Ricoh, Pentax’s parent company, has started a new film camera project, so the legendary brand, which produced some of the greatest film cameras ever, may soon return.
The “Research and Development of New Pentax-brand Film Camera Products” is the stated goal of Ricoh’s recently announced “Film Camera Project.” That’s potentially really exciting news if you learned photography on a Pentax K1000 (above) or are curious in the tactile delights of 35mm film.
There are a few things to consider before you begin constructing a darkroom in your backyard shed. The initiative is in its early stages, and Ricoh has made several seemingly contradicting remarks. “I want to underline that this statement does not imply we will introduce new film cameras,” says Noboru Akahane, president and chief executive officer of Ricoh.
Thankfully, it seems more like a word of warning about the project’s complexity than a lack of enthusiasm on their part. Takeo Suzuki, Ricoh’s product planner, has outlined the film camera concept in a debut video (opens in new tab; see below). “We aim to commercialise not one but a succession of film cameras,” he explains.
“Let’s start by creating a pocketable film camera. Afterward, we’ll create a high-end small model, an SLR model, and, perhaps, a fully-mechanical SLR camera while studying a variety of technologies “in addition, Suzuki says. While the latter may be some time off, the first camera will be focused on making a film model with a “strong guarantee” and “comes at an accessible price for younger customers.”
So, the previous word of warning was sent solely because the corporation is still in the learning phase about the viability of new film cameras. Akahane elaborates as follows: “We are also aware of how difficult it will be to revive film camera manufacturing after it has been discontinued for so long. Really, we haven’t even gotten very far yet “.
Ricoh and Pentax will “continue research into producing new Pentax-brand film camera devices,” but the meaning is quite apparent. And it may lead to a brand new film camera and some kind of follow-up maintenance programme. Why, though? Due to the current renaissance of film photography, this undertaking is more than just a foolish exercise in nostalgia.
The use of film cameras, first, has increased in popularity. Since there is currently very little data on worldwide film camera sales, the evidence for this is mostly anecdotal and cultural. A pack of Kodak Portra 400 (opens in new tab), for example, now costs nearly twice as much as it did three years ago, and the same is true of Fujifilm’s colour film.
This is in part due to Kodak and Fujifilm’s failure to accurately predict future demand, which has resulted in a scarcity that has been compounded by supply chain problems. But new, independent manufacturers are springing up to meet demand, and things should look much brighter once the “Pentax Film Project” is completed.
Both Ricoh and Pentax have underlined in their initiative the rising popularity of film cameras. Ricoh claims this is the case because younger people are still using film cameras, having their photographs developed, and then posting the digital copies to social media without ever having printed the originals.
However, the main issue with film cameras from the past is that they are so outdated. This implies that moving components, such as the shutter, are susceptible to failure and need service by one of a shrinking pool of qualified experts. While still in its infancy, this new initiative has the potential to improve many aspects of what it means to possess a film camera.
Last but not least, there is no serious competition, especially from manufacturers with Pentax’s background, therefore the Ricoh and Pentax collaboration makes sense. From the 1950s forward, Pentax was at the forefront of Japanese film camera innovation, releasing groundbreaking models such as the Pentax Spotmatic in 1960, the first camera to use TTL (through-the-lens) metering, eliminating the need for a separate light metre.
Whether you’re interested in the revival of 35mm film cameras but aren’t sure if a new Pentax K1000 SLR will emerge, keep an eye on the “Film Camera Project.”
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