thread!
07-26-2008, 08:00 AM   #4
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Marketing is a funny thing, I have been involved in campaigns where full research has been done, small group sessions of target consumers annallysed by psychologists etc etc etc and I've seen them absolutely flop.

Viral marketing may be cheap and currently hip & cool whether it sells anything is a matter of debate.

To be honest though who is Pentax's target market -
16- 20 year olds dreaming of glam fashion shoots or at the side lines of major sporting events getting that one click that produces the pic shown around the world?
Seriously I doubt very highly that this group of consumers will condsider anything other than Canon or Nikon cause thats what the pros use, and they will go to the camera shop and be reinforced of their choice by the sales person who will also tell them these are the brands the pro's use and walk out with a shiny new Nikon D40 or Canon 1000D.

If Pentax want this market the answer is simple develop a Pentax version of a canon 1DS Mk111 and high quality telephoto lenses and give them to Pros who work in highly visible fields such as sports.
Then you have a chance of a new generation of Pentax photographers.

In my opinion Pentax is currently for photographers who are hobbyists or studio pros that are discerning and know the value of Pentax equipment - why spend more on gimmicks you don't need.
So Pentax marketing needs to reach these people and I am sure that is just what they are doing with their current marketing strategy.

Just have to wait and see. I have been told for four years in a row now that Pentax is going under at the end of the year my money is on Pentax still hanging in there.

Although all those cheap K20ds and useless Pentax lenses being given away will keep me happy for many years.

07-26-2008, 08:43 AM   #5
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Pentax is an underdog because of very bad decisions spread over several decades of incompetent management. Nikon and Canon are at the top of the heap because their top end cameras are better cameras than Pentax's top end camera.

The Pentax price point apologists and fan boys will have a field day with this, but they are drooling idiots, in my less than humble opinion.

Most top drawer cameras are, BTW, in the hands of well heeled amateurs, not professional photographers.
For a camera company to be taken seriously, it needs to have something at the top of the food chain for people to dream about, and to prove that they have the technical expertise to make a top level camera. So far, all Pentax has proven is that they have the expertise to put a lot of nifty features onto their cameras, but then, so have the other guys.
I have a friend who works at the local Nissan dealership. Many, many people walk onto his car lot and drool over the Infinitis before buying a Versa.
By the same token, a lot of people dream about what an EOS1D can do for them before buying a 40D.
Except for the well off ones, who dream about what the EOS1 can do for them, buy it and then never take it out of dummy mode.
Most professional photographers are buying less than top end cameras, such as the Nikon D300, or I suppose now, the D700, as the very top end ones are out of their price range as well.
Pentax still shines as a lens maker, and their cameras do well enough for the vast majority of amateur and professional work, but until they make a top class camera, they will continue to be an also ran camera maker dependent on the goodwill of their financial (now Hoya) masters for their survival.
In 2007, Pentax was the third place DSLR seller with 5.8% of the market.
Citation: Nikon surpasses Canon in digital SLR camera sales in 2007: BCN:J-CAST Business News
They are now poised to successfully slip to 6th place this year, behind Sony and Olympus.
Perhaps being an underdog isn't so bad, but being an underperformer is suicide.

Now for the braying of the apologists, telling me I should be shooting Canon, or Nikon, or any one of the other brands that I must like more.
Bring on the drool.

Last edited by Wheatfield; 07-26-2008 at 01:21 PM. Reason: corrected a Nikon model #
07-26-2008, 08:56 AM   #6
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All the presented opinions are IMO both true and a fair analysis of the past and partialy present. But I think that close future will be vastly different for us Pentax fans who showed the most sincere form of admiration towards that company by buying their products.

The change I see is in the management because let's face it the old Pentax (much like the old Nikon prior to 2005) was a typical old school run japanese company. The new Hoya management have vastly more funds to spend and even more important the desire to become a bigger fish. They'll hopefully launch 2 new cameras this year at both ends of the current range and by that rekindle the interest in the brand with the semi pro one and provide a cheap and cost effective entry in the K mount system with the entry level one. I won't be surprised if they will sell more cameras this year than the last and improve their market share. IMO the turning point will be 2009 when we'll see if they really mean business and have what it takes to separate from Sony and Olympus and become a strong nr 3 on the market.

I sure hope so!

Radu
07-26-2008, 09:23 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Pentax is an underdog because of very bad decisions spread over several decades of incompetent management. Nikon and Canon are at the top of the heap because their top end cameras are better cameras
Your point is quite valid - the perception is that The K20D is Pentax's Top of the range camera and in reality it holds its own against the canon 40D and the Nikon D80 whic are really the cameras it comes up against on price point. Yet it still gets compared to the Nikon D300 and in some areas it doesn't come up to shabby either (I'll leave the negatives to the Anti-Pentax Fanboys to impart as only they know how)
The reality however is that the K20D is really a mid level performer in todays market, perhaps Pentax were hoping the 645D would be there top flight model that we shallow camera people need to , as you say, drool over.
Without such a drool machine Pentax can not suceed in this market, I agree 100%.

So the challenge for Pentax is to build up a loyal consumer base slowly as they try to eek out a profit from each upgrade they produce - it is very different from the big 2's pandering to the Generation Y's chant of I want the best and I want it NOW!!!
It is going to be very interesting to see if there more old school approach will eventually win the day - most will say no but I'm not so sure.

Still think my *istDS blows away a D80 anyway.
07-26-2008, 02:41 PM   #8
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the difference between a 'brick and mortar' store and an 'internet store' is as has already been pointed out, that many people like to feel and touch the product before buying.

I'd had Canon cameras for nearly 30 years and was always pleased with them.
When I decided to go digi' I looked at the Canons first, but they were small and fiddly compared to my old EOS 600.

So I researched and discovered the Pentax K10 was a similar size, and then I discovered the Samsung GX10 was basically the same camera but cheaper and decided to buy the Samsung.

Why do I own a K10? because that's what was in the brick and mortar store, I picked it up and liked it.
But I was lucky, the store only had that one because of a failed order.

Pentax need to get the products out there where people can see and feel them.
I live on the edge of a large town, and maybe less than 90 minutes drive from two major UK shopping cities, and I can't get Pentax equipment other than on line.

07-26-2008, 08:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Falcons Quote

Viral marketing may be cheap and currently hip & cool whether it sells anything is a matter of debate.

So Pentax marketing needs to reach these people and I am sure that is just what they are doing with their current marketing strategy.
Viral marketing viability being can be debated just as a mag ad showing Champagne being poured over a K20D can be questioned. My point is it is cheap, easy to do, and shows the market you are innovative.

As for you saying you are sure Pentax's current strategy is reaching the target market, show me. I see nothing but "Look we have a rebate" type ad, which is just a wonderful niche marketing concept. I would love to jump on the "Pentax is going places" bandwagon but I see no evidence of them even having a game plan.

Regards,
Ken
07-27-2008, 04:51 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
Viral marketing viability being can be debated just as a mag ad showing Champagne being poured over a K20D can be questioned. My point is it is cheap, easy to do, and shows the market you are innovative.

As for you saying you are sure Pentax's current strategy is reaching the target market, show me. I see nothing but "Look we have a rebate" type ad, which is just a wonderful niche marketing concept. I would love to jump on the "Pentax is going places" bandwagon but I see no evidence of them even having a game plan.

Regards,
Ken
Wow, rebates! Here in Oz the Pentax distributors offer no such thing although both Nikon & canon do. The Pentax still works out a cheaper propsition though and rebates aren't really that well received here in OZ - we tend to look at them with a bit of mistrust - like you know the product is overpriced and really you are just giving it to me at the price you should have just sold it at in the first place by sending me some cash later.

I can't prove to you that Pentax are reaching their target market all I know is that for the moment they are still in the game so something is definetly working. Perhaps you can show me how they aren't reaching the target marget as they do seem to be selling enough cameras & lenses to stay in business.

I personally don't believe quirky little ads on the internet will sell cameras - they may possibly create some brand awareness though but Branding must be handled very carefully.

And that is really what a Marketing campaign is all about putting your Brand on the consumers shopping list. The problem is as soon as you go into a camera store the salesperson will nine times out of ten - look at you strangely, laugh or give you a spiel about Pentax closing down, then proceed to show you the latest Nikon or Canon.

Which must be heartbreaking to the Pentax marketing Department after plonking down all that cash, but they have no choice and their campaign has to try and instill some credibility into the Pentax Brand.

I personally feel that what they are currently doing is the best choice; the Pentax Branding needs to be strong enough for consumers to demand it.
07-27-2008, 06:12 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Falcons Quote
Wow, rebates! Here in Oz the Pentax distributors offer no such thing although both Nikon & canon do. The Pentax still works out a cheaper propsition though and rebates aren't really that well received here in OZ - we tend to look at them with a bit of mistrust - like you know the product is overpriced and really you are just giving it to me at the price you should have just sold it at in the first place by sending me some cash later.

I can't prove to you that Pentax are reaching their target market all I know is that for the moment they are still in the game so something is definetly working. Perhaps you can show me how they aren't reaching the target marget as they do seem to be selling enough cameras & lenses to stay in business.

I personally don't believe quirky little ads on the internet will sell cameras - they may possibly create some brand awareness though but Branding must be handled very carefully.

I personally feel that what they are currently doing is the best choice; the Pentax Branding needs to be strong enough for consumers to demand it.
Sorry you missed my sarcasm regarding the rebate. You are right when you say they tend to indicate the product was overpriced in the first place, which of course is the case with the K20D.

Spending time, effort, and money on such an ad is, IMO, a good example of them not reaching out to their target market. Since it is the only ad I see from them my conclusion is they are not making any effort to reach the target market. We can make guesses as to what that market is but we don't know because there is no evidence of who they are trying to attract. A good ad program will answer the question, "This brand is for the customer that want's--------". The ads from every brand except for Pentax that question is answered. They did run the "Who is a Pentaxian" ad which appealed to the faithful but that was 6 or 8 months ago and was way to wordy. IMO.

So again I must ask what are they doing to make you think their current choice of action is the best choice.

regards,
Ken
07-27-2008, 06:12 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Falcons Quote
I personally feel that what they are currently doing is the best choice; the Pentax Branding needs to be strong enough for consumers to demand it.

And it's obviously not or retailers would not be considering dropping Pentax. You don't drop a high demand product. Pentax has been defined by their competitors as "going out of business" or a "third rate product". A strategy needs to be implemented to take back the true Pentax image. The lack of a strategy is THE REASON the dealer has the image that Pentax is "going out of business".

As far as rebates are concerned, MAN, I couldn't agree more!!! I absolutely HATE rebates! I run from them! Why make me work to get a better deal on your product??? Shouldn't you make it EASIER to get a deal on your product by just lowering the price? Wouldn't that sell more? It's a big turn-off and makes me go looking for a better deal.

The unfortunate thing is they do work in some economies. I"m not sure why.
07-27-2008, 08:09 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
So again I must ask what are they doing to make you think their current choice of action is the best choice.

regards,
Ken
I can only speak of what I see happening in OZ where distribution is handled by a distributor who also happens to be the Sigma distributor - so you can guess what kit lens is on the Pentax.
But OZ is still like the rest of the world for DSLR's - a 2 horse town called canikon. Now consumes here only buy Pentax for one of 3 reasons:-
1. The Pentax is cheaper.
2. They allready have Pentax lenses and are well educated in just what a Pentax camera is capable of.
3. They actually held one when they went into buy a canon 350D and realised the canon felt and looked like a toy. (Put me in this boat)

Most initial Pentax consumers in OZ fit the number 1 profile and if they have been exposed to some form of credible marketing then their decision will be much easier for them as they have not only gotten a camera at a decent price they may also believe it is from a reliable and credible manufacturer.
(How do you think canon managed to palm off so many of those 350d's?)

And this is what I believe the Pentax strategy is - They know it is no point going toe to toe with the big two (for the moment at least) they know they will lose. They don't have huge marketing budgets and they don't have the resources to ensure all the shops stock Pentax gear etc etc...
So they have to bide their time with a product that is gaining a reputation for being well built and well priced that is a bit of an all rounder camera and again well priced.

Pentax had a winner in the K10D and not having the resources to produce a camera in the D300 class or a FF yet, they tweaked the K10D with a new sensor from Samsung (what is their marketing strategy???) with a bit of fruit thrown in as well and called it the K20D.
The K20D keeps Pentax in the game very cheaply and the camera actually holds its own against some heavy hitting competition but in all reality it is not a camera that is going to make every K10D owner run out to upgrade (and I'm still holding on to my *istDS (most underated camera in history by the way.))

Now Pentax need the K20D to attract even more first time DSLR users to broaden the user base and justify R&D into more high level cameras. So my theory is that Pentax is targeting first time DSLR consumers who they know will have heard of Canon & Nikon so they need to put the Pentax Brand to them as a credible alternative not as a quirky niche camera.

Has Pentax achieved a large enough consumer base to justify R&D into fast AF, more fps and FF or perhaps even Medium format? I honestly don't know, only time will tell.
07-27-2008, 10:25 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Falcons Quote
I can only speak of what I see happening in OZ where distribution is handled by a distributor who also happens to be the Sigma distributor - so you can guess what kit lens is on the Pentax.
But OZ is still like the rest of the world for DSLR's - a 2 horse town called canikon. Now consumes here only buy Pentax for one of 3 reasons:-
1. The Pentax is cheaper.
2. They allready have Pentax lenses and are well educated in just what a Pentax camera is capable of.
3. They actually held one when they went into buy a canon 350D and realised the canon felt and looked like a toy. (Put me in this boat)

Most initial Pentax consumers in OZ fit the number 1 profile and if they have been exposed to some form of credible marketing then their decision will be much easier for them as they have not only gotten a camera at a decent price they may also believe it is from a reliable and credible manufacturer.
(How do you think canon managed to palm off so many of those 350d's?)

And this is what I believe the Pentax strategy is - They know it is no point going toe to toe with the big two (for the moment at least) they know they will lose. They don't have huge marketing budgets and they don't have the resources to ensure all the shops stock Pentax gear etc etc...
So they have to bide their time with a product that is gaining a reputation for being well built and well priced that is a bit of an all rounder camera and again well priced.

Pentax had a winner in the K10D and not having the resources to produce a camera in the D300 class or a FF yet, they tweaked the K10D with a new sensor from Samsung (what is their marketing strategy???) with a bit of fruit thrown in as well and called it the K20D.
The K20D keeps Pentax in the game very cheaply and the camera actually holds its own against some heavy hitting competition but in all reality it is not a camera that is going to make every K10D owner run out to upgrade (and I'm still holding on to my *istDS (most underated camera in history by the way.))

Now Pentax need the K20D to attract even more first time DSLR users to broaden the user base and justify R&D into more high level cameras. So my theory is that Pentax is targeting first time DSLR consumers who they know will have heard of Canon & Nikon so they need to put the Pentax Brand to them as a credible alternative not as a quirky niche camera.

Has Pentax achieved a large enough consumer base to justify R&D into fast AF, more fps and FF or perhaps even Medium format? I honestly don't know, only time will tell.

Falcons,

I guess this would be the mindset of the old Pentax management to try to gain 1-2% of market share a year or at least remain on the same level. I don't think this applies anymore with the Hoya rule. They want a viable system and are more than willing to invest money (which btw they have many more times the old Pentax had) in order to achieve their goal. I think they will earn much more from lenses than what they invest in developing cameras and very soon we'll have some proof either am I right or wrong. If Photokina or before will bring new cameras and a revamped lens roadmap then it will be certain that Hoya is here to stay.

About the electronics system in the cameras don't forget what level of competance and power Samsung has in this field of expertise. The first offspring it's the new sensor and IMO it's at least competitive for a first try. The fact that K20D had minor improvements in AF, mettering, shutter mechanism compared to K10D makes me believe they chose to release all their upgrades at onces in the form of a direct D300 competitor with the 14,6 Mp sensor. My 2 cents say that we'll see at least a prototype of this at Photokina with delievery date latter this year.

Radu
07-27-2008, 10:46 AM   #15
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Well.... I hope that Pentax can grab a face/celebrity that will be connected to Pentax. There is John Long I think for Mac computers and Andre agassi with the waaayyyyback Rebel line. Like others have said...if cool people use Pentax then others will be interested.

Sometimes Pentax is such an underdog that the (k20d) isn't even in the camera comparisons in the respected categories. It is sad to see and I hope there is some changes.
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