Ultra-Compact 35mm Camera
Ricoh R1 next to a 35mm Kodak film can. (shoots 35mm film, 6.3 oz./179 g with CR2 cell and 36-exposure film, 1.1'/0.35m close focus, about $75 used).enlarge. I'd get it at this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay).
This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.
Ricoh R1. enlarge.
Ricoh R1. enlarge.
Photos too big for your computer? Just drag the lower right corner of your browser window to the left and all my ultra-high resolution images will magically squeeze to fit.
American Bull, flash ON, April 2016. bigger.
Katie pours her yogurt, flash ON, April 2016. bigger.
Katie builds her yogurt, flash ON, April 2016. bigger.
Katie's yogurt, flash ON, April 2016. bigger.
Katie enjoys her yogurt, flash ON, April 2016. bigger.
Colorful umbrellas, April 2016. bigger.
Emilio's Paella, April 2016. bigger.
Ryan and his turtles, no flash, May 2016. bigger.
Interior of a fine home, no flash, May 2016. bigger.
The Ricoh R1 is basic 35mm point-and-shoot camera that's as small and light as a disposable – but with a decent lens, autofocus and far more flexibility.
It's small enough and thin enough to ride along in my pocket with my iPhone.
It shoots well; all my frames are sharp and well exposed. In fact, all the images seen in this review came from one 36-exposure roll of Fuji XTRA 400. 13 published shots out of 36 presses of the shutter button; beat that, digital!
The R1 stands out because of its tiny size, 30mm and 24mm lens settings and simple controls which make everything easy to set. The R1 one of the easiest 35mm cameras to set and shoot under any condition.
It has a viewfinder with a separate light-gathering window for the finder frames and indicators. These are created with an LCD to allow dynamic indications of parallax correction, active AF areas and more.
The R1 has a very legible top LCD with huge frame numbers.
It's almost all plastic, save for a stamped sheet aluminum front cover. The R1 is not a pro or luxury camera; it's a pocketable basic take-everywhere point & shoot.
Ricoh R1. enlarge.
A rear switch selects regular full-frame or masked panorama shooting, or a third mode where the lens is shifted to 24mm, but only will shoot as a masked panorama. This is because it's not a real, second 24mm lens, but simply reconfiguring the existing simple 35mm f/3.5 lens to be slightly shorter, but at reduced performance. Thus at the 24mm setting (WIDE [P]) the lens only is f/8, and since it can't cover the full 24 × 36mm frame, only shoots in cropped panorama mode.
The finder changes to show you what's going on as you change the settings:
NORMAL: 30mm f/3.5 lens, 24 × 36mm frame.
[P]: 30mm f/3.5 lens, cropped 12 × 36mm frame.
WIDE [P]: 24mm f/8 lens, cropped 12 × 36mm frame.
Some folks will disable the panoramic mask so they can use the 24mm setting full-frame, with darkened corners.
Panoramic image, May 2016. bigger.
● Turns on and off, focuses and handles quickly.
● Second 24mm extra-wide masked panoramic setting.
● Clever "Super Night" mode makes a double exposure: one focussed on the foreground with flash, and a second time exposure at infinity for the background.
● Two-zone exposure system with automatic backlight compensation and automatic fill-flash.
● Fill-flash works great.
Ricoh R1. enlarge.
● The lens extends as soon as you turn on the R1 and locks focus with a half-press of the shutter, but even if you lock focus, there is always a shutter delay because the lens doesn't move into its final position for correct focus until after you have pressed the shutter button all the way to fire. This cannot be defeated by prefocusing; the camera waits to move the lens until after the shutter is pressed.
● Mine had light leaks, which I presume is just a problem with just my sample, not the basic camera design:
Light leak, April 2016. bigger.
● No backlight for top LCD, but still very big and legible.
● No manual exposure settings or compensation adjustments, but plenty of flash and other exposure modes to get the job done.
Uses standard 35mm film.
It reads standard DX-coded film from ISO 50 ~ 3,200, otherwise it defaults to ISO 100.
Ricoh R1. enlarge.
4 elements in 4 groups.
Also 24mm f/8 in panoramic mode, only.
Standard 35mm film.
24 x 36mm.
Also 12 x 36mm masked panoramic.
Three passive contrast detectors.
All three are very close together in the center.
Additive LCD for frame markings: adapts automatically to show standard, panoramic and extra-wide panoramic, as well as parallax correction at close distances.
Light Meter & Exposure
Dual silicon photo diodes (SPDs).
Programmed auto exposure.
Automatic backlight control.
LV 3 ~ 15 (2 seconds at f/3.5 to 1/400 at f/8).
Programmed electronic leaf, 2 seconds to 1/400.
Presume two blades also serve as the aperture control.
Presume 1/400 sync speed.
Rated to 2.7m (8.9') at ISO 100, 5.4m (17.7') at ISO 400.
5 second recycle time.
One CR2 cell.
Ricoh R1, lens collapsed. enlarge.
2.4 × 4.6 × 1 inches HWD.
61 × 117 × 25 mm HWD.
6.305 oz. (178.7 g) with battery and 36 exposure roll of Fuji Superia X-TRA 400, measured.
4.9 oz. (140 g) rated, empty.
Bottom, Ricoh R1. enlarge.
Made in Taiwan.
At least 1997.
April~June 2016: about $75 used.
The R1 is a swell little camera. It handles much better than most point and shoots, since its controls are big and well labeled.
It loads by drawing the leader across and closing the back.
It winds in reverse, advancing the entire roll when first loaded and then loading back into the 35mm casette as each frame is taken. Therefore images are upside down and frame numbers are reversed compared to most 35mm cameras.
The upside to this reverse wind is that you won't fog all your pictures if you accidentally open the back.
The camera buzzes a little after each shot as it winds.
The frame counter also runs in reverse, always showing you the number of exposures you have left.
It reads E when empty.
I only get 36 frames on a 36-exposure roll of Fuji film; I don't get extra frames as I do on most cameras.
On Fuji film, it shoots frames 35A ~ 0A, leaving frames 00A and XA blank and frame XXA half-fogged from daylight.
Autofocus is easy; three sensors are right in the middle.
The finder shows you which has been automatically selected. It looks for the closest subject.
It only has a power button, a shutter button, three buttons on top and one slide switch.
It is very fast and easy to use; you don't really need the manual.
The top LCD and frame counter turns off when the camera is off.
The finder is the usual little thing.
The indications are clear.
It automatically indicates a parallax correction if needed, although it only has one setting.
Fill-flash works great in daylight.
It works poorly indoors, with the usual dark backgrounds.
Circular decorations, May 2016. bigger.
It's plenty sharp for snapshots. If you really want to split pixels, get a Nikon 35Ti.
It's all plastic, except for a stamped sheet aluminium front cover.
I presume the lens is glass, while everything else is plastic.
This Ricoh R1 (1994 ~ 1997)
This R1 is a basic plastic point & shoot that came out in 1994 and was sold at least through 1997.
Ricoh R1s (1995 ~ )
The R1s came out in 1995. It's a cosmetic update and otherwise the same thing.
The R1s is silver and loses the textured grip.
The R1s claims MC multicoating, which is meaningless with a lens this simple. It doesn't need any coating to work well.
Ricoh R1E (1996 ~ )
The Ricoh R1E is a less desirable version that removes the 24mm setting.
Ricoh GR1 (1996 ~ )
The Ricoh GR1 looks the same, but is a much nicer camera made of more metal and with a much better lens and controls.
Don't confuse the GR1 with this plastic look-alike R1; they are very different.
This R1 is a great throw-around 35mm camera to keep in your pocket. It's self contained and is happy in there, and with its little wrist strap you're good.
I'm unsure why these sell for about $75 used; it's probably because it looks identical to the GR1. It's not special, except for its tiny size, and if you want tiny, also look at the Olympus Stylus or Konica Big Mini, either of which are probably better cameras.
If you want a premium compact 35mm camera, my favorite is the superb Nikon 35Ti, which is a superior camera, but not quite as pocketable as this R1.
This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.
Thanks for helping me help you!
© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
Help Me Help You
I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.
The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. eBay is always a gamble (see How to Win at eBay), but all the other places always have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.
If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.
As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!
Thanks for reading!
Product photos and initial write-up 23 April (Saturday) ~ 08 May 2016, Mothers' Day. Final write-up Lahaina, 21 June 2016