The Best Camera I Never Knew: The Super Ricohflex

Hello everyone! Looking back on my writings, it seems we haven’t had one of these “Best Camera I Never Knew” postings in a while! Over a year in fact!

So today we’re back with a camera that may not be well known to the masses, but is quite popular on photo sharing sites like Flickr and elsewhere. And you guys, my dear readers, are NOT the masses! It is a cult favorite, the Super Ricohflex.

THE SUPER RICOHFLEX

The Super Ricohflex was introduced in 1956 by Ricoh of Japan. It is a Medium Format twin lens reflex camera that takes 6×6 images on 120 film.

At its heart is the taking lens which is an 80mm f/3.5 Ricoh Anastigmat. It uses a geared focusing system much like the Kodak Reflex of 1946.

The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/10-1/200 secs plus Bulb in a Riken shutter. I have read of other models with higher shutter speeds, but I have had three of them at different points in my life, from different random sellers and they all had up to 1/200. If you have a model with a higher shutter speed range, I’d love to hear about it!

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“Super Ricoh Man” 2009. Super Ricohflex, Ilford HP5 Plus in T-Max Developer. More than a narcissistic selfie, I hope you can see that stopped down a little, the Super Ricohflex is capable of nicely sharp images πŸ™‚

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE SUPER RICOHFLEX

When in working condition, the Super Ricohflex is capable of giving images with “character” especially wide open at f/3.5. That is the best way I can describe it.

The 80mm f/3.5 Ricoh Anastigmat is one of those lenses capable of giving you that ever popular on Flickr “swirly bokeh” look.

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“Escape To Reality” 2009. Super Ricohflex, Ilford HP5 Plus in T-Max Developer. An example of the swirly “dreamy” image that the Super Ricohflex can make.

In my opinion, this usually comes from a lens that is optically not at its technical best, and the swirly bokeh is somewhat overplayed by bokeh fanatics, but that said, if used judiciously it can produce “dreamy” memorable images.

Stopped down, the images can be very sharp at f/5.6-f/8 as are most decent lenses.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer to watch a video, here is my first “The Best Camera I Never Knew” episode on YouTube starring the Super Ricohflex! 😎

It may seem like a shameless plug, and it is, but I am trying to expand your experience here and I’ll be tying in videos as I can so get used to it! πŸ™‚

Think of it this way? Why would I want to do double work, blog and video, when I could just do one or the other? If it weren’t for you guys, my fellow Camera Lovers, I’d not bother with the videos!

And because I had received a critical comment from a reader who did not understand what Β this series is about, I address this in the video too. Plus trying out some new theme songs haha! πŸ™‚

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME?

Simple. I had three of these cameras! I got my first one in 2009. I sold one and I still have two. All three of them ended up having the infamous “Frozen Focus” issue. And what is that?

In the introduction, I mentioned that these cameras use a geared type of focusing mechanism. What that means is the viewing lens and taking lens are geared together and by moving one you move the other.

That in itself shouldn’t be an issue, but whatever grease Ricoh put into these lenses have been known to notoriously seize up with time.

Out of my three copies, only one was working, and even that one was already on the outs when I got it. It was not perfectly smooth. I left it on the shelf for about, I’m gonna guess cause it’s been years, but approximately 3-5 months. The next time I picked up the camera…stiff as a rock!!

So as of today, the two copies I have are pretty much worthless as shooters. Thankfully, they did not cost me much!

REPAIR?

A competent camera technician should be able to repair these cameras. From what I have heard, it’s not a simple matter of taking the lenses off and regreasing them yourself. It’s a bit of a delicate process. Therefore it’s better to leave it up to the experts if you have no experience with camera repair.

One person I remember offhand that might do the repair is Mark Hansen out of Wisconsin. He’s a great repairman with a solid reputation for working on Zeiss and Rolleis. I believe he is still in business though I do not know if he’s willing to repair the Super Ricohflex and if he is, how much it will cost. If you contact him, tell him Sam from CameraLegend.com sent you!

PRICES & WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these cult classics, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are trending at $20-60. Keep in mind, due to the possibility of the camera needing a CLA, the low price you might pay belie the true cost after the camera has received a CLA.

However, once you get a CLA from a good repairman, I can attest that the Super Ricohflex is a good and fun budget shooter.

BOTTOM LINE

As I love all cameras, it is not my goal to pick on the Super Ricohflex. Ricoh is a Camera Legend whose cameras I have used and praised often. I do totally understand that a camera this old may need a CLA as most cameras of this vintage would benefit from also.

However, as I mentioned in the video…This is no Rolleiflex. And it was not intended to be. It cost much less than a Rolleiflex or even most Rolleicords, the budget Rollei TLRs.

A Rolleiflex could be sitting there for 30 years and I’d be willing to bet, most would still be functioning. Not so with the Super Ricohflex. If you have one, use it often, keep exercising those gears! Whatever grease Ricoh used in these cameras are infamous for freezing up.

That said, when it worked, this camera gave me some memorable images that left me curious for more. That’s why I ended up with three of them only to find out that the Super Ricohflex is indeed, one of the Best Cameras I Never Knew! πŸ™‚

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Camera Collecting Part I: Two Super CHEAP Camera Legends

Here’s a topic thats very near and dear to my heart! But first, a fair warning: Collecting cameras can be ADDICTIVE and EXPENSIVE!

The former (addictive) is incurable, the latter (expensive), well it doesn’t have to be. And you couldn’t do better or cheaper than these two cameras I am profiling today.

I specifically chose these two specific cameras based on their prices, availability and their importance as Camera Legends. Especially for the beginning collector, these two are the easiest to find and buy.

The two cameras profiled today are the Minolta Maxxum 7000 and the Canon EOS 650.

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MINOLTA MAXXUM 7000

The Minolta Maxxum 7000 is the camera that launched the autofocus revolution back in 1985. And it was revolutionary!

Before it, “autofocus” cameras were clunky things such as the Nikon F3AF of 1983 which attempted to autofocus the “easy way” by using an AF motor in the special lenses designed for these cameras while retaining the classic Nikon F mount.

Though I say the “easy way” maybe I should have said the “logical way.” After all, if you consider the technology at that time and the boxy, mechanical nature of cameras, it just seemed easier to put the autofocus motor in the lenses right?

Well, as is often the case, the idea was better than the execution. I don’t want to go full length into this topic right now, though I would agree it would make for a fascinating discussion!

YOUTUBE COMPANION VIDEO

For those of you who would prefer watching a video version of this topic, here’s our latest video:

MAXXUM 7000 CONTINUED

In many ways, they were on the right track because as you may or may not know, when the EOS system was released in 1987, one of the selling points was indeed lenses with AF motor in them! But Canon had to ditch their old FD mount and make a whole (then) new EOS mount to accommodate this.

Anyway, Minolta too had to create a new mount. A mount which we know today as the Alpha mount or more specifically in today’s world, the Sony Alpha mount. Not the Sony E mirrorless mount. Yes, folks your Sony Alpha cameras carry the rich legacy of the legendary Minolta Maxxum 7000! 😊

Anyway, today’s topic is camera collecting and the Minolta Maxxum 7000 is a true Camera Legend that can be had VERY cheaply these days.

As a camera the Maxxum 7000 has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode. Basically all you need! AF is ok but first generation. It’s good enough to get the job done, if the subject/subjects are not moving much! The camera runs on four AAA batteries.

PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Although one of the most important cameras of the autofocus revolution of the 1980s, perhaps the most important, today the Maxxum 7000 is also one of the cheapest on the used market.

Prices are trending at $3.00 to $50 USD average seems to be around $25. I got mine for $3 bucks! It cost me a lot more than that in the 90s!

I believe the Maxxum 7000 prices are so low because they are plentiful and they do not age well.

The grips become white and sticky or powdery. The LCD goes bad or bleeds.

The good news is many are perfectly usable as it is. In my opinion, it is unrealistic to expect to find a Maxxum 7000 without any flaws today. If you do have one without flaws I’d love to hear from you!

THE CANON EOS 650

The Canon EOS 650 was released by Canon in 1987 and is the very first EOS camera.

Its claim to fame is the introduction of the EOS Mount. I believe the EOS 650 prices are so low simply because it’s just not the most exciting camera to look at or shoot πŸ™‚

No offense, it’s a nice looking and shooting camera. Just not super exciting compared to anything else EOS you could shoot with. But it has one very important thing on its side…It’s the first. The first EOS camera! And that has to count for something right? πŸ™‚

It has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode just like the Maxxum 7000 so that means it has everything you need. It runs on one 2CR5 battery. AF is ok but first generation. Not good for running subjects but ok for static.

PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Just like the Maxxum 7000, the Canon EOS 650 is also dirt cheap on the used market.

Prices are trending from $10-50 with an average of $25 body only. I got my current copy for $10 bucks!

Generally these cameras have stood the test of time so your chances of a working model is pretty good.

Sometimes you’ll find one with no power, doesn’t turn on. Sometimes parts have come loose or the buttons and dials may be sticky.

Even at the highest average prices they’re cheap get the best one you can!

BOTTOM LINE

I hope with these two cameras I have shown you that collecting Camera Legends does not have to be expensive!

With these two, you have cameras with history and a story to tell about the evolution of autofocus.

And on the Used Market you can get them dirt cheap. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re actually pretty good shooters! Good luck on your journey to camera collecting nirvana!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

If you are interested in these two Camera Legends, there are a ton of additional resources on the internet. To cut through the bunk and junk, I recommend these two reviews by my blogging buddy and a prolific blogger Mr. Jim Grey. I can’t speak for a lot of bloggers but I unquestionably trust Jim’s reviews and opinions.

His Maxxum 7000 review is HERE

And his Canon EOS 650 Review is HERE

Tell him Sam sent you! πŸ™‚

***MODERN EQUIVALENTS***

It’s been said that the new Canon EOS-R Mirrorless is the incarnate of the EOS 650. In a way, many things from its looks to its use for the introduction of the EOS-R mount, I’d say they might be right! Anyway, the EOS-R can do things the 650 could’ve only dreamed of in 1987! If you decide to buy one, please do so from our trusted affiliates simply by clicking on the photos or links. You will pay nothing extra other than what you’re buying, and help support Camera Legend at the same time. Putting these articles, reviews, and videos take time and work. We do appreciate all you support, thank you very much!

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PhotoPlus 2018 Quick Observations

I attended the annual PDN PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention center in New York City last week.

Just to get it out of the way so you’re not disappointed, I am NOT doing a full throttle report on everything I saw.

It may be bad for some but it’s good for me because I simply was not all that excited by the latest and greatest gear!

Ok, I’ll admit, I enjoyed trying out the new. Nikon Z and Canon R series full frame mirrorless cameras. But unlike in 2013 when I saw the Sony A7R for the first time, I did not feel the need to want to have them. Wow, am I free? πŸ™‚

Ok again, lenses such as the HUGE 58mm f/0.95 Noct Nikkor (above) for the new Z Mirrorless system was exciting to see but now I say…Samster, even if you could afford it (which you can’t!) would you ever carry that thing out in the real world 😊

I thought mirrorless was about making things smaller and more compact. Perhaps it’s not possible to make a full frame lens that fast and make it smaller but I just think the big two Camera Legends Canon and Nikon are still obsessed with BIG as ever.

Anyway back to everything. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I loved it all, but now I feel it’s all for YOU to try. Not me. I think I, and perhaps some of you too, I’m at the point of gear exhaustion.

And I’m thinking realistically. What, really, is the Nikon Z or Canon R going to do for me that I couldn’t do with my “old” A7R?

By far, my favorite moment was catching up with my good man, the great Louis Mendes. If you don’t know, Lou is famous for shooting and selling portraits in the streets of NYC with a Speed Graphic large format camera.

In the past he used packfilm such as the discontinued Fuji FP series, but as a sign of the times (and because you know I’m interested in this stuff!) I found out that Mr. Mendes is now shooting with Instax Wide!! I can now say packfilm is officially DEAD if Lou stopped shooting it!

No he hasn’t given up his Speed Graphic for one of those horrible Instax monsters. He had his modified to take the Instax Wide film. It appears to me to be one of those hard to find, discontinued Belair Instax Wide backs.

It also seems he had a couple of acolytes with him learning the craft from the master.

The last shot is for all of you to see what you missed out on! Everybody loves a beautiful model! Is it ok if I call her “Sweet Sexy?” If not I’ll take it back 😊

Anyway that’s it for today. If any of you were there I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment!

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Photo Of The Day: β€œThe Apple Tree” Lomo β€˜Instant Wide Camera And “Film Is Cheap”

Well it’s that time of the year. You’ve probably seen a bit of this recently but here’s one more.

It’s apple picking time! And if you haven’t picked your apples yet, maybe it’s time to go before the season is over.

They say the apple is a perfect fruit in many ways. Nutrients, fiber, etc. However, I’ve always thought…isn’t this the fruit that God tried to forbid Adam & Eve from eating? If so, is there something God knows about it that us mere mortals don’t? Is there magic in it? Is it a sin today to eat apples? Don’t mind me, just food for thought!

I used a Lomography ‘Instant Wide with the standard 90mm f/8 and Fuji Instax Wide for this shot.

Here’s more food for thought. It may be a “sin” for me to say this, but even though I love instant photography, especially for its organic nature, it has always been a “supplemental” form of photography for me.

The images usually don’t deliver the same technical quality as 35mm, medium format or heck even modern digital. And that’s part of the charm I guess, but does it have to be this way?

And don’t get me started on the cost of Instant film! Back in the day I always heard people say something like “Keep shooting. Film is cheap!”

And my answer always was (and still is)…Film’s cheap but it ain’t THAT cheap! πŸ˜€

When you factor in the cost of development, the time required to process the images, the possibility of having to do reshoots…No, it ain’t that cheap!

However, as many of you will agree results from film is usually most satisfying in a way that’s hard to duplicate digitally.

As for that old “Film is cheap” slogan, I know they were mostly referring to standard 35mm or 120 film and not really instant film. As you know, Instant Film is NOT a financially cheap form of photography!

That said, I don’t always find instant prints all that satisfying. Even when sharp, the details are not all that apparent unless you’re using a loupe to look for them. A lot has to do with the cameras and lenses themselves I guess. Many are cheap, plastic cameras with cheap, plastic lenses.

Many instant cameras such as the Lomo I used here rely on guesstimating focus and that’s part of the reason why the lenses are so slow like f/8 it f/12, so that the majority of the time images could be decently sharp. The slow lenses also help keep costs down but also forces you to use flash or a tripod in low lighting conditions.

I’m still waiting for someone to come out with a high quality Instax Wide Camera with a decently fast lens for $500 or under. I’m thinking I’ll probably wait an eternity for that one! 😊

Even worse, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fuji discontinues Instax Wide film before that happens.

Mind you I know about the high quality Instant Cameras of yore such as the Polaroid 600se or the Polaroid 180 that I reviewed here a couple of years ago. As you might know, I loved those Camera Legends but with the end of packfilm they’re just living on borrowed time. What I’d like to see is someone come out with a great Instant Wide Camera with a great lens for the masses.

It may be a hard sell, but I’d bet if someone could make ten of them and sell them for $500 each, they’d all sell out.

I like the concept of Mint’s TL70, the TLR that takes Instax Mini film but I’m just not a big fan of those tiny card sized prints. I want BIG baby, BIG prints!!

Ah well, I’ll just keep dreaming cause I know it’s not going to happen any time soon. I know it won’t! PS: Sometimes I like tempting fate by saying this stuff so I can be proven wrong and get my dream instant camera sooner πŸ™‚

If someone comes out with that killer Instax Wide Camera I’m all for it. I just realized I didn’t say enough about the Lomo used in this article! It’s a decent enough camera at a good price point, I’ll probably review it someday. It’s just not the instant camera I’ve been dreaming of. Ah anyway, sorry for my rambling today I thank you all for reading one man’s random thoughts 😊

Photo Of The Day: “Saturday In The Park” Mamiya 6 75mm 3.5 G Lens

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“Saturday In The Park” 2016. Mamiya 6, 75mm f/3.5 Mamiya G lens, Kodak T-Max 400 in D76 developer.

In my effort to be more active for you good people, here’s a shot and short article for today. Shot with a Mamiya 6 and 75mm f/3.5 Sekor. I actually shot this a couple of years ago before I sold the camera. It was in Central Park.

Speaking of “Saturday In The Park” I recently saw a CNN documentary which I think is a couple of years old, on one of America’s oldest and greatest pop/rock bands, Chicago. I loved their stuff from the 70s and 80s although admittedly they went into the “soft rock” category with the rise of (then) lead singer Peter Cetera, not that it’s a bad thing mind you.

I always thought the band broke up because of Cetera and his ever growing star in the 80s. But now I’m not so sure it was really a case of someone getting a big head or whether he and the band could just no longer get along.

Just like another great 80s band Journey, I’ll always associate Cetera’s voice with Chicago just as I associate Steve Perry with Journey.

Anyway, I’m drifting off course! Music just happens to be my other passion. I especially like rock and popular music from the 50s through the 90s. Not much for music after that πŸ˜€

The Mamiya 6 is a Camera Legend. I had a complete outfit in 2009 including the body, 75mm f/3.5, 50mm f/4, and 150mm f/4.5 telephoto. I started selling off the lenses first, then the camera and 75mm because I wasn’t using it enough and needed funds for other things. You know the deal 😊

I’ve always thought of giving the Mamiya 6 a formal write-up on these pages and I’m sure I’ll get to it one of these days, but I’m not sure I could write enough to do it justice. It’s a fantastic medium format rangefinder. In fact, if I had the funds I could easily talk myself into it again!

If you look at the photo, you’ll notice some blotches, most notably on the bottom right, a result of my imperfect developing. Not making any excuses, but many people actually do not mind, and some even “want” these imperfectons these days! Don’t believe me? You should see what people are liking on Instagram! I guess it’s part of what people today consider a part of that “film look.”

Back in the day, I don’t remember people loving imperfect pictures all that much, but since this shot is imperfect…ok, I’m cool with it! πŸ™‚

I’ve always said and it’s worth repeating that T-Max 400 is a beautiful film that develops best in T-Max Developer. As I did not have any T-Max Developer on hand, I decided to take my chances with D76.

I’ve noticed that when in D76, the T-Max will have a tendency to produce streaks and blotches. Sometimes I get lucky and get a clean set, but T-Max 400 seems more finicky than other films and results with T-Max Developer are consistently smooth.

Well, that’s it for this morning. Oh one more thing, these are not all my kids! πŸ˜€

YouTube Video Update: The Canon EOS-1 Film Camera

The Canon EOS-1 from 1989 is a modern day Camera Legend that had a titanic effect on the world of photography and camera design.

Just giving you guys an update that I have just uploaded a companion video for our 2015 review of the Canon EOS-1 film camera review. I will be moving it to update that review at a later time. I’ve cut off some of the intro here but it’s still a long video so if you have the time, grab a cup of coffee and a donut and indulge in a little camera geekery πŸ™‚

I think it’s been slightly understated by many writers, but to me the Canon EOS-1 is among the most important and influential cameras of the past 50 years, easily as influential to cameras of the 90s and up until today, as the Nikon F was influential to cameras of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

The way Canon gelled the use of buttons, dials, and wheels and implemented custom functions to personalize the camera to suit one’s individual tastes is something seen on nearly all serious cameras today. In 1989, the EOS-1 was one of the few cameras that had all these things together in one package.

Anyway, YouTube is a tough nut to crack. You don’t know what people will like! People love reaction videos, watching people eat, watching people pick pimples, etc, etc πŸ™‚

But slowly, I’ll just keep adding videos as I can for all you hardcore camera lovers! Thanks for watching and I’ll see you guys soon!

-Sam

Trends: Canon AE-1 & Fuji FP-100C

Just sharing with you guys a couple of postings I made to the YouTube channel but did not post them here till now.

These are segments I called “Tuesday Trends” where I look at topics that I feel are “trending” in the camera and photography world and even though they might not be mainstream news, I feel are interesting enough to put a spotlight on.

First up is the legendary Canon AE-1 from 1976, one of the most popular cameras of all time.

Just for you guys, I’ve cut to the chase in the above video. I came to the conclusion that the Canon AE-1 prices have been rising is because…YOU GUYS ARE BUYING THEM UP! πŸ™‚

Not you my camera savvy readers, most of you guys probably have or have had the AE-1 at some point in your lives, but hipsters (you know who you are!), newbies, and anyone just getting into film photography. Part of the problem is because the AE-1 was, and is still so very popular, it almost always shows up during a search for film cameras.

Now first off, let me say I love the AE-1 for what it is. It’s a great camera that introduced millions of people to the wonderful world of photography. Yet, especially today, its specs are hardly earth shattering. Keep in mind, I’m just talking about the AE-1 original, not the latter AE-1 Program though when it comes to rising prices we can count that camera in too.

Shutter priority, manual mode, and relies on batteries. If you’ve read my pages here, you could probably read between the lines. Especially that last part about the batteries.

Now I’ve never been an anti-battery camera person. On the contrary, I have always found most modern cameras that uses batteries to be reliable enough not to worry,

That said, if you have a choice, especially the choices we have in today’s used market then I would say I would much rather buy a purely manual camera that doesn’t need batteries to operate, other than the meter of course.

I was quite disturbed to find the AE-1’s prices rising, after not checking for a long time. I used to periodically buy this camera to give away to friends or kids who wanted to learn photography. They never cost any more than $25-50 for a whole package of body, lens, filters, etc. Not any more. Now prices for a body alone averages $70.

This is not right! This should be a CHEAP CAMERA in terms of used prices! Anyway, my reasoning is all in the video, please check it out if you’re interested. I repeat myself a lot in this video but the point is clear…The AE-1 should be a CHEAP CAMERA and the prices should still be CHEAP πŸ™‚

Second up is the Fuji FP-100C, the packfilm classic that Fujifilm discontinued in 2016.

I posted somewhere on social media a couple of weeks back that I was facing REALITY and giving up on packfilm. In fact, I already have a buyer for my Polaroid Land Cameras once I deplete my last few packs of FP-100C.

Even the honorable fellows at CATLABS of JP who declared two years ago: “WE WILL MAKE PACKFILM” have given up on the process as announced this week.

As I had made my decision and prepared this video before their announcement I thought it was very timely! That’s what I mean by trends!

Basically, to cut to the chase, and if you DON’T want or have time to watch the video, I’m stating that if you ever wanted to try this film this might be the time because after a period of relative stability last year, the prices for the FP-100C are rising back up which may or may not indicate that the remaining stocks are close to depletion.

A sign that it is nearly gone is that B&H and Adorama no longer show this film in stock. Even a couple of months ago, it was.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful to somebody out there. Oh please forgive me when I get into “character” lol. As I said, you kinda need “personality” when you’re doing this YouTube thing πŸ™‚

Catch you guys next time!

Sam