Thr Ricoh 35 Flex - an Early Auto Exposure SLR

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by John Seaman, Oct 22, 2021.

  1. Ricoha.jpg
    I acquired the Rico 35 Flex some time ago, along with its telephoto and wide angle attachments. I don't know when I'll get around to putting a film through (if ever ...) but I thought it was worth sharing anyway. It's a fixed lens leaf shutter SLR dating from 1963 and was Ricoh's first SLR.


    As well as manual mode, it boasts a fully automatic exposure mode, unusual for its time. In manual mode, aperture and shutter speed are set using levers underneath the lens barrel, with the values visible in a window on top. Turning both levers to the "A" position sets it in auto mode with both aperture and speed being set by the camera. For flash operation, the speed lever is set to "A" and the aperture is adjusted manually.


    The exposure meter actuates a needle on the right in the finder, with red patches indicating under and over exposure. If the needle is between these patches, correct auto exposure is available. Unfortunateky, although the needle does work in manual mode, it's useless as there are no scales marked. Here's a scan from the instructions which should explain what is meant

    The red signal on the left only appears after you advance the film and seems to have no purpose other than to indicate that the shutter is cocked.


    Unusually for a leaf shutter SLR, it does seem to be in full working order, although the mirror sometimes takes an age to drop after operating the shutter. The camera in this form was short lived, as Ricoh soon replaced the seleniom cell with a CDS meter.

    That's it, and thanks for looking. (Sorry about the duplicate picture, I can't work out how to delete it).
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  2. so nice, not a problem to show it twice.

    Thanks for the post. I got into a Ricoh "fugue' of sorts a few years ago, but I think I can avoid getting back to getting more Ricohs ( if it weren't for people like you tempting me).;)

    They never got the credit they deserved, I think.
  3. SCL


    I love some of the mid 50s Ricohs. I still own several Ricoh 500 rangefinders (only 1 is still working), and a Ricoh Diacord TLR. In my experience, overall, their cameras were well designed, priced to attract photographers who couldn't afford top level cameras, and their servicing was responsive (I had a 500 with a shutter failure...sent it in under warranty and got the upgraded latest model in return). The lenses were generally fine closed down 2 stops, which was often the case with many cameras of that era. I hope you shoot some film with yours and let us know the results.
  4. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Thanks for sharing, John. It looks quite similar to the Kowa H of the same time period, which also had programmed or manual exposure. I've found the lens on my Kowa to be excellent, and wouldn't be surprised if the Ricoh's is just as good.
  5. A bit reminiscent of the Minolta ER. Leaf shutter, fixed lens.
  6. Does it mean it has 'instant' return mirror?
    My Contaflex IV w leaf shutter can't even compete with that, I'm impressed.
  7. Thanks to all for the comments, always appreciated.

    Yes it is "instant" return, except it can stick, but it usually drops down after a few seconds. Operation sounds like click click ... clack ... ... ... ... clunk. If it does stick, it is lowered when the film is next advanced. Considering it's said to be Ricoh's first SLR, they certainly seemed to hit the ground running, especially as it's still working after nearly 60 years. I suppose we could criticise the lack of information about the aperture and shutter speed in auto mode, and the lack of metering in manual mode. But plenty of later cameras had similar issues.
  8. Great write up, John! I've never had much luck with leaf shutter SLR, and I've have Kowas, Nikkorex and Pentinas that sit sadly on the shelf. Oddly enough, I have a couple of leaf shutter Topcons, a Uni and a Unirex, that still operate well, despite their rather lightweight construction. This Ricoh of your really is an interesting camera. Incidentally, and excuse me if I'm being a little dim, but how is the film wind / shutter cocking achieved? Your photographs of the camera suggest a lack of the usual levers or knobs. I assume there must be a lever set into the back of the camera.
  9. Good question there for a minute Rick, but it has a pressed metal wind-on lever that protrudes from the bottom of the top plate and rotates around like wind-on levers that are on top of the top plate ... and you're right, it's at the back of the camera. There were a few cameras with those pressed metal levers I feel sure you already know about.
  10. Yes. The little wheel sets the ISO which appears in the window near the rewind knob. The film counter is above the advance lever:

    kklow and James Bryant like this.

Share This Page