Ricoh KR-10 35mm SLR vintage camera review

This is a review of a popular camera from the early 1980s, the Ricoh KR-10 35mm slr.

The pictures in this gallery can also be viewed full sized here

My Camera

I bought this camera a couple of years ago and basically put it in a box in the garage just after I received it because I believed it to be broken. I’d tried the shutter a couple of times and found it didn’t work and since I’d only paid £1 for it and it had a reasonable lens I didn’t bother anymore with it.

Last week I was searching for a battery cap to fix my Pentax P30, found the KR-10 and brought it out to see if its cap would fit the P30. It didn’t, but whilst I was looking at the KR-10, I found that it does in fact work but the shutter is sticky. About 1 time in 3 the shutter will not complete it’s action and the mirror stays up. If I carefully pull the shutter blades down (it’s a vertical travel shutter) and release them, as they close the mirror flips down and the camera works again. Obviously I can’t use the camera with film, but at least I know if I can fix this problem (which is probably caused by dirt/grease contamination) I can get it working again.

The general condition of the camera is, to be honest, a bit tatty. When I look at it carefully I can see that some parts of the material covering the body have been covered in blue ink (fountain pen ink by the look of it) presumably to make the camera look better on eBay. There are also some damaged areas of the metalwork which seem to have had the same treatment so overall I’m not too impressed with the ebay seller. I believe I bought it as ‘Spares or Repair’, but I still find that sort of ‘prettying up’ to make it look better basically dishonest.

The light seals also need to be replaced, but that’s hardly news in a camera this old.

This is the third Ricoh model I own which has the designation KR-10. There is the KR-10M, the KR-10 super and this model although the KR-10M is a completely different camera to the other two.

Ricoh KR-10 description

The KR-10 is a reasonably light weight camera which is easy enough to carry around, and seems to have most of the features which people would want in an auto exposure 35mm camera. A big plus is that it uses the Pentax K mount to attach its lenses, which means there are thousands of good quality second hand lenses available for very little money. However, I don’t much like it as a camera and I suspect it was not made by Ricoh. I’m sure the Ricoh KR-10 super I have was made by Cosina, and this camera has the same look and feel to it. Now Cosina made some good cameras and lenses (like Voigtlander for example), but the cameras they made for the lower end of the market just don’t seem very inspiring or attractive to me.

That said, the camera has a reasonable spec and was a popular model in the early 1980s, being What Camera’s camera of the year in 1980. It offers aperture priority auto exposure with a wide range of shutter speeds (more than available on the shutter selection dial), and manual exposure with match needle metering. The viewfinder has a reasonable amount of information with a split rangefinder for focusing assistance and the full range of selectable shutter speeds in a scale on the right hand side. The aperture is not visible in the viewfinder, although it wasn’t common at the time to show that information.

The film advance lever also acts as an on/off switch for the metering circuit, which is a nice touch because you always tend to push the lever back in when you’ve done with the camera.

On the bottom of the camera are coupling points for a motor drive which was available as an optional extra.

Ricoh KR-10 Specifications

  • Ricoh KR-10 35mm auto exposure, manual focus slr
  • Aperture priority auto exposure, manual exposure with match needle metering
  • Shutter 4 sec to 1/1000 manually selected (8 sec to 1/1000 when auto) + B & X
  • Shutter lock incorporated into film advance
  • Split rangefinder focus aid in viewfinder
  • Self timer
  • K mount lens mount
  • Connections for motor drive
  • Hot shoe flash sync socket
  • Film speed from 12 to 3200 ASA with lock
  • +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation
  • Ser No: 53314407
  • Handbook available at Mike Butkus’s site here

 

 



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