A New Film Camera

Yes, we have a new film camera from a traditional camera producer (Pentax). It appears, however, that film cameras have mutated to conform to social media ("...for seamless sharing on social media..."). 

bythom pentax 17 film use

The US$499 Pentax 17 is named for the fact that it is a half-frame camera: it takes vertical half frames (17x24mm) on traditional 35mm film. Of course you can hold the new camera vertically and take horizontal photos, if you'd like ;~). The built in 25mm f/3.5 lens works out to be about 37mm equivalent. The lens features a leaf shutter with a top speed of 1/350 second (and a bottom speed of 4 seconds; Bulb is available, as well). Note that the three-element lens uses six zones for focusing and takes 40.5mm filters. ISO can be set from 50 to 3200, though note that ISO 64 is not available.

Pentax marketing has specifically called out the Y and Z generations (18-44 years old) as their target, and even more specifically those "who use social media such as Instagram on a daily basis" and are "stepping up from toy cameras."

One decidedly unenvironmental aspect of the Pentax 17 is that it uses non-rechargeable CR2 batteries (you can't use the rechargeable versions). So, throw away batteries, throw away film canisters, and if research is to be believed, most film users these days are throwing out negatives and just asking for digital scans. Not cool. 

As a somewhat portable film camera—it's 5 x 3.1 x 2" (127 x 78 x 52mm), so it's as big as some digital cameras—I suppose it's a low-cost way to dabble in film again. However, I don't see the Pentax 17 as anything more than an attempt to cash in on a fad (retro cool stuff for influencers), while doing so in ways that will make it a very short-lived product, methinks. I don't see social media users wanting to deal with the complexities of workflow that this product will encumber them with, for instance. Meanwhile, it's not quite enough of a camera to fully entice someone back into film. The zone focus, partial metering, and lack of direct aperture/shutter controls coupled with the reduced capture size aren't going to be embraced by that crowd. 

I'm happy the Pentax engineers found something to do over there at Ricoh, but it feels like a lot of work went into something that's not going to find real traction in the market.

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