Pentax just became every film shooter’s favorite camera company. The brand from Japan just announced in a video published on Ricoh Imaging’s YouTube channel that they plan to release a full range of brand new film cameras.
In the video, Ricoh Imaging Product Planner Takeo Suzuki outlines the reality that we film lovers have been living for nearly a decade now. Film is popular again, especially with young people. However, old film cameras are becoming harder to repair as parts become scarce and the people who repair them retire, taking their knowledge with them. Consequently, film camera prices have increased, as has the cost of film itself.
To address these concerns, and no doubt to capitalize on what Ricoh sees as a business opportunity, Pentax has now launched an initiative to create, not just one, but an entire range of new film cameras. In fact, Takeo Suzuki provides a roadmap for the future of Pentax film cameras.
They will start with a compact camera with the intention that it will be “affordable for young people.” Then, Takeo Suzuki says, Pentax will examine a range of technologies with the aim of producing a high end compact. Next will be an SLR camera, followed by a “fully mechanical SLR.”
The full video elaborates on this information, and takes great care to stress that the process will be difficult. Takeo Suzuki even goes so far as to admit that they may totally fail to meet their goals. Time will tell.
My Thoughts on the Announcement
For me, this is totally unexpected news, and welcome. Over the last few years we’ve seen the discontinuation of the last lines of amazing film cameras. Nikon ceased production of their pro-spec SLR, the Nikon F6 some time ago, and Canon left the market even earlier. Leica remains the only major camera company producing a truly high quality film camera in the modern era, with their Leica M-A and MP. And they recently resumed production of their “legendary” Leica M6 (though I’ve written elsewhere about why this actually isn’t a very big deal, in the grand scheme of keeping film photography alive and well in the modern age).
Pentax‘s announcement, however, is exactly what we need. We don’t need a film camera that costs $4,000. We need a film camera that costs a couple of hundred, maybe another that costs five hundred, maybe a pro model at $1,000. This is what we need to bring new, young people into this hobby and to make film viable as a long term medium. And it sounds like (at least some of the people at) Pentax know this.
The idea that a company like Ricoh/Pentax would launch into making new film cameras with such enthusiasm is a really big deal. I’m very excited about the possibility of a new Pentax camera, and there’s no doubt that Pentax has almost instantly become a special brand in my heart and mind.
Let me know what you think in the comments here. Do you want a new Pentax film camera? What’s your dream model?
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