Meet Pentax’s New 35mm Film Camera Project
Ricoh, the company behind the Pentax brand, has now announced that it’s launching a new film camera project that has been prompted by an increase in interest in the medium.
This isn’t an announcement of a specific new film camera product quite yet. Instead, what Ricoh has claimed is forming a film camera R&D team that will unite veteran 35mm developers and engineers with younger photo professionals to think up possible new products.
According to the relevant press release by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Ltd, “We want to use the film camera skills and technologies developed over the years by Ricoh Imaging/Pentax and provide camera enthusiasts around the world with new film camera products.”
In other words, don’t quite yet hold your breath about a product in your hands.
Nonetheless, film photography really has been seeing a major resurgence in recent years, prompting premium manufacturers like Leica to keep developing new Film cameras.
What’s more, film manufacturing brands like Eastman Kodak have also seen their own resurgence as a result. Kodak in particular has even taken the previously unexpected step of launching a recruitment drive for new technicians to meet spiraling demand.
Ricoh further elaborates:
“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 company also explains, “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.”
Ricoh’s description of the project is essentially a bit vague on details and specifics.
The company claims it wants to work with film buffs, photographers and creators on the promotion of this project while “…planning a way to communicate effectively about the project’s development to users worldwide and to work closely with them,”
This doesn’t keep Ricoh Pentax’s effort from being interesting though. We don’t know what they’ll come up with quite yet, but film is indeed worthy of its resurgence as an artistic medium in the era of backlash against AI visuals.
Its relevance might only grow as the quality and pervasiveness of AI-rendered pseudo-photography increases.
At least with creations made by film cameras, there’s a certain level of certainty about what was captured by a real human using a real camera instead of being rendered in artificially.
Young photographers in certain niches are taking an interest in this quality of film photography and in its overall visual characteristics.
Even if they later upload those images to digital social media and platforms without normally bothering with prints, the effort is there in some areas of photographic art.
New film cameras are also quite scarce on the ground, particularly as new releases. If Ricoh Pentax can help change this, it might create some exciting new avenues for photographic expression through an old medium.
Fortunately in the meantime, film cameras are well known for their robustness even after decades of use, and many are available on the market at affordable prices, though these are rising in some cases.
A key statement by Ricoh Pentax sums much of this attitude up:
“Pentax believes that time and effort signify individuality, creativity, and personal preference. Because activities involving time and effort are indeed a human experience, our goal is to provide Pentax camera products that involve intricate, time-consuming, satisfying actions,”
We’re not holding our breath, but it would be nice to see a new film camera from this iconic brand emerge as one of the results of this philosophy.