Sunday, May 25, 2008

May 2008 Lens Roadmap Thoughts

The Pentax Lens Development Roadmap has been an interesting document to watch over the past few years. What is coming next? It appears that the first lens to arrive that is on the current list is the DA 55-300/4-5.8 lens. This should add a consumer level lens that fills in the gap up to 300mm. It will be a nice option for those that the DA 50-200/4-5.6 lens just is not enough. While interesting and a great move on the part of Pentax, this is not one of the extremely exciting lenses on the horizon.

After the DA 55-300/4-5.8 lens, the two lenses to come next are the DA* 60-250/4 and the DA 17-70/4 lenses. The DA* 60-250/4 is a great addition to the lineup. Pentax is continuing the trend of making DA and DA* lenses that match equivalent 35m focal lengths. In other words, they make the DA* 16-50/2.8 which is equivalent to a 24-70mm lens and the DA* 50-135 which is equivalent to a 70-200mm lens.The DA* 60-250/4 is roughly equivalent to an 80-400mm lens. You can also see this same sequence with the DA* 200/2.8 which is like a 300mm lens. This sequence breaks down some with the DA* 300/4 because nobody makes a 450mm lens. It is still a very logical focal length for Pentax to make.

What about the DA 17-70/4 lens? Where does this lens fit in? This lens is basically equivalent to a 26-106mm lens which is very similar to Canon's 24-105/4L lens. I wish Pentax would make a DA* version of this lens. Better yet, make a DA* 16-80/4 lens. That would be a great range! In any case, I think the DA 17-70/4 will be a mid-range alternative for those looking to upgrade from the DA 18-55mm kit lens but who are not quite ready for the expense of the DA* 16-50/2.8 lens. The DA 17-70/4 lens will probably replace the DA 16-45/4 lens that currently sits in this spot. In this day and age, the 16-45mm range is not enough when people are looking for a larger range while still maintaining a higher level of performance than the kit lens.

If I were deciding what lenses to make, I would make a two tier professional line. The DA* 16-50/2.8, DA* 50-135/2.8, and DA* 200/2.8 lenses would be the f/2.8 pro line and then a future DA* 16-80/4 along with the existing DA* 60-250/4 and DA* 300/4 lenses would be the f/4 pro line. Canon has done this in many ways with their lineup. I would also add three other lenses to make the series complete. For Pentax to really compete with Canon and Nikon at the pro or semi-pro levels, they must bring back some of the big glass. This means that they need DA* 400/2.8 and DA* 600/4 lenses. The final of the three would be a DA* 200/4 Macro lens.

Pentax has done a superb job in the prime lens department with their current line as well as the future DA* 55/1.4, DA* 30, and DA 15 Limited lenses. One other thing on the roadmap that warrants attention is mention of a rear converter for SDM. This would round out the Pentax lineup and cause many to take Pentax more seriously. It would be great to have both 1.4x and 2.0x rear converters. Only time will tell. Keep up the good work Pentax!

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