Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...

Started May 23, 2013 | Discussions
Zvonimir Tosic
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Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
May 23, 2013

Some people called Pentax a Japanese Leica camera and optics company.

But nowadays I cannot but notice that any resemblance, if it was ever true, is gone.

Leica, a tiny European camera and optics company, has been running on steam since late 2008/ early 2009, marking its presence in the world of digital photography with lots of strong decisions which its userbase has welcomed. Others who wanted and still want (deep in their hearts) to become Leica's users, often complain about their own inability to take a dip into some Leica's system, but still, some form of admiration stays.

I wish if Pentax had learned a lesson or two from Leica. Let me explain.

For a company that was once a no. 1 camera and optics company in the world, they have become perhaps the epitome for being the slowest to excite with something new. No, no, pardon me, the slowest is only Pentax's namesake company — Contax. But they are not around anymore. Will Pentax join its dinosaur cousin?

Leica is still around, and has evolved into something else. And it seems they'll be introducing some new camera (category) in a few weeks, and are not shy to tease their users and fans about it.

Leica had a major system for years without any AF, and it sold extremely well — they could not make enough of them.

Like Pentax with the 645D, they have a medium format, a Leica S system, but for which Leica has provided much more new lenses and overall enthusiasm, it seems.

They have also pioneered the compact body, fixed lens APS-C camera. Finally Ricoh has caught up with it, after so many years.

With the new camera (category), Leica is now narrowing the gap between the camera categories, allowing more users to come. Quite unlike Pentax, who is still proud of its massive hole between the $10K camera and $1K camera offers.

Leica also updates its lenses, refines them on a more regular basis, leaving no excuses not to buy them, silencing even their most critical users. Quite unlike Pentax, who still hasn't replied anything whether the SDM is an issue, or was an issue, or has never been. When did you see a MKII or v.2. lens from Pentax? Will you ever?

To me it seems that Leica does no secret magic, really — they simply listen better, think and respond faster, and remove obstacles that stand before them and their users. Like the management they have fired because the management claimed the FF was impossible for Leica.

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onesidedcoin
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 23, 2013

Some open their wallet with out an open eye.

Dave

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Col K10d
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to onesidedcoin, May 23, 2013

onesidedcoin wrote:

Some open their wallet with out an open eye.

Dave

Me, I does that... otherwise my eyes water from the dust release.

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onesidedcoin
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to onesidedcoin, May 23, 2013

Haven't reached the dust stage yet just moths. I would like to show them off but they only can be seen in Leica B&W.

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Dave

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zakaria
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 23, 2013

Some people called Pentax a Japanese Leica camera and optics company.

But nowadays I cannot but notice that any resemblance, if it was ever true, is gone.

Leica, a tiny European camera and optics company, has been running on steam since late 2008/ early 2009, marking its presence in the world of digital photography with lots of strong decisions which its userbase has welcomed. Others who wanted and still want (deep in their hearts) to become Leica's users, often complain about their own inability to take a dip into some Leica's system, but still, some form of admiration stays.

I wish if Pentax had learned a lesson or two from Leica. Let me explain.

For a company that was once a no. 1 camera and optics company in the world, they have become perhaps the epitome for being the slowest to excite with something new. No, no, pardon me, the slowest is only Pentax's namesake company — Contax. But they are not around anymore. Will Pentax join its dinosaur cousin?

Leica is still around, and has evolved into something else. And it seems they'll be introducing some new camera (category) in a few weeks, and are not shy to tease their users and fans about it.

Leica had a major system for years without any AF, and it sold extremely well — they could not make enough of them.

Like Pentax with the 645D, they have a medium format, a Leica S system, but for which Leica has provided much more new lenses and overall enthusiasm, it seems.

They have also pioneered the compact body, fixed lens APS-C camera. Finally Ricoh has caught up with it, after so many years.

With the new camera (category), Leica is now narrowing the gap between the camera categories, allowing more users to come. Quite unlike Pentax, who is still proud of its massive hole between the $10K camera and $1K camera offers.

Leica also updates its lenses, refines them on a more regular basis, leaving no excuses not to buy them, silencing even their most critical users. Quite unlike Pentax, who still hasn't replied anything whether the SDM is an issue, or was an issue, or has never been. When did you see a MKII or v.2. lens from Pentax? Will you ever?

To me it seems that Leica does no secret magic, really — they simply listen better, think and respond faster, and remove obstacles that stand before them and their users. Like the management they have fired because the management claimed the FF was impossible for Leica.

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Zvonimir Tosic
“A portrait is not made in the camera, but on either side of it.”
— Edward Steichen

If they have to learn any lessons they have to learn it from nikon not from leica.nikon was an APS/c manufacturer untill the D700 and D3 came then the market has been devided between canon and nikon.pentax with Ricoh can do the same as nikon if they want to be a real competitor.
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afterswish1
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 23, 2013

What's so exciting about companies releasing 'new' products all the time? In the world of APS-C we have the marvelous example of Canon's Digital Rebel line, re-releasing essentially the same camera what seems like every few months.

How exciting is the Nikon's new D7100? A big step up from older tech like Pentax's K5 varieties? Not exactly, if the user reviews in the Nikon forum can be trusted. Leica make well built cameras (and excellent lenses) which, although lagging behind most other companies in terms of (digital) performance, still command premium prices.

Kind of the anti-Pentax in fact then, since Pentax tend to make class-leading cameras for sane people with ordinary-sized wallets

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Model Mike
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 23, 2013

It's true that Pentax have failed to differentiate themselves from the big boys. However good their dSLR's, they'll always end up playing second fiddle.

Leica were always a premium brand, though - I think Fuji is a more appropriate role model for Pentax. Only a few years ago they were known as the manufacturers of competent if dull compacts. Now they have a distinctive family of up-market cameras and are the darling of the photographic press.

What have Pentax got to show for themselves over this period? A couple of competent dSLR's, an aging medium format camera and a couple of trips down a blind alley with the K-01 and Q.

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Unexpresivecanvas
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 24, 2013

There s only one Leica in the world. Pentax is a different camera company. The last 10 years have not been good to them, having being sold twice and now under Ricoh ownership, it seems that things still don't move fast enough.

They have been able to keep some decent offerings in the APS-c market, the 645D in the medium format segment and the two oddities that are the k-01 and the Qs.

It seems nobody with certainty knows exactly what is their strategy in terms of marketing, product development. Also it seems they don't have an unified communications or PR strategy either.

Hyundai motors just announced they will bring the new 2015 Genesis sedan and it will be displayed the first time during the 2014 Detroit auto show next January! The main feature will be a dynamic all-wheel-driving system.

This is how marketing is done. You tell customers where you are heading. It doesn't matter if it will affect the sales of the current models.

Leica is also doing it and most camera manufacturers.

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Zvonimir Tosic
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Leica is people, not some imaginary idea
In reply to Unexpresivecanvas, May 24, 2013

Unexpresivecanvas wrote:

There s only one Leica in the world. Pentax is a different camera company. The last 10 years have not been good to them, having being sold twice and now under Ricoh ownership, it seems that things still don't move fast enough..

Pre-2008 Leica and today's Leica are not same.

When the management was fired, they have turned their position upside down.

Bold decisions, bold development, bold commitments, much better marketing, good listening, protection of crucial assets (lenses, brand name, brand perception).

So when we talk about "Pentax having hard times", we talk about incompetent people, weak ideas, lack of commitment, lack of stamina.

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— Edward Steichen

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Unexpresivecanvas
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Re: Leica is people, not some imaginary idea
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 24, 2013

Zvonimir Tosic wrote:

So when we talk about "Pentax having hard times", we talk about incompetent people, weak ideas, lack of commitment, lack of stamina.

If that's the case,, then those are good ingredients to bake hard times.

And have to agree with you. It is about vision and commitment to a long term strategy.A lot of companies in other industries have been able to prosper after really bad times, others went belly up. It depends a lot of times on who is behind the wheel.

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tcom
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Have tried out a Leica M9-P two weeks ago...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 24, 2013

Zvonimir Tosic wrote:

I wish if Pentax had learned a lesson or two from Leica. Let me explain.

I am not sure many would like paying Leica prices...

Have you tried out a Leica recently? I had the chance to get a Leica M9-P for testing purpose over a weekend. The delivered image quality is absolutely superb and the range finder is a wonderful help to get the focus spot on.

But then, the LCD screen of the *istD ten years ago is better than the one of the M9-P (which is by far not that old). Also, the ergonomics of the camera is far better for Pentax. It needs three buttons to delete the first photo on the M9-P, and a single button to delete the next ones. You also need the rear LCD screen simply to change the ISO.

Like Pentax with the 645D, they have a medium format, a Leica S system, but for which Leica has provided much more new lenses and overall enthusiasm, it seems.

Well, a full new system with new lens mount needs more new lenses than releasing a camera with an existing mount and a pretty well featured lens range.

With the new camera (category), Leica is now narrowing the gap between the camera categories, allowing more users to come. Quite unlike Pentax, who is still proud of its massive hole between the $10K camera and $1K camera offers.

The Leica M9-P (USD 6000) together with a Summicron 50/2 (USD 2000) produces wonderful photos, but they are not soooo much better than what the K-5 IIs is producing.

For sure, Leica features exceptional lenses with a very effective focusing system. But when paying a premium price, I expect to get a camera with premium technology. A low resolution LCD screen not allowing to review the photos taken is really not what I expect from such an expensive camera. The *istD had a better screen, 10 years ago.

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awaldram
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Re: Leica is people, not some imaginary idea
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 24, 2013

Zvonimir Tosic wrote:

Unexpresivecanvas wrote:

There s only one Leica in the world. Pentax is a different camera company. The last 10 years have not been good to them, having being sold twice and now under Ricoh ownership, it seems that things still don't move fast enough..

Pre-2008 Leica and today's Leica are not same.

When the management was fired, they have turned their position upside down.

Bold decisions, bold development, bold commitments, much better marketing, good listening, protection of crucial assets (lenses, brand name, brand perception).

So when we talk about "Pentax having hard times", we talk about incompetent people, weak ideas, lack of commitment, lack of stamina.

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Zvonimir Tosic
“A portrait is not made in the camera, but on either side of it.”
— Edward Steichen

Leica's continued existence is more about Matsushita Electric Industrial Co requirement to  access the Leica name for their lens.

They are nothing but a small puppet company to the Panasonic behmoth.

At least Pentax have been sold as a going concern something I don't think Leica is anymore.

Leica is to Panasonic as Schneider Kreuznach is to Samsung or Carl Zeiss to Sony.

As Olympus bookkeeping made interesting reading it would interesting to see Leica without the crutch of Panasonic.

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photoholiko
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Re: Have tried out a Leica M9-P two weeks ago...
In reply to tcom, May 24, 2013

I agree, Leica lags behind in tech. and you have to be a masochist to pay those kind of prices, even if I could afford one I would chose Pentax any day.

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Tan68
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Col K10d, May 24, 2013

Added water and grew Sea Monkeys in mine.

Col K10d wrote:

onesidedcoin wrote:

Some open their wallet with out an open eye.

Dave

Me, I does that... otherwise my eyes water from the dust release.

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Tan68
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Re: Have tried out a Leica M9-P two weeks ago...
In reply to tcom, May 24, 2013

I imagine this part of the 'elegantly shabby' feel some people like.  The screen is good enough, gets the job done, and anything else is overkill.  That sort of thing...  If something is elegant enough, it can afford to be shabby on a few marks.

tcom wrote:

...But when paying a premium price, I expect to get a camera with premium technology. A low resolution LCD screen not allowing to review the photos taken is really not what I expect from such an expensive camera. The *istD had a better screen, 10 years ago.
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Tan68
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to zakaria, May 24, 2013

When only Canon had a full frame camera there was no other choice, of course.  If Pentax had released a FF camera then, they would have been the only alternative.  They would have been considered for that reason alone: the only other game in town.  If I had Nikon and wanted FF, I would have had to leave the brand.  I could have decided on Pentax or Canon.

Now, it is a little harder for Pentax to become a Nikon because Nikon is already there.  Pentax would not be the only other game and people would have to make a choice between Canon or Nikon or Pentax and I think most people would stop at the first two...  Most people are already with either of those two so they wouldn't be required to leave the brand for FF.

The time for Pentax to be a Nikon was before the D700 and D3.  Maybe they can be a Sony and do FF ILC first.  For FF ILC, I think being first will be important...  For SLR, I think a few years as the only alternative to Canon would have been good.  If Sony does FF ILC first, there will be no 'few years as the only alternative'.  There are a couple other companies that could follow along.  Well, at least, Fuji.  Maybe Canon or Nikon will.  I doubt either of those two will introduce the thing.

zakaria wrote:

...

If they have to learn any lessons they have to learn it from nikon not from leica.nikon was an APS/c manufacturer untill the D700 and D3 came then the market has been devided between canon and nikon.pentax with Ricoh can do the same as nikon if they want to be a real competitor.

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Tan68
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 24, 2013

If this is the first tease of this release on June 11, then Pentax is no less shy than Leica.

Pentax has used similar techniques of boxes and whatever.  For the K7, they used a silhouette of the differently shaped prism housing.  These pictures were leaked a few or 7eral weeks ahead.  The shape of the camera was different enough the silhouette made sense.

I don't recall if they did any similar thing with the K30 release, though...  Overall, I understand what you are saying.  Just, from time to time, Pentax has done some similar marketing..

I do wonder about the 50-135 Mk II.  I don't follow the Canon and Nikon products much...  Are their Mk xx lenses significant updates to the optics?  I think they have done a different release for different focusing motors and/or have included updates to image stabilization.  There have been updates to optics, of course, but are they significant?  Or are they minor updates to optics just so they don't release a lens where the only change has been to VR or focusing motor..?

Now, I figure many Pentax people would be happy with a Mk II that was only about a motor...  Except me because I would then have a Mk I

Zvonimir Tosic wrote:

... And it seems they'll be introducing some new camera (category) in a few weeks, and are not shy to tease their users and fans about it.
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Alex Sarbu
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Tan68, May 24, 2013

Tan68 wrote:

When only Canon had a full frame camera there was no other choice, of course.  If Pentax had released a FF camera then, they would have been the only alternative.  They would have been considered for that reason alone: the only other game in town.  If I had Nikon and wanted FF, I would have had to leave the brand.  I could have decided on Pentax or Canon.

Contax, then Kodak had their full frame DSLRs before Canon (Kodak announced theirs one day earlier than Canon). Being first, or the only alternative guarantees nothing.

Now, it is a little harder for Pentax to become a Nikon because Nikon is already there.  Pentax would not be the only other game and people would have to make a choice between Canon or Nikon or Pentax and I think most people would stop at the first two...  Most people are already with either of those two so they wouldn't be required to leave the brand for FF.

I'd say Pentax should not try to become a better Nikon/Sony/Canon - but concentrating on being a better Pentax. If you want a Nikon/Sony/Canon, go with that company.

The time for Pentax to be a Nikon was before the D700 and D3.  Maybe they can be a Sony and do FF ILC first.  For FF ILC, I think being first will be important...

Being first will quickly be forgotten, as it happened with digital, SLR, full frame DSLR and so many other types of products.

Alex

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miles green
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Re: Have tried out a Leica M9-P two weeks ago...
In reply to tcom, May 24, 2013

Lol Dominique!

You're forgetting the lousy high-iso, especially for a FF! 

M9 vs K5 vs D3s at iso 2500

All 3 are past models, for fairness. K5 & D3s are 1/3 stop higher.

Don't get me wrong, i apreciate the mechanical, optical and design excellence, but the technology "flop" is unexplainable to me, especially at this way-out-of-my-budget pricerange.

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tcom
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Re: Have tried out a Leica M9-P two weeks ago...
In reply to miles green, May 24, 2013

miles green wrote:

Lol Dominique!

You're forgetting the lousy high-iso, especially for a FF! 

Yes, the M9-P's sensor is CCD based, so, there are no miracles to be expected for high iso performance.

Don't get me wrong, i apreciate the mechanical, optical and design excellence, but the technology "flop" is unexplainable to me, especially at this way-out-of-my-budget pricerange.

True. I am waiting for my final decision until I can take a Leica M into my hands, hoping they addressed the technology issues. If I pay such a high price for a camera, I expect at least an LCD screen allowing to verify the sharpness and a processing speed fast enough to get the feeling of a responsive camera, both aspects where not met with the M9-P I tested two weeks ago.

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