Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: lattiboy on November 25, 2009, 02:58:02 am

Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: lattiboy on November 25, 2009, 02:58:02 am
Hi all,

I'm looking at the K-x or the K-7 to replace my LX3. I have owned multiple Sony dSLRs (A200, A700, A900) and a few Nikon bodies (D50, D90), but decided to focus on basics and use the LX3 exclusively. I've enjoyed it, but I really miss the DoF and feel of an SLR. I'd get a Sony, but they haven't updated the A700, and none of their cams offer video capture (which is as important as anything to me). The k-x seems like an excellent value ($600 with kit online) and the K-7 seems like a very solid mid-level SLR at a reasonable price ($1050 with kit lens). I really like the ability to use all the older glass, the video capture, the built-in IS, and the weather sealing.

Obviously I'm not afraid of non-CanNikon stuff, but I've run into a lot of trouble finding a Pentax dealer locally. I live in Seattle and there are a lot of camera shops but all of them (ALL OF THEM!) tell me the same thing when I call to ask about Pentax display units: "Pentax is probably going to go under soon, we literally can't get a rep on the phone, and the units don't sell." Three different stores (Talls, Kenmore, and Glazers) all said this same thing to me.

So, is Pentax (and their mount) going to go the way of the dodo? I don't need a huge stable of pro lenses, but I don't want to be left holding the bag on a $1000 investment into a dead system.


PS Not trying to troll here, I'm honestly confused about this.

Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: MarkBarbieri on November 25, 2009, 02:44:36 pm
Any answer that you get is going to be pure speculation.  Other than a few executives and members of the Hoya board, none of who will say anything publicly until the bitter end, no one really knows.  They were bought only a couple of years ago, so the buyer (Hoya) saw something in them.  On the other hand, all of the press releases related to the acquisition touted it as for the medical imaging technology they acquired rather than the traditional photography group.

What's the downside risk if they do go under?  I'd bet good money that Samsung will buy them in the same fashion that Sony bought Minolta.  They've already partnered on some cameras.  Of course, it might be different having a Korean company instead of another Japanese company.  

None of their existing lenses will quit working.  They have a pretty nice lineup of lenses going back for a very long time.  The main problem is that you'll miss out on new camera bodies if Samsung doesn't take them over.

Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: jimby on November 25, 2009, 06:09:33 pm
The interesting thing about Pentax is that their lens prices (including used lens prices) have only been going up as more people buy their DSLR bodies and the demand for Pentax glass increases.  With so many KA, KAF and KAF2 mount lenses already in photographers' hands, I would expect that even if Pentax restructured or otherwise stumbled, someone would be waiting in the wings to buy up the patents and tooling, and cater to the already established market.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: DarkPenguin on November 25, 2009, 07:43:49 pm
Quote from: jimby
The interesting thing about Pentax is that their lens prices (including used lens prices) have only been going up as more people buy their DSLR bodies and the demand for Pentax glass increases.  With so many KA, KAF and KAF2 mount lenses already in photographers' hands, I would expect that even if Pentax restructured or otherwise stumbled, someone would be waiting in the wings to buy up the patents and tooling, and cater to the already established market.

That doesn't seem to make any sense.  If the 'established market' isn't enough to support pentax why would it support anyone else.  The only possible company I can think of that would buy it is samsung and that is only if their corporate ego forces them to combat sony on the DSLR front.  (And that possibility assumes that Samsung isn't ditching DSLRs in favor of their m43 competitor.)
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: jimby on November 25, 2009, 09:18:51 pm
Quote from: DarkPenguin
That doesn't seem to make any sense.  If the 'established market' isn't enough to support pentax why would it support anyone else.  The only possible company I can think of that would buy it is samsung and that is only if their corporate ego forces them to combat sony on the DSLR front.  (And that possibility assumes that Samsung isn't ditching DSLRs in favor of their m43 competitor.)

Because Pentax spends energy and resources in areas other than the amateur DSLR market.  It's well known that they have been pouring resources into MF digital camera development for years,  trying to capitalize on the market success they had with the 645 film line.  However, they have yet to release a product after many years of development.  This is an area where even Nikon and Canon don't go.  If Pentax restructured or if someone else picked them up, the MF digital camera would probably be the first project jettisoned.

The point&shoot market is another area where they could take a look. I have no idea what segments are profitable for Pentax, so maybe they make money on the P&S market, but I know that I almost never see Pentax P&S cameras out in the wild.

Also, if Pentax were sold eventually because of financial problems, the buyer of their assets would not be burdened with Pentax's amortized R&D and manufacturing costs.  A buyer could start with a clean slate and approach the established market fresh (and with a better marketing budget).
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: stever on November 25, 2009, 10:09:24 pm
it really depends on what your photo priorities are and what size investment you're contemplating

i was a long time Pentax user until 1999.  i enjoyed using their relatively compact cameras and compact high quality lenses

then i decided to do some wildlife photography and decided the future was with Canon and made the switch  -- very glad i did

only Canon and Nikon (among present players) have a history of maintaining a high level of cameras and lenses over time.  Nikon's recent more competive offerings provide a viable alternative to Canon (depending on your priorities) and the competition should benefit photographers.  Competition from Sony may as well if they stay the course.  Panasonic and Olympus have innovative products that could fill substantial market niches.  i think this leaves Pentax nowhere.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: aaykay on November 26, 2009, 10:58:34 am
Quote from: DarkPenguin
That doesn't seem to make any sense.  If the 'established market' isn't enough to support pentax why would it support anyone else.  The only possible company I can think of that would buy it is samsung and that is only if their corporate ego forces them to combat sony on the DSLR front.  (And that possibility assumes that Samsung isn't ditching DSLRs in favor of their m43 competitor.)

Samsung's purchasing of Pentax would have been a possibility, prior to the announcement of Samsung's upcoming micro-APS-C mirror-less "EVIL" format.  With the announcement of Samsung's forthcoming EVIL format (which being a fully electronic mount, plays to Samsung's - and Sony's and Panasonic's - core strengths),  Pentax dSLRs are on their own, by my reckoning.  I predict Hoya will ditch it sooner, rather than later but will continue to make positive noises till the last nail is struck.

One possibility that would enable Pentax to survive as a viable company, is if Pentax ties up with Samsung and does joint production/marketing of Samsung's new EVIL APS-C format, with sister EVIL models from either company (similar to the arrangement between Olympus and Panasonic in m-4/3).   Pentax would make most of their money from the sales of Pentax developed m-APS-C lenses.  The dSLR division will invariably get ditched but the Pentax name will live on, under such a scenario.  Without such a tie-up, Pentax will be gutted and Hoya will make some money by selling their lens manufacturing assets to an entity like Sony, who will need it to develop some critical mass in lens manufacturing capacity to ramp up their chase of Canon and Nikon.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Geoff Wittig on November 26, 2009, 11:32:54 am
Quote from: lattiboy
Hi all,

I'm looking at the K-x or the K-7 to replace my LX3. I have owned multiple Sony dSLRs (A200, A700, A900) and a few Nikon bodies (D50, D90), but decided to focus on basics and use the LX3 exclusively. I've enjoyed it, but I really miss the DoF and feel of an SLR. I'd get a Sony, but they haven't updated the A700, and none of their cams offer video capture (which is as important as anything to me). The k-x seems like an excellent value ($600 with kit online) and the K-7 seems like a very solid mid-level SLR at a reasonable price ($1050 with kit lens). I really like the ability to use all the older glass, the video capture, the built-in IS, and the weather sealing.

Obviously I'm not afraid of non-CanNikon stuff, but I've run into a lot of trouble finding a Pentax dealer locally. I live in Seattle and there are a lot of camera shops but all of them (ALL OF THEM!) tell me the same thing when I call to ask about Pentax display units: "Pentax is probably going to go under soon, we literally can't get a rep on the phone, and the units don't sell." Three different stores (Talls, Kenmore, and Glazers) all said this same thing to me.

So, is Pentax (and their mount) going to go the way of the dodo? I don't need a huge stable of pro lenses, but I don't want to be left holding the bag on a $1000 investment into a dead system.


PS Not trying to troll here, I'm honestly confused about this.

I owned a huge Pentax 35 mm system, all the way up to their behemoth (and optically fabulous) 600 mm f:4 lens. They made lots of great stuff for a time, especially their truly magical 85 mm f:1.4 lens; still the best piece of glass I've ever used. I still feel Pentax has the best SLR metering/exposure controls in the known universe. I really like the idea behind their compact prime lenses. There are also countless older manual focus used K-mount lenses out there to play with. If the K-7 really meets your needs, it might be worth picking one up along with all the prime lenses you're ever likely to need. Today I regret the fact that I completely liquidated my Pentax system to get into digital. I should have kept my beloved 85 f:1.4 and a singe MZ-S body; fantastic controls, build quality, compactness, æsthetics...a delight just to play with even if you never shoot a frame of film.

However...I don't think there's a future in the Pentax system. Pentax SLR's still have noticeably inferior autofocus compared to CaNikon, and they're at least a generation behind in high ISO noise. It'll always be a much more limited system in terms of lens/flash/accessory options, with far less 3rd party support. You'll never see something like Pocket Wizard radio transmitters with TTL flash support for Pentax, for example. That might not matter to you today, but in a few years you never know what you'll want.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Rob C on November 26, 2009, 12:43:27 pm
Pentax has ever been a strange company insofar as cameras go. It was great at the time Nikon was doing the original F and the Pentax Spotmatic was pretty good too.

However, I do recall that I spent much fruitless effort trying to locate their 6x7 stuff on any dealer's shelf. I eventually found a dealer who managed to get the Pentax representative to bring in his 6x7 body with a 165mm lens for me to try out. In the event, I did not buy. I tried again, years later, and took the chance of buying a new Mk 11 sight unseen.

The camera felt beautiful, looked the part and was very well finished. BUT, there was just too much shutter vibration and after some months of frustration it had to go. What I will say is that it was much better than the Bronica 6x7 I once had - lousy 50mm (if I remember the focal length correctly) - and the mirror-up didn't work from day one. However, as I bought in Scotland but lived in Spain, the solution wasn't east to find in those days and  the camera went as soon as I returned to visit the UK again.

So perhaps poor communication or display is nothing new - just how they do things at Pentax?

Rob C
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Vautour on November 27, 2009, 06:07:00 am
I have a K10D based Pentax system and quite like it. It has it's difficulties (serious light mismetering in mostly green conditions (forests and the like (Madeira was quite "fun" in this regard ), auto focus which won't focus correctly with some lenses) but I've learned to handle those in most situations now and became quite good in guessing exposure. I would have sold the equipment if I had to use it professionally, yes, definitely. But I don't so I haven't as of yet.
I'm also wondering whether I should switch to another system. I now know my photographic needs and likes much better than when I originally invested in the system so I can be much more selective in my lens choices (meaning spending less (quantity-wise, not quality-wise) on the lenses in case of a switch).
Pentax (partly through Sigma) would fulfill those requirements and I thought, well, if the K7 is a good manufactured as my K10 than I'm sure the camera would last me quite a few years. With only two to three lenses on my "would like to have" lens list left I thought, well, keep Pentax and when the body dies and no replacement is in sight I'm not that heavily invested to lose that much when making the switch (I'm talking at least a 5 year span here).
But with the current Pentax price jump (in some case up 50% and more) I am wondering if this is still feasible. Yes, they have two new cameras but I'm somewhat disapointed from what I've read about the K7. Auto focus still seems to be problematic and the sensor could also do with a major upgrade (or back to Sony with their 12MP sensor, for example). The metering system seems to be quite promising but that I have to experience myself.
The major problem I have is that there seems to be no plan. The lens roadmap is empty, market share is on the decline, there's no model between the K-x and K7 that could compete with the 500D or D90, for example. I don't know where the journey is going with Pentax and I'm not the only one. Some clear statements regarding what is planned for the future (new lenses, accesories, cameras and so forth) would be very helpfull. The K7 seems to have revived interest in the brand and I hope Pentax will stay in the game (despite its failing I like my K10D especially how it handles) but some more direction would be nice.
Having said all that I seriously don't know if I would invest now in the Pentax system if I'd started anew. I'd probably choose Nikon because their control layout is similar to the Pentax layout. Canon's is ok, but having lend my father's 40D on several trips I didn't warm to its layout, but then again, one gets used to almost everything  I'm a hobbyist so I'd like to spend my money for the long term. And I'm also fully aware of such statements not being very helpfull to the future of Pentax and that more and more of such statements can provide for the beginning of some kind of self fullfilling prophecy.

So, nevertheless, my advice at the moment (from a Pentax hobbyist user point of view who actually likes his camera), with kind of a heavy heart, is: Go another route, don't take Pentax. Maybe wait for the A700's successor. Shouldn't be too far ahead (although it'll most likely be positioned as competion for 7D and D300s and thus somewhat more pricey).
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: MarkL on November 27, 2009, 10:34:44 am
Pentax are a pretty strange company but they are the only cameras I have used where I feel like a photographer rather than an engineer has actually used and tested it. With their excellent lenses and cameras like their great 645 camera made in the past I really hope they sort themselves out and are still around for some time to come.

The problem is, is that there is no real compelling reason to buy their cameras. IQ is good but not outstanding, anti-shake in the body is also in sony cameras, good older lenses can also be used by nikon etc.

Sorry, this doesn't really help answer your question!
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Rob C on November 27, 2009, 02:12:27 pm
Quote from: MarkL
Pentax are a pretty strange company but they are the only cameras I have used where I feel like a photographer rather than an engineer has actually used and tested it.




But in the case of the 6x7, a photographer who never shot under a 250th of a second. Any other would have discovered the delightful shutter vibration effect.

But to be fair - had they developed a reasonable range of shuttered lenses, as did Hasselblad who started with focal plane shutters too and then went the other route, they would have cleaned up the market.

Rob C
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Er1kksen on November 27, 2009, 05:58:31 pm
People have been preaching the death of Pentax since well before the advent of the internet. Regardless, it hasn't happened.


Pentax is not a huge company with a significant market presence. However, they have *a* market presence and they make enough money to stay comfortably afloat.

Once you get past the speculation (which there is a lot of) the actual picture is that there may be ups and downs, but Pentax and the K-mount aren't going anywhere soon. The finances aren't world-beating but they're certainly viable. With the K-7 and now the K-x (which is already a surprise hit), the trend may start heading in an upwards direction rather than maintaining its previous flat line.

Pentax gets a bad rap. For example, "behind a generation in ISO noise." The K10D used the same sensor as the D80. The D80 got the reputation for low high-ISO noise. Actual users found that in RAW the difference was negligible and the K10D was in fact cleaner at low ISO (and currently has a following for that characteristic). Similarly, the K20D got a reputation for being noisy, particularly from tests like dpreview's, which clearly showed a higher level of noise from the K20D but also much better detail retention, implying that it was simply using less NR. Nonetheless, in the absence of RAW testing at that time, the competition was declared superior in low light... until they threw K20D RAW files into the DPR tests of the newer K-7 and found that, in RAW, the K20D was cleaner than the next-generation Canon and Nikon semipro models that they praised so highly.

People claiming that Pentax cameras yield noisier images or sub-par overall IQ simply don't know what they're talking about. I owned and got a lot of use out of the highly regarded Canon 40D, and bought it expecting something special, but found the images consistently dissappointing compared to the output from my old K20D. I now own a K-x which trumps the 40D in all areas of image quality and is on par or better than the K20D in most.

Some criticisms do have a legitimate basis. The autofocus on my K20D, and the pentaxes that preceded it, was pretty dismal in terms of speed, relatively speaking. My 40D was light-years faster and worked better in low light. However, it got the job done, and AF performance on the latest models (K-m, K-7, K-x) is vastly improved. In most conditions there's no functional difference in AF performance between my K-x and the 40D. Both are fast and positive and can't track worth a darn.

Pentax does need to address the fact that autofocus with their top-drawer "SDM"-motor lenses is slower than their traditional screw-drive lenses, which is a shame since they're such fantastic optics.

QC is another issue: There were sensor issues with a lot of early K-7's, and us K-x early adopters are dealing with an irritating battery issue. Fortunately, Pentax is responsive in providing solutions to the problems that arise. It'd be nice if they didn't happen in the first place, though.

Third-party support is, indeed, more limited. Unless you have specialized needs, however, you should be able to find what you need.

I can think of a number of good reasons for Pentax. If you like the smaller form factor, the K-7 is on par with the competition's semipro models performance-wise (give a little, take a little) in a much more compact package that just happens to be the most rugged in its class. The K-x is a great little entry-level camera with a new sensor that turns out fantastic results from an even smaller and lighter package.

The lens line-up is made of some pretty strong optics and has some uniqueness as well, seen most clearly in the compact "limited" primes. Pentax glass used to be the most affordable on the market as well (the FA 50mm f1.4 went for not much more than the competition's 50mm f1.8s and performed admirably) but the changing values of the dollar vs. the yen and hoya's odd management practices have brought prices up a bit, to be a bit more level with the competition. There are a lot of truly fantastic barely-known lenses in Pentax's stable that get people hooked, and even when some of them buy into full-frame systems and the like they tend to hold on to at least one Pentax to mount their FA 43mm or FA* 85mm on. There's something magic about a lot of their lenses.

Unless you need specialist lenses or the sort of support networks Canon and Nikon have set up for pros, there's no reason not to give Pentax your serious consideration. They make excellent products that produce excellent images in the right hand and have both advantages and disadvantages against the competition. They are not going under anytime soon.

For the sake of disclosure, I am a fan of Pentax. I'm a fan because I've used their products and experienced how good they can be. I am also a fan of Canon, Nikon, Sony/Minolta, Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji DSLRs and lenses. I would own and use all of them if I had the money and time. I have owned cameras from Olympus, Pentax, Canon, and a bunch of others from the film era. Anyone who tells you that any given brand is a bad idea (unless for a very specific reason) is either misguided or full of crock, in my opinion.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Goodlistener on November 27, 2009, 11:11:27 pm
Lattiboy, doesn't the fact that you cannot find a Pentax DSLR in a retail store, and the fact that the store people tell you they cannot reach a Pentax rep tell you: "This aint gonna work"?
That said, sometimes people want to have something different, not the same thing every one else has.   Note: nobody here is criticizing Pentax, its just that availability in the here and now, on the ground and in the stores, is very limited. Speculation about the future is not required under those circumstances.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: ashley on November 28, 2009, 08:41:57 am
My first SLR was a Pentax ME Super and they have made a valuable contribution to photography over the last few decades with some interesting cameras, so I would be sad to see them go but I can't say the name Pentax has even been on my radar as a choice of camera for many many years and they don't seem to be producing the kind of competitive cameras that raise interest in their products these days.

From a professional's perspective I can think of no good reason to buy a Pentax, especially given the lack of rental equipment available if you need something particular for just one or two assignments. Remembering the beautiful handling of the old Pentax 645 I would have seriously considered a digital medium format camera from Pentax but where is it?
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Er1kksen on November 28, 2009, 11:38:39 am
Quote from: Goodlistener
Lattiboy, doesn't the fact that you cannot find a Pentax DSLR in a retail store, and the fact that the store people tell you they cannot reach a Pentax rep tell you: "This aint gonna work"?
That said, sometimes people want to have something different, not the same thing every one else has.   Note: nobody here is criticizing Pentax, its just that availability in the here and now, on the ground and in the stores, is very limited. Speculation about the future is not required under those circumstances.

Retail stores are not exactly a good place to go for information on the camera market.  Salespeople are all too often motivated by one thing, sales. The chain stores are the worst, where you can occasionally hear salespeople flat-out lying about certain cameras to customers to steer them either to a higher-commissioned product or the one that they're a personal fan of, but the independent stores often don't have a clue about pentax either. Pentax does have a noticeable distribution issue, but that's because they suck at distribution, not because they're failing as a company. They've been noted for poor distribution for a loooooooooooong time now, and there have been salespeople saying "my sources tell me Pentax is about to go under next week so I wouldn't recommend buying one" since way back in the film era. Of course, there are honest salespeople out there who know what they're talking about, but they're not the ones everyone comes on to forums to talk about.

Over on Pentaxforums it's not uncommon for ordinary customers to get in touch with Pentax representatives for a variety of reasons. If a retailer were to actually try, they shouldn't have any trouble either.

Oh, and you CAN find pentax in retail stores... it tends to vary by region. For example, where I live (western tip of NYS) there are three different local shops that stock Pentax, which is where I first tried one out. It's actually a quite small store, but they also stock Nikon, Canon, and Olympus, as well as a lot of OEM and Sigma lenses.


Quote from: ashley
My first SLR was a Pentax ME Super and they have made a valuable contribution to photography over the last few decades with some interesting cameras, so I would be sad to see them go but I can't say the name Pentax has even been on my radar as a choice of camera for many many years and they don't seem to be producing the kind of competitive cameras that raise interest in their products these days.

From a professional's perspective I can think of no good reason to buy a Pentax, especially given the lack of rental equipment available if you need something particular for just one or two assignments. Remembering the beautiful handling of the old Pentax 645 I would have seriously considered a digital medium format camera from Pentax but where is it?

Watch that K-x for the "competitive camera to raise and interest in their products."  The K-7 has made a decent splash as well.

And that 645D... look for it in april.  The cover of the manual has been leaked already as well.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: DarkPenguin on November 28, 2009, 01:15:36 pm
Quote from: Er1kksen
And that 645D... look for it in april.  The cover of the manual has been leaked already as well.

I'll believe it when I see it.  Right now the 645D looks to be the Duke Nukem Forever of cameras.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Er1kksen on November 28, 2009, 08:28:48 pm
Quote from: DarkPenguin
I'll believe it when I see it.

Well, I'll look forward to then and hope you'll be as excited about it as I will.  Even if I may not be able to afford one (it's supposed to be relatively low-price, but I'm on a serious budget) for about five years.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on November 29, 2009, 03:32:05 am
Hi,

Tom Hogan's predictions may be worth a look: http://www.bythom.com/2010predictions.htm (http://www.bythom.com/2010predictions.htm)

Keep in mind that Tom's perspective is a Nikon perspective.

Erik


Quote from: lattiboy
Hi all,

I'm looking at the K-x or the K-7 to replace my LX3. I have owned multiple Sony dSLRs (A200, A700, A900) and a few Nikon bodies (D50, D90), but decided to focus on basics and use the LX3 exclusively. I've enjoyed it, but I really miss the DoF and feel of an SLR. I'd get a Sony, but they haven't updated the A700, and none of their cams offer video capture (which is as important as anything to me). The k-x seems like an excellent value ($600 with kit online) and the K-7 seems like a very solid mid-level SLR at a reasonable price ($1050 with kit lens). I really like the ability to use all the older glass, the video capture, the built-in IS, and the weather sealing.

Obviously I'm not afraid of non-CanNikon stuff, but I've run into a lot of trouble finding a Pentax dealer locally. I live in Seattle and there are a lot of camera shops but all of them (ALL OF THEM!) tell me the same thing when I call to ask about Pentax display units: "Pentax is probably going to go under soon, we literally can't get a rep on the phone, and the units don't sell." Three different stores (Talls, Kenmore, and Glazers) all said this same thing to me.

So, is Pentax (and their mount) going to go the way of the dodo? I don't need a huge stable of pro lenses, but I don't want to be left holding the bag on a $1000 investment into a dead system.


PS Not trying to troll here, I'm honestly confused about this.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: CJL on November 29, 2009, 02:59:05 pm
Quote from: Er1kksen
And that 645D... look for it in april.  The cover of the manual has been leaked already as well.


April 1, perhaps?    

The only way I could see Pentax going ahead with the launch of the 645D is if they still have a warehouse full of unsold 645 lenses.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: jimby on November 29, 2009, 03:16:29 pm
Quote from: ErikKaffehr
Hi,

Tom Hogan's predictions may be worth a look: http://www.bythom.com/2010predictions.htm (http://www.bythom.com/2010predictions.htm)

Keep in mind that Tom's perspective is a Nikon perspective.

Erik


I think that anybody making predictions who doesn't have access to accurate sales numbers, marketing spend, manufacturing costs, general company P&L, and longterm company planning is really just guessing.  Future predictions based on somewhat overhyped statistics such as market share are almost always inaccurate.  BMW has less than a 2% market share in the US for cars.  Apple has for years been below 10% market share for computers, and their death has been predicted many times.  These guys are not going away anytime soon.  The company that I work for, who shall remain nameless, currently has a 32% market share in its category, and is sucking wind, so the reverse is also true.

The fact is that there are lots of pundits who think they understand a particular business or market while they are sitting on the outside writing their blogs.  There is no shortage of "free advice" coming from the outside, much of it wrong or unhelpful.  Many of the issues that confront companies trying to increase profits or market share while bringing products to market are not visible from outside the company, and/or concern mundane topics such as patent revenue and licensing issues, distribution issues, or the cost of converting or upgrading manufacturing lines.

It's sort of like sitting on the ground with a pair of binoculars watching a 747 fly past at 36,000 ft and criticizing the flying skills of the pilot without having any idea what's going on in aircraft.  Easy to do?  Yes.   Helpful, relevant, and accurate? Probably not.  Entertaining? Certainly.


Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: DarkPenguin on November 29, 2009, 03:22:51 pm
Is that generic commentary or is it a specific comment on Mr. Hogan's long history of predictions?

Quote from: jimby
I think that anybody making predictions who doesn't have access to accurate sales numbers, marketing spend, manufacturing costs, general company P&L, and longterm company planning is really just guessing.  Future predictions based on somewhat overhyped statistics such as market share are almost always inaccurate.  BMW has less than a 2% market share in the US for cars.  Apple has for years been below 10% market share for computers, and their death has been predicted many times.  These guys are not going away anytime soon.  The company that I work for, who shall remain nameless, currently has a 32% market share in its category, and is sucking wind, so the reverse is also true.

The fact is that there are lots of pundits who think they understand a particular business or market while they are sitting on the outside writing their blogs.  There is no shortage of "free advice" coming from the outside, much of it wrong or unhelpful.  Many of the issues that confront companies trying to increase profits or market share while bringing products to market are not visible from outside the company, and/or concern mundane topics such as patent revenue and licensing issues, distribution issues, or the cost of converting or upgrading manufacturing lines.

It's sort of like sitting on the ground with a pair of binoculars watching a 747 fly past at 36,000 ft and criticizing the flying skills of the pilot without having any idea what's going on in aircraft.  Easy to do?  Yes.   Helpful, relevant, and accurate? Probably not.  Entertaining? Certainly.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: coles on December 01, 2009, 01:08:36 am
There are other industries with companies analogous to Pentax. 2 good examples are Volkswagen and Apple. Although both are niche players, they have devoted followings because they offer innovative products and good design. I chose Pentax because I liked the design, layout, and features of their cameras. Canon, for example, doesn't have a taV mode, something which I'm found very useful. Neither Canon nor Nikon have anything equivalent to Pentax's 50-135 2.8 (unless you want a Sigma....).

Although it helps, companies don't have to be the largest players to survive, and Pentax can maintain a loyal following by offering features and prices that Neither Canon nor Nikon can touch.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: boesgaard on December 01, 2009, 05:12:26 am
Quote from: coles
Neither Canon nor Nikon have anything equivalent to Pentax's 50-135 2.8 (unless you want a Sigma....).

I think the Tokina 50-135 f2.8 is quite similar, although it's not build weather resistant.

/thomas
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Jeremy Payne on December 01, 2009, 06:50:17 am
Quote from: coles
2 good examples are Volkswagen and Apple. Although both are niche players,

Globally, VW is #3 by production and makes more cars than Ford and Honda ... not a niche player.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: BJL on December 01, 2009, 10:40:22 am
Quote from: coles
There are other industries with companies analogous to Pentax. 2 good examples are Volkswagen and Apple. Although both are niche players, they have devoted followings because they offer innovative products and good design.
Those companies are not so small: I believe that Volkswagen is the largest European car maker, and on the hardware side Apple now sells as many computers as any other single brand (and as to iPod/iPhone market share ...) Mac OS is a small market share product though.

But the key to the success of those companies is, as you indicate, offering something distinctly different from the "mass producers". In other words, finding or creating different market sectors, and having a healthy market share in those sectors. Unfortunately, Pentax seems to be losing this. Its P&S line has faded into near irrelevance, and its DSLRs are not so much different from Sony, Canon and Nikon offerings. There are some differences, like a more extensive line of primes for "APS-C" format, but it is unclear whether these create a big enough niche.

The part of Apple or Volkswagen is now being played more by Four Thirds, in particular Micro Four Thirds.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Er1kksen on December 01, 2009, 03:31:26 pm
Quote from: boesgaard
I think the Tokina 50-135 f2.8 is quite similar, although it's not build weather resistant.

/thomas

It is in fact the same optical design, though it lacks Pentax's superb multicoating and is not weathersealed (still solidly built). And all the Canon or Nikon users who've posted on the internet about using it pretty much rave about its optics.  Some call it the "Bokina" for its very pleasing bokeh.

CJL, there are loads and loads of Pentax 645 lenses, manual and AF, out there waiting to be used. Legacy lens support was a major point for Pentax's APS-C lineup, and I hardly know any Pentax enthusiasts that don't own at least a few pre-digital lenses. The same would be true for the 645D user base; the Pentax 645 lineup was one of the most popular and widespread MF systems of the film era.

And yes, they do plan to manufacture new lenses, and there may be some sitting in a warehouse somewhere already, though I doubt it would be full... MF digital isn't exactly a high-volume product, y'know?
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: tetsuo77 on December 03, 2009, 10:04:19 am
Quote from: coles
There are other industries with companies analogous to Pentax. 2 good examples are Volkswagen and Apple. Although both are niche players, they have devoted followings because they offer innovative products and good design.

None of them is a niche player, neither innovative. Both are innovation aggregators, like it or not [which might be another way to be innovative, but Apple still owes Creative a bunch of money for some menu systems].

Pentax is as niche player as Ricoh or Leica.
Actually, Pentax does quite some spectacles, birding lenses, medical equipment and survelliance equipment. The camera division is a second tier division, as far as I know.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: tetsuo77 on December 03, 2009, 10:46:41 am
Quote from: lattiboy
Hi all,

I'm looking at the K-x or the K-7 to replace my LX3. I have owned multiple Sony dSLRs (A200, A700, A900) and a few Nikon bodies (D50, D90), but decided to focus on basics and use the LX3 exclusively. I've enjoyed it, but I really miss the DoF and feel of an SLR. I'd get a Sony, but they haven't updated the A700, and none of their cams offer video capture (which is as important as anything to me). The k-x seems like an excellent value ($600 with kit online) and the K-7 seems like a very solid mid-level SLR at a reasonable price ($1050 with kit lens). I really like the ability to use all the older glass, the video capture, the built-in IS, and the weather sealing.

Obviously I'm not afraid of non-CanNikon stuff, but I've run into a lot of trouble finding a Pentax dealer locally. I live in Seattle and there are a lot of camera shops but all of them (ALL OF THEM!) tell me the same thing when I call to ask about Pentax display units: "Pentax is probably going to go under soon, we literally can't get a rep on the phone, and the units don't sell." Three different stores (Talls, Kenmore, and Glazers) all said this same thing to me.

So, is Pentax (and their mount) going to go the way of the dodo? I don't need a huge stable of pro lenses, but I don't want to be left holding the bag on a $1000 investment into a dead system.


PS Not trying to troll here, I'm honestly confused about this.

Hye there.
IŽve been quite on the fence to answer this post, for quite some reasons.
Fanboyism aside, there are some points I want to make which separates Pentax from the rest of the bodies [not lenses, yet], starting with the handling.
Even if I still use and own a *istDS, one of the less substantial digital machines ever, there is something to it that makes it completely ok. That is its advantage. I remember using, before buying it, Olympus, Canon, Nikon and Konica-Minolta bodies. They were just too convoluted to use. After using the Pentax, metering with the rest was a nightmare, due to something Pentax bodies have and none [NONE] of the others have: hyper modes.

Hyper modes is a sort of dark magic, deeply hidden in the manual, and that most of the reviewers and users tend to forget they have. It is such a simple way to use a camera, that once you try it all the rest of the bodies will leave yourself scratching your head.

Usually, youŽve got the hyperprogramme and hypermanual modes [and, boy oh boy, it has been around since mid nineties]. What they do is allow you to change one of the two main exposure variables, press a button, and the camera will calculate and give the other propper value. Were you on manual mode, and get lost when changing the value of aperture or speed, press the green or AE-Lock button, and there you have the propper exposure according to what your exposure value has been set. Those values tend to stay there even changing the camera mode.

It sounds much more complicated than what in reality is. Try it once, and youŽll never want to go back.

Metering is usually off by a standard -1EV [aknoweledged on the manuals to preserve highlight blows].

Continuing with the very bodies, I have to say that there are other advantages. White balance is usually top notch compared to the rest, even if values are not what raw developers will tell you they are. But keep in mind that it does record the hue of the light of the scene, rather than a propper white. For that very reason the K7 has a very advanced and geeky white balance control.

The sensors are good. The Samsung sensor is very good when recording detail and its results hold post processing very well.

Legacy lens support is very good, and stop-down metering very easy due to the green button again. No adapters needed for lenses with the bayonet mount whatsoever. That is a huge amount of lenses out there: Pentax, Vivitar, Zeiss, CZ, CV, Kiron, Komine, Tokina, Tamron, Sigma, Kiev, Zenit, Industar, Chinon, and being careful, Ricoh.

Depending on your style of shooting, the bodies are always on the smaller size. That being said, unless a raincoat, they are not pocket friendly, even a Kx with the tiny DA 40.

Lenses are another world.

The best lenses for Pentax bodies are Pentax lenses. Period. Not the CZ series, or the CV series [Cosina-Voigthlander] are better than the equivalent Pentax. They are different in rendering and character, but not better. And being a lens nut, I would reccomend them over the Leica R glass [which I found nerveracking at least]. Some contemporary legends: the Macro 35, the DA 70 and the DA 14.
Usually, they are very compact lenses but for the very extremes [DA14 being much, much bigger than the DA 15 limited].
Remember that a wide range of lenses does not mean a good range of lenses.
You can use 645 and 67 lenses on APS-C bodies, with the propper adapter.

HOWEVER, and it is a big problem with the best Pentax lenses: they get very disappointing the first times you use them. I got pretty "depressed" when I spent 550 Euros on a simple 43 1.9ltd lens. It was more than double the price of the fast fifty. Yet the results were not as good. It took me quite a lot of time to learn how to use this lens. And that seems to be the biggest problem with the new 55 1.4 and the 15 4.


Perhaps, as cameras go, their main problem is that they are just allright. No fancy bells and whistles. Job propperly done. Fullstop. No happy birthday tunes, no "look-at-me" bodies.

As for the future of Pentax, I will not really care that much about it, unless youŽll try to change bodies every year or so. They are rugged enough [even the DS has suffered 7 ft. falls, and goes on], and it seems that the megapixel race has slowed down quite something.

As for the future of the brand, who knows. But that happens with very many brands.

My best advice is that, regardless of the brand, choose the one who meets your physical needs and style of shooting. You can easily take a photo in the tube with the K7 and a 43ltd, but a D300s and a 50 1.8 gets quite cumbersome in the same situation.


PS:
Rob C. After trying the 67II, I noticed no more mirror vibration than the equivalent Hasselblad or Mamiya. Plus, you can get a wood handle for the 67.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: tetsuo77 on December 03, 2009, 10:49:31 am
Quote from: Er1kksen
It is in fact the same optical design, though it lacks Pentax's superb multicoating and is not weathersealed (still solidly built). And all the Canon or Nikon users who've posted on the internet about using it pretty much rave about its optics.  Some call it the "Bokina" for its very pleasing bokeh.

CJL, there are loads and loads of Pentax 645 lenses, manual and AF, out there waiting to be used. Legacy lens support was a major point for Pentax's APS-C lineup, and I hardly know any Pentax enthusiasts that don't own at least a few pre-digital lenses. The same would be true for the 645D user base; the Pentax 645 lineup was one of the most popular and widespread MF systems of the film era.

And yes, they do plan to manufacture new lenses, and there may be some sitting in a warehouse somewhere already, though I doubt it would be full... MF digital isn't exactly a high-volume product, y'know?

I truly, honestly and sincerely hope that they do not call it bokina, as it is strangly too close to some oral action done in the adult entretainment industry.  
Blimey!!!!!
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Er1kksen on December 03, 2009, 11:46:46 am
Quote from: tetsuo77
I truly, honestly and sincerely hope that they do not call it bokina, as it is strangly too close to some oral action done in the adult entretainment industry.  
Blimey!!!!!

In Pentax circles there's also a Tokina 90mm macro that's referred to as the Bokina.  Whether or not that's a deliberate allusion or an unfortunate coincidence is unknown to me.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Rob C on December 03, 2009, 11:52:53 am
Quote from: tetsuo77
PS:
Rob C. After trying the 67II, I noticed no more mirror vibration than the equivalent Hasselblad or Mamiya. Plus, you can get a wood handle for the 67.




I did not complain about mirror vibration; if you look again, you'll see that the problem was shutter vibration, for which there is no cure other than high speeds which, with 6x7 and depth of field needs, was not going to happen. I had a wooden handle for the camera but it was an irrelevant purchase because the camera was never used off the huge Gitzo that I have and ALWAYS with mirror up. Had it come with a full range of shuttered lenses, I believe it would have been the best camera available for me, except that loading and unloading was a dodgy trick too, but I could have lived with holding my breath at such times.

Rob C
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: BJL on December 03, 2009, 12:45:44 pm
Quote from: Er1kksen
CJL, there are loads and loads of Pentax 645 lenses, manual and AF, out there waiting to be used ... the Pentax 645 lineup was one of the most popular and widespread MF systems of the film era ... MF digital isn't exactly a high-volume product, y'know?
I hope the Pentax DMF camera is a success, but as you indicate that would only ever be a tiny fraction of the Pentax camera business. I was talking mostly about the major markets for the Pentax Imaging division of Hoya: compacts and SLRs. The compact camera division has reportedly being doing badly for some years, and the "larger sensor, interchangeable lens" division is falling ever further behind both Sony and Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds.

Another worrying point is your emphasis on backward compatibility with lenses that people always own: future success surely depends mostly on attracting new customers and selling new lenses, not so much on selling to an existing pool of "Pentaxians".

In fact, this is a situation where forum sentiments and predictions often systematically misjudge viability of photographic product lines in the direction of being too conservative, hoping and/or expecting the future to resemble the past more that it actually will when a disruptive technology like electronic sensors is at work. This has been seen for years, first in the frequently stated skepticism about digital itself vs film, and then about formats smaller than 24x36mm (which still overwhelmingly dominate the digital SLR market, despite endless predictions of their decline.)

The source of the problem is that forms are heavily skewed towards established enthusiastic photographers who are "attached" to existing lenses, formats and technologies, and so are on the whole more conservative in their hopes and expectations than the camera market as a whole.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: tetsuo77 on December 04, 2009, 05:43:42 am
Quote from: Rob C
I did not complain about mirror vibration; if you look again, you'll see that the problem was shutter vibration, for which there is no cure other than high speeds which, with 6x7 and depth of field needs, was not going to happen. I had a wooden handle for the camera but it was an irrelevant purchase because the camera was never used off the huge Gitzo that I have and ALWAYS with mirror up. Had it come with a full range of shuttered lenses, I believe it would have been the best camera available for me, except that loading and unloading was a dodgy trick too, but I could have lived with holding my breath at such times.

Rob C

Uppsss.
My bad. Too fast reading, IŽm afraid.
By the way, it is getting really windy.    So buckle up, the Inland is sending Tramontana over the Islands.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: Rob C on December 04, 2009, 10:34:11 am
Quote from: tetsuo77
Uppsss.
My bad. Too fast reading, IŽm afraid.
By the way, it is getting really windy.    So buckle up, the Inland is sending Tramontana over the Islands.





You are right, and it has already blown over a few flowerpots! More worrying, though, are the roof tiles that go flying at this time of year!

Rob C
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: skipc on December 14, 2009, 07:18:10 pm
With the low profit margin on DSLR's there is little incentive for bricks and mortar stores have interest in anything other than canokon. B&H has Pentax readily available. As owner of a Pentax K-7 with FA 31mm and 77mm primes, I find it of robust build and a small intuitive shooters camera that I can handhold to 1/15 with acceptable noise to 800 ISO. While I might prefer a M9/35 lux, after 3600 frames I am satisfied enough with the K7 to consider selling my full Canon kit. Tired of being a pack animal and my shooting habits no longer require speed or high ISO.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: lattiboy on December 14, 2009, 09:47:20 pm
Quote from: tetsuo77
Hye there.
IŽve been quite on the fence to answer this post, for quite some reasons.
Fanboyism aside, there are some points I want to make which separates Pentax from the rest of the bodies [not lenses, yet], starting with the handling.
Even if I still use and own a *istDS, one of the less substantial digital machines ever, there is something to it that makes it completely ok. That is its advantage. I remember using, before buying it, Olympus, Canon, Nikon and Konica-Minolta bodies. They were just too convoluted to use. After using the Pentax, metering with the rest was a nightmare, due to something Pentax bodies have and none [NONE] of the others have: hyper modes.

Hyper modes is a sort of dark magic, deeply hidden in the manual, and that most of the reviewers and users tend to forget they have. It is such a simple way to use a camera, that once you try it all the rest of the bodies will leave yourself scratching your head.

Usually, youŽve got the hyperprogramme and hypermanual modes [and, boy oh boy, it has been around since mid nineties]. What they do is allow you to change one of the two main exposure variables, press a button, and the camera will calculate and give the other propper value. Were you on manual mode, and get lost when changing the value of aperture or speed, press the green or AE-Lock button, and there you have the propper exposure according to what your exposure value has been set. Those values tend to stay there even changing the camera mode.

It sounds much more complicated than what in reality is. Try it once, and youŽll never want to go back.

Metering is usually off by a standard -1EV [aknoweledged on the manuals to preserve highlight blows].

Continuing with the very bodies, I have to say that there are other advantages. White balance is usually top notch compared to the rest, even if values are not what raw developers will tell you they are. But keep in mind that it does record the hue of the light of the scene, rather than a propper white. For that very reason the K7 has a very advanced and geeky white balance control.

The sensors are good. The Samsung sensor is very good when recording detail and its results hold post processing very well.

Legacy lens support is very good, and stop-down metering very easy due to the green button again. No adapters needed for lenses with the bayonet mount whatsoever. That is a huge amount of lenses out there: Pentax, Vivitar, Zeiss, CZ, CV, Kiron, Komine, Tokina, Tamron, Sigma, Kiev, Zenit, Industar, Chinon, and being careful, Ricoh.

Depending on your style of shooting, the bodies are always on the smaller size. That being said, unless a raincoat, they are not pocket friendly, even a Kx with the tiny DA 40.

Lenses are another world.

The best lenses for Pentax bodies are Pentax lenses. Period. Not the CZ series, or the CV series [Cosina-Voigthlander] are better than the equivalent Pentax. They are different in rendering and character, but not better. And being a lens nut, I would reccomend them over the Leica R glass [which I found nerveracking at least]. Some contemporary legends: the Macro 35, the DA 70 and the DA 14.
Usually, they are very compact lenses but for the very extremes [DA14 being much, much bigger than the DA 15 limited].
Remember that a wide range of lenses does not mean a good range of lenses.
You can use 645 and 67 lenses on APS-C bodies, with the propper adapter.

HOWEVER, and it is a big problem with the best Pentax lenses: they get very disappointing the first times you use them. I got pretty "depressed" when I spent 550 Euros on a simple 43 1.9ltd lens. It was more than double the price of the fast fifty. Yet the results were not as good. It took me quite a lot of time to learn how to use this lens. And that seems to be the biggest problem with the new 55 1.4 and the 15 4.


Perhaps, as cameras go, their main problem is that they are just allright. No fancy bells and whistles. Job propperly done. Fullstop. No happy birthday tunes, no "look-at-me" bodies.

As for the future of Pentax, I will not really care that much about it, unless youŽll try to change bodies every year or so. They are rugged enough [even the DS has suffered 7 ft. falls, and goes on], and it seems that the megapixel race has slowed down quite something.

As for the future of the brand, who knows. But that happens with very many brands.

My best advice is that, regardless of the brand, choose the one who meets your physical needs and style of shooting. You can easily take a photo in the tube with the K7 and a 43ltd, but a D300s and a 50 1.8 gets quite cumbersome in the same situation.


PS:
Rob C. After trying the 67II, I noticed no more mirror vibration than the equivalent Hasselblad or Mamiya. Plus, you can get a wood handle for the 67.

WOW! Thanks so much for that very thoughtful response. I ended up getting a GF1 with some OM legacy lenses. I'm seriously thinking about some M42 stuff because of your response.

If I get a dSLR again, I think it'll be a Pentax.


Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: tetsuo77 on December 15, 2009, 10:36:32 am
Quote from: lattiboy
WOW! Thanks so much for that very thoughtful response. I ended up getting a GF1 with some OM legacy lenses. I'm seriously thinking about some M42 stuff because of your response.

If I get a dSLR again, I think it'll be a Pentax.

No. What you have to buy is the one that suits your needs best. Be it whatever brand it will.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: BJL on December 15, 2009, 11:25:58 am
Quote from: lattiboy
I ended up getting a GF1 with some OM legacy lenses.
The beauty of that camera choice is that, so long as you are satisfied with manual focus and the cropping away of wide angle coverage, you can use almost any legacy lens on a m4/3 body through adaptors, including Pentax lenses of course. Some adaptor options are listed here: http://www.dpreview.com/news/0909/09091101novoflex.asp (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0909/09091101novoflex.asp)

And from what I hear, manual focusing of legacy lenses is far nicer with magnifying Live View (rear screen or EVF peep-hole) than with the optical viewfinders of most AF SLRs, due to their lack of manual focusing aids. In particular, better than with the small pentamirror OVF images of affordable DSLRs.
Title: Viability of Pentax?
Post by: tetsuo77 on December 22, 2009, 04:00:44 am
Quote from: Rob C
You are right, and it has already blown over a few flowerpots! More worrying, though, are the roof tiles that go flying at this time of year!

Rob C

God!
Who forgot to pay the sun tax to the government?