PENTAX has always been a unique brand of camera. Never one to imitate other makes, PENTAX has stuck to its pursuit of original value to create high-performance cameras used and loved by pros and amateur photographers alike.
Looking back on the history of PENTAX, going back to its origins at Asahi Optical Co., Ltd. The company was established in 1919 as Asahi Optical Joint Stock Co. It manufactured eyeglass lenses and projection lenses. In 1952, the company began camera production with its “Asahiflex I”, the first single-lens reflex camera made in Japan. In 1954, this model evolved into “Asahiflex IIB”, the first camera in Japan equipped with a quick-return mirror. The “ASAHI PENTAX (AP)”, which came out in 1957, was the first camera to come equipped with a pentagonal roof prism —pentaprism— as well as a quick-return mirror. This was the first time the name PENTAX appeared. These models were followed by many other cameras—exclusively SLR—equipped with unique features that were the first of their kind, both in Japan and in the world. In 1964, the “ASAHI PENTAX SP” was the first SLR with TTL (through-the-lens) metering. “ASAHI PENTAX ES”, launched in 1971, was the world’s first with TTL full-aperture metering, aperture priority and automatic exposure control.
Not all PENTAX cameras used 35 mm film. In 1969, the maker put out the first medium-format SLR with built-in TTL exposure metering that used 6 x 7 format. The camera was aptly named “PENTAX 6 x 7”. A medium-format camera using 645 format, the “PENTAX 645” (1984). Not only did PENTAX mobilize the medium-format camera world with 35 mm cameras, but it also launched the first medium-format autofocus camera, “PENTAX 645N” (1997), achieving both high-quality pictures and mobility. The camera has been used and loved by photography lovers of all kinds.
As for digital SLR cameras, in 2003, “PENTAX *ist D” was unveiled as the smallest and lightest weight camera in the world. “PENTAX K100D” (2006) was well-received as the first PENTAX digital SLR to have built-in shake reduction mechanism. The same year, “PENTAX K10D” was released. It had the same functions as K100D as well as the first dustproof and weather-resistant structure, and achieving a reputation for overall excellence in digital SLR camera. It received three major international camera awards: TIPA, Camera Grand Prix 2007, and EISA. In the years that have followed, the maker has continued to release unique cameras, such as the digital SLR with the well-known medium-format 645 mount, “PENTAX 645D”.