Pentax and Olympus have very different criteria for pricing their new DSLRs
Pentax and Olympus here in the UK, quite by co-incident, have revealed confirmed suggested retail pricing (SRP) for their soon-to-ship digital SLRs on the same day. The prices quoted are not necessarily the ones punters will pay; street prices are likely to be a few percent lower to start with. Bear in mind that the Canon EOS-10D body was launched at the beginning of March with an SRP of £1499. The typical street price of the 10D now is around £1200.
The Olympus E-1, body-only is set at £1,408.83 inc.VAT (reduced sharply from the initially proposed price of £1699) and with the 28-108 equivalent lens, as a kit, the price is £1,820.08. For more comprehensive Olympus E-system component pricing, click here.
The Pentax *ist D body has been set at £1400 inc.VAT. There are also a number of 'kit' prices according to which lens you'd prefer:
£1529.99 - *ist D + smc 18-35mm (approx equiv 28-55) f/4-5.6 FA AL J
£1499.99 - *ist D + smc 28-80mm (approx equiv 43-125) f/3.5-5.6 FA AL J
£1899.99 - *ist D + smc 20-35mm (approx equiv 31-55) f/4 FA AL
£1799.99 - *ist D + smc 24-90mm (approx equiv 37-140) f/3.5-4.5 FA AL
Making fair comparisons of Olympus and Pentax pricing is not easy. Many Pentax customers will already have lenses, so probably won't need to buy a kit deal and there is no direct Pentax equivalent to the Olympus 14-54 zoom. Meanwhile, all Olympus E-1 customers will, presumably, need to buy a lens as it's a brand new system
The *ist D is, in my opinion, much closer to that of the Canon EOS-10D than the E-1. I've just seen a production example and while it's a lot more solidly built than the prototype I handled at PMA 6 months ago, it's clearly aimed at the high-end amateur market. So it raised an eyebrow when I saw that the E-1 and *ist D body-only prices were confirmed to be within £10 of each other. Technically, you could argue that both are about £100 cheaper than the Canon EOS-10D SRP, but it's street pricing that really counts and we only know where the 10D is in that respect.
On the other hand, the Olympus E-1 is a camera body full of expensive features like weather-proof sealing, die-cast alloy chassis, interchangeable focus screens, sensor cleaning system, etc.
So you could say you are getting more features for your pound with the E-1, but you'll have to spend quite a lot more, overall, as you are forced to buy a lens as well. A Pentax buyer can choose from a wide range of Pentax and third party lens manufacturers.
At the moment, E-1 buyers are confined to Olympus lenses and while Olympus says their pricing is competitive in terms of build quality and specification, if you want a cheap lens, you don't have that option.
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