An online search for a camera returns loads upon loads of entries. It is rare that only a few entries are found. Such is the case with the Richlet, made by Rich-Ray.
I saw this camera while searching on Buyee, which is the online equivalent of a slot machine. The camera was odd, unlike any other I could think of. There was an earlier eBay purchase at USD 148, and McKeown’s suggested $75, so I got it for $48, just for curiosity.
There is precious little information about it. Other than McKeown’s, Sugiyama’s description is typically brief, and Kadlubeck ignores it altogether. Online search unearths nothing other than that this is was the high-end camera by Rich-Ray. It is odd, as the suffix ‘te’ or ‘ette’ commonly denotes a lower camera line.
It seems that Rich-Ray was a camera maker in the early 1950s. I couldn’t find any background, and it appears it had just one day seized to exist. The company shares model names with Ikko Sha, so it is either a name change or one was a manufacturer and the other a distributor. Information about Ikko Sha goes up to 1958 models, there are sporadic online sightings, and the cameras styles are equally odd.
The camera has arrived. I have a peeve with the grading used by Japanese vendors. They mark anything and everything as Ex+, or about that, so one should carefully vet it before hitting ‘buy’. Packaging, however, is always well done. Sometimes more so.
While well packed, the Ex+ grading was not even within speculation. The camera looked as if it had spent the last half-century in a landfill. There were cleaning efforts, probably by a hammer and chisel, by the seller or the archeologist. So I scrape layers of grime and take apart what I could dismantle. Once all is done and put back together, it shows a nice little camera, though unusual.
The Richlet has a boxy shape, 4”x 1.75” x 1.75”, 10cm x 3.5cm x 3.5cm. Small enough to be classified as miniature. Body made of some plastic, assume bakelite, with metal front and top layered trim.
For such a small and dated camera, it carries an impressive array of settings.
At the front, six scattered screws hold the metal trim. Focusing dial marked metric, from 45cm to infinity. At two o’clock is an odd flash connector. At the right of the lens is the speed selector, B, 25, 50, and 100, triggered by a self-loaded guillotine shutter. At the left, the aperture selector, 8 and 5.6, punched into a metal leaf.
On top, there are a very large winding button, the trigger, and a cold shoe. The brand name RICH-RAY is printed on the metal trim, plus the model name is embossed in the bakelite body, this time hyphenated as Rich-Let.
At the back, there is a cavity to store an extra film roll, a feature that I had not seen before. A metal slider covers the red window lens in the middle, and a hinged lock protrudes over to the top. A large viewer lens is on the left, which had cracked while I pulled it out for cleaning, so I had to machine a replacement that looks as good.
The Richray takes a Bolta film, 24x36mm rather than the European 24x24mm. The format is marked on the front; perhaps it was a novelty at the time.
On the bottom, there are a screwed-on hinge and a mount thread. A lanyard connector is on the side but is missing on my camera.
|Weight||245 gr, Body with lens|
|Class average weight||gr, Body with lens|
|Lens mount||Fixed lens|
|Speeds||B, 25, 50, 100|