Classic Scale Focus Cameras:

Ricoh Ricolet
by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

The Ricoh Ricolet is a neat little point-and shoot camera made by Riken Optical Industries in 1953. It was a rather cheap camera even originally and it has not suffered age well. I bought this for $3 in broken condition at an antique mall in Minnesota in 2002.10.

The camera has no focusing device built-in, so you have to use the ever-accurate scale focusing (aka guess the distance and dial it in).


Interesting quirks

About the only thing of note is that the styling of the camera is very futuristic. It has styling of the Leica III series. I like the looks, just wish my unit worked! :-)


Technical Details - Under construction!

Camera Name
Ricoh Ricolet
Riken Optical Industries
Place of Manufacture


Date of Manufacture
Focusing System
Fixed Lens

45mm f/3.5 Anastigmat

Left focusing (infinity is on the left side)


Leaf shutter (unkknown make) B-25-50-100

Metering System



f/3.5 - 16 (stepless)


Built-in coldshoe
No flash sync connector

Film type / speeds

Standard 135 (35mm) film

Battery type
Dimensions and weight

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About Riken / Ricoh and the 500 series

Seems like a very interesting company. They first started in 1917 and started using the Ricoh name for cameras in '38. They continued making a whole variety starting with rollfilm cameras, to a line of rangefinders, TLRs, and then finally SLRs. I'm not sure when they stopped making things under their own name. A shame.

The 500 apparently had quite a history. According to McKeown, it was based on the Ricoh 35 DeLuxe L (1957) which in turn was originally based on the 1955 Ricoh 35 (45mm f/3.5) - I also own the 1953 model Ricolet. The 500 of 1957 then spawned the 500 of 1960 which had a stepped top but the same 45mm f/2.8 as mine. There apparently was a Ricoh Jet that had a f/1.9 lens which seems very interesting. From there, the camera got a CdS auto exposure and miniaturized into the 500G which was made in 1971 (dunno what happened between '60-71), then the 500GSX of 1976 and so forth. Looking at all, I think I like my 1957 model 500 unit the most. Yup.


On the Net



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