Ricoh is Considering Increasing Pentax 17 Production to Catch Up To Demand

A Pentax 17 film camera mounted on a tripod stands outdoors with a blurred waterfall in the background. The camera has a classic compact design with a black and silver body, and a 1:3.5 45mm Pentax lens. The scene is set in a natural environment with logs and rocks.

The launch of the Pentax 17, a brand-new half-frame film camera, has been hugely successful for Ricoh. So much so that the company has been forced to stop accepting orders for it as it scrambles to catch up to demand.

The camera was initially slated to become officially available last month, but for most that has been delayed at least a few weeks. While some markets are receiving more units than others, most have been unable to keep up with demand. Even in the United States, where stock of cameras is heavily prioritized, a delay of a week or more after placing an order is expected. Ricoh stopped accepting orders for the camera through its web store over two weeks ago, and that includes in North America, as it attempts to catch its production up.

A close-up shot of the back of a vintage Pentax camera mounted on a tripod. The camera has an Ilford FP4 Plus 125 black and white film case inserted in the film slot. The background is blurred with hints of greenery.

“Due to the current supply situation, it will take a considerable amount of time to deliver the product,” Ricoh said in June. “Ricoh Imaging Store and other official EC sites will temporarily suspend accepting orders until we have a certain outlook for product supply.”

Top view of a Pentax camera on a tripod. Visible controls include the mode dial, ISO dial ranging from 100 to 3200, shutter release button, and various other buttons and switches for camera settings. The branding "Asahi Pentax" is prominently displayed.

Other countries are even worse off. In regions like Japan where fewer units have been made available, wait times have no delivery date as many who placed pre-orders are not sure when they will ever see the $500 film camera in hand.

Speaking to IT Media, a Japanese online publication, the lead designer of the Pentax 17 and head of the Pentax Film project, Takeo Suzuki (who also goes by TKO) says that Ricoh is considering investing in the ability to produce more cameras so that it can catch up with demand, but will not be increasing the price — another option a company could use to catch up; higher pricing means reduced affordability and therefore less demand.

“We stuck to the price of $500, as it was the bare minimum that even young people overseas could afford,” Suzuki says.

From the beginning, the design of the Pentax 17 was meant for a specific type of user: a young person who was already interested in film photography but who had no other option than to purchase very old, used cameras that were difficult — if not impossible — to repair and came with no warranty.

“As a manufacturer, I wanted to release a new film camera, offer a warranty, and create an environment where people could enjoy them with peace of mind,” Suzuki says.

That goal appears to have been met, as the camera is far more popular than Pentax anticipated.

“The product is produced in Vietnam, and due to the weak yen in Japan it is more expensive than other places, but we still received more orders than we had expected. Orders are currently temporarily halted and we have no idea when they will resume, but we are considering increasing production in response.”

Image credits: PetaPixel