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Group of Pentax film cameras (Pic: Thomas Backa/Flickr)
Pentax produced a wide range of excellent SLRs up until the early 21st Century (Pic: Thomas Backa/Flickr)

Ricoh has announced a new film “project” which could include the release of a new Pentax film camera.

The Japanese camera maker – now owned by imaging company Ricoh – made the announcement on Tuesday (20th December).

A statement from Ricoh said: “RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. is pleased to announce a new project involving the research and development of new PENTAX-brand film camera products. There has been a rebirth in interest in film cameras recently; we want to use the film camera skills and technologies developed over the years by Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX (the PENTAX Division of RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD.) and provide camera enthusiasts around the world with new film camera products.

“We will be developing and launching new products and providing aftercare services so that experienced film camera users and younger photographers who want to try these cameras for the first time can fully enjoy the experience of film photography.”

The Ricoh statement also gave further detail on what the new project would entail.

Development of new film camera products
“Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX will begin research into developing new PENTAX-brand film camera products. We will bring together both veteran and younger engineers to take advantage of the film camera expertise and technologies created and retained by Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX while also incorporating the latest technologies and concepts.”

Working together with camera enthusiasts
“With digital cameras now the mainstream of photography, it can be challenging to procure the parts needed for film cameras, so this project`s success will involve other manufacturers. More importantly, Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX is counting on the support of film camera aficionados, photographers, and creators, so we plan to promote the project through various online and offline events and social media while listening to comments and suggestions from film camera users about product development. We are also planning a way to communicate effectively about the project’s development to users worldwide and to work closely with them.”

The announcement follows a poll of 3,000 camera users in Japan undertaken by Pentax, which showed that some 20% still used traditional film cameras, not including disposable or instant cameras.

Read more: Which company will follow Leica into making a new film model?

“At the same time, few manufacturers today build and sell new film cameras. Some of film camera users expressed concerns about the aftercare service for used film cameras. Ricoh Imaging is prioritizing supporting film camera fans so they can enjoy film photography without worries, from film camera development, production, and sales to aftercare.”

A statement from Ricoh’s CEO, Noboru Akahane, said:” In January 2022, we declared the rebirth of Ricoh Imaging. We affirmed that, starting with Japan, we would more carefully listen to the voices of our users through stronger digital online communications with users by submitting our products to crowdfunding websites and founding a PENTAX clubhouse. All of this was done with the goal of developing and marketing new products that can fully satisfy user needs. We have taken on exciting new challenges, some of which push beyond the boundaries of conventional wisdom. We also are selling new products which were only made possible by our unique technologies and craftsmanship, such as the worldwide marketing of special-edition, limited-quantity models.

“One of the new challenges we have taken on is the development of PENTAX-brand film cameras. We feel this will provide camera fans with a joy of photography totally different from what they experience in the digital format. 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. But we also know how difficult it will be to restart the production of film cameras long after production was terminated. In fact, we’re only at the starting line right now.

“We will make even greater efforts to be able to hear the genuine voices of film camera fans through various events and digital communications while also providing as many updates on the project’s development as we can. 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.”

Pentax MZ-S (Pic: Makibaiou/Wikimedia Commons)
The MZ-S was the last flagship film S:R Pentax produced (Pic: Makibaiou/Wikimedia Commons)

The last film camera to be released by Pentax was the *ist consumer SLR in 2003, which was released at the same time as an almost identical digital model called the *ist D.

The last flagship prosumer SLR the company released, the MZ-S of 2001, featured a distinctive body design which seems to have influenced some of the styling of following generations of digital SLRS released by Pentax.

The Ricoh announcement comes just weeks after Leica announced it was reviving the Leica M6 rangefinder, which had been discontinued in 2002.

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Stephen Dowling
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Toby Robson
Toby Robson
1 month ago

This is an announcement that’s bound to stimulate a lot of comment and speculation. But as a film user AND an ex corporate PR, I hope I don’t detect a sniff of cynicism in the statement. The key line buried in there for me is: ”I want to stress that this announcement does not mean we will release new film cameras.” That’s a big ‘but’… That given, what is this announcement actually saying given it actually doesn’t seem to be committing to… well, anything? It’s all just a little vague. Guaranteed to get Ricoh and the Pentax brand lots of… Read more »

Cory Dornbusch
Cory Dornbusch
1 month ago
Reply to  Toby Robson

Right I think the way the video was presented was like a hackathon where this is a way for the engineering team to teach the younger members of the analog systems and how they worked since the film team have long retired and that essence of film may be lost if not maintained. I hope they are successful!

sbzr
sbzr
1 month ago

a rerelease of both GR1/GR21 are ideal today. But really I’d take whatever they had in storage ready to be built again, even some other plastic fantastic point and shoot, I’m pretty sure my last point and shoot film camera was a Pentax zoom something

Francois Spenard
1 month ago

WOW, excellent news finally!