Need Help With A Ricohflex TLR


TPF Noob!
Aug 12, 2008
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Western NC, USA
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Hello everyone, I recently came across a nice Ricohflex TLR camera. It looks to still be in pretty much pristine condition, and as far as I can tell, everything on it still works fine. I do have a couple of questions though. Here is the camera:


My first question, I've figured out what all the little levers and stuff do, except for this one, the one labeled X M. Any ideas?


Lastly, and this is the biggie, can anyone guide me on EXACTLY how to load film in this thing? I bought a couple of rolls of 120 today (Kodak Tmax 100, and Ilford Delta 100) and I don't want to risk destroying the film through improper loading. Here is the interior of the camera, if anyone can be so kind as to give me some very specific info!


I can see how it should work, but it looks to me like a spool or something must be missing... Maybe I am wrong?

Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks!
I believe X and M have to do with Flash Sync ... I think.

The Film you purchased will be on a reel (that is why you only see one in the camera).
The new Film goes in the bottom ... then you pull the film leader up and into the top leader. Wind the film a little.
Close back ... wind film until the Arrow mark lines up in window.
M & X are flash sync modes.
X = electronic flash
M = flashbulbs
Upon reading that link and further looking at the camera, I think it is missing the film take up cage. Unless I am missing something obvious, I can't see how the film would load properly without a cage like that.
1: M/X switch: selects flash sync timing. X=zero delay for electronic flash which will sync at any shutter speed. M=15ms shutter delay (flash fired first) for "medium" class flash bulbs. Popular bulbs of this class at the time of the camera's production were the M-2 & M-3 bulbs (the "M" here is for "minature"). and later the AG-1 bulb (AG=All Glass, also an M-sync bulb).

2: Film loading is easy but must be done exactly right.
  • First, the empty spool from the last roll needs to be moved from the supply side (bottom position on this camera) to the top were the wind mechinism is. You camera is missing this spool.
  • You then load the new roll in the empty bottom position and pull out the paper leader. The roll must be loaded so that the printed side faces outward. You thread the end of the paper leader into the spool on the take-up side so that it enters the long narrow slot in the spool and exits the short wide slot.
  • You now wind slowly until the big double arrow ( <--> ) points exactly to the two small red dots on either side of the film track just below the image aperture.
  • Now close the back and wind to frame #1 where the wind mech. should lock.

To find a replacement spool you need to contact a lab that processes 120 film and ask if they have any spare spools (they get one with every roll they process and generally have a number lying around in a recycle bin or set aside for just this purpose. If you live in one of those rare areas where a real camera store still exists, they may have a horde of spools. Otherwise you'll have to sacrifice a new roll of film (some bargin out-of-date roll, perhaps) to get a spool.
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Awesome Dwig. Thanks so much for the input!! I really appreciate it.
Beautiful find. I had one of these when I was in college (68-70). I used it for a lot of portrait work on campus. Outstanding piece of gear.
Thanks Lucian, I appreciate it.

Dwig, just wanted to let you know that even though I had to sacrifice a roll of film to do so, I got a spool and got my other roll of film loaded successfully. I am very excited now! Thanks so much!
Hello! My mom just gave the same camera you have today, and Dwig, your instructions on how to load it have been very helpful! However, I'm stuck at the "You thread the end of the paper leader into the spool on the supply side so that it enters the long narrow slot in the spool and exits the short wide slot." part. There doesn't appear to be any difference in lengths of slots on the empty I'm not sure what to do...
Some spools have the same size opening on both ends.
Just feed the leader into one end. Wind the crank to take up the film unit the Arrows line up to the dots.
... However, I'm stuck at the "You thread the end of the paper leader into the spool on the supply side so that it enters the long narrow slot in the spool and exits the short wide slot." part. ...

As another has said, some modern spools don't have the size difference. Generally the old metal spools, being hollow, used the differing sized slots to reduce the difficulty in getting the paper to pass through the second slot. Modern plastic spools whose spools are solid, at least around the slot, don't need this and simply have a uniform slot all the way through the spool.

BTW, I should have said "take-up side" instead of "supply side" in this step. The take-up spool is empty and the supply side spool is full when loading.
The loading information works equally well for the Minolta and Yashica TLR's.

Btw, wouldn't it be nice to have a manual for the camera? You can download one for free [Mr. Butkus performs a much-appreciated service for camera lovers. Please do consider his donation request.] at;

Ricohflex Dia instruction manual, user manual, PDF manual, free manuals
Wow Torus. What a resource. I also found the manual for my Nikon FG-20 35mm. Amazing... Thanks to you AND to him! I believe I will send him a donation when I am able to do so. He definitely deserves it.

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