A Nice Find : The Ricoh "35" Deluxe

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. Here's a very solid little rangefinder camera, manufactured in Japan around 1956. It's the Ricoh "35" Deluxe, the full name being imprinted into the top deck in an ornate script.

    Ricoh 35 Deluxe copy.jpg

    It's typical of the sturdy little rangefinder cameras that Ricoh produced in the 50's. I have a small collection; here's a pic of the 35 Deluxe with some of it's contemporaries .

    Ricoh Rangefinders copy.jpg

    They are all very well constructed cameras, some with the base-mounted "Trigger Action" film advance that was all the rage for a few years in this era, a feature shared by the early Canonets and which I rather like after I become re-accustomed to using it. The four cameras in this group are all in working condition with accurate rangefinders and shutters and smooth and positive focusing with movement of the whole lens assembly. The 35 Deluxe has a Seikosha MX shutter with speeds of 1/10 - 1/500 sec plus B, and a truly excellent lens. It's a 45mm f/2.8 design with five elements, though I can't verify the formula, but the lenses for this group of cameras were apparently designed and constructed by the legendary Tomioka factory. Top of the range is the magnificent 6 element 45mm f/1.9 lens fitted to the beautiful Five One Nine model, in my opinion one of the best rangefinder cameras in it's class. The 35 Deluxe is a great performer and a pleasure to use and I'll post a selection of it's images below.

    I really didn't mean to buy this little camera but it sat on our local auction site for over a week with no bidders and few watchers, and in the end I placed what the illustrious Mike Eckman calls "a mercy bid". In his words, "Mercy bids are when you put a low bid on something but don’t realistically think you’ll win, but also couldn’t sleep at night knowing that you didn’t at least take a chance". I'd bid $15 and was a little surprised when an email arrived to tell me I was the winner. What I didn't know was that some previous owner had etched a large ID number into the base of the camera, so to dispel the rumour that all my cameras are perfect, here's a photograph of the barbaric act.

    Ricoh base.jpg

    I really can't understand why people do such ugly things to precision instruments... Anyway, while I was a little disappointed by this discovery, a couple of short test films impressed me to the point where my annoyance was mitigated. The film was Ilford FP5 Plus developed in PMK Pyro.


    Dazzle copy.jpg

    Test #2

    Test #2 copy.jpg

    Lost in the Jungle

    Lost in the Jungle copy.jpg

    Test #3

    Test #3 copy.jpg

    Borough Bakery

    Borough Bakery.jpg

    @Six Fifteen

    Six fifteen.jpg

    Test #4

    Test #4 copy.jpg


    6 PM.jpg
  2. Great find and excellent results, Rick. The Ricoh 35 Deluxe looks very similar to the Ricoh 500 that was maybe a year or two later. Thanks for sharing.
  3. Thanks very much.

    These Ricohs (and many other contemporary 35mm RFs) were seriously underrated in their day.

    I suppose the 'fad' for SLRs cut off this market to some extent.
    Kent T likes this.
  4. Excellent. I used a Ricoh 500G for a number of years. I've got a "Deluxe" rangefinder but it's a Fujica Compact Deluxe. I'm not sure how a camera qualifies for the "Deluxe" nomenclature.

    LINK -- -- -- The Fujica Compact Deluxe - Definitely a Keeper
  5. SCL


    Hi Rick - nice find. I had a 35 for about a year, but much preferred the 500 and 519 both for their faster shutter speeds and their focusing tabs, which I think are unmatched in the manual focus RF world for speed. From what I've seen on Ebay for the last 5-6 years, the 35 just doesn't get respect.
  6. Top drawer shots as ever.
  7. I had one of those late little Ricoh 500's in its relabeled Sears incarnation. It was (still is if I dig it out) quite a decent little camera. As I recall, there's no external indication that it's a Ricoh, which might make it a good candidate for cheap finds. I don't even remember where I got mine, but I'm pretty sure I didn't pay more than about 5 bucks for it at some yard sale.

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