Monday, September 24, 2012

Ricoh Mirai 35-135 Zoom

Ricoh Mirai 35-135Bar none, the oddest camera in my entire collection is this one.  The Ricoh Mirai 35-135 ZOOM Bridge SLR.  It is a remarkable camera though, as it has a tack sharp lens, brilliantly fast and accurate autofocus, which uses and Infrared Beam, MACRO mode, nice zoom with the flip of a switch, Program Shift including a BULB mode, pop-up flash, including an attachable proprietary flash, and a lit LCD inner display, well, if it's viewed under dim lighting.
The strange design, including plastic body and weird ergonomics, make this a very odd camera indeed.  The flip-down handle gives it a "Speed Radar" kind of design, and many drivers have slowed down when I am using this camera near a road way.
The thing is, the lens is amazingly sharp, and renders beautifully out of focus areas.  Film is AUTO-SET VIA DX-Coding, but can be +/-EI over-ridden.  Provided you remember that + is for slower film, and - is for faster, which is great if you are using bulk rolled or non-DX coded rolls of film.

This camera has proven many times over, again and again, proving to be a great amateur's camera, and an instant head turning camera.  I've gotten asked, "Is that a video camera?" many times over this one, as it truly looks like a video camera, instead of a stills camera.

The simple operation, and relatively easy one-handed use of this camera, has easily made it an instant favorite of mine, even if I don't use it as often as I should.
It has some very interesting quirks, but nothing that cannot be over-looked, as it is, after all, an older camera during a time when camera manufacturers' were trying many radical new things with their cameras.
The Mirai 35-135 is actually the successor to the Ricoh/Olympus joint venture of the Mirai 35-105.

Camera tech-specs;

Ricoh Mirai 35-135mm 35mm SLR (Bridge Program)
Rikenon 35-135mm ƒ/4.2-5.6 15-elements in 13 groups Fixed Lens
52mm ø Filter size
TTL Metering
Program Mode w/Smart Shift & AE-L + Aperture Priority Mode
Single A/F w/IR Focus Assist
Compound Vertical travel Focal Plane shutter 32s to 1/2000s +B
1010g w/o batteries film or accessories

And a couple of sample images taken with this camera;

Locking Combination
"Combination" - Fuji Neopan 400CN
Victorian - Not Colonial
"Victorian" - Polypan F 50
Taking A Lonely Walk
"A Lonely Walk" - Ilford FP4+ 125

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Rolleicord V

The year 1933 gave way to the longest running medium format camera company today.  With new models of camera still being designed, and released, even in 2012, the Rollei camera company is still producing some of the best and most beautiful cameras today.
I happen to own one of their more "basic" models, the Rolleicord V.  The difference in the Rolleicord models and the Rolleiflex models isn't as extreme as you would think.  The Rolleicord V, introduced in 1954, with a 3 year run to 1957, was an amateurs camera, with a 75mm ƒ/3.5 Schneider Xenar Kreuznach lens, and a maximum close focus of 3 feet.  Although that could easily be changed with the addition of Rolleinar close focusing attachments.
The model I have is a mid-run model, around 1955, possibly 1956, and was purchased from an Antique seller during an Antique Display Show back in 2010. 
I've used the camera on and off in 2010, and the same for 2011.  But lately I've been finding that I have been reaching for the Rolleicord V as my main 120 camera instead of my Bronica, simply because of the wonderful design, sharp optics, and WLF of the camera.
it is just so much fun to use!
My latest accessory purchase for that camera was a new Waist Level Finder screen which is brighter, and not to mention a fresnel screen, which means no dark/bright spots on the screen.
It's much cleaner, brighter, and easier to focus with, than the original MATTE screen.
Sure, it loses the grid lines, but the split prism and laser etched fresnel matte is so much easier on the eyes, allows faster focusing, and is so much brighter to see!  A blessing in disguise, and a must-buy for anyone with an older Rolleicord looking for a brighter screen.

This camera is a rather interesting mix of amazement.  For one, it's a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera, which has two lenses, hence the name, which allow for easy focusing, and no lens blackout or shutter lag from a mirror that has to move out of the way of the shutter, just set, click, move-on. 
Wondeful design, and super simple to operate.
And two, the taking lens has an interesting characteristic to it.  First off, it can be incredibly sharp.  Stop it down to ƒ/8 or ƒ/11 and get some incredible sharpness out of lens, but if you shoot it wide open, you get a soft dreamy look to it that is amazing to behold.

East German/West German

Franke & Heidecke - Rolleicord V
Schneider-Xenar Kreuznach 75mm ƒ/3.5 Taking Lens (minimum aperture ƒ/22)
Schneider Heliostat 75mm ƒ/3.2 Viewing Lens
120 Roll Film camera taking 12 6x6 images
Synchro-Compur Shutter 1s to 1/500s + B
X-Sync at all speeds
M-Sync at all speeds
Close Focusing of 3 feet (36 inches)
Double-Exposure Prevention (over ridden with a flip of a switch)

You can see more photos taken with the Rolleicord V on my Flickr Stream