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Pentax's *ist DL digital SLR. Courtesy of Pentax, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Pentax announces *ist DL price cut
(Wednesday, February 1, 2006 - 02:00 EST)

Pentax Imaging Co. has today announced an impressive 25% price cut on its *ist DL digital SLR (in kit form with an 18-55mm DA lens).

Effective immediately, the *ist DL kit will have a list price of $599.95, down from the previous $799.95 mark. There's no question this is extremely aggressive (and competitive) pricing. By comparison, similar kits from Canon, Konica Minolta, Nikon, and Olympus currently start from in the region of $650 - $850, and that's street pricing, which is usually a little lower than the list price.

To our knowledge, the new pricing makes Pentax the first to cross the threshold below $600 for a digital SLR bundled with zoom lens. The official press release announcing the price drop brought us to realize an even more impressive fact, however.

In its release, Pentax marketing director Ned Bunnell compares the *ist DL with another model launched 30 years ago - one with which many readers will doubtless be familiar (and on which they perhaps cut their teeth). The Pentax K1000 was a film SLR that gained significant popularity for its low cost, solid construction, and mostly manual feature-set - all of which made it ideal for students learning the skills of a photographer.

During its 21 year life-span, more than 2.5 million Pentax K1000 cameras were sold. We spoke to Pentax, and confirmed that back in 1976, list pricing for a chrome-bodied Pentax K1000 kit, including a 55mm F2.0 lens, was $299.95. Street pricing was in the order of $199.95. "Much lower than what we're paying for a digital SLR now," you might think - but when you account for the affects of inflation, that $199.95 street price becomes the equivalent of $686.30 in today's money - almost $90 more than list pricing on the *ist DL kit!

When you think about it, that means that not only are you no longer paying for film and processing, and getting more for your money (a useful zoom lens in place of a 55mm prime, and a camera body with a range of features like auto exposure, auto focus, etc.), but you're actually doing all that for less than the entry-level film camera would have cost you in stores $30 years ago. This is truly impressive, and a testament to just how far we've come (and to how quickly the digital camera market has matured).

Pentax has kindly provided us with the following two images of a brochure for the Pentax K1000. We think they make fairly interesting reading when compared to the *ist DL specifications of thirty years later.

Courtesy of Pentax Courtesy of Pentax

Original Source Press Release:


GOLDEN, CO (February 1, 2006)...PENTAX Imaging Company has announced a significant price adjustment on the *ist DL digital SLR camera with 18-55 DA lens kit. The price reduction from $799.95 US to $599.95 US takes effect February 1, 2006.

"Digital single lens reflex cameras with interchangeable lenses are gaining in popularity as products have become easier-to-use and prices have fallen," said Ed Lee, Director, Consumer Services and Digital Photography Trends Service InfoTrends, Inc. "Consumers wavering between a higher-end compact digital and a digital SLR will take note of this new PENTAX pricing as will consumers who have been considering an upgrade to a digital SLR," added Lee.

World-renowned for decades for delivering small, lightweight, easy-to-use and affordable SLR systems including bodies, lenses and flashes, PENTAX now offers a suite of nine digital lenses specifically designed for use with PENTAX digital SLR bodies. Rebates up to $100.00 US on select lenses are currently available through March 31, 2006. More details are available at www.pentaxslr.com.

"PENTAX is the first camera manufacturer to offer a digital SLR kit at a price that entry-level users can afford," said Ned Bunnell, marketing director, PENTAX Imaging Company. "In fact, PENTAX is repeating our heritage of 30 years ago when we introduced the K1000, one of the most popular and affordable entry-level film SLRs ever manufactured," added Bunnell.

PENTAX introduced the K1000 SLR film camera in 1976 and sold more than 2.5 million units during the life cycle of the product. Though no longer manufactured, the camera remains popular among students and beginners for its durability, affordability and easy operation in learning the basic fundamentals of photography.

PENTAX Imaging Company is an innovative leader in the production of cameras, sport optics, lenses, mobility products, and Internet cameras. For more than 80 years, PENTAX technology has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of consumers and businesses. PENTAX Imaging Company is a division of PENTAX of America, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PENTAX Corporation of Japan. PENTAX is a trademark of PENTAX Corporation.

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