COURSE OF HISTORY

1919~
Departure as a lens manufacturer

In 1919, the history of PENTAX that started out as Asahi Optical Joint Stock Co. From manufacturlng lenses for wearable eyeglasses, blnocularsfand lenses for movie fprojectors to later expanding their field of activity to development and design of lenses for cameras. PENTAX has always had a reputation for their lens coating technologies.

  • 1919
    "Asahi Optical Joint Stock Co." is established
    Founder, Kumao Kajiwara, establishes Asahi Optical Joint Stock Co. in Otsuka, Tokyo
    Manufactures lenses for wearable eyeglasses and binoculars
  • 1920
    World events : The world's first radio broadcast in the Unites States
  • 1923
    Manufactures "AOCO," the first projection lens for movies produced in Japan
  • 1927
    World events : Lindbergh realizes the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic
  • 1930
    • World events : The 1st World Cup soccer tournament held in Uruguay
    • World events : C. W. Tombaugh discovers Pluto
  • 1931
    • The design of the first camera lens produced in Japan is completed
    • Supplies lenses for the "Pearlette" folding camera by Rokuoh-sha (current: Konica Minolta)
  • 1934
    New factory constructed in Sugamo-Shinden
  • 1938
    "Asahi Optical Co., Ltd." is established
  • 1939
  • World events : Start of World WarII
  • 1940
    • Construction of Ohyama Factory completed
    • Manufactures the Promar lens of Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko (current: Konica Minolta)
  • 1946
    Business resumed after the end of the war. Conducts processing and polishing of lenses for binoculars and cameras
  • 1948
    Releases the "6×15 Jupiter" micron binoculars
    6×15 Jupiter micron binoculars
  • 1950
    Manufactures the lenses for the "Micro Camera" by Sanwa Shokai
    Lens coating technologies are highly evaluated from this time

column 1

Lens coating technologies of PENTAX that continue to evolve

PENTAX has had a reputation for their lens coating technologies since the 1950's when they were manufacturing lenses for products by other companies. Starting with the world's first multi-layer coating, "Super-Multi-Coating," up to this day, PENTAX has continued to polish their power of expression with various coating technologies. Amongst such, the following are some representative types of coating.


Aero Bright Coating

The Aero Bright Coating is the latest lens coating technology that has been created using nanotechnology. On top of a normal multi-layer coating, a layer of silica aero gel having homogeneous gaps of air is applied as a coating. By letting air with a low refractive index in between the stable silica nano particles, a coating having an ultra-low refractive index and high transparency is achieved. Surface reflection has been greatly reduced. Furthermore, by using a new super-low refractive index layer formation process, we have developed "Aero Bright Coating II" which enhances low-reflectance properties.

Aero Bright Coating

HD Coating

In general, multi-layer coatings involve forming a thin layer on the surface of the lens with vacuum deposition. However, with this method, it was difficult to increase the density of the coating layer. There was also the issue of uneven layer thicknesses and refractive rates. These were due to the manufacturing method. The "HD Coating" resolved such issues by using a special manufacturing method. A high density layer is formed with high precision in the order of nanometers.
By realizing precision with the designed layer thickness, reflectance over the entire visible light range has been greatly reduced (less than 50% of conventional multi-layer coating).
This is effective in suppressing ghosts and flares. In addition, the extremely hard layer also realizes excellent durability.

HD Coating

Multi-layer Coating

Interchangeable lenses by PENTAX are created with a unique multi-layer coating which reduces surface reflection to approximately one tenth of that of a lens having a single layer coating.
With this coating, while increasing the transmittance of light across the entire visible light range, harmful UV rays are cut almost entirely. This minimizes the occurrence of ghosts and flares in bad lighting such as backlight and makes it possible to capture images with great transparency.

SP Coating

A special coating uniquely developed by PENTAX which has the effect of protecting the lens by being applied to the front of the first lens. With excellent water and oil repellency making it more difficult for dust, water, and oil to make stains on the lens. This coating also provides the feature of enabling easy removal even in the case that the lens becomes dirty.

1952~ 
Becoming the pioneer of single-lensereflex cameras

In 1952, the first single-lens reflex camera manufactured in Japan, the "Asahiflex I," was born. Thereafter, with such as the "quick-retum mirror mechanism" and the world's first "automatic exposure" whlch later has become standard amongst slngle-lens reflex cameras, PENTAX has developed numerous innovative new technologies to establish a firm position as a camera manufacturer.

  • 1952
    The "Asahiflex I" is launched.
    The "Takumar 50mm F3.5" (the standard lens for the Asahiflex I, mount diameter of 37 mm, screw-on type with a pitch of 1 mm), and the "Takumar 100mm F3.5," the first interchangeable lens designed for the Asahiflex were introduced
    Asahiflex I
  • 1954
    • The "Asahiflex IIB" equipped with the "quick-return mirror mechanism" is launched.
    • World events : The first color television broadcast in the United States
  • 1955
    • "Asahi Pentax Corporation" is established in Japan as a sales company
    • The "Asahiflex II A" is launched
  • 1957
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX" (commonly referred to as AP) is launched
      The "ASAHI PENTAX" featuring a pentaprism finder and a lens mount diameter of 42 mm is launched
    • World events : Sputnik, the world's first space satellite is successfully launched
    ASAHI PENTAX (commonly referred to as AP)
  • 1958
    The "ASAHI PENTAX K" featuring a microprism for the focusing screen is launched
  • 1959
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX S2" is launched.
    • The symbolic mark for Asahi Optical is established
    The symbolic mark for Asahi Optical
  • 1960
    • The "SPOTMATIC," the world's first SLR camera equipped with a TTL metering system is exhibited for reference at Photokina
    • The "quick-return mirror" is awarded the General Director of Science and Technology Agency Award

column 2

Challenges with TTL and electronization which boosted SLR technologies

In the history of launching a number of revolutionary SLR cameras, especially significant innovations are the employment of the TTL method and the mounting of an electronic mechanism. Starting from the "ASAHI PENTAX S3" integrated with the detachable electronic exposure meter, in a period of approximately 10 years, SLR cameras by PENTAX evolve into SLR cameras that are refined and less difficult to operate.


ASAHI PENTAX S3

ASAHI PENTAX S3 (1961)

Inter-connected operation is enabled with the "PENTAX METER," a detachable electrical exposure meter integrated with the shutter speed.

ASAHI PENTAX SV

ASAHI PENTAX SV (1962)

Equipped with a self timer. The film counter becomes an automatically resetting counter linked with the opening/closing of the back cover

ASAHI PENTAX SP

ASAHI PENTAX SP (1964)

The "TTL metering system" using the average metering system which measures the light passing through the lens is equipped for the first time.

ASAHI PENTAX ES

ASAHI PENTAX ES (1971)

The world's first SLR camera with aperture priority auto exposure featuring a circuit for recording the amount of light and an electronic shutter.

ASAHI PENTAX ES II

ASAHI PENTAX ES II (1973)

An IC is used for the electronic circuit of the exposure metering to successfully improve processing speed and realize miniaturization of the circuit. A self timer is also equipped.

ASAHI PENTAX SPF

ASAHI PENTAX SPF (1973)

The "Photo Switch" function is equipped with which the exposure meter circuit automatically operates when light enters the lens.

  • 1961
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX S3" is launched
    • The "Asahi Spot Exposure Meter (Spot Meter I)" is launched
  • 1962
    • "Asahi Optical Europe" is established in Belgium
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX SV" is launched
    • The "Fish-eye Takumar 18mm F11," the world's first diagonal fish-eye lens for 35 mm SLR cameras is launched
    • World events : The Beatles make their debut
  • 1964
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX SP" is launched.
      The "ASAHI PENTAX SP," a mass-production model of the "SPOTMATIC" is launched. The "Super Takumar Zoom 70-150mm F4.5," the company's first zoom lens is launched
    • World events : The Tokyo Olympics takes place
    ASAHI PENTAX SP
  • 1967
    • The "Motor Drive System" is launched
    • World events : The European Community (EC) is established
  • 1969
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX 6×7" medium format camera is launched
    • 50th Anniversary
    • World events : Apollo 11 successfully lands on the moon
  • 1971
    • The "Super-Multi-Coating," the world's first multi-layer lens coating is developed
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX ES" equipped with the world's first TTL open-aperture metering, aperture priority and auto exposure mechanism is launched
    ASAHI PENTAX ES
  • 1972
    "Asahi Carl Zeiss" is established and the company enters the field of eyeglasses
  • 1973
    The "ASAHI PENTAX SPF" and the "ASAHI PENTAX ES II," which replaced the recording circuit of the ES with an IC, are launched
  • 1975
    • The K series SLR cameras using the K mount are launched
      The "ASAHI PENTAX K2/KX/KM" K series SLR cameras using the bayonet mount (K mount) are launched
    • The "SMC PENTAX Lens" employing the K mount makes its appearance
    ASAHI PENTAX KM
  • 1976
    • The compact and lightweight "ASAHI PENTAX MX/ME" M series cameras are launched
    • "Pentax Corporation" is established in the United States
  • 1977
    PENTAX enters the field of industrial equipment and medical equipment
  • 1978
    "Pentax Canada" is established
  • 1979
    Reached the production of 8 million SLR cameras
  • 1980
    • The "PENTAX LX," a premium model designed for professional use to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Asahi Optical’s founding is launched
      A dustproof and weather-resistant structure is featured for the first time with a SLR camera by PENTAX, eventually becoming a long-seller product sold for over 20 years
    • The "ASAHI PENTAX auto 110" is mounted on a rocket for observation of constellations by NASA in the United States
    PENTAX LX
  • 1981
    • The "PENTAX ME-F," the world's first TTL auto focusing SLR camera is launched
    • The company enters the field of electronic imaging
  • 1982
    The "PENTAX PC35AF", the first compact camera by PENTAX is launched
  • 1983
    • The "PENTAX SuperA" featuring multiple exposure modes is launched and awarded the European Camera of the Year
    • The "smc PENTAX-A Lens" employing the KA mount with a contact point for lens information makes its appearance
  • 1984
    The "PENTAX 645" professional-use SLR camera of the 645 format is launched
    PENTAX 645
  • 1985
    The SLR cameras, P series, a popularization entry type model with Program and auto exposure (AE) are launched
  • 1986
    • The "PENTAX ZOOM 70," the world's first compact camera equipped with a zoom lens is launched
    • World events : Single-use cameras (disposable cameras) make their appearance
  • 1987
    The "PENTAX SFX," the world's first SLR camera equipped with an internal flash is launched
  • 1990
    • The "PENTAX ZOOM 105 Super" is launched and awarded the European Compact Camera of the Year
    • World events : German reunification
  • 1991
    • The "PENTAX Z-1" high-grade AF-equipped SLR camera of the Z series is launched
      The "PENTAX Z-1" high-grade autofocus SLR camera of the Z series featuring innovative exposure mechanisms such as Hyper Program and Hyper Manual in addition to a powered zooming mechanism is launched
    • The "PENTAX ZOOM 90WR," the world's first weather-resistant zoom compact camera is launched
    • Reached the production of 5 million zoom compact cameras
    PENTAX Z-1
  • 1992
    The "PENTAX Z-1" is awarded the Japan Camera Grand Prix
  • 1995
    • The "PENTAX MZ-5," the world's smallest autofocus SLR camera is launched
      The "PENTAX MZ-5" is launched. The world's smallest autofocus SLR camera designed based on the concept of "intuitive operation"
    • The "smc PENTAX-F Fish-eye Zoom 17-28mm F3.5-4.5," the world's first fish-eye zoom lens makes its appearance
    ペンタックス MZ-5

1997~ 
Entering the era of digital cameras

In 1997. amidst significant changes in the world due to the growing trend of IT. PENTAX entered the market for digital cameras. Without changing the company's orientation of manufacturing, unique products were launched and loved by many fans. PENTAX will continue the callenesof aiming to realize further reform ophotgraphic expressions.

  • 1997
    • The "PENTAX 645N" is launched
      The "PENTAX 645N," the world's first lens interchangeable autofocus medium format SLR camera is launched
    • The "PENTAX EI-C90" digital still camera is launched
    • The "PENTAX efina" APS compact camera is launched
    • The "smc PENTAX-FA 43mmF1.9 Limited" makes its appearance as the first lens in the series of Limited lens that continue to this day
    • World events : The Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars
    PENTAX 645N

column 3

The smc PENTAX-FA Limited lens that captivated many fans

Ever since the starting of business in 1919, PENTAX has expanded the possibilities of expressions through photography. It can even be said that the path taken is in fact the history of evolution in lens development. The Limited lens series that boast high popularity amongst the many different lenses that are available, and in particular the "smc PENTAX-FA Limited" lens with a distinctive focal length has captivated a great number of PENTAX fans since its launch.


smc PENTAX-FA 43mmF1.9 Limited

An appearance as the first lens in the FA Limited series. In addition to a bright F1.9 and the ability of close-up photography as close as 0.45 m, the lens with a bokeh realized with its eight diaphragm blades is filled with appealing factors as a high-quality single focus lens.
Apart from the black exterior, the lens is also available in silver which shows the texture of machined aluminum.

smc PENTAX-FA 43mmF1.9 Limited

smc PENTAX-FA 77mmF1.8 Limited

The second lens in the FA Limited series is a bright medium telephoto lens. Made in pursuit of "lens description optimal for shooting portraits and snapshots."
With a design based on high-level evaluations of actual photographs taken, this lens realizes excellent imaging performance from long distances down to its minimum focusing distance of 0.7 m.

smc PENTAX-FA 77mmF1.8 Limited

smc PENTAX-FA 31mmF1.8AL Limited

The third lens in FA Limited series is a 31 mm wide-angle single focus lens. The layout of this lens consists of a large diameter of F1.8, an "AL Lens (glass-molded aspherical lens)" which minimizes spherical aberration, and a high-refraction low-dispersion lens. The lens' natural perspective and excellent imaging abilities realized with the floating system are what makes this lens popular.

smc PENTAX-FA 31mmF1.8AL Limited
  • 1998
    The "PENTAX 645N" is awarded the Camera Grand Prix '98, EISA in Europe, and TIPA which are the three most prestigious camera awards in the world
  • 1999
    • Reached the production of 20 million zoom compact cameras
    • World events : Camera-equipped mobile phones make their appearance
  • 2000
    • PENTAX makes a full-scale entry into the field of digital cameras
      The "PENTAX EI-2000/EI-200" is launched
    • The company develops and commercializes the world's first diffractive DVD/CD-compatible hybrid pickup lens
    PENTAX EI-2000
  • 2002
    • Company name changed to "PENTAX Corporation"
    • World events : Unification of European currencies
  • 2003
    • The "PENTAX *ist D," the first lens interchangeable digital SLR camera by PENTAX is launched
    • The "PENTAX Optio S" compact digital camera that achieved the world's smallest and lightest with a newly developed Sliding Lens System is launched
    PENTAX *ist D
  • 2006
    The "PENTAX K100D" and "PENTAX K10D" digital SLR cameras equipped with a built-in Shake Reduction mechanism are launched
    PENTAX K10D
  • 2007
    The "PENTAX K10D" is awarded the Camera Grand Prix 2007, EISA in Europe, and TIPA which are the three most prestigious camera awards in the world
  • 2008
    The "PENTAX K-m," the world's smallest digital SLR camera equipped with an image sensor equivalent to the APS-C size format is launched
  • 2009
    • The "PENTAX K-7" equipped with a dustproof and weather-resistant structure, magnesium alloy, approx.100% field of view, optical viewfinder, and Full HD movie capturing functions, etc. is launched as a higher-grade model in the K series
    • The "PENTAX K-x" is launched as the world's first camera to offer a color variation available in 100 color patterns.
  • 2010
    • The "PENTAX 645D," the first medium format digital SLR camera by PENTAX is launched
    • World events : Smartphones become widespread
  • 2011
    • The "PENTAX 645D" is awarded the Camera Grand Prix 2011, EISA in Europe, and TIPA which are the three most prestigious camera awards in the world
    • The "PENTAX Q" employing the Q mount lens system is launched as the world's smallest and lightest lens interchangeable digital SLR camera
    PENTAX Q
  • 2012
    The "PENTAX Q10" is released as the first camera in the Q series to realize a color variation available in 100 color patterns.
  • 2013
    • The company renames itself to "RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD."
    • The "PENTAX K-50" is launched as the first entry-class digital SLR camera having a dustproof and weather-resistant structure
    • The "PENTAX Q7" equipped with a 1/1.7-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor is launched
    • The "PENTAX K-3" equipped with the world's first "AA (anti-aliasing) Filter Simulator" function is launched
    • World events : Mt. Fuji in Japan is registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site
  • 2014
    The "PENTAX 645Z" is launched as approx. 51.4 effective megapixel professional medium format digital SLR camera compatible with live-view monitoring
    PENTAX 645Z
  • 2016
    PENTAX makes an entry into the field of 35mm full-frame digital SLR cameras

    The "PENTAX K-1" is released as PENTAX's first 35mm full-frame digital SLR camera
    PENTAX 645Z

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