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Video: Incredible footage of a drone flying over an erupting volcano in Iceland

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Video: Incredible footage of a drone flying over an erupting volcano in Iceland

A series of earthquakes caused the Fagradalsfjall volcano, located near Reykjavik, Iceland, to erupt for the first time in over 800 years. FPV pilot and local resident Bjorn Steinbekk took the opportunity to push his DJI FPV drone to the limits.

Miraculously, the drone not only survived the extreme conditions (lava can reach temperatures up to 1,250° Celsius), he also managed to maneuver his unmanned aerial vehicle so that it dodged spurts of hot molten spewing from the crater. Steinbekk confirmed via his Instagram account that his drone did, in fact, survive the flight.

The volcano is relatively small in size and magnitude. As you can see from the tweet above, scientists and bystanders set up camera gear in close proximity to the volcano.

To get even more of an idea, the video video shows you a before and after view of the Fagradalsfjall volcano erupting. Nevertheless, what Steinbekk accomplished by taking a huge risk is quite extraordinary.

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Ricoh’s big bet on a film renaissance: We interview the team behind the upcoming Pentax film camera

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Ricoh’s big bet on a film renaissance: We interview the team behind the upcoming Pentax film camera


Interview participants (all with Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd.)
Second from Right: Tomoki Tanaka, General Manager, Pentax Division Others, left to right:
Kazuhiko Shibuya, Pentax Division, Business Management Department, Overseas Sales Section
Hiraku Kawauchi, Marketing Group, Marketing Communication Department
Takeo (“TKO”) Suzuki, Designer, Pentax Division
Ryutaro Aratama, Group Leader, Overseas Sales Section, Business Management Department

Everything analog is suddenly cool again, and photography is no exception: There’s an incredible renaissance happening in film photography, led by a generation who grew up never knowing anything other than digital cameras.

The growth has been explosive by any measure; on a recent tour of used-camera stores in Tokyo, owners consistently told me that they’re seeing about 3x the level of film camera sales now compared to pre-pandemic times. More remarkable is that I don’t think I saw any customer older than 40 in any of the mainstream shops I visited.

Old cameras are just that, though: old. They may or may not work, and if they stop working, the only option is usually to fork out for another one. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a brand-new film camera with a warranty and service available?

That’s exactly what the Pentax division of Ricoh Imaging has been thinking, led by a passionate young designer, Takeo “TKO” Suzuki, the designer who first had the idea of Pentax developing a new film camera, with the full support of Pentax’s General Manager, Tomoki Tanaka.

In this recent YouTube video, designer Takeo “TKO” Suzuki discusses some of the design choices on the upcoming Pentax film camera.

The project has been ongoing, albeit largely under wraps, since late 2022, but Pentax revealed the following details about the camera in an announcement and a YouTube video where TKO went into more depth on March 1 this year:

  • The project is going forward; the camera will ship sometime this summer
  • Compact design with a half-frame format (2x the exposures on a 35mm roll)
  • Manual film advance and rewind
  • Vertical image format
  • A wide-angle fixed lens
  • Zone focusing
  • Mostly automatic exposure, but with “shooting modes” for user control

I was in Tokyo when the announcement was made and managed to interview Tanaka, TKO and team members about a week later. We covered Tanaka’s vision for Pentax going forward, as well as many details about the camera itself. Here’s how that went, with some slight paraphrasing on my part for clarity:

Ricoh Imaging’s vision for the Pentax brand

Dave Etchells: What’s your vision for the Pentax brand? What do you see as your unique place in the market, and how do you plan to leverage that going forward? What do you see as the relationship between film and digital products, say, five years from now?

Tomoki Tanaka: Our vision is to offer products to photography enthusiasts; that’s the main point. Photography doesn’t just mean digital cameras or analog cameras, though, but both. As of today, we don’t know the future of these categories, but it’s clear that film camera use has been increasing in recent years. Five or ten years from now, there might be new technology that will change everything, so it’s hard to say that far in the future. We believe that both digital and analog cameras will be available though. Some people prefer digital, some people prefer analog, and some may like both. Our mission, our vision, is based on user demand; we always try to offer products to users based on their demand.

We, of course, can’t speak for other manufacturers, but so far, we are the only one to have the potential to offer both analog and digital to the users. That is our vision for now: whether they are film or digital users, we want to be able to serve the enthusiasts.

“Our mission, our vision, is based on user demand; we always try to offer products to users based on their demand.”

The biggest surprise in the latest announcement about the Pentax Film Camera is that it will use a half-frame format with vertically-oriented frames on 35mm film.Photo: Ashley Pomeroy, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The future of film cameras

Dave Etchells: I know you can’t read the minds of your competitors, but I think there’s going to be a very robust market for new film cameras, given the high level of interest, especially with the Millennials and Gen-Zs. Do you think other companies might enter the market for advanced compact film cameras once you’ve demonstrated success?

Takeo “TKO” Suzuki [TKO]: Yes, we don’t know the situations of our competitors, but we expect that some will enter the film market. We even hope that what we are doing will stimulate the market overall. The analog photography industry is supported by many people with great dedication to it. It’s wonderful to have such people, and we’d like to support them as a camera manufacturer. It’s very difficult to try to do that only by ourselves, though, so we hope we can do it together with other manufacturers to pass on the film culture to the next generation.

“We want to be a pioneer, but we don’t want to be alone.”

Dave Etchells: Ah – as they say, a rising tide floats all ships; if you can get other companies to participate, that would be good for you, too, vs just having a monopoly.

Tomoki Tanaka: We want to be a pioneer, but we don’t want to be alone.

Making the new film camera a reality

Dave Etchells: For a long while, you weren’t sure that it would even be possible to manufacture a new film camera, but you announced just a week before our meeting that you’ve firmly decided the project is feasible and you’re going ahead with it. When was that decision finally reached, and what was the last piece of the puzzle that made you realize it was possible?

TKO: It was when we were able to create a prototype, and I could take a picture with it. I didn’t expect that anyone would give us the OK to proceed with this project without a first shot actually being made by the prototype, so that was the moment. I was very moved when I was able to take the first picture with the prototype. It even brought tears to my eyes.

“I was very moved when I was able to take the first picture with the prototype. It even brought tears to my eyes.”

Dave Etchells: I can imagine; you’d had a dream, and finally, it was in your hands.

TKO: A dream, yes.

Dave Etchells: It must have been a lot of work to build the prototype – and you had to have a lens for it. Did you just take an existing lens that you had and kind of hack it together into something for the sake of a test?

TKO: It’s newly designed for this project specifically. We, of course, referred to other cameras’ lens designs, but we didn’t just use an old one as it was; we redesigned it. To make the prototype, we had to make a whole new lens just to be able to build one prototype camera. We actually didn’t have the necessary equipment or molds to rebuild old designs, so we had to start over from scratch.

Dave Etchells: Wow, that’s a big investment to make, just to decide if the project would be possible or not.

TKO: Yes, it was a lot.

The new film camera will carry the Pentax brand, a famous name in photo history. In 1957, the Asahi Pentax (AKA the Asahi Pentax AP) arguably kicked off the SLR boom. Some aspects of its design became industry standards, including its rapid-wind film advance lever, film-rewind crank, instant mirror return and microprism focusing aids on the viewfinder screen.

Photo: Andriy Matusevich, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pentax vs Ricoh branding

Dave Etchells: Part of the announcement was that the camera will carry the Pentax branding. How did you decide on that? I was kind of expecting to see the Ricoh name used, given that the GR series has more of a compact rangefinder feel to it than current Pentax models.

TKO: Actually, this was simply because we considered this product to be a Pentax brand product from the very beginning; we simply started working on it as a Pentax project and announced it as the Pentax Film Camera Project in December of 2022.

You mentioned the Ricoh Auto Half when we were talking earlier – We didn’t start off thinking of it as a half-frame camera. That’s why we only just now declared that it will be half-frame format; we decided to do that during the process, but we didn’t have the Ricoh Auto Half in our minds in the beginning.

“We considered this product to be a Pentax brand product from the very beginning.”

Dave Etchells: Ah, so you actually started out thinking in terms of full-frame and only later turned to half-frame when the idea of making it vertical-format came about.

TKO: Yes, we only decided on half-frame later. When we made the first announcement in December 2022, we didn’t have any such details yet. We communicated with the market [and that led us to the idea of vertical format and half-frame].

Dave Etchells: I like that. It’s a story about having a vision for a product but then talking to the market to refine it. I’ve always appreciated that about the Film Project; you’ve gotten very close to the users to see what they actually want.

Incorporating feedback from film photographers

Dave Etchells: Before we talk about some of the details you just announced, what was the most surprising thing you discovered as the concept developed?

TKO: It was the fact that we have so many friends and supporters in the analog world. There were many, many more than we expected, so we were very surprised. We were very moved by how cooperative they were and how much they wanted to help with our project. It was also very encouraging to have a sense of such camaraderie that we’re not alone in doing this. There are many many supporters, that’s very encouraging.

Tomoki Tanaka: There were many strong friendships that contributed. Once we had an opportunity to talk with someone for example, they would introduce us to the next person, and the next and the next. ‘Film’ people have many connections, and everyone has been so cooperative. So their friendliness, their connections … I don’t know if that’s a good English word. The connections and relationships with each other really increased our opportunities to talk with analog camera people.

The used film camera market is red hot right now. The owner of Used Camera Box in Shinjuku (Mr Tanaka, above) told me he’s getting 100+ customers per day, 80% from outside Japan. (Stay tuned for an upcoming article on used-camera shopping in Tokyo.)Photo: Dave Etchells

Dave Etchells: I can imagine that. Film shooters are a very passionate, supportive and close-knit group. For a manufacturer to come along and say, “Hey, we’re with you, we’re going to make this happen,” it’s very powerful; I can see it really being embraced.

TKO: We receive comments directly through our distribution channel, and also via SMS comments [phone texts]. We watch these comments every day and try to understand what they’re thinking. But we were also surprised that many comments were from overseas countries, not just Japan.

Dave Etchells: It was interesting to me as I was touring the used camera stores here that first, I don’t think I saw a single customer over the age of 40 the whole time, except in some of the small, very collector-oriented shops. Secondly, there were a huge number of foreigners from all over the world. One shop owner said that 80% of his customers are from other countries. So as strong as the interest is in Japan, it might be even more in other countries.

Tomoki Tanaka: It’s just a guess, but maybe it’s that there’s demand outside of Japan, but the product is available here [so that’s why there are so many foreigners hunting for film cameras here.]

Dave Etchells: Yeah, there’s really nowhere in the US where you can go and put hands on remotely as many cameras as you can here in Tokyo. There’s a large used-gear dealer in Atlanta (KEH) that has perhaps 500 film bodies on hand and another in Portland, Oregon (Blue Moon Camera) that has a similar number in stock, but only people who live nearby can visit either one, and you can probably find 5-10x as many bodies just in Shinjuku.

Ryutaro Aratama: I’ve heard that some camera fans from overseas countries first stop in Shinjuku and find a favorite camera, then go to Kyoto or Osaka or for another trip.

Dave Etchells: Ah yes – I came across a couple of stories exactly like that, just among the people I met. One person was buying a camera and a couple of lenses before going to Kyoto to shoot with them. It’s nice to see people using old cameras again; it’s like they’re still loved and they still have a place.

I’d never given a second thought to cranking a film-advance lever, but the moment TKO mentioned it, it brought a flood of memories. So many moments in my life are connected through that quick flick of a finger. I dug out an old and battered family K-1000 to pose for this shot.

Photo: Dave Etchells

Sweating the little details

Dave Etchells: Some design choices seemed obvious to me, while others were quite surprising. I immediately loved the idea of mechanical film advance and rewind, but TKO mentioned that this approach was more costly. What makes a manual mechanism more expensive, and can you give us a rough idea of how much more it costs to make a fully mechanical system?

TKO: At this moment, we cannot disclose any figures, but it is true that to have a mechanical film winding means the number of parts, such as screws or gears, is many more than with an electrical system. So it’s more difficult to assemble, and it needs more training, much more training, even for experienced assembly workers. It’s not just the parts cost itself, but everything around it takes more time and money. Despite the fact that it costs more, though, we decided to equip the camera with a mechanical system because we believe that one of the fun parts of using a film camera is winding the film. I really wanted to make that happen and deliver it to the users, our target users.

[Author’s note: There aren’t just more parts, but they have to be strong enough for people to crank on them, applying much more force than a tiny electric motor would. This adds cost as well.]

The Ricoh Auto Half first debuted around 1960, and a whole range of variants were sold through the 1970s. It featured a 25mm F2.8 lens (equivalent to 36mm on a full-frame camera). The optical design of the lens in the coming Pentax Film Camera draws its optical heritage from the Pentax Espio Mini, but the angle of view was inspired by the Ricoh Auto Half.

Photo: Hiyotada, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The logic behind going vertical

Dave Etchells: The choice of a vertical format was a real surprise to me. Once TKO explained it in the video, though, I was like, “Well, of course!”. Was this a decision you made very early in the project, or was it a point you arrived at only after a while?

Tomoki Tanaka: I believe it wasn’t openly discussed, but it was in his [TKO’s] mind from the beginning. He needed to carefully study whether it would really be suitable for young users these days or if it would be accepted by the market, so he spent a lot of time interviewing knowledgeable people and potential users. He received a lot of great advice and very helpful information.

Dave Etchells: So you found people liked the idea? I’ve never used a half-frame camera, but I expect it will be a shift for older photographers like me to think of vertical format for everything. You found that both older and younger thought it was a good idea, though?

TKO: We were afraid at first that long-time analog users wouldn’t like the idea of half-frame. After the YouTube video, though, many older people say they understand the concept, saying “we know that this camera is for young people.”

Dave Etchells: Even though I’m an “old person,” this is a camera I would buy and think about starting up my darkroom again for. I like the idea that it immediately cuts processing costs in half for users. I don’t know if labs are set up to print half frames separately, but even if printed two up it would probably be fine. (In fact, it could even be a storytelling component, where you would take pairs of pictures that you wanted to see together.

These shots of Japanese actress and model Riko taken with a Ricoh Auto Half show how the half-frame format looks as a standard 4×6 print. The new Pentax Film camera will have about the same angle of view and perspective.

Photo: BARFOUT, Copyright © Brown’s Books, all rights reserved, used with permission

Dave Etchells: This is a bit the same question over again, but the idea of a vertical frame and half-frame 35mm format go hand in hand. Did half-frame drive the idea of vertical format, or was it the other way around?

TKO: I myself shoot with a smartphone every day, so using vertical format is a very normal everyday activity for me. One day I was using a half-frame camera, looking through its viewfinder at a small street with traditional Japanese buildings, and I realized how well they fit in a vertical frame. It was really refreshing to be able to see a vertical composition, not on a smartphone but in a viewfinder.

Tomoki Tanaka: Actually, in the old days, even after we had smartphones, people would take pictures with them this way. [Gestures, showing a horizontal format.] But now, everyone just takes pictures in the vertical. The times have changed, and we have to follow.

Historically, photography was always this way [horizontal], maybe because of our … can I say eyes? But now, people are seeing pictures on their smartphones… Maybe in the future, movies will be vertical too, made for smartphones.

The Pentax Espio Mini was sold in the US as the Pentax UC-1. Its 32mm f/3.5 lens was highly regarded for its sharpness, contrast and overall image quality, despite its simple 3-element triplet design. The new Pentax Film Camera will use a newly designed but similar triplet arrangement.

Photo: Butkus.org camera manual site, used with permission

Lens details

Dave Etchells: You said that the lens was inspired by the field of view of the Auto Half models and the optical design of the Pentax Espio Mini’s lens. How were the optical designs of those two camera lines different, and what sort of design did the Espio have that you’ve brought forward?

TKO: So, to confirm, we referenced the Espio’s lens design, not the Auto Half’s; it was just the angle of view of the Auto Half that we followed, not the design itself. [Editor’s note: The Auto Half featured a 25mm lens, equivalent to 36mm on a full-frame camera, but Pentax declined to state a specific number for the new camera’s lens.]

I thought that the natural angle of view when looking through the viewfinder of a Ricoh Auto Half is very suitable for everyone, for everyday use. The Espio Mini was a famous compact film camera that had many fans. We decided to use the Espio Mini lens as a reference because of its high-quality image; even the R&D people rated it very highly. We can also apply the latest technology coatings to it; I think it has the potential to become a modern masterpiece.

“The [Pentax] Espio Mini was a famous compact film camera that had many fans. We decided to use the Espio Mini lens as a reference because of its high-quality image.”

Dave Etchells: This is sort of a technical detail, but can you tell me how many elements were in the Espio lens, and are you using the same number in the new one?

TKO: The Espio Mini’s lens is a triplet, a very simple lens system with just three elements. It’s very simple, but our engineers tried it and got very good results. It’s beautiful with just the triplet, very natural and very clear, so we optimized the triplet. The lens on the Espio Mini was very nice; this new lens is a new design but it’s very similar.

Dave Etchells: So the new lens is a triplet also?

TKO: For right now, we’ll just refer you to the Espio Mini’s triplet lens construction. The Espio Mini was a full-frame camera though, so we had to do some refining to adjust to the half-frame format.

Zone focusing

Dave Etchells: TKO mentioned in the video that the camera would have zone focusing rather than a continuous range. Is this only the case for manual focus, or is it true for autofocus as well? If the latter, isn’t there a potential loss of sharpness for subjects at distances between the discrete settings? [Author’s note: Think of zone focus settings in terms of close-up, portrait or landscape, although Pentax didn’t reveal how many zones there would be.]

TKO: In this camera, focus adjustment is assumed to be only zone focus. We adopted zone focusing because we believe that zone focus is the best mechanism for young users entering the world of film cameras to take a step from pan-focus to the next level. Zone focus is a style in which users judge the distance visually and select a proper zone. So there actually isn’t any autofocus, it will be the user selecting their own setting. This style is very suitable for snapshots, and you can adjust it, switch it very intuitively.

“We adopted zone focusing because we believe that zone focus is the best mechanism for young users entering the world of film.”

I tried taking pictures with a prototype and found it really fun to judge the distance myself, decide the distance and take the picture. I realized that I had completely forgotten how much fun it was. Of course there will be failures, but I believe that failure is one of the charms of film photography.

Tomoki Tanaka: In the case of digital cameras, we can see the picture right after we shoot it, and many people like to check the screen to see if it is in focus or not. But in the case of film cameras, we take the pictures, and we have some hope for how they will turn out, but we don’t know until we get the results. So, in this sense, making a picture all by yourself and having responsibility for the focus can be fun.

The difference between digital and film shutters

Dave Etchells: TKO said that the electronic shutter mechanism is specifically optimized for film camera use. What’s the difference compared to shutters in digital cameras like the Pentax WG or Ricoh G series cameras?

TKO: Film cameras need to prevent light leakage, not only when shooting but also when the power is off. Even if you’re not using the camera, the film is always there, so that makes it extremely sensitive to light leakage. It’s not just the shutters themselves but the mechanism around them; the entire camera body has to be designed to avoid light leakage. It’s a much more serious problem than in digital cameras.

When I read that the new camera would have “shooting modes,” I immediately thought of the standard PASM dial. Pentax declined to give any specific details, but TKO’s observation that aperture won’t have a lot of effect on the images due to the half-frame format and relatively wide angle lens suggests that any modes won’t involve aperture control. (To be 100% clear, though, Pentax gave no indication of what “shooting modes” might mean.)

Photo: Richard Butler

What’s meant by “shooting modes”?

Dave Etchells: TKO also mentioned the ability for the user to choose the shooting mode via a control dial. What did he mean by shooting mode? Will there be anything like PASM options, or was he referring to something else?

TKO: We can’t disclose all the details of this yet, but basically, the camera can shoot automatically, controlling the aperture and shutter speed by itself. But if that is all you have, if everything is controlled by the camera, you won’t be able to enjoy changing the settings yourself, so we’re considering making it possible to choose from several shooting modes. I’m afraid we can’t go into more detail on this right now, but there will be some choices that the user can make.

Tomoki Tanaka: We can provide good pictures by having the camera control the exposure, but we want to let the user apply their own modifications. That’s what we want to make available.

Dave Etchells: It may be too early to ask this, but will the camera have an entirely manual exposure mode, as in the user can set an exposure of F8 at 1/250?

TKO: Please wait. <laughter> But I want to say that because the camera is half-frame, the depth of field will be very great, so adjusting the aperture may not be very effective in changing that.

Despite the best exchange rates in decades, film prices are high in Japan, just like the US. (When this photo was taken, a 3-pack of 36-exposure Kodak Gold 200 film cost ¥6,180, or about $40.) While it trades off some ultimate image quality, the Pentax Film Camera’s half-frame format will make photography a lot more affordable for users.

Photo: Dave Etchells

Getting film into the hands of consumers

Dave Etchells: Moving on to a related but non-camera subject, I see that Ricoh has begun selling film. I think that’s a brilliant move, but I would like to hear the thinking behind it. Was this made possible through any particular partnership or collaboration?

Ryutaro Aratama: We are trying an experiment selling film directly. We would like to cooperate with film manufacturers and others to try to improve both the supply and price.

Dave Etchells: What brands are you selling right now?

Tomoki Tanaka: An assortment; some Fuji and Kodak films, and monochrome films by Ilford; actually several assortments.

Ryutaro Aratama: This is a trial, though; we source them on the spot, and once one is gone, it’s gone.

Tomoki Tanaka: This is a trial project, a trial challenge, and we will have to work together with people in other territories as well to gain experience. The aim isn’t mainly to sell film but to build relationships and give opportunities to consumers.

Pentax has a “Clubhouse” in the Yotsuya neighborhood of Tokyo, where Pentaxians can come to see and hold the current lenses, have cleaning and light service performed on their cameras and attend exhibitions, classes and seminars. They say it’s an important way for them to stay close to their users.

Photo: Pentax Division, Ricoh Imaging Company, Ltd.

What about the high cost of processing?

Dave Etchells: Doing a film sales trial is easier for you to do in Japan than in other countries, given that you have your own retail locations here. Do you have any plans or strategies for reducing the high costs of film and processing in other parts of the world as well?

TKO: We haven’t come to any specific plan. We need to first establish relationships with development or printing companies. In the end we hope we can help to improve the cost or lead times. We’ve begun setting up relationships with several partners around the world. We’ve just started, though, and want to continue the process

Tomoki Tanaka: Indirectly, if we can grow the analog film business in the world, higher volume always makes the cost come down. Perhaps we can indirectly help with that, but we don’t want to be directly involved in film development. We just want to increase the size of the pie for everyone.

Pentax has long been known for making water-resistant and waterproof/shockproof cameras. Their latest model is the WG-90, announced in November, 2023. It’s a 16 megapixel/5x zoom model that’s waterproof to 14m (46 ft.), shockproof against a fall from 1.6m (5 ft.), and freezeproof to -10C (14F).

The future of the WG (weather-resistant) camera line

Dave Etchells: Finally, the WG-90 has been released since I met with [Ricoh Imaging president, Noboru] Akahane last year. How does the WG line fit into Pentax’s overall strategy? What has the market trend been like for waterproof/rugged cameras in recent years? Is it increasing, decreasing or holding steady?

Tomoki Tanaka: I think it’s stable. We don’t have market data except from our own sales history, but we believe there is a demand for water-resistant or waterproof and shockproof types of cameras, and I see this continuing. We at Pentax have offered products like this for a long time, probably more than 30 years. Our first water-resistant camera was the Zoom-90 WR; I remember it clearly because it was shipping back when I first joined Pentax in 1992. We believe that there is a demand from users so we should offer the product.

The WG-90 is just the latest in a long string of weather-resistant and waterproof cameras. The Pentax Zoom-90 WR was first released in 1991, the year before current General Manager Tomoki Tanaka joined the company.

Photo: Butkus.org camera manual site, used with permission

Conclusion

Pentax is making a big bet on the rebirth of film by being the first major manufacturer to commit to making a new film camera in decades. It’s no small thing, as they’ve had to start completely from scratch, recapturing the expertise of retired film-era engineers, reviving or replacing decades-gone supply chains and setting up mass manufacturing to meet global demand for a product more mechanically complex than not only today’s digital cameras but even late-model film cameras with motorized film advance and rewind mechanisms.

It all began as one man’s passion project, but TKO’s enthusiasm is infectious, and the idea of a new film camera, hopefully even a line of them, turned into a passion project for the company as a whole.

Every company gets excited about its latest products, but what I felt at Pentax was on another level; there’s an overriding sense of doing something new and almost revolutionary, of being part of a movement rather than just adding the next checkbox to an already-bulging digital feature list.

At the heart of it all is the film community itself. There’s truly a new generation of photographers rising, sharing an excitement about photography that digital cameras and cell phones could never ignite. As has been true of photographers in any era, they’re supportive of each other and happy to do whatever they can to help other people enjoy the craft, too.

“Every company gets excited about its latest products, but what I felt at Pentax was on another level.”

Pentax tapped into and became a part of that community, letting their efforts be guided by what they heard people asking for rather than imposing their own ideas on the market.

Will it work? We’ll see this summer, but if they can bring a well-built, reliable and attractive modern film camera to the market, I think they’re going to have more demand than they can handle.

On a parting note, I do hope that the enthusiast community will recognize and accept that they’re not the primary target for this particular model. If it succeeds, there’ll be other cameras coming, some designed for us, but right now, Pentax needs to focus on the under-40 crowd I saw almost exclusively in the Tokyo used camera shops. That’s the mass movement that Pentax needs to ride to not only kick-start their own product line but hopefully reboot the whole analog film world as well.

All that said, while I’m more of an SLR or at least an advanced-rangefinder sort myself, I plan to be one of the first in line to buy a new Pentax film camera when they’re released. Who knows, maybe my enlarger and developing trays will find their way back into a spare bathroom again 🙂



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TTArtisan releases new AF 56mm F1.8 lens for Fujifilm and Sony APS-C cameras

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TTArtisan releases new AF 56mm F1.8 lens for Fujifilm and Sony APS-C cameras


Image: TTArtisan

Today, TTArtisan has officially released its new AF 56mm F1.8 autofocus lens for X and E-mount cameras. The APS-C portrait lens is another budget offering from the China-based company.

The 56mm F1.8 lens has ten elements in nine groups and has nine aperture blades. The lens is built with a stepper motor, which TTArtisan claims delivers fast and quiet autofocus. It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.5m (19.6″) and a minimum aperture of F16.

TTArtisan says the lens has a full aluminum build, weighs between 233-245g (8.2-8.8oz), and includes ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass. This should help reduce the amount of color fringing that may occur in an image.

This is only the company’s fourth autofocus lens, but it’s the second one it has announced in recent weeks, following the TTArtisans AF 35mm F1.8, released early this month for Sony E-mount cameras.

Pricing and availability

The TTArtisan AF 56mm F1.8 ships globally and is available immediately. It has a suggested retail price of $158.


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In the last three months, we have given newsletter readers early sneak peeks at our testing, talking about our studio scene, product studio and what’s going on in the DPReview mail room (you never know what might be dropping by). We also give newsletter readers an exclusive heads-up on what’s happening around our office, complete with candid sharing of what the DPReview editors are thinking about and debating. Sometimes, we even let slip which camera review we’re working on and if it is coming out the following week.

Last month, the newsletter also hosted DPReview Camera Debate Madness of March (and part of April). Readers and editors weighed the choices between primes and zooms, lens-focusing design, viewfinder- or touchscreen-only cameras, and more. After four rounds of debates and voting, we crowned a champion and experience trumped gear lust. Relive every play-by-play to discover who won and how. Join our next event by signing up for the newsletter.

There’s also our ongoing ‘Question of the Week’ segment, where we turn the microphone toward you. Last week, we asked: What’s the perfect portrait lens, and why? Nearly 100 readers wrote in to share their takes, and every week, we share some of our favorite responses in the following newsletter. What did people have to say? Sign up to find out. Join us by answering our next question every week. This week, we’re asking you: If you could update one camera from the past and bring it back to the market, what would it be? Have a hot take to share? Sign up and join the community by sending in your response.

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