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Pentax is bringing back film cameras – and that actually makes perfect sense

More than just a shot in the darkroom

Pentax has made a few of the greatest film cameras ever – and now the traditional model might be making a comeback due to a brand new film digicam mission launched by its father or mother firm, Ricoh.

Ricoh has launched a brand new ‘Film Camera Project’ that will contain the “analysis and growth of recent Pentax-brand film digicam merchandise”. If you spent your formative pictures years with a Pentax K1000 (above), or simply fancy experimenting with the tactile joys of 35mm film, that’s doubtlessly very thrilling information certainly.

Before you begin constructing a darkroom in your shed, there are a few caveats. First, the mission is at present on the toe-dipping stage and Ricoh’s statements are a little bit contradictory. For instance, Ricoh President and CEO Noboru Akahane says, “I need to stress that this announcement doesn’t imply we’ll launch new film cameras”.

Fortunately, that seems to be extra a observe of warning in regards to the mission’s problem than an absence of ambition. In a launch video(opens in new tab) (beneath), Ricoh Product Planner Takeo Suzuki has laid out a roadmap for the film digicam mission. “We plan to market not one however a collection of film cameras,” he says.

“First, we’ll develop a compact film digicam. Then whereas reviewing a variety of applied sciences, we’ll transfer on to develop a high-end compact mannequin, an SLR mannequin, and lastly and hopefully, a fully-mechanical SLR digicam”, Suzuki provides. While the latter might be some time off, the intention for the primary digicam might be to supply a film mannequin with a “stable guarantee” that “comes at an inexpensive value for youthful customers”.

That earlier observe of warning, then, is just because the corporate is nonetheless within the early levels of discovering how viable new film cameras actually are. As Akahane explains: “We additionally understand how troublesome will probably be to restart the manufacturing of film cameras lengthy after manufacturing was terminated. In reality, we’re solely on the beginning line proper now”.

Still, the intention is very clear – Ricoh and Pentax will “start analysis into creating new Pentax-brand film digicam merchandise”. And that might doubtlessly end in a brand new film digicam and aftercare companies. But why? The mission is greater than a misguided train in nostalgia – given the latest resurgence in film pictures, it makes sense for a couple of causes.

On a roll

First, film cameras have seen a resurgence in recent times. The proof for this is extra anecdotal and cultural than it is statistical, as there’s little or no information on international film digicam gross sales as we speak. But the impact might be seen within the sky-rocketing price of shopping for film itself – a pack of Kodak Portra 400(opens in new tab), for instance, now prices over twice as a lot because it did three years in the past, and it is a comparable story with Fujifilm’s colour film.

This is partly a results of Kodak and Fujifilm each underestimating future demand, resulting in shortages that have been exacerbated by provide chain points. But unbiased factories at the moment are rising as much as fill the gaps, and when the ‘Pentax Film Project’ is additional down the street the image ought to (hopefully) be quite a bit more healthy.

Film cameras themselves are additionally more and more widespread, as Ricoh and Pentax have famous of their mission. According to Ricoh, this is true “particularly amongst youthful generations, who’re “taking photographs with film cameras, creating the film, and then importing photos in digitalized kind to social media websites with out making remaining prints”.

But the issue with outdated film cameras is that they’re, effectively, outdated. This means mechanical components just like the shutter can break, or they want servicing from a dwindling variety of specialist technicians. While it’s extremely early days, this new mission guarantees to make proudly owning film cameras a smoother expertise, together with after-sales service.

The remaining motive why Ricoh and Pentax mission makes sense is that there is not any actual competitors, notably from any manufacturers with Pentax’s heritage. The firm was on the coronary heart of Japanese film digicam innovation from the Nineteen Fifties, introducing trailblazers just like the Pentax Spotmatic in 1960, which supplied TTL (through-the-lens) metering for the primary time so you did not have to hold round a separate gentle meter.

While it is unclear whether or not we might finally see a reborn model of the much-loved Pentax K1000 SLR, the ‘Film Camera Project’ is positively one to observe in case you’re eager to affix the resurgence of 35mm film cameras.

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