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Nick's Classic Corner - No 46 - Ricoh 500ME

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I've already looked at perhaps the prince of compact rangefinders that were popular among enthusiasts who couldn't afford an SLR, or who wanted a second or smaller camera in the 70s, the Canon GIII. There was lots of competition in this sector, and as ever, there were budget models as well. And king of the budget sector was surely Ricoh, with the 500G - small, light, rather flimsy, but with decent lens and respectable levels of control. However, Ricoh had quite a few models in this market niche, from cheaper non-rangefinder models to one with a top speed of 1/800. And this model, the 500ME, with Multiple Exposure capability (wonder where the name came from? ;) ) and an accessory clockwork autowinder, for some reason.

    The camera has much in common with the 500G, and indeed much in common with many similar cameras. A 40mm f2.8 Color Rikenon really is the heart of the camera - it's a respectable lens capable of good results. Shutter speeds are set round it - it's a leaf shutter, of course, speeded form 1/8-1/500. Behind is the aperture ring, with an A setting for shutter priority. The front ring is the focus ring, which is aided by a tiny rangefinder patch, which works well enough with reasonable contrast. The meter cell is above the lens, within the filter area, as was typical.

    There's a battery check button next to the shutter release, which has a locking collar, but no cable release socket. There's a self timer in a conventional position on the front.

    The base has the battery compartment, rewind release button, and tripod and motor winder socket. The winder screws in in conventional fashion, has an on/off switch, and on the base has a rewind release button, tripod bush, and a great big folding crank to wind up the spring. It works fine, but I can't see the purpose of it for the life of me.

    The viewfinder has a bright frame with parallax marks, the centre rangefinder patch, and the aperture scale and pointer on the right.

    There's nothing wrong with the spec, or indeed with the results - it's just that the whole thing feels cheap and nasty. Back in the day, the saving was significant, but these days, there's not really any point buying one of these to use - there are nicer cameras out there for the same sort of money. If you're given one, though, or find one at a car boot for a quid, it's perfectly capable - that lens is probably where all the money went.
  2. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

  3. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    Just tried one of these with Poundland. Stuck it on auto to see what the results would be like, possibly a bit underexposed in a couple of shots, but nothing too serious.
    It's small, light, unobtrusive and I think I like it!


    ps and for £8, who's going to complain!
  4. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Don't recall the Ricoh 500G being flimsy but it was 'metallic' in the less than pleasant sense and flash in the stylistic sense. Made a slightly funny noise due to nature of shutter & metering. Mine was given to my mother, if I recall correctly, as she was complaining about the struggles to get film processors to deal with the product of her half-frame Pen D. Don't think she liked it too much, either, as I think she may have only put one film through it. It got sold. I gave her a Konica A4. Great little camera but with a major shortcoming.

    My replacement for me for the 500G?

    An Olympus XA. :D

    My recollection of the later Ricohs was not flimsiness but then I didn't play with them at all. Interests lay elsewhere. Ricoh, IIRC, also lost interest in that they moved into selling SLRs.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015

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