Week Thirty, Ricoh 16

May 31, 2017

Week 30 – The Ricoh 16

This Ricoh 16 is one of those little fun cameras Russell likes to pick up when he can. He definitely has a tendency toward the quirky and this fits the bill! A tiny little sub miniature that you can slip into your trouser pocket if you wear the looser fit like me. I am a comfort over style man! It isn't a toy camera at all, well made with nice looks, it has a full range of apertures on a lens ring. A tiny knob on top gives you speeds of B, 50, 100 and 200. You focus as a distance finder again with a setting ring on the detachable lens, yes there are interchangeable lens options. Made in 1959 it has the black and silver look of the period which for me was more appealing than the preceding golden option which was a bit too much bling for my taste.

The film – this may have presented a problem, as the name suggests 16mm is what is required and there was none to hand immediately but as luck had it Terry, Calor-gas-Terry, posted on twitter he had bagged a couple of 200 foot reels of 1980s HP5 movie film, a quick conversation and he returned to purchase me one for the princely sum of £2 which he gifted me… what a nice man!

The next problem, fun part! Getting a piece of a 200 foot reel into a tiny reloadable cassette in pitch black I figured would be a challenge. I cut a test piece to practice loading in daylight which went well so off to the darkroom with ruler and scissors. I estimated the 20 frame lengths the camera can hold plus spacing and ample spare to cover my ass, approx. 18 inches. I will not bore you with details as it would be lengthy but! Many cassette parts, curly film, sweat, cursing and growling I got it in and sealed up and ready to shoot. It was fiddly, you have to do it accurately but very doable.

Shoot day – I rated the expired 400asa film at 200 and set of on my usual travels metering quite loosely with my spot meter and just freely shot at things at different distances trying to mix up the settings to see what it could do with the intention of the usual second roll improvement. It is marked up for 20 frames but you can choose more, or less as you wish. Once done I developed with my preferred HP5+ method 1:50 Rodinal for 20 minutes.

Results – I was expecting really grainy images given the tiny 10mm x 14mm frames coupled with expired HP5 but they weren't too bad being less noticeable in the busier close to medium distance shots. It focused well and exposures were ok but next time I would probably rate at 100 asa. The one thing I did notice, and it may be a quirk of the size and 28mm lens length, but parallax error occurred in the distance shots, I know I had the cricket pavilion dead centre with wriggle room! Odd, close-ups were bang middle with no correction on my part. Also the image you get is smaller than what you see in the viewer resulting in some chopping off which was annoying.

Summing up – With some unsurprising fogging on the 30 plus year old film and no filters to fit to change it up a gear I didn't run a second roll, I got what I needed from the first and really didn't think I would get anything from running a second. It is a bit of fun, an experience but not my cup of tea. I struggle to see the practical use of it but maybe there is none, it is just a fun and quirky camera.

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