Friday, September 25, 2009

Nine Years of Pentax DSLRs, since the EI-2000

Back to the Year 2000, the first Pentax DSLR EI-2000 was created and marketed. A more detailed and accurate specs of the camera can be found here (DPR's one is not very accurate, e.g., the pixel count and aspect ratio are wrong).

In fact, there were a lot of breakthroughs and unique design features that can be found in the EI-2000, which include a semi-transparent fixed (half-)mirror (aka the Pellicle mirror, learn more technical information with reference to the classic Canon EOS RT film AFSLR where RT stands for Real-Time), Live View function at anytime without engagement into the Live View modes (my full technical brief on the current LV designs here), full-time TTL phase-matching AF under the mirror with the availability of both optical viewfinder and LCD Live View at the same time(!), real-time Auto White Balance and Live Histogram(!), Dual Battery Options with *Both* bundled proprietary *Lithium-ion* rechargeable battery but yet supporting *AA* batteries(!), articulated tiltable "large" LCD monitor (yes, at its time a 2-inch mon on camera was *very* large), an user programmable camera software menu (modifiable scripts) and so on..

And if we look back, how many of these things are that current (Pentax) DSLRs missing and lacking? The battery solution and design of the EI-2000 is just perfect and if all Pentax DSLRs were equipped with that, there should be no more arguments amongst different Pentax DSLR users of those silly but frequent AA Vs Lithium batteries debates! And, Pentax have never made any articulated LCD DSLR since the *ist D, but actually there was one by them! And, it was the first one, even! The user programmable camera software is just a great idea, and all (Pentax) hackers would have nothing to do if such facility and utility is made available (very similar to the concept of opened source codes)!

In the 2000, the EI-2000 was actually an expensive electronic gadget (and so did most digital cameras), which I had checked for its street price at more than (US)$800 when it was new. I once almost bought one even after opening the box to try but finally did not get it owing to its bulkiness (because I just wanted to buy a DC to supplement my film SLRs at that time) and just lower pixel count and also I somehow couldn't accept the more square aspect ratio of the image frame (which I was "spoiled" by the comment of Steve in his (actually useless) review, which I later on found that it was just a non-issue, as aspect ratio of the computer monitors also varied)! At that time, 3MP cameras had just been out and I finally got one afterwards, i.e., my Olympus C3000Z, which is just more compact and lightweight.

But I was remorse. In fact, the EI-2000 has better and more natural colour rendition (and so does my Optio 330 DC, the first "Optio" Pentax marketed, which I also bought later). You can still have a quick glance on the photos in the Internet such as those in the PBase (for the EI-2000's) if you want to judge (at its time, it was very good, I must say - far and way better than what was produced by my Oly indeed). As you can see also from my above Oly C3000 review, the alignment and accuracy of the Oly is just terrible. The EI-2000 is surely better as it is a DSLR!

Now, nine years have passed, actually what new achievements and breakthroughs have Pentax (now Hoya) actually made instead of catching up in the game which is led by others, technically. Well, I am afraid that Pentax/Hoya these days just know to make some (and actually all) "me-too" products with still possibly a lower performance, reliability and IQ (in many aspects, I'm afraid, although not all)? On the other hand, they just try to go fashion but I don't know if actually it will help them to succeed by *only* doing this, or just survive by avoiding being extinguished? I think it's the time for them to re-think about how to introduce some new elements in their products, just like what Pentax *were* able to do for many of their "first of its kind" and the "first in the world" features and designs, back to their old glorious days decades ago.

At the time when all others follow Pentax but not Pentax follow others, I am sure they will be strong and be a successful company again! (instead of being a weak player and a loser.)

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