The Genius that is Pentax

During my many years of web publishing, there have been two groups of loyalists that I've had to be aware of: Mac users and Pentax shooters. Each group defends its brand and product line with great passion.

To be honest, I understood the Mac side of things more. I was part of the Apple revolution early on, hung in there during the awful 90s, and am still amazed at the company's success today.

But the Pentax folks were a bit more mysterious to me. Of all the brands that I've reviewed over the years, why were the Pentax shooters so different? What made them so dedicated?

It wasn't until I got back into film photography that the pieces began to come together. You see, in round 1 of my analog days, I didn't shoot Pentax, although I clearly remember lusting after the Spotmatic. But I was more of a Canon, Contax, and Yashica guy. 

Years later, when I was writing camera reviews for Macworld Magazine, Pentax was one of my beats. I really liked their digital cameras, and loved reviewing them. To tell you the truth, however, the only lens mount I had experience with was the Pentax DA (digital series). I knew there were older lenses, but I didn't have the big picture.

Fast forward a few years with my return to film photography. A friend gave my a Pentax ME Super with a 50mm Pentax-M lens, and I fell in love with the camera. I began exploring the lens catalog and learned about Pentax-A, Pentax-FA, and other variants.

With only a few logical exceptions, each generation of lens mount would work backwards and forward. As I began shooting with other Pentax bodies, such as the P30, ZX-M, and my current favorite, the ZX-5, I was amazed that I could put any of my Pentax optics on any of these bodies, and take great pictures.

Functionality was determined by the combination of lens mount and camera body. So, for example, I could put a manual focus Pentax-A on the autofocus ZX-5 body and get terrific images. But I had to manually focus, and I had to rely on center-weighted metering. The bottom line was, however, that it all worked, and the results were beautiful.

This mix and match capability protects your investment, and it really adds a lot of fun and experimentation to shooting pictures. Take a look at this lens compatibility chart for an overview of how this all works.

I finally began to understand that the Pentax approach to photography was truly unique. My favorite lens mounts are the Pentax-A and Pentax-FA. But I use anything that I can get my hands on.

I'm thrilled to finally have an understanding glimpse of the Pentax way of life.

You guys are right. This is worth defending.