Thursday, February 19, 2009

DA 18-250 Discontinued

It's Official! The DA 18-250 has been discontinued:-

http://www.pentax.jp/japan/imaging/digital/lens/index35_others.html
(Page Text in Japanese)

So, there is yet another lens which has been discontinued by Pentax recently, following the FA 35/2 lens, which has just been discontinued just earlier (it is not as official, though).

But unlike the FA 35/2 lens, the DA 18-250 is just a very new lens, which was only introduced in 2007. It is widely believed that the DA 18-250 is originally or mostly manufactured by Tamron as the specifications of the lens look almost identical to the Tamron counterpart.

Well, there are two possibilities for the dismissal of the DA 18-250 "Superzoom": 1. There is not sufficient market demand to substantiate its production; 2. There will be a new replacement model to come.

As for the first guessed reason, the chance would be high. It is because the DA 18-250 is selling relatively much more expensive than the Tamron and there are just already too many choices for such superzooms, either from Tamron, Sigma or even from Tokina "themself" (as Tokina is also owned by Hoya) but all of which are much cheaper. Moreover, from viewing the market share of Pentax DSLRs by now, I bet even 3rd party lens makers will have hesitation to produce lenses in Pentax mount, frankly.

As for if there will be a new replacement model (might also be a rebadged Tamron if so, as Tamron do have the new models - but why don't Pentax find Tokina?), we shall know it very soon by the PMA.

Well, there is an (might be crazy :-)) idea that comes across my mind that might save Pentax: It is, Pentax to launch Pentax lenses in other popular mounts (in fact just C and N now) and to be a "3rd party" lens manufacturer, like what "Carl Zeiss" to market their ZF, ZE and ZK "Carl Zeiss" lenses (actually by Sony, it is believed). By that time, Pentax could have more money to compete and users of other big brands could try and would know how good (or bad, anyway) Pentax optics are, when the Pentax lenses are mounted onto their bodies. And I do believe that the current adverse marketing and financial situation as faced by Pentax (and actually Hoya) could be changed and improved if Pentax / Hoya can sell far more lenses and earn some money, unlike now they only know how to "streamline" their lens lineup, which is of no doubt is even far more smaller than the current Sigma's.

If it is really feasible (technically, legally and politically) and it comes true, I am sure that Pentax can and will survive and undoubtedly they will have more fundings (and thus resources) to make more and better DSLR bodies, with the new money gained.

My experiences are that my Pentax lenses perform much better on my EOS 5D than any of my Pentax DSLRs, even for some digital lenses that could produce "strange" results when they are used on Pentax DSLRs (my DFA 100 lens is a good example here), why not go the way?

8 Comments:

Anonymous said...

That 1.8% of the market share is scarey. Are there concerns (rumors) that Pentax will soon be out of the dSLR business? I know folks are worried about Olympus... and Pentax has even less market share.

Anonymous said...

Rice, bringing out fine Pentax glass for other mounts seems like a brilliant idea to me, helping the Pentax market position at the same time. You might be on to something.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it already done through Tokina ?
Cf 35mm f/2.8
16-50mm f/2.8
50-135mm f/2.8
100mm f/2.8 macro
12-24mm f/4

RiceHigh said...

Yes, and that's exactly the problem - a very wrong strategy, not only marketing wise.

Many "co-developed" "Pentax" lenses have had a Tokina version in recent years. As we all know, "Pentax" was once a much bigger name than "Tokina" with far better reputation. But since Tokina was "mixed" with Pentax, there has been a Pentax lens and then a Tokina verion which is almost the same. After that, people started thinking that the Pentax glass are just Tokina (and actually they were and are all "co-developed" / manufactured, which is the wrongest act IMO). But then the Pentax are asking for more bucks than the Tokina counterparts which do not have a Pentax mount instead. This hurts much the sales of Pentax products afterall and hurts the reputation of the whole Pentax system as a whole.

In fact, build and optical quality wise, I could see a down trend in recent years, just compare a DFA 100 Macro lens against the old FA version, the new version feels cheaply built and it looks more like a Tokina or Tamron rather than a *true* Pentax. The old FA version, which is no doubt a true Pentax, excels both optically and mechanically than its successor, indeed.

What I suggest is to market *true* Pentax glass in the name of *Pentax* with the highest possible quality in other mounts, with more competitive prices so that reputation of Pentax can be built-up again as they could do. Also, they can produce in volume then if they can succeed (which is almost impossible for them to sell in such volume with their DSLR bodies, never). On the other hand, Hoya can continue to market lenses in the Tokina brand name, but just for the low end market for lenses that are cheaply priced (for similar lenses with comparable specs), as they used to be (and almost all 3rd party lenses as well).

Even Sony don't sell the latest Carl Zeiss lenses as Sony except for their own mount, have they?

Anonymous said...

I'm affraid that all this is a K5D user's fantasy.
Then no need to practise dangerous surgery on your pentax lenses... The problem is that Pentax is not Sigma and they probably have no plan of being the next Sigma.

RiceHigh said...

I do not want to dissect my beloved Pentax lenses but there is just such a strong need with huge benefits. The surgeries were not dangerous, I used to be a technician long time ago before I became an (chartered) engineer (also long time ago, anyway), I did have the total confidence and did things with great care so as to not hurt or damage anything in any of my Pentax glass.

My 43 Limited is now still a 43mm lenses with the same Angle of View and Depth of Field as it was designed. It has 56% more resolution than it is used on any current Pentax APS-C 1.5X cropped DSLRs (2 dimensional wise). My FA* 85/1.4 portrait lens is still a classic 85 portrait lens. So, why these are not worthing?

As for why Pentax should or should not be a Sigma, the fact is Pentax is now just much smaller than Sigma in business volume and size of lens lineup (with far less choices). If Pentax is just smaller than Sigma, what's not beneficial if they could become the next Sigma??

Anonymous said...

Yes but tell me now who cares of the existence of Sigma cameras ? Sigma is now just a lens manufacturer with the lost dream of selling cameras of their own. I may be wrong but to me there is a question of image, of standing and even pride into this. A brand whith such a history as Pentax certainly don't want to share the same fate... and anybody who really love this brand don't want to see the day when Pentax becomes just another Sigma arrive.

RiceHigh said...

The outcome of "image" depends much on the strategy taken, but not just about if lenses are made in other mounts or not.

To set up the proper "image", a high grade route is needed to go. A good example is that Pentax did make a Leica M-mount 43 limited with the optical finder as a set in 1999 when they first marketed their K-mount 43 Limited (which was their first limited lens). Since Pentax were so brave and confident to do in such a way, the 43 limited probably had to a "wow" lens - and in fact that old version was!

Now, if Pentax are to produce Pentax's version of their film limited or FA* lenses (which they still have the detailed design), they should go the high quality route and invade into C or N lands (if they dare). That's exactly what "Carl Zeiss" (actually Sony with Zeiss) are doing for their MF ZF and ZE lenses.

On the other hand, as you say, to go into Sigma's cheap route (for most of their lenses) is not the way to go. It's exactly what Pentax had done with their Tokina versions of Pentax lenses! That's why I have said Pentax had taken a very wrong strategy indeed. Now even Sigma have tried to go onto the high grade route, just look at their latest EX 50/1.4 which is sold quite expensively (and have some good quality too, I believe), then you'll know what I meant.

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