Yes, it’s another Ricoh compact film camera. I’m not sure why I keep finding Ricoh point and shoot film cameras in charity shops. Perhaps they just made more than other manufacturers? But I’m quite excited by the Ricoh AF-77. Mainly, because it has the word ‘PANORAMA’ plastered on it with a bright yellow sticker. What could possibly go wrong?
Ricoh AF-77 Specifications
The camera has a 34mm, f/4.5 lens and a single point auto-focusing system. According to Camera Wiki, it has two shutter speeds – 1/50 sec. and 1/100 – and is also capable of using two apertures – ƒ4.5 and ƒ11.2. I’m assuming this has to do with the panorama feature and is automatic, as I haven’t found a way to manually adjust these settings.
It should be stated that the panorama setting does not deliver ‘true’ panorama photography, as some of the more expensive film cameras and many modern digital cameras (or smart-phones for that matter) do. The Ricoh AF-77 uses ‘frame masking‘ to simulate a kind of panorama effect. So, rather than running an image along an increased length of a roll of film, it masks the top and bottom of the image to produce a kind of ‘letterbox’ effect to the shot, whilst still leaving the image within a single frame of 35mm film. That said, at least it makes developing the film easy.
The film ISO speed range appears to be limited at 100 or 400, as best I can work out. Although it does, apparently, have red-eye reduction ability.
Using the Ricoh AF-77
The Ricoh AF-77 is easy enough to use. Just load the film and click the shutter, as one would expect from a point and shoot film camera. Changing to panorama mode is simply a question of flicking a dial on the top of the camera. As with many (especially cheaper) compact film cameras, there didn’t appear to be any indications when the auto-focus has been achieved. This makes it hard to use for anything requiring fast shooting.
An orange indicator light to the left of the viewfinder shows when the flash is charged, but there was no obvious indication of when there was not enough light – in these instances the flash simply fired. There is a sliding cover, which protects the lens and also switches the camera on. The viewfinder is small, but not the worst that I have used, and has frame-lines for both normal and panorama photographs. The film frame advance indicator is large and quite easy to read in good lighting – although it isn’t backlit, so less easy to see when conditions are not so bright.
I half-liked this camera. The panorama feature is a gimmick, but… well, why not? But, for what it does, I still prefer Ricoh FF-7. The limited ISO range of the AF-77 is surprising, considering it appears to be a more modern camera. But information about it has proved hard to find, so this may need clarifying.