Pentax’s second update on its new film camera project is here! Published in the form of a Youtube video, Takeo Suzuki talks to the photography community about the project’s progress. The Ricoh planning/design team member known as TKO, confirms the model for a new compact fixed-lens camera will feature a hand-wound lever-operating film advance mechanism.

When Pentax first announced its intention of starting a project to bring the world new film cameras in December 2022, the messaging was reservational in that the company didn’t want to make promises that couldn’t be kept. However, since then there has been a giant wave of support for the project team and it seems they are full steam ahead in the development of the project’s first camera design, a new model compact featuring a fixed lens and SLR-like winding mechanism.

In fact, we were surprised by this unexpected response. Many people from around the world expressed their support for this project. We’re very grateful for their support. – Takeo Suzuki, aka TKO, Ricoh Product Planning/Design team member

Current and retired engineers are contributing their expertise and perspectives as well as listening to the voice of the community which has been highly vocal. The team aims to create a new model that draws upon traditional elements to meet its goal of bringing the joys of an analogue camera to younger generations in a modern package.

Suzuki says in the video, “We are making comparative research on all aspects of this model, including the camera body and lens, and assessing the data and technologies that are available to us in order to finalize specifications.”

The hand-wound lever mechanism will offer photographers a tactile experience enhancing the process of working with an analogue medium. TKO mentions the team wants the film to be wound with the sound of a ratchet wheel, emphasizing this is the experience they want younger and new film shooters to have.

One benefit of designing an SLR-like advance lever on the compact camera is that it could also potentially be used for a future SLR.

It is designed to be almost identical to the mechanism installed in the film-format SLR cameras of the past…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 – TKO

Creating a compact film camera with a fixed lens and mechanical film advance mechanism will not be cheap. TKO explains how the decision has impacted the cost of the project, setting the community’s expectations on how affordable the camera might be.

He explains, “In spite of our strong desire to incorporate this mechanism, we discovered that it would need an enormous effort to incorporate this into a modern camera.”

Continuing to elaborate on how the designs were originally on paper, TKO says these had to be converted into modern 3D CAD software. Initially, the team didn’t understand the design and wanted to remove parts. After consulting the retired engineers who are more experienced with working on traditional film cameras, the team realized how all the pieces worked together.

With the film photography renaissance building momentum, the team’s approach strikes a chord with both seasoned film photographers and a new generation seeking a departure from the digital realm they were born into.

We will continue to work to hand down the film photography culture to future generations. We welcome your support and cooperation in achieving this goal. Let’s work together, and make it happen! – TKO

In an additional narrative video led by photographer Shiori Iwakura, the story is enhanced by Iwakura’s love for film cameras, her excitement about Pentax’s project, and her visit to the place where a lot of the design work is in progress. Her work can be found on her website here but is also shared on Instagram at @iwakurashiori.

All eyes are on Pentax as they continue to work through one of the most anticipated projects within the photography industry, especially for those who thrive creatively with the analogue medium. To catch up on the video updates and visual stories, visit the Pentax Film Project page here.

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