Mods & DIY

Non-Destructive Hacking the Ricoh R1 for Full-Frame Wide-Angle Photography – By Howard Hurd

One of the coolest features of the Ricoh R1 (the less sought-after sibling of the fabulous GR1 series) is its panoramic feature. “Big deal”, I hear you say, “Loads of 35mm film compacts had panoramic features that just used shutters to crop the film at the top and bottom”.

However, the R1 is different. Selecting its “WIDE” panorama mode actually alters the position of the lens elements. The standard 30mm f3.5 lens magically transforms into a 24mm f8 lens.

And with the addition of a little piece of matchstick in a hole to the top right of the film frame, it’s pretty easy to stop the panorama masks from cropping the film image. (Of course, you do this at your own risk!),

A piece of matchstick in a crucial place on a Ricoh R1 (just visible above and to left of rear lens element)

So you have a 24mm lens on a 35mm compact. Albeit one that shows a fair degree of vignetting and distortion in the corners. Whether this enhances or detracts I’ll leave for you to decide…

5 frames at 24mm

Film: AgfaVista 200 shot at box speed – with a maximum aperture of f8 it helps to shoot on a sunny day

Old Portsmouth Defensive Moat – Ricoh R1 (hacked) – photo (c) Howard Hurd

Clarence Pier funfair, Southsea – Ricoh R1 (hacked) – photo (c) Howard Hurd

Wimpy, Clarence Pier, Southsea – Ricoh R1 (hacked) – photo (c) Howard Hurd

Clarence Pier Funfair, Southsea – Ricoh R1 (hacked) – photo (c) Howard Hurd

Skylight, Palmerston Road, Southsea – Ricoh R1 (hacked) – photo (c) Howard Hurd

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7 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Terry B
    August 14, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Hi, Howard. An ingenious hack and, importantly to my mind, one that doesn’t wreck the camera if a little care is taken is the message I take from this.
    I was expecting to see more vignetting than is being shown in your pics, and certainly fall off in sharpness in the four corners would be expected. But we tend to scan an image along its length and this is where your hack still works. Despite everyone going on about edge sharpness of lenses, this tends to be of lesser importance (unless taking architectural images, for example) as we mostly focus on the central portion and what falls outside of this we give less prominence to.
    I suppose the only disadvantage is that once you’ve committed to the 24mm hack you have to retain it for the whole film, although I suppose you could treat the R1 as a 24mm lens on a second camera to go with another little compact with a longer focal length.
    P.S. Nice to see more exposure for Clarence Pier. :D)

    • Avatar
      Reply
      HowardH
      August 14, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      I agree – in the right context the characteristics (vignetting and lack of corner sharpness) can work with the subject.

      This hack wasn’t my idea – I came across it through a Google search – but as you say you are stuck with it for the entire film.

      Ps there’s so much to photograph at Clarence Pier 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply
      HowardH
      August 15, 2018 at 7:39 am

      PS You can actually still switch between the standard 30mm full frame mode and the 24mm wide mode with this hack in place

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Graham Orbell
    August 14, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Thanks for that. I think I’ve got the same camera in a drawer somewhere. I’ll try it.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      HowardH
      August 14, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      I was surprised how easy it was to hack the blinds – haven’t tried taking out the matchstick yet though !

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dan James
    August 15, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Howard, I have exactly the same camera, and made exactly the same mod. There are others online that are far more convoluted and irreversible, so I just thought about it for a while, then slipped a trimmed down matchstick into that hole.

    What’s also handy is, like you say, you can switch back to the full 30mm with its greater aperture range anytime you want without removing the matchstick.

    My R1 is a pure point and shoot these days as the LCD has faded beyond visibility. Aside from that it’s probably the best handling (and one of the most capable) point and shoots I’ve ever used.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      HowardH
      August 15, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      It’s an under-rated little camera – which helps keep the price down. I also like the way it unloads entire roll on loading and then loads it back into the canister as you take your shots.

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