Originally Posted by nickthetasmaniac
A bit OT (and not Leica), but a well known bit of Pentax folklore is that the original Super-Takumar 50/f1.4 '8 element' was an all-in, sold-at-a-loss effort to outperform the Zeiss 50mm Planar. My understanding is that they were successful, before quietly switching to a cheaper 7 element design.
My understanding is that the 7-element 50mm lens that succeeded the 8-element version was made with special (radioactive; thorium?) glass, which Pentax probably felt offered the same performance with one less element. I'm pretty sure the radioactive glass cost more than the more common glass. I don't see it as Pentax lowering their standards.