Although I have a deep and abiding respect for the many marketing people without whom I could not do my job, I have to wonder at the sanity of the marketing genius that came up with the name for Pentax’s previous line of digital SLRs. The name, “*ist”, was explained to me by a marketing guy from Pentax UK, and to be fair he thought it was a bloody stupid idea too. The asterisk is a wild-card character, you see, and the –ist part is like scientist, or artist, or any other sort of –ist, so with the wild-card it means the camera can be anything you want it to be…
Yeah, right. It’s a camera, which means it takes pictures. How can you go into a shop and ask for a product if you can barely even pronounce it? “I’d like an asterisk-ist DL2 please.” Try saying that out loud; it sounds stupid, and I can’t help but wonder how much better the *ist range would have sold if it had been given a more sensible name.
Well, maybe now we can find out, because when Pentax was naming its newest range of SLRs that marketing genius must have been locked out of the meeting. Instead of wild cards it just has the letter K, which harks back to Pentax’s most famous film SLR, the classic K1000 with which we all learned photography at school. Trading on a legacy like that has got to be a better idea than some wacky marketing gimmick.
Echoing the K1000 is also appropriate to the first of the new models, the K100D and its stablemate the K110D. Launched simultaneously both are 6-megapixel entry-level cameras aimed at newcomers to digital SLR photography. The only difference between the two models is that the K100D features Pentax’s newly developed moving sensor Shake Reduction system. The new models will replace the consumer-orientated cameras in the *ist range, including the DS2. Pentax’s other new camera, the 10-megapixel K10D due to go on sale this month, will replace the aging *ist D.
The pricing of the new models is highly competitive. The K100D is available online for around £399 complete with a lens, while the K110D is about £50 less. This compares favourably with other entry-level DSLRs, including the Nikon D40 (6MP, £399), Canon EOS 400D (10MP, £480) and the Olympus E-500 (9MP, £500). It’s worth noting that none of these competing cameras have shake reduction systems. The next cheapest DSLR to feature that technology is the Sony Alpha A100 at £490.