Pentax’s upcoming film camera has got Gen Z written all over it

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic
The 50-year-old Asahi Pentax Spotmatic (Image credit: Future)

Ricoh has confirmed that it’s working on a new Pentax compact film camera, with more models on the horizon, as part of its Film Camera Project, which it announced last year.

Ambitious plans to bring new Pentax film cameras to market caused a stir in the film camera community, but the move made complete sense: like vinyl, film photography has enjoyed an extended time in the sun recently, if the surging price of film and analogue cameras is anything to go by. 

Film and Pentax are a perfect match given its rich film camera heritage with legendary cameras like the K1000, and it makes sense for Pentax to focus on film instead of the dormant DSLR camera market that it has persisted in – I really can see Pentax leading a film resurgence. 

At the time of the original announcement, details of the Film Camera Project were scant, plus we couldn’t even bank on new film cameras becoming a reality – this was news about forming a research and development team and not a product pipeline. Half a year later we finally have some encouraging details, and here’s what we can expect. 

A fixed-lens compact surpassing the Kodak Ektar H35

In the video below, Pentax design team member Takeo Suzuki says the first camera to be launched under the Film Camera Project banner will be a newly designed fixed-lens compact, with some parts coming from existing cameras.

There aren’t too many technical details yet – we don’t know what the lens will be, we can’t be completely sure if the camera will use full-size 35mm film, nor are there any photos showing what the new camera will look like. However, the concept is clear: this is a Gen Z compact camera “that makes taking photos a joy, and that’s a pleasure to carry around every day”, says Takeo.

Where does the joy come from? Takeo goes on to say, “It’s the entire picture-taking process that makes photography so exciting and so much fun”, and it’s the tactile experience of the new camera that includes a film winding mechanism, “which doesn’t exist in digital cameras”, that will give all the feels. 

To be more precise: expect a new SLR-style hand-wound lever-action mechanism featuring a ratchet wheel with audible feedback, reimagined in a modern compact camera. The new camera sounds like a supercharged Kodak Ektar H35. 

Winding up 

Most of the video announcement details the lengthy design process – which charmingly included input from previous-generation engineers – and the reasoning behind choosing a hand-wound mechanism. Near the end of the video Takeo hints at what a future Film Camera Project camera will be:

“First will be a compact camera with an SLR-type, hand-wound mechanism. This gives us the possibility of installing the same mechanism in an SLR camera body when we decide to produce a film-format SLR in the future…and lead us to the future development of other products.”

The Pentax K1000 film camera in shadow

(Image credit: Zigmar Stein / Shutterstock)

In a heartfelt finale, Takeo adds, “The goal of the project is not only to produce a new camera but to create a solid environment in which those who witness this project and those who love film photography can more freely express their ideas, opinions and hopes.”

I for one am rooting for the project and its collaborators, and can’t wait to find out more.

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.