Shonky Ricoh R1

I just bought a shonky old Ricoh R1 for £24 from eBay. (The seller sent me some out-of-date film with it. An eBay seller who sends you more than you expected; as my South African friends would say, sweet.)

It’s shonky in that it is scuffed and a bit battered. And a bit creaky.

Good ones seem to sell for anywhere between £30 and £80, so I’m happy with mine (providing it works). (Update: It does – see below.)

The R1 was the precursor to the GR1 and an ancestor of the R10.

Unlike the GR1 it is mostly plastic and doesn’t have the GR1’s superior lens design.

Despite having a metal front, it somehow feels flimsier than the all plastic R10 – though that may be down to the hard life this example appears to have led.

Wide panoramic mode

What it has that neither the GR1 nor the R10 has is a ‘wide panoramic’ mode. This changes the normally 30mm lens into an ambitious 24mm lens.

So ambitious was it that Ricoh fitted blinds that crop the top and bottom of the image in wide panoramic mode. I assume this is to get around vignetting at the extremities. (Update: Tru dat – see pics below.)

(The blinds also feature in non-wide panoramic mode – the lens stays at 30mm but your picture gets cropped anyway.)

Perhaps cropping the images in camera made sense when all you could get was prints from the chemists. In these halcyon days of scans and Lightroom we can crop pics ourselves. So cropping in camera makes no sense at all. The nice thing about this camera being shonky is that I’ve had no qualms about super gluing the panoramic curtains closed (or open, depending on which way you look at it; whatever, they don’t crop the picture now).

I also stuck some glue around the body to make it less creaky. And replaced the film window light seal, which turned to dust when I touched it.


It also has a date thingy; unfortunately it doesn’t have the R10’s excellent ‘print WORLD PEACE on your picture’ function. Shame.

Does it work?

Well… first I have to find a CR2 battery, then I’ll give it a whirl.

Do I have high hopes? Yes I do. Generally I get on well with cheap, creaky old cameras; and I’m looking forwards to some low-fi 24mm shots. Fingers crossed it works (and that I haven’t glued anything vital).


It works. Joy. I am King of Super Gluing.

Exactly the creaky, wide-angle low-fi I was hoping for.

It’s not the sharpest lens in the middle, and at the edges in panoramic wide mode (all the pics here are shot at 24mm) it is terrible charming; look at the distortion and vignetting on the pic of a wall above.

But it is fun to use and the wide angle lens gives some pleasantly barking results with really quite nice colour, great contrast and proper film feel.

Having recently torn myself away from a primarily 50mm view of the world (1Ds + 50mm f1.4) by buying a 28mm digital camera, the 24mm is even more of a novelty. I’m seeing new pictures in places I’ve been photographing for years.

I really like this camera.

What’s the perfect film compact? Not one that gives results as ‘good’ as a digital camera. It really isn’t about accuracy, resolution and controls.



How to lock panorama blinds (without using super glue like what I did):

Another version:

Lomography review:

A Flickr group:

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