“PENTAX CAMERAS” – IT’S HISTORY AND STORY TODAY:

Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash

Ahhh, the mighty PENTAX camera! This is another camera manufacture with a rich history, and a major contributor to the photographic world. The one thing I do know is that it was the very first camera from Japan, as an SLR using 35mm film. Let’s show you the details from Wikipedia:

The company was founded as Asahi Kogaku Goshi Kaisha in November 1919 by Kumao Kajiwara, at a shop in the Toshima suburb of Tokyo, and began producing spectacle lenses (which it still manufactures).[4] In 1938 it changed its name to Asahi Optical Co., Ltd. (旭光学工業株式会社, Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushiki-gaisha), and by this time it was also manufacturing camera/cine lenses. In the lead-up to World War II, Asahi Optical devoted much of its time to fulfilling military contracts for optical instruments. At the end of the war, Asahi Optical was disbanded by the occupying powers, being allowed to re-form in 1948. The company resumed its pre-war activities, manufacturing binoculars and consumer camera lenses for Konishiroku and Chiyoda Kōgaku Seikō (later Konica and Minolta respectively).

Vintage Asahi Pentax camera Canvas Print by Dani Delca | Society6
An old Pentax Spotmatic. One of their most reliable and popular cameras. Used a screw mount lens.

In 1952 Asahi Optical introduced its first camera, the Asahiflex (the first Japanese SLR using 35mm film). The name “Pentax” was originally a registered trademark of the East German VEB Zeiss Ikon (from “Pentaprism” and “Contax“) and acquired by the Asahi Optical company in 1957. Since then the company has been primarily known for its photographic products, distributed 35mm equipment under the name “Asahi Pentax” and medium format 120 6x7cm equipment under the sub brand “Pentax 6×7” (from 1969 to 1990) and “Pentax 67” (from 1990 to 1999). Equipment was exported to the United States from the 1950s until the mid-1970s by Honeywell Corporation and branded as “Heiland Pentax” and later “Honeywell Pentax”. The company was renamed Pentax Corporation in 2002. It was one of the world’s largest optical companies, producing still cameras, binoculars, spectacle lenses, and a variety of other optical instruments. In 2004, Pentax had about 6000 employees.

Photo by Ben Grant on Unsplash

Merger with Hoya

In December 2006, Pentax started the process of merging with Hoya Corporation to form ‘Hoya Pentax HD Corporation’.[6] Hoya’s primary goal was to strengthen its medical-related business by taking advantage of Pentax’s technologies and expertise in the field of endoscopes, intraocular lenses, surgical loupes, biocompatible ceramics, etc. It was speculated that Pentax’s camera business could be sold off after the merger. A stock swap was to be completed by October 1, 2007, but the process was called off on April 11, 2007. Pentax president Fumio Urano resigned over the matter, with Takashi Watanuki taking over as president of Pentax.[7] However, despite Watanuki’s previously stated opposition to a Hoya merger, on May 16 it was reported that Pentax had accepted “with conditions” a sweetened offer from Hoya, according to a source familiar with the matter.[8] Pentax was under increasing pressure from its major shareholders, Sparx Asset Management in particular, to accept Hoya’s bid.

On August 6, 2007, Hoya completed a friendly public tender offer for Pentax and acquired 90.59% of the company.[9] On August 14, 2007, the company became a consolidated subsidiary of Hoya. On October 29, 2007, Hoya and Pentax announced that Pentax would merge with and into Hoya effective on March 31, 2008.[10] Hoya closed the Pentax-owned factory in Tokyo, and moved all manufacturing facilities to Cebu, Philippines and Hanoi, Vietnam.[11]

Ricoh Imaging Company

Japanese optical glass-maker Hoya Corporation stated on July 1, 2011, that it would sell its Pentax camera business to copier and printer maker Ricoh, in a deal the Nikkei business daily reported was worth about 10 billion yen ($124.2 million).[12] On July 29, 2011, Hoya transferred its Pentax imaging systems business to a newly established subsidiary called Pentax Imaging Corporation. On October 1, 2011, Ricoh acquired all shares of Pentax Imaging Corp. and renamed the new subsidiary Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd.[13] Hoya will continue to use the Pentax brand name for their medical related products such as endoscopes. On August 1, 2013, the company name was changed to Ricoh Imaging Company Ltd.

camera photography vintage technology
Photo by Francesco Frilli on Pexels.com

The corporation is best known for its “Pentax” brand cameras, starting with the pivotal “Asahi Pentaxsingle-lens reflex camera of 1957. Asahi’s first series of cameras, the Asahiflex of 1952, had been the first Japanese-made SLRs for 35mm film, and the Asahiflex IIB of 1954 the first Japanese SLR with an instant-return mirror. The Asahi Pentax itself was the first Japanese fixed-pentaprism SLR. In 1969 under the sub-brand “Pentax 6×7”, the company started to produce medium format 120 6x7cm cameras. In 1990 the company renamed the sub-brand from “Pentax 6×7” to “Pentax 67”. The company produced Pentax 67 cameras until 1999 and ceased distribution in 2002. The success of the “Pentax” series was such that the business eventually renamed itself “Pentax Corporation” after the 35mm product line. Although the corporation ultimately merged into Hoya Corporation, it eventually was purchased by Ricoh, which continues to develop and market digital cameras under the Pentax brand. Currently, Pentax DSLRs are manufactured in Cebu, Philippines, while digital Pentax lenses are manufactured in Hanoi, Vietnam, under Pentax Ricoh Imaging Products.

When you think of “professional cameras”, a few come in mind. But when you talk about the ultimate in qualilty, with a bigger sensor than all the rest, there are only a few that fit this title. Hasselblad, Fuji Film, and Pentax. Here is the “Medium format” camera:

Click on the picture above to get details from Amazon about this unique camera (or purchase it too, if you want). A bigger body, with a bigger sensor, and bigger lenses. In this world of everything going smaller, there are a few that choose to give you the advantage of “big”.

As far as Professional DSLR cameras, Ones that fall in that category are: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus and have the price points to do that too.

Here is link to show you the new Pentax K-3 Mark III. They have also done something unique that not ever other manufacture did. Notice they have made this top of the line model in “Silver”, and made a matching lens to go with it. Certainly a collector camera.

Different ideas for each manufacture, and a first comes through Pentax. I currently have an older camera, and the ISO setting, I believe goes up to 3200 ISO. Pentax has gone way out and has a setting on their Pentax K3 Mark III with an incredible ISO from 100 to 1,600,000 ISO. No other camera has that capability. Do you really want to shoot with that high ISO? Probably not, but, at 250,000 ISO it’s not too bad.

Pentax smc Pentax-DA 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 ED SDM Lens 21497 B&H
18-270mm SMC lens from Pentax

In 1971, PENTAX made an innovative advancement in optical technology by increasing the number of coating layers from two — the norm at the time — to as many as seven.

Since then, lenses with the prefix “smc PENTAX” have been preferred by many photo enthusiasts. With the advancement of production technologies and camera digitalization, PENTAX’s multi-layer coating technology has continued to evolve to meet the demands of the times.

A Guide to the Best Pentax Camera Lenses - Reviewed
Pentax was one of the first major manufactures to provide their cameras in different colors.

5 reasons to pick Pentax:

COMPLETE DUSTPROOF
& WEATHER-RESISTANT CONSTRUCTION
MOUNT COMPATIBILITY FOR
USING SUPERB OLDER LENSES
A COMPACT, LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN
WITH BUILT-IN SHAKE REDUCTION
TOTALLY FOCUSED ON
IMAGE & PRODUCT DESIGN
WITH ALL SLR MODELS
USER INTERFACE DESIGNED
FOR SUPERB USABILITY

Today, Pentax makes one of the widest variety of cameras on the market. All the way from the:

To the medium format DSLR:

If we told you that Japan’s favorite camera brand is Canon, you’d believe us. The same if we said it was Nikon or Sony. You might even believe us if we told you that Japan’s most beloved brand is Olympus, or Fujifilm. But no… in fact, Japan’s favorite camera brand is Pentax / Ricoh. 

That’s according to the latest results in a survey being conducted by IT Media, asking Japanese consumers to choose their favorite digital camera maker. And despite the best Pentax cameras all being DSLRs, and facing quite a technological disparity compared to the likes of the best Canon cameras and best Sony cameras, that hasn’t stopped Ricoh being Japan’s most beloved brand in the camera industry. 

Published by 123photogo

I have been a photographer for many years. Worked in retail selling cameras and accessories for over 20 years. Taught many photo classes, and have even been a judge in several county fairs. Now, I want to share photo instructions and entertainment with all other photographers around the world.

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