Christopher J Osborne

Ricoh 500GX

Ricoh launched the first camera in this series, the Ricoh 500G in the early 1970s (either 1971 or 1972 depending on which website you read!) and continued to sell a variety of cameras (e.g. 500G, 500RF, 500ME) all with the same basic body and lens through out the 1970s. The Ricoh 500GX you see here was launched in 1976 and it was one of the last cameras in the series.

All these cameras feature a very compact body with the same well-respected 40mm f/2.8 lens, shutter speed priority automatic exposure, a manual exposure mode with uncoupled metering, a 1/500-1/8 second shutter speeds range, and a needle readout in the viewfinder of the selected aperture in auto mode or the suggested aperture in manual mode. The body is fairly cheaply built, and this contributes to the comparatively low weight of 420 grams. Silver is the most common colour for all 500G series cameras, but some models, were also available in black.

The 500GX has some extra minor do-dads over and above the lesser cameras in the 500G series: there is a battery check button, a multiple exposure switch, and a connections for an add-on auto winder. Ricoh also made a budget camera in this series called the 500ZF with basic zone focusing in place of the rangefinder focusing you see here.

The best thing about this camera is it’s compact size. It’s about the same size as the very small Olympus 35RC (another camera with an f/2.8 lens) and considerably smaller than the typical luxury compact rangefinder with an f/1.7 lens. To the right you can see the Ricoh 500GX next to a typical example of a luxury compact range finder, the Olympus 35SP. You see how much smaller it is!