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Pentax Lowers Bar On d-SLR Pricing

The incipient price war in the digital SLR category gained momentum as Pentax announced that effective Feb. 2 it would lower the price of its *ist DL digital SLR kit with a 18-55 DA lens from a suggested $799.95 to $599.95.

The *ist DL was introduced in June of 2005 and features a 2.5-inch LCD and 11-point autofocus system.

The move positions the 6-megapixel *ist DL as the least expensive d-SLR on the market, competing against Nikon’s D50, Konica Minolta’s Maxxum 5D and Canon’s initial EOS Digital Rebel.

It also represents an effort by the company to shift its emphasis toward interchangeable lens category and transcend the hyper-competitive compact still camera market, said marketing director Ned Bunnell.

While the company remains committed to selling compact digital cameras, particularly niche models like its waterproof Optio WPi, it will build out its d-SLR lineup to realize greater margins and higher price points, Bunnell said.

The company will also offer a $100 rebate on select SLR lenses through the end of March.

Bunnell said the move was a piece with the company’s heritage, citing the introduction 30 years ago of the K-1000 as “one of the most popular and affordable entry-level film SLRs ever manufactured.”

In related Pentax news, the company announced a special promotion geared around Valentine’s Day where it will sell red and blue versions of its waterproof Optio WPi to consumers direct on its Web site.