Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Online Photographer Talks About New Pentax Lenses

Good ol' Mike Johnston (The Online Photographer) came out swinging at the quality "normal" lens game recently (read Great 50mm Lenses) and it was no surprise to me that 3 Pentax lenses were in his top ten 50mm lenses, with ye olde M42 Super-Takumar resting on its laurels at number three, and the K-Mount SMC 1.7 and 1.4 a bit lower on the ladder respectively. The gist of his shake up on the game is that plenty of folks will be surprised that they don't need to spend a fortune to get a quality lens for their 35mm SLR if they'd just consider a normal prime, and hardly anyone really cares what lens was used for a great picture, anyway.

Well this week I was also happy to see that Mike plopped a couple more press releases on new Pentax lenses that also fly in the face of habitual Canon/Nikon system thinking. You see, Pentax has finally set a release schedule and estimated pricing for the new DA* zoom lenses it announced last fall (read New Super Premium Pentax Lens Series). It's nice of him to underscore the significance of these lenses, not because Pentax hasn't had a new " * " series lens released in ages, but because every time Pentax gets mentioned on his blog the visibility of the company increases a little bit. I don't know what the correlation is to sales, and it's probably so small it's not measurable, but the issue that I hope people process somewhere in their sub-conscious is that a small sub-division of a company (and one that isn't in every photographer's bag) is continuing to take risks in a market that's dominated by loud and conspicuous companies with big marketing, where it takes real effort to merely continue competing, and there's vocal support for those risks to continue.

It seems Mike also has his eyes trained on the forthcoming DA 35mm prime Pentax still has up its sleeves for release sometime this year (read Tale of Two Lenses). Yes, it also looks like a sweet lens.

So, is Pentax an underdog in Mike's eyes? Even though the cadence of his talking about Pentax is typically congenial, I'm not sure he really has a soft spot for any camera company: he's more interested in the art and craft of pictures, shaking things up amongst the snobs, and exploring the ways we appreciate what photography tells us about ourselves. And he's good at it. However, while I can appreciate that, I think I mostly root for underdogs in any story that's put in front of me. I get just as sympathetic when Dickens trots out the orphan as I do when I see an interesting mechanical creation lose traction in the marketplace because it's ignored, usually over something that has flashy magazine ads, lacy frills, and an extra bow that 1 person in 10,000 will ever use. So I think rooting for the K10D or taking jabs at it, watching for firmware updates and feature improvements, these are all elements of a good economics underdog yarn.

And is it risky for Pentax to be trotting out new lenses this year? It would be slothful not to do it, I think, but there's always risk in putting a new product out that you hope people will embrace. And a few months ago, that was the K10D. The story of these new lenses is intrinsically linked to the K10D, because for people to appreciate the new lenses, they'll have to learn to appreciate Pentax's flagship camera. So when Mike talks about the new lenses, we're really talking about K10D adoption. And that's what I want to see. Pauper to prince. Because as commercial soap operas go, maybe the K10D is a real potboiler.

Links: T.O.P. New Super Premium Pentax Lens Series, T.O.P. Tale of Two Lenses, T.O.P. Great 50mm Lenses


Anonymous said...

You call that talking? That's ramblin' from the Offline Photographer.

OK-1K said...

I was actually thinking I should change this blog's title to that, The Offline Photographer... It pretty much fits the bill as of late, huh?

Anonymous said...

You're fine! You're definitely online!

Anonymous said...

Welcome Back. I've missed your posts. keep up the good work.

Phil said...


Anonymous said...

Nice to have you back on-line. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see you back online again. Do keep up your good work, I missed your post!

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