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08-22-2018, 08:21 PM   #1
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Ricoh Singlex TLS: New Battery & Bad Light Meter?

A few years ago I was handed a Ricoh Singlex TLS with a Ricoh 55mm f2.8 lens. Over the last couple of weeks I actually started cleaning the camera up and cut some new light seals for it. It came to me with an empty battery compartment and no visible corrosion. I ordered a Winecell MRB625 zinc air battery which I believe is correct for this camera now that the original battery types aren't available. I took the battery out of the package, took off the air seal yesterday, and let it sit for a good 24 hours. This evening I put the battery into the camera and the light meter needle goes to the top of its range when I turn the meter on via the switch on the camera body.

What's my next step? I'm not emotionally attached to the camera but I would hate to get rid of it due to this issue. That said, if the light meter needs serious repair work, I don't feel like it's going to be something I want to mess with. Are there easy things I can check or things I should do before I sign off on this body? I bet it's been at least a decade since this camera had a battery in it and if it's been two decades I wouldn't be shocked. Shouldn't matter, but I'm reading about bad/weak capacitors in the light meter's power circuit, so... I ran the shutter dial and ASA dial both through their travel, and stopped the lens down to f22 and the meter's needle never moved. So the really easy stuff is out.

Hope someone's got some ideas for me to try.

08-22-2018, 08:40 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Turn the battery to face the other way? It goes in with the positive pole (+) facing out toward battery chamber cover. I use adapted silver cells* with my Singlex TLS. Wein cells are notoriously fussy. BTW, there is no need to "sign off" on the body due to inoperable meter. It should work fine without it.


Steve

* 386 battery with MR-9 adapter

Last edited by stevebrot; 08-22-2018 at 08:51 PM.
08-22-2018, 08:49 PM   #3
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I had the plus facing out to start. Tried reversing it just to be sure and it didn't do anything, turned it back. Just re-verified; positive side is facing out towards the cover. Needle still goes to the top of the range.

---------- Post added 08-22-18 at 11:05 PM ----------

I'll check out the battery with a digital voltage meter when I get a chance. If it's very far away from 1.5V unloaded I'll look into getting a different battery setup going. Or should I be looking for a different voltage level?

I don't really want to use a camera without a functional light meter. I'm not always so hot at estimating proper exposure without a meter and I don't really want to bother with a spot meter every time I take a shot.
08-22-2018, 09:28 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
I had the plus facing out to start. Tried reversing it just to be sure and it didn't do anything, turned it back. Just re-verified; positive side is facing out towards the cover. Needle still goes to the top of the range.
It has been years since I had mine apart for meter adjustment and I can't remember the details of the meter circuit except that it is very simple and that the shutter speed dial drives movement of a long strip resistor that curves around the top of the lens mount under the front cover. There a set of feeler contacts make the circuit with the meter cells and display needle. It may be that a solder joint has broken somewhere or a capacitor gone dry. Removal of the top and front covers expose the components and wiring.

As for using a hand-held meter*, it works the same as the built in meter**. You take a reading, set the camera/lens and shoot at will with those settings until either the subject or light changes.


Steve

* Most hand-held meters don't feature spot metering. Most average reflected light within about a 30 angle. The better units also allow for incident metering where one measures the light falling on the subject from the direction of the camera. An incident meter is equivalent to using a gray card.

** The built-in meter on the Singlex TLS averages the full screen the same as a Pentax Spotmatic.

08-22-2018, 11:25 PM   #5
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I have the rebadge version, a Sears TLS & can confirm the "+" side of the battery goes towards the battery cover. Still has the battery that came with it when I bought it a few years ago, haven't tried putting a new battery in it to see if there's any issues with the meter.
08-23-2018, 07:31 AM   #6
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I can go looking for an online service manual. I think that would be something worth reviewing before I go pulling the camera apart.

It seems like good handheld light meters are either used or not cheap new.
08-23-2018, 09:48 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
It seems like good handheld light meters are either used or not cheap new.
I have two, the better of which (Gossen LunaLux) was purchased used for about $50. The other (Sekonic I-208) was $125 and is always in the bag even for dSLR shooting. Neither does flash metering, but I had no need to spend the extra money for that. It probably helps that I have ten meterless cameras, so the investment was justifiable.

As for purchase of a service manual, that might be a good idea, but it may also be more cost effective to have a CLA done. Fixing the meter will likely fall within the scope of that service.

Good luck. The Singlex is a durable piece of kit and I personally have always liked the control layout. I shot one exclusively for over a decade through the 1970s and having the shutter speed dial handy to be easily turned is something I have missed on my other 35mm cameras.


Steve

08-23-2018, 02:05 PM   #8
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Thanks to this thread I spent more time than I wanted to admit discovering antiquities such as the Leica Meter 2. Why can't someone sell a modern version of that thing? It doesn't seem to matter what the cost of the meter is, none are that nice and small anymore. And there's what is listed as a good copy of the Meter 2 at KEH for $69...
08-23-2018, 04:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Why can't someone sell a modern version of that thing?
Selenium meters are not quite the vogue, but the SPD cell Voigtlander VC Speed Meter II is designed to the same task. FWIW, while not advertised as super compact, my Sekonic L-208 fits in the palm of the hand, is accessory shoe mountable, and supports incident measurements at half the price.
Voigtlander VC Speed Meter II (Silver) 45AD104A B&H Photo Video

Sekonic L-208 Twin Mate Meter 401-208 B&H Photo Video
I used to have a wonderfully small, shoe-mountable, CdS meter from Vivitar that was an amazing piece of work. Unfortunately, it died. Here is its story...
Hin's Photo Corner: Newest, Most Favorite Gadget: Compact Exposure Meters



Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 08-23-2018 at 04:55 PM.
08-23-2018, 06:23 PM   #10
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This post had me looking over my rebadged version that I have right now and found that the top of the prism has a small dent on it & never noticed it till now, but afaik it never really effected the exposure (at least not that I noticed). And it looks that it'll need a cla down the road, some of the foam is flaking off.
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