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Ricoh 500 variations - 1972 onwards | by Zombie Birdhouse
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Ricoh 500 variations - 1972 onwards

With the launch of the original 500G in 1972, Ricoh began a long production run of compact 35mm rangefinder/viewfinder cameras that spawned several variations. What I've attempted to do in this image is compile as many of these variations as possible - starting with the original 500G in the top left hand corner. These models represent a technological evolution from Ricoh's earlier "500" series rangefinder's of the late 1950's.

 

Throughout the 1960's, Ricoh marketed a myriad of semi-auto and fully-auto 35mm rangefinder and viewfinder cameras, and when Konica launched its C35 compact rangefinder in 1968, a new breed of small, lightweight, and electronic cameras swamped the photographic markets of the world. Konica had found a new niche with the C35; and, many of the Japanese manufacturers jumped on the band wagon. The Ricoh 500G "series" stands out amongst this rash of 35mm compact cameras by offering a full suite of mechanical and manual shutter speeds; and, for that alone they must be considered as some kind of "enduring classic". History might record that the Rollei 35 is the ultimate "compact" classic 35mm camera, but my vote goes to the Ricoh 500 - a cheap, compact, 35mm camera that still survives (in the thousands) some 40 years after its inception. Rollei marketed its '35' compact series with several lenses to appeal to different segments of the market; Ricoh only needed one. And, in spite of the subtle differences, all of these models share the same lens - a sharp, tessar-style, 4-elements/3-groups, Rikenon 40mm f2.8.

 

Here's a rough timeline/order with spec variations listed:

 

1st series

 

Ricoh 500G - 1972 (auto/manual modes, self-timer; rangefinder)

Ricoh ZF - 1976 (auto/manual modes; zone focus; no VF aperture scale on early serials)

Ricoh ZF ST - 1976 (auto/manual modes; self timer; zone focus)

Ricoh GX - 1977 (auto/manual modes; self-timer; multi-exposure; rangefinder)

 

Sears 35/RF - 1972 (same as 500G)

Infomatic - 1976 (same as ZF ST)

Hanimex Compact R - 1973 (similar to Ricoh 500GS domestic model?)

Ricoh 500GS - 1973 (domestic only model?)

 

2nd series (late 70's/early 80's)

 

Ricoh 500 RF (cosmetic update to original 500G)

Ricoh 500 ME - 1980 (same as above but with multi-exposure)

Ricoh ZF (cosmetic update of original ZF)

Ricoh ST (updated ZF with self-timer)

Ricoh FM (auto exposure only; zone focus)

Ricoh 500 GX (cosmetic update of original GX)

 

Sears 35RF (cosmetic update of original 35/RF 500G; rangefinder)

 

Ricoh 800 EES (years of manufacture unknown. 1/800th shutter speed; auto only?; rangefinder)

Ricoh 35 EFS (auto mode, but with 1/125th manual shutter speed; built in flash; zone focussing)

 

Ricoh GX-1 (seems to be the same as the updated GX, but with alternative body covering).

 

Most of these models were marketed and sold in chrome or black, the exception being the black-only Sears' models, and the 1972 500 GS/Hanimex versions (I've never seen black versions of those two models).

 

The Hanimex Compact R and 500 GS both share the same self-timer arm and similar face-plates.

 

Note: the Ricoh Elnica F model uses the same 40mm f2.8 Rikenon lens. Also, Ricoh sold an F-10 model, which appears to be an auto-exposure only model similar to the FM.

 

Finally, the original 500G & original Sears 35/RF (1972) are the only cameras in this entire series that have front vinyl covering that is discreetly positioned and recessed - all other variations use vinyl covering, which wraps around the edges of the front cover.

  

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Taken on August 30, 2013