In December, Pentax announced they were developing a new film camera. At the time, there was no real information on exactly what type of film camera it would be. In fact, it wasn’t even revealed whether it would use 35mm film or medium format. And while many hoped for a modern-day update to the Pentax 67 or a fully mechanical 35mm SLR, it seems that the first new Pentax film camera will be a compact camera.
The information comes in the second video update for the Pentax “Film Project”, where they expressed gratitude for the overwhelming feedback they’ve received. Given that feedback, it seems that Pentax may be planning to do a range of cameras in the future and that this isn’t just a one-off.
The new compact film camera will have a fixed, non-interchangeable lens, although they haven’t yet said whether it will be a prime or a zoom lens. It will be of an entirely new design and won’t simply be an updated re-issue of an older model. The company’s goal is to create a camera that younger photographers will enjoy, and their development efforts are focused on this goal, although there seems to be a bit of a mixed message in exactly what type of compact it’ll be.
The new camera seems to be a modern take on the analogue compact format, with all of the bells and whistles that today’s technology affords. Or at least all of the modern bells and whistles that fit into a compact body, suggesting it will share some components with existing Pentax bodies. Later in the video, however, it’s revealed that the camera will contain an SLR-style mechanical film-advance lever – a technology that Pentax had forgotten how to develop and had to call retired film camera engineers in to explain it to them.
So, we now know it’ll be a compact camera, and it’ll have a 35mm SLR-style film advance lever, but beyond that, not much else. The video does suggest that more cameras will be on the way and that the film advance lever is something they hope to put into a future 35mm film SLR when they decide to tackle that particular challenge.
It feels like something of a rebirth for Pentax, going back to their analogue roots and almost starting over from scratch. In a world where most photographers are shooting digital, and film seems relegated to personal projects, it will be interesting to see just how popular the new models become when Pentax is the only game in town.
Although film usage does seem to be on the increase, is there enough of a market left to support even one company actively developing new film cameras?