You’re probably thinking, “What’s A Pentaxian?” The Urban Dictionary defines A Pentaxian as a person or photographer who uses a Pentax camera. However, for most Pentaxians, it means much more than that. They are super loyal to the brand of Pentax, their cameras, and lens. They are absolutely passionate, diehard fans and proud that they use Pentax. Moreover, they are NOT photography snobs. They don’t think they are any better than anyone using other brands. Pentaxians love their Pentax gear, but more importantly, they love creating art with their gear.
For me becoming a Pentaxian has been a very long journey that started around 1978. It’s been so long that I’m not really sure exactly when I got my first Pentax camera. I do know that it was a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm F/2 lens, which I purchased within two years of graduating high school. I had that camera until 2007 and donated it to a high school photography news staff. Over the years I’ve purchased several Pentax film and DSLR cameras and lenses. All of which have performed exceedingly well.
At a very young age, I was intrigued with photography. My dad gave me my first camera when I was around ten. It was an Argus twin-lens reflex that he got in the early 1950s. Honestly, I never used that camera a lot. Mainly because I didn’t have the money for film and development. But I do remember the excitement I had when I got my roll of film back from the lab. After high school, my photography interest was once again sparked. However, I wasn’t satisfied with the twin lens camera and its limitations. I wanted to step up my game.
Eventually, I scraped up enough money to get my first real camera, the Pentax K1000 with the 50mm F/2 lens. Why did I choose this camera and lens? Honestly, it was all I could afford at the time. However, Pentax was a major player in the SLR market in those years. It was known as a brand that was an innovator in the industry, rugged, reliable, and the best bang for the buck. But for me, I loved the way it felt in my hands and how easy it was to use.
Over the years I’ve become sort of a Pentax collector by accident. No, I don’t go out and buy gear just to collect it, but the gear I’ve purchased for use I’ve kept. Since my first Pentax film camera, I’ve had the ME and Super Program film cameras. In the digital age, I have the Pentax K100d, K20d, KP, and the K-1. That’s right I’ve had 7 Pentax camera bodies over the last 40+ years. Only one of those cameras ever had any issues during that time. The light-blocking fabric in the ME just disintegrated into dust after 35 years. Did I forget to mention that Pentax was known for being rugged and for their reliability?
Pentax cameras and lenses have served me well over the years. In the later 2000’s I donated the film bodies and a few lenses to a local high school’s newsletter photographers. I still have and use many of the lenses I purchased for these film bodies. Off hand, there are around 12 lenses from the film area that I still use today on my digital cameras. Another reason I love Pentax. Unlike the other major brands, with Pentax, I can still use any K mount lens on my current bodies. I can also use the very old M-42 mount lenses with a small adapter. Only Pentax has done this over the years. Yes, they have made changes and upgrades, but they never got away from the basic K mount to keep things compatible. I can’t count the times that Canon, Nikon, and others have changed the design in their mounting system so they can keep selling you new lenses to go with their new cameras. Yes, Pentax comes out with new lenses but they keep their gear backward compatible.
Sadly, Pentax hasn’t been a major player in the camera market over the last 20 years or so. But the camera market owes so much to Pentax and the developmental first from Pentax. The list is long when it comes to being the first camera to have such features as…
The world’s first instant return mirror system.
The world’s first through-the-lens (TTL) metering system.
The world’s first SLR camera with a TTL automatic-exposure control.
The world’s first Super-Multi-Coated lenses.
The world’s first light meter in an SLR.
The world’s first camera to incorporate the concept of push-button shutter speed control.
The world’s first through-the-lens autofocus camera.
The first 35mm SLR camera features a built-in TTL auto flash.
The world’s first weather-resistant zoom compact camera.
The first mirrorless camera to natively support an SLR lens lineup.
Pentax was the first to introduce a weather-resistant and backside-illuminated flexible tilt-type LCD monitor with their first professional full-frame DSLR.
This list is but a few of the innovations developed and brought to us by Pentax. Pentax was also the first SLR to sell over a million copies. So they once had a major role in the camera market. Sadly, the lack of marketing from Pentax has greatly reduced their market share and brand recognition. Many photographers don’t even know that Pentax still exists!
So why have I stayed with Pentax for over 40 years? Because I believe in marrying into a brand. I started with Pentax, I purchased lenses and accessories for Pentax. I have always been happy with the quality, ease of use, how the gear feels in my hands, and the results of the images. Sure, I’ve been tempted to go to another brand over the years. Once I briefly went to Olympus when I was upgrading from the K1000. Olympus was a great brand, it was the big thing at the time. However, I never felt comfortable using the OM-3. It always felt like things weren’t in the right place. I was fidgeting around with the camera controls instead of taking pictures. I had the Olympus for about a month and brought it back in exchange for a Pentax ME, which I loved. In the long run, I saved a lot of money because I was able to keep the few lenses I already owned to use with the ME.
When finally deciding to go to digital in 2006 I once again thought about switching brands. Pentax seemed to be losing its market share and starting to lag behind brands like Canon and Nikon. The price of digital cameras was falling, but still fairly expensive. I really wasn’t sold on the fact that I wanted to go digital. So I purchased the Pentax K100d with 2 kit lenses. I still had the dozen or so film lenses I could use also. The only advantage to the two kit lenses was autofocus. All my old lenses were manual focus which never was a major feature I feel I needed. Most of my photography is better done with manual focus and camera settings anyway.
What are the disadvantages to staying with Pentax over the years? For me, there are none. However, many third-party companies do not support Pentax. Third-party lens companies like Sigma and Tamron no longer make lenses for the brand. Not to mention that Pentax has been treated by the photography and camera world like crap. Pentax gets bashed hard on review sites. They are quick to point out the minor issues with Pentax, but very reluctantly share the excellent qualities of the brand. They are quick to tell you how bad the Pentax autofocus is and how it’s so far behind other brands. When in fact for the vast majority of photographers the Pentax autofocus is more than adequate. Specialized high-speed photographers such as wildlife may find the Pentax autofocus with much to be desired. However, for decades wildlife photographers captured fantastic images with only manual focus. Others complain that Pentax video mode sucks, it doesn’t offer this or that and is so far behind other brands. Once again Pentax video is adequate for most things. I think if you want to do mostly video, buy a video camera not a DSLR or mirrorless camera. People purchase DSLR and mirrorless cameras for video because they are much less expensive than a quality video camera. I do find it bothersome that the things Pentax really does well hardly get mentioned in reviews.
Do I think Pentax cameras are good? Hell yes! Why else would I have stayed with the brand for over 40 years? Pentax cameras are tanks. They hold up to anything you throw at them. They do everything well, but are not really exceptional at anything. I’ve used my Pentax gear professionally and not one customer ever turned their nose up to the gear I use. Other photographers have given me a go-to-hell look, this guy doesn’t know shit, if he did he would not be using Pentax. I do not believe I’m a great photographer, but I have about 400 clients that were very happy with the results I’ve obtained using Pentax gear. Every single image on this website was created using Pentax cameras and mostly Pentax lenses. If you think the images I’ve created with Pentax are not up to par, don’t buy Pentax.
Forty-plus years ago, I didn’t set out to become a Pentaxian. Actually, the term is a fairly recent one, I don’t ever remember Pentax users being called Pentaxians until the brand was on the decline. When the camera market started becoming saturated with two brands, Canon and Nikon the hardcore lovers of the Pentax started referring to themselves as Pentaxians. Being a Pentax user and very happy with the brand, I’m proud to proclaim, “I Am A Pentaxian!”