Pentax Teases the Coming of Its ’17’ Half-Frame Film Camera

Pentax published a new teaser for its anticipated half-frame 35mm film camera, which it has been developing for two years. The short video ends with the number “17.”

Announced in December 2022, the half-frame film camera is expected to launch this summer and feature a fixed lens, hand-winding system and will capture two photos per frame of 35mm film.

“While digital cameras are the mainstream of photography today, the Pentax Film Camera Project is designed to challenge the development of a new film camera, responding to the growing popularity lately of film photography among younger photographers. The project has been in the research stage, during which time we tried to overcome a broad range of difficult and complicated issues,” Pentax said in February.

“These included the procurement of the parts needed for film cameras, rediscovering the skills and technologies unique to film camera production, and the status of film manufacturing, stocking and distribution and the availability and infrastructure of film development facilities, both in Japan and overseas. After this stage, we decided that all requirements had been met for the actual development of a new film camera.”

The new teaser leans heavily into the “vibes” or analog photography, specifically on sounds. The hand-winding mechanism Pentax chose to employ in the camera has been a focal point of statements about the camera’s development and it is again highlighted here — the sound of the camera winding is featured prominently. Additionally, the half-frame design is further confirmed as the teaser shows very clearly that this will be how the unannounced camera will operate.

The video ends with the numbers “17,” which could refer to the size of a half-frame shot: 17mm by 24mm would allow for a small amount of space between the two photos on a single 35mm frame. It is also possible that Pentax just cheekily revealed the name of the upcoming camera, as “Pentax 17” has a nice ring. That is, of course, speculation for now.

The team behind the new film camera has repeatedly stressed how difficult it was to make a new film camera from scratch in 2024. PetaPixel understands that this camera required expertise from engineers who had already retired from the industry to come back and provide insights, as well as parts that required special manufacturing, as they are no longer actively produced.

Pentax has hinted that this half-frame camera is just the first of a series of new analog cameras it plans to develop. The company’s ability to pursue more film cameras likely relies on the sales of this model when it releases, however. That said, if the perennial popularity of GR III is any indication, Pentax likely won’t have a problem moving units.