The Best Camera I Never Knew Part V: The Ricoh FF-3 AF SUPER

RicohFFC

The Ricoh FF-3 AF SUPER. One of the great vintage Ricoh cameras that I’ve heard a lot about. One of the best cameras I never knew πŸ™‚

The Ricoh FF-3 AF/FF-3 AF SUPER is a 35mm point and shoot camera introduced by Ricoh in 1982.

The camera featured a fixed lens 35mm f/3.2 Rikenon lens, shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/500th of a second. As indicated in its name, the FF-3 AF is an autofocus camera and runs on two AA batteries.

THE RICOH FF-3 AF SUPER IMPRESSIONS

The camera looks retro cool, yet somewhat ugly, but not unlike many cameras from the late 70s and early 80s. Cameras from Nikon, Canon, and Minolta from this era also have a similar look.

It’s small, but not entirely pocketable unless you’re thinking of a coat pocket. As far as I can tell, it’s an autoexposure only camera as expected from most point and shoots of its day.Β The camera also does autowind and auto rewind.

The 35mm f/3.2 is supposedly very sharp with interesting character. Many wonderful images from this camera can be found on the internet, especially on Flickr.

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME

Why? Why, pray tell, do you ask? Because the three of them I tried didn’t work or didn’t work properly πŸ™‚

Two suffered from “aging motor” syndrome where the autowind motor is super slow or ceases to work at all. The other one had a corroded battery compartment that I couldn’t fix. To be fair, the battery compartment issue is not likely the camera’s fault, but rather the fault of users who left batteries inside the camera for prolonged (sometimes years) periods of time.

BOTTOM LINE

Before Ricoh struck gold in the 90s with the GR-1 film camera, before they won the hearts, minds, and eyes of a large and loving cult, they were making crap cameras like this πŸ™‚

No, seriously, no offense. I’m as big a Ricoh fan as anyone, if not bigger. I’ve had more people tell me how I help trigger their purchase of the original 8.1mp GR Digital than any other camera from this GRD Review I put up a year ago. Ricoh is now a niche company that has a high degree of respect from a world-wide mass of camera lovers.

But there IS a reason why Ricoh and their Rikenon lenses were once thought of as one of the “low end” brands such as Chinon, Yashica, etc, etc. This camera is one of those reasons. I know Contax/Yashica made a lot of great cameras, so I’m not talking about that. The “regular” Yashica 35mm SLR’s were not known to be of the finest quality and had a history of reliability problems.

All that said, I’m perfectly willing to accept that I got three lemons and I’m currently looking for a usable one.

I don’t think the FF-3 AF has a reputation for a stellar lens or anything. I think most people buying these cameras just love old cameras like I do and perhaps there’s a bit of that cool nostalgia factor in there as well.

I imagined taking cool, vintage looking photos with the Ricoh FF-3 AF. I imagined that, simply out of my love for organic film photography, but knowing in my heart I’d get better pictures with an iPhone and Instagram filters than this camera.

Yet I persisted in getting three of these only to find none working properly and losing sleep trying to fix them, to no avail.

There is the FF-3 AF and a slightly updated one, the FF-3 AF SUPER. I know I have two SUPERS and one “regular” FF-3, but I can’t find it to tell you the differences, if any.Β There may be some very slight differences, but they’re pretty much the same crap cameras.

Again, there IS a reason why Ricoh was not all that well known or highly regarded before the GR-1. The FF-3 AF is probably one of those reasons and without a doubt…one of the Best Cameras I Never Knew πŸ™‚

WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these cameras, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are trending at $5-30 so the low prices on these may be tempting too.Β I never spent more than $15 on these. So if you get a junker, you won’t be out all that much.

Your best source for the Ricoh FF-3 and FF-3 AF SUPER is obviously eBay. You can also find them once in a while HERE in the USED section.

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The Best Camera I Never Knew Part I: The Rollei Rolleimatic

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We can’t always have winners…

In the first post of this series, I take a look at cameras that I have come across, which may or may not be Camera Legends, but somehow they didn’t work out for me.

I’m sure there are cameras that many of you have used, that you heard a lot (or a little) about, you wanted them, and eventually got them, but for some reason or another they didn’t live up to your expectations.

First up is…

THE ROLLEI ROLLEIMATIC

The Rolleimatic is a uniquely designed camera introduced by Rollei around 1980, I believe. It was designed by the famous camera designer Heinz Waaske.

The camera features a 38mm f/2.8 Tessar type lens lens and relies on scale focusing.

The camera’s claim to fame is a rather odd design where the “flap” that covers the lens also doubles as a film advance mechanism.

The camera looked very cool to me, certainly stands out among point and shoot cameras of its era. I love anything retro, so at under a hundred bucks, I had to give it a try. With the legendary Rollei name, you would think this would be an instant winner. However, for me, it wasn’t.

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME

Information on the Rolleimatic is scarce on the web. One great review I read was from a cool guy named Mike Elek, also a classic camera aficionado, and he stated that the camera is a little fidgety to load film.

Well, he was right and then some! I couldn’t get one roll of film to load in this camera! πŸ™‚

Ok, so I thought…maybe there’s something I’m doing wrong. So I found the online manual, I tried and retried, and retried…couldn’t get a damn roll to stick in this camera.

Sometimes, I would get close and it would latch on for like two winds, then the film came loose and I’d have to start over again.

The problem is there is no “slit” in the film take-up like other cameras. Instead there is a “film like thingy” in there that you’re supposed to hook the film up to. I should’ve taken a picture of it, but the best way I could describe it is that the part looks like a piece of 35mm film, but stronger, and is removable. It has “teeth” that is wrapped around the film advance roller and you’re supposed to get your film under the “teeth.” Well, that I did, but it still didn’t work!

Being that he was the only person who seemed to know anything about this camera, I emailed Mike and he was kind enough to write me back. He even made a YouTube video to show how to load the film, what a good guy!

Anyway, despite all his help, I couldn’t do it. Maybe something was wrong with my particular camera.

The camera looked awesome cool, but all it gave me was a headache πŸ™‚

BOTTOM LINE

The camera was sent back for a refund. I’ve been using film for more than thirty years, this was the first camera that I couldn’t load. I’m convinced that it was the ‘funkiness’ of the design πŸ™‚

Mr. Waaske, God Rest His Soul, was a brilliant and creative camera designer. A Legend. I have nothing, but respect for his creations. However, sometimes being too creative might not be such a good thing.

If hunting for one of these, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are trending at $50-160. So they are not expensive, but they do seem scarce.

The Rolleimatic is one of the Best Cameras I Never Knew. But it is not alone. There will be more to come πŸ™‚