James's Camera Collection: Sears KS-2

Sears KS-2 Japan Owner's Manual 35mm cameras Matt's Classic Cameras
Sears KS-2 (aka Ricoh XR-7)
Camera type: Single Lens Reflex (SLR)
Approx. date of manufacture: 1982
Lens mount: Pentax K bayonet
Battery: two LR44 1.5V
Approx. original price: $200 (street)
Approx. street value: $10

Sears is a major US department store chain, and they used to self-brand a lot of their photo equipment. The old house brand was Tower but they retired it at some point and just went with Sears.

As with all house-brand stuff, they actually buy it from other manufacturers (often famous names themselves). In this case, the camera is actually a Ricoh XR-7. Ricoh made some very good cameras and had some "firsts," but never managed to crack the top tier in the USA camera market. So selling cameras to be rebadged was a good way to pad sales. Chinon and Cosina did the same.

Matt's Classic Cameras has a nice write-up on this; it's very lauditory. I haven't tried it because I don't have the batteries, but it seems nice enough; aperture priority automatic with both aperture and shutter speed readouts in the viewfinder. It's small and comfortable to hold. It takes the Pentax-universal K/M bayonet mount so finding glass for it won't be any trouble. Mike Butkus has the owner's manual.

I bought this because I didn't know what it was. There is no name on the pentaprism housing (that appears to be normal), and someone painted out the KS-2 on the side and covered the engraving with a strip of black tape. I see this sort of thing done on TV all the time when they don't want to give a manufacturer a free merchandise plug, so my guess is that this was probably a prop on a tv show somewhere. I can't imagine doing it for any other reason.

So I bought it because it was cheap ($15 and that included the Tokina lens), because I was curious to know what it was (could have been something fantastic), and I didn't recognize it so I knew it wasn't something I already had.

I'm a touch disappointed though. Ricoh's XR-7 was the "normal" version of their XR-S, which had a pair of solar cells on the pentraprism to recharge the camera's battery, so you'd get (maybe) 5 years off the battery instead of 6 months or so (depending on how much you used it); that's the kind of interesting camera that I ought to be acquiring to fill out the collection...

 

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