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Author Topic: Viability of Pentax?  (Read 9759 times)
jimby
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« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2009, 02:16:29 PM »
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Quote from: ErikKaffehr
Hi,

Tom Hogan's predictions may be worth a look: 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.


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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2009, 02:22:51 PM »
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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.
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coles
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« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2009, 12:08:36 AM »
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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.
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boesgaard
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« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2009, 04:12:26 AM »
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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
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2009, 05:50:17 AM »
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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.
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BJL
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« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2009, 09:40:22 AM »
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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.
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Er1kksen
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« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2009, 02:31:26 PM »
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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?
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tetsuo77
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« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2009, 09:04:19 AM »
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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.
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tetsuo77
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« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2009, 09:46:41 AM »
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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.
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tetsuo77
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« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2009, 09:49:31 AM »
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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!!!!!
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Er1kksen
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« Reply #30 on: December 03, 2009, 10:46:46 AM »
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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.
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Rob C
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« Reply #31 on: December 03, 2009, 10:52:53 AM »
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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
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BJL
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« Reply #32 on: December 03, 2009, 11:45:44 AM »
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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.
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tetsuo77
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« Reply #33 on: December 04, 2009, 04:43:42 AM »
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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.
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Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: December 04, 2009, 09:34:11 AM »
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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
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skipc
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« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2009, 06:18:10 PM »
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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.
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lattiboy
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« Reply #36 on: December 14, 2009, 08:47:20 PM »
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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.


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tetsuo77
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« Reply #37 on: December 15, 2009, 09:36:32 AM »
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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.
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BJL
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« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2009, 10:25:58 AM »
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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

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.
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tetsuo77
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« Reply #39 on: December 22, 2009, 03:00:44 AM »
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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?
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