Inside Story

Lens cap highly received by users with the GX100

What particularly resonated with users was a first-ever "external lens cap with automatic opening/closing capabilities."

Koji Yokoyama
"We are very happy that GX100
users can also use the lens cap."
(Koji Yokoyama)

Koji Yokoyama, who was in charge of design, said, "We absolutely wanted the lens cap to be easy to use, plus many users of the GX100 had requested it." Accordingly, one of the prerequisites was that it "could be mounted on the GX100 as well." For that reason, they had to come up with a lens cap that would not force changes to the mechanisms of the lens system. The staff looked from various angles to enable automatic opening and closing with an externally mounted lens cap. Looking back, Yokoyama recalls that "In the early stages of development, most everyone thought that it was impossible."

The first idea was a cap that would fold downward as it was pushed by the lens. "This opened the cap automatically, but it had to be closed manually," told Yokoyama as he showed us a prototype. Development continued in search of something better.

The automatic opening/closing lens cap went through many prototypes: Double doors (left), downward folding (center) and finished product (right).
The automatic opening/closing lens cap went through many prototypes:
Double doors (left), downward folding (center) and finished product (right).

Thoughts on ease-of-use and safety

The next idea was a double-door type. It opened automatically when pushed by the lens and closed automatically by spring force as the lens retracted. "However, we were worried that the door might catch on something when open, so when looking to enhance safety, a proposal for a 3-flap cap was made," tells Yokoyama. This configuration was good both in terms of esthetics and safety. They were careful in selecting a spring that would not damage the lens system, hence performing several tens of thousands of opening and closing tests.

The finished lens cap was of simple construction, but it was hard in coming. Yokoyama recalled, "We even searched for toys that might have had a similar mechanism. Yet, we invented a lens cap that had never before existed and, since GX100 users were pleased as well, all of our development pains simply disappeared."

A number of efforts were also made with the new optional 135 mm tele-angle conversion lens. "It was absolutely enjoyable to think of mechanical schemes for a moving hood and ways to fold it up compactly," tells Yoshida. He always keeps by his side the "Ricoh Auto Half" film camera that Ricoh launched in 1962. It was a famous camera that created many camera users because it was made of mechanical mechanisms such as gears and levers without any use of electricity at all, which made it easy to operate.

135 mm tele-angle conversion lens that retracts to a compact size for stowing

Ricoh cameras continue the tradition of "creating new values. We're working in development to continue producing more famous cameras," tells Yoshida. That feeling is shared amongst development staff.

  • *All focal distances in this text have been converted to 35 mm format camera.
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