It has an unusual design with a folded light path, the rays emerging from the lens being reflected by two mirrors before hitting the film. The purpose of this construction is to make a rigid camera with a standard 80mm lens without being too thick. The Tomy, a Japanese 4.5×6 camera designed with the same architecture, was also announced in 1952. In this page by Nekosan, the two cameras are presented side by side, showing the design similarity and revealing that they share the same patent number. However, the Rich-Ray has a simpler construction.
Another camera, the Cyclope, also used two mirrors to fold the light path between the lens and the film. This French camera was announced in 1950, two years before the Tomy, and even if the design differs, it is possible that the inventor of the Tomy was inspired by the Cyclope.
The Rich-Ray-6 is advertised in the November 1952 issue of Asahi Camera. The lens is a Rosette 80mm f:8, and the shutter is a synchronized KSS with B, 20, 50, 100 speeds. The price is given as comprised between ¥3,900 and ¥4,300, even if no variants are mentioned.
The Rich-Ray-6 has a bakelite body, like all the cameras made by Rich-Ray. The back is molded together with the rest of the body, and the top plate is removable for film loading. The picture format can be selected while the camera is loaded, with a sliding selector in the back, probably moving a mask inside the camera. Film advance is controlled by two red windows, one above the other, the top one for 4.5×6 and the bottom one for 6×6. A metal plate surrounds the red windows, with SEMI and SIX engravings and arrows to indicate how to operate the format selector and which red window to use. A metal plate rotates above the red windows to hide the one that is not in use.
On the top plate of the Rich-Ray-6, there is the advance knob on the left end, the tubular finder offset to the left, the accessory shoe on the right end and a knob meant to look like a shutter speed selector. The latter is in fact used to open the top plate for film loading. There is an arrow with O and L engraved on the top plate, presumably for Open and Lock, indicating the direction to turn. The top plate also supports an accessory shoe on the right extremity, and is engraved RICH-RAY-6 just in front. However, the camera pictured in the above-mentioned advertisement apparently has no marking on the top plate, not even the arrows around the knobs.
The front of the body is covered by a metal rectangular casing, containing the two mirrors. It supports a fake lens at the center, that is in fact a mirror. The actual lens is offset to the left. The fake lens rim is engraved Z-RAY SYSTEM PAT NO.16929A (indeed the same patent number as engraved on the Tomy), and it is used to set the aperture between 8 and 16. Opposite the actual lens is the shutter speed selector, with 100, 50, 25 settings. The bulb setting is given by another small selector, above the actual lens, with B and I positions. The shutter release protrudes from the top of the casing. There is also a small part near the top that is probably the synch connector, but this part seems absent from the example pictured in the advertisement cited.
- Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Item 1011.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P. 79.
In both English and Japanese: