Compact cameras, the future

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by Bellamy /

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Compact cameras, the future
Since I have been running this site and doing this job I have watched as the prices for compact cameras have steadily increased into the sort of price ranges usually reserved for collectible cameras. I do feel partly responsible for this as the site helped to popularise these cameras and bring them to new audiences.

But this was also inevitable. These cameras are getting expensive not just because they are more popular, but also because there are fewer and fewer or them available now. Even the younger compact cameras (apart from the Fuji Klasse) are over 10 years old now and they are reaching their performance limits. Basically the cameras are dying and there is nobody that can rescue them.

When I started this site about 7 years ago, you could bag a Ricoh GR1 or a Contax T2 for about $250. Now they are $700+ for the same camera, but older and more used.
This has become such an issue now that I no longer source compact cameras, as I simply cannot find enough of them to meet the demand. And demand is high, I get 20+ mails a day asking for compact cameras, and I have to turn them all away. And it hurts me to do so every single time.
And herein lies the problem. What are we going to do for a compact camera in the coming years?

This is something that has been playing on my mind for some time now. And I have mentioned it to people like Juho who started the database for helping to make sure film is available in the future.
I would dearly love to make a compact camera, and I know what I want too. Based on the buying requirements of years of customers it would not have to be an overly complicated camera. A simply point and shoot with a decent 28mm or 35mm lens, flash, iso selector and manual override. As simple as possible and made from metal for durability. The less electronic components the better, so that it can be easily serviceable and less prone to breaking down.

But I am one guy and I don’t have the weight of a large company or investors with very deep pockets. So I need help.

One of the large makers needs to step up to the plate and make a compact film camera. And I am not saying this on a whim or with a wistful idea of halcyon days. I get more requests for compact cameras than I could ever fulfil, even if I had the cameras. People are prepared to spend nearly $1000 for an old Contax or Ricoh, knowing full well that it could simply stop working at any point and there would be nothing they could do about it.

Photographers are begging for a compact film camera and they would pay good money for a well made and simple camera that could give them years of use. This is not am impossible task, the odds are not insurmountable. This is something that can be done. And should be done. We are in the age of 3D printing, small scale manufacture and highly mechanised assembly, we can do this.

As I have said, I cannot do this on my own, so I am reaching out to any and all of the manufacturers. I will happily work with you to provide data, buyer trends, PR or anything I can possibly do to make this a reality. I have lens guys and ex-service repair guys who have technical knowledge and troubleshooting ideas. I have more user feedback and common faults info than you could ever possibly want. I can help.

I know some of the large manufacturers have taken a bit of a beating in recent times and the internet can be a cruel and unforgiving place. But can you imagine the goodwill and sense of community that making a compact film camera could bring? That is not a small thing in this day and age. Kodak just mentioned the idea of making an 8mm movie camera again and the internet went bananas, not to mention the rise in stock prices.

So what can you do? Share this, tell a friend, put it in a bottle at sea, skywrite it. But make sure the people in charge of the large camera makers can see that there is a real market for a compact film camera, and it is not a small market either. It is sustainable, and growing in popularity as people feel more disillusioned about sharing images online. Our voices make a difference, and if they realise that we are prepared to throw money at them they will sit up and listen.

Realistically, I am going to try and do this anyway, even without the help of a manufacturer, but it would be really great if even one of them could get involved so that it would be a worldwide thing which doesn’t shave 10 years off my life through overwork.

Thanks for reading and sharing. As always, your comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated.

JCH

76 comments on “Compact cameras, the future”

    Joseph Taylor May 6, 2017 at 4:59 pm / Reply

    This is great timing, I really want a durable compact but am I fook paying £300+ for a 10+ year old point and shoot. I know nothing about the process of making a camera though. I have just fell in love with the look of the cheap plasticaky Konica MT-9, and MT-11 though.

    Chris May 6, 2017 at 6:55 pm / Reply

    Brilliant idea! Something along the lines of the Ricoh 500 series & Olympus 35rc/rd.

    It might be worth going down the kickstarter route? Look what happened to peak design.

    I really hope this comes to market, good luck in finding the resources.
    📷📷

    Cheyenne Morrison May 6, 2017 at 8:43 pm / Reply

    Well there are still some film cameras in production…

    Krasnogorsk Factory. SA Zvereva (Zenit) still produce a film camera, but they revamped their website and I can’t find it.

    But I don’t think their is a compact camera in production, and building a new one would be an expensive endeavour. I had a private tour of the Impossible Project factory in Holland, and the amount of machinery was massive, and would be unbelievably expensive to build from scratch.

    I think sadly the best candidate is Fuji, as they built some of the last film cameras, but we know their opinion of supporting film don’t we?

    There are some good stories, the Fuji Instax Q10, the new Impossible Project Camera, and MiNT cameras in Hong Kong, so where there is demand someone will try to supply.

    Daniel Fjäll May 6, 2017 at 8:50 pm / Reply

    The best bet is to acquire as many of these premium compact cameras as one can manage. I’ve got several backups I bought a couple of years ago. Just buy 3 and your’e set.

    brokencanera.club May 6, 2017 at 9:49 pm / Reply

    Amen brother, amen. My Contax T3 should be the perfect pocket camera, but I find myself treating it like a museum exhibit not like a tool.

    Hate to say it but Fuji is who comes to mind as the best hope. They have the technical expertise, manufacturing capability, distribution and film (for now) motivation. I don’t see Canon or Nikon doing this. They have a model of adding more pixels every few years and selling you a new camera. Planed obsolesce at work. Film cameras have a the nasty habit of sticking around. Leica would could outsource it to Japan and add a red dot (and more cost). Or a new player.

    If I told you I have a factory and the engineering needed (I don’t), plus the license to all past camera designs (again hypothetical), but you had to pick only one model to put back into production: What do you pick?

    Paul
    http://www.brokencamera.club
    @brokencameraclub

    Argenticien May 6, 2017 at 9:53 pm / Reply

    Why the fixation on heavily electronicised 1990s compacts? What’s wrong with fully mechanical or very slightly electronicised (meter + maybe one rudimentary auto mode), like a Canonet or Oly RC? The new camera you propose sounds somewhat like these. While I fully support your effort, you risk being in a segment where the competition is viewed as being those (common as chips, can be had under £100, fairly reparable) rather than the $1000 Contaxen. Then it becomes a tough sell.

    Ed May 6, 2017 at 10:00 pm / Reply

    There still remain film Leicas, while not as compact as a Ricoh or Contax, isn’t that far off and will be repairable for decades to come.

    Let’s hope Ricoh doesn’t give up on the superlative digital GR series anytime soon. One wonders whey they don’t do runs of the film versions again.

    Bellamy, maybe that’s whom you ought to make enquiries with.

    Gavin Go May 6, 2017 at 10:38 pm / Reply

    Pentax will soon stop so I think Ricoh will not help. Yes this will be a very huge expensive high risk business endeavor. Good luck Bellamy. I think the film community owe you a lot in making it relevant in this times where digital slr are also getting battered by cellphones. A passionate startup is what you need where ideas are very simple.

    Ed May 6, 2017 at 11:01 pm / Reply

    Ricoh’s statement regarding the fate of consumer digital imaging isn’t completely clear, and rumors of Pentax’ demise especially sad in light of its exceptional FF camera.

    In any event, a reliable seller in the US tells me that a 24MP GR is soon to appear.
    Fingers crossed…

    Adrian Ward May 6, 2017 at 11:18 pm / Reply

    Why not a rangefinder with a ltm lens , there is a huge range of lenses both in quality and price ,
    I would have thought a rangefinder could potentially be cheaper without having to add a lens in the cost , and a meter could be an optional extra ,

    More power to your elbow , it’s great having someone so passionate leading the way

    Daniel May 6, 2017 at 11:25 pm / Reply

    Wow, I was just thinking about this, came to your page, now here you are writing about it! While in the future I would like to shoot film, just as you say, I’m not going to pay $700 for a 20 year old camera that’s going to break in a few months. Even having to get a camera serviced is expensive and a pain in the ass. So, let us hope that these camera companies will see the resurgence of film and bring us some nice, new, little, discreet compact film cameras. Until then I’m just going to use a digital Ricoh GR.

    Johnny Martyr May 7, 2017 at 12:07 am / Reply

    Bellamy, I applaud this thought and any efforts you make to turn your vision into a reality. I agree, in the most profound way, that the continuously depleting film camera supply needs to be addressed if we’re all to sustain our hobbies and careers. However, I personally don’t see as much value in ultra compact 35mm cameras as you and some of your customers. My efforts lie, perhaps less glamorously, in simply not purchasing any more used film cameras that I don’t intend to have fully serviced/restored by my local repair technicians and having all my current gear serviced when it goes sideways instead of just replacing it.

    From my experience, I believe that compact and reliable are contradictions. 35mm sized cameras, particularly mechanical ones, physically require componets to be made of stronger metals and components need to be larger than is necessary. These are the ways that the forces exerted on a componet and series of components, can be effortlessly absorbed with minimal stress and wear. Shrinking mechanisms weakens or complicates them by nature.
    Stronger metals in precise, repeatable shapes are still a great challenge for 3d printing. Larger componets oppose compact design. For me, I’ve always found that larger cameras such as a Nikon F2, require far less service than a compact camera that does most of the same things such as an Olympus OM-1. It takes a company such as Leica to build tiny, reliable, mechanisms. Speaking of which, the M7 is available today if someone wants a new, compact, reliable camera.

    When you say “simple” compact camera, I can’t help but think of the humble Argus C3. These are the most simple, servicable and probably reliable relatively compact cameras I’m aware of. Most any lay person can probably rebuild these cameras with a little reading and care. Their componets are mostly made from stamped sheet metal rather than forged brass or steel. Easy to manufacture and easy to service. Certainly cheap to buy use Somehow I think these are lacking the performance you’re looking for though!

    Personally, while I know that these electronic compacts mentioned can often die without warning and without hope for repair, I feel that a more realistic course for our efforts would be to support and strengthen our repair industry. Though I am not a camera repair tech or camera engineer, but it is my understanding that anything is repairable if one throws enough knowledge and money at it. If you’re going to go down the road of building a whole new camera from the ground up, why not invest that money into finding repair solutions for the common problems ailing your favorite and most in-demand existing camera models? If the electronics are at fault and replacement parts are unavailable, perhaps a newly manufactured replacement can be designed and manufactured? It is probably easier, in 2017 to copy a circuit board than it is to 3D print tiny, precise brass gears, for example. Just look at what MiNT have done with the SX-70!

    I don’t know. Just my thoughts. You raise a really important topic that should be explored. Maybe with your weight in the film community, you can pull something useful off. That would be amazing. And I strongly encourage and support you!

    Chops May 7, 2017 at 1:40 am / Reply

    If someone could bring back a decent compact/point and shoot camera that would be amazing. I love my Leica, I love my SLRs, but more often than not, when I am out and about with my wife or with friends, I find myself with an olympus stylus in my pocket, rather than some gear in my bag. It helps me just enjoy the moment more. I’ve had a couple decent compacts (Yashica Ts) and lusted after Contax T2/3s, GR1s and others for their size, quality and quick use, but they weren’t built to last forever. Even if it works flawlessly, the date function on my stylus will be a useless LCD in less than 3 years. I doubt the manufactures planned on having these things shooting in 2020. It’s not like I can pick a camera up, send it off for a CLA and be confident that it will last me another 10 years, so its hard to justify such a hefty price tag, but that’s slowly becoming the only option.

    I would jump for joy and throw my money at it if a new compact like you described was announced. I don’t want to spend $500-1000 on a camera that might work or could fail at any moment, or end up stockpiling cheaper cameras now before the supply dries up, and its bound to happen.

    If there is someone out there, or a site that can get this started, I’m sure its you and JCH. When i got into film this was one of the first sites I found, and it sparked my interest in some seriously nice cameras, and I’m sure i’m not alone here.

    Konstantine Fomin May 7, 2017 at 2:20 am / Reply

    Just did a research and learned that they stopped making cameras in 2005, but still make lenses

    Zoran Milosavljevic May 7, 2017 at 4:12 am / Reply

    I don’t think just buying 3 will do it as I had my Ricoh GR 1 serviced just before that option went away and I have used it intermittently and the last time I picked it up it started making a clicking sound when I powered it on. I put maybe 20 rolls through it since the service so by the time you get to number three it will likely be dead from lack of use.

    Frank Lehnen May 7, 2017 at 4:22 am / Reply

    I would fully support a new, simple (even no autofocus) compact film camera provided it’s a quality item not made by Lomography. No bad feelings against them, they did a lot for film, but we need a really great camera.

    Give us a new T2, GR1 or TI28/35… please!!

    Ben O'Connor May 7, 2017 at 6:56 am / Reply

    Personally; I love the aesthetics of old 35mm cameras and pre 70’s full mechanical motion picture cameras. But let’s be honest, I can’t wait a few hours to get my film developed and another day for them to be printed. Also won’t feel comfortable to share my view or just gave the ultimate control of my shots. But in the other hand I don’t want my hand dirty with chemicals.
    What I want ? A small sensor kit. Which can cover the film area of the old cam. Has enought place to accomodate a micro sd card and a simple one or two AAA batteries. It can work like a normal cam. Just a swithc to open and close to thing to capture and record the view. Rest can be done by old 35mm cam (pointing, focusing, turning the roll for next shot. Etc!) Just a small but at least 12mpx sensor able to fit that small window and able to catch and store my vision.

    c.d.embrey May 7, 2017 at 9:36 am / Reply

    3D printing allows you to make things that were impossible to build in the recent past. Any material can be used—a prototype diesel engine block has been 3D printed. You will probably need to use aerospace quality job shops. There are many shops who can work at +/- ½ inch, but not many that can do precision work, like an engine or a camera.

    If you are building a mouse-trap, a better mouse-trap is best. Something that is as radical as a Contax T was in 1984.

    Hogarth May 7, 2017 at 11:26 am / Reply

    Personally, this has been my thought for quite a while, and have expressed it to my friends. The popularity of film photography and the steady climbing prices of all the cameras. I figure that either someone will introduce a brand new one or, someone will figure out how to repair old ones.

    Look at mint, they have completely redone the sx70, there is almost no reason someone wont be able to do the same for a contax t2 or similar.

    This article is about compacts, BUT, the same could be said for professional shooters and their contax 645 cameras. They are a brick when they die, and they are expensive brick. Either someone (pentax) will come back out with a film body, or someone will figure out a way to cost effectively fix them.

    Dan Castelli May 7, 2017 at 11:34 am / Reply

    I agree with Chops. I love shooting w/my M- series, but when out w/friends or my wife, running about doing errands, etc., I grab my Leica CL.

    BTW, does this mean you won’t source a Leitz-Minolta? I was hoping to add one after the first of the year to my armamentarium.

    Juergen May 7, 2017 at 1:37 pm / Reply

    The prices for high end compacts are ridiculous high these days and somehow wishful thinking, especially in Japan. I see the same cameras coming up and up again in eBay since month, nearly nobody buys them for these prices. I bought 3 Contax T3 in the last year, 2 mint black, 1 heavy used silver for spare parts as we have a company in Germany (Tritec.de) which still repairs all Contax Tx, I got all under $700 here in Europe via local advertisements, so luckily I’m set for the next decade.

    A digital T3 with full frame (CCD) sensor and the same form factor /functionality (including integrated viewfinder) would be my dream, but can’t see that any brand is able or willing to produce such a gem.

    V May 7, 2017 at 2:28 pm / Reply

    I actually wrote kyocera about this last week. I kindly asked if they would consider reissuing the t2 or t3 series, even if just in a limited edition. Not sure how difficult it would be as they have all the existing designs. I just wish there was a way to truly convince them that there is an increasing demand for such products. Pretty Please!

    Mike I May 7, 2017 at 4:26 pm / Reply

    Like the idea. I hear film captures more information beyond mere pixels. Anyone cares to make an article on that?

    Raffaello Palandri May 7, 2017 at 4:56 pm / Reply

    We are developing such a project.
    Our multiback camera will have a film and a digital back and will have its own lens, but also allowing the use of any lens on the market.
    The first model will be a small reflex, the second one will be a rangefinder.
    The camera will be almost entirely hand made, will be mostly manual and highly configurable by the user in terms of colour, finishes and specs.
    The film used is 35 mm.

    If someone is interested in this project, we can work on it together.

    I believe that this could be the answer to your point, Bellamy.

    Michael May 7, 2017 at 5:10 pm / Reply

    Good luck, I will follow with interest.

    But the requests you get specify a model of camera I’m guessing, rather than just any old compact film camera. I believe people are after specific models for the same reasons people shoot with a black paint M4 rather than a new M-A. There is a certain cache a new camera doesn’t have.

    David Mantripp May 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm / Reply

    Well, it does actually appear to be a solid business opportunity that one might imagine could appeal to a company seeing digital sales crashing. However, the opportunity is for a small, stable, long term business with quite high overheads, rather than the exponential growth, marketing-led business that the main players have grown used to and are tooled up for. I’m not convinced that from a business point of view the former model is of any interest, any more, to these companies. They’d rather get into medical, cosmetics, or whatever, even given that Japanese business culture does appear to place more value on tradition and emotional factors than others (Ricoh with cameras, for example. Ricoh doesn’t need to make cameras….)

    My feeling is if making film cameras was no longer sustainable for an enthusiast-driven company such as Cosina, then there really isn’t much hope. But then again, perhaps the tide is turning. People are going to need cameras to put all that new Ektachrome in. The fact that Kodak is making a move might be a key factor.

    Lachlan Young May 7, 2017 at 8:17 pm / Reply

    If you could sell 10,000 cameras at approx. 800-1000USD – which for a new premium compact with a top spec lens would probably be fair, you might begin to be able to recoup the costs of tooling, design and manufacture.

    The big issue is that of shutters – Copal stopping production of the ‘copal square’, its electronic variants & the in-lens 0, 1, & 3 shutters is what has killed the Voigtlander cameras & a number of other ranges. Solve that (and in an electronic camera, I understand it should be fairly easy) and you’ll be well on your way to getting a feasible camera. The desire of some commentators above for a fully mechanical camera is understandable, but a modern electronic design will be vastly easier to manufacture without huge investments in tooling.

    Solving the shutter problem will be the key step to new film cameras.

    Brent May 7, 2017 at 8:35 pm / Reply

    This would be a great idea for Nikon. They still produce a film camera, albeit a rather high end film camera, and they really need some good PR right now. The brand feels like it’s floundering, which is really sad. Nikon has the ability, history, and respect to pull this off.

    JP May 7, 2017 at 9:43 pm / Reply

    It’s simple. Just remake the Olympus RC. Out of my (sorry) seven compacts, it’s my favourite because of its simplicity. I don’t even use the meter

    Jeremy May 7, 2017 at 11:47 pm / Reply

    Amen brother!

    Allen Ying May 8, 2017 at 1:32 am / Reply

    i’ve been thinking exactly the same, thank you

    Robert Davies May 8, 2017 at 2:54 am / Reply

    Using a film SLR at the moment and have been looking for a compact for put in my small bag. Many copacts seem expensive, especiallly as you say, they could stop working and nothing could be done.

    I read somewhere (maybe on this site) that many new films are being released, very few cameras. The prospects of a new camera, yeah :)

    Vasile Guta-Ciucur May 8, 2017 at 3:51 am / Reply

    Sorry to say, compact or other camera, if is commercial, the prices can go wild anytime and the project can be or not feasible and then shelved again. The Leica cameras were Public Domain but yet, no one has the plans to build one, but except from the still realizable cloth shutter, a rangefinder can prove challenging. The future is a DIY SLR camera, were manufacturers can jump in by providing components and/or complete kits. Lets have an open source and open hardware project, blueprints with dimensions, so any skilled person can do his own if required or short on money. And anyone can profit from this, as in any open-source project. No one to own it and being able to shelve it for good. Similar to the RepRap project and idea. Thanks to this project today we have accessible 3D printers at home. Is how you keep the prices low, is how you secure a film camera for the ages to come, is how you secure a film production.

    Sources of inspiration (although, already known):
    – A mechanical SLR with a minimum of components
    http://www.collection-appareils.fr/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=8822
    http://www.collection-appareils.fr/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=8822&start=25

    – An electronic DIY exposure meter (stand alone but it can be integrated):
    http://kevin-kadooka.squarespace.com/other-cameras

    Personally, I am working at a firmware (MIT license) for a SLR camera that use components from modern DSLR cameras: the shutter from a Canon 6D, the mirror with its motor, and the EOS mount (the lens protocol is already known). These are easily actuated with a microcontroller. It still needs a hosting mechanical camera that can advance the film manually, via a lever (no motors involved).
    https://funlw65.github.io/

    Vitor Munhoz May 8, 2017 at 8:30 am / Reply

    I recently suggested in a forum that a film Fuji x mount camera could be something really amazing and got grilled for it. I still stand by the idea of taking advantage of the quality x lenses and basically making a ” sensorless” x-pro rangefinder. I know the lenses don’t have full 35mm coverage, but perhaps it could be like a vertical pen half frame. To me it would absolutely have a market from both film shooters and existing Fuji owners. The r&d cost wouldn’t even be that high if they just need to redesign some elements of an existing model. Anyways, it’s a long shot but i still think there could be something there.

    eric May 8, 2017 at 9:31 am / Reply

    BEST ONE IS:

    CONTAX T

    A little Leica in your pocket, the last camera of HCB, i have two, compare to my Leica, Minolta 7Sii, Konica C35 FD, Nikon 28 TI (a great one with ilford 3200). This little Contax T is really pocktable, is a true RF, the lense is stunning, prices now are low. Sound is discret.
    Contax T the best buying now, but care about meter and RF, never fall down it. Very sensitive camera. Porsche design, titanium body.
    Ken rockwell made a nice article about it.

    Float May 8, 2017 at 10:43 am / Reply

    I am really excited to read this. I love compact cameras but every time I buy one (so far I have had the Klasse, Klasse W, GR1, GR1v, T2 of the premium compacts) I end up selling it after just a few rolls because I get nervous about owning a $500+ timebomb. People explain “I love my compact! I can always have it with me” but I was never truly comfortable pocketing compacts that I knew were so fragile. I end up shooting more with the cheaper compacts that wont hurt so bad to lose. I have similar fears for my Hasselblad Xpan. Immensely expensive camera that might just croak one day. I keep a pristine and flawless Pentax Spotmatic F CLA’d in reserve for the day I feel I can no longer trust electronic film cameras.

    I think the best bet would be to reverse engineer the Klasse W/S cameras. They will have the most modern design and you might be able to extract things such as their AF programming, lens movements, meter resistances, etc. To me, they are the ultimate compact with only the GR1v on the same level.

    If I am honest, I don’t carry film compacts at all anymore. I have a Sony RX100mk5 now and it is honestly one of the most astonishing cameras I have ever used. It makes me so happy that the art of the truly premium compact isn’t dead, Sony picked up the task and produced a digital compact that I can honestly say is the best digital compact every created.

    Andersson May 8, 2017 at 12:29 pm / Reply

    I’d truly love this to happen, but even the comments here show that everyone’s chasing after something different. How could we possibly make that magical new compact that satisfied so many diverse desires?
    Realistically, I have to agree with Johnny Martyr: a planned way to repair the wonderful cameras we already have. Many of the faults that doom existing compacts are trivial, but they kill the camera because some tiny component isn’t supplied anymore. For instance, thousands of Ricoh GR1’s are handicapped because a tiny piece of electronic wiring that would be simple to fix is no longer available, and other cameras have similarly minor Achilles heels.
    In any case, if it happens I’ll definitely be buying – but for me, the ideal would be a new, jewel-like equivalent of a black T3, but this time with a super-sharp f2.8 28mm lens. How many others would be buying my personal dream camera…?

    Juergen May 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm / Reply

    @Float

    Serious, you’re afraid to use a $500 time bomb and then bought a Sony RX, a camera model which, thanks to Sony’s update politic; will loose nearly the same amount if you try to sell it after 1 year?

    Just asking
    Juergen

    john robison May 8, 2017 at 1:45 pm / Reply

    Why reinvent the wheel? Updated Olympus 35RC, with these changes;
    Drop the stupid 43.5mm filter size, make it 43mm.
    Silver oxide 1.5v meter battery. (For meter only! Camera fully mechanical and has full manual control with or without battery)
    Drop the built in self timer and move the RF window over 15mm and allow focusing to 24 inch’s or .6 meters.
    Finally, and this is probably not possible, keep price to $250!
    But lets face facts. These sold for $80 in 1976. Adjusted for inflation that is $350 today. I don’t know who all your readers are, but to this 68 year old on a fixed income even $250 would be a stretch. But maybe I’m not the customer for this thing.

    Sebi May 8, 2017 at 5:09 pm / Reply

    So true and totally in agreement. Something like Contax G2 would be wonderful.

    Blinx May 8, 2017 at 5:42 pm / Reply

    While I agree with Bellamy’s idea, much of the appeal of the cameras mentioned is as period pieces, the swansong of the compact film camera. Collectors will buy them and screw the price, users aren’t short of alternatives. Olympus clamshell cameras (XA, Mju) are still affordable, and below those are many fixed lens or zoom 90’s compacts available for next to nothing. They might not tick every box in terms of build quality or manual overrides, but they’re very usable and cheaper than a disposable. You can pick up a Pentax PC35 with a six element 35mm 2.8 lens for small change, or its Nikon, Canon or Minolta equivalents. I reckon a new posh compact will cost at least twice the inflated price of the millennial versions, given the likely production numbers.

    Bowes May 8, 2017 at 8:43 pm / Reply

    I dunno. I like the thought of this but I doubt support will appear for it. There’s really only one company still making film cameras and everyone dumps on them. Their cheap stuff is, well, cheap. Their quality stuff is expensive and has a hard time escaping the company’s early reputation. To build a new film camera of decent quality people are going to have to pay new camera prices for very outdated technology and the internet is just going to come out and say it should have been less expensive.

    In fact, the camera Bellamy has asked for, “A simply point and shoot with a decent 28mm or 35mm lens, flash, iso selector and manual override. As simple as possible and made from metal for durability. The less electronic components the better, so that it can be easily serviceable and less prone to breaking down.” pretty much exists right now. The lomo lc-a+ has a 32mm lens. It’s a simple point and shoot. Has an iso selector which you can override. It’s as simple as possible and the top and bottom plate and front cowling are metal (sides are plastic). It’s a basic camera with few electronic components. It’s still produced, comes with a warranty and is serviceable. It doesn’t have a flash, but it has got a hot shoe. No autofocus but the zone focus system is simple to use. It’s $270 Canadian. People say it’s overpriced at that. I can’t imagine anybody making something new for less money.

    I think Mr. Hunt wants something of better construction than the lc-a+. I’m thinking he essentially wants a pentax k1000 shrunk and morphed into a compact camera. Maybe a new version of a rollei 35. I’d love that too. It would only really appear to the die hard film community and other than maybe APUG, lomography would likely be the biggest film community out there. I think the only company who might even consider building it would be Lomography and for sure they’d kickstart it to gauge the market first because it won’t come cheap.

    JP May 8, 2017 at 8:57 pm / Reply

    I forgot to add that when I bought my Nikon 35Ti new in ’94 it was something like USD1000. Imagine what a small volume similar camera would cost now! Who is going to pay 3-5k for a slow, non-weather sealed camera that still might have an electonic disaster in the new future.

    Mechanical is the way forward, and while we’re at it, I’d like a fully mech fixed lens 6×6. Thank you

    Larry May 8, 2017 at 10:43 pm / Reply

    I feel similarly to Brokencamera above who comments he treats his compact as a museum piece. And I thought that sums it up perfectly.
    I gave up on compacts and bought a Leica.

    James W May 9, 2017 at 12:09 am / Reply

    A range of sharp fixed lens, AF, quiet film advance, weather resistant compacts would be wonderful. I would love a 24-28mm-ish, 35-40mm-ish and a 65-85mm-ish. A waist-level finder would also be welcome (Yashica T4/5 Super Scope style). I would have multiples of each with different films loaded (also for backup). The ability to have them serviced is critical. It’s most likely a fantasy but Fuji is probably the most likely to do something given their heritage and future.

    Robert Schneider May 9, 2017 at 2:33 am / Reply

    The idea was floated earlier, but how about getting a bit more specific on a Leica CL reboot?

    Original form factor and shortened RF base, no meter, Leica cloth shutter, frame lines for 28mm, 35mm, 50mm. I assume that it would have to be priced around $1500 to $2000 (body only) to not compete with M sales.

    A lot of dough, but not inconceivable to those who would plunk down $1,000 for a Contax T3.

    amigo toro May 9, 2017 at 4:08 am / Reply

    I know there aren’t many Lomography fans on this site, but they have the LC-A+, LC-Wide (which I use), along with the La Sardina & Diana minis. They have also released the Simple Use Camera (a one-time use camera that can be reused) just this past April. While I do prefer the larger SLR, I do agree that the idea of making compact film cameras should be pursued. In fact, it is worth noting that Fuji, Kodak, & even Ilford manufacture one-time use cameras (Iford’s is black & white -traditional as well as C-41 black & white). Perhaps these manufacturers should be approached about producing compact cameras, as presumably the design would be similar…

    Jose May 9, 2017 at 4:49 am / Reply

    Think less Contax T2 and more Konica Snap. A remarkabky simple and effective design turned into a serious camera by the use of a high quality lens. And isn’t that the most important thing? Also it came in fun colors.

    Jose May 9, 2017 at 8:34 pm / Reply

    Brain fart, I meant Konica Pop. I’ll buy a red one.

    Jay Sorrels May 9, 2017 at 10:11 pm / Reply

    Brilliant idea, Bellamy. There is a major need, and a major problem here. One assumes that if Impossible can make noise and money with a not so great new way to take 600 format film, and Kodak can get so much noise and love even talking about an expensive new Super 8 cam and the re-release of Ektachrome – there sure is a market. My pragmatic side says that first, or in parallel, however, it would be a good idea to secure a new supply chain for failure prone parts of existing top compacts. In China there are OEM clones of Ricoh and Leica shutter flexes and all sorts. Why not formalise this by noting what the failure points are of a few popular models and getting new parts made, enabling a centralised repair/refurb service? Another alternative would be to select one model with a major, known failure point and ‘remanufacture’ units with this corrected. The Leica Minilux is a good example. That E02 shutter flex failure is a sure thing, and bricks an otherwise classic camera. Some outfit in the Ukraine claims to be able to fix it mostly permanently. A fellow in China claims to do one better by filing a little bit off the back of the lens to give more room for the flex. In terms of a new unit – I could see a lot of PR miles in a new Canonet or something like it – super simple, almost all mechanical. But Kodak is likely to be the firm most interested in any film revival. Fuji is not really an imaging company, Nikon is on life support, Canon does just about everything and has no need for low volume stuff.

    Michael May 10, 2017 at 1:43 am / Reply

    Beware over ambition. Keep it simple but quality like a re-engineered Konica Pop or a simplified Ricoh GR1.

    Bigger market, easier to build a better reputation more quickly and less chance of disappointed customers. Easier maybe to appeal to dealers who will be happier to carry lower priced items to test the water.

    When the first simple camera is a success then the next can be more ambitious.

    TheToadMen May 10, 2017 at 5:37 am / Reply

    I’m in for something like an Olympus Mju III. Otherwise I’ll use my SLR or my Olympus Pen FT (doesn’t cost $1000 as well).

    Flash I don’t need. But if there is a flash function, please, PLEASE make it a manual function. I hate compact cameras that turn the flash automatically on every time I open the camera. I’ll turn it on myself if I want to. Otherwise make it standard off!!

    Lens? I prefer 28 mm over 35 mm. Maybe take a Fujifilm X100F, jank out the sensor, put in film transport and we’re all set ;)

    Budget? Max. $200.

    James Hawker May 10, 2017 at 6:40 am / Reply

    Bellamy,
    An intriguing idea!
    Eric mentioned the little Contax T earlier.
    Manual focus, zone focus, nice lens.
    Be nice to see something like that again.
    Oh, and some Neopan 400 too.
    Keep Eager
    JH

    Paul R May 10, 2017 at 7:01 am / Reply

    I agree with Blinx; a good clam-shell compact from the 1990s should be considered, as well as the high-end compacts with the specs indicated by Bellamy. I have a Pentax IQzoom (Espio) 90mc which I bought in Sydney in 1997 which still operates perfectly — albeit only having been used occasionally. It might not have manual focus overide or choice of different shutter speeds, but it has a zooming viewfinder coordinated with the zoom lens, and built-in flash. Its casing may be plastic but it’s still a beautiful, practical compact camera.
    I bought a Contax T2 a couple of years ago, but sold it recently when I realised the Pentax Espio I already had was better for my purposes as a film compact.

    Neal Thorley May 10, 2017 at 9:28 am / Reply

    If my Rollei 35S had a rangefinder and a lightmeter it would literally be the best 35mm camera ever.

    if we could make something like that happen… I’d be all for it.

    Mike May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm / Reply

    Sweet Jesus, this article prompted me to check online prices for my compacts, and now I feel like I need to wrap them in protective materials and seal them away.

    I’ve always loved compact film cameras as something I can toss into a pocket and not worry about, but still get great photos if the situation arises. An SLR or rangefinder is great, but awkward to carry in many situations, and compact digital cameras have consistently disappointed me in quality. As fiddly as they can be, the compact 35mms offer the best of both worlds for me in this respect.

    Unfortunately, when the used prices creep above the prices for a high end SLR, I start becoming self conscious about carrying them all the time… As such, my T3 has been living in a drawer for months now, because it suddenly feels to valuable to carry comfortably. I’d love to have something modern to fill the niche, but compact digitals so far have been disappointing at best for my needs. I would love for this to happen and would support it in any way I can if it comes to be, but I guess I’ll just keep searching for cheaper old film compacts for now until someone taps that market.

    Bellamy May 10, 2017 at 4:43 pm / Reply

    Thanks for the comments everyone. The response has been overwhelming. I am working with a few people now to explore ideas and where we can go from here. It is heartening to see the support people have for this idea.
    Thanks
    JCH

    eric May 10, 2017 at 7:11 pm / Reply

    Dear Friends,
    Thanks for comments about mine of the
    CONTAX T
    Which is an great improvment of Rollei 35 SE
    I repeat CONTAX T has the same stunning lense than T2 which is a 38mm better focal than 35 mm of the T3 .
    Is the best pocktable camera because he is a folding camera smaller than a cigarettes box.
    Is a true RF
    He is automatic

    So now lets us imagining the Digital ContaxT:
    Same size
    Finder base 0, 65
    Sensor 18 mgpxl FX
    Same lense with a little asph
    2 slots for micro SD
    Only auto mode from 5 sec to 1000 (last Contax T was 500ième)
    Iso from 200 to 8000 (enough)
    No screen like some Digital Leica.

    Cost i imagine nearly 20000 Yrmb
    2000/2500 euros
    Weight less than 500 gr with ion battery for 1000 captures.

    One perfect manual focusing RF camera on the pocket we can take every time.
    The Contax TD HCB Edition.

    What do you think?

    Justus Waldron May 11, 2017 at 1:04 am / Reply

    I think anyone that wants to make a new film camera of any kind is awesome, however I don’t think it is exactly true that we are “running out” of usable compacts. Yes, a few of the highest spec and most respected compacts are dying out, and that’s a shame, and if you can bring them or a similar camera back Bellamy I am behind you 110%. However, as Blix and a few other users have pointed out here there are still plenty of compacts out there for very little money that perform great yet never caught the public eye in the way of the Contax, etc. I bought my first compact for $35 before a recent trip to Ireland, a Pentax pc35af. 6 element 35mm f2.8 lens with autofocus. I got pictures with that thing that completely matched or exceeded those I got with the two SLRs I brought, and I didn’t worry at all about scrambling over rocks with it or being in crummy weather. Yes, even those cameras will eventually all die, and the other unsung compacts that are still out there in droves with them. A long term solution IS needed…. yet I suppose there is a part of me that feels like a lot of this price hiking and “they are running out!” panic comes from those that are unwilling to try some of the other options out there. You could literally buy 20 of the pentax compacts right now for the price of 1 Contax or Roich

    Jesse K Anderson May 11, 2017 at 8:11 am / Reply

    Was the Fuji Klasse the last film compact available? It appears that camera went for around 95,000 Yen ($750U.S.). At that price I think you’re shooting for the higher end of the market. I know you’d be pricing out the guys that might max out at the Oly Mju ii price or save a few more for a Ricoh GR1s (shooter of both). I’m still lusting after a Contax T2 and would buy one at the used $550 mark but would rather spend that cash on an M-Mount lens, but that’s just me in my current financial state. I look forward to seeing how this adventure progresses. Cheer from Texas.

    Man, the GR1v had just about everything, would love the focus distance option by dial instead of menu.

    Mike May 12, 2017 at 9:48 am / Reply

    Great article and Brilliant Idea Bellamy. Let me know how else we can help. I’ve owned almost all of the “cult” point and shoot film cameras with the exception of the minilux and cm, got my 1st TC-1 from you and currently have, contax T3 (black) and hexar AF (black). I’d love to have a “modern” compact point and shoot that I know will give me years of service. I definitely see this happening. There have been quite a few new polaroid cameras introduced in the last 5 years. We even saw Fuji and Cosina drop (pun intended) some tasty medium format cameras. Hopefully film will continue to gain in popularity where the big manufacturers will smarten up and see that film is here to stay. I’d be glad to contribute to your plan on the user input/feedback end on what i’d like to see in a compact camera.
    Regards,
    M

    Christopher Pattison May 12, 2017 at 7:24 pm / Reply

    Is Elon Musk your man? Imagine a Tesla compact camera; high quality and powered using Tesla’s solar technology. Call it an update to the Cds/Selenium powered cameras of the past.

    Ante May 13, 2017 at 2:04 am / Reply

    If you ever get the resources for a compact , you might want to contact Ghetaldus Optika who used to make “Ghetaldus Ghenar” lenses for German-produced cameras. Not sure if they still have the machinery, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. And since they’re based in Croatia, I’m willing to bed they wouldn’t be as expensive as other lens manufacturers. In any case, it’s worth a try.

    I hope you get to realize your dream, since it would potentially save the future of analog photography. Good luck with everything, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    Chuck Murray May 13, 2017 at 7:37 am / Reply

    I still occasionally use my Rollie 35S. Very small. Full manual. Zone focus. The light meter never did work. The key ingredient is the superior view finder.

    eric May 13, 2017 at 8:22 pm / Reply

    I return on topic after friends consultation.
    Best new point and sh camera must

    – be: little, light, simple, good, not expensive, nice for a film user

    – have: great lense, mecanic speed, mecanic rewind, manual focus, good RF, simple good meter

    Please add your points:

    ——————–

    By the way it seems to be a kind of
    Rollei 35
    Contax T
    Minox
    Olympus XA

    For me it s more Contax T without the door with a same lense with one asph and a good plastic body with caoutchouc around.

    Maybe with one cooperation with LOMO and Russian maker or Voigtlander ;-)

    A special name the
    CBJ special edition
    C Cartier
    Bresson Bellamy Hunt
    Japancamerahunter

    Why not?

    Why I defend those little one?
    Best is Leica.
    If we want new one it must be carryable everywhere in a little pocket or little Lady bag and make more than 38/39 images like Contax T.
    Why Cartier Bresson used a Contax T at the end?

    Paul Lewis May 14, 2017 at 12:51 pm / Reply

    Of course a fixed lens (28-35mm) is a must, but the most important and often overlooked feature is manual ISO. With the loss of faster film stocks, it is critical to be able to set ISO manually in order to push/pull films. And no, exposure compensation or sticking labels on the film canister is not enough. The lack of that one feature is what makes a large number of compacts unusable or difficult to use.

    An updated Ricoh GR1 or Fuji Klasse W would be fantastic.

    c.d.embrey May 15, 2017 at 12:28 am / Reply

    From te comments, too many people are living in the past. Why remake a camera that has died.

    Here’s a quote I like, it’s talking about machine guns in the early 1900s, but it’s apropos to film cameras. “The Germans wanted tomorros technology yesterday, and the Americans wanted yesterdays technoloy tomorow.

    If you want a simple, fully mechanical camera, there are plenty of rebuildable Leica III around. Many good used Canon LTM lenses and some new Voigtländer and Lomo lenses.

    If you want both inexpensive and modern the Canon Elan 7 is what you want. They went out of production in 2006, and have E-TTL 2 flash and take EF lenses. It’s my primary film camera.

    My Yashica T3 and T4 are a little large to be really pocketable. I may get a Contax T, but the T14 flash doubles the size of the camera. BTW Mario Testino is still using a Contax T-VS III, with built-in flasg and a slooow zoom lens.
    http://i0.wp.com/royal-fans.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mario-Testino.jpg.

    For me,a new film camera needs to be “fifteen minuets into the future.” not ten years into the past. YMMV.

    eric May 15, 2017 at 6:48 am / Reply

    C.d.Embrey
    Totally agree with you.
    I forget TVS.
    Bellamy mentioned it and this is a great camera.
    I dont use flash.
    A kind of new Contax T will be the top!
    Maybe with a little zoom from 25 to 50. 25-50mm.
    Thanks for you great remarks.

    I post my photos on EyeEm where there is a lot of aficionados of film.

    Daniel Antal May 18, 2017 at 3:01 am / Reply

    I think from an economic point of view what would be realistic is to bring back an existing model with as little modifications as possible. What changed from the last production lines is the very limited choice of film. So it would be logical to have a manual ISO setting, overruling possible DX code readings. And generally, some level of manual overrule, because the current users are more into photography than the mass users of the film era.

    As far as I see, the best contender is Olympus, because they are big in the market, they can source parts and distribute it efficiently. The Olympus Mju-II is a cheap and good camera, but has no real manual override. Another great camera would be to build from is the XA series, with our without autofocusing, probably with far improved lens uses in the Mju-II.

    I think the most valued recent line of compacts is the Ricoh GR series, and they were discontinued only about 10 years ago.

    I am not sure how much Contax/Yashica is in business at all.

    Lomography AG is sourcing camera production to Russia, but I do not think that is the kind of quality you are looking after. For example, they have a cute reissue of the Lomo LCA.

    Jason May 18, 2017 at 6:27 pm / Reply

    Your idea is brilliant!!!
    Can we make it with Fuji or Cosina as a Kickstarter project?

    Felix May 20, 2017 at 9:39 am / Reply

    I’m from Hong Kong, I’m sure some pcb manufacturers in China can still replicate the parts in the older cameras, I also am facing the same feeling about my Contax’s I just love them too much and one breaking would be so much heart breaking for me.

    I also know there are smaller manufacturers for example for Toys can produce specific parts as long as we have the blue prints.

    It sounds like an interesting project.

    best regards
    Felix

    Jon May 21, 2017 at 12:33 am / Reply

    Yep, Leica M7. Aperture Priority and durable/repairable. Unfortunately not entirely compact, and cost prohibitive. Buying it definately put a strain on my marriage. Olympus XA however is my compact of choice for everyday carry. That being said, if someone would make something like the Ricoh GR series, but actually reliable, i’d jump.

    eric May 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm / Reply

    I ve sold my black M7 for a black M3. The M3, a pure pleasure, I dont miss the M7.

    Chris Whelan May 28, 2017 at 11:25 pm / Reply

    Great idea Bellamy! In the meantime, it’s time to “discover” some of the lesser known compact cameras – the cameras that aren’t sexy enough for a cult following. If you love the 1990s compact Contax then you can find similar Yashica/Kyocera compacts that feature almost the exact same features and lens quality. Fuji Photo made a boatload of quality compacts in the late 1980s and into the mid to late 1990s… these cameras deliver some exceptional images for the money. While we wait for the new old film camera, there are totally mint (new in box) Fuji’s to be had for less than $50. Go out and explore!

    @sometimeperhaps June 9, 2017 at 10:00 am / Reply

    Great idea, and I’d love to see it happen. It’s probably a long shot and would require a good amount of money, but if you’d be able to somehow convince someone (Olympus, Ricoh, Leica, whoever has the rights to Contax and Yashica) to put something into production.

    It would be impossible to satisfy everyone, but I think the Stylus Epic would be the ideal reboot. Just build it like a tank. It’s perhaps the best value for a “premium compact”, and I would assume cheaper to build than a Contax T2/3 or Ricoh.

    Peter Boorman July 23, 2017 at 7:06 pm / Reply

    I tend to agree: I’d love to see a new high quality compact, and I could see different motivations for each of a number of manufacturers (Fuji, Ricoh, Cosina, Nikon in particular…) to MAYBE get involved – but any of them is going to take a lot of persuading.

    Right now, what might be more immediately helpful would be a venture to source those parts that would fix the common faults with a lot of the already existing compacts. Some of those parts are electronic, some of them are mechanical and could perhaps be 3D printed. I’m sure the demand for at least some of these parts would justify production. Ricoh GR1s and Leica/Minolta CLs in particular both fail for a single reason 90% of the time, so just getting the requisite parts available again would make a huge number of currently ‘dead’ cameras usable again, and all the currently working ones a great deal less scary to buy and use.

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