Ricoh’s Retro-Inspired Pentax 17 Compact Film Camera Revealed

Ricoh’s Retro-Inspired Pentax 17 Compact Film Camera Revealed


Parsippany, NJ—Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation introduced the retro-inspired Pentax 17 compact, half-frame film camera. Moreover, the Pentax 17 captures two 17mm x 24mm pictures within a single 35mm (36mm x 24mm) film frame. It also produces vertical-format pictures, with similar ratios to those captured by smartphones. Consequently, photographers can easily share their photos on social media after the film is developed and scans are produced by a film lab.

“The popularity of film cameras has grown rapidly in recent years—especially among young photographers—because of the distinctive, somewhat nostalgic experience provided that is so different from using digital cameras,” the company stated. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the global film camera market is projected to be 5.2% through 2030. And a quick search of the hashtag #filmphotography on Instagram pulls up more than 42.6 million posts.”

Pentax 17 Details

Borne from the Pentax Film Camera Project announced in December 2022, the camera resulted from a close collaboration between Ricoh Imaging/Pentax experts and younger engineers. The experts shared their knowledge and decades of experience in film and imaging technology with team members. The mission was to design a film camera that allows photographers to express their originality and creativity by leaving room for manual operation.

Pentax 17

Furthermore, the design of the Pentax 17 was inspired by the Pentax brand’s heritage. It incorporates manual operations unique to film photography that are gaining a loyal following in today’s digital world. This includes a selectable zone-focus system, manual film winding, a manual film advance lever as well as exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity adjustments. And each has their own dial. Additionally, Ricoh developed the classic design of the camera body with high-quality materials. The top and bottom covers are made of solid, lightweight magnesium alloy. The 40.5mm filter mounting thread also enables the use of a range of filters.

At the heart of the camera is a new 25mm f/3.5 lens (37mm equivalent). Further building on Pentax’s heritage, the lens is based on optics incorporated in the Pentax Espio Mini, which was marketed in 1994, and redesigned to support the half-frame format. The company also treats the lens with HD (high definition) coating to optimize the sharpness of the half-frame photos.

What’s more, in a nod to Ricoh’s history in optics and photography, the designers based the lens formula on the lens in the Ricoh Auto Half—a best-selling half-frame model that debuted 1962. It incorporates the angle of view and focal length to make casual, “everyday picture-taking simple and flawless,” the company noted.

Other Features

Additionally, engineers divided the camera’s zone-focus system into six focus zones users select with the zone focusing ring to capture subjects at a long distance or as close as 9.8 inches in the macro zone. Its optical viewfinder also features a bright, Albada-type frame finder to facilitate framing. Plus, it provides a close-up visual field compensation frame to more easily compose close-up images. Photographers can see the zone focus marks through the viewfinder to further support composition.

Pentax 17

Other features include seven shooting modes to accommodate different scenarios. The camera automatically adjusts exposure settings based on lighting data collected by its metering sensor. In addition to the full auto mode in which the camera selects all exposure settings, there are six other shooting modes. Among them are slow-speed sync, useful in twilight photography. Bulb is a long-exposure mode for photographing nightscapes and fireworks.

Further, the camera supports a selection of ISO film speeds. It also features a note holder on the back cover where photographers can insert the end of the film package for at-a-glance confirmation of the film in use. Additionally, there are three strap lugs to accommodate both horizontal and vertical suspensions. And the camera is compatible with the optional CS-205 cable switch for extended-exposure photography in bulb mode.

Pentax 17

“Many photographers were first introduced to the joys of photography using a Pentax film camera. We’re hoping to introduce a new generation to the world of film photography with the Pentax 17,” added Ken Curry, president, Ricoh Imaging Americas. “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.”

The Pentax 17 launches in June. It has a suggested retail price of $499.95.