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.
For further information, visit www.ricoh.com or watch their videos on the project here.
Featured image by Gabriel Peter.
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20 thoughts on “Ricoh Imaging Ltd. Begins R&D for New Pentax Film Camera Series”
My first film camera in the early 70s was a Pentax Spotmatic. I love it because it had a built in light meter. Learning to use a light meter seemed intimidating to me at the time.
What I love about this is that Pentax is trying to revive a fading segment of the photography community and utilizing the skills, experience, and history of the elders to do it.
It will be exciting to watch the progress of this project.
Spotmatics are great! Their philosophy of young and elder engineers working together is beautiful, love how TKO said there were heated discussions, I’m sure there are strong opinions there! Excited as well to see how it develops.
what wonderful news. Merry Christmas to all!
Excellent idea. Whats old is new! Future looks promising. Pentax Takumars a true trademark.
Something to look positively into the future.
Yes! Film is not going away. It does exist side-by-side with digital. It’s long past the time to acknowledge that creatives do work with film; much like artists work with graphite & Illustrator. We’re the only creative form that tried to kill its past.
Very well said and it’s nice that a large manufacturer has finally recognized this.
Some of the trolls on the big D reviewing site and various blogs are still trying to kill off film. I guess they are so superior in their artistic endeavors.
A new compact or high-end compact could be interesting, given the crazy prices for the Yashica T3, but also for the T4/T5. Ricoh should definitely be able to create something like a T5 with an equal good lens, much better AF and all the bells and whistles of the 21st century. Sold for an reasonable price with warranty and spare parts available, this should be a much more reasonable choice than spending hundreds of € on a not repairable 20 – 30 years old compact which can die any moment.
But I don’t see any need for a SLR, not for a modern one with AF nor for a fully mechanical. The AF-SLRs of the last film camera generation of the 1990ies and 2000s only play a minimal role in the film photography revival, because most shooters want the “old analog” feel. And there are still hundreds of thousands of fully mechanical SLRs out there, most of them very cheap, many of them still working and most of them repairable by a skilled repairman. Who should want a new one ? Ricoh is not Leitz who can sell the old M6 for an insane price in 2022.
I hope it is not a simple re-release of Pentax K1000, but something a bit more innovative.
Just make the Pentax MX again. Folks will be amazed to see what a proper viewfinder is like.
Could never understand why no one just made a digital MX, F1 or FM and called it done! Instead we wasted 20 years reinventing the wheel.. Apparently forgetting everything anyone had ever learned about camera design. Only very recently have digital cameras arrived that begin to match the handling and viewfinders of 40 year old film cameras.
This is the best news I’ve heard all year! Let’s hope it isn’t done in true Pentax style where they make an announcement and then deliver a product 6 years too late after everyone has lost interest and the market has moved on. I’m hoping that they will have something in the pipeline to release soonish.
Good news. Of course other issues such as film supply and processing services will need to be addressed. It’s a chicken and egg thing. In my dreams Kodachrome would also make a comeback although I know that’s highly unlikely..
( I currently own 8 working film cameras, with a Spotmatic also on my radar )
Various versions of the Spotmatic cameras are still available at reasonable prices. The Takumar lenses have aged well and are mostly superb optical quality. I suggest buy now while prices are still low.
Just remake something like the Cosina CT-1: mechanical metal leaf shutter with 1/2000 top speed, center weighted meter with simple led “- o +” display, accepts K mount lenses. Don’t need to spend a lot of R&D on that, other than figuring out how to make one with good quality at a reasonable price.
This will go nowhere. Where is the market to support an expensive R&D project, and production of the cameras?
Film is Hot…. maybe re release of the Leica M6… set cogs in motion…
This is good news, and I hope it also provides a new direction for their DSLRs. I’m sure the K-1 is a great camera but it’s far too big and heavy. Ideally the new 35mm SLRs and the next FF digital SLR could share styling and have a lot of parts in common. Somewhere half way between an MX and a K-3iii would be about right.
Good luck Pentax!
I still use my Zoom 90 WR, gives great results. The only problem for Pentax is you can still get them for $20 in excellent condition.