Yes, you read that right, and no, you didn't get into a time machine back to the 1990's.

Ricoh has launched a new Pentax 17 half-frame film camera, stating that they feel that younger photographers will appreciate getting 2 images per 35mm exposure. It is a manual focus camera and has 6 focus presets from .25m to infinity.

Pentax 17 Key Features

  • 35mm Half-Frame Film Camera
  • HD PENTAX HF 25mm f/3.5 Traditional Lens
  • Manual Zone Focus with Macro Setting
  • Window Viewfinder with Dual Frame Lines
  • Autoexposure, Program, and Bokeh Modes
  • Built-In Flash, Flash AE Modes
  • Exposure Compensation and ISO Dials
  • Manual Film Advance Lever & Film Rewind
  • Takes 1x CR2 3V Battery
  • 2.5mm Remote Cable Switch Terminal

Preorder Options

Press Release:

Ricoh announces the PENTAX 17 compact film camera

With a retro-inspired design and half-frame photo format, the PENTAX 17 is the perfect camera for first-time film photographers who want to share their images on social media

PARSIPPANY, New Jersey, June 17, 2024 — Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the highly anticipated PENTAX 17 compact film camera. The PENTAX 17 is a half- frame camera, capturing two 17mm x 24mm pictures within a single 35mm-format (36mm x 24mm) film frame. It produces vertical-format pictures, with similar ratios to those captured by smartphones, for seamless sharing 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 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.

Borne out of the PENTAX Film Camera Project, a concept first announced in December of 2022, the new camera resulted from a close collaboration between Ricoh Imaging and PENTAX experts and younger engineers. The experts shared their vast knowledge and decades of experience in film and imaging technology with the current team members to design a film camera that would allow photographers to express their originality and creativity by leaving some room for manual operation, rather than making it a fully automatic camera.

| Design merges manual operation and ease of use for maximum creative expression |

The design of the PENTAX 17 was inspired by the PENTAX brand’s heritage, incorporating 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, manual film advance lever, and exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity adjustments, each with their own dials. The classic design of the camera body was developed with high-quality materials; the top and bottom covers are made of solid, lightweight magnesium alloy and the 40.5mm filter mounting thread enables the use of a range of filters.

The PENTAX 17 features a newly-developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). Further building on the PENTAX brand heritage, the lens is based on optics incorporated in the acclaimed PENTAX Espio Mini — which was marketed in 1994 —redesigned to support the half-frame format. The lens is treated with HD (High Definition) coating to optimize the clarity and sharpness of the half-frame photos. In a nod to Ricoh’s rich history in optics and photography, the designers based the lens design on the lens in the RICOH Auto Half – a best- selling half-frame model first marketed in 1962 – incorporating the angle of view and focal length to make casual, everyday picture-taking simple and flawless.

The camera’s zone-focus system is divided into six focus zones that can be selected on the zone focusing ring to capture subjects at a long distance or as close-up as 25 centimeters away in the macro zone. Its bright optical viewfinder features a bright, Albada-type frame finder to facilitate framing a scene as well as a close-up visual field compensation frame to help users more easily compose close-up images. The zone focus marks can be seen directly through the viewfinder to further support composition.

The PENTAX 17 has seven shooting modes to accommodate different applications and scenarios. It automatically adjusts exposure settings based on 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 useful in twilight photography; and Bulb, a long-exposure mode useful for photographing nightscapes and fireworks.

The camera supports a wide selection of ISO film speeds and features a note holder on the back cover where the end of the film package can be inserted for at-a-glance confirmation of the film in use, three strap lugs to accommodate both horizontal and vertical suspensions, and compatibility with the optional CS-205 Cable Switch for use in extended-exposure photography in Bulb mode.

| Industry support for PENTAX 17 |

“Film photography has been growing in popularity over the past decade and especially recently! The new PENTAX 17 film camera is going to kickstart an entirely new generation of film shooters,” said Philip Steblay, Cofounder of The Darkroom, an online film developing service. “This terrific new camera will add to the great pleasure and enjoyment of shooting film. The PENTAX analog functionality, film selection process and thinking more carefully about your shots will enhance the fun of photography. This, coupled with the anticipation that comes with waiting for your images to process, adds to the joy of photography. With new cameras and film coming to market the future of film photography looks bright.”

“The PENTAX 17 is a stunning camera, both in form and function,” said Kyle Depew, founder, Brooklyn Film Camera. “Its design is handsome and classic, yet it features elements that are delightfully unique and innovative. It's amazing to see modern PENTAX engineering applied towards a new film camera. We couldn't be more delighted.”

“The film photography community is vibrant and growing, and we are thrilled to see Ricoh Imaging recognizing this and creating new products for this market,” said Meredith Reinker, managing partner, Roberts Distributors LP. “Film photography has been growing in popularity over the last several years and supporting this community is supporting a growing industry as well as supporting the arts. We are honored to be partnering with Ricoh to make this camera available through our distribution channel of independent, local and analog-focused businesses. We look forward to watching the analog community embrace this exciting announcement as we all have a shared goal of keeping film photography alive and accessible.”

“This camera has been a reminder to have fun and not take things too seriously,” said Matt Day, photographer. “It’s fun to shoot with, it’s compact enough to carry anywhere, and double the amount of exposures makes it easier to shoot more.”

“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,” said 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.”

| Pricing and Availability |

The PENTAX 17 will be available late June at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com as well as at Ricoh Imaging-authorized retail outlets nationwide for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $499.95.

| Main features |

1. 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 traditional orientation, the PENTAX 17 captures vertical-format pictures, similar to the familiar images captured by smartphones, which are commonly used today for picture-taking.

2. Manual camera operation unique to film cameras

The PENTAX 17 features a manual film-winding mechanism based on those incorporated in PENTAX-brand single-lens reflex (SLR) film cameras. The film advance lever lets the user enjoy the film winding action and a wind-up sound after every shutter release. An easy-loading system is designed to prevent film-loading errors, especially for first-time film camera users. 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.

3. Newly developed lens combining 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. It is also treated with HD (High Definition) coating — a highly acclaimed multi-layer coating — to optimize the clarity and sharpness of half-size pictures. 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.

4. 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 can handle it all. The system is divided into six focus zones, indicated by marks that signify each zone. All the user has to do to set the camera’s focus is select 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.

5. Bright optical viewfinder for real-time confirmation of a subject image

The PENTAX 17’s optical viewfinder features a bright, Albada-type frame finder that helps to facilitate framing a scene. It also comes with a close-up visual field compensation frame to help the photographer more easily compose close-up images. It is possible to check the zone marks directly through the viewfinder.

6. 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, a slow-shutter speed mode that 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.

7. High-quality body with meticulous attention to every detail

The PENTAX 17’s body has a classic design, reminiscent of traditional 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. With meticulous attention paid to every single detail, the PENTAX 17 is designed to be a joy to own.

8. 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

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Go to discussion...

15 comments

  1. Probably in 1959 or so, I worked part-time at a camera store and they let me borrow display cameras sometimes. I remember going out with my girl friend and my best friend and his girlfriend. I took a newly released camera, I believe it was an Olympus Pen, which was a half-frame camera. I still have at least one picure of my friend and his girl (of the day) in one of my photo albums. It was a neat pocket sized camera. This sounds much the same.
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  2. The standard portrait orientation shows the brain damage \"smart\"phones did.
    No, not at all. That's how half frame cameras have always worked. Instead of a single full-frame landscape image, it splits the frame into 2 vertical frames.
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  3. I like the design of the camera, but this is a swing and a miss for me. The maximum shutter speed is 1/350 is just not good enough. The camera's reliance on the automatic control and preset focus doesn't attract me at all. And $500! No thanks. One day my AE-1 and New F-1 will kick the bucket...but these work incredibly well to this day after 40+ years.
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  4. The standard portrait orientation shows the brain damage \"smart\"phones did.
    At least, they are 3x4 so you can get a little more than a selfie into the frame.
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  5. I like it and I actually might buy it. It has some nice details, showing that Pentax put some thought into it (e.g. the "Food" distance scale, perfect for millenial / Gen Z food pictures). Of course it is a bit expensive, but it is a new camera with warranty - and that is also worth some money. Buying an older analog camera with circuitry (say Contax G1) always comes with the risk of it turning into a paperweight over night, with pretty much no chance to repair it.

    I would guess that this is not the camera for people how already have their Nikon F3, EOS 1, K1000 etc. from years gone by but rather for newcomers to the analog hobby who don`t want to buy used.
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  6. No, not at all. That's how half frame cameras have always worked. Instead of a single full-frame landscape image, it splits the frame into 2 vertical frames.
    Yes, but the few models that had vertical film transport. Still, if they were a niche market there was a reason....
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  7. The standard portrait orientation shows the brain damage \"smart\"phones did.
    It does look like smartphones did some damage... meanwhile, "portrait" and "landscape" formats have been a thing for quite a while and vertical grips exist for reasons beyond carrying extra batteries.
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  8. While I like half-frame cameras in general (I own and sometimes use two old Pen FTs with a couple lenses) I really don't understand this one.

    It is pretty bare-bones for the extremely steep price they want and I can't imagine many people that want to try out film will go with it over a used film camera that can be bought for 1/10th of the cost including a 50mm lens or any lomo-plastic-abomination.
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  9. While I like half-frame cameras in general (I own and sometimes use two old Pen FTs with a couple lenses) I really don't understand this one.

    It is pretty bare-bones for the extremely steep price they want and I can't imagine many people that want to try out film will go with it over a used film camera that can be bought for 1/10th of the cost including a 50mm lens or any lomo-plastic-abomination.
    It’s a swiping and a miss, at this price point. That’s my opinion. No full manual control, comically slow maximum shutter speed, and preset focus depth lens? It’s holding your hand too much while not offering enough control. Again, at this price point?!? I get that they’re going after casual photographers looking to take snapshots, but they would be better served with a disposable camera if that’s the case.
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  10. Please pardon me for aiming a little off target here, but ever since this was announced and I remembered using a 1/2 frame camera in my youth (a long time passing) I have been thinking about another 1/2 frame camera which, I believe, had a spring action film advance and looked odd as it had a 1/2 circle protuberance (probably not the best description) on the top. Does anybody remember this camera and what its name was?
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