Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd. has announced a new project to research and develop a modern Pentax-brand film camera series. Responding to the resurgence of film photography, the Tokyo headquartered company envisions the creation of a new camera series complete with post-sale service and warranties.
A team of engineers has formed to take on the challenge, combining veteran knowledge of film cameras with the latest technologies and concepts from their digital lines. As mentioned by Pentax designer, TKO, in the introduction video below, the first target is a compact film camera. If this is successful, the next targets will include a high-end compact, followed by an SLR, and a fully mechanical SLR.
Fans and enthusiasts will be called upon as well to take part. Ricoh says the project depends on support from film photographers and creators including promotional assistance online and offline but also feedback for the product development team. The team says they are working on a way to communicate updates to as well as input from users across the globe.
Noboru Akahane, President and CEO of Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd. says, “We welcome your support and critical thoughts as part of this co-creation project. It’s a great pleasure to have you join us and work together with us on the challenges of this new film camera project.” (Source: Ricoh Press Release)
Worth noting, Akahane is not guaranteeing the production of new film cameras, but rather the assurance of the start of the project.
“I want to stress that this announcement does not mean we will release new film cameras. Instead, it’s an ongoing project based on the assumption that, as long as photographers remain obsessed with the ambiance of light and environment, there will also be some who will want to use film cameras as their tool of choice in capturing unique images.” – Noboru Akahane, President and CEO of Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd.
He also reminds the photographic community that this year in January, the company declared a “rebirth” of Ricoh Imaging where they announced a commitment to listen more attentively to customer voices and find better ways of communicating with them.
Ricoh has seen evidence of the rising popularity of film photography amongst its own customers. Approximately 20% of 3,000 Ricoh camera users surveyed in Japan also owned film cameras, not including disposable or instant formats.
They recognize the void in the middle of the new film camera market that sits between disposable and plastic reusable cameras and Leica. Additionally, they have heard the lament from users about the lack of after-sale service and warranties when buying used film cameras. It is for these reasons they decided to take the plunge into creating products that aim to satisfy all film camera users’ needs.
Taking on the challenge of creating new film cameras while also innovating their digital ones is no small task. Even TKO says in the film project video he doesn’t know where the project will end or even if they will give up before it is done. Most encouraging will be the support from the community and market as the team develops the ideas and feedback into reality. This is one not only to watch but to engage.
Featured image by Gabriel Peter.