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Pentax Intros K-x d-SLR, Updates Industry On Reorganization

Pentax used the launch of its latest entry-level d-SLR, the K-x, last week, to update its retailers and the industry on its ongoing reorganization.

The company-wide changes, dubbed The Plan, covers a wide range of policy shifts, including improving retailer relations, getting a better handle on inventory control, and having more discipline when it comes to product development and the company’s finances, said Bill Zani, Pentax’s sales and marketing VP.

Many of the changes were spurred by the executive team at Hoya, which bought Pentax in 2007, Zani said. The financial adjustments centered on focusing on operating profit and have already had an impact, and Ned Bunnell, Pentax’s president, said the company expects to at least break even for its fiscal year, which will end in March 2010. He called this a major accomplishment considering the current economic climate.

“We have a new MAP policy and will now only sell through authorized dealers,” Zani said. “We want responsible sellers, and we want our customers to be partners in our endeavor.”

Pentax also promised to alter the way it does business with its retailers.

“The days of Pentax expecting a seller to go through 13 weeks of product in one day are over,” Zani said.

Pentax will also increase its public relations, marketing and advertising efforts and, with input from Hoya, has updated the approach used to bring products to market.

Bunnell cited the case of the companies K-2000 d-SLR. Pentax wanted to conduct focus groups nationwide to measure the interest in a white-bodied version, but Hoya executives said to simply build several thousand and see how they sell. The suggestion paid off and Bunnell said the company learned much more from watching who bought the cameras and where they were purchased then could have been gleaned from focus groups.

Many of these lessons were carried over to the company’s latest introduction, the K-x.

The $549 K-x is a 12.4-megapixel camera that is a follow-up model to the Pentax K2000, the company said. The camera is based on a CMOS sensor and has a 2.7-inch LCD that features live view, face detection auto focus, contrast and phase difference.

The camera has 720p HD video capture capability at 24 fps through the camera’s 35mm lens.

The camera is being positioned as a gateway product for consumers new to the d-SLR category, Bunnell said.

It will ship in October, although pre-orders are now being accepted. The K-x will come in several color choices: white, black and limited-edition red and navy models will be offered.

The K-x will be available in three configurations:

  • a single-lens kit with a Pentax DA L 18-55mm lens for $649;
  • a twin-lens kit that includes the Pentax DA L 18-55mm lens and a DA L 55-200 zoom lens for $749; and
  • a twin-lens kit that includes the Pentax DA L 18-55mm lens and a DA L 55-300 zoom lens for $849.