The Ricoh 500 is a 35 mm rangefinder camera with fixed lens made in Japan by Ricoh from 1957. Four different main types were marketed between then and 1960.
All models have some features in common :
- The Triggermatic winding system; a folding trigger advance lever mounted on the bottom of the camera, operated with fingers of the left hand.
- A detachable back (i.e. not hinged: the back and base, including the winding mechanism, come off for loading).
- A coupled rangefinder, combined with the viewfinder.
- Light Value system for setting the exposure (the Ricoh 500 was the first camera in Japan to adopt the LV system); an external selenium light meter, fitting in the accessory shoe, was available (it is not coupled to the camera).
- Synchronisation for flash by a hot shoe, in addition to a PC socket.
The first type, from 1957, is based on the Ricoh 35S. It has a dropped section at the each end of the top housing. At the left-hand end, the rewind knob is taller than on other versions of the camera. It doesn't have a film-type reminder, which other versions do (on the bottom). It has a Seikosha-MX shutter, with speeds 1 - 1/500 second, plus 'B', and a coated, five-element Riken Ricoh 45 mm f/2.8 lens made by Tomioka.
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The second type, from 1958, is the most common one. It has a flat top plate, and the rewind crank and other controls are more-or-less flush with this. It has a Seikosha-MXL shutter, with speeds 1 - 1/500 second, plus 'B'. The lens is either a five-element Ricomat 45 mm f/2.8, made by Tomioka, or a Rikenon 45 mm f/2.4, made by Nitto Optical (on the deluxe model). The camera has dimensions 140mm x 83mm x 67mm and weighs 670 g.
The Japanese Ricoh website shows an all-black example of the camera.
The third type is very similar, but has the Seikosha-SLV shutter, again with speeds 1 - 1/500 second, plus 'B', but now with a self timer. The lens is the same.
The fourth type has a Riken Ricoh (not Ricomat) 45 mm f/2.8, and again a Seikosha SLV shutter. The top housing has been restyled, to accomodate a larger viewfinder, with a bright-line frame. This camera, but with an f/1.9 lens, was sold as the Ricoh Jet.
- User's manuals at Mike Butkus' Orphan Cameras:
- Ricoh 500 cameras at Sylvain Halgand's Collection d'Appareils (text in French):