Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...

Started May 23, 2013 | Discussions
Tan68
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Alex Sarbu, May 24, 2013

I will reply because you have made some comments that  I find interesting...  However, I am not really interested in a protracted exchange with you  ;^)

Alex Sarbu wrote:

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).

I don't think that changes much in what I wrote.  Your comment is almost a non sequitur...

Being first, or the only alternative guarantees nothing.

No guarantee.  However, being the only option or the only other option can be nice, don't you think?  It is sometimes called cornering the market.

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.

Both comments really are sound advice.  There is encouragement before the game and an offer to take a tangent from the discussion at hand.  Still, neither comment really changes much in what I wrote.

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.

I don't think that changes much in what I wrote.  Who is first may be forgotten but being first can offer a market advantage and I believe that will be important.  Do you think a market advantage like this is immaterial?

Alex

the questions are rhetorical

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Andreas Stuebs
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Pentax — a poor mans's Leica? Perhaps ...
In reply to Model Mike, May 24, 2013

I diasgree that Pentax has not differentiated itself from others:

Watch this video from photouniverse:

Pentax K5 and the Limiteds

There is enough to differentiate it from the big (or may I say large) boys.

And here is another one:

Pentax - a poor man's Leica?  from the same source.

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Flex M
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Model Mike, May 24, 2013

Interesting comparison. I'm actually seeing the Q as the only really innovative product Pentax has put out in the last 2 or 3 years already. Think it about it, the K5 was excellent when released, since then, all their APS-C offerings have been re-hashes of basically the same core plus/minus a few extras. The K30 was a budget version of it, the K-01 an easy to do experiment (since they just eliminated some things + unique styling), the K5 II/s well .. the final stop-gap (but still a great performer).

So only the Q has been an actual "new" product (very versatile too!).

Consequently, IMHO this is the best time for Pentax/Ricoh to release a whole new range, most likely with a new mount looking towards the future! They've got nowhere else to go .. except down, which Ricoh certainly did not invest for!

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

Would be nice for Pentax image to have Leica´s legend status as a brand, but it could be the principal reason for me to jump ship because of the expensiveness of a system like Leica means for a hobby photographer like me. I love Pentax, but love my wife too.
Pentax have a defined market for enthusiast shooters wanting something different, but not at any cost possible, and I´m not sure it could be wise to move to higher prices/standars/specifications.

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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:

I will reply because you have made some comments that  I find interesting...  However, I am not really interested in a protracted exchange with you  ;^)

Alex Sarbu wrote:

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).

I don't think that changes much in what I wrote.  Your comment is almost a non sequitur...

Not exactly. We all know what happened with Contax, right? They used the same sensor Pentax abandoned.

OTOH, Nikon joined late but now they're fully recovered.

Being first, or the only alternative guarantees nothing.

No guarantee.  However, being the only option or the only other option can be nice, don't you think?  It is sometimes called cornering the market.

Of course it could be nice, it depends on many factors though.

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.

Both comments really are sound advice.  There is encouragement before the game and an offer to take a tangent from the discussion at hand.  Still, neither comment really changes much in what I wrote.

Then, I'll add something 'extra' - when the digital race started, Nikon, Canon, Pentax didn't start from the same positions. Pentax had lost much from their days of glory, did not had a small format professional following; they were probably in no position to become a Nikon.

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.

I don't think that changes much in what I wrote.  Who is first may be forgotten but being first can offer a market advantage and I believe that will be important.  Do you think a market advantage like this is immaterial?

Allow me to disagree. There is a strong competitor (Sony), in a much better position to offer a FF ILC; if Pentax were to somehow be the first, Sony would definitely join the game - cancelling that "market advantage".

You're putting too much weight on what at best would be a temporary situation.

Alex

the questions are rhetorical

Rhetorical answers for rhetorical questions

Alex

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

Hi Andrew,

sorry, but I completely disagree.

Leica is still a philosophy, that still lives in Wetzlar, Germany. Leica is still a company of enthusiasts, that live an idea. Just like Zeiss, Schneider Kreuznach, Rodenstock, Linhof, Sinar, Hasselblad. If you don't believe, I would like to meet you at the next photokina for a walk to the leica booth - sorry halls!

BTW: Some brands are more than marketing. As you are from England, I'd like to name these brands in line with Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Morgan, Dunhill,... Guess what I mean?

Kind Regards from Asel / Edersee, 100 km from Wetzlar

Albert

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earful
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really a valid comparison
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 24, 2013

sorry i have not read the whole thread, so i may be repeating what others have said. but i own both pentax and leica. imho they target different market segments and different wants/needs. perceived weaknesses of pentax tend to be slower than premium af, lesser quality flash control, gaps in long lenses. no leica rangefinder owner even thinks af is an issue, i almost never see complaints about flash (i get the feeling most don't bother) and long lenses, well, yes, they exist and some are wonderful, but still not a central concern of most buyers as far as i can tell.

pentax has tried to get into various niches, as with the 645d. but hard times have made it harder to hold on to and fulfill its promise. i hope that changes, but the dslr market is shrinking, from what the analysts say and it takes a lot of capital to back swift adaptation.

anyway, from what i have read, the japanese leica idea had to do with lens quality above all. pentax still produces some of the lenses that helped create that claim and of those i own, i have no intention of giving even one up in the hopes that pentax can get into the full frame market and give those lenses their context back.

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

The original poster seems to have missed the point that Leicas are jewelry and Pentaxes are cameras.

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Rod McD
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 25, 2013

I'm sorry but I've got a different take on this......  TBH, I find the post and some of the responses a bit negative.  Pentax and Leica have a different history and almost certainly different futures.  The Japanese camera manufacturers - Pentax included - deserve respect in their own right for their many achievements.  Phrases like 'the Japanese Leica' and 'the Japanese Summicron' that one sees bandied around when someone's trying to sell a lens are just fawning and cringe-worthy.

Yes Pentax have been quiet lately and yes Leica may have adopted a 'teaser' approach to their latest camera on this occasion.  Pentax did in fact do that with the 645D just before it was released.  Remember the slowly unveiled shadow?  Didn't change the camera though.  It was just a device for attracting the attention of the faithful before a launch.  No-one will care about the campaign the day after it's released.

I don't know what is (or isn't) in Leica's latest Mini M camera, but at this stage of not knowing, and before they've sold one, it's a tad early to be waxing lyrical about the company and its marketing strategies.

Let's not forget that Leica, like Pentax,  has had its survival issues. Or that a modern day electronic digital Leica body is a far cry from the last all mechanical M6.  That camera was the final development of a very mature product line, beautifully made and designed to last for decades.  Its successors will last as long as their electronic components - which in my experience is very finite.  Try to get a ten year old digital camera repaired.  Or laptop.  Or phone.  Circuit boards, ICs, LCDs, LEDs, sensors, motors - nothing lasts forever.  No-one stocks the parts, the labor cost is prohibitive and the technology has moved on anyway.  Honestly, how many of today's digital cameras will be working, let alone used regularly for high grade work, in 20 years time?

If anyone markets an AF FF MILC with a good suite of features and lenses - and someone will - it will make incredibly tough competition for Leica.  There's every chance it will be operationally superior and, ironically, the Chinese adapter manufacturers will ensure that it too takes Leica lenses.  And if it's less than half the price, how long will Leica be making cameras?  Their lenses OTOH may well continue to be successful.  (Along with their other optical products).  They may start looking like Zeiss.

Pentax should continue to develop well featured, competent cameras and excellent lenses for people who can afford a decent camera system.  Whatever form that takes.  And whatever marketing it takes.  Emulating other companies that have different strategies, products and markets probably isn't a recipe for success.

Rod

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Model Mike
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Re: Pentax — a poor mans's Leica? Perhaps ...
In reply to Andreas Stuebs, May 25, 2013

Andreas Stuebs wrote:

I diasgree that Pentax has not differentiated itself from others:

Watch this video from photouniverse:

Pentax K5 and the Limiteds

Of course pancakes are great, but you'd only know about it if you were already a keen photographer. It doesn't distinguish Pentax where it matters - on the shop counter. A Pentax with a kit lens looks very much like any other dSLR with a kit lens.

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Fazal Majid
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 25, 2013

Leica's products are excellent, but let's face it, the reason for their recent financial success (after near-bankruptcy in 2004) is as a status symbol.

A Japanese company, no matter how good their products, would find it hard to have the same cachet as a German one. After all, Contax was the Japanese premium camera maker, with top-notch optics, a well-regarded MF system, and even the first full-frame DSLR (the N Digital). That did not save them either.

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jande9
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 25, 2013

I would be happy if Pentax could just become Pentax again.  What happened to that company that was the leader in innovative quality gear for the advanced amateur?

From the *stD, the Q, the K01.  Way too much money was wasted developing cameras that failed because they were badly flawed or simply behind the times.

Where is their very small extremely high quality APS-C with a viewfinder and a fast zoom, a modern day Optio S4?  Something you can carry in your pocket but be as good as any dslr, complete with a comprehensive but easy to use software package.

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earful
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Fazal Majid, May 25, 2013

Fazal Majid wrote:

Leica's products are excellent, but let's face it, the reason for their recent financial success (after near-bankruptcy in 2004) is as a status symbol.

A Japanese company, no matter how good their products, would find it hard to have the same cachet as a German one. After all, Contax was the Japanese premium camera maker, with top-notch optics, a well-regarded MF system, and even the first full-frame DSLR (the N Digital). That did not save them either.

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i was under the impression canon and nikon are japanese companies.

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jedinstvo
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The Pentax name
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 25, 2013

The name originally comes from the company's invention of the pentaprism, which enabled right side up, right reading images on the focusing screen. Pentacon also connected with the pentaprism....that was the favorite camera of Drug Tito!

I'm an old guy and I'd say Pentax has been very consistent in understanding their market. They did at one time enter the race for the top pro SLR and had a very good system. It was innovative and reliable with excellent lenses. This was back around 1980 and the main body was the LX.

I have no clue what they're doing these days. I use Canon.

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DAVID MANZE
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to earful, May 25, 2013

Hi,

The phrase "the poor man's Leica" originated during the second world war when Leica cameras were banned from sale in the US and other countries, this left the market open to the Russians who were already producing Leica copies, the Zorkis and the FEDs etc. and these cameras became known quite rightly as the poor man's Leica and they were exactly that. Expressions like "it's the Rolls Royce of "  or the american expression "it's a douzie" (sorry if I've spelt douzie incorrectly) became references to anything very well made, or top quality, at that time Pentax's lenses were gaining a good reputation for quality and some said they came close to matching the Leicas, so the expression was applied to Pentax based "uniquely" on their lenses, other than that there's little to link the brands.

So, is the Leica the Rolls Royce of cameras? or is it the Hassleblad that's the douzie?

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steephill
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Contax was German! n/t
In reply to Fazal Majid, May 25, 2013
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timo
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 25, 2013

Is Leica making money for its shareholders?
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ayewing
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to timo, May 25, 2013

timo wrote:

Is Leica making money for its shareholders?
--
tim

Leica does not have any shareholders. It is not a publicly quoted company.

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Leandros S
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, May 25, 2013

Honestly, I don't know how far this analogy goes. I've only heard it when referring to the excellent line-up of prime lenses that allow you to make a Leica-like system at about the fifth of the cost, iirc. And in that case, the evidence is inarguable.

As for the S-system, one should not be surprised that something that has recently emerged onto the market outcompetes something that has been around for a number of years. That's why Nikon and Canon keep such close watch on each other's release cycles. Pentax, on the other hands, releases things when they are ready. I think it shows, and with the gripes coming out of those other two camps, it seems the users know about it, too. They just haven't found an exit strategy yet because they buy their gear at Walmart.

As a final note, I still cannot comprehend how a professional SLR body priced at or just under $1000 gives you cause for complaint. Given that Pentax wouldn't be expected to have the same economy of scale as Canikon, the fact that they can outcompete those companies on price for value is simply amazing.

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Fazal Majid
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Re: Pentax — a Japanese Leica? Not really ...
In reply to earful, May 26, 2013

earful wrote:

Fazal Majid wrote:

A Japanese company, no matter how good their products, would find it hard to have the same cachet as a German one. After all, Contax was the Japanese premium camera maker, with top-notch optics, a well-regarded MF system, and even the first full-frame DSLR (the N Digital). That did not save them either.

i was under the impression canon and nikon are japanese companies.

Yes, and they don't have the prestige of Leica or Zeiss, or Contax for the matter, even if their products are technically just as good or better in many respects.

steephill wrote:

Re: Contax was German! n/t

The original Contax was a brand of Carl Zeiss, but they licensed it to Kyocera (Yashica) in the mid-70s, and all Contax made since then were Japanese.

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