Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sears and Ricoh SLRs

Many years ago, when I was using K-mount cameras, I had a Ricoh KR-5 that I used in addition to my Pentax MG.  It was a robust camera that was not especially feature-rich, but it served its purpose.  I know that I purchased it on ebay and probably paid something like $40 for it.  That was before the digital deluge.
More recently, I have been buying a few Sears and  Ricoh SLRs.  All of the K-series Sears SLR cameras were made by Ricoh, and were certainly a good value for the time, and are still to be recommended if you want a K-mount SLR.  The Ricoh-branded versions are also good, of course, and compared with bodies made by Pentax of the same period, are, in my opinion, better cameras.
Sears KSX - with 135mm Takumar 
Take the Sears KSX, above.  It features manual and aperture-priority exposure with match-needle. +/- 2 stops exposure compensation by full stops, ISO 12-3200 film setting, X sync of 1/125 sec., shutter speeds of B, 4sec - 1/1000 sec.   I think it is the equivalent of the Ricoh KR-10. The KR-10 was a popular camera and sold well in the 1980-82 time frame.

Sears KSX Super with 50mm f/2 lens
The Sears KSX Super is the equivalent of a Ricoh KR-10X (Not the KR-10 as described elsewhere online).  It features a lock setting on the shutter speed dial, surrounding a flush-mounted shutter release, A and M modes, with shutter speeds ranging from B, and 16 sec to 1/1000 sec.  A self-timer switch is to the L of the prism on the top deck. Exposure compensation dial is +/- 2 stops in 1/3 stop increments. A PC socket for strobes is also located on the front of the camera.

Ricoh XR-7 with a the very good ACCESS 35-70mm F/2.5 zoom.
My latest purchase, the Ricoh XR-7 is very similar to the KSX Super, but also features a multiple exposure button on the back  of the camera, depth of field preview button, an AE lock button, as well as a meter switch button on the front.  That's pretty full-featured, and I paid 9.99 for it.

So, what does all this mean?  Basically, the Ricoh /Sears k-mount bodies are a bargain, and perform well, and while the Pentax logo may have more branding power, the Ricoh bodies often have more features and are better-made.  I have seen several K1000 cameras with de-silvered mirrors and wonky electronics in the Pentax ME and ME super.  You can frequently buy a Sears KSX or a Ricoh for less than a large pizza, including the lens.  They make great cameras for those wanting to use film in a reliable 35mm body.  All of the models take current silver-oxide or alkaline button cells, so no worry about that.  Based on my experience, I rate them a "best buy" and highly recommend them for the shooters out there. there are no lack of K-mount lenses from Pentax, Ricoh, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, and a host of other no-name brands.  If you need a manual, be sure to check out Mike Butkus' camera manuals site, and be sure to pay for his hard work.

I am way behind in developing and scanning in the negatives, so be sure to check my Flickr pages.


Jim Grey said...

Thanks for reviewing these SLRs. I see them on eBay from time to time at fire-sale prices -- now I won't shy away. I have a ton of K-mount lenses here and would enjoy experiencing one of these cameras.

Panagiotis Giannakis said...

I love Ricoh lenses. The K-mount 50 f/1.7 is stellar lens. Ricoh cameras represent very good value for money.