I have and always will have a soft spot for compact fixed lens rangefinders since my first camera was one such camera. The Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. But the Ricoh 500 G is not a Hi-Matic, released at the end of the craze of that style of camera; it is an underdog for its time going up against the cult classic Canon QL17 GIII. And while the 500 G does not share the same spotlight at its Canon counterpart, the 500 G is a strong camera that fills the role of compact rangefinder that packs a punch but won’t break the bank. Special thanks to Mike Bitaxi for loaning this beauty out.
Model: 500 G
Format: 135 (35mm), 36×24
Len: Fixed, Rikenon Lens f=40mm 1:2.8
Year of Manufacture: 1972
If you’re into compact rangefinders, this camera is certainly worth a second glance. This camera is small; I mean tiny. Easily fits in your pocket but I wouldn’t recommend it. When it comes to using the camera, it’s a natural fit for anyone with any experience with Minolta, Olympus, or Canon cameras of the same style. Good layout, short throw on the film advance, and an aperture priority meter to boot. But you don’t need to power this camera to get it to work and runs well as a mechanical camera, but I would still stick to aperture priority, set your aperture and run the shutter speed around it. I’ll go into that more in the next section. Optically the camera stands well on its own with the Rikenon Lens pulling off sharp images that suit the focal length perfectly. Add to this the compact size of the camera you have very little in the way of parallax error when composing your images, out of my whole roll shot I only missed the composition on one image and it was out of focus also so it was not a big deal.
The main issue I had with this camera is that all the controls along the lens barrel are too close together! The aperture control is narrow and tight to the body, and you need two hands to control it. The shutter speed dial is a little better but feels too much like the focus control with the extra grips. The focusing is smooth, but again you’d think it was the shutter speed control at first as it lacks the usual grip pieces. As an automatic aperture priority camera, it wouldn’t be so bad, but I did not have the proper battery for the camera, so I was running it full manual, as you guessed it the camera uses a mercury cell to operate. And finally, there’s the issue of light seals. The entire back door of the camera is one big light seal, every square centimeter of it is covered. Thankfully it’s easy to replace with craft foam, but it makes for a very messy job.
If you’re looking for a camera to work as a compact low-profile street photography camera but don’t want to spend the cash on a camera give the 500 G a solid look. If you find one in good condition, you’ll be laughing. While I’m one to stick with cult cameras, it seems odd that this camera didn’t acquire one. It’s a real sleeper like the Minolta Hi-Matics, and they often don’t command a higher price like Canon or Olympus but quickly give you the same performance of the well known shooters.
All Photos taken in New York, New York
Ricoh 500 G – Rikenon Lens f=40mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – SPUR HRX (1+20) 9:30 @ 20C
Every year in NYC Photo District News (PDN) puts on a big show (what show!?!) in New York City known as the Photo Plus Expo, this will have been my third year attending the show and it is by far my favourite camera trade show out there. Although there was no official FPP meetup this year, the powers that be (Michael Raso) gave permission for myself and Hunter (Man-On-The-Street) to put together a small gathering, in the end there were four of us, Hunter, Brian, Brandon, and I took to the floor. We also met up with Phil from The Darkroom, Tim from Kodak alaris (first time seeing them under their new name), Mat in his new role as product manager for LumoPro, and Brandon from Fujifilm North America, even Keith Canham!. Over all a great time…good chance to catch up with friends, industry contacts, and New York Pizza.
Back in October when I visited New York City in addition to a plethora of still photography cameras I also took along a super 8 camera, and while in NYC picked up two cartridges of Super8 film, Kodak E100D, and shot them around the city. Once again the footage was out of focus, which I soon found out was due to the camera not my operation of it. Which is a good thing over all. Again I’m rather pleased with how it all turned out.
Now the camera, it sadly lost it’s life after getting hit by a subway (after I had pulled the second cartridge out) so it won’t be bothering me anymore and I’ve already replaced it with a much nicer unit, again a Eumig, a 300/XL with a big bright split screen focus viewfinder. I also picked up the last two caridges of E100D (as Kodak has discontinued this line) from West Camera and plan on shooting it again this summer (maybe Chicago?). I am also looking forward to working with Kodak’s new Super8 stock the Vision3 50T!
I was bit by the instant photography bug back when Polaroid stopped making film and when Impossible re-invented it (Film for Polaroid Cameras that is). And over the course of the years they have stuggled long and hard, and have taken a great deal of my money (I say that not in a bad way) to build up something that can only be described as pure magic in eight frames. Back at the end of October I had a chance to revisit New York City and take a trip to the Impossible Project Store/Gallery on Broadway to pick up and shoot some of their new ColorProtection Film for my Polaroids. In addition to that I shot a pack of their PX100 UV+ SilverShade film.
New York Instant Squared – I give you Eight Frames of NYC.
The best was while I was trying to find my way back to the MTA after getting lost in lower Manhatten (Tribeca area) I came across a woman and her two children, all three where most intrigued by my Rolleiflex, so I also decided to show them my Folding SX-70 Sonar OneStep (Loaded with ColorProtection Film), and took a shot of the three of them, signed it and gave it to them. It was something the woman didn’t even know could be done anymore, and the children were just enthralled by the idea.
Long Live Film.
Polaroid Time-Zero OneStep (Dark Side of hte Moon) – Impossible PX100 UV+
Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Sonar OneStep – Impossible PX70 ColorProtection
A city this big cannot be covered in just one week, so I gave it two. Also because I did not actually have a post ready for Week 41 since I was still in the US and did not have the film for that week processed, I probably could have done it, but I don’t know any labs in NY/NJ that could do it for me, so I waited until I got back to Canada. I went through so much film over the course of my time down there, most of which has yet to be scanned, so I worked hard to get at least these photos scanned and uploaded just for you my faithful followers!
Less than ten weeks left in the project, and the book is already starting to take shape. (By shape, I mean I have an idea of how I want it to work, just have to make that a reality.)