“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. 

THE RACE IS ON BETWEEN CANON AND SONY !

The race is on, but the ending doesn’t happen until 2022. The great scientists of the world join in an amazing race. When digital cameras came out, the megapixel rating was not that good at first. Hovering around the 4 to 6 megapixel. And it has continued to increase. When we got to 16 Megapixel, it seemed like we had reached where the quality of the digital image was as good as film. I remember seeing a big 30 X 40 foot enlargement made from a camera that had a 16MP sensor in it, and was shocked how good it was.

I wonder now, who is going to win this race of mastering first the 100MP sensor. If I am not mistaken, I think Canon had a rumor come out that said they thought they would have a 100 MP sensor in their camera by 2022. And then just last week, Sony announced that they will have a camera, the A7 RV

And here is the latest headline from DIGITAL CAMERA:

Sony A7R V to have 102MP sensor? Sony and Canon in 100MP arms race (report)
The Sony A7R V may have a 102MP sensor when it launches in 2022, after reports that the Canon EOS R5S will be 100MP.

I know that this will excite a lot of people to get an image sensor that sharp. But, as exciting as this is, it will come with a big price tag. The Sony camera now for example, with their latest improvement on image sensor is priced like this:

Go ahead and click on the picture above to see all that this camera has for $3748.00. It is no doubt an amazing camera.

Not sure yet, but, I am guessing the new camera with a 100MP sensor in it will cost around $5000, or more. Yes, we will pay for this new sensor.

Ricoh finally introduces the new Pentax flagship camera, with a maximum iso range from 100 to 1,600,000.

1.6 million ISO! Here's a guided tour of the upcoming Pentax K-3 Mark III

UPDATE (19 Mar 2021): Ricoh Imaging has given users a guided tour of the Pentax K-3 Mark III, its long-gestating APS-C flagship camera. 

Despite confirming in February that the body has been delayed, Ricoh is keeping the Pentax K-3 Mark III flame alive with this 20-minute deep dive into the new camera’s capabilities – including its top sensitivity of 1.6 million ISO.

Ricoh product planner Shigeru Wakashiro gives a top-to-bottom overview of the Mark III, taking in everything from the new image sensor to the improved optical viewfinder. If you ever wanted reassurance that the DSLR isn’t dead despite the mirrorless revolution, Wakashiro might make a believer out of you. 

Check out the full video below – and don’t forget to hit the subtitles / closed caption (unless you understand Japanese!)

This is an amazing camera from Pentax. Click on the video to get all the information.
The actual Hobbitville

2 NEW FEATURES ON CAMERAS AND LENSES SHOCK THE PHOTOGRAPHIC WORLD!!

RIP focus ring – this Canon lens replaces it with a touch panel

Focus rings on camera lenses could be a thing of the past, as Canon has designed a new lens that eschews it in favor of a touch-sensitive control panel.

However, it feels that using such a touch panel for focusing is just the tip of the iceberg; a lens with its own touch input could theoretically be used for anything from controlling autofocus points to navigating menus.

In specific, though, this new lens design seems to relate strictly to controlling focus, and to replacing the traditional manual focus ring that has been a staple of lens design for decades. 

Where a focus ring is usually turned clockwise or counterclockwise with your thumb and forefinger to rack focus, Canon’s design proposes to achieve the same function with a small circular touch panel – and this will likewise recognize clockwise or counterclockwise movement by simply moving your left thumb, without having to move your entire hand. 

In addition to direction of movement, this panel will also recognize speed of movement as well as single taps of constant drags, enabling all manner of functionality and command input. 

It’s a fascinating idea, and one that could certainly have potential. In a world where autofocus is now so good that micro-adjustments with a manual focus ring are becoming rarer and rarer (with the exception of fields like macro and landscape), most people never even touch the focus ring. 

In which case, having a simple and ergonomically well-positioned touch panel for occasional use would seem to make a lot of sense. Of course, as we all know from using touchscreens in cold or even humid conditions, they aren’t foolproof – and you simply can’t beat the granularity of a physical ring for precision control. 

Still, it’s a thought-provoking concept – even if, like so many of Canon’s patents, it only exists as food for thought and never makes it to market.

1.6 million ISO! Here's a guided tour of the upcoming Pentax K-3 Mark III

The Pentax K-3 Mark III has finally been announced by Ricoh, after a year of teasing. The new camera will possess a staggering top sensitivity of ISO1,600,000

The new camera will feature a brand new image sensor – along with a new imaging engine and accelerator unit – with a resolution of 25.73MP, a slight increase from the usual 24MP resolution that’s familiar to Pentax’ APS-C line.

In addition to the headline ISO100 to 1.6 million performance, the Pentax K-3 Mark III specs also include the improved Shake Reduction II (SRII) seen in cameras like the full-frame Pentax K-1 Mark II, the five-axis system that’s CIPA-rated for five stops of movement correction.

It features a top shooting speed of 12fps and can record 4K video up to 30p and FullHD video up to 60p, supported by an external microphone port and dual SD card slots (only one of which is UHS-II). It also possesses a phase detect autofocus system, with 101 AF points (25 of which are cross-type), capable of focusing down to -4EV.

As the manufacturer has been keen to stress, the pentaprism is the heart and soul of its cameras – and the viewfinder here offers a huge 1.05x magnification, a notable increase from the 0.95x magnification seen in the preceding K-3 Mark II. 

As previously confirmed, the rear LCD will not feature tilting, articulation or even Pentax’ signature ‘scissor-action’ – instead it will be a fixed 3.2 type screen, and possibly not a touch affair, with 1.62 million dots. It also has the much loved Night Vision red screen for low light shooting.

Both 2.4 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 are supported, and the camera’s official dimensions are 134.5 x 103.5 x 73.5mm (excluding protrusions) with a body only weight of 735g (820g including battery and SD card.

All the above information is courtesy of Digital Camera World

Opinion from the editor:

It seems like there has been so much publicity coming from Canon Sony and Nikon, the world may have forgotten a couple of other serious players in the world. And the first one I would like to mention is the Pentax Camera K3III, just announced. There is some delay still happening in it’s official release, as no date has been set yet, but, Pentax is a company that is part of Ricoh Imaging, and they have some money behind them. And they want the world to know that the DSLR is not dead. They are not planning on releasing anytime soon, the Compact Digital Cameras with interchangeable lenses. And why not? Because now, photographers are complaining that the new C-Digital SLR’s are too small, hard to control the knobs and dials and buttons. There may be some day, when everyone wishes the standard DSLR will reign as king again. And Pentax is banking on it. There new flagship camera is not as huge as people were expecting, so it is attracting the serious photographer. And it has changed the world with it’s new ISO capability of 1,600,000 ! Really, I think these new cameras will actually gather light rather than just “shoot in low light”. This is an amazing stat. Canon and Nikon do not have anything close to that.

So the battle goes on with the camera manufactures, to see who can come up with the most unique camera on the market. As soon as one comes out in the front of the lineups between brands, then the next manufacture will come out with something better. It is certainly hard for the photographer to keep up with the technology changes happening with the cameras available.

Can’t forget about Olympus:

Olympus cameras just sold the company to a new company that wants to make their camera worth considering as well. What can we expect from them? They are going to be a major player in this camera war as well.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 MarkV

One of the most versatile professional cameras ever made

Think Olympus can’t compete on the professional stage? Think again. There are many dedicated cameras that can do individual things better than the E-M1 Mark III; however, there are none that can do everything it can do. If you’re a general practice professional who shoots a lot of different genres, it’s an amazingly good choice. Industry leading 7.5-stop image stabilization, 60fps burst shooting, 80MP high-resolution imaging, handheld astrophotography, 4K video with great phase detect autofocus that doesn’t overheat… and all in a package that’s smaller, lighter, and cheaper than other DSLRs or mirrorless systems. Pro tip: this camera is a beast.

The high end Olympus camera boasts of features that other cameras do not:

  • 60 FPS continuous auto shooting
  • 7.0 EV Stops of Stabilization performance. This is the best of all brands of cameras. This has shown that you can hand hold their 600mm lens and the image stabilization will allow you to shoot without the worry of blurry photos.
  • 80 MP high resolution sensor for the sharpest yet.

So, l don’t think we need to feel that Olympus is out of the market yet either. This will be fun to see what happens in the next few years, as the battle of the camera manufactures goes at it.