Gear Profile III: Ricoh 500 G

A rangefinder that I'm proud to have in my collection of gear

Stats:

  • 35mm rangefinder
  • Manual and shutter priority shooting modes
  • Hot shoe and PC sync
  • Shutter: leaf shutter, bulb, 1/8-1/500 sec
  • Lens: 40mm f/2.8 Rikenon lens
  • Meter: lens mounted CdS meter
  • Strengths: compact and light, relatively fast lens, convenient controls

The f/2.8 lens opens wide enough to create a nice and shallow depth of field

I purchased my lil’ Ricoh at a garage sale in 2008 for $8. What drew me to it was the squareness of the little guy, it has a pretty classic look. It was sitting lonely in a ziploc bag along with a little Rollei flash. I had to get it! But, it would be over a year before I actually got around to using it. Last summer I was visiting home and came across the rangefinder. I promptly loaded it with some film and went out to try it out. After getting the photos developed I was kicking myself for not using it earlier. He’s been my go to camera when I want to shoot film and have manual control without the weight and bulk of an SLR.

The lil' guy handles a variety of lighting situations well, even at night

This was my first, and currently my only rangefinder. Rangefinders use to viewfinders to help you focus rather than reflecting the image from the lens as an SLR does. This results in a substantially smaller body. When you look through the viewfinder you will see a section in the middle with two images. As you focus these to views will come together, when they overlap completely you are in focus. It takes  getting used to but isn’t hard once you use it and see how it works. Since the image you see through the viewfinder isn’t exactly what the lens sees there is some parallax error; the actual image will be shifted in comparison to what you see through the viewfinder. The 500 G has handy marks in the viewfinder that help you compensate for this when framing your shot. Just make sure that your fingers are away from the lens (that won’t show in the viewfinder).

He loves getting a roll of color every now and then too

This guy packs a lot in a little package. He’s almost always loaded with film and usually in my bag when I leave home. If you get a chance to buy one, go for it!
Anyone have experience with the 500 G, let me know what you think about it in the comments…
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