Pentax has been breaking ground in camera and lens technology for over nine decades -- from introducing LCD screen modules onto cameras with the EI-C90, to cramming more megapixels into a dSLR than you'll know what to do with.
The brand started life in 1919 as the catchily named Tokyo lens supplier Asahi Optical Joint Stock Co -- not to be confused with the similarly-named Japanese brewer. It dropped the Asahi in favour of Pentax Corporation in 2002 before a merger saw it renamed as the Hoya Corporation in 2008. Pentax Imaging Systems then transferred to Ricoh in 2011, which launched the Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company. Got all that? Good, you're up to speed.
Asahi originally manufactured lenses before branching into movie cameras, military instruments, binoculars and, of course, still cameras. It made a name for itself with the seminal Asahiflex range in the 1950s -- the first Japanese 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras -- and the 60s Spotmatic line, which popularised through-the-lens metering.
In 2003, camera and cuppa fans were able to swap their Rich Tea biscuits for the waterproof Optio33WR, described by the company as “the first dunkable digital from Pentax”. More recently, the K-R, released in 2010, was still ranking among CNET UK readers' favourite snappers, a year after it continues to release tasty compact digital cameras such as the Pentax K-01 and its Optio range.