is a wholly owned division and brand name of Hoya Corporation. It succeeds to the business operations of , which was merged with and into Hoya on March 31, 2008.
In December 2006, Pentax started the process of merging with Hoya Corporation to form 'Hoya Pentax HD Corporation'. Hoya's primary goal was to strengthen its medical-related business by taking advantage of Pentax's technologies and expertise in the field of endoscopes, intraocular lenses, surgical loupes, biocompatible ceramics, etc. It was speculated that Pentax's camera business could be sold off after the merger. A stock swap was to be completed by October 1, 2007 but the process was called off on April 11, 2007. Pentax president Fumio Urano resigned over the matter, with Takashi Watanuki taking over as president of Pentax. However, despite Watanuki's previously stated opposition to a Hoya merger, on May 16 it was reported that Pentax had accepted "with conditions" a sweetened offer from Hoya, according to a source familiar with the matter. Pentax was under increasing pressure from its major shareholders, Sparx Asset Management in particular, to accept Hoya's bid. On August 6, 2007, Hoya completed a friendly public tender offer for Pentax and acquired 90.59% of the company. On August 14, 2007, the company became a consolidated subsidiary of Hoya. On October 29, 2007, Hoya and Pentax announced that Pentax, as the company ceasing to exist, will merge with and into Hoya effective on March 31, 2008. Hoya will retain the Pentax brand name.
The Asahiflex I had a non-interchangeable waist-level viewfinder, with a direct optical viewfinder for eye-level use. The Asahiflex I had a non-returning mirror and shutter speeds from 1/25 to 1/500. The camera used the M37 screw mount. It went through some minor modifications for flash use, resulting in the IA. With the IIB a key advance was made: the quick-return mirror. The problem of mirror black-out was one of the main problems with prior SLR designs, greatly reducing usability and a major reason for the greater popularity of the rangefinder. With the IIB there emerged the first practical quick-return mirror, a vital innovation and one which was quickly adopted by other manufacturers. With the final model in the series, the IIA, the Asahiflex gained slow speeds from 1/25th of a second to 1/2 of a second.
The Asahi Pentax is widely recognised as one of the pivotal SLR designs of the 20th century. The form and layout of the Asahi Pentax (often referred to by collectors as the 'AP') exerted tremendous influence over the next 30 years of SLR design. The AP was not necessarily technologically innovative: most of the technologies present had already been developed. What the AP represented, however, was the first time that the best SLR technologies of the time had been brought together in one compact package. As well as the inherent advantages of the SLR design, the AP incorporated instant mirror return, a hinged film back for easy loading and the now firmly established rapid thumb-wind advance on the right of the camera. Compared with the cameras of the time, the AP represented a breakthrough in convenience and usability. The AP dropped the M37 mount and instead utilised the M42 screw mount, first introduced with the German Contax S in 1949. The Asahi Optical lenses bore the 'Takumar' name and quickly gained a high reputation.
There is some confusion about the etymology of the name, some sources claim it was licensed from VEB Zeiss Ikon, and derived from the combination "PENTAprism" and "contaX". The explanation on pentax.com does not mention Contax or Zeiss Ikon, and states that the name was formed from "PENTAprism" and "refleX", being the reflex mirror of an SLR camera. A third variation substitutes "Asahiflex" for "reflex", which is at least logical as the Asahiflex cameras had waist-level viewfinders and therefore the pentaprism of the Asahi Pentax would have been a significant differentiating feature.
The AP went through various iterations until 1964. Each successive model incorporated minor improvements, the most noticeable being the incorporation of the two shutter speed dials (one for high speeds and one for low speeds) into one. The AP of 1957 is externally almost identical to the 1964 SV.
However, by the 1960s the clamour for in-camera exposure metering was rising. It was possible to attach an external CdS (Cadmium sulfide) exposure meter to the later AP-derived models, but in 1960 the next breakthrough arrived. At the 1960 Photokina camera show, Asahi exhibited the Spot-matic prototype. This camera took exposure measurements, via a spotmeter, through the taking lens, an incredible innovation. The camera excited tremendous attention and in 1964 the first production Spotmatic (hyphen dropped) emerged. The Spotmatic was virtually identical to the prototype; however, the spotmeter was replaced with an all-over average-reading exposure meter in order to give more consistent results. The camera was an instant success and was snapped up by the thousands, although Asahi had been beaten into production by the Topcon RE Super which went on sale in April 1963; the Topcon failed to attract the same degree of commercial success.
In 1966 Asahi Optical had produced one million SLR cameras since the first Asahiflex of 1952. It took them only another three years, until 1969, to reach two million. This period was a time of complete pre-eminence for Asahi Optical. During the Spotmatic era Asahi were manufacturing more SLRs per month than all the other camera manufacturers combined. One of the technological highlights was the Electro-Spotmatic of 1971. This camera was one of the very first to incorporate automatic exposure. The series concluded in 1973 with the introduction of the Spotmatic F (now incorporating open-aperture metering rather than the stop-down metering of the early models).
However by the mid-1970s the limitations of the M42 mount were being felt. By this time most other manufacturers had opted for a bayonet lens mount. It was a great step for Asahi Optical to take but the M42 screw mount, by now widely known as 'Pentax screw mount', had reached the end of its useful life. Pentax were now to adopt the lens mount that would see them through the next 30 years.
In 1966 Asahi Optical showed a revised prototype of the Metalica named the Metalica II. Gone was the cumbersome selenium light meter, replaced with a now standard internal CdS meter. The Metalica II retained the bayonet lens mount shown in the earlier 1960 prototype, and also featured an improved Copal-square metallic shutter. But the biggest innovation was the fully automatic shutter operation coupled to the TTL meter. The metering system, for the first time in a 35mm SLR, controlled the shutter speed automatically based on the aperture set. With these innovative developments, the Metalica II pioneered features that would not surface on Pentax production cameras until the Electro-Spotmatic (ES) (automatic aperture-priority exposure) in 1971 and K2 (vertical metal shutter, bayonet lens mount, automatic aperture-priority exposure) in 1975. (Cecchi 1991:80-86)
Three new models were introduced at once in 1975: the K2, KM and KX. The KM was almost identical in features and operation to the Spotmatic F. The KX featured a better TTL light meter using SPD (silicon photodiodes), visible aperture and shutter speeds in the viewfinder, and a mirror lock-up mechanism. The K2, the flagship model, incorporated aperture-priority autoexposure with a fully manually selectable range of shutter speeds from 1s to 1/1000. The only other aperture priority camera Pentax had made up to this point, the ES series, only had manual shutter speeds from 1/60 upwards. A special version of the K2 was also produced (called the K2DMD) to use a motor drive and data back. A later addition to the K series was the K1000 (basically a KM stripped of its self-timer and depth of field preview), later to find fame as the perennial camera of choice for photography students.
What set these cameras apart from any earlier Pentax was the removal of the M42 lens mount. With the K series of cameras, Pentax followed its rivals and introduced its own bayonet mount, the K mount. Still the basis for Pentax lenses and cameras today, this offered greater convenience and enabled the production of faster lenses such as the 50 mm . Eager to keep M42 users in the Pentax system, an M42-K Mount adaptor was offered, enabling M42 users to continue to use their existing lenses (with loss of automation).
The K series cameras followed the design ethos of the time, big and heavy. But scarcely had the K series been introduced, than Pentax began working on a new camera line, a new camera line reflecting a new ethos - one which continues to influence Pentax to this day.
The M series cameras were noted for their compact size, among the smallest and lightest 35 mm SLRs ever made. Except for the MX, all were based on the same basic camera body, and featured aperture-priority exposure automation. While superficially resembling the ME, the MX was designed as a manual-only SLR system targeted to the advanced amateur or professional photographer, and had its own set of accessories that were mostly incompatible with the other M series cameras. Conversely, the other M-series cameras were targeted squarely at casual users. None of the M-series, with the exception of the MX, featured a depth of field preview.
The ME featured aperture-priorty only automation with no manual override. The MX was entirely manual and resembled the earlier KX in features. The ME Super was an ME with a manual mode. The MG, MV, and MV1 were even simpler versions of the original ME.
The ME-F was an early attempt at an autofocus SLR using a special 35-70mm zoom with a motor built into the lens.
The LX model was a tough, professional-grade competitor to the Nikon F3, the Canon F1, Olympus OM's, and Contax RTS. Like the Nikon F3 and Canon F1 it was very rugged and had interchangeable screens and viewfinders. Yet it was smaller and lighter, better sealed against the weather, and with its S69 screen had a brighter viewfinder than almost any camera ever made . The LX used an advanced metering system that measured the light falling on the first shutter curtain during exposure (as opposed to most cameras which measure light at the viewing screen). During long exposures the LX actually measured light reflected from the film itself. Because of this metering system, the LX could perform very accurate long exposures.
Shutter speeds and apertures were visible in the viewfinder in an arrangement similar to the earlier KX. The camera remained in production for more than 20 years.
Models which were also backward compatible with both the KA and K mounts.
MZ10 MZ7 MZ6/ZXL
MZM (manual focus version of MZ5 with no built in flash) Pentax KA lens mount.
Models which were backward compatible with the KA mount but not the K mount.
In May 2006, Pentax announced a new line of Digital SLR cameras, based on the *ist D series. The K100D and K110D combine the features of the *ist DL2 and DS2, while incorporating in-body shake reduction in the K100D model. The Pentax K10D, a low-priced 10-megapixel weatherproofed model, was announced on 14 September 2006.
The K10D features a pentaprism viewfinder (instead of the slightly dimmer pentamirror on some previous models), full programmed, aperture and shutter priority modes, and a new mode called Sensitivity-priority where the rear dial adjusts light sensitivity and the camera adjusts shutter speed and aperture to maintain correct exposure. In addition, the K10D can write JPEGs and two versions of RAW files (PEF, and the new Adobe standard DNG).
The K100D Super is a slight upgrade to the K100D announced in June 2007. The upgrade includes features from the K10D, such as an improved SR system, a dust removal system, and power contacts that allow the use of Pentax's SDM ultrasonic focusing technology recently introduced with the DA* lens line. The power contacts also provide the power zoom function that Pentax introduced in the 1990s.
On January 23, 2008, Pentax announced the K20D and K200D, which replaced the K10D and K100D series respectively. The K20D features a 14.6 megapixel CMOS APS-C sized sensor (the highest-resolution sensor in that format as of January 2008), a special 21 fps burst mode, live preview on the LCD display, and an increased sensitivity range extending to ISO 6400. The K200D adopts the 10 megapixel sensor and weather sealing of the K10D, among other improvements, while retaining the smaller body size of the K100D Super.
Pentax Optio W10 has a 6 MP image sensor, an internally zooming three times zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display screen, and is waterproof - 30 minutes of continuous operation at an underwater depth up to five feet, and dustproof (Class 5 dustproof performance of category 2).
Pentax Optio WPi has a 6 MP image sensor, an internally zooming three times zoom lens, 2" low-reflection LCD display screen, and is waterproof (JIS Class 8 water resistant rating). Continuous underwater picture-taking possible for 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5m to ten feet for up to 2.5 hours at a time.
Pentax is one of the few camera manufacturers still producing medium format cameras. At the time of writing, there are two offerings, one in the 6×7 cm format (Pentax 67 II) and one in the 6×4.5 cm format (Pentax 645NII). Both use the 120 film format, which is a roll film. These cameras build on the Pentax SLR design experience. The shape of the Pentax 67 is broadly similar to a 35 mm SLR camera. By contrast, the Pentax 645 resembles other medium-format cameras by makers such as Mamiya and Bronica, which tend to be cube-shaped.
On December 21, 2006, Hoya Corporation and Pentax Corporation held a joint press conference announcing their merging into Hoya Pentax HD Corporation, to become fully effective on October 1st, 2007. Despite turmoil within Pentax that occurred following this announcement, including the resignation of Pentax CEO Fumio Urano in April 2007 and an announcement that the merger would not go ahead, the merger happened as originally planned.
The new company is focusing its main business on the following areas: life care, eye care, optics, information technology, imaging systems.
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