Southampton LCE Digital Photo Show 2012 - Chat with Pentax
Posted by: layingback on Sun Dec 02, 2012 15:18
Well, after I got over the initial shock of seeing Pentax present at this show, and having allowed him a little time to complete the set up - my wife and I had got the hotel just at show opening time - I went and introduced myself.
Ben is a new Area Sales Manager for the South, and is very, very enthusiastic about Pentax and what Pentax Ricoh is doing just at the moment.
Ben joined Pentax Ricoh 3 month's ago along with new Area Sales Managers for both the North and South West. Staff at Pentax Ricoh in Langley/Slough is now up to 18 - a big jump from 11 last year I believe.
Ben was formerly at Canon, and seemed genuinely impressed with the value of Pentax DSLR's, especially the build. Said he loves to come into demos swinging the Pentax around by the pop-up flash while suggesting to the audience that you do not try that at home - with your Canon 6D. Also reckoned that what Pentax Ricoh had planned was enough to convince him to move over to Pentax.
He had 6 cameras on display, all available for handling, a CSC, the Opti Waterproof camera, the X-5 and a K-30, a K-5II and a K-5IIs, each with 18-55WR lenses. The K-5IIs was a pre-production model because ALL K-5IIs's in the country have been sold! (Which is why the demo unit was still a pre-production unit.) Pentax expected K-5II's to sell at 8 times the rate of the K-5IIs but this has not been how it came down. So more K-5IIs's have been ordered.
Apparently many would-be buyers of K-5II's have ended up buying the K-5IIs - even at a ~£150 premium - when they compare the images. Ben said he'd been trying to capture moiré on the K-5IIs, and on only 1 occasion had he managed it, photographing an apparently grey mouse mat, which had just enough pattern, and just fine enough, to trigger it. That was it after weeks of trying, and with a pre-production unit too.
The K-30 is selling well, now the price had been reset lower, and with the £50 rebate. Initially the price had had to be a little higher than Pentax would have liked because the K-r stock was still in the channel. It is now priced (without the rebate) where they wanted it to be, but marks a strong value point over the competition with its WR, etc, simply because it, the K-30, has to cover a large gap between the bridge camera and the K-5(II). Pentax would like to have 4 DSLR's in their range, but currently the channel in general has problems with even 3. (But Pentax aren't going to let that hold them back though - see below.)
On the (current) K-5 pricing versus the K-5II he said it was all down to the retailers. The price difference between the models isn't large, but dealers want the K-5's to sell first, some even holding back from displaying the new versions until they do. But he did stress that all dealers can and will sell you a new model K-5 if that's what you want.
Plans for next year include a revamp for almost the entire range. Without specifying dates or order, new models are on the cards (currently) for a new entry DSLR below the K-30, a new update to the CSC, a new "professional" CSC, and rev to the Waterproof Opti, perhaps a replacement for the SuperZoom, and just maybe something above the K-5II/s range to give a true 4 model DSLR range!
Pentax still understand that they are tiny (eg. a couple of thousand employees at Canon) but they are, through Ricoh's investment, intending to grow both in product range and product shipments. This was a marked change from under Hoya, when the Imaging side (vs the Instrument side that remains with Hoya) was just drifting along.
I asked about advertising, and that was one area he said they were currently struggling with. TV ads was what they needed, but they didn't want to go in that direction yet because of the costs. After they get the bigger range lined up then quite possibly, but don't expect it any time soon. Currently everything was focussed on Social Networking to get the word out, implying that they needed to be different in their approach.
Ben was clearly in touch with his other 2 Area Sales Managers and if they are all as keen as he, things have to be good. I've invited Ben to join us here. I don't know whether he will, but at least he knows of us, which he didn't before.
Hope I've got in all down - we covered a lot of ground, and quickly, plus it was several hours before I could make many notes ... But I'll come back and update if I remember anything else.
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