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10-26-2018, 07:47 PM   #1
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Is aperture block really a problem?

Today (10/26/18) I returned from the Photoplus International Conference in Manhattan. It is a major conference for professional photographers and all who have an interest in photography. All the camera and lens manufacturers were present. and were showing off their wares. The Pentax booth was staffed by 3-4 people who were prepared to discuss their products. I asked two of them what Pentax was doing to address the "aperture block" problem for the K50 camera. I was astounded when they said that they had never heard of it. After I described the symptoms, which consist of major underexposures of photos due to a malfunctioning electromagnet, I was met with blank stares.

I was told to return when the technical expert would be back. When I finally met him and asked about the problem he said he knew of it but that it was a very rare. I'm not sure if he really knew about it or not. Maybe he was just trying to slough me off because he didn't discuss it from a technical standpoint.

I personally experienced the problem on my K50 and discussed it somewhere in this Forum. Others have also talked about the same problem. I had my camera fixed for about $100 and it is still working well. In this Forum we seem to know more about this problem that Pentax. Certainly the Pentax "experts" I talked to were largely unaware of this problem.

Could it be that the aperture block problem has been blown out of proportion in this Forum, and that it is, in fact, a minor problem involving a few lemons? What say ye, learned Pentaxians?

10-26-2018, 07:59 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by psoo Quote
Could it be that the aperture block problem has been blown out of proportion in this Forum, and that it is, in fact, a minor problem involving a few lemons?
I don't think it's blow out of proportion. However, we do have lots of power users on the forum who would use the camera far more than your average consumer. Also, the K-50 is a very old model at this point, and it wasn't designed for the kind of longevity that Pentax's flagship line (which accounts for all but one current body) delivers. Since the marketing focus has shifted, I'm not surprised that familiarity with this issue is limited outside of folks directly involved in servicing.

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10-26-2018, 08:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by psoo Quote
Could it be that the aperture block problem has been blown out of proportion in this Forum, and that it is, in fact, a minor problem involving a few lemons? What say ye, learned Pentaxians?
The problem was common, but it is not clear how pervasive it was. That the people at the booth were ignorant is not surprising. The model was retired almost three years ago and the pertinent service bulletins may have been issued before their time. As for what they are going to do...unless a camera is still under warranty, there is nothing to be done.


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10-26-2018, 08:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by psoo Quote
Could it be that the aperture block problem has been blown out of proportion in this Forum, and that it is, in fact, a minor problem involving a few lemons? What say ye, learned Pentaxians?
I cannot tell you how common it is - the most accurate statistics are probably in the hands of Pentax. I do know that my K-30, which I purchased in June of 2015, started showing symptoms almost exactly three years later, when the shutter count was 3023.

I'm not sure where the men manning the Ricoh booth came from - they may have been from some part of the sales organization, which typically consists of optimists.

10-26-2018, 08:46 PM   #5
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Hi Rey, I agree with you that the Pentax guys were all smiley and full of beans. They are there to sell their products and not to talk about problem areas. Sadly, there wasn't much traffic around the Pentax booth compared to Canon and Nikon and a few other majors.
10-26-2018, 09:15 PM   #6
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Could pertain to batches too, or certain user conditions. I just got my brother a K-30 with over 40k actuations from here on the forum and it has no signs of aperture block failure from what I can see.
10-26-2018, 10:46 PM   #7
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My son, my brother, and our school all have and use the K-50 and (knock on wood) none have had the aperture block failure. Same with a handful of students over a few years using their K-50s. It is the achilles heal of the camera, but I wouldn't say it is common, but I wouldn't say it's rare either. Our school also has a K-S2 and it's been trouble free as well.

I can easily believe that a consumer would not know about the K50 aperture block issue, but for a Pentax rep or employee to feign ignorance is hard to believe. They probably have a list of things NOT to talk about, and that was on the list.
10-27-2018, 04:06 AM   #8
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Alex, I agree,it seems very reasonable that Pentax employees would be told to accentuate the positive about their equipment. I believe that the employees I talked to were experienced staff who were specially chosen to man the booth for the company at the largest photo exhibition in the US. They were there to talk to professional photographers from every facet of the business. They SHOULD have knowledge of this problem even though the K50 was not a top-of-the-line Pentax.

10-27-2018, 04:29 AM   #9
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I'm sure those Pentax employees were probably pretty new employees, and if not probably far removed from that part of the business. But it definitely was not a rare occurrence, my K-30 had to be repaired, and when I sent my K-50 in for a battery hook replacement they also replaced the aperture block.
10-27-2018, 04:56 AM   #10
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Hi Ramsey, if you were the boss of a company that was trying to encourage professional photographers to buy your products, would you send a group of relatively new employees to discuss your wares? Remember that many of the people who want to talk to Pentax staff are very familiar with Pentax equipment and want detailed information. Rookie staff could not help these people. In the auto industry, to try to draw a parallel, a problem that arises from, say, a seat belt will be known throughout the industry even though it would not be a likely problem. My guess is that the Pentax staff in the booth were told to downplay the aperture block problem.

To check whether this problem is widely known I Googled "Pentax aperture block problem" and was surprised to find that these Forums had carried out a detailed survey. It seems the problem is well-known. Check the results of the survey - they are very interesting.
10-27-2018, 06:27 AM   #11
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Unfortunately, the only problems that exist for Ricoh are those happening during the warranty period. ABF happens most frequently just outside of this period. Thus, people at the booth may be right when they say that ABF is very rare from their perspective. I know, it’s shortsighted, but it’s probably what’s happening...
10-27-2018, 06:43 AM   #12
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For me, the "problem" is not so much the total number of failures, but that Pentax never acknowledged that there was a problem. And Pentax never made public what steps they took - if any! - to fix the problem. I do appreciate the fact that Pentax covered the cost of repairing *some* of these failures past the warranty period. But, as <the Forum survey> shows, of the 143 aperture block failures reported, there were 85 cameras that were never repaired.

A couple of years ago I decided to replace my old K-x. What I wanted was a newer version of my K-x - that is, a smallish, lightweight camera of moderate cost. So a new K-S2 was the obvious choice for me. However, at that time, the survey was still in progress, and it was not at all clear whether the aperture block failure was going to carry over to the K-S2 or not.

Instead, I bought a used K-3 to avoid the possibility of the dreaded aperture block failure. And soon after that I bought a Fuji because I hate the weight and bulk of the K-3.

So Ricoh/Pentax's failure to own the problem has resulted in a lack of trust in all but their top models, and that loss of trust has cost them the loyalty of at least one longtime customer. I bought my first Pentax in 1970 - and my last one in 2016. Will there be a next one? Only if Pentax decides to make a smaller lighter camera that I can trust to not have a built-in problem that Pentax knows about and may or may not be trying to fix.

Last edited by runswithsizzers; 10-27-2018 at 07:08 AM.
10-27-2018, 07:03 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by psoo Quote
When I finally met him and asked about the problem he said he knew of it but that it was a very rare.
Now you know what Pentax has to say about it.
The inference is that the forum has way overblown this issue and the corollary to that is, the forum way overblows many issues, such as the "star eating" K-1ii.
Does it surprise me that Pentax says it is very rate? Not even a little. It's always been my suspicion. But on the forum, 100 out of 70,000 users can make a lot of noise.
QuoteQuote:
I'm not sure if he really knew about it or not
.

What answer could he have possibly come up with that you would have believed?
Why even ask?

This pretty much confirms what I always thought. Only now you have a Pentax technician confirming it. Sometimes you're just unlucky, and it's not everyone else's problem.
But I don't suspect that this will in any way slow down all the aperture block discussion. Not that it makes any difference to me personally. I stopped following them months ago when it became apparent it was a relatively isolated occurrence. And there have been reports of original DA*16-50s having their tenth birthdays without an SDM failure. The forum wisdom seemed to be that should be impossible.

They even had me believing it for a while.

QuoteOriginally posted by runswithsizzers Quote
but that Pentax never acknowledged that there was a problem.
Some people's "problem" is other people's "well within expected standards of failure for that part" issue. Maybe Pentax never acknowledged the "problem" because from the analysis of parts sold to their repair techs, there never was a problem.

What part of "very rare" is it you guys don't understand?

Last edited by normhead; 10-27-2018 at 07:10 AM.
10-27-2018, 07:26 AM   #14
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I'm guessing member @photogem; has repaired more of these than Pentax has; Pentax doesn't know about my camera because I would rather use manual lenses than spend half the value of this camera getting it repaired.

Also, I might note there is a company in California which advertises they repair this particular problem, and there is a company which sells on eBay the part needed for a DIY repair of this problem ..... not usual for a "very rare" problem.

Last edited by reh321; 10-27-2018 at 07:49 AM. Reason: added "Pentax doesn't know" sentence
10-27-2018, 07:58 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
I'm guessing member @photogem; has repaired more of these than Pentax has.

Also, I might note there is a company in California which advertises they repair this particular problem, and there is a company which sells the part needed for a DIY repair of this problem ..... not usual for a "very rare" problem.
I have two cameras, one Pentax, one Nikon, that currently will not save the date during a battery change, also a capacitor problem. Capacitors over time fail, all of them. The difference being that the Pentax was out on a hike on an ATV trail, submerged for two months, almost certainly was run over a few times, and was over 5 years old. The Nikon was sold to me as factory refurb and was supposed to be in new condition.

SO you can go on about what you think is usual. Are you saying there are companies that are making full time job of repairing K-30s? Or are you saying that this is an easy repair that a less than qualified technician can make some easy money from? In the last 10 years I have sent in 3 cameras, and 3 lenses, one 3 times for damage due to drops. Yet I see no companies advertising to beat Pentax's price on these repairs. Theses companies pick the low hanging fruit.

Now we can go on like this forever. You can give me the reasons you think this is some kind of Pentax conspiracy, I can give you reasons I think it's not. It's simply not a productive discussion. The official Pentax line is "It's a rare occurrence." This from one of their technical reps. I choose to go with that. I know there could be a host of people who want to chime in and drown me out. But, as a sales rep once pointed out, my *ist D had more moving parts than an auto. In this day an age, if you buy a camera, you're eventually have to repair or toss it. If you aren't prepared to keep up with the maintenance, you probably shouldn't be buying a camera.

My own suspicion is that an official Pentax technical rep probably has more understanding of the issue than the speculators here on the forum.

Last edited by normhead; 10-27-2018 at 08:05 AM.
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