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Ricohflex (original)

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Japanese 6×6 TLR
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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The Ricohflex (理光フレックス) is a Japanese 6×6 TLR sold by Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō from 1939. It was produced by Mori Seisakusho,[1] and was essentially a rebadged version of the Rollekonter. The camera is sometimes called "Ricohflex A" in recent sources, to distinguish it from the Ricohflex B, but this is apparently a confusion (see below).

Original documents Edit

The Ricohflex was announced by Riken in February 1939, for sale with a monthly payment plan.[1] It appears in an advertisement dated that month for ¥320, a very expensive price.[2] It also appears in advertisements by Ueno Shōten dated early 1940.[3] It is finally mentioned for ¥252 in the official price list compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941.[4] (This document shows the same price for all TLR cameras, perhaps by mistake.)

Actual example Edit

The only actual example of the Ricohflex observed so far has the same body and film advance mechanism as the Rollekonter I.[5] The nameplate is shaped the same as on the late Rollekonter I, and only has the Ricohflex name.

There is a rounded casing around the taking and viewing lenses, completely covering the shutter.[6] There are three levers on the sides, certainly to set the speed and aperture, and for shutter cocking and release. The front plate is marked RIKEN KOHGAKU KOGYO CO., LTD. above the taking lens. The speed and aperture are set by levers protruding on either side.[7] The shutter reportedly gives T, B, 1–300 speeds.[8] It is cocked and released by a single lever at the bottom.[9] The taking and viewing lenses are Ricoh Anastigmat with 75mm focal length — the taking lens has f/3.5 maximal aperture, and it is unclear if the viewing lens has f/3.5 or f/3.2.[10]

An isolated example of the Rollekonter has been observed with the same casing around the lenses.[11] This camera has been presented as a "Rollekonter III" in recent sources, but this is probably a mistake (see Rollekonter). It might have been assembled from an unsold Ricohflex, and it notably has a black plate inscribed ROLLE KONTER WORK added to the front of the casing, perhaps covering the Riken company name.

The true Ricohflex A? Edit

A user guide for the postwar geared lens Ricohflex published in 1951 reportedly mentions a Ricohflex A, developed and tested in 1936.[12] It was a pseudo TLR with a fixed-focus viewing lens and a front-cell focusing f/4.5 taking lens.[12] It is said that the camera had fundamental defects and was soon abandoned.[12]

That Ricohflex A is clearly not the Ricohflex sold in 1939–40 and described above. It might be an experimental predecessor of the Ricohflex B or an altogether different camera, if not a plain mistake.

Notes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Gyōkai san-jū-nen no ashiato (Feb. 1939), p.13 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin July 20, 1967, reproduced on p.231 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku: 理研光学は、ロールコンターの森製作所にてを伸し「リコーフレックス」の名称で月賦販売を計画.
  2. Advertisement in Sunday Mainichi, 26 February 1939, reproduced at Gochamaze.
  3. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343, lists advertisements in Asahi Camera February and March 1940.
  4. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 7, section 1.
  5. Example pictured in Tanaka, p.19 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14 and p.141 of Nigan-refu no hanashi (zenpen). The picture is reproduced in this page of the Ricoh website.
  6. Example pictured in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.437, and in Tanaka, p.132 of Nigan-refu no hanashi (zenpen).
  7. Tanaka, p.19 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14.
  8. Tanaka, p.19 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14. Hayashi, p.136 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, mentions a self-timer but this is perhaps a mistake.
  9. Tanaka, p.19 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14.
  10. Tanaka, p.19 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14, says f/3.5, whereas Hayashi, p.136 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, says f/3.2.
  11. Example pictured in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.437, and in Tanaka, p.132 of Nigan-refu no hanashi (zenpen).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Rikōfurekkusu no tsukaikata (リコーフレックスの使い方), written by Yagi Osamu (八木治) and published in July 1951 by Sōgeisha (双芸社). The book is quoted in Hayashi, p.136 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4: 「昭和11年に最初の型が設計試作され、A型と名づけられて発表されたが、根本的な欠陥があったためただちに製作を中止した。これは上のレンズは固定されたものでピントを合わせる役目はせず、下のレンズは撮影用としてヘリコイドによる焦点の調節をするようになっていてF4.5であった」.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In Japanese:


Asahi Bussan and Riken prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rigid or collapsible
Vest Adler | Gokoku | Semi Kinsi | Letix | Olympic | New Olympic | Regal Olympic | Semi Olympic | Super Olympic | Vest Olympic | Riken No.1 | Ricohl | Roico | Seica | Zessan
folders pseudo TLR TLR
Semi Adler | Adler III | Adler A | Adler B | Adler C | Adler Four | Adler Six | Gaica | Heil | Kinsi Chukon Ref Ricohflex | Ricohflex B

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