Ricoh released the Pentax 17, a fixed focal length compact film camera. This manual winding, manual focus-range camera with a half-size format is a brave move as most manufacturers focus on developing their mirrorless cameras instead of creating analogue lines. According to Ricoh ‘The camera was designed to allow photographers to express their originality and creativity by leaving some room for manual operation, rather than making it a fully automatic camera.’

Pentax 17
The new Pentax 17 analogue camera. Image: Pentax

With ever-increasing doubts about image authenticity, releasing a brand-new analogue camera seems apt. We know that film cameras are having a comeback, especially among young photographers who grew up in a heavily digitalized era however, this nifty little camera will appeal to the more seasoned shooters too. The tactile feel of the manual film winding mechanism, looking through the optical viewfinder and shooting with a limited number of frames creates a grounding experience where you pay more attention, slow down and appreciate each frame you shoot.

The half-size format

Ricoh’s choice of half-size format captures two 17mm x 24mm pictures in a single 35 mm-format frame (36mm x 24mm). Half-format cameras tend to be lighter than their full-frame counterparts and they also double the number of exposures you can get from your roll. In the case of a 36-exposure cartridge, this means a generous 72 frames. Furthermore, with the added horizontal film advance mechanism, instead of cutting the frame in landscape orientation, you can shoot vertical format images, just like modern smartphones do.

Half Frame size. Image: Pentax

Other specs

Ricoh equipped the Pentax 17 with a newly developed 25mm F3.5 Fixed-Focal length lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format). Focusing is done by a zone focus system, which means you can switch the in-focus area with the selection of 6 different zone marks on the front of the lens. The camera also adjusts exposure settings based on the lighting data collected by its metering sensor, this makes it effectively an auto exposure camera in aperture priority mode but there are 7 shooting modes which include Slow-speed sync and Bulb too.

Its portable size, cost-effective format and the fact that you won’t have to change your rolls as often make it an ideal companion for travel and street photography.

Pentax 17
Pentax 17. Image: Pentax

The Pentax 17 is available on website for €549 / £499, however at this price, or less you can pick up a whole range of film cameras, second-hand, with an interchangeable lens, manual focus and manual exposure, with a larger format that provides better image quality. So what would validate the purchase of this analogue apart from it being new?

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