As a collector of vintage cameras, I like to take some of them out on the road and feed them rolls of film to see what the pictures turn out like. This little Japanese rangefinder has quickly become my go-to camera when trying out film or just wanting to shoot some images.
The Ricoh 500RF is one of a whole horde of similar cameras produced in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 70’s and 80’s, and although Ricoh is a Japanese company, this camera was manufactured in Taiwan, first being produced in 1980. It was a replacement for the Ricoh 500G camera and retains many of that camera’s features although it looks like Ricoh were looking to reduce costs as some features such as the battery test button are no longer present.
As usual, this was brought on eBay, costing just under £10. The light seals needed replacing and a new battery needed sourcing but once that had been done, the camera worked perfectly. Not bad for a thirty year old camera.
Using the Ricoh 500RF
The camera is a nice size and weight, being about the same size as a modern CSC digital camera and I’ve found it great for doing street photography as it is fairly unobtrusive. It has a fixed 40mm f1:2.8 lens which focuses down to 3’ and only starts to get soft around the edges at f1:4.
The photographer has a choice to either go automatic or fully manual with the controls of the camera, and if the aperture ring is set to ‘A’, then the camera operates in shutter priority mode. Aperture sizes range from f1:2.8 to f1:16, and shutter speeds range from 1/8th to 1/500th with a bulb option.
Aperture and shutter speed are set using rings around the lens barrel and ISO values can be set by turning the knurled ring around the lens itself. Through the viewfinder, focusing is achieved by lining up a split image in a diamond in the centre of the image and adjusting the focusing ring on the lens barrel.
The camera also has a CDS sensor linked to a needle visible through the viewfinder that indicates what aperture needs to be set for the current shutter speed. This is really easy to use but becomes a bit difficult to see in bright conditions.
Additionally, the 500RF is fitted with a self timer, a tripod fitting, hotshoe and the ability to fit a cable release. All in all, I love my little Ricoh.