A Plea to Pentax: Go Back to Making What You Were Great At

Is Pentax even still around? Yes? Who would have known? They need to go back to making the cameras that made them great in the first place: the K1000, 645, and 67 models. 
Pentax has, perhaps more than any brand of camera manufactures, fallen from their standing as a major player in the camera industry.  Their first camera, the Asahiflex, made its debut in 1952. The model following it, the Asahi Pentax, was the first to use the “Pentax” name. In the decades following, Pentax developed the first through-the-lens camera with the Spotmatic — a camera I hold near and dear to my heart. When my father was in the service, stationed in Guam in the late 60s, he bought an Asahi Spotmatic, which still works (sans metering) to this day. In 1976, Pentax started selling the K1000 and continued selling it until 1997. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? Had they kept the same mount between those two cameras (shifting from a screw mount M42 to a bayonet-style mount, the K-mount), I think the Spotmatic would be a more popular camera choice for those looking to get into film today. 

In the early 2000s, however, Pentax started their shift away from their film camera dominance and started designing and manufacturing digital cameras. They would continue to make a few models of film cameras, but ultimately, they were all discontinued somewhat early into the 2000s. As laid out in a relatively recent article on Fstoppers, it was then that Pentax started making their way towards irrelevance. At the time of writing, there are only four camera models available new for purchase at B&H: the K-1 Mark II, K-70, KP, and the 645 Z medium format camera. Further, B&H lists 59 full-frame lenses available propped up heavily by Rokinon/Samyang and Tamron to supplement Pentax’s own lens lineup. What’s more, the Sigma Art lineup does not offer any of its lenses in the Pentax mount. 

Despite being seemingly irrelevant into today’s photography world, they maintain third place among manufacturers of DSLR cameras in Japan with about 3.1% of the market share. That being said, they are not even close to holding third place in total camera sales. Once mirrorless cameras are introduced into the conversation, Fuji and Sony trounce Pentax in annual camera sales. At the bottom of the recent article, Mike asked readers what they believe should be the next step for Pentax. With more than 1,300 responses, the most common response was to offer a compelling DSLR strategy with 41.6% of responses. Surprisingly to me, only 28.3% thought the best step forward would be to develop a mirrorless camera to compete with Sony, Nikon, Canon, Fuji, and even Leica. How does Pentax not feel left out? Perhaps as expected, 30.1% thought it was Pentax close up shop, either through slowly running down business (17.0%) or immediately closing (13.1%).

Moving Forward: The Path Less Traveled

So what, if anything, could possibly resuscitate Pentax from its current status of being on life support? I would argue film cameras. In a previous article, I wrote on the slow march of film photography towards extinction, I proposed that the only thing that would truly provide new life to film photography would be the new manufacturing of reliable and affordable film cameras. An Fstoppers reader named Owain chimed in and floated the idea of Pentax returning to manufacturing film cameras, namely the Pentax 67. It is a genius idea. 

Think about it. It would be a mutually beneficial relationship for film manufacturers and Pentax. I stand by what I wrote in my previous article. Without some signs of new life in film camera manufacturing, the current supply of film cameras, which is getting older and older by the day, will eventually break with fewer and fewer people and businesses to reliably fix them. In just the last couple of years, the increased popularity of the film has led to a decreased supply of cameras, resulting in higher prices and fewer options. Truth be told, I don’t know that I would own the cameras on my shelf if I had to pay today’s prices for them. I feel bad for those just now getting into it who didn’t even have the chance to get a camera at last year’s pricing much less the pricing of 2018 or before. 

Should Pentax consider resurrecting their film cameras from their graves, I hope they consider keeping them affordable. Speaking specifically to the K1000, when I say affordable, I don’t mean quite the level that you could buy a used K1000 now — that would be crazy. I do think they should remake the K1000, keep it well built, all manual (except for the meter), and at or below $300. Otherwise, it would defeat the point. There needs to be an option for photographers just looking to get into film that would like/prefer a new camera but don’t want to drop the thousands required to buy any other decent new camera on the market.

As for a 645, I would hope they would allow for a removable back. That way it could be outfit with different film backs and, for those that are interested, a digital back could be used. Should they keep the same amount, one could use Pentax’s previous autofocus lenses in addition to their manual lenses. When it comes to a possible 67 camera, offering a digital option would obviously be out of reach. As such, an exclusive film option would be necessary but still incredibly useful. The Pentax 67 system is widely regarded as one of the best 67 systems — at least in an SLR format — and the 67II is an amazing camera. I would hope that they would either go straight for a 67III, stepping up the quality of the 67II or at the very least offer something more manual and less expensive. 

Is There a Market for These Cameras?

I would argue yes. Of the very limited options for newly manufactured film cameras offered by the major manufacturers, none are affordable and of a similar quality to the vintage cameras most associate with film cameras. What’s more, the only newly manufactured medium format options that can be made and sold to scale are not serious photographic tools. Should Pentax decide to remake any film camera again, I could see myself buying one. What’s more, almost all of the film photographers I know would happily buy one if they were affordable. Even if the 645 or 67 options were closer to a couple thousand, I could still see a lot of film photographers jumping at the chance to buy one.

All images in this article were supplied by Taylor Cubbie and used with permission. 

Log in or register to post comments

45 Comments

Owain Shaw's picture

I didn't see my comment ending up as an article, I must say - and I think you've done a really good job making the case for it. As a manufacturer struggling to find its place in the crowded digital space, Pentax has a ready made one in the resurgent (for now at least) film space. Naturally, I still fully support the idea, and would consider myself among the potential market for a New 67 were one to be forthcoming.

James Madison's picture

Ha! Well, needless to say, it left an impression. Since I that comment, I've had multiple conversations with friends about this. Everyone has agreed whole heartedly. Thus, this article. Fingers crossed that hey see it and decide to do something with it!

Owain Shaw's picture

All of which is very nice to hear - I'm glad I'm not the only one who could see a certain logic to it.

Shaun Whitson's picture

There used to be a few k-mount Sigma Art lenses but they were discontinued in the last year or so. Sigma used to offer a conversion service for changing out the mounts of different lenses as well but I don't think K-mount is included in that any longer. The APS-C lens lineup is much better than the full frame one and they offer a 16-50mm (24-70mm full frame equivalent) and a 50-135mm (70-200mm full frame equivalent) lens combination that I believe has only been matched by third parties in the past. Canon and Nikon have not offered this combination because they want to upsell customers to get full frame bodies/lenses instead. The HD 31mm, 43mm, and 77mm are also unique offerings. Pentax DSLR's also offer special features to use in combination with film lenses such as the "Catch in focus" feature which makes manual focusing a breeze. Pentax's true downfall is not due to lack of lenses or outdated features, its because of a lack of marketing and zero presence in most big box electronics stores outside of Adorama/B&H. If they were to remake film bodies such as the K1000, it would have to be $200 USD or less to really sell like hotcakes. If I recall correctly, the Nikon FM10 MSRP was about $200. I imagine with very little electronics in the body and ramped up manufacturing they could make it as low as $100 if they wanted.

James Madison's picture

I didn't know Sigma used to make K-mount lenses and just stopped. I admittedly thought they never made them. I agree with your assessment on Pentax's main problem. I've not seen a new one in person - none of the camera stores I visit carry them.

Peter House's picture

I think Pentax dropped the ball in 2 big ways. They were so far ahead of everyone in the affordable digital medium format market. Had they stuck with that and developed it further, they could have been in the dominant position. Instead Fuji eclipsed them despite Pentax having a digital medium format model around for years before Fuji. They didn't capitalize on that camera when medium format grew in popularity.

The second issue was their delayed entry into full frame. I started photography on an APSC Pentax. Great camera but I outgrew it and needed full frame to support my budding career. Pentax had nothing to offer. There were always hopeful rumors but nothing materialized. Myself and many Pentax shooters at the time migrated to Nikon or Canon. When Pentax did offer full frame, it was too little too late. Many had already invested in other systems, and Pentax always seemed a step behind.

Their trailing efforts in full frame + lack of support and development on the medium format front is what killed their brand.

Personally I think Pentax still has a huge opportunity with Medium Format. Its growing in popularity and is becoming more accessible. If they can put together a proper and compelling medium format camera to compete with Fuji, I think they can still draw in a lot of that crowd. They should ditch full frame at this point since it doesn't seem like they can get a leg up in that market anymore. Re-direct those resources to medium format, and support the APSC market on a small scale to capture a brand loyal early market that can later move to Medium Format. Similar to the Fuji approach.

That to me is the only logical approach left for Pentax.

James Madison's picture

I hear that. Very well thought out. I would hope that someone at Pentax is thinking through what could bring about their comeback. What you've laid out seems like a viable option.

Craig Bobchin's picture

Interesting, I agree that Pentax dropped the ball on the medium format allowing themselves to be eclipsed by Fuji. My digital journey was the opposite of yours. I started digital with the Canon 20d then the 70d. I never purchased any Canon FF lenses since they were too $$$ and thus stuck with EF-S lenses. When I out grew the APS-C format and wanted to go with a FF camera, I knew I'd need to invest in new lenses anyway so I looked at other manufacturers options and was dismayed by the cost and lack of movable LCDs on the available FF bodies.

Then I heard about Pentax's K-1, I looked into it and found it had all the features I was looking for in a camera. I do a lot of Astrophotography and the low noise, and adjustable rear LCD were godsends to me.

then I saw the Pixelshift and Astrotracer functionality and was sold. then I looked at the price roughly 2k for a Camera and lens and it was a no brainer. it was half the price of the Nikon D810 and Canon offerings. it was a no brainer. So consider me a Pentax fan for life.

Dan Seefeldt's picture

Spotmatic 3!

James Madison's picture

Fingers crossed!

Ben Coyte's picture

If Pentax still had the tooling for those cameras, then the economic viability might be there, but to tool up for a niche market sounds expensive. A shame because I still shoot a lot of film and have some Spotmatics and SP cameras, and getting a "new" reliable camera would be good.

James Madison's picture

True true. I doubt very seriously they have maintained the designs or that the way they were manufactured a couple decades ago would translate well to how they'd be manufactured today. Still though, I suspect that it wouldn't be impossible or even difficult to do.

microteck's picture

The K1000 was my first serious camera in 1974. It was a custom built all black camera. Good memories. I'm sorry I don't have it anymore.

James Madison's picture

I've never seen an all black K1000 - sounds like a gorgeous camera. Perhaps if they rerelease the K1000, they'll make an all black one you can pick up!

microteck's picture

At the time I was living in Montreal Canada. My next door neighbor worked for Pentax as a service technician. He collected parts and custom built it for my birthday. I really don't remember what happened to it because that was 46 years ago.

Harvey Steeves's picture

that would be worth a fair chunk of money on the collector market these days.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Are folks willing to pay $2500-4500 (wild guess) for a Pentax 6x7 body and then about the same for modern lenses? How many would they sell? 1000, 5000, 2000?
Maybe...but the film market is a rounding error compared to the digital market. If Pentax is like most big companies they sold off the dies for scrap and the spare parts to a broker who forgot about them years ago.
They could do commemorative special editions with gold trim and a certificate of authenticity but they would be expensive!

I think the best we could hope for is finding a forgotten warehouse full of lenses and cameras on shrink wrapped pallets.

(Edit to reflect the info from Harvey and James.)

Harvey Steeves's picture

people are already dropping close to $1000 for good used 67 bodies these days. And a good used 67II will do $1500 because of the possibility the electronics will go even if it does have more features than a 67.

James Madison's picture

A 67II would be $1500 on a good day or in not great condition. They're getting ridiculously expensive.

Jarrod McMatt's picture

I have many Pentax film cameras. I do not want them to start producing those. There is not enough market there. How many expensive film cameras are selling that are not Leicas? I can answer that for you: not many. I shoot mainly with my MX. To reproduce an MX would make it a $500+ camera. Not going to happen. Most people who shoot film (I shoot so much that I buy in 100' lengths and bulk load) appreciate a good camera but are not into paying a ton for one. Even Pentax knew that when they were making film cameras. Their most advanced film camera was the MZS. Ever seen one? Yeah, I have not either. Every really read anything about it? Yeah, I read that one thing as well. The rest of their film camera lines, while everyone else was cranking out cameras that kept moving forward, were cheap, plastic, and easily broken (I have a couple that are not broken...yet).

What Pentax needs is decent digital AF. I switched to Nikon a few years ago from a long existence of Pentax digital. They offer bodies and lenses that are tough. They offer features and a price point that many others cannot touch. I am getting back into Pentax digital with a KP (on its way to me) and a few small Limited primes. That body and its features are ones that cannot be matched by the mainstream manufacturers. It will be my walk around and family camera with a compact DSLR body and small, great, prime lenses. How is it that they cannot produce a body with a system that can match the D750 in performance? The K3 III, or whatever, could/ should be a Pentax D750. Bodies that are bomb proof, sensors that deliver, a full catalog of APS-C specific lenses, and AF that can focus on something that is moving faster than a brisk walk reliably. There is ZERO reason why they cannot be a DSLR Fuji. I do not like looking at a screen so mirrorless is not for me. I like OVF. There is more of a market available for feature laden, compact DSLRs than rebooting something like a 67II. Look at Nikon Df's for an example. They are still commanding a great price and people are still buying them when they come up. Compact, tactile DSLRs with good AF.

M M's picture

Slow and inconsistent AF (and maybe the lack of lenses) made me move away from Pentax. Otherwise my K-3 was a joy to use. Great ergonomics, great feature set. But doing anything other than landscape was just a frustrating experience do to slow focus. I always wonder how hard it can be to develop a decent focus system. There must be tons of engineers from other companies that know how it's done and could be hired.

And then I don't understand why the K-1 had too be so big. Pentax APS-C cameras were always on the small and lean side.

William Uzzell's picture

Fun to speculate (and wish) for a Pentax resurgence, as I too cut my teeth on a K1000, and then went through a couple of ist series DSLR’s, then to a K10d, then eventually to a K1 for a while (after I was already primarily invested in another brand). Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is enough margin in a niche like film bodies to keep a camera company in business today, especially at the prices discussed here. Perhaps if Ricoh is willing to run it as a loss leader, it’s possible - who knows?

I really think Ricoh/Pentax should take the Beloved GR line, and make a FF as well as a Medium Format version of the GR III. While the GR is not actually a legacy Pentax camera, Pentax is Ricoh anyway now, so profits are all going to the same place. I would buy a FF GR -F, and a Medium Format GR - M in a heartbeat (if I could afford it).

I hope the Pentax name can survive associated with quality cameras. I fear that Ricoh may sell off what’s left of Pentax (understandable from a business standpoint), and the name ends up on junk products like we see today with many proud old brand names.

John Swindle's picture

Art teachers worldwide could be interested. KMZ could be another possible manufacturer. They used to make respectable Pentax clones under the Zenit brand. Слушаете вы, Красногорский завод?

James Lane's picture

Hell yeah, I would definitely buy a newly produced Pentax 645 or 67 even if it costs 3.5k

James Madison's picture

I hear that!

Ken Yee's picture

You can dream but you have to consider what it costs to do this vs profit from selling them.
The biggest problem is the camera market is shrinking because smartphones are good enough and an old big camera is almost as good as a new one.
Even companies like canikon are having problems being profitable. Sony is most profitable because it sells the blades (chips)....
The best part about Pentax for me was bang for buck and ergos (TAv mode is awesome) and weathersealing and in-body IS/SR. The latter two are gone as is bang for buck 😔

Pedro Calado's picture

I think you are spot on! Nowadays in order to survive you need to sell to the masses or to the minorities (niche). I would buy one for that price also...
Cheers!

Jim Kast's picture

Note: Pentax is no longer a company. It is a brand of Ricoh. The Pentax camera business began its slow death in 2007 when acquired by Hoya. Over the next few years, the business continued its decline until purchased by Ricoh in 2011. The heart and soul of the company basically came to an end in 2007-2008. It is now merely a brand - not a company.

microteck's picture

The same thing is going to happen to Olympus, Apple Computers and even people. Everything dies when the heart and soul is gone.

Adam Palmer's picture

Are any medium format film cameras still in production? There are just a handful of 35mm still being made. Nikon F6 shows out of stock on nikons website.

James Madison's picture

I believe there are some boutique models available but none that are made for mass market.

Steve Sondheim's picture

Lomography offer a range of medium format cameras. I'm not sure if that falls into the boutique or mass market mind you.

Jim Donato's picture

I had a 645Z for a while and even though it had a lot of nice features, there were only a few lenses that worked well with it. Overall, to me the images were soft and flat, and did not have a lot of contrast or sharpness. I tried everything to correct that. Maybe it was just the camera as I'd seen images taken with other 645Z's that had better results. The biggest issue to me was that Pentax wanted $900 just to check it out with no guarantee they could fix anything.

I changed to an X1D and after a software refresh and firmware update it works like a champ. It doesn't have the all bells & whistles of the 645Z but the XCD lenses & the image quality is far superior.

James Madison's picture

I have no experience with the 645Z but I'm sorry to hear you had troubles with it. Glad the X1D is working for you!

James Madison's picture

How amazing would it be if Olympus and Hasselblad went back to making film cameras...? I must admit though - even if Hasselblad made another model or two, I doubt it would be affordable. Nothing of their stuff ever is. Hopefully, if ever of them went back to film, Pentax would join. I'm not aware of Olympus having a footing in the medium format world not Hasselblad in the 35mm world.

Jim Donato's picture

I still have a 503CX from 1996 that is in flawless condition. We have a local guy that only works on the older film cameras and he replaced the light seals on the two backs and checked the shutter speeds on the lenses. I use the 100mm Zeiss Planar CF and the 50mm CF FLE Distagon, both of which are outstanding. This camera is so much fun to shoot using a light meter, manual focus, and making the settings on the lens. It takes time, and you really have to think about what you're doing. The 6x6 images are a throwback to a different era and are real medium format. It's amazing how good they are. I kind of favor Ektar, Portra, and Tmaxx films but's interesting to use different kinds.

Mark Sperry's picture

As someone who owns and operates a film lab I have voiced a similar opinion about a number of cameras. Nikon should resume production of the FM3A, Voigtlander should resume production at least a few of the Bessa's and absolutely the Bessa 667 (AKA GF670). New clients find me every day and my smaller lab has grown month after month. The interest in film is quite strong and I see no signs of it being a fad. No more a fad than is listening to vinyl, preferring handmade goods, painting, making pottery, or even sailing. All these things have been replaced by a faster/cheaper/easier technology but you cannot replace the experience and enjoyment people take out of them. For me, loading a roll of film into a camera, and making pictures is photography in a way that sitting behind a computer is not.

The flaw in your argument is thinking that if Pentax made a K1000 again it would be $300. You would not want a $300 dollar version of the K1000, even if it was possible to cheapen them down enough to make them that cheap. If anything it would be more expensive than when new because of the low volume and investment required to put them back into production.

It's also a mistake to think that people will not buy expensive film cameras. Photographers do so every day! Contax 645s sell all the time for north of $4k. GF670s are about $1k more than when they were new. X-Pans are in absurdity territory. Same with any Contax P&S.

Another mistake is thinking that they need to produce the lowest version of the K mount's bodies. It makes more sense to resume production of the LX and 67II, and sell both for what they're worth. Photographers and collectors to some extent will buy every one that rolls off the line. It would not be a high volume line, but if they made a few thousand a year people would buy them.

Photographers buy Portra in 11x14, brand new Nikon F6 bodies, Leica M-As and 50mm .95s, 20x24 cameras and Cooke XVa's. They buy brand new Keinzle autofocus 10x10 enlargers and Heiland LED cold lights.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that a product needs to be mass market to be successful.

As for your last point about 'serious medium format tools'. The Hy6 Mod 2 is still in production and can be purchased new. The factory is up and running to make and produce most components. I know because I have one body and 3 fabulous Schneider lenses. I also just bought a brand new Chamonix 8x10 view camera. These things did not need to be as cheap as the cheapest used cameras for me to consider them.

James Madison's picture

Glad to hear that it isn't just me and the film photographers I know to think would be a good idea!

I don't doubt that photographers would buy expensive gear - I just think that for photographers considering entering the world of film, there needs to be affordable, entry-level models.

Spy Black's picture

I wonder if Ricoh thinks they can grab the leftover DSLR market, as everyone moves on to mirrorless cameras.

Making a film 67 would be suicide. Professionally, film is dead. What they need to do is modernize their digital MF camera. It's long in the tooth with ancient lenses. That's what really needs a kick in the ass, either to get up and going, or to see to the door.

The FF offering needs to be brought to the modern age too, if they plan to keep selling them.

Erwin Goldstein's picture

Amazing article. I own 2 645 and 67. What magnificent gear. I would cheer the day to have swirchable backs on the 645. So important for the zone system. Thank yiu so much for this article. Kudos

Shawk Parson's picture

i'm not going to say sorry if my comment is going to hurt some people (the OP most of all perhaps) and i know this may cause the Fs to kick me out of this fun joint, so, here it is:

some people who have no idea what they're talking about better stay silent and think, at least for a while, before making bold statements (about anything that is!) and after they gave it a little time and thought, if they came to the right conclusion that it wasn't really worth telling others about it, then they might as well come up with something better to share with the public so they wouldn't get comments like this one i just made here! just sayin' ...

Marc Synwoldt's picture

I'd rather they stick with what they are no less great at: making gorgeous-IQ, feature-packed, ergonomically-sound, rugged and beautifully-built DSLR cameras and excellent lenses. Articles like this usually get written by people with fairly limited experience of recent Pentax DSLRs and lenses.

paul aparycki's picture

I still shoot film for some commercial work (4x5, 8x10) and am still very much in love with it. But I am a realist and a successful business person.

So, let me get this straight. Pentax keeps manufacturing the 6x7 (an excellent camera) in a multi-million dollar factory, so they can sell 836 cameras per year, maybe 942 . . . and of course you and others will be willing to support this, the cost of the camera when it hits the streets being in the neighbourhood of what? $20k, probably more like $30K. Pentax has nothing to worry about as I am sure you will buy two, maybe three of them.

What a stupid, pointless, idiotic article.

Mathemetician? I bet you haven't gone past the concept of "1"

Lowell Rowley's picture

I have 3 Pentaxes K1000, MX and the SLR MX1, I think Pentax is very underated, I am not familiar with DSLR. They are rugged, sharp and well organized. The MX1 is a great camera and affordable, my best photos have come from that little camera. I am not a pro, just casual clicker. I have a couple Canons as well (DSLR) excellent cameras but a lot larger and clumsier than the MX1. So sad to see Pentas struggling hope they can get it together and come back.

,

James Furukawa's picture

A little late to the party but…..

Most of the comments here make a lot of sense, but they all have one common thread. How to compete in todays camera market. At this point, considering Pentax’s placing in the market virtually every strategy is doomed. Mostly because the modern camera is certainly doomed over the long run. So why chase a dying horse. Lets face it, as dear as DSLR are, mirrorless is destined to take over the market. But for how long? Ten, twenty years before future generations of the next iteration of mobile, AI learning, and computational photography kick in. Everyone’s photos will look great! But like every oversaturated market, style and choice become stagnant and discouraging the budding creative photographer.

Part of the problem is that camera companies don’t think of themselves as camera companies. They think of themselves as tech companies. It’s not completely untrue, but to follow the tech model is crazy. New product to be released so often, the push for latest and greatest, etc. Pentax if they wish to survive needs to to think of themselves as an educational tool company that also caters to creatives. They need to think total picture.

1 - If you’re going to offer ONE film camera product, the K1000 is a stupid choice. It is the camera I was brought up on, but it has major shortcomings. Also the mechanical nature while in my opinion is desirable is totally not practical today. So most likely, a manual control, manual focus, electronic shutter camera with all vintage ergonomic controls intact. As a learning - creative tool what controls do you really need? Shutter speed (could go up to 1/8000 with modern technology), Aperture (will also need to be able to work with the electronically controlled ones for compatibility as well as vintage manual control), ASA (yeah… I know), and Depth of Field Preview. Weather sealed would be a nice modern feature. If they can restrain themselves from throwing in all kinds of “features”, auto this and thats, as well as motor drive that would be desirable. Target price point should be under $1000 and there should be a high enough profit margin for dealers to want to stock the thing. It MUST be repairable AND crazy reliable. With a long product refresh cycle (think ten to fifteen years) they would produce and massive run at a time and warehouse between runs of product. Oh, NO plastic!

So this strategy assumes that technology for film photography doesn’t get any better than this. It is Peak Camera. Which means you would only sell one to a person in their lifetime. Maybe two if you introduce an autofocus version because… well people get old. Which means how do you stay in business if you remove the product cycle from your strategy? Vintage never needs a product refresh.

2 - The whole enchilada. So Pentax needs to stop being a camera company and become a photography company. Which means? They need to be able to provide everything from A-Z. Besides the cameras and direct accessories and lenses, they need to provide film, paper, enlargers, development tanks, darkroom equipment, great film scanners (especially this), and printers. The easiest way to do this would be to purchase the smaller companies that make these and/or enter strategic alliances with companies that can. Pentax branded everything. Essentially they get into the photo consumables market. They will need a continual stream of revenue if they’re to survive. And NO, none of this give away the HP Printer and rip people off on ink. (Remember, LIFETIME camera) Everything in the stream needs to be profitable. Long term strategy.

3 - Bridge the gap. This doesn’t mean they give up completely on digital. Special edition digital version of the K-analog camera that is control compatible piece for piece. So close that the two cameras side by side would look identical except for the LCD screen in the back. Create a mystic around it. “The CrEaTiVe choice” or something like that. Also a long product cycle since it would technically be an obsolete product. Sometimes even film photographers want or need to shoot digital. I imagine 24mp would be enough as it parallels film. (Oh, you got a K-digital too? You got the freaking 28mm f2 K on it? No way!)

4 - Merchandise the crap out of it. There are many small boutique companies that wouldn’t even exist if not for the merchandising. Ferrari comes to mind and for a long time even Playboy. Clothing, Bags, watches, etc. Every high margin product you can think of that has a “cool” factor to it. Special edition straps. Photo celebrity endorsements. (You don’t know who THAT is? Well, you wouldn’t get it then.) Heck, maybe even refurbed Vintage lenses. And you sell it in….

The Pentax store. Limited to a few major cities in the world. Make it cool to visit. Mini museum. Have pop up stores to the other cities like a traveling thing.

You may want to get into travel package market too.

———————

Notice that medium format is NOT in the picture. As much as I love medium format it will have to wait for the ball to get rolling. Five, ten years?….. followed by..

Re-introduction of the 67….. @$6000…… (but we can make it much lighter and quieter now) hey, you want to play? And by then, possibly the 67D. Full frame 67 sensor. We can wait for the tech to catch up. $15K?

People will of course scream “it doesn’t have this or that feature…” and Pentax will just go “We’re not making this for you, we’re making this for creatives” Snobbery works well.

Essentially, they need to get out of the death spiral that is the short product cycle. It forces companies to release beta products, products that have design defects, and just plain unnecessary things.

Rule #1 - Quality product/high value
Rule #2 - Long product life
Rule #3 - High margin for manufacturer and dealers
Rule #4 - Grab the consumables market
Rule #5 - Boutique desirability

My opinion