other Ricoh cameras in my collection
1960 - Ricoh Auto 35
1970 - Ricoh Hi-Color 35 Viewfinders
1970 - Ricoh TLS 401 SLR
1972 - Richoh 500G Rangefinder
Ricoh Super Shot 2.4 [1966 - 69*]
In late 1965 Ricoh introduced the Super Shot, which was followed by the companion Super Shot 2.4 a year later. To prevent confusion, I'm going to call the former the
1.7 (because it has an f/1.7 lens), and the latter the
2.4 (which has an f/2.4 lens).
The 1.7 had rangefinder focusing, an electronic shutter, auto exposure that follows a programmed aperture and shutter speed profile, and a spring driven motor wind system. Ricoh built this feature into several of their 60s and 70s cameras.
The Super Shot 2.4 also has a spring driven motor wind, and looks similar to the 1.7, but is equipped with a mechanical shutter and offers a shutter speed priority auto exposure system. The user sets a shutter speed, and the camera determines the appropriate aperture, which is displayed via a viewfinder needle pointer. Unlike its companion model, the 2.4 wasn't fitted with a rangefinder, but has a focusing aid.
The top plate of the camera is inscribed
Dia-focus, where Dia is short for
Diamond. That's what the user sees through the viewfinder - a diamond shaped patch that resembles a rangefinder spot. This is linked to the focus dial and changes size according to the distance at which the lens is focused. The diamond is largest at close focus and smallest at infinity. The bonkers idea behind this is that the diamond's magnitude equates to the size of an adult human head, so when the subject viewed is a person, and their head fills this patch, focus will be correctly set. Obviously the focusing aid is useless for other subjects, but there is a conventional distance scale on the lens barrel, and a zone focus indicator in the top corner of the viewfinder. A second viewfinder pointer indicates whether focus is near (a head icon), middle (two people), or far (a mountain).
The 2.4 is a model few have documented. Ricoh's website translates poorly and provides a scant summary. The 2.4 is frequently, and erroneously called the
24; as seen in the Dixons' advertisement and at Collection Appareils, which also incorrectly states the 2.4 was an economy version of the 1.7, overlooking their fundamental differences. Camera-wiki implied (before correction) that the 1969 Chinese made
Great Wall SZ-1 was derived from the 2.4, and elsewhere, this error has been reproduced, sometimes with the justification that the SZ-1 has an f/2.8 lens, which is closer to an f/2.4 than an f/1.7. However, the SZ-1 had a rangefinder and lacked a built-in light meter and therefore had no exposure automation, so the similarities to the Super Shots are largely cosmetic.
As can be seen in the advertisement shown, in 1968 Dixon's sold the 2.4 for £36 - 17s - 6d, when the average UK weekly wage was about £32.
* The end date has been assumed on the basis that the 1.7 was re-badged as the Sears ES 35 Electronic, which ceased production in 1969, plus the Chinese were making their Super Shot derivative (unchallenged) from 1969.
Viewfinder: Needle pointer aperture display with two types of zone focus displays.
Focus: Viewfinder Dia-focus aid coupled to lens barrel focusing ring, plus 3-point zone focus display (3', 9' and ∞). Separate feet and metre distance scales on lens barrel. Fixed bright-frame with parallax correction marks.
Lens: Rikenon 40mm f/2.4. 4 elements in 3 groups - assumed to be Tessar style.
Close Focus: 3 feet / 0.9m.
Diaphragm: Five blade, stopping down to f/22.
Shutter: Seiko Citizen. Speeds - 1/30th, 1/60th, 1/125th, 1/300th sec., + B. The shutter release button is lockable. Self-timer with a delay of about 10 seconds.
Cable Release: Standard socket in shutter release button.
Meter: Coupled CdS metering cell above lens.
Exposure: Automatic shutter speed priority, or fully manual.
Film Speed: 25 to 400 ASA (15 to 27 DIN).
Filter Size: 46mm screw thread.
Flash: Manual flash exposure. X-sync hot shoe for all shutter speeds. Also has a separate PC socket.
Film Advance: Spring driven with a maximum of 12 exposures per wind.
Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.
Rewind: Via crank with release button in the centre of the motor winder knob.
Back Opening: locking catch.
Size: 133.5 X 81 X 69.5mm (W x H x D)
Battery: 1.35v PX675 mercury or equivalent for meter.
I bought my 2.4 in December 2018, and paid £10.50 for it. The camera was advertised as having a non-working shutter, but after a bit of exercise, I managed to get it opening and closing at different speeds. Everything else works, including the meter. The light seals are typical Ricoh 1mm foam, applied to the entire back door, and in need of replacement, but this type of seal is very easy to renew.
The Dia-focus system is actually quite nice to use. It's very much a zone focusing aid rather than a precise focus adjustment device, but it does seem to be fairly accurate. I'm almost embarrassed to confess that I tested it by standing in front of a mirror at measured distances, and found that the diamond was indeed exactly the same size as my head!
The Ricoh Super Shot 2.4 is uncommon, but not rare or valuable. However it's unique, and I don't know of any other camera that offered
Dia-focus. I had to buy one to see this for myself, but it's been a pleasure to describe and set the record straight about this misunderstood model. All credit to Ricoh for inventing something different.
• The shutter release has a outer-collar locking dial. There's a mark at 6 o'clock and the word
LOCK at 9 o'clock. The shutter release is locked at the 6 o'clock position, and unlocked when the dial is aligned with the word lock ... which is a bit counter-intuitive.
• This camera is designed to work with a film loaded. The shutter is tensioned by a film driven sprocket wheel (Vito style). The winder normally turns the film spool until the shutter is tensioned, at which point the drive disengages and further turning then winds-up the motor spring. So, to wind/test the motor without a film present, the shutter must first be manually tensioned (spin that cog by hand); then the spring can be wound using the film advance knob. Unlike a Vito, the film runs from right to left. When the shutter is tripped, the motor runs to exhaustion because there is no film to turn the sprocket wheel and tension the shutter, thereby disengaging the drive.
• With the back open, keeping the counter reset switch depressed (it's in the usual place) while winding and firing the shutter confirms whether the counter is incrementing.