Friday, July 20, 2007

New DA Star Lenses are Coming Soon, Finally!

Pentax has just made a news release at their Japanese homepage about the final market launch of their repeatedly delayed and hence long-awaited Star DA zooms, which are told will arrive on August 11 for the DA*16-50 and July 27 for the DA*50-135 (but why not the standard zoom to be come first?):-

http://www.pentax.co.jp/japan/news/2007/200758.html
(In Japanese, use Babelfish to translate if needed)

By looking at the included link in the above news release for the previous product announcement of the lenses, it is interesting to see that the monthly production rate for each of the DA Star zooms will only be 1,000 units per month. Since Pentax have not updated this figure in their latest news release but just include the link for the old press release, we may assume that they keep this figure. However, with such an extremely low production rate, there are some obvious implications, as we can see and predict for the possible outcomes:-

1. The lenses will be in great shortage in supply as the 1,000 units will be shared worldwide, including for the demand for the Japanese home market;

2. It is either that Pentax's initial estimation on the demand of the DA Star lenses is rather pessimistic and conservative, or that their factory production limit has been reached, regardless of the demand in the market and the back orders they received. It is just because for new lens models put into production simply means more production capacity will be required.

However, since Pentax last time told us that their last delay of the Star lenses was caused by the increased "huge demand" of the lenses, I wonder why they don't tell us the increased new production rate this time. Maybe they have forgot to do so (but I prefer that they should follow up on what they told us last time). Or, they just want to keep the 1,000 units per model per month low figure in our mind, or, actually they really still keep this figure as their latest plan and target! Who knows?

Lastly, usually new products will sell more or even much more when they are fresh and new. So, if they really keep this figure at their side, I am really afraid that they will miss the boat again (and again, as in the past - otherwise, I couldn't see there have been so many long-time Pentaxians switched and went away or needed to buy into one more brand, usually brand C or N). Indeed, people won't wait for products that they don't know when these will actually come, even after they are willing to place the back orders or also needed to pay deposits for those orders. As they can always choose other numerous alternative products, which are widely available and far more easy to find, and at comparable prices.

Just as a joke for relaxing, I wish the Hotax merger could have completed earlier as the Hotax had and have a much higher production rate than what Pentax alone can achieve now! ;-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fragile K10D SR Switch Levers

Two different K10D users from China recently have reported that the SR switch levers of their new K10D were broken just after a few times of use and within short period after their purchases:-

1. http://article.xitek.com/showarticle.php?id=5401 (includes photos that show the broken parts; Texts are in Simplified Chinese, use BableFish if needed.)

2. http://forum.xitek.com/showthread.php?threadid=455440 (Texts in Simplified Chinese)

Whilst the cases can again be considered as isolated ones or there actually exists a certain batch of defective and affected products from the K10D production line(s) in the Pentax factory, the victim Pentax users are once again disappointed about both the after-sales services and "support" from Pentax and their China sole agent, the Jebsen & Co. Ltd. and the quality of the Pentax products as well. In fact, both users reported that the agent simply denied warranty liability from start and they only agreed to repair or to replace the problematic units for free after prolonged fightings with the users and it seems that the agent has little or even no support from their principal, i.e., Pentax, for many cases as reported. On the other hand, the common problem about that agent (or even Pentax their own) is that they are always reluctant to admit problems (and not even to mention that they would report/feedback and review the found problems internally), so fightings with some of those more insistent victim users would be unavoidable and Pentax would probably never know about the occured problems as such.

Indeed, their unfortunate experiences resemble much of my own various experiences with the sole agency company but unfortunately also with Pentax Japan as well, which is very sad for we Pentax users and customers afterall. In fact, it is also rather sad for Pentax themselves indeed. (For details of my own unfortunate true story, see my previous letter to the ex-CEO of the Pentax Corporation.)

Last but not least, as the Pentax products that are shipped to and marketed in China are with special labels which are intentionally printed with the omissions of most of the markings for the complied standards and the place of origin of the products as well, this makes the consumers in China would really wonder if the quality of the Pentax products they can get in China (and Hong Kong as well) could be inferior in quality than those that sold/bought outside China, just owing to the mentioned strange difference. At least the consumers would have not-so-good or even bad feelings for seeing those omissions which are just tailor made and customised for those Pentax products sold in the China region.

All in all, as we all know, no QC of any factory in this planet is perfect. And for today's vigorous price competition of products as well as the very short product life cycles, this does deteriorate the situation even more. However, the necessary and only remedial for those QC loopholes or even design faults is to admit problems and to rectify those as soon as possible so that inconvenience caused to the end-users can be minimised as far as possible (and as such the customer dis-satifactions and the number of adverse reports by them could be minimised). This should be the correct attitude to deal with those problems and the act will be beneficial to both the customers and the company. Without such a positive and correct attitude and intention to admit and resolve problem, a company will have no chance to succeed. Even the company can save the repair and replacement costs in short term, in long run they have to pay for it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tiny Cracks or Chips on K10D Bodies

Here is a recent report about the issue, which is clear and self-explanatory and also with photos attached, which show the chips and the cracks found on the surfaces of various different K10D bodies:-

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=23936138

By following down the thread, more users replied that they could find the same problem in their K10D bodies and some of them have posted more photos of the cracks or chips found in their cameras.

As for the mentioned original posts at several German forums which first revealed the problem, the direct links are as follows:-

http://forum.digitalfotonetz.de/viewtopic.php?t=37800

http://www.dslr-forum.de/showthread.php?t=214766

http://www.phototalk24.de/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1912

It seems that there exists a manufacturing or design problem for a common defect that can be found in quite some K10D bodies. Although the broken chips or cracks are tiny and small in areas, this is still somehow worrisome for having a defect like this, especially considering that the K10D is a water-sealed and weather-proof body as marketed and sold.

Since there have been various posters said that they would approach Pentax for servicing as their cameras are still under warranty, let's wait and see how Pentax will respond and what will they do. But possibly their reaction will again be typical and in the same old way as summarised and commented by this Pentax K10D user in his this post on another topic (which is very well said indeed):-

http://www.photozone.de/active/forum/ShowMessage?ID=108666021463969672146396966A

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