If you thought Pentax was behind the times by keeping its DSLRs around, be prepared: it appears its parent company Ricoh is working on developing a new film camera under the historic Pentax brand.
As reported by Japan Camera Hunter, Ricoh announced the company is launching the ‘Film Camera Project,’ a research and development initiative it’s undertaking ‘to consider the development of a new film camera under the Pentax brand.’ In addition to the announcement, Pentax also released a pair of videos that share a behind-the-scenes look at the work that’s already gone into the ‘Film Camera Project.’
Ricoh says the ‘Film Camera Project’ is comprised of two specific initiatives. First, to consider the viability of producing and selling a new film camera. ‘Taking advantage of the film camera development know-how cultivated by Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX, we will consider whether veteran engineers and young generation engineers can work together to inherit the technology and add a new perspective,’ says Ricoh.
Should the project prove viable, Ricoh says it intends to ‘co-create’ the camera with film photographers. Through both online and in-person forums, Ricoh says it wants to consider the voices of photographers who would like to see a new Pentax film camera come to life throughout the development process.
Why develop a new film camera in 2022 and beyond? Well, Ricoh says its own research (n=3000) shows 20% of camera owners also own a film camera, and in its statement, Ricoh says it ‘hear[s] the voices of young people who are enjoying developing the film and receiving it directly with data instead of printing and uploading it to [social media networks].’ Ricoh also says that many film cameras available today no longer have any means of customer service should the cameras break, and it would want to change that by offering after-sales service should something go wrong with the camera.
The announcement from Ricoh concludes with a statement from President Noboru Akabane, wherein he says this announcement isn’t a promise a new Pentax film camera will be released, but instead a means of bringing in interested photographers and ‘listen to the voices of fans’ to see if it’s a viable path to pursue.
|A screenshot from the above teaser video from Ricoh that shows someone advancing the film on an unknown film camera.|
Leica’s M6 re-release appears to have been a successful one. Could it be Leica’s film efforts have inspired Pentax? Or has Pentax had this in the works for a while? At this time we’re not quite sure, but it’s an interesting development nonetheless.
Press release (machine-translated):
Launched the “Film Camera Project” under the PENTAX brand
Ricoh Imaging Co., Ltd. (President and CEO: Noboru Akabane) is pleased to announce the launch of the “Film Camera Project” to consider the development of a new film camera under the PENTAX brand. In recent years, by providing film cameras that are becoming popular mainly among young people, as a new product that inherits the technology that Ricoh Imaging / PENTAX has cultivated over many years, we will provide cameras and photos to film camera fans in Japan and overseas. We aim to expand new options to enjoy true. For those who have been enjoying film for a long time, and for the new generation who want to get a new film from now on, I would like to deliver “peace of mind” including after-sales service along with the development of new products.
Specific initiatives of the film camera project
- Consideration of the development of a new model of film cameras
- We will start considering the development of film cameras under the PENTAX brand. Taking advantage of the film camera development know-how cultivated by Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX, we will consider whether veteran engineers and young generation engineers can work together to inherit the technology and add a new perspective. .
- Ingenuity of co-creation with camera fans
- Now that digital cameras have become the mainstream, it is not easy to procure the materials necessary for the development of film cameras, and it is not only the thoughts of one manufacturer. And above all, the voices of fans who like film cameras and photographers and creators are important. I would like to devise ways to reflect it in product production by utilizing communication through various online and offline events and SNS. On the other hand, we will also consider ways to create it with such fans so that we can tell you about our progress worldwide.
Background of the project start – Why is it a film camera now?
- The growing popularity of film cameras among new generation users
- Film popularity is increasing mainly among young people. If you search for “film camera” on the Internet, you can see many creators, celebrities, and idols holding film cameras in their hands. I also hear the voices of young people who are enjoying developing the film and receiving it directly with data instead of printing and uploading it to SNS.
- When we conducted our own web survey (about 3,000 people in Japan), we also received an answer that about 20% of the camera owners own film cameras. (*Excluding film and instant cameras with lenses)
- On the other hand, there are few manufacturers that manufacture and sell new film cameras, and some people are worried about after-sales service for products distributed in the second-hand market. Ricoh Imaging is responsible for the manufacture and sales of film cameras and after-sales service, so that fans can enjoy the world of film cameras with peace of mind.
- “It takes a lot of time” in search of fun
- The evolution of modern devices is remarkable, and with the rise of smartphones in the photography culture, it has become possible to easily take beautiful photos anywhere. However, I think that there is a pleasure of daring to spend time and effort in that convenient world. The time and effort is a part that shows the personality, creativity, and the taste of people by human hands, as if you read it. Based on the idea that labor leads to the pursuit of things that only people can do, I think that PENTAX can provide “enjoy of effort in cameras”.
“Message from President Noboru Akabane”
Ricoh Imaging declared that it would be “reborn” in January 2022. As a new initiative in Japan, we will listen to the voices of fans more straight, such as strengthening communication in digital and online, exhibiting in crowdfunding, and opening a PENTAX clubhouse. We have continued to do “challenge” that is not bound by conventional common sense, such as making and selling products that are close to that feeling. In addition, we have started offering products realized through “workshop-like” manufacturing, such as developing limited-ed special models around the world.
As a new “challenge”, in order to provide a different enjoyment from digital, we will declare a new challenge for film camera development under the PENTAX brand. This declaration is not a declaration that we promise to launch a new film camera product, but it is because we believe that film camera fans will definitely be there as long as people are loyal to the natural air and light. I recognize how difficult it is to develop a film camera that has finished once. We are just at the start line of consideration.
I would like to listen to the voices of fans through various events and digital communication (SNS, etc.) and update the development status as much as possible. With your support, support, and criticism from time to time, if you can challenge a new film camera project in the spirit of co-creation, there is nothing more happy.