Pentax's new film camera prototype is now complete, after a year of development

Pentax film camera project
Riko taking a selfie with the new Pentax film camera (Image credit: Pentax / Barfout)

For over a year engineers at Pentax have been working on the Film Camera Project, which hopes to see the release of a brand-new film camera with modern mechanisms to the mass market. Engineers have poured their hearts into its development and have just completed the final stage of the prototype. 

The prototype camera was showcased at an exclusive unveiling party, where actor and model Riko, a passionate film camera user, joined Ricoh executives Makoto Iikawa (manager at Pentax Division) and Takeo Suzuki (Product Planner and Designer) to discuss the allure of film cameras.

In an interview for Barfout, Iikawa shared some insights into the project. "We have been working on this project for about a year, and as a matter of fact, today we brought a prototype that is currently in the review stage. We would love to hear your honest feedback on it!" 

Riko, intrigued by the prototype, explored its features and was particularly fascinated by the "manual winding" lever, a nostalgic touch that winds up each piece of film by hand.

A film photo taken by Riko at her high school graduation ceremony  (Image credit: Pentax / Barfout)

Suzuki explained the challenges faced during the development process, including referring to old blueprints and assembling the camera from scratch. The team aimed to create a blend of old and new, offering users the experience of using a classic tool while incorporating modern elements.

During the conversation, Riko expressed her desire for an easy-to-understand instruction manual and videos for beginners when the new camera is released. She also highlighted the lightweight and thin design of the prototype, suggesting it would be convenient to carry around, akin to a smartphone.

In response to Suzuki's observations, Suzuki explained, "We wanted people to carry it around like a smartphone." Riko, known for carrying a film camera to every filming location, emphasized the need for convenience and aesthetic appeal in camera design.

During her visit to Pentax, Riko also got the chance to play with a Ricoh Auto Half film camera. Like other half-frame cameras, such as the recent Kodak Ektar H35, it can take two photos in one frame, making it perfect for people who want to shoot more photos for the same money. 

A photo taken with the Ricoh Auto Half. Riko was full of curiosity as she looked at the examples of photos, saying, “I can combine them in so many ways.” (Image credit: Pentax/Barfout)

Developing a new film camera is a bold but perhaps necessary decision by Pentax. So many old film cameras are getting harder to repair due to lack of parts deeming some of them entirely useless. Often film cameras you find on online auctions or vintage markets come with a warning that they haven't been tested, so even if you're getting a bargain, it'll feel bittersweet if the photos don't come out. 

Suzuki's awareness of people's hesitation to invest in old film cameras, and her assurance that a new Pentax film camera will come with a full manufacturer's warranty, is surely reason enough for those tentatively thinking about film photography to finally take the leap. 

The prototype film camera is now in the review stage, and following its success the team hopes to make it available to buy soon. Pentax's Film Camera Project looks poised to make a significant impact on the resurgence of film photography, catering to both seasoned enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Take a look at the best Pentax cameras – where you'll find some of the best DSLRs –  and check out the best Pentax lenses to use with them.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.