Ricoh Singlex II 35mm slr camera

The Ricoh Singlex II manual focus SLR camera was introduced by Ricoh in the mid 1970s as an improved version of their original Singlex TLS camera. Many of the changes introduced are cosmetic rather than revolutionary, but the Singlex II retains the solid, dependable attributes of the original camera.

Ricoh Singlex II Images

My Ricoh Singlex II camera

This camera cost me £12 from ebay as a Buy it now, postage included sale. It was supplied as only a body, so for the photos above I’ve matched it with an Auto Rikenon 50mm f/2 lens which would have been typical of the sort of lens you could buy with the body.

Although advertised as ‘with faulty meter’, I found that if when I removed the old, flat battery from the camera and held a new battery in the battery compartment so that it correctly touches the two terminals, the metering is fine. I don’t have a battery which physically fits, but if I put a film through the camera I will get one.

Apart from needing a good clean, and the back door having a touch of rust on the edging, the camera seems to be fully operational with the shutter speeds correct, and the stop down lever moving etc.

Ricoh Singlex II Description

As I said in the introduction, the Singlex II is a solid dependable, if somewhat un-inspiring 35mm manual focus SLR camera. For the time it was introduced, in the mid 1970s, it slotted in with any number of similar cameras with no real ‘look at me’, stand out feature. In fact, if you compare it to many of the small, bayonet mount cameras being introduced at the same time like the Olympus OM-1 and the Pentax ME Super, it has a distinctively old world, traditional look and feel.

Ricoh Singlex II 35mm Camera - Back door open showing Copal shutter
Back door open showing Copal shutter

Although the Singlex II could be seen as a rather tired design, in some ways it seems to me to be a more reliable and better camera than some of the newer designs available at the time. The shutter is a Copal ‘Square’ shutter with metal blades, which, to me, always seems to be more precise and accurate that the cloth curtains of the OM-1 (the ME Super of course also had a metal shutter). The more traditional controls of the Singlex II  certainly seem easier to use than the push button shutter speeds of the Pentax so I would rather use the Singlex to quickly change shutter speeds.

Of course, in other ways, the Singlex II really does show it’s age.

The display in the viewfinder has no information at all compared to the more modern designs just mentioned. There is a central micro-prism to aid focusing and a metering needle to the right hand side of the viewfinder which has a + & – to show over and under exposure.

The metering uses the stop down system; The photographer presses the metering button on the front panel which activates the lens aperture, and then the shutter speed and aperture can be altered until the meter needle sits in the middle of the display. Once the metering button is released, the aperture opens up to allow the maximum amount of light into the viewfinder for the photographer to then compose and focus the scene.

Ricoh Singlex II 35mm Camera - Top of camera control layout
Top of camera control layout

The control layout, as I’ve inferred above is very traditional with the shutter speed on the top plate doubling as a film speed setting control and the shutter release being situated just to the front of it.

The film advance has the normal short throw and has an amount of free movement at the start of it’s travel which lets it sit out from the body, ready for the next film advance action. Just in front of the film advance is an auto reset frame counter which shows the number of pictures the camera has taken since it was loaded.

On the bottom of the rewind crank is a film type reminder, which is again a very standard feature of many cameras of the time.

The lens mount fitted to the camera is a standard, M42 screw mount – again a traditional choice, but probably very welcome to the photographer who would choose this camera since it would have given the maximum flexibility regarding both new lens purchases and use of lenses the photographer probably already owned.

Ricoh Singlex II Specifications

  • Ricoh Singlex II 35mm manual focus SLR camera
  • Stop down TTL metering
  • Metering button on front panel
  • ISO range 12 to 1600
  • Vertical, metal focal plane shutter
  • Shutter speeds 1sec to 1/1000 sec + bulb
  • Flash x-sync via hot shoe on prism
  • Flash x and m sync via socket
  • Film Type reminder
  • Auto reset Frame counter
  • Micro-prism focus aid in centre of viewfinder
  • Mechanical Self timer
  • Cable release thread in shutter release
  • Tripod bush in base
  • M42 lens mount
  • Single cell for meter but fully mechanical operation
  • Ser No: 23 200183
  • Manual available on-line here

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