Pentax’s new film camera just got its first teaser, hinting at imminent launch

The Pentax K1000 film camera in shadow
(Image credit: Zigmar Stein / Shutterstock)

Pentax has dropped a teaser video on its dedicated Instagram, suggesting that the first new camera in the Pentax Film Project could be arriving soon. 

The progress of the Pentax Film Project has, like the analog photography experience itself, been suitably slow and measured. It was first announced at the end of 2022, yet we're still to see a new camera. However, those impatient to get their hands on an all-new Pentax film camera might not have to wait much longer. 

One teaser video (see below, also on Ricoh's YouTube) begins with the number 17, which could reference the potential name of the first camera, based on it being a half-frame film camera. A single frame on 35mm film measures 36x24mm, while half-frame doubles the number of pictures per film roll, capturing 17x24mm frames.

It's no secret that the first new Pentax film camera in decades will be half-frame, that info was shared a while ago. And a new Pentax 17 has a ring to it – a nod to the legendary medium-format Pentax 67 – but we'll have to wait and see what name is officially given to the new camera.

The video teaser centers on the audible and tactile experience of shooting with a traditional film camera, with shutter, film crank and wind-on sounds over a black screen (followed by out-of-focus pictures). It's the kind of screen-free, hands-on experience that Pentax is hoping will appeal to young audiences who have embraced cameras like the Kodak H35 Ektar.

Another video, shared on May 11 (see below), says that Pentax 'started the project to develop a film camera that the younger generation could fully enjoy', and shows a closeup of an unidentified camera's film crank in action. Could this be the first glimpse of the long-awaited model?

What Pentax's half-frame camera should be

Despite effectively shooting half-size pictures onto 35mm film – which are therefore half the quality and might put-off serious photographers – there are sensible reasons for developing a half-frame camera. Film is expensive these days, and you get double the number of photos per roll of film, plus photos are in vertical format, which the smartphone generation is accustomed to.

Pentax film photography fans will be hoping for a better quality half-frame compact than the plastic Kodak H35 Ektar, though, and the new Pentax model should have metal parts and a proper glass lens.

A decent lens will go some way offsetting the reduction in quality by only using half a 35mm frame. Early reports suggest the lens will incorporate elements of those used in the Ricoh Auto Half and Pentax Espio Mini, both well regarded optics.

A Pentax Espio Mini film camera sitting on a table

Elements of the Pentax Espio Mini's 25mm f/2.8 could used in the Pentax's new half-frame camera.  (Image credit: Ricoh)

However, a camera with proper parts won't come cheap, and any new Pentax film camera still needs to be relatively affordable. There's no word on pricing yet, but a decent quality half-frame compact camera could be somewhere in the region of $250 / £200 / AU$400.

While there is no official launch date yet, we're hopeful that the teasers suggest the long wait will soon be over, potentially by August 2024. If Pentax takes much longer than that to deliver the new camera, the film photography trend might well have passed already...

You might also like

Timothy Coleman
Cameras editor

Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other.