The Ricoh XR-1s is a manual-exposure-only 35mm film SLR. Though nothing fancy it has depth-of-field preview, self-timer, black paint, battery check, and a switch that turns the meter off, and locks the shutter, when the wind-on lever is returned to its normal position. Shutter flash x-sync is at 1/125 second flash sync speed. There is hot shoe on the pentaprism and an X-sync socket on the left side of the body as well.
Note the unusual multi-exposure function toggle switch and button marked ME.
The camera has a nifty spring-loaded button to engage the depth-of-field preview instead of the usual lever.
There is also a little periscope widow on the front of the pentaprism housing which allows the aperture setting on the lens to be seen through the viewfinder – although its a bit hard to see when wearing glasses. On the XR-1s I have the two top corners of the plastic strip with the little aperture viewing window in it are chipped (you can see this in the photos).
The Ricoh XR-1s has a very reliable, though somewhat noisy, vertically Copal metal focal plane shutter. It was released by Ricoh in 1979, about the same time as the Pentax ME Super. When I handle one of these old cameras I think to myself, what was I doing in 1979? That’s 37 years ago!
Note the broken corners of the plastic strip holding the aperture window on the pentaprism housing. Over tightening the screws might cause this damage especially on 37 year old plastic.
The earlier Ricoh XR-1 (1977) is the same camera but without the facility to connect a film winder. While the later Ricoh XR-2 uses an electronic shutter and aperture priority exposure.
I’ve had this camera for a few years. I must have picked it up quite cheaply somewhere but cannot now for the life of me remember where. It came with a very nice 50mm f2 XR Rikenon lens in pristine condition. From the photographs I’ve taken with this lens it appears to be very sharp, and with good detail and contrast. The sample shots look good to me. The 50mm f2 Rikenon L weighs 170g whereas the SMC Pentax 55mm weighs 228g. This suggest the Rikenon has quite a bit of plastic in it as it doesn’t have the same heft as a similar sized SMC Pentax. However from what I’ve read on the net the 50mm f2 XR Rikenon is the equal of the Pentax optically.
The plastic self-timer lever is broken on mine. The mechanism is working it just needs a new lever. This seems to be a typical fault with this model. A metal lever would be more robust than plastic.
The all mechanically operated Ricoh XR-1s without a lens weighs 560g.
Shutter speeds range from 1 to 1000 of a second, plus B. The shutter speed selected is shown in the view-finder by a green indicator arm. You can then turn the aperture ring on the lens to bring the match-needle into line with the green indicator. This is a bit unusual in my experience but it works very well, and is super easy to see in the large bright view-finder.
The bottom plate showing the contacts and mechanical coupling for a motor winder. I used a similar sort of motor winder on my old Pentax ME Super of the same vintage. The motor winder provides a good grip on the camera.
Battery Check: Turn the ring at the base of the shutter release to the right. If the battery is OK the needle in the view-finder will shoot to the letter C at the top.
Battery: Two readily available 1.5 volt LR44 button cells.
Film Speed Range: ASA 12 to 3200. You have to press the little silver button on the right of the top plate to unlock the film speed wheel. The wheel turns nicely and has a positive solid feel.
The Australian Photography Photo Directory 1978-79 edition lists the Ricoh XR-1, with an XR Rikenon f1.4 at Australian $415.00. This means the Ricoh XR-1 sold for about the same as a Pentax K1000 with a fast Pentax f1.4. keep in mind that SLR sold in those days for about 30 percent less than the list price.
I quite like this camera. It is very similar in size to the Pentax K1000. Most importantly the Ricoh XR-1s uses the Pentax K lens mount meaning there are huge numbers of second-hand lenses widely available at good prices. Overall the camera is well made, notwithstanding the easily broken self-timer lever, which can be easily fixed either by making one, or using one from a junked donor camera. Overall an excellent late 1970s mechanically operated 35mm film camera. It feels great in the hands and takes very good photographs with the sharp, contrasty, 50mm f2 XR Rikenon lens. If you spot one of these in your second-hand store travels; go for it.
Manual in pdf format for the Ricoh XR-1 (this is the earlier model without motor-wind contacts) from Michael Butkus.
Interesting discussion on the XR Rikenon 50mm f2 lens on the Pentax Forums.
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