Staff Review: Ricoh FF-20 Wide Zoom

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I found this Ricoh FF-20 Wide Zoom in a thrift shop several months ago and have taken photos with it a couple of times. Read more about this compact zoom camera and see some of my sample photos after the jump!

Several months ago, I checked out a thrift shop while on my way to work, curious if they had any analogue cameras for sale. I spotted some old gadgets and kept my eyes peeled for cameras. Amidst a pile of seemingly broken cameras, I found a Ricoh FF-20 Wide Zoom, which was appeared to be in good condition. The store owner loaded it with a CR 123A battery and it sprung to life. The price was good and I didn’t want to leave it behind so I did not hesitate to get it.

I tried to find some information about this camera, but all I found was a user manual. However, I can say that it has most of the basic features you can find in other compact zoom cameras of its time:

  • Built in wide-angle zoom lens (focal length: 32 mm f/4.9 to 64 mm f/8.8; focusing range: 0.6m to infinity)
  • Auto-focus system
  • DX Coding supporting ISO 64-3200 (in the absence of DX Coding, FF-20 takes photos at 100 ISO)
  • LCD display
  • Automatic frame advance and rewind
  • Self-timer
  • Panorama mode
  • Built-in flash
  • Date imprinting mode

The first time I tested it, I loaded it with an expired Kodak Ultramax 400 and took photos while on a food trip at a night market after work. This film also happens to be the very first I processed and scanned on my own. Not bad for some night photos (many of them shot without flash), I think! The zoom isn’t particularly impressive, but gives satisfactory results, given that I abused it by shooting expired film with it in low light and without flash.

Credits: plasticpopsicle
Shot in Panorama mode.
Zoomed in without flash.

Later, I took it with me for a daytime tour and photowalk, and loaded it with Kodak Elitechrome EB 100. I got better photos, not only because they were taken using slide film, but because they were properly exposed. I even got some nice sunset photos.

In conclusion, I find it a basic compact zoom camera that makes a nice addition to a lomographer’s collection. While not as wide-eyed as the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim (22mm), La Sardina (22mm), and LC-Wide (17mm), it still qualifies as a wide-angle 35mm camera with its 32mm focal length, and is capable of producing decent wide angle photos. When used according to settings that maximize its performance (and with some slide films from time to time!), the Ricoh FF-20 can produce photos that lomographers can take pride in!

written by plasticpopsicle on 2012-03-01 in #reviews #staff-review #film-camera #ricoh-ff-20-wide-zoom #ricoh #compact-zoom-camera #lomography

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