News From Pentax: Our Meeting With TKO

By Marwan El Mozayen

An In-Person Meeting With Ricoh Imaging / Pentax


Left to right: Ricoh Imaging’s camera designer TKO (Takeo Suzuki), SGC team members Marwan El Mozayen and Doug Richardson, and Ricoh Pentax’s Ryota Shimamoto

Where We Met

Shortly before Christmas, we received an invitation from our good friends at Khrome in Hamburg. Together with a few others from the analog scene, we were invited to a personal and informal meeting with representatives from Ricoh Imaging for a discussion about the new PENTAX Film camera.

My colleague, Doug Richardson, and I signed an NDA, so we can’t talk about everything we saw — but it was absolutely fantastic! When we arrived in Hamburg, we were greeted by Wolfgang Baus, the Customer Communication Manager of Ricoh Imaging Europe. He introduced us to the Head of Marketing from the UK, Adrian Uden, and two gentlemen from Japan: Ryota Shimamoto, and Takeo Suzuki, a camera developer who has recently become the best-known Ricoh Imaging employee in the analog scene and also goes by the name of TKO.

What We Saw & Heard

After a brief welcome speech by our host from Khrome, Oliver Heinemann, we were very excited to see what the gentlemen from Japan had brought with them. As I said, there is a lot we can’t yet disclose. But the beautiful ratchetting sound of the manual film transport and the sight of the classic transport lever were intoxicating!

We can share an important insight which came out of the conversation after the presentation. The gentlemen from Ricoh Imaging initiated a very serious, interested conversation about how we as film shooters users and members of the analog scene see the market. They are committed to bringing out a camera for the film shooters’ community and took note of what we feel they as a company should pay attention to with their new Pentax film camera project. They are also thinking into the future of film cameras, beyond this current project…

Ricoh / Pentax’s Position

Ricoh Imaging is in an almost uniquely advantageous position to bring out new film cameras. First, compared to Sony, Nikon, and Canon, Ricoh Imaging’s Pentax cameras occupy a special niche of the digital sector with their mirrored SLRs — this means that they still have technology which is relevant to film photography.
In addition to this knowledge which they have been using continuously, there is also information which has been carefully saved despite having not been used recently. TKO told us about the challenges of evaluating old construction plans to be used as a basis to construct a camera with new technology. The end goal is to produce a camera with a classic film camera feeling blended with modern elements.

The way we see it, the fact that they never burned their bridges to the past creates a tremendous opportunity for their future since they are still connected to film photography in the minds of photographers. But this is not only a marketing advantage; more importantly, Ricoh Imaging has the possibility and flexibility to not only preserve their existing knowledge base, but to transform it into future products.

The small group meeting at Khrome, which lasted several hours, was extremely persuasive. We sensed a real entrepreneurial spirit and genuine interest in serving the film photography community.

More To Come!

We look forward to reporting the details just as soon as we are allowed to release them — and we have been promised early access to reliable and precise information, so stay tuned!
BTW, if you’re in the Hamburg area, Khrome is worth a visit! They have cameras, film, development, and a gallery. It’s a real brick-and-mortar analog store with employees who know what they are talking about. 

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