Pentax Announces 35mm Half-frame Film Camera

Coming in summer with manual film winding and a lens based on the Espio Mini

By cjfeola in Pentax Announcements on Mar 1, 2024

The first half-frame camera in Pentax's storied film history will ship this summer, according to Film Project Designer Takeo "TKO" Suzuki. The camera will feature manual film winding and rewinding, an electronic shutter, automatic exposure control, and a lens with the same 25mm field of view of the Ricoh Auto Half, with the optical design based on the Pentax Espio Mini.

TKO made the announcement in a new video dropped on the Pentax Film Project web page early March 1 (Tokyo time). 

As in previous videos, TKO started by thanking everyone for the outpouring of worldwide support for The Pentax Film Project. He said the project has a working prototype, and he'd been out shooting with it. "I was so overjoyed with this camera that I kept shooting a photo one after another. I’m not sure if I’m actually allowed to talk about this at this point. But it was so much fun that I cannot help it. What’s more, every photo came out very nicely."

He showed off the photos he took with the Pentax Film Project camera.

For the first time, TKO and Pentax are offering the details on the Film Project Camera. TKO said it will be a half-frame camera for two reasons:

  • Half-frame gets twice as many shots per roll, which is important with film prices so high
  • Half-frame cameras have vertical viewfinders, which will be more familiar to young people whose photo experience comes entirely from smartphones.

"As I explained in previous video presentations the basic concept of this product is a camera that allows younger photographers to fully enjoy taking photos as they enter the world of film photography. Our hope is that it would make analog photography more enjoyable and more accessible to younger photographers, keeping it within their budget.

"The vertical format brings yet another benefit You can lay out two vertical-format photos side by side on the space of a single 35mm-format image. This provides a tremendous advantage. By placing two photos together in a single image, you can create a work of art that can better tell a concept or story. I expect that this will stimulate the creativity of younger photographers and inspire them to capture beautiful photos and produce fine works of art."

TKO said project designers and engineers were concerned that film newcomers might be dismayed to get totally black underexposed or totally white overexposed images, so they used an electronic shutter unit that will allow auto exposure through the control of apertures and shutter speeds. On full auto the camera can take a photo with a single press of a button; other modes and manual settings will be available via dial control.

But much of the camera is deliberately manual as a design choice, TKO said, including a manual film winding and rewinding mechanism based on the "old-fashioned winding mechanism" from film SLRs. 

The lens will have the same 25mm field of view of the Ricoh Auto Half, with the optical design based on the Pentax Espio Mini, and will offer manual zone focusing.

which was acclaimed as a masterpiece by many fans in the past. Please look forward to this new lens, too!" said TKO.

The camera's name and price have not yet been announced.

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