The Ricoh TF-200 is not a zoom lens camera. But nor is it a prime lens camera. Well, it is kind of both at the same time. If I had to, I’d describe it as a switchable-lens-length autofocus point and shoot compact film camera. Try saying that quickly ten times in a row.
There probably is a far more accurate or formal term for this type of camera, or lens set up. But the point being, is that what sets this P&S compact film camera apart from most compact cameras, is that it has dual focal lengths user selectable focal lengths built into it. I’ll come back to this later.
Ricoh TF-200 specifications
The two built-in lens lengths are 38mm f3.5, with three elements in three groups and 65mm f6, six elements in six groups. The shutter speed ranges from 1/6 to 1/1500 at apertures between f3.5 and f27. There is a self-timer and the viewfinder is adjustable for the wide and tele-focus modes, with a field of view of 83%.
ISO film speed is automatically selected according to DX coding and has a range from 50 ISO to 1600 ISO. If film without DX coding is used, the cameras exposes the film at 100 ISO. There is no manual ISO override available.
Film loading, advance and rewinding is automatic. Like some other point and shoot film cameras, once loaded, the film is automatically unwound into the chamber and rewinds into the film canister as the images are exposed. This is also reflected in the LED countdown from 36, 24, rather than starting at number 1. The advantages of this approach are that if the camera back is accidentally opened, there is less chance of exposed photographs being ruined. A disadvantage is that partially rewinding and putting the film into another camera, may become more difficult, depending on the camera. Also, the Ricoh TF-200 only allows the exact number of exposures for a given film, usually 24 or 36. Unlike some point and shoot film cameras, which will let you use up the entire role, sometimes allowing 38, or even, more exposures. Again, this is controlled by the DX code, so it is unclear how it would treat non-DX coded film.
The flash is manually enabled, by pushing a switch. On my model, the camera seems to be happy to take photos even in quite dark settings, without the flash enabled.
Using the two lens focal lengths
On the camera itself, the two focal lengths are described as Wide and Tele, which translates to 38mm and 65mm respectively. The mechanics of this dual Rikenon lens set-up are quite interesting. A large dial on the front of the lens can be turned and, with a satisfying ‘clunk’, the camera changes from 38mm to 65mm. From looking at this process with the camera film door open, it seems that a separate piece of lens glass is simply moved up behind the fixed 38mm lens, turning it into a ‘telescopic’ lens. Basic, but apparently effective. I’m not sure this is the same as saying that the camera has two separate built in prime lenses, but it’s an interesting approach.
Using the Ricoh TF-200
The Ricoh TF-200 is quite large. It’s not the type of camera that would be especially comfortable to shove into a coat pocket and wander about with. It does have decent hand grip and a solid large shutter button.
The auto-focussing is interesting, in that the viewfinder displays a few different focus zones, which is useful in indicating that the camera has, in fact, focussed on the intended distance. This also shows an out of focus warning when it has focussed on an area which is too close, which is anything less than 1 metre. There’s not a lot else to say about the Ricoh TF-200. It does what it does simply, if not elegantly.