Ricoh 35 Flex review with add-on lenses

The Ricoh 35 Flex is a fixed lens 35mm reflex manual focus camera from 1963 with automatic or manual controls. The camera I tested is the first model and doesn’t need batteries (thanks to its Selenium light sensor) and can be enhanced by wide-angle and telephoto screw add-ons to screw upfront.

There is a second version of this particular camera with a Cadmium Sulfide light sensor (see photo at bottom) with more precise measurement but requires a battery.

It is a 35mm camera, with a base lens of 50mm and f2.8, with a leaf shutter. The viewfinder is simple but leasable and surprisingly comfortable. On the left, the red circle indicates that you need to wind your film to the next frame. On the right, a black rod shows you the light intensity with red zones at both ends for over or underexposure. It has a classic split-screen central zone and micro prism to focus on accurately.

You can set aperture and shutter speed via two sliders underneath the lens. They both feature an automatic setting that will click-in.

While simple, it isn’t a cheaply designed camera. It is enjoyable to use and does give good old-school looking results. My first film with it proved it an exciting tool, smooth, precise, light, and rather compact to handle.
The add-on lenses make it even more fun to use, without the risk of letting dust enter behind.

It is well-balanced with limited options but offers a vintage-style shooting experience. Add-on lenses are a nice touch, but the screw-on system is a bit of a hassle, and you will find yourself using the telephoto or wide-angle option for photos in a row.

The lack of battery makes for a different sound experience. It isn’t loud but sounds different. The mirror seemed to move slowly on the camera tested, but everything worked in sequence with photos well taken. I have another that I haven’t tested yet but that moves back fast, that seems to be the normal way to work.

pros:

  • relatively light and compact
  • no battery
  • easy to use
  • good optical quality
  • fun

cons:

  • limited lens quality
  • only add-ons are two: wide and telephoto
  • not that precise exposition
  • feels a bit slow

Here are a few examples of me using it.

Kodak TMAX 400 film — random shots with or without add-on lenses

You can always check some other photographic examples on my Instagram page.

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Tristan Zand

I like to hide behind sunglasses/music/photo/tech/arts/politics/whatever/oh and bass... Experimental photography and conceptual media. http://zand.net