Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 (Ricoh) (Singlex / Nikkorex Version)

Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 (Ricoh) (Singlex / Nikkorex Version)
Manufactured Year
1964
Mount
Nikon mount
Legacy Brand
Ricoh
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General Information

Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 (Ricoh)
(Singlex / Nikkorex Version)

Auto Rikenon 55mm f1.4.jpg

  • Production year 1964
  • Focusing range: Infinity to 0.6m
  • Focusing indications: Feet and meters
  • «LENS MADE IN JAPAN» on aperture ring
  • Apertures f/1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16
  • 9 iris blades
  • Singlex / Nikkorex Mount
  • No bayonet screws
Auto Rikenon 55mm f1.4  (2).jpg


As you all know I'm a bit addicted to vintage glass...
The Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 (also known as Auto Sears or Tomioka Auto Revuenon 55mm f1.4) is a standard lens built for first time in the 1960's.
Made in Japan built like a tank with metal and glass, is considered one of the best old glass nifty fifties.
Its basic characteristics are excellent sharpness, great colour rendition and contrast. But mostly is known for it's bokeh!

I have been searching for a long time a 50mm lens with a bokeh similar of trioplan formula lenses. The Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 is not a trioplan formula lens (that means it is not a lens of 3 elements) but it renders bokef almost like a Trioplan lens.

Auto Rikenon 55mm f1.4  (1).jpg


As many of the lenses built in 50's - 60's the Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 has Thorium added in its glasses. That means it is radioactive, emitting Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation particles.
It is not that hazardous of course, although it is considered to be one of the most radioctive lenses with some models like a few Takumars of that time.
For the knowledge vintage lenses that have thorium in the glass tend to have a yellow brownish, tint on the glass that is caused of the radioactive thorium. Thorium was added in the glass mass as an element and not as a coating and thus it cannot be removed.


In the Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 thorium is added in the rear 3 elements of the lens.
Before becoming worried about radiation, the use of these lens for about three hours per day for lets say a week or two it will be like making an x-ray.

Auto Rikenon 55mm f1.4  (3).jpg


But why Thorium.
Thorium, when added to glass gives excellent properties of light transmission through the elements that, it is said, that cannot be matched with the best coatings.
This is why lenses like the Takumars, or Rikenon, or other lenses of that time had excellent colour rendition, saturation and contrast.

Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 was basically produced in M42 mount as well as Yashinon, Ricoh and early versions with Singlex/Nikkorex Mount. The last was a mount created by Nikon and Ricoh for the Singlex TLS ricoh camera system. The Singlex mount is 95% the same as nikon F with the only difference in on of the phalanges of the mount, that is a bit smaller. This results in being able to mount a Nikon F mount lens to a Ricoh Singlex camera but not the opposite. In order to mount a Singlex mount to a Nikon camera it is needed a slight mod that is to remove a small part on the edge of mount 'tooth'. Most Auto Rikenon 55mm f/1.4 with singlex mount are already adapted and do fit to nikon f mount cameras.
Here is a link about the Singlex Mount history

IMG_20201008_223629.jpg




I've read many things on this lens

So from my first impressions so far.

Colour Rendition
This lens produces very saturated images. Always in terms of camparison with the ones that I own. (a copy of Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D and two copies of Helios 81n 50mm f/2.0).
I took some photos of my son during a visit we made to a Mall and on a square and the colours in all photos were very rich and well saturated! I tried to P.P. some of them in Adobe Camere Raw and there was no need to enhance Vibrance of colours.
During Sunset and Sunrise time colours are very warm and rich.
One thing that I noticed (and affects colour rendition) is the yellow-brown colouring of the rear elements due to Thorium that is in the 3 rear elements which is radioactive and by time creates this tint that has an affect on the images. It gives a slight tint to photos and when there is strong side light the flare is also yellow-brown.
This is something that is corrected by exposing the lens elements to UV-A light source (insect zapper lamps) or by using an IKEA JANSJO led lamp pointed to the lens for 48-72 hours.

I bought two today and I will start the procedure to de-yellow the lens. I found the tweak in the internet and everybody say that it works... We will see.

IMG_20201008_223705.jpg


Sharpness
I took some photos at f/5.6 and they were jaw dropping! This lens is not joking when it has to do with sharpness!
Wide open is very soft for distant subjects and it becomes great from f/2.8.
In Close up photos is descently sharp wide open (for an f/1.4 lens) Although, photos like landscapes are quite soft, when used for close up photography it performs rather good. Another important thing is focusing when it is at f/1.4 at close ups. The swallow depth of field is hard to manage.
Generally until now I'm very satisfied.

Bokeh
Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Just love it!

What i also love about this lens is it's dreamy character! It has a very nice feel on the photos. Maybe it is caused by the tint of the elements. After I de-yellow the elements I will write again my impressions.

IMG_20201008_223733.jpg


De-yellowing the lens is also important because when a lens (with thorium oxide material in the elements) is yellowed it loses about 3/4 - 2stops of brightness.

My Rikenon also needs another modification. As it is not an AI lens the camera cannot recognise the f stop that is set. So manual exposure is the only solution when aperture is stopped down. All my Nikon bodies have the 'non cpu lens' function where you register a lens, its focal distance and f number (e.g. 55mm f/1.4) and then when a lens is AI when you close the aperture the camera reads the f number by a feeler on the mount.
In the Rikenon case there is no feeler contact.

IMG_20201008_223751.jpg


So I ordered a dandelion digital chip, that is programable and is installed on the lens. When this dandelion chip is installed and programmed then the lens is set to the smallest f number and it work in all program modes.
My chip is already shipped and a i wait for it.

I hope it fits with no problem.
I will keep updating to the discussion field.

Lens Information

Colour
Black
Origin
Japanese
Condition
Used

Ownership Information

Own since
2020
Ownership
Yes
Serial Number
26234
Selling
No
Owner
Purchase
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Comments

Looks very vintage, and old. Also looks like you have used gloves ? Or I'm wrong
It is very old indeed Jack.
Actually it is the oldest lens I own. Made in 1964 it is 56 years old! It was made before I was born! 😂

The photos with the gloves are from the ebay seller from whom I purchased the lens.
 
It is very old indeed Jack.
Actually it is the oldest lens I own. Made in 1964 it is 56 years old! It was made before I was born! 😂

The photos with the gloves are from the ebay seller from whom I purchased the lens.

Seems that the owner use to take extra care with this lens. OMG, so old, have you tried to take some pictures with it?
 
Seems that the owner use to take extra care with this lens. OMG, so old, have you tried to take some pictures with it?
Yes of course!
I've made some nice photos with it!

I've uploaded a few here.



 
Yes of course!
I've made some nice photos with it!

I've uploaded a few here.



Thanks panos_adgr panos_adgr . Will check them now.
 

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