The Ricoh 126C Flex.


Been spending a lot of time on here!
Sep 1, 2012
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Southwest Alberta Canada.
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So this guy walks into a camera shop, sez "Even with opposing thumbs I just cant load 35mm. Whatcha got that takes those nifty 126 cartridges, has interchangeable lenses, has auto and manual modes, a reflex viewer with some sort of focusing aid and, and takes flash cubes as well as a hot shoe and a PC socket just in case?"


...this hits the counter.

Not many manufacturers made upper end gear to take the Kodak 126 cartridge. Millions of Instamatics were sold. Also managed to find a Bell and Howell (rebadged Canon) with motor drive, focus aid and metered auto exposure. This is the first true SLR with interchangeable, albeit limited in selection lenses (35mm, 55mm, this one, and a 100mm) I have found or heard of.


The 15 v battery sets fire to the flash cubes, a then ('69) 1.3v runs the meter. I tried a 1.5v, it worked probably with some error. Reloading the cartridges is possible. The problem is getting the camera's film advance indexing and shutter release mechanisms to work as 126 film has spaced holes that catch a lever inside the camera. The Bell and Howell wound on flawlessly as long as every second advance was shot blind with the lens cap on for spacing. My two Instamatics choked up badly and this one was somewhere in the middle with too many missed frames to be practical.

Anyway, as I always like to coax some pix out of all my finds, here's what this rather well designed if not well manufactured SLR come up with.





Nice piece. High end 126 for sure.

I have this "mid level" one (and many Kodak 104's).

Nice one. It's easy to reload the carts as long as one doesn't get too heavy handed. Problem is getting the camera to advance film. Those YouTube videos stop short of that part, making me wonder if anyone tried to actually shoot a reloaded 126. I tried first plain - pin caught in too many sprocket holes, then with the paper - slots too long and it tore, then with the film. Promising, but there were enough film holes that didn't line up with the 35mm perforations to make it skip too many frames. Had good success with the Bell and Howell 342 shooting every other frame. Instamatics were as yet a bust. The reloadable cartridges which I haven't tried would not I think address this problem. Anyway still trying. I haven't shot the Intstamatics yet, the Ricoh has a much sharper lens than the Bell and Howell.

Enjoyed your interview with Terry!
Ricoh has often made slightly quirky but excellent cameras. The legendary GR series began with film and carried the same basic design into digital, now with the GR III 24mp APS-C IBIS version.

Love my 16mp APS-C GR II--all-metal, stealthy, superb 28/2 equivalent lens, DNG files, snap-focus. Great street camera.
It apparently often sold with a 3 lens kit.

This is the 2.8 35mm lens.
But high-end would be more like this:
Or this:

Kodak Instamatic Reflex with 4.0 135 telephoto
Thanks for posting these. That 35mm has a huge objective. The 55 seems a bit too tele to be called normal. Probably not used to the square format. Anyway I was mildly surprised at the sharpness of the Ricoh lens especially given that the film plane could be easily off due to the cassette reload.
The is a 100mm lens also
And definitely not "high end" WRT 126 SLRs...


The Keystone K1020 Reflex. Supposedly the first 126 SLR. Seems to be some question as to whether Mamiya made it for Keystone, or whether Keystone purchased stuff from Mamiya, and assembled the parts into their own camera. And yes, that's a flashcube mount on top of the pentaprism housing.

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