Pentax Lenses

Pentax has been the name on some outstanding photographic products over the years and now the company has unveiled its intended launches for the next two years. Let’s take a look at what Pentax has done so far and what it has up its sleeve for the coming months...

Graphic showing Pentax's current KAF-mount lenses and future launches for 2012-13.

Before focussing on Pentax, first let me apologise... This being my 60th ‘blog entry I had intended to get it out in June (to coincide with Her Majesty's 60th celebrations) but a number of major personal events meant that June slipped to July and now into August. So if you're reading my ‘blog for the first time be sure to pop back soon as I will post a couple of items in quick succession to catch-up! Now back to Pentax.
The history of Pentax is well documented online (for example at www.pentaxcameras.ajaxnetphotos.com, which is run by a former colleague of mine and marine photography specialist, Jonathan Eastland). I will highlight just two points that I feel are particularly worth mentioning. Firstly, the Pentax M42 screw-thread lens mount (and later the Pentax K bayonet) was used not only by Pentax but also by other camera manufacturers. This "sharing" was long ahead of its time and foresaw the common standards of the Four-Thirds and Micro-Four-Thirds systems by many decades.
Secondly, Pentax is (I think) unique in the vast and very successful range of different formats that it has designed lenses to cover; from the diminutive Pentax 110 interchangeable-lens instamatic to the giant Pentax 67 that was much loved by the great Bob Carlos Clarke.
Pentax's range of KAF lenses is particularly strong, comprising film-optimised FA lenses, full-frame digital-compatible D-FA lenses, mainstream digital-only DA lenses and high-quality digital-only DA* lenses. Pentax has also led the way in tight-tolerance, metal-bodied "limited edition" lenses.
The Pentax roadmap, which also shows the company's currently-available lenses, is reproduced above but is very hard to read at this resolution: the original can be downloaded from http://www.pentax.co.uk/media/5e6a5bc154332c7d92107e7f1e665577/K_Mount_Lens_Roadmap_as_of_20120202.pdf.
The new lenses promised for this year are; a DA 50mm standard lens and a DA 550mm telephoto lens (which may mean it could be either 500mm or 600mm) as well as a DA "high magnification zoom lens" covering something like 20-200mm.
The new lenses for 2013, some of which may be previewed at Photokina next month, are a DA wide zoom covering approximately 12-28mm, a DA Limited Edition 22-38mm (ish) general zoom, a 135-380mm (ish) telephoto zoom, an exciting 16-85mm DA* zoom and a 1.4x AF converter that is likely to be optimised for longer focal-length lenses (but not the 400-500mm range suggested by Pentax's graphic as the company has no lenses in that region).
Clearly there is a lot going on in the new Pentax company, which is now called Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company Limited after its acquisition by Ricoh (from Hoya) almost exactly a year ago. Equally important is the fact that Pentax's latest lenses include some that have done very well in my What Digital Camera tests. In short, the future looks good for Pentax... and that is very encouraging for a company that will celebrate 100 years of lens making in 2019.

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