Half-Frame Roll Film Fixed-Lens Pentax 17 Camera Launched

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Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation has launched the new Pentax 17 compact film camera, its first to come out from the Pentax film project which was announced back in 2022.

Tipped by ChannelNews last month, the Pentax 17 is a half-frame camera that captures two 17mm x 24mm pictures within a single 35mm-format (36mm x 24mm) film frame, and retailers are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of again selling film and processing.

It produces vertical-format pictures, with similar ratios to those captured by smartphones, and so you get two shots for every one, making a 36 exposure roll deliver 72 shots.

The camera features a newly-developed 25mm F3.5 lens (equivalent to a 37mm lens in the 35mm format) with a nine-bladed aperture.

PENTAX 17 NEGATIVE FILM 2UP SCAN EKTACHROME 100 Half Frame Roll Film Fixed Lens Pentax 17 Camera Launched
A simulation of how the Pentax 17’s half-frame images are captured on a segment of 35mm film

Ricoh says the lens is based on the design of 1994’s Pentax Espio Min. The lens has no autofocus, but it also isn’t fully manual — you can use zone focusing by picking from one of six set distances ranging from as close as 0.24 meters in macro mode to infinity, according to The Verge.

As for exposure modes, the 17 doesn’t have full manual control either. It’s mostly designed to be used in program auto mode, but it does have an exposure compensation dial as well as slow shutter and bulb modes. It has selectable shutter speeds from 1/350s to 4 seconds.

The body of the camera is made of a magnesium alloy and uses a CR2 lithium battery to power its flash, light meter and viewfinder.

“We’re hoping to introduce a new generation to the world of film photography with the Pentax 17,” said Ken Curry, president, Ricoh Imaging Americas. “It is an ideal model not only for film camera enthusiasts who have enjoyed film photography for years, but also for photographers who are excited about trying film photography for the first time.”

Local availability or pricing has not been confirmed, but the Pentax 17 will be available from late June in the US priced at around A$756.

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