Ricoh TLS 401

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The Ricoh TLS 401 was introduced in 1970 as an innovative successor to the three year older Ricoh Singlex TLS, having a combined eye-level and waist-level finder. This redirection of the light path is accomplished by an articulating mirror within a plastic Pentamirror rather than a traditional glass prism. Selection of either is by twisting a knob on the right-hand side of the finder housing. The vertical finder window has a removable black plastic cover, which, if turned the other way round as the practical minded will discover, may sit on permanently and just slide towards the accessory shoe when not needed.

The TLR 401 has a match needle stop down TTL CdS meter with average or spot selector switch situated just below the wind lever on the back of the camera. There are two CdS cells, located behind the mirror, which is semi-silvered glass. The averaging cell covers the entire mirror, while a second provides the central spot metering. Correct exposure is obtained when the meter needle is brought inside the brackets at the lower right in the finder. Also in the finder, to the left, is an indicator for the selected meter mode, S for spot and A for average. The exposure meter is activated by sliding a chunky knob on the left-hand side of the mirror housing upwards, which stops down the lens to the selected aperture, meaning the meter is of the stop down variety, like the Pentax Spotmatic of 1964. The film also needs to be advance for the meter to register. The camera is equipped with the sturdy vertical running focal plane Copal Square 1 to 1/1000 second metal blade shutter.

The standard lens for the TLS 401 is the Auto Rikenon f/1.4 55mm, f/1.7 50mm or f/2.8 55mm (dependant on the age of the camera). A selection of eighteen lenses from 21mm to 800mm, as well as a fisheye and two zoom lenses, was available.

The unusual dual-viewing concept re-appeared 10 years later on the Rolleiflex SL2000F.