Out with the Super Ricohflex

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by john_seaman|2, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. The dealer at the camera fair seemed to think that this Super Ricohflex was specially made for 35mm film. Actually the 35mm option is achieved by an accessory called the Color Back, which replaces the normal 120 insert. The winding knob is replaced with a knob with a film counter. To advance to the next frame, you pull out the knob and turn it until it stops.
    The focussing on these is notorious for jamming with seized grease. Mine was just about usable when I had it, until the viewing lens decided to seize completely for some reason. So I had to take off the lenses and re lubricate. That was when the trouble started. The grub screws which secure the outer focussing geared rings to the actual lenses, are very tiny and soft and in no time I had ruined the heads, so I had to drill them out. I still couldn’t budge the viewing lens so I had to drill two holes opposite each other and use a spanner wrench in the holes. Eventually I got it off but I still had to soak the viewing lens in warm lighter fluid overnight before the focussing helix eventually came free.
    Well I managed to get it all back together and refocus the lenses. I had to worry a thread into one of the drilled out holes and got a screw into it to secure the outer ring. Its not pretty but it works.
    Ranssu1 likes this.
  2. The Color Back is a well made accessory which winds the 35mm film out of its cassette, through the film rails and then into another re-loadable cassette. I loaded it with a long outdated 200ISO colour print film and took a few pictures. I had to rewind the film into the original cassette in total darkness, so that I didn't have to send the reloadable cassette to the processors. There's no way of rewinding it in the camera.
  3. I quickly discovered that the ergonomics were something out of a nightmare. Even though I got the focussing nice and smooth, its still awkward to turn one or other of the geared rings. Once you have cocked the shutter its horribly easy to trip it accidentally, or allow your finger to catch the lever as it returns, messing up the shutter timing. I lost a lot of shots until I figured out how to hold it, triggering the shutter with my left hand. The ground glass screen is reasonably bright, the 35mm area being defined by bright lines in the screen. You can also use the direct vision finder which works by holding the camera to one eye, and looking at the subject with both eyes so that the slits in the viewing hood are seen against the background of the scene. The focussing magnifier is used in this mode.
    ralf_j. and davecaz like this.
  4. The 80mm focal length is surprisingly long for 35mm, and depth of field correspondingly shallow, with quite attractive bokeh.. Coupled with the fact that its almost impossible to shoot landscape format, I guess this would have been of good use for doing head and shoulder portraits. However the title of the 35mm kit – Color Back – suggests this was a cheap way of getting colour prints and slides in those days as it seems strange to use a 6x6 TLR for 35mm but many of them could be adapted for it.
  5. The big surprise came when I got the pictures back. Allowing for the out of date film and my messing up the sunny 16 rule, the results were remarkably sharp and contrasty. Perhaps it because the 35mm frame used only the central area of the image thrown by the triplet lens but the results certainly are as sharp as many dedicated 35mm cameras.
    davecaz likes this.
  6. Another one from the Model Village, at Wistow garden centre
    davecaz likes this.
  7. Some flowers. Its difficult to get the correct point of focus in close ups.
    davecaz likes this.
  8. More flowers, showing the nice bokeh.
    davecaz likes this.
  9. Sympathy is requested here:
  10. These figures are by the side of a busy road outside a school, in the hope of calming the traffic.
  11. Forgot the picture
  12. Another one
  13. One more of the figures:
  14. Last one, a notice. I don't think the Super Ricohflex will become my number one 35mm shooter, but it would be interesting to get hold of a 120 insert and see how the lens covers the 6x6 frame.
    Thanks for looking.
  15. The camera looks just like my VIIs, and the 35mm color back would probably fit. So, I looked on ebay, and the only thing they have is a 120 size in Greece.
    I just started cleaning the VIIs, and need to figure out what to do with the exposed roll of Agfachrome CT18 that had been in it for about thirty years.
  16. I presume the "color back" was marketed with the notion that "color is Kodachrome." Kodachrome wasn't available in 120 in 1956, and was only available for a few years in 120 many years later.
    Of course, there was Ektachrome in 120, as well as Kodacolor in 120. But these really weren't what amateur photographers thought of for color film -- Kodachrome was king.
  17. John,
    Astonishingly sharp for a triplet lens! It just goes to show that in capable hands what is possible. I am almost tempted to find that elusive adapter for the Rolleiflex Automat and have a go at this!
  18. Amazing, neither the camera itself or the results you got with it seem to show any clue to the problems you had.
  19. John, Very good repair job! The results look great!
  20. Great restoration and impressive results, John; that lens seems to have a good reputation among TLR collectors. All you have to do now is learn to turn the camera on it's side for the landscape shots... Better speak to your chiropractor first...
  21. Thanks for the comments.
    It would be possible to use the direct vision viewfinder for landscape shots I guess, although I'm not convinced of the accuracy of this system.
    The screw I used to secure the viewing lens gear ring is just visible at the seven o clock position in the picture. Perhaps I'll try and get some grub screws to replace it. The holes I drilled to unscrew it were masked over with black permanent marker. Otherwise the camera is in great condition, like most you find in their original ever ready cases.
  22. Well done John, these look great, especially like the shot with the bare tree and bin...very sculptural.
    The Super Ricohflex has a bit of a cult following these days. Shooters really like the look it has at full aperture, even nicer on 6x6.
  23. Great job, and great results. I wish someone would come up with a way to unstick my PAX lenses. I've tried everything from Ronsonol to blow torching, and that "grease" is just plain cement. I can't get over how resourceful you guys are, and spending that time to bring back memories. GREAT!
  24. Interesting. I've never seen in the flesh any 35mm adaptation kit for a TLR, but I've read about the more famous Rolleikin, which bodges accessories onto/around the inbuilt 120 handling hardware. I assumed any other brand's approach would have been similar. So this Ricoh system where you swap out entire inserts, and there is no inbuilt 120 facility, seems weirdly too modular to me. As you're obviously finding, that can produce the strange outcome where you have only the 35mm option, if you or a prior owner have mislaid, worn out, or fumbled into a pond of alligators* the 120 insert. I'm not sure quite how Ricoh thought that was a desirable possibility. Great repair work to get it running at least in 35mm mode, and nice pictures, though.

    * Not a randomly conjured scenario. I saw one of my mother's lens caps meet this fate when I was a child and we were walking on a footbridge over an alligator pond at a reptile park in Florida.
  25. Dave, I'm surprised you didn't dive in to retrieve the lens cap.
    Actually the Color Back works very well and the simple wind on system where you pull out the knob to release it was easy to use, and the frame spacing accurate. I only made one double exposure. The system seems to have been designed into the camera rather than "bolted on", as the 35mm frame lines are etched into the focussing screen, and standard to the network of slits in the hood which forms the "two eyed" direct viewfinder system.
    The only real quirk was how it winds the film out of one cassette into another, Agfa Rapid style. It took me a while to work that one out but you have to tape the end of the film into the take up cassette, then rewind it externally in darkness into the feed cassette at the end. Or send the reloadable cassette to the processor and lose it. There's no in camera rewind facility. At least there's less chance of light leakage with the film wound into a light tight cassette like that.
  26. Nice repair and excellent results. I've
    been tempted by these cameras in the
    past. I was unaware that they had a
    tendency toward frozen grease issues.
    Something to keep in mind in the
  27. Great photos. They are a treat for tired eyes. (My eye doc says my eyes are fine but the tear ducts have to go.)
    Over here in the colonies there was a time when quick-and-dirty portrait photographers who moved from city to city used a Rolleiflex camera with 35mm back with Kodachrome. The shutter could sync with electronic flash at 1/500 sec., and the setup was in the portrait, not landscape mode. And the film was high quality, of course.
    Using a 120 camera with 35mm is very clever, IMO.
  28. John,
    I am amazed at the determination you showed to get this camera to work. Nicely done. I always like your color work.
    I have to ask. Does the telephone box really have a defibrillator in it? Is it self serve? Not wanting to make light of a serious problem but I was curious.
  29. Hi Marc, well I didn't check whether the telephone box has a defibrillator, but I'm sure it has. They wouldn't have put the sign on it without, it could waste precious time if anyone has a cardiac arrest.
    With the onset of mobile phones most of these boxes have become disused, but people have tried to keep them as they are a part of the rural scene, and new uses have been found for some, for example mini art galleries, libraries etc.
  30. Great series of images. Besides the Ricohflex, the Yashica 635 and a Rolleiflex or two offered 35mm capability. I would think since the Ricohflex and Yashicamat were priced significantly less than most Rollei models that maybe the dual format was designed to appeal to the economy-minded who still wanted high quality. I remember a Ricohflex ad featuring twin girls each with a Ricohflex and the ad copy said "guess which twin is shooting 2 1/4 and which is shooting 35mm?" I don't know if the girls were really twins or if it was a multiple exposure of the same girl. Again, thanks for posting.
  31. Excellent images, good color work and great close ups, must have been quite difficult with this rig.
  32. I have the same model. And love it.
    I paid $70 for it and was my entry into medium format. Looking down through the ground glass focussing screen is like going back in history. I am able to hold the camera sturdy against my body with both hands and with the little tick of the shutter it makes a very sharp image. The image is backwards and takes a little getting used to, but loading is easy and really a great little camera.
    It doesn't telescoping fine focussing like the Rolliflex and Yashika TLR's and I can see where the OP is correct with a so-so design, but a truly cheap way to experience this era of photography.
  33. There IS a defibrillator in the telephone box. I don't know whether you need to code to enter in the keypad to get it out of the cabinet. I'd hate to be struggling to open it when someone was in cardiac arrest.

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