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Ricoh 500 G – Great Design With a Touch of Yesterday

The Ricoh 500 G is probably not very suitable as a point-and-shoot camera but if it's okay for you to take some time to get the adjustments right you will be able to achieve great results.

Photo from: machineboy

The Ricoh 500 G is a small 35mm rangefinder camera which was introduced by the Japanese manufacturer Ricoh in 1972. The camera consists of a rugged steel body and comes with a nonexchangeable Rikenon Lens with a focal length of f=40mm. Around the lens you can find three different adjustment rings. The ring closest to the camera sets the aperture. You can choose from six steps between 2.8 and 16 or set it to “A”. “A” stands for aperture priority mode, which a lot of you know from the good old Lomo LC-A.

The second ring adjusts the shutter speed. The ring offers 7 settings from 1/8s to 1/500s plus “B” for bulb mode.
The third and last ring serves for setting the focus. You can choose from 0.9m to ∞. The scale is labeled in feet as well.

On the fron tside just around the lens glass you can find yet another ring, which is used to set the speed of your film. It ranges from 25 to 800 asa. Next to the lens on the left side there’s a small lever which turns out to be a mechanical self-timer (about 7 seconds). On the cameras top we have the shutter release which can also be equipped with a cable release. The film is advanced by using a stylish metal crank. Then there’s a hotshoe for your favourite colorsplash flash, the film-rewind knob and a picture counter.

If you take a look through the viewfinder you will see a scale on the right side where a small needlepoints at the right aperture according to your settings and the available light. This handy feature requires a small button cell to provide energy for the light-meter.

When I received my Ricoh 500 G as a gift it had spent the last decades in a cabinet without being used. When I opened the back door I found that the light-proof foam had turned into a sticky bubbly mess. This is a common problem with this camera. So before being able to use it I had to thoroughly clean the inside of the camera and replace the light-proof foam. You can buy it pretty cheap in most photo stores. Thanks to the straight and even back of the camera the replacement was pretty easy to be made. There’s still a minor light-leak visible on my photos but I can live with that.

Which brings us to the most important part of the review. What do the pictures look like?
When I got my first roll back I was surprised by the crisp sharpness the lens provides. Even with the manual focus and at most halfautomatic mode I managed to shoot some amazing photos. The amount of detail is great and the unsharp areas (bokeh) look awesome. I only shot one roll of black and white Rollei Retro 400 so far, but as soon as I try other films I will add the results here.

As a conclusion I think the Ricoh 500 G is a great camera. The steel body and controls seem very stable and long-lasting. I love the clean minimalistic design of the camera. The engraved typography, the combination of silver and black and the lovely crafted knobs and levers everything adds to the beauty of the camera. The look and feel is awesome. But what I love the most about this camera are the sounds it makes. The crisp “zip” of the shutter followed by the “purring” of the crank. I have always had a thing for film advance cranks because it feels so old-fashioned but very professional at the same time. The Ricoh 500 G is probably not very suitable as a point-and-shoot camera but if it’s okay for you to take some time to get the adjustments right you will be able to achieve great results. Give it a try!


  1. paramir


    great detailed review! and a great gallery!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. wuxiong


    Good artical with many details. Photos are beautiful. I've got one too. This text reminds me I have long forgotten my Ricoh 500 E, I must give it a go soon::))

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. stouf


    What a gem ! Thanks for the great review !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. dogma


    great review! love this cam!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. rose_screw_selavy


    do you shoot b&w, or is the lens not color?

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. tveden


    Nice detailed review, really useful and great shots.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. trash-gordon-from-outer-space


    Big Thanks to you all for the kind comments!

    @ rose_screw_selavy : I shot a Rollei black and white film. I don't think that anything like a non-color lens exists. Though it would be really cool to have one.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. darbo


    Great review and great shots...

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. fleetfox


    Thanks for the nice write-up. I had one of these quite some years ago and really, really liked it. Very robust (except that crappy foam in the back that always rots out) and it has a remarkably sharp & contrasty lens. Gave it away and have been on the lookout for a replacement.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. Chris

    Hi, can you answer a question for me about the metering? Does the meter function in manual mode? If so, how does it work? Some of these compact rangefinders meters only work in A mode. Thanks!
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. 010hosselear

    The built in light metering works on a common "button" battery in the base of the camera (it's a fa one; probably 1.5V? I'll have to check my camera). Depending on your settings (asa, aperture, shutterspeed) you can see a needle indicator moving up and down on the right side in your view finder. It will indicate depending on your asa and shutterpeed, which aperture you should pick. Good luck!
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  12. matwurst


    does this camera work without a battery? mine only shoots with 1/125 on every speed (even B). opinions?

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  13. bongo_biene


    got one
    and my wideangleadapter fits perfect,
    i'm so excited

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  14. sanfong


    erm.. correct me if i'm wrong, the A on the aperture ring should be Auto and not Aperture priority mode. It should be Shutter priority as there is no auto shutter speed. Nevertheless, this is a great article with lotsa details. ;)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  15. trash-gordon-from-outer-space


    @sanfong You're probably right. And thanks!

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