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Asahi Pentax logo (Pic: Jud McCranie/Wikimedia Commons)
The camera would be the first Pentax film model since the early 2000s (Pic: Jud McCranie/Wikimedia Commons)

Pentax’s new film camera project, which was announced in December, will produce “a brand-new, manual winding” compact camera, a senior Pentax product designer has told a Japanese magazine.

Takeo Suzuki, a Pentax product planner and designer, was interviewed by Japanese magazine Barfout! as part of a panel discussing the camera project for the April 2023 issue.

“First of all, we want to help young users enjoy them, so I think something compact is the way to go,” he said about the new camera. “It is not the same as setting everything to auto and saying, ‘Just press a button and you will get a beautiful shot.’ With that said, we are considering a brand-new, manual winding camera.”

Suzuki added: “Developing a manual winding camera is really hard work, and it is sometimes easier to make a camera with a motor and automatic winding, but the act of winding a camera manually is a special act that is unique to film. And that is something we want young people to experience as well.”

Pentax (which is now owned by Ricoh) announced the new “film camera project” in late December. Ricoh’s CEO, Noboru Akahane, said then: “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.”

No details of what cameras would be produced had been made public before Suzuki’s involvement in the panel discussion, which also included lab owner Yasushi Nishimura, photographer Keisuke Nagoshi and Pentax manager Makoto Iikawa.

Cover of Barfout! April 2023 issue
The interview appears in the April 2023 issue of Barfout!

“Although young people started spontaneously using film cameras from some years ago, there isn’t a proper environment set up for them,” Suzuki told the magazine. “The main market for film cameras is the second-hand market, so prices are going up, and of course there is no warranty even if the camera malfunctions and needs to be repaired. And as you know, the price of film has also gone up, and the types of film and the places where they can be developed are decreasing.

He added: “We launched this project in the hope that the industry and environment would improve even a little if cameras could become more accessible.”

Suzuki said that the engineers who worked on Pentax’s film designs had long since retired but “we are still receiving advice on the details of the development at that time.

“We believed that if we did not start passing on this technology to the next generation now, we would never be able to develop them in the future.” He added that old blueprints from past Pentax camera projects had been converted into CAD and rendered into 3D.

Suzuki said: “When I first presented this project in the company’s conference room, everyone froze (laughs). There are many people who are saddened by the state of the world of film now. As I was conveying these things using a PowerPoint presentation with about 100 pages… it felt like we could actually pull it off, and eventually the top management became involved as well. President Noboru Akabane had always habitually said that he wanted Pentax to become a cute brand that people could look at and say,’Look at them, they’re doing something crazy again, but I guess that’s just what they do.'”

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Stephen Dowling
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6 months ago

I can’t wait to buy one (or more)!!!
I’d like to see 4 models:
1. A F1.7 rangefinder with a fixed prime lens
2. A smaller half frame design version of the above
3. An interchangeable lens system using the existing K mount
4. A medium format camera

amigo toro
amigo toro
6 months ago

I’m sure if I agree that a manual winding compact camera is harder to make – the Lomosimple, Ilford Sprite, various Kodaks & the Yashica compacts are all manual winding film cameras. It seems to be the trend of almost all new compact film cameras.

6 months ago

I might be too optimistic but removing the single biggest issue from the GR and making it fully mechanical would be just the greatest thing they could make, basically a forever camera for me

Michael Odom
Michael Odom
6 months ago

This is indeed very good news!

Case H.
Case H.
6 months ago

Still having trouble reconciling this announcement/panel discussion against the original press release (December 2022) which clearly stated,
“ Message from Noboru Akahane, President and CEO of RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD.

…. I want to stress that this announcement does not mean we will release new film cameras.”

5 months ago

Perhaps it is another Cosina CT-1 series camera.