Pentax appeal

Started May 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
tigrebleu Senior Member • Posts: 2,020
It used to be performance / price value.

Egglestonworks wrote:

Pentax shooters, I'm curious, what is the appeal of Pentax to you? : ) I noticed they aren't the fastest cameras, nor full frame nor are they the most durable, nor the highest resolution yet Pentax still survives and thrives whereas something like Minolta has already fallen by the wayside.

Is it the history, the ergonomics, the "alternative-ness" of it? I'm curious. For the record I shoot with Canon but I've always had a sentimental soft spot for Pentax, and frankly I have no idea why since I've never used any of their cameras.

When I bought my K10D, it was about 33% less expensive than any Nikon body with similar weather seals, and about four times less expensive than any Canon body with the same level of environmental protection.

Pentax lenses were almost much cheaper than their Nikon and Canon counterparts, with similar quality. Like the DA 12-24mm F/4, which back then sold for around $700, while the Nikkor 12-24 and the Canon 10-22 were more than $1,000.

(And I also was coming from a old Pentax K1000 film SLR, which allowed me to keep my old manual focus lenses and used them on my DSLR with few or no limitations. But that was secondary to me.)

But things have changed. The price of Pentax lenses has exploded since then. The DA 12-24mm F/4 now sells for $1,400 in Canada (it's cheaper in the US, though), and other lenses saw their price go up by 20% to 50%.

Since then, I stopped investing in Pentax lenses and accessories. I only bough a K-7 with battery grip when my K10D had to be repaired (it broke up during an assignment, so I didn't had the choice — I used the K10D as a backup afterwards).

Because in the meanwhile, AF systems like those used on the Nikon D3 found their way down into products like the Nikon D7000 (just like some of the Canon 1D Mk IV's AF features found their way into the Canon 7D), competitors came up with almost as good weather seals for roughly similar prices (7D, D300/D300s, D7000 vs. K20D and K-5) and full frame DSLR have gone under the $2,500 mark (5D II, and soon, maybe, D600). The competitors' speedlights are also better on many aspects.

With the price advantage now being much less impressive, there's no pragmatic reason to choose Pentax over Canon or Nikon for me, at least not in terms of performance, durability. Ergonomics, lens choice and other consideration play a more considerable role. And Pentax's AF just doesn't answer my needs anymore. I'm a working professional, so to me a camera is a tool, not an object of love. I buy the tool that fits my needs. Pentax did that for the last four years, but doesn't anymore.

So the next stop for me will be a Nikon sub-30 Mpix full frame DSLR. Prehaps the rumored upcoming D600. Although I'm tempted by the D800E.

BTW, when Minolta released its first DSLR, it was the first to feature in-body image stabilization. It was in advance on all fronts over the competitors' products. However, at about the same time, Canon released the Rebel, its first amateur-oriented DSLR, which cost about half the price of the Minolta DSLR.

Sure the Minolta 7D was better: built quality, in-body stabilizer, viewfinder, AF speed, etc., all these were superior to the Rebel's. But the 7D price tag meant a lot of people thought it was overpriced compared to the Rebel, the first DSLR to cost less than $1,000.

During that time, Pentax Imaging became the optical form provider for a lot of electronics corporations eager to enter the P&S digicam business, including Casio, HP and Samsung, while hanging to their old film SLRs. But that didn't last long, as the P&S market became less profitable and the film SLR market collapsed.

Pentax soon had to invest into something more "meaty". That's when they went into DSLR realm. Since then, they almost went bankrupt once and were sold twice, once to Hoya, and lately, to Ricoh.

Hoya did a good job at making Pentax Imaging turn a profit by restructuring the company and cutting down expenses. The future seems brighter. But the new profits didn't came from additional sales, which could prove a challenge sooner than later.

And with niche products like the Q and the 645D, Pentax won't grab a large share of the market. IMHO, the K-01 is probably the only "new" Pentax product that can actually help the company grab some market share. But this market (mirrorless) is becoming more competitive, and the K-01 is just slightly smaller than a DSLR, so some will still prefer the Sony's NEX, Pana's G or Nikon 1 series.

The future doesn't look too bad though. Ricoh wants to develop interchangeable lens camera business, so Pentax is an asset to them. As long as it turns in profits, Pentax will be safe. So what if the company is small? Being bigger doesn't mean being more profitable or safer. Just look at what happened to GM.

But the company still struggles at getting the recognition it deserves, probably in part because they only have such a small part of the market share and, unlike Sony and Panasonic, which are also known for its home electronics, Pentax isn't known for anything else than cameras and lenses. That doesn't help getting the attention they deserve. Pentax might be condemned to remain a niche company, like Leica, for instance. Which ain't a bad thing after all. As some often pointed out, the Pentax K-5 feels like the "poor man's Leica".

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If photography can be considered like painting, then I'm still at the preschool "paint with your fingers" level.

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