The Rise and Fall of Asahi Pentax – Pentax 6×7, SMC, Ricoh History

The Rise and Fall of Asahi Pentax – Pentax 6×7, SMC, Ricoh History

December 14, 2019 3 By Kailee Schamberger


so we finished the previous video
talking about the Pentax spotMatic how the Asahiflex ultimately led to like
the invention of the quick return mechanism for the mirror which set the
standard for like the cameras everywhere in Japan as ie Pentax came up with the
first through the lens of metering so that was like their invention and during
these years we also saw the introduction of some of my favorite lenses primarily
the super Takuma 50mm f1.4 I have a separate video just about the
lens but it was rumored that at the times Zeiss was dominating with the 50mm f1.4 Planar , Pentax created this lens to dethrone the planar like they
created an eighth element lens and it was also rumored that every time they
sold one of these lenses Pentax was actually losing money because of the
production cost but once the media had basically crowned Asahi Pentax 50
millimeter 1.4 as like the as being better than the Zeiss Pienaar they
swapped the optical formula so it went from being 8 elements to being 7
elements and actually well there’s more than two versions of this lens but
ultimately there’s the non-radiative version 1 which is the 8 elements and then
there’s the and then there’s the radioactive version that one has 7
elements and it has thorium baked into the element so people actually think that
it’s a coating but it’s not a coating you actually melted the thorium straight
into the lens it wasn’t even one lens element I think
it was the rear three elements that’s why we have a Super Takumar 50mm
f1.4 it tends to get pretty yellow not only that but there’s also
another lens that I really like the SMC Takumar 55 millimeter 1.8 and that one you can get it really really cheaply but it’s
actually really really great lens I mean I really love my radioactive lenses so I
just want to throw this out there and let’s get back to like Pentax history
before we get sidetracked if you’re interested in like the radiation lenses
and like how do the yellow um and all that kind of stuff I actually have
videos on this already including videos on all my Pentax lenses anyways back to
Asahi Pentax okay so now we’re in 1965 Pentax releases the Pentax 6×7 which is
actually like a very very it was pretty popular for its time you know it’s uh it
wasn’t like the other medium formats are like huge and bulky this one just looked
like a big camera and you you were able to carry it around with you and there’s
actually different versions there’s like the Pentax 6×7 there’s a Pentax 67 and I think
there’s a Pentax 67ii – I never really got into medium format but I did have chances to
play with it with my friends and even today I still see this camera like
everywhere like especially with like Koreans and I call it the thunderclap
because you can hear like a cross-city but I like the way the shutter sounds
like there are much more louder anyways this camera was actually super popular
like the last February’s as well and if I remember one of the most popular
lenses for is the Takuma Pentax 105mm f2.4 I think that’s right and like some people just
sell off everything they have just to get the system you know just like to get
the TakuMar 105mm with the Pentax 67 whichever one of those variations and
supposed to be like super good for portraits someday if I ever venture into
medium format that’s probably the lens and camera system I’m going to try but
for me it’s kind of out of my range these days and especially film can get
kind of expensive but I just want to throw that out there because this was
like a pretty big thing for Pentax and a lot of people love this camera and you
can still buy it quite easily while least here in Korea in Asia
also just a bit of trivia but uh around this time there was actually a
CIA gun that they used like I think it was called the Stinger and you ever see
those like spy movies where they have like a gun inside the camera this was
basically it the Stinger had like 22 millimeter magnum rounds it would
it was like a single single shot gun slash camera where like when you cut the
lever you like I’m not really good at gun terminology stuff but let’s just say
when you click the shoulder you shot someone but you can only do it like one
time anyways that’s just a little bit of trivia if you’re interested in how this
looks you probably be able to find it online just like search for like Pentax
CIA gun stinger and pretty cool thing it’s also worth noting that like Pentax
like sold more than a million or two million cameras in the 60s I forget the
dates exactly but they were really pushing hard to make this like the do
bigger is a big camera like it was marketed through schools and to
college students you had like all these celebrities using their cameras I’m not
sure if I’m early or late for like Ringo Starr be poorly would always carry his
Pentax camera around with him Drew Barrymore I remember reading some
magazine articles saying that like what she was a photographer and she shot many
kinds of cameras but ultimately she always went back to I believe it was the
k1000 which I don’t think the k1000 has come out yet but since we’re talking
about celebrities I might as well throw it out there so I think she shot with
that camera for like 10 years which is pretty cool because I still have my K
1000 and even though I had like the Pentax ME Super the LX the Pentax Q and like a bunch of
other Pentax cameras I sold all of them and I stayed with a
Pentax k1000 mainly because I just liked the basics and a simplicity and now I
kind of wish Pentax beat Fuji to the like the mirrorless or digital age with
like the retro design like what if they created
like a Pentax k1000 similar to like the Fuji x100s you know just the
style but with a digital back I think a lot of people would buy that
especially since Pentax used like the same Asahiflex design for like over 30
years they should have done that with like the digital cameras too and I think
that would have been really cool anyways I’m getting sidetracked it’s time to
stop Pentax fanboying and get back into it
Oh actually I think now would be a good time to start talking about Ricoh a
little because like I forgot exactly when was it like 2010 or something like
that but Ricoh bought Pentax and this video wouldn’t be complete if
we didn’t talk a little at least a little bit about Ricoh history now the
way I see it Ricoh was always one step behind Pentax like at least back in
those days like Pentax would release a product and Ricoh would I don’t wanna say
copied it but they just kind of copied it you know psycho it actually Rico
started off as Riken and I think they started like in 1917 well I know they
started before Pentax was founded Ricoh or Riken started off by making kind of
like I want to say it’s like film but it was like a paper similar to film in the
60s or 70s they started getting into like this the watch selling and printer
business that’s why that’s why these days are known as Ricoh imaging they work
a lot like printers and faxes actually I believe they started producing like fax
machines or facsimile is for Toshiba and I think in the early 2000s they bought
the the printing business I wanna say printing business but the printing
division of IBM I probably got those dates wrong and also a random fact but
Ricoh was the one who made the 8-bit processor for the Nintendo but yeah I’m
talking about this because Ricoh is gaining
a lot into electronics Pentax was also getting into electronics a lot of these
camera companies they didn’t just do camera stuff like they started like
doing different things especially a lot like medical equipment because they had
the optics for it and you know saying that you can put all your eggs in one
basket because like Pentax if they put all their they put all the resources
purely into photography they would not even exist today but they still actually
exist in different ways that I will get back into later in this video anyways
back to Ricoh they did produce lenses in the m42 months which was able to fit on
the Pentax cameras and they also made lenses for the caiman in fact at the
time many camera companies are made came out lenses Oh
Pentax actually like has their mounts open-source and I don’t really know of
any other camera company that does that I mean I know like some of the bigger
companies license their mounts to other manufacturers but Pentax has her mount
as open-source so pretty much anyone can create lenses for Pentax and I think
that’s like a really unique thing I could be wrong I mean maybe they aren’t
the only ones who do it like that but I thought that was pretty cool about them
that’s probably one of the reasons why you can put so many lenses on Pentax
cameras speaking of lenses I own the Rikenon
55mm 1.4 wonderful lens it is really radioactive but actually
the images coming out of it are pretty amazing and I have some videos with it
and just a random story that has nothing to do with the history of Pentax but I
ordered the lens from Germany it came with the original Ricoh cap which is
really awesome but it took almost two months to get here because it ended up
going to South South Africa instead of South Korea and then I ended up in
Zimbabwe and then back in South Africa and then back in Zimbabwe and then back
in South Africa and then finally made its way here to South Korea after like
two months of me tracking it but uh I’ll make I’ll make a video just
the lens even though I have a few already just throwing it out there we
were talking about the the Pentax 6×7 right and a neat thing about this camera is that
actually took both 120 film and 220 film I think and you can think of it as a
huge SLR camera a huge medium format camera that looks like an SLR very much
the way the GFX is like a digital rangefinder medium format ish camera –
like the Fuji’s rangefinder cameras it was basically the same thing was like
one giant Pentax I think it should it’s a good time to note that Pentax is the
only camera company of all these companies to make 35mm 6×7
645 110 and now even full-frame SLR cameras so well actually full-frame and
35 millimetres the same thing nevermind but yeah they’re like the only company
to touch on all these different film formats and I think that’s really
telling of a company probably why I was pretty much all over the place and
everybody liked them the 110 camera is actually pretty interesting and we’re
gonna get back into that later anyways now we’re in the 70s Pentax came up with
something called the SMC coatings actually they there’s a story that it
actually came up as a development with Zeiss like a partnership but we’re gonna
get into that later let me talk about SMC first so SMC coatings were like
super multi coatings and it’s actually more than no it was seven different
coatings that you can put on a lens and the the great thing about this was that
like it reduced like ghosting which if you own any like vintage lenses you know
it’s like a very big problem with most of them and another thing is like there
was a lot of light loss when you use these older lenses but I think I
remember something like with SMC coating the lens kept like ninety nine point
eight percent of the light or something like that and only two percent of the
light was actually lost so like that helps speed up the less
quite a bit and it reduced quoting it was basically pen taxes pride and joy I
even heard this rumor that they loved SMC coating so much that they even
quoted random parts of the camera with it even though I had nothing to do with
like the optics like they they just like SMC coating that much but uh don’t quote
me on that that’s just like a rumor that I heard but I want to believe it no it
sounds sounds pretty interesting but anyways they they have like quite a few
world-first already they got the first quick return mirror through the lens
metering I know that’s a few more world-first stuffs but like this is also
like the world’s first reduced ghosting and flaring or almost completely
eliminate ghosting and flaring multi coatings right so kudos to them oh and
since we’re speaking about Road first around this time they also released the
electro spot Matic so they had the world first for quick return mirrors they had
the world first for to the lens metering I’m sure there was more work first oh
yeah the the SMC coating which reduced ghosting and flaring and now they also
had the electro spotMatic which do two things let me see if I remember oh yeah
it was the first open aperture metering because you know the first spotMatic was
like I think it was called closed aperture meeting metering right so with
the original spot Matic you had your camera you would focus you would close
down the aperture then you will do your metering then you can like take a
picture with the electro spermatic you could actually just meter with the open
lens like a normal camera or we’re getting closer to a normal camera and
then you can just take a picture I’m actually sure it’s much more complex
than that but I never owned an electro spotMatic so I can’t really tell you
that’s just my understanding of the mechanism and also they come
with the first thing goes this lectures pragmatic but they came up with the
first aperture-priority system so in aperture
priority your camera is the one who chooses the shutter speed and you just
leave your aperture the way you want it it makes sense I mean yeah I think
that’s the whole point of the electro spotmatic because you have like a
circuit board in the camera and the camera decides which shutter speed to
use and you are you able to choose which aperture you want right so that’s the
electro spotMatic if I make some mistakes I’m sure someone will correct
me but it’s my understanding that that’s the way this counter went down and
that’s why I do it out there alright so earlier while I was talking
about SMC we mentioned Zeiss and there was a collaboration between zeiss west
over cooking and they were actually looking for a Japanese partner because
they originally tried to make as SLRs and I think they did in Seoul as well
they felt I think it was the Eco X and the contracts SLRs line of cameras so
they were looking to get more momentum with the SLR industry and one of the
companies that the first had like a fling with was Asahi Pentax now here is
a rumor and I don’t know how true this is but they say that the SMC coatings
that Asahi Pentax came up with were came out was co-developed by his eyes and
Asahi Pentax and so Pentax use SMC and Zeiss walked away with like the if you
ever had like a Zeiss lens had like a little tea a red tea with a little
asterisk so that’s like they’re they’re coating right so some people say that
those are actually the same coatings now I don’t actually know or I don’t even
know if this story is true but that’s what the rumor going around saying is
that like the the SMC coating and zeiss t* risk coating came out of this
alliance or legions and some people say it’s the same thing I have no idea but I
do know that the K mount was born out of this collaboration and actually some of
the lenses that they came out from this time were actually kind of I want to say
the clones of there’s ice counterparts but they’re very directly influenced by
Zeiss they were like Zeiss plans but they were Pentax produced and one of
them is the Pentax 28mm f/2 aka the hollywood lens and another one I think
it was the Takumar 15mm f3.5 I think that that was also like a pretty
big lens for them I’m not sure it was like the first super wide angle lens
they made but I believe it came out of collaboration with Zeiss along with the
came out and quite possibly some would let me know the SMC coatings yeah
anyways this fleeing with Zeiss was ultimately cut short and they ended up
making a partnership with Yashica and I believe that his eyes gave them the gave
Yashika the Contax name as I guess like a friendship friendship kind of
thing like a friendship gift here you keep context and that’s how your sheikah
contacts was born one eternity later ok like just right now I I had to look up
the whole the T*s and SMC coding information and this is what I
came up with so I’m just gonna put it out there and quote such multi-layer
coatings were first used in the 1950s for wide-angle lenses that often
consisted of 18 or more optical surfaces we’re talking about the multi-layer
coatings these multi-layer coatings were labeled MC
in Jena and T* in OberKochen I only know how to
say a job because German names anyways as of 1972 each size camera lens has
been provided with a multi-layer coating that’s quote Dr. Hans Sauer Zeiss press
of information February 20 1973 so there you go
whatever you want to make of it this whole Zeiss Pentax thing is really quite
interesting but uh yeah anyways I’ve also heard another thing like the T* multi layer coatings were actually a response to the Pentax SMC
coatings so like they didn’t wanna stay behind so they develop their own multi
coatings but anyways I’m putting this information out there and like I said
someone’s going to let me know the correct thing but it’s really
interesting others like camera information stuff this why I say that
history gets so convoluted with these like old camera histories and that’s one
of the reasons why I probably liked them so much anyways we’re still in the 70s
right we haven’t gotten very far and it’s worth noting that another really
awesome lens unfortunately this is not a lens that I own because 85mm
lenses are actually quite expensive but here we have the SMC Takumar 85mm
f1.8 if I had to get another lens another 85 which already have some
85 s and but I would really like to get my hands on this lens and if you have
one consider yourself lucky I only need the 85 and the 105 to complete my
super takumar collection so it’s in the plans for someday we mentioned that this
was the production of the creation of the came on right this collaboration
with ice and my favorite SLR camera came out that’s the k1000 the k1000 deserves
its own video to be on like I said I sold all my other Pentax
cameras in a attempt to declutter and I just kept the k1000 it is the student
camera most people have started using
unlearning films start off with camera many college courses people use this
camera I said drew Barrymore uses the K100 for like 10 years and even
though she tried other cameras she always came back to this one I always
liked this camera because it’s so basic like when I should film I just I just
want to enjoy it and I just want to take pictures and the great thing about the
k1000 it is it isn’t reliant on electronics like it’s like very
bare-bones if the battery dies only the light meter dies and then you can just
use like the sunny 16 rule or something and you’re fine so the k1000 had like
the longest production run I believe from the time of production I think it
stopped stopped being produced in the early 2000s like I don’t know the exact
year but I do know that the k1000 had like the the world record on the like
longest production run for an SLR camera and yeah I like my K 1000 more much I
would never part with it and maybe in the future I’ll make one video just
about it but if you’re watching this video you probably use the k1000 when
you were in school or you’re thinking about buying one or you just probably
remember seen one somewhere because these things were everywhere and by now
Asahi Pentax has sold like millions and millions of cameras so yeah oh another
piece of trivia is the the K mount was actually like bayonet mount a bayonet
style mount and around this time Pentax was still clinging to the old m42 mounts
but the problem was those were a little bit too too narrow and by now all the
other camera companies had already switched to it like the some kind of
bayonet style mount so these are by net style mounts you just kind of positioned
and you clicked no like a little dot put the doll in place and then you
clicked into place that’s a bayonet style mount and I think the exacto was
the first bayonets down mount I’m not really sure but anyways just a little
information about the the key mounts oh I I must also add that Pentax is like
one of the only camera companies that their cameras can pretty much all use k
mounts were like not like the super newest I think we’re like almost other
cameras can use came out lenses even without the like the the automatic
features and regarding the digital SLRs of Pentax and the mirrorless ones too I
believe that they all of them from the very beginning were able to save in
Adobe raw DNG and that separated them from the other camera companies that
always constantly needed like Lightroom updates to be able to read the format
but like that’s one of the things about Pentax is like they were always able to
read no matter which Lightroom or Photoshop you had you were always able
to use that format so I thought that’s real cool piece of trivia and probably
another reason why people love him so much and probably know the reason why
I’m making this video because I love Pentax too but yeah this video is
getting quite long with all these little trivia things but that’s kind of what I
like about these videos anyways back to the k1000 the reason it’s called the
k1000 is uh actually he was able to reach a maximum speed of one over a
thousand and so hence the name was a k1000 and like I said this camera was
ridiculous it was everywhere and even among older SLR cameras for some reason
this one still costs more than the others even though there are like more
newer ones and modern ones those are actually much cheaper I always see the
k1 thousands go for more than the newer cameras and I really wonder why that is
because they actually had the most of these cameras theoretically these
cameras should be cheaper and they are still cheap relatively but
they’re usually a little bit more expensive than other SLR cameras
probably because they last forever and they’re just really will build cameras
and everybody loves them anyways we’re barely around we’re getting into the
like the late 70s now and we start seeing the introduction of the MX and ME
cameras and I think I didn’t want to get into every single camera that Pentax
made but like here is like a response to Olympus because Olympus is trying to
market the whole small and portable thing and like Pentax starts going for
like the same kind of angle with its PR like these are small cameras and they’re
easy to use and they’re very portable but they’re still rugged so that’s the
thing with these Pentax ME cameras or Pentax MX cameras compactness was the name of the
game and we also see the introduction of the Pentax Auto 110 I forget the exact
specifications of this camera I never was able to get my hands on one of them
but like I heard that they were like really small really compact and by some
people they were referred to as kind of like spy cameras and this took 110 film
it also had like its own cysts and interesting note about this camera is
like I believe I heard that the shutter acted as its own aperture and that’s one
of the reasons they were able to keep this camera like so small and yeah like
the electronics in this camera don’t really didn’t really last as long as
other cameras so that’s just what I heard I I don’t have any experience
using the Auto 110 but it sounds like a pretty fun camera and the complaints I
heard were mostly that as a photographer you really didn’t have much control over
the image like their camera did everything pretty much by itself and you
couldn’t really do many artsy things with it except just kind of point and
shoot for the most part and yeah it was like the only one time camera with
interchangeable lenses at the time and then that caught on and I believe all
the other job his camera company started doing their
own thing around the 1:10 system too but yeah just another one of those of Pentax
things that they’re going more towards the whole just it’s fun it’s easy and
point-and-shoot kind of cameras we’re not pointing shoot but they’re really
trying to market Pentax as like it’s an air is a thing everybody’s doing just
hold the Pentax it’s easy to use and I think that’s one of the part of the
reasons that they failed is that at the time all these cameras were starting to
embrace electronics and technology and I don’t want to say this where the pixel
peepers really started to take off but like this is where the camera geeks ruin
Pentax I guess could like they just wanted to have fun they just wanted
everyone to take a picture but like everyone else we’re starting to chase
the electronics and the latest features that cameras had to offer and even
though Pentax was like way ahead of their time in terms of innovation and
creating their own things and not following the trends they were just not
very good at marketing themselves you know like Canon Nikon and all of them
they were trying to market themselves like a professional cameras and
top-of-the-line electronics and Pentax was just trying to market themselves as
just like easy-to-use and fun you know with these kind of cameras and you’ll
see a later on where they start releasing all these colorful cameras in
the 2000s 2010s i don’t really know what to think of those cameras but anyways
i’m getting off track now right now would be a pretty good time to start
talking about the different kinds of Pentax lenses Pentax lenses or deserve
their own video – like there’s just so many of them I mean you have like the
yeah like the preset system with the early Takumar you have like the auto
Takumar yeah the m42 mounds you have the K by
your mount then you start getting the M mounts which actually I think the
lenses the K lines are still working like on the M but the M was more for
like compactness and your with the ME series so these lenses are
all about these are small and cute but still rugged and useful then you start
getting like is it the a yeah the a mounts actually it’s still you can still
use the K lenses like interchangeably I think no you can still use the K
lenses but like the a was more for like outer aperture I believe there’s
actually so many lenses there’s also like the F series which are like full
for auto focus and then there’s like the DAs and the FAs there are so many kinds
of lenses I don’t really think I can get into all these lenses so I know some
people out there going to get kind of mad but I just want to point out that I
know these lenses exist so if I don’t really talk about them in this video
it’s just that there is just so many of them and like yeah I don’t know how long
this video is already but I’m probably going to have to make this video 3 parts
I thought that the Pentax history video would be two parts but I think it
wouldn’t have to make it three parts in the end and next time we’re gonna start
talking about the LX system which is like Pentax only attempts to get into
like the whole professional realm which might have been too late for them we’re
going to find out but yeah leave your thoughts let me know if I made any
mistakes and yeah let’s I’ll see you around next time