Ricoh 500 G (Goodwill hunting)

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by andy_collins|1, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. We had a brand new Goodwill store open about 4 or 5 miles from my workplace, and the Grand Opening was yesterday. I had to go of course, because on such a day I was sure they'd have a great selection of cameras, and I wasn't disappointed. I found a Polaroid SX-70 Sonar with a nice case and four flashbars, and a couple of nice point & shoots from the 70s. But my greatest find was this little Ricoh, which was sitting on the back of the shelf upside down. There was no price tag on it, so I asked a store manager how much it would be. She looked at it for a few seconds and said, "$3.99." It was pretty dirty, so when I got it home I cleaned it up and checked it out all over, inside and out. Whoever had it last put new seals in it and left a good battery in it as well. It works beautifully, and is such a nice little camera. I don't know much about this the lens a good one, and how would this camera compare to the Oly 35RC or C35? I know I've said it before, but I'm amazed at the things people throw away at Goodwill and other thrift stores or flea markets, not knowing what they're giving up, but I hope they keep on giving them up! Has anyone else used this camera and if so, what are your thoughts about it?
  2. I've got one of those and it rocks, cool find!
  3. very cool little camera! I've never seen one before.
  4. Hi, Andy You and I seem to be on the same sort of camera wavelength, somehow, what with the Fujicas and now this one! I bought a 500G new in Singapore back in 1978 while on holiday, and used it for years. Great little camera, which I've still got somewhere with half a length of film in it still waiting to be used.

    There is a better version with a fuller range of shutter speeds and some fancier features but the same lens, called the 500GX, but you don't often see it.

    I still have the owner's IB so let me know if anything is baffling you about it. (Pete In Perth)
  5. I bought a 500GX a long time ago and shot several rolls with it. It has the same range of shutter speeds as all models of the compact Ricoh rangefinders (1/8 to 1/500 sec), plus a battery test and a multi-exposure feature (you can cock the shutter without advancing the film with a slider on the front plate).

    The rangefinder is surprisingly accurate (maybe due to the long angular throw of the focussing ring - Olympus cameras such as the 35RC have a very short throw). The lens is very sharp. I am not sure whether it was due to the first usage of Elitechrome (the standard version) but the slides turned out very contrasty. I think the 500G is on the same level as the 35RC. And I like the ratchety sound that the 500G shutter produces...

    BTW the 500G is a pain to disassemble. To remove the front plate (which is some kind of shell, covering the front part of the viewfinder, too) and to get to the battery chamber (which often needs resoldering of the wires) you have to remove a dozen or more screws, including those of the aperture dial.
  6. Optically, the 500G is very close indeed to the Oly 35RC, and it has an extra shutter speed (1/8) at the lower
    end. I think its outlines are more pleasing than the 35RC, even although the 35RC is still my favourite compact.
    (When the 35RC is hanging round my neck, the lever wind digs annoyingly into my chest. The Ricoh doesn't do
    this.) The 500G also has exactly the same shutter speed range as the 500GX -- they are identical cameras with the
    exception that the 500GX has a multiple exposure facility, a small lever on the front at the opposite side from
    the self-timer, that will cock the shutter without advancing the film. It also has the minor advantage over the
    35RC of having a more common filter thread, 46mm, instead of the awkward-to-find 43.5 of the Oly.

    The Ricoh 500G is a little gem to use. Of course, it takes the same mercury cell as the Oly 35RC, the use of
    which will cause mares to miscarry in the streets, governments to fall, and milk to curdle in the fridge, but you
    can either use a hearing aid cell, which lasts a good few months, or you can do what I do, and place your trust
    in Sunny-16, which is remarkably reliable (or the Weston in my pocket).
  7. It can't have been the 500GX model that I saw a while back at a swap-meet then. I assumed it was the 500GX
    because that seems to be the only other one listed in McK's. This looked very similar to my 500G but had a fuller
    range of speeds down to 1 sec, rather than the 500G's 1/8th to 1/500 sec. I was tempted to buy it but the guy
    selling it wanted some daft price like $75 or something.

    Looking at my Kadlubek's, I see there were several others (500GS, 500ME, 500RF, 500ST & 500ZF) so it must have
    been one of those I guess. Unfortunately KKK's doesn't give the specific speeds for each of those models -
    anybody got any ideas which it might have been, since my memory is no help.

    I actually won a couple of competitions with stuff I'd taken using the 500G, and a lot of folks with expensive SLRs
    were quite surprised how sharp that humble f2.8 Rikenon lens was. I guess it's all down to what a great design the
    4-element Tessar was back in 1902 or whevever, plus the improvements since with coating and fancier glass. Just
    like the last postee, I found getting batteries increasingly more difficult so I just used to guesstimate settings.
    Another big plus with the 500G was its light weight and small dimensions, making it easy to slip into a pocket
    without endangering life or limb if you had to break into a run. (Pete In Perth)
  8. At least the 500RF and 500ZF are very similar to the 500G. These are later models, with a plastic chassis, but the shutter/lens assembly is full metal and identical to that of the 500G (with the same shutter speeds). The body design of the later models is more conventional, with a bottom plate and a viewfinder cover instead of the front shell and interior viewfinder cover plate and bottom plate of the 500G/GX. (The Canon Demi cameras have a similar front shell design - but the shell is divided in two parts and much easier to disassemble than on the 500G/GX).
  9. The Goodwill photo auction website often has some interesting items.
  10. My 500G does not take the mercury battery, as far as I know it uses the standard SR44 or similar battery. Perhaps there were two types?

    You can adjust the rangefinder by removing the screw at the top left of the film gate revealing the adjusting screw behind. On the 500RF it is a little rectangular plastic cover rather than a screw.
  11. It sounds as though this little 500 G was a very good find. It has a great quality feel to it, and I like the film advance lever on it much better than the one on the 35RC. This one has an SR44 battery in it just like John's, which is nice because that means changing batteries won't be such a pain as it is with a lot of other cameras. I'm working on a roll of film in it, along with a couple of other cameras, so hopefully I'll have something to share pretty soon.
  12. I have one of these. I have only shot one roll through it, but I was pretty happy with it. I'll have to drag it back out soon.

  13. Andy, you may already be aware, of course, but the Ricoh 500G was designed for the mercury PX675 cell, though an SR44/A76 etc cell will fit in the chamber. It sounds like the previous user has done just that. The discharge curve of the 1.5v SR44 differs from that of the 1.35v mercury cell, so that exposures will be under by around 10% or so, though I don't think it's linear. For most purposes, this shouldn't make any noticeable differences, though for slides you might want to meter with a separate meter.
  14. I have severe doubts that the 500G was designed for a silver oxide SR44 battery, mercury batteries were state of the art back then. The meter circuit of the 500G is the same as in all those older rangefinders and therefore voltage-sensitive. Maybe you can compensate the voltage difference between a SR44 and a PX675 somewhat by adjusting the ASA rating but this will work in a certain range only.

    BTW the meter of the 500G can be adjusted over a wide range due to two variable resistors - but these reside in the upper part of the camera and you have to disassemble the front shell and the top cover to reach them, so very probably none of the previous users did the task to re-calibrate the meter to the voltage of silver-oxide cells.
  15. PS: There's an online manual here:
  16. Nice find Andy. When I worked in photographic retail I remember selling the 500GX. We could never get enough of them and they always sold out really quickly because the offered a great spec at their price point. The other impressive thing was that I don't recall ever seeing one returned as faulty or for later repair.
  17. I picked one of these up about a year ago at a garage sale. It came with a case and electronic flash with original batteries. Had to toss the flash, it was hopeless.

    Camera works very well. The lens is good. For me, the beauty of this little camera is the small size and it's ability to produce good images.

    Mine was $5.
  18. Alex, Winfried, I wondered about the battery...I happen to have a 675 WeinCell that should work better than the SR44 hopefully.
  19. Andy, I'm learning almost to dread your threads - I too love these little rangefinders, and every time you start a new thread I know I'm going to add the camera to my ever increasing shopping list :) This is such an elegant-looking camera. I like the way the leather doesn't go all the way round but is framed by chrome on both sides. And it has manual override, too? Damn...

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