Pentax Ricoh announces name change, but what will it mean for the Pentax brand?


posted Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 3:05 PM EDT


Don't panic, Pentax fans. The venerable camera brand is not going away anytime soon. Earlier today, the Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company, LTD issued a press release announcing a name change to the Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd., effective August 1, 2013. Some have assumed, wrongly, that this could mean the death of the Pentax brand.

In fact, the Pentax name will still be used on all the company's digital SLRs, interchangeable lens cameras, and binoculars. Ricoh, which is the parent company to Pentax, will use its brand name for compact cameras and "new technological innovations," according to the press release.

Our contact for Pentax Ricoh Imaging in the U.S. said this was consistent with a plan that had already been in the works.

"The announcement of the official name change to Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation is not a major departure from the direction we were headed in before, it is more of a legal formality," Jim Malcolm, executive vice president of the newly christened company, told Imaging Resource

And, in fact, the Pentax name has been "just" a brand for most of its life, so in some ways this is a return the status quo. Here's a breakdown of how the Pentax name has been used over the years.

  • Pre-1954, Pentax was a brand name of VEB Zeiss Ikon. (The name was formed as a contraction of "pentaprism", and Zeiss Ikon's Contax brand).

  • From 1954 until 2002, Pentax became a brand of Asahi Optical, after the latter purchased the name.

  • From 2002 to 2007, Pentax was adopted as the company name for the first time in its history.

  • From 2007 to 2011, Pentax returned to brand status under new owner Hoya.

  • In 2011, it became a company in its own right again, but only briefly, before becoming Pentax Ricoh Imaging.

Today's Pentax Ricoh announcement comes on the heels of some other photography branding news. Just last week, famed optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss AG announced it would be removing "Carl" from its brand and become, simply, Zeiss, going forward.

As the French might say: "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."