There are brand names synonymous with their particular industry. Just consider "Google" and how it has become a verb, noun, and brand name all at the same time. You can point to almost any large scale industry and find a name that can be used almost as a replacement for the formal name. When talking about photography and high quality optics, a few such brand names spring to mind and one of them is almost always Pentax.
This is due to the fact that Pentax was one of the first large-scale producers of cameras and optical lenses during the "film era" and is still a leading name in digital photographic gear.
Started in the early 1900s in Japan, the company first created spectacle lenses for eye glasses (a line of work it till performs today). However, in the post World War II era, the firm transitioned to binoculars and camera lenses.
At that time it was essential for consumers to have reliable prime lenses, but the interest in photography only expanded over time and so it was only natural for the firm to branch out into camera bodies as well as lenses. Its first model was the Asahiflex and it was actually the first Japanese SLR 35mm film camera created.
However, when it began to enter the global market, the company wanted a more recognized name. This was when the company changed its name from the original Asahi Optical to Pentax (in 1957). Pentax had only become available due to the restructuring of German firms in the post-war period. Before that, the name had belonged to an entirely different firm, but Asahi wisely opted to take this more familiar name. From that point onward the firm grew its reputation for quality cameras, lenses, spectacle lenses, binoculars and some specialty optical instruments.
It was the expertise in specialty optics that eventually drew the attention of the company's current parent owner - Hoya. With a desire to strengthen their position in the medical industry, they acquired Pentax for its existing technologies in this particular area. The firm was able to use Pentax tech for endoscopes, and more.
This focus on medically related tech led to the photographic division of Pentax being sold to Ricoh in 2011, and since then it has been the Ricoh Imaging Company, as a subsidiary of Ricoh.
The Pentax Products Available Today
Under the Richo umbrella the Pentax name is still affiliated with high quality cameras. The current lineup includes:
DSLR - Their array of DSLRs includes the 645Z, the K-3, the K-500, the K- 50, the K-5 II, the K-5 IIs, and the 645D
Compact Digital - The list of compact digital cameras is small but includes the popular XG-1, the X-5 Silver, and the MX-1 Silver
Q System Cameras - This system is available in the Q7 Black
Lenses - A full array of wide angle, telephoto, zoom, standard/prime, and macro lenses compatible with many types of cameras
Of course, it is not only about photography because Pentax is still associated with top of the line binoculars, telescopes and sporting scopes too.
Most of their products come with excellent warranties and the sport optics all have the "Worry Free Warranty" as well. This ensures that any problems will be repaired without question or replaced if needed.
Awards and Recognition
Though the world of digital photography and equipment is highly competitive, Pentax manages to consistently provide top of the line and award winning technologies. Their K-3 is considered the "most advanced enthusiast DSLR available" on the modern market. The long list of awards and top ratings that it has obtained prove this to be valid. It is feature rich and available in a few formats.
The MX-1 Silver is also an award winner and was given the Red Dot Design Award in 2013. This camera is compact and also feature-rich and offers professional quality features in a small and accessible style.
The effort put into the design process and the recognition it has received is all in line with the firm's mission and value statements. Seeking to offer a trusted brand with appeal on a global basis, as well as being committed to excellence in quality - the brand holds true to its goals of quality and innovation.
Richo. Digital Cameras by RICOH IMAGING. US.RICHO-IMAGING.COM. 2014.