Ricoh  –  Vintage Camera Brand

Ricoh Brand Overview

Ricoh logo

Founded: 1936 — Tokyo, Empire of Japan
(modern day Japan)
Currently: Ricoh Company, Ltd.

Ricoh Brand History

Ricoh is a Japanese brand that has its roots in the scientific research institute Rikagaku Kenkyusho—better known as RIKEN—in 1936 when it was decided that a commercial venture should be founded to market its inventions and innovations. In the decades since, RIKEN has cultivated the careers of many of Japan’s most brilliant scientists and Ricoh has grown to be a major multinational company with over 100,000 employees.

Originally founded as Riken Kankoshi K.K. (Riken Photographic Paper Co., Ltd.) to sell light-sensitive paper, the company changed its name two years later to Riken Kogaku Kogyo K.K. (Riken Optical Co., Ltd.) and began producing cameras and other optical equipment. During World War II, the RIKEN institute was charged by the Imperial Japanese Army to build an atomic bomb (a program halted in 1945 by American bombs) while the Riken Optical Company continued to manufacture consumer cameras until circa 1942. In 1957, the company was awarded the prestigious Okochi Memorial Production Prize for pioneering Japan’s first system for the mass production of cameras. In 1963, the company officially changes its name to Ricoh Company, Ltd.

While it never quite reached the same level of success in the camera industry as many of its competitors, Ricoh is credited with sparking immense interest in twin lens reflex cameras amongst Japanese photographers with the Ricohflex III of 1953 and also introducing the innovative Ricoh GXR in 2009 which became the world’s first digital camera with interchangeable sensor modules.

After many years of producing moderately successful digital cameras, Ricoh purchased its old rival Pentax in 2011 and entered the digital SLR market. Besides cameras, Ricoh also produces a wide range of products including printers, fax machines, security cameras, and binoculars.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of Ricoh cameras?
Check eBay to see what’s available.

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, WI, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), p 565-569.


“Company History,” Ricoh Company, Ltd.,

“Ricoh buys Pentax to build interchangeable lens camera business,” Digital Photography Review,

“Pentax Ricoh changes name and reveals branding strategy,” Digital Photography Review,

“Ricoh,” Wikipedia,

Vintage Camera Lab