Ricoh Singlex TLS

Ricoh TLS GardenJust before Christmas I did a large sell up of my cameras – 35mm film cameras. I was in two minds about it – on one hand, they were all different, unique and cool. On the other hand, I would never use some of them, and they deserved to be used rather than just shelved. I think a number of my SLR’s went to new photography students for school this year – which is great! On top of that, for SLR’s, I also tended towards 50mm prime lenses…how many does one really need? (I guess it depends who you ask).

Without a doubt, I get waves of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, better known as GAS when it comes to cameras. On the positive side, I’ve generally reeled it in to be with old film cameras rather than pocket draining digitals! Selling on I generally break even, so perhaps its just part of the photography way of being for me.

One camera that I didn’t put on the chopping block however was my Ricoh Singlex TLS. My favourite 35mm SLR, the TLS was made in the late 60’s. Featuring a metal and brass construction, this baby weighs in at over 700gm for the body alone! – perhaps just as good for self protection as taking photos!. Joined with its 1.7 50mm Rikenon lens, it captures some beautiful images. Although old, the light meter works precisely (although ideally it ran on the now unavailable 625 mercury batteries), and it rarely gives me a poor exposure measure. Finished in the rarer (I’ve read) black, the years have taken a toll on the TLS – a lot of brassing and the odd minor ding. It all adds to the character. Unlike many film cameras I have had, this one feels really solid and built to last – or at the very least, restorable if it does eventually collapse. Its one of my few remaining 35mm units!

Which brings me onto my last bit…not GAS, but almost. After selling a whole bunch of cameras to ‘minimalise’, I went off and purchased another camera. Have not picked it up yet, but its a Minolta Hi-matic 7s. Similar heft to the TLS, I recall my parents having one (or a 7) of these rangefinders when I was young. Will it replace the TLS?…I ahve room for both I think.

to be continued some time in the future…



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