Friday, October 24, 2008

Pentax at PDN 2008 Expo in NYC

It's a lovely day in New York today - a bit brisk, but sunny. I was able to take some time this morning to drop by the PDN Expo (Oct. 23-25th at the Javitz Center) to see the Pentax Booth, which I found was very lively and buzzing with Pentax USA staffers. They had plenty of everything on display: the current lens and camera line-up, including the upcoming January release: the DA* 55mm f/1.4 (pictured below).

Eeegads, even though it will cost almost $400 more, this lens is justifiably worth more than the old FA 50mm f/1.4. It's a tiny jewel. The bokeh is mouth watering. I wish I had the test shot to show you, but the 9 rounded aperture blades make the most perfect and creamy circular bokeh. Also, it's really bright and seemed very sharp, subjectively without any MTF tests. It's a first class portrait lens.

Another lens, this time a monster: the DA* 60-250 f/4 (pictured below). This one is hefty, but I'll swear at 250mm it seemed to focus even faster than the DA* 55mm at 55mm. Also, you could cry tears of joy for how miraculously bright it is wide open.

I was finally able to play with the K2000 (K-m) and it's just startling that this camera has so many features wrapped up in such a tiny body. If you've ever handled an *ist DS or *ist DL, the size is comparably small, but more ergonomic so that it's much easier to grip with one hand, giving you the illusion it's even smaller than the old *ists. I will attest to it being very light with the new DA "L" lens, and it should fit in places you'd never think of squeezing your K20D, like purses or messenger bags. The menu system alone is pretty dreamy. Because the function button is gone, as well as the top display panel, the 2.7" LCD display now shows you all the information you need at a glance (pictured below). Dead simple to navigate intuitively. This is something I hope will trickle down as an aesthetic menu system for all future Pentax DSLRs.

Photo Expos, like PDN, are worthwhile when you get to talk with smart people. I happily chatted with Christopher Pound, Pentax USA's Product Manager (pictured right) and learned first hand that he's proud of the company and their corporate culture, which is privileged to have many hard-working and talented people. Their communication with Pentax Japan is very fluid and they honestly do get feedback from USA customers over to the designers in Tokyo. Traditionally, Japanese designers are more protective of their systems, but they've seen the benefits of unlocking certain features that are typically only for hardware maintenance (ex. lens focusing corrections) because of popular demand in Europe and the US. Pentax has taken special care in the last year to make the lens line-up more robust and competitive (25 and counting), and the new Vietnamese plant has been pumping lenses out as fast as they can. Pentax may not have the marketing resources that their competitors do, which means they can't saturate the market like Nikon does, but Chris is confident because in his experience those people who do buy a Pentax camera are the ones who've done their homework, not lemmings (my word, not his). He told me Pentax customers tend to be people who can list what features are important to them (like in-camera Shake Reduction) and who understand that Pentax's cameras really are competitive and strong, and ruggedly used, unlike the cachet status cameras that get impulsively purchased because of name recognition or feature hype and get taken out once in a while. These are the people who should feel proud to stand out ahead of the curve with their Pentax DSLR.

If you get the chance to go visit Pentax's booth tomorrow for PDN's last day, look out for Chris Pound and be sure to say hi!

PS. Did you know the K2000 (K-m) is capable of wireless control for FGZ flashes by its pop-up flash, just like K200D, K10D, and K20D? I just learned that today. What a cool little camera.


Yvon Bourque said...

Lucky you Michael.

I wish I could have gone to the New York show, but it's so far from Socal that It would have cost too much. But I get to see some of it through your eyes and the eyes of some other lucky souls. Have you attended the presentations from the Pentaxians photographers Kerrick James and Julie Quarry? They are great people and they don't mind chatting with the visitors.

Great report, as usual Michael,

Best Regards,

Yvon Bourque

John said...

I can only hope to be able to afford the DA* 55 when it hits the streets. I --really-- want that lens!

cog said...

I could go for that 60-250. maybe I could live with just one kidney.

oh, and thanks for the link. Much appreciated. I'll get you on my list.

Jaime Kae said...

I was there Thursday and went to the Pentax booth first thing! I didn't see the 55mm - I love my 50mm 1.4 - could the new one possibly be better? It would be hard to convince me. :)

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