The Ricoh Wide -24-

There were many many fixed lens rangefinder cameras that came out over the past 100 years, but not many with a wide angle lens. Cameras with wider than 45mm focal length lenses started appearing from 1949.

The Ricoh Wide was one of these, it is also known as the Ricoh Wide 24 or 2.4 … and no, it did not have a 24mm lens. It was make in 1958 or possibly 1960, not sure exactly as I have seen reference to both dates.

  The Ricoh Wide was a 35mm format coupled rangefinder camera with an S Konimar 35mm f/2.4, and a Seikosha MXL shutter. This lens was made by Nitto Kogaku (they started optics working in conjunction with Nikon and then started their own lenses … and they are still in business today). The camera designed is also shared with the Ricoh 300 which used a Riken 45mm f/2.8 lens.

 

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Riken !! Ricoh – some history

The current company that we know of as Ricoh started out as Rikagaku Kogyo, which then spit off to become Riken Kankoshi Co. Ltd. in 1936 under the leadership of Kiyoshi Ichimura. Initial products … paper, sensitized paper. In 1937 they started distribution of Olympic cameras made by Asahi Bussan. In 1938 the company name changed to Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō K.K. and started developing their own cameras and lenses. The company continued to evolve into other types of products, distribution of other cameras through subsidiaries. After WWII was the start of their real push into the camera market … then they all merged to became the Ricoh we know of today in 1963.

Riken No. 1 was sold in 1939 named as Gokoku (not Okoku) it was a 127 format camera, but with the looks of a Barnack camera … even with a collapsable lens, and a fake rewind knob. The Richol models continued this design, and then they start making cameras of all kinds like the Ricohflex TLR (1950), 35mm rangefinders, SLR’s and todays digital cameras (oh, and they are pretty big in the photocopier business) … not to mention their acquisition of Pentax.

My first encounter with Ricoh was when I got a job at Japan Camera. They had Ricoh SLR cameras everywhere, which was different than the other camera stores … I soon found out that Japan Camera was the exclusive Canadian distributor of Ricoh.

When I had a Diacord L for a bit (fixed a sticky shutter) and I found the IQ of the Rikenon lens was really good. I got rid of it as I was not too keen on the knob winding, but I think I would replace my Minolta Autocord for a Ricohmatic 225 if I could ever find one without an over-inflated price.


Pots … no, not that kinda Pot.

So, got the mechanical parts working on the Yashica Mat-124G … now to figure out how to adjust the light meter.

This camera has a CdS light meter which requires a battery, unlike the burnt out selenium light meters that many older cameras started out with. Sometimes these meters is just not right anymore and require adjustment … sometimes they just don’t do nothing.

A basic circuit consists of a CdS photoresistor, a resistor/potentiometer, power source, and a galvanometer … so how hard could it be to adjust … the Yashica Mat-124G appears to have two potentiometers … hmm.

The first thing to do is to remove the hood. On the left side of the body is a lever that turns the light meter circuit on and off as the hood is opened/closed. The big round thing in the back of the light meter is the galvanometer. To the left of it are the two potentiometers. There are two arms that are coupled to the shutter speed and aperture dial. The speed arm rotates the galvanometer, while the aperture arm moves the aperture target (the yellow arm).

One thing that I did find was that the galvanometer has a cap that the aperture target is attached to. The target arm is pushed as the aperture dial is moved. The seal that was holding the cap in place was broken, so the cap was not in its correct position (looks likes one of the previous owners had dislodged this and also bend the galvanometer arm) … I figured out that the aperture should be set wide open before repositioning the cap.

Trial and error … playing around with all the parts I got the meter to read almost accurately. I still have to figure out the best position of the potentiometers to get some accuracy in low and bright lighting conditions.

… and I say again, thanks to Rick Oleson’s handy dandy CD of tips and for sharing his vast amount of knowledge -> http://rick_oleson.tripod.com … and also Hans Kerensky -> https://www.flickr.com/photos/29504544@N08/albums

 


Separation, leads to divorce, and a new coupling.

Sometimes you encounter a lens that has some internal blemishes that you cannot seem to clean off … can look like rainbow rings (ring of fire), a cloudy ring round the edge, a crescent beige tint, bubbles, or even a flowery/snowflake pattern … and it always seems like it’s trapped between two lens elements.

This old LTM lens has an almost complete ring haze. Now, it could possibly be just haze on the back of the element … but I suspected it was more than that.  After talking it apart it was apparent that it was separation of the front two elements.

Yes, in fact it is between two lens elements. Most lens designs require two lens elements to be bonded/cemented together (doublet) with adhesive to eliminate the glass air gap. By reducing exposed surfaces, cementing reduces refraction and ghost images from reflections, and allows the use of thinner flint elements. 

Older lenses used Canada Balsam as it had a high index of refraction, which is optically a good thing to have. It is derived from good ol Canadian trees … yup good ol sap … yes, its not just only for maple syrup.

Development of resins to cement elements started in 1785. Eventually changed to a synthetic resin because of WWII … high altitude aerial photography caused issues with Canada balsalm, so they developed a synthetic cement that could handle low and high temperatures … this is the MIL-A-3920 standard optical adhesive. UV curing adhesives appeared in 1966 to reduce the curing time for high production.

When the “cement” has degraded and no longer seals the two elements together, the separation will create artifacts that will change the refractive properties of the lens. Sometimes it is not very visually apparent … sometimes it is. The only real solution is to separate and re-cement them.

This topic has been discussed much on the web … FotomozaicLargeFormatForumskgrimes

With Canada balsam, it requires heating to soften the resin so the elements can be separated. The newer synthetic resins require special chemicals … and in some cases the elements cannot be separated without damaging it.

Once separated, new resin can be applied to cement the elements. Then new resin can be applied to cement the elements … modern day resins are UV cured, so makes it much quicker to get a lens back to working condition.

Sounds easy … not !!! Heating sometimes does not work, or even worse causes the element to crack … and there are cemented group that are encased in a metal sleeve which has to be removed first (without damaging the glass, and you may have to find something to replace it) … or, as mentioned before, it just doesn’t work.

One day I will make a serious attempt at re-cementing … meaning, my half-ass attempt sucked, and I will try again.

Summers Optical makes many different types of synthetic resins for optical cementing … and you can still buy Canada Balsam, as it is still used for microscopic slide mounting and painting.

Sometimes the lens separation is not so bad in terms of affecting the image, especially if it is around the edges like the lens pictured above … but when it sits right in the centre, it will most likely cause apparent visual effects. Mounting this lens on my Sony NEX-6 and taking some shots, I could not really notice it until I got some light hitting the front and the separation starts adding some flaring/fogging.


Yashica Mat-124 G … winder side, not side-winder.

This camera has a problem with setting the shutter. A complete wind does not set it, so you can never take a picture … hmm, sounds like something is not coupling correctly.

The first thing you have to do … and you already know this … is to remove the leatherette. Take off the one back/strap holder arm before removing. With the one that I have here it was fairly easy to peel the leatherette off without damaging it. Take your time.

Push out the winding arm pin. Remove the arm and the four items that go with it.

Now you can unscrew the plate.

The rotary disc for the winding arm it attached with a circular nut.

Note the position of the golden arm.

Unscrew it and remove the stuff underneath it.

 

Remove the spring from the counter reverse lever (right), remove screw and take out arm.

Remove the 12/24 exp indicator plate, first pull off the two springs.

Pull out the silver gear.

The counter change gear arm (bottom) is the next to go.

The counter dial has a spring loaded screw in the middle. Take that off with the dial and the dial plate underneath it.

 

 

 

The counter reverse lever (top) is held on by one screw on the right. Slightly lift the arm on the left to pop it off for removal.

One screw holds the winding stopper arm (centre) , and you should release one arm of the spring.

The middle golden gear (bottom) has one pin screw in the middle that is unscrewed clockwise … very important.

 

 

 

Now you can remove the winding assembly by taking out the four screws.

Now you can see the shutter cocking arm … and in my case it is bent upwards. This means that it will never push down to its full distance.

You can try to rebend it back into shape.

If you want to take that part out you will need to remove the front lens/shutter component.

Here is my bad attempt at bending the arm down … which actually caused more metal fatigue, so when I put it back in it bent itself out of shape again.

Note: on the back side of this part is a riveted switch that prevents double exposures … do not damage this part, as it will cause a lot of headaches. If this part does not freely move, the winder will be in a locked position after the shutter is released. I am guessing this is why some people force the winder and bend the arm.

As I mentioned before, the Yashica Mat-EM has the exact same part (just not golden) so you can just replace it.

When putting back together you should be very careful that the arm is positioned above the shutter release mechanism.

You will also need to reload the spring on the counter dial. If the counter dial is not spinning freely, then loosing the screw and move the dial around so it sits properly.

… and be aware of the little springs that are all over the place.


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