Ricoh XR 500 Auto : limited lightweight SLR shoota’

The XR 500 auto was one of Ricoh’s entry level manual focus SLR in the 1980’s. This lightweight but very limited camera body remains in my collection but why ?

Ricoh XR 500 Auto
Ricoh XR 500 Auto – a very limited 80’s SLR


In essence, reviewing an SLR is relatively limited as much depends on the quality of the lens you shoot with. As the camera uses Pentax’s K mount lens system (still in use today) you are going to be spoilt for choice. But features do still come into it and on that basis I can’t recommend this camera.

wired
Ricoh XR 500 auto with 50mm 1:2 Rikenon lens using Ilford XP2. 2014

Ricoh XR 500 Auto Body  Specs

  • Lens Mount :  K-Mount
  • Focus support:  Manual
  • Metering : TTL
  • Shutter: 1sec-1/1000 + B
  • ASA range : 12-3200
  • EV adjust : ± 2 EV (in ⅓ steps)
  • EV 100asa with 1:1.4:  4 to 18
  • Batteries : 2 xSR44 (or 2xLR44)
Winter Growth
Ricoh XR 500 Auto with 50mm 1:2 lens and Lomography 400CN. 2013

And certainly the Ricoh is pretty limited. Strangely Ricoh tried to buy into the relatively unsuccessful stripped back market that saw things like the Nikon EM arise. I got my XR 500 Auto by accident due to the limited and at times incorrect information on the internet (it is not the same as a XR-500 or KR-10 on which it is based).

Fading light I
Dumfries, 2014. Ricoh XR 500 Auto with Rikenon 50mm 1:2 lens. Kodak Ultramax 400.

Like the Nikon EM this is effectively an aperture priority mode only camera. On the camera you effectively only have a dial to set the film speed, a EV compensation dial and a shutter dial with 4 setting (lock (L), Auto (A), Flash (X) and Bulb (B). For Metered shots you set to A and then select the aperture on the lens. The camera then adjust the shutter speed to suit. There is no way of manually setting the shutter other than in Bulb mode or in Flash which fixes shutter at 1/90sec (worth noting camera will still fire in this mode if batteries are dead).

Ricoh XR 500 Auto from above
Ricoh XR 500 Auto from above. Note shutter lock dial with cable thread on right.

Although you don’t get much control,  the thru the lens (TTL)  centre weighted metering is fine in most conditions. In the uncluttered viewfinder you get a set of warning LEDS on the right. A solid green LED tells you if the shutter speed on the selected aperture is fine (between 1/50 and 1/1000), if the shutter speed falls below 1/50 but still shootable with risk of shake it flashes. If outwith the actual exposure capable range (above 1sec or faster than 1/1000) a red LED appears. The electronic system controls a metal vertical shutter.

light for the soul
Lanercost Church, 2014. Ricoh XR 500 auto with Kodak BW400CN. 50mm 1:2 lens with yellow (K2) filter

Although the camera has a 2 stop EV adjust, there is no exposure lock available  nor is there any Depth of Field (DoF) preview (my Nikkormat EL from 1972 offers this !!!). At least there is an electronic timer. There is a proprietary flash unit which shots in auto with the camera but you can use any hotshoe flash in X mode. The shutter select dial has a cable thread. An adaptor allows you to use with M42 screw mount lens (although you’ll need to stop down)

Winter star
2014. Ricoh XR 500 auto with Rikenon 50mm 1:2 lens and expired (’03) Fuji Superia X-tra 800 shot at 200asa.

So you might think I’d be selling this limited piece of junk on but actually no. I probably use it more these days than my Nikkormat. It is lightweight & fairly compact and for a P&S boy like me who shoots on the hoof and doesn’t usually have a lot of time to weight up the shot an Auto mode is fine. Would I buy it again – nope but I’ve no reason to sell. If I had the chance I’d get KR-10 when is the same camera but with a full manual option as well as AP. They sell fairly cheaply too.

March of time
Lockerbie 2014. Ricoh XR500-auto 50mm 1:2 with Ilford XP2 (with yellow K2 Filter)

Although it is obviously budget built (plastic prism housing for example) it is still reasonably robust. Mines needed its light seals done but mirror foam was fine. I got mines with reasonable Ricoh Rikenon 50mm 1:2 lens for less than a Tenner and I wouldn’t pay more for a body. Watch out for dead electricals and  damaged focus screens. If you can get there should be a small clip on cover for the viewfinder for taking selfies in bright light.

Also worth noting (not an issue with camera) some Ricoh K-mount lens have an extra pin which can issues with later other brand bodies (usually pentax AF SLR & dSLR)

Bike du Jour
Penrith 2014. Taken On Ricoh XR-500 auto with 50mm Rikenon 1:2 lens with Ilford XP2

 

Alternatives

  • Ricoh KR-10 –  Big brother but with full manual mode too
  • Nikon FE & FE2 – Pricey but Classic AP/Manual bodies
  • Pentax Super A – K mount fun with manual and range of modes
  • Nikon EM – if you must have an AP only this is Nikon’s equivalent

Helpful links

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4 thoughts on “Ricoh XR 500 Auto : limited lightweight SLR shoota’”

  1. Loved the poundland challenge, as a collector and user of 35mm this made me grin…getting SLR’s with a lens really cheap is a little bit harder (dunno how you managed with the Nikon) but we made a start today with Minolta 3000i and lovely minolta holdall for £5 at an electronics jumble sale. Our challenge is now the super cheap SLR…will we find another for fiver….who knows mate!

    Cheer Steve, Kent UK

    1. Trust me that with a bit of luck and timing you can get a SLR body for next to nought. It is usually the lens that adds the cost as most can be used with modern dSLR or CSCs. You’ll obviously pay more for the classics like a Nikon F6 or Canon AE-1 but less popular bodies are incredibly cheap.

      1. Yeah many of the EOS bodies go for peanuts…we have an EOS 100 here. The Minolta we bought for 5 GBP has a Sigma 35 – 70 lens …great fun

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