104 The Pentax Approach to Camera Design with Aaron Martinez

Today we’re talking about one manufacturer’s approach to camera design and a bit about the Astro-tracer feature that’s built-in to one of their cameras. This is Latitude Photography Podcast, Episode 104 for January 24,  2021

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I am your host, Brent Bergherm. Welcome to Latitude Photography podcast, the place where travel-outdoor photographers come to learn, grow, create and be inspired. Thank you so much for being here.

Today I’m talking Pentax once again but this time I have Aaron Martinez with me, Aaron, welcome to the show!

The World of Pentax

Aaron, tell me, in a nutshell, a bit about you as a photographer, whatever you’d like to share and also I’m interested to know why you shoot Pentax.


Camera Choices; mirrorless or no?

One thing I wanted to talk about is the new release they’ve announced, the K3iii

It’s a new flagship APS-C camera. But maybe before we dive too deeply into it I should state that I’ve long thought that a mirrorless body would absolutely be in my future. And it may still be.

I’ve tested the Fuji system and the Sony. I’ve long considered sticking with Canon and just upgrading there, but I have to admit a huge part of me simply feels a lack of interest in the cameras of today.

The first camera I ever regularly shot with was a Pentax that my brother bought in Hong Kong when he was about 15. A friend had moved over there and he went over to visit. 

In college, I started shooting a Contax 167MT, a beautifully manual and classic styled camera. I bought it in ‘95 I think. It broke so I upgraded significantly to the Nikon F5. Now THAT was a camera!

I soaked the F5 in an underwater housing in ‘03 so I took the opportunity to really consider my options as digital was absolutely happening. At the time I really liked where Canon was headed. So I stayed with film but switched to Canon. I bought the 5D in ‘07 and have been really loving my 5D mk4 ever since late ‘16.

With the announcement of the RF mount I saw the writing on the wall basically saying that I would eventually migrate to mirrorless, but I decided to give all the manufacturers a fair shake since I’d be upgrading all my lenses anyway. 

The Fuji system is an amazing experience to shoot, but ultimately I decided the X-Trans files weren’t for me. I have ablog post about it if anyone is interested and a link is in the show notes. https://brentbergherm.com/shooting-xt3/

Sony cameras–I now regularly shoot an a6400 for video and I took one to Unalaska Island in December 2019–are excellent. The quality I’m experiencing out of that camera is awesome and I know the full frame cameras are also just as amazing. But their design is rather lacking. 

Then comes Pentax. The way they talk about their cameras is rather interesting. I don’t see any other manufacturer doing this. But they are focusing on the design of the product as well as the experience of using the product. As a design professor this really resonates with me!

They play very strongly on their heritage of SLR photography. And they have five principles that guide them:

  1. We design new cameras through sheer devotion.
  2. Our goal is to produce cameras with the power to capture images that allow for direct communication with the subject.
  3. We design cameras that allow our users to enjoy the process involved in taking a picture.
  4. We pursue a level of quality and performance that can’t be measured by numbers alone.
  5. We respect and value the photographic experiences of our users and view this as an invaluable asset.

 The cynic in me wants to say they’re all fluff. But then I read the post by Shigeru Wakashiro, the one in charge of design for Pentax SLR cameras: https://pentaxofficial.com/en/7313/

He talks about the camera has “an attractive shape to express a sense of quality and the joy of possessing it.” And he goes on and on about other design elements and how their goal was to focus on the joy of photography.

In short, I fully admit, this speaks to me.

Pentax K3 mk3

  1. New Optical Viewfinder. Magnification of 1.05x gives a large subject image. New glass material. 
  2. Outstanding operability. Compact body. Touchscreen LCD panel. Well designed grip. 
  3. Image quality improvement. Completely redesigned sensor, engine and accelerator. Max ISO 1.6M. “Can deliver distinctive image quality and ambience immeasurable by numbers alone.”
  4. Continuous shooting and image tracking performance. 12 fps. AF improved by widening focus point coverage. 
  5. 3.2” 1.62 MP LCD screen
  6. 101 AF Points https://pentaxrumors.com/2020/11/09/safox-13-focus-points-arrangement-diagram-pentax-k-3-mark-iii/
  7. 5-axis IBIS (5.5 stops)

“What is the essence of photographic pleasure?” … the joy of recreational photography as a lifetime passion lies not only in the beautiful images the camera captures, but also in the process of picture taking. We want Pentax to be the brand to be for those who desire dramatic exciting photographic experiences.

Link to K3 mk3 information: http://news.ricoh-imaging.co.jp/rim_info2/2020/20201027_029570.html

Let’s talk lenses for a bit

  1. D FA lenses. Help me understand what this means? (Optimized for Digital sensors and extensive communication with the body and Electronic Aperture Mechanism)
  2. smc How about that? (lens coating)
  3. HD (newer coating introduced in 2012)
  4. SDM (built-in AF motor)
  5. AW vs WR (All Weather vs Weather Resistant) AW is the more resistant of the two.
  6. DA (professional)
Pentax Lens Terminology


Your work with Pentax Cameras

  1. You do a lot of astro and nature work. Tell us about your gear setup and the type of images that move you, that you strive to create.
  2. Tell us about the astro function in the K1 mk2. This seems very interesting. In fact, you wrote an article about it for Milkywayphotographers.com: https://milkywayphotographers.com/gear/2019/04/26/pentax-astrotracer-guide-what-it-is-and-how-to-use-it/
  3. And you wrote another article on how the K1 is the best night photography camera ever:https://milkywayphotographers.com/gear/2019/08/23/pentax-k-1-the-true-best-camera-for-night-photography/


  1. Find us on the web at http://latitudephotographypodcast.com
  2. Find me on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brentberghermphoto/
  3. Find the podcast facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1892577214293688/
  4. Find me on instagram @brentbergherm
  5. Find me on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/brentberghermphotography
  6. Find me online at https://brentbergherm.com
  7. Find Aaron at https://aaronmartinez.myportfolio.com
  8. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaronmartinezlandscapephotography
  9. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aaron_martinez_photography/
  10. It is my goal for 2021 to be the  lensrentals.com top affiliate. It’s my plan to use the money, mostly, for more rentals in 2021. So help me get there! The more you rent the more I’ll be able to rent 🙂