The Ricoh Retro Rumour

on January 10, 2023
Readers of this column will undoubtedly be readers of Digital Photography Review - as well as some of the other standards of the photographic internet - so they will already have seen a note there about a new initiative from the Ricoh Corporation in Japan - they are starting an initiative to come up with a fresh film camera. That's pretty interesting thinking on their part. Even if the "project " is nebulous now, it looks as though there is some thought going into it - now they're gauging public opinion about what would be wanted in a new film camera. There is even a teasing image of someone working on a camera body. A thumb advances a film-winding lever as a piano plays... You readers out there can draw your own conclusions from the DPR site, but then you can add your own thoughts and prayers to the pot. Why would a 35mm film camera be needed now - now that the digital change has swept past compacts, DSLRS, and into mirror-less cameras? Of course some of you will have Pentax and Ricoh digital gear right now and will be satisfied with it up to it's limits of operation - limits that may well surpass anything you will ever need. Why do you need a new 35mm film camera? Well, you might be a person who is attuned to the argument that only film photography is authentic. Mind you, you'll be getting flak from the people who feel that only glass plate photography is authentic. And they in turn dread the daguerreotypists arriving at the cocktail party... Or you may decry the use of computers and screens - I understand this as I try to make this old iMac work. My wife has forbidden me from bringing a fire axe into the house for fear of the next technical glitch. When I turn 'em off, they don't turn on again... But if you are a film enthusiast you know that the window of opportunity for processing your films is a small one, and yearly shrinking. Bless you for buying the remaining film tanks and liquid chemicals but one day these will dry up. However - someone in the Ricoh Corporation has given time, thought, and company money to this, and gone so far with it as to produce a promotional video - that shows a neck being stuck out, and a Japanese neck at that. That's not the sort of thing that happens every day. So what do I predict - apart from rains of frogs and plagues of boils? Well, if it turns out to be an SLR, it will either use the dear old Pentax film K mount, or the newer one with the electronic connection buttons. If it uses the latter, there will be a temptation on the part of the factory to make an autofocus mechanism work on it, which means electricity. So where will a battery go if there is a film spool winding under the right hand? Will they make a camera to compete with themselves? To fight against a DSLR they already make? Or will they make a Pentax version of what the Cosina-made Voigtländers were; a nostalgic but cheap camera? Will enough people contact them to put in their ideas and demands? Is there a photographic Homer Simpson out there somewhere ready to design the super-camera for them - that finally closes the factory? I may have gone soft on Pentax for awhile - though I did own three of their SLR cameras in the day and admired them greatly - but I will now be watching their announcements and the rumours from our local Australian distributors with renewed interest. When Pentax do it right they do it right...