Camera News

PENTAX Film Project Story

PENTAX Film Project Story

Pentax Film Project started December 20th 2022, 1 year 5 months and 28 days later, we have a camera.

Ricoh Imaging just announced the new PENTAX 17 compact film camera. The PENTAX 17 is a half-frame camera, capturing two 17mm x 24mm pictures within in a single 35mm-format (36mm x 24mm) film frame. It produces vertical-format pictures, with similar ratios to those captured by smartphones.

In addition to the distinctive image quality created only by a film camera, the design of the PENTAX 17 incorporates manual operations unique to film photography — a selectable zone-focus system, manual film winding, manual film advance lever, and exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity adjustments, each with their own dials. It has a retro-inspired design, with the top and bottom covers made of a solid but lightweight magnesium alloy to optimize the camera body’s rigidity.

The PENTAX 17 features a newly developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). The lens is treated with HD (High Definition) coating to optimize clarity and sharpness. The optical viewfinder features an Albada-type bright frame finder and has a close-up visual field compensation frame to help compose close-up images more easily. The camera has seven shooting modes to accommodate different applications and scenarios. It automatically adjusts exposure settings based on lighting data collected by its metering sensor.

It is an ideal model not only for film camera enthusiasts who have enjoyed film photography for years, but also for photographers who are excited about trying film photography for the first time.


Half-size format
The PENTAX 17 features the half-size format, in which two 17mm x 24mm pictures are captured within a single 35mm frame (36mm x 24mm). It also employs a manual film advance lever. When holding the camera in the traditional orientation, the PENTAX 17 captures vertical-format pictures, with similar ratios to images captured by smartphones.

Manual camera operation unique to film cameras
The PENTAX 17 features a manual film winding mechanism based on those incorporated in PENTAX-brand SLR film cameras. The film advance lever lets the user enjoy the film winding action and a wind-up sound after every shutter release. Its easy-loading system is designed to prevent film-loading errors.

It also features other mechanisms unique to film cameras, such as manual film rewinding operation using the rewind crank; exposure compensation via the exposure compensation dial; and ISO sensitivity setting via the ISO sensitivity dial.

Newly developed lens combines time-proven optics and the latest lens coating technology
The PENTAX 17 features a newly developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). Based on the optics incorporated in the acclaimed PENTAX Espio Mini (marketed in 1994), it has been redesigned to fit perfectly in the half-size format. The lens is treated with HD (High Definition) coating — a highly acclaimed multi-layer coating — to optimize the clarity and sharpness of the half-frame photos. Using the lens used in the RICOH Auto Half (a best-selling half-size model first marketed in 1962) as a reference, the angle of view and focal length were selected to make casual, everyday picture-taking simple and flawless.

Zone-focus system to switch the in-focus area via simple selection of zone marks
From close-ups to long distances, the PENTAX 17’s zone-focus system is divided into six focus zones, indicated by marks that signify each zone. Set the camera’s focus by selecting the mark best suited for the subject distance on the zone focusing ring. In the Macro focus zone, the user can capture a close-up photo from approximately 25 centimeters away. The hand strap (included as a standard accessory) lets the user measure subject distance more accurately.

Bright optical viewfinder for real-time confirmation of a subject image
The PENTAX 17’s optical viewfinder features an Albada-type bright frame finder. It also comes with a close-up visual field compensation frame to help the user more easily compose close-up images. It is possible to check the zone marks directly through the viewfinder.

Seven shooting modes to accommodate different applications
The PENTAX 17 automatically adjusts exposure settings based on the lighting data collected by its metering sensor. In addition to the Full Auto mode in which all exposure settings are selected by the camera, it provides six other shooting modes, including: Slow-speed sync, which is highly useful in twilight photography; and Bulb, which comes in handy for photographing nightscapes and fireworks. The PENTAX 17 also features an independent exposure compensation dial, which allows the user to swiftly shift the exposure level to accommodate different types of subjects or express the user’s creative intentions.

High-quality body with meticulous attention to every detail
The PENTAX 17’s body has a classic design, hinting at the traditional look of film cameras. The top and bottom covers are made of a solid but lightweight magnesium alloy to optimize the camera body’s rigidity. The 40.5mm filter mounting thread allows the user to mount a range of filters, which are available for purchase on the market.

Other Features
• A wide selection of ISO film speeds (50, 100, 125, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200)
• Note holder on the back cover, into which the end of the film package can be inserted for an at-a-glance confirmation of the film in use
• Three strap lugs to accommodate horizontal and vertical camera suspensions, to best suit the user’s shooting style
• Compatibility with the optional CS-205 Cable Switch, which comes in handy for extended-exposure photography in the Bulb shooting mode

Pentax 17 Film Camera (Dark Silver)  //  SKU: 28589  //  MFR: 18928 //  Avail: Soon  // Price: $679.99

Scroll to the bottom of page to order yours.


On December 20th 2022, Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX began research into developing new PENTAX-brand film camera products.

So far, this is what we have.

Update: 2024.05.13

Update: 2024.05.11

Update: 2024.03.04

Exciting news for the analog community, and important to us, because we see it as one of ways we can support the saying of "film forever".

If you want to learn more, continue reading the stories below.  AND....

If you want to support along with a chance to win this camera (as this is what Downtown Camera will do to support, by giving away one when it's ready!), PENTAX has launched an Instagram account that we will use to show PENTAX, our Canadian analog community is strong and vibrant!

Please comment on their Instagram post (click here) "PENTAX, PENTAX, PENTAX, " then tag us @downtowncamera to enter a draw to win this camera!

In December 2022, PENTAX announced they would take on the challenge of making a new film camera with their PENTAX film Project Story #1.  They understood film cameras have been growing in popularity, especially among young users but there are only a few companies making new film cameras and finding a used one has it challenges.

“…distinctive, tasteful color, grain images, the excitement of not knowing until development and the pleasure of handling old equipment…in society where everything is digital”

They want to support this film-camera culture by providing a brand-new product – one marketed by a dependable manufacturer, accompanied by a solid warranty and is affordable.  Also important was “the transmission of our (PENTAX’s) technology.”

PENTAX has a very longstanding history in making film cameras; renowned for their craftsmanship and quality.  And even though they’ve have stockpiled drawings and plans from their previous film-cameras.  They recognize this is not enough to manufacture a modern, “film-camera that everyone can enjoy using without any of the worries.”

In the past, the engineers served as mentors, verbally handing down their knowledge but they have since retired.  This “was the last chance to reclaim film camera knowledge and expertise…to hand them down younger engineers” before they are gone.  

To not lose this knowledge, so it can be used by today’s engineers.  PENTAX has worked hard to gather the expertise and knowledge of older staff.  There have been many meetings to solve the many issues involved, heated discussions, endless questions, younger staff seeking advice and the conclusion is the “old-timers are amazing”.

This is PENTAX approach to breathing new life into old technologies, into this challenge!  

“We plan to market not one but a series of film cameras so we can hand…film photography down to new users…First, we’ll develop a compact film camera”

However, the team at PENTAX knows it will be a long journey.  They want to carefully study and become familiar with the past expertise and technologies.  Mr. Takeo Suzuki a.k.a. TKO who is the product planning and designer, humbly admits “I’ll be honest: we don’t know how it’s going to end.  In fact, we might even give up along the way…”

But they ended their first video by asking for support, as enthusiasm can help create miracles, and encouragement, as these are what they need to make these new film cameras.

“PENTAX, PENTAX, PENTAX, it’s time for film!”

Almost half-a-year later, in May 2023, we have an update with story #2.  People around the world had expressed their support for the project, from corporations, individuals to photographers who value film photography.

“I was very surprise and delighted – I actually shed…tears of joy”

The PENTAX team knew they were not alone in this endeavour and understood all of the requests to remake medium format cameras, fully mechanical SLR cameras along with fully automatic point-and-shoots but the first model that will be “born” from this project is a completely new model even though parts of this first camera would be made from existing models.

They want to assess the data and technologies available.  They will make comparative research, including the body and lenses to finalize the specifications with the main concept of this model in mind, “to have a camera that makes taking photos a joy and pleasure to carry around”.

For instance, what is unique about film cameras verses digital is the action of film winding/advancing and rewinding.  The PENTAX team wanted new photographers to experience (and reminisce with analog photographers) the sound and feeling of moving film in a camera.  

They recognize it would be easier to adopt a more simplified winding mechanism, or even install a motor-assisted mechanism but it was a “dream shared by everyone…manufacturers and users alike…to incorporate the old-style, SLR-type, hand-wound mechanism into a modern compact camera.”

Even though there are drawings from the past, to incorporate it to fit in a compact-film camera took an “enormous amount of time and trouble” for an initial design, then the retired engineers explained why the initial design would not work so it had to be re-designed again. This is but one example of the challenges the PENTAX team is facing.

Then there is the pursuit of greater production efficiency, as the PENTAX team reasoned it “was designed to be almost identical with the mechanism installed in the film-format SLR cameras of the past.”.  As they work hard make this new model compact-model, they will also “keep in mind that, in a broader sense, this development will lead…to the future development of other products (film cameras).”

The PENTAX team wanted everyone to know they are carefully listening and taking many elements and factors.  They are grateful and welcome your support and cooperation.

“Let’s work together, and make it happen! ...Film photography is coming back!”

On March 1, 2024, Pentax announced they have firmed up their concepts for a new film camera and created a proto-type via the Pentax Film Camera Project Story #3.

Pentax didn’t want to simply remake a camera they have made before that is either fully manual or fully automatic.  They’ve concepted something different, one that gives the photographer electronic options for convenience/ease of photography and mechanical mechanisms to recreate the classic feel of a film camera.  We summarize as follows:

35mm-format compact film camera
Designed for vertical-position view/shooting, using a half-size/frame format of 35mm film
Electronic-control mechanism of aperture and shutter speed with some manual settings
Manual set zone-focus system that will tell you selected zone in the viewfinder
Hand-wound film-advance mechanism using a winding lever and a rewinding crank
Lens will be based on RICOH Auto half and PENTAX Espio Mini

The PENTAX team has factored new film photographers are familiar with vertical-position view/shooting due to electronic devices that are used daily and by implementing half-size/frame format, this will double the exposures in a roll but not the cost to process it.  It is also hoped to spur creativity.  The thoughts are it would make analog photography more enjoyable and more accessible to younger photographers, keeping within their budget.

It is mentioned (and we agree) that first-time film photographers have experienced under or over exposed photos and to prevent this, they incorporated the electronic-control mechanisms but there will be some manual options.  This thought is also carried over with the focusing system.  Zone-focus allowing the user to set the desired focus range based on the distance to the subject by turning the focus ring with feedback in the viewfinder.  Manual film advancing and rewinding to have the feel of mechanism used in past film-format SLR cameras.

“It was really, really fun to use this camera…I was overjoyed with this camera that I kept shooting a photo one after another”

Their hopes are to “deliver a camera that allows first-time camera users to fully and effortlessly enjoy film photography and also brings back former film camera lovers after years of absence”.

In this video, we get hints of doubts, whether they should proceed with this project and if it was possible, but it was the support and advice they received that regained their confidence to move on.

The PENTAX team sends their heartfelt appreciation to many as they have come far to making the actual product.

TKO wishes other camera manufacturers follow suit to enter the analog camera market and put the challenge up before just before the video finishes.

So, this is the story as we know it…it is long one like this blast (sorry there was a lot to tell).  We know there are few in our community who are disappointed that it is not the camera they hoped it would be, but the reminder is, as mentioned by the community, “this camera is for the new generation who has never had a film camera…don’t be disappointed, if this will sell well, they will expand the lineup.”  It is a logical approach given the current cost to manufacture and to market a camera in this environment where affordability is significant factor.

The PENTAX team has taken on this challenge and if you want to be a part of this community so show your support even if this will not be the camera for you by commenting on their Instagram account-post.  It only takes a few seconds but it will be what is needed to show the world...

“Analog photography will never disappear.

It will never, ever become extinct”

Update: 2024.02.29
Official Social Media accounts
Pentax Film Photography Facebook account and Pentax Film Photography Instagram account
The Project Team
Update: 2024.02.29
Update: 2023.05.12

The Film Project
Update: 2023.05.12

Ricoh Imaging/PENTAX began research into developing new PENTAX-brand film camera products.

Image Gallery
No items found.