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|Canon Canonflex (1959) (Large Image) This is the original Canonflex model introduced in 1959 at the same show the Nikon F and Minolta SR-2 were introduced in the United States. It had no meter but had an automatic diaphragm and instant return mirror. (See Cameraquest - Canonflex.) This camera includes the clip-on external meter. The Canonflex uses Canomatic lenses which were similar but not identical to the later Canon FL lenses. You risk damaging your camera if you use an FL lens on a Canonflex. This original Canonflex has a removable Pentaprism similar to Miranda and Topcon cameras. The film advance is on the bottom of the camera. The Canonflex RP appeared in 1960 which was similar to the original Canonflex but had a fixed pentaprism. The Canonflex RM, below, was similar to the RP but added a Selenium meter and the film advance lever on top. The original Canonflex is relatively rare and this was a great find. In is in good cosmetic and working condition. I purchased it for $50 in La Mesa, CA in February 2011 from an ad on Craigslist. I also bought a Canon 50mm f1.2 FL lens (my second) and a Canon 35mm FL lens, each for $15.|
|As interesting as the camera is, the original owner was more interesting. The camera had belonged to Fred Gerlach. Fred Gerlach was born August 26, 1925 and died December 31, 2009. (Mr. Fred Gerlach - Tribune Tributes.) As explained in his Obituary published January 7, 2010 in the San Diego Union-Tribune, he was a Detroit native, grew up in New York City and came to California in the late 1950s. He served in World War II. He is most famous as a 12 string guitar player and maker. He knew the likes of Woodie Guthrie and was part of the New York folk scene in the early 1950s, and later part of the music scene in San Francisco and San Diego. Many tributes to him are on the Internet. (See, e.g., Fred Gerlach special - Blue Moment Arts, Obit: Fred Gerlach has Died, The Mudcat Cafe, R.I.P. Fred Gerlach, Discography, WeenieCampbell.com.) Recordings are available at Smithsonian Folkways and amazon.com. Fred Gerlach was also amazingly talented in many other ways. I bought the camera from his son David and also met Fred Gerlach's wife Barbara. The son showed me some of the things Fred Gerlach had made including one of his 12 string guitars and beautifully crafted furniture. I believe the son said his father was an engineer by profession. The comments on the Internet indicate he also made an airplane. He was truly a gifted guy. While I like cameras and other things I collect, probably the neatest thing is learning things about the lives of some really neat people. As I collect things at estate sales and garage sales I am troubled at times about how quickly people are forgotten sometimes. Thankfully, Fred Gerlach appears to be fondly remembered by many and his music will live on.|
|Canon Canonflex RM (1963) (Large, Top View) Unlike the original Canonflex, the Canonflex RM had a built-in Selenium meter, a fixed prism and the film advance lever on top. The meter is not through the lens. Rather, there is a meter window above the self timer lever with a window on the top of the camera near the film rewind knob. A needle in the window points to the correct aperture to set depending on the shutter speed you have selected. In operation it is similar to the clip-on meters on the original Canonflex and other cameras such as my first SLR, the Pentax H3v. A beautiful example of a Canonflex RM is at Captain Jack's Canonflex SLR Cameras - RM. The RM is the last and most abundant of the Canonflex cameras with 72,000 produced according to Cameraquest - Canonflex. Captain Jack's Canonflex SLR Cameras indicates a black version and a Bell & Howell version of the RM are much more rare. The owner's manual is available at Christian Rollinger's Canon Photo Page. My Canonflex RM was purchased in the San Ysidro area of San Diego on Decmember 27, 2007 for $40 from an ad on Craigslist. It is in fair condition. It is dusty, has a dent in the top of the pentaprism, and is missing the cover over the exposure meter window. It winds and the mirror flips up. The shutter curtains do not move, however. The mirror also only returns once the film advance is turned. Either the mirror is not instant return or it is broken. The meter actually works which is somewhat rare for old Selenium meters. My RM came without a lens. The following day, however, I purchased a Super Canomatic 50mm f1.8 lens on eBay from Puerto Rico for $1.50 plus $8.75 shipping. The description states it is in great cosmetic condition but that it the aperture is stuck at f16; hence the low price.||Canon EX-Auto (February 1972) (Large, Flash) an open aperture metering SLR with shutter priority automatic exposure. It is outside the mainstream of Canon SLRs since it had a unique lens system. You could remove the front element of the standard 50mm f1.8 lens and screw on one of three other lenses produced by Canon: a 35mm f3.5, a 95mm f3.5 and a 125mm f3.5. Only the EX-Auto and the prior EX-EE used these lenses. They did not take Canon FL or FD bayonet mount lenses. It has a typical shutter speed dial, but the aperture adjustment is on a dial on top of the camera instead of on a lens ring. The dial does not have all the intermediate apertures but you could read what they were in the viewfinder. Shutter preferred automatic exposure was achieved by setting the aperture dial to EE. The correct aperture would then be set for whatever shutter speed you selected. When used with a Canolite D flash and the 50mm f1.8 lens, flash exposure was also automatic with the subject distance calculated automatically. While geared towards those new to SLRs, the camera is very well built and quite sophisticated. Mine was purchased on eBay on 7-28-06 as part of a lot of cameras for $10 plus $19.80 shipping. (The other cameras included an Argus A-2, Minolta Hi-Matic AF (good looking but not working), Tower 18B (not working) and a Coronet B light meter.) The Canon EX-Auto is in excellent cosmetic and working condition. Aperture, shutter, meter, focus, etc. all work perfectly. It included a case, manual and Canolite D flash. The flash works but the battery door on top needs to be held down to get a good electrical contact. A beautiful camera and a great deal.|
|Canon FTb QL (Large Image) Introduced in March 1971 according to Canon Camera Museum. The original owner was in the military and recalls buying the camera overseas around that time. It has open aperture match needle metering using Canon FD lenses. Canon FL lenses can also be used in stop down mode. To stop down, or use as depth of field preview, you press the lever in front to the right. This lever also serves as the self timer. Instead of center weighted metering it has a 12% spot meter shown by the inner circle in the viewfinder. The FTb was introduced at the same time as the new flagship, professional level, Canon F-1. These two cameras appear to be the first Canon SLR cameras with open aperture metering apart from the unique EX series cameras. This put Canon behind cameras like the Topcon Super D introduced in 1963, the Nikon F Photomic T introduced in 1965 (see Modern Classic SLRs Series: Nikon F Metering Prisms and Meters), and the Minolta SRT-101 introduced in 1966. Compared to the Canon F-1, the FTb lacked a removable viewfinder and motor drive capability. The FTb did, however, have depth of field preview and mirror lock-up. Mirror lockup is also achieved with the lever in the front with the level lock set to "M." Shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/1000 second. Flash synch is 1/60 second. Except for the Cds meter, the camera is entirely mechanically operated. It takes one 625 1.3 volt Mercury battery for the meter. Mercury batteries are no longer available for environmental reasons, but 625A 1.5 volt alkaline batteries are available. You may have to adjust the ASA (ISO) setting if the meter is not reading accurately with the increased voltage. Other options are to a Zinc Air battery that have the correct voltage but don't last long or have the metering system adjusted to account for the higher voltage. Many say the meter is sufficiently accurate with the 1.5 volt batteries. (See photo.net discussion.) My camera comes with a 50mm f1.4 lens.|
|The price for an FTb with the 50mm f1.4 lens in the 1976-1977 Sears Camera Catalog was $299, Compared to the Canon F-1 with the same lens at $549 and the Canon EF at $459. $299 in 1976 has the equivalent buying power as $1,187 in 2011. My Canon TX below is basically a stripped-down version of the Canon FTb. The QL part of the Canon FTb QL stands for "Quick Load." The Quick Load features allow you to lay the flim strip down over the spool without threading it onto the spool. According to Canon FTb - Wikipedia, the model was revised slightly in 1973. The revised model is sometimes referred to as the FTb-N, although the name on the camera remained FTb. The most significant change was adding a shutter speed display in the viewfinder. The other changes were cosmetic. The revised FTb-N cameras can be identified by a black plastic tab on the end of the film advance lever. In addition to the 50mm f1.4 lens with a rigid Canon hood, my camera also came with a Canon 28mm f3.5 lens and a Canon FD 135mm f2.5 lens both with Skylight filters, leatherette cases, and rear lens caps. The 28mm has a front cap, but the 135mm does not. The camera also came with a 2X off brand teleconverter and Keko manual electronic flash. I thought the flash initially wasn't going to charge. I accidently left it on and then noticed the light was on about two hours later. It now recharges in about 20-25 seconds. The camera and lenses are in excellent cosmetic condition. The glass on the lenses is fine. The shutter works but at least the slow shutter speeds are much too fast. It's hard to determine if the fast speeds are accurate. The meter works once I took an eraser to the battery compartment contact. It seems to be about two stops off using an 1.5 volt alkaline battery. I can adjust this by decreasing the ASA by two stops, however. It's a bummer the shutter speeds are off. While this could likely be fixed with a CLA, the cost would be prohibitive. The camera comes with an ever-ready case in excellent condition. It also comes with the manual. I bought the outfit only a half mile from my home in La Mesa, CA at a Sunday garage sale on September 11, 2011 for $40 from the original owner. I also bought a Nikon 6006 (with a travel hair dryer thrown in) for an additional $20 as well as a coffee table for $10!|
|Canon FTb-N QL (Large Image) Introduced in July 1973 according to Canon Camera Museum. This was an improved version of the Canon FTb above. The "N" designation does not appear on the camera or marketing materials at the time, although Canon identifies it as the FTb-N in its Canon Camera Museum where it states: "Improvements include a shutter speed display in the viewfinder, a larger shutter button, a plastic-tipped film advance lever, and a slimmer combination self-timer and stop-down lever." Additionally, the cover for the flash socket on front rotates open while staying on the camera so it cannot be lost. Obviously, this is a minor, but very clever, change! While the shutter speed is now displayed in the viewfinder, the aperture still is not displayed in the viewfinder. Mine is serial number 495538. It includes a 50mm f1.4 Canon FD lens, serial number 740106. The camera and lens were originally purchased for $199.99 on April 2, 1976 at "The Town House" in Agana, Guam according to the receipt that came with the camera. The receipt says "sale," likely reflecting a sales price since the microprocessor controlled Canon AE-1 was introduced the same month. The $199.99 price was $100 less than the price in the 1976-1977 Sears Camera Catalog. The FTb-N is an entirely mechanical camera except for the match needle exposure meter. I purchased mine on December 10, 2011 for $10 at garage sale in the College area of San Diego. It also came with an every-ready case (in poor condition as is common), a Vivitar 85-205 "macro" zoom lens, a Vivitar Auto Thyristor 2600-D flash and owner's manual. The shutter release and the film advance were not operating at the garage sale. That brought the original price down from $20 to $10. Luckily, at home I discovered that it was an easy fix. The collar around the shutter release button which you can turn to Lock or Advance was loose. I think the shutter lock was therefore on and you could not unlock it. I tightened the little screw in the side of collar and was able to then turn it to unlock the shutter release. Once I saw how it worked, I positioned it so it correctly pointed to the A or L. It works fine now. The shutter speeds sound reasonably accurate. The aperture seems to work properly. I put in a new 1.5 volt 625A alkaline battery. The meter seems to work accurately even with the voltage higher than the original 1.3 volt mercury battery. The stop-down lever, mirror lock-up, and self-timer all appear to work properly. They are all controlled by the same lever in front of the camera. The mirror cushioning foam is deteriorating and needs to be replaced. The light seals also could be replaced. Overall, it is a fine camera capable of professional quality results rivaling those of the finest digital single lens reflex cameras today. Admittedly, the digital cameras have no film or processing costs, can fire off several frames per second, store hundreds of photos on a single memory card, shoot at different ISO settings frame by frame, allow for instantaneous review of the image, and produce a digital image which can be edited on a computer and electronically sent across the globe in seconds.|
|Canon TX (Large Image) (circa 1975) marketed March 1975 according to the Canon Camera Museum. Shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1 second, open aperture match needle metering with Canon FD lenses. ASA 25 to 1600. Depth of field preview with lever in front that looks like a self timer. No self timer. Hot shoe for flash. Takes one 1.35 volt mercury battery the size of a 625 battery. My meter works with a 625A Alkaline battery but seems to be under exposing by about two stops. According to the Canon Camera Museum the Canon TX "was a stripped-down Canon FTb for the mass market overseas." It was not marketed in Japan. The FTb had a 1/1000 second top shutter speed compared to the TX's 1/500 second. The TX also used center weighted metering instead of a 12% partial spot. My camera was purchased for $10 at a La Mesa, CA garage sale on 7-18-08. It is in good working and cosmetic condition. It comes with a 50mm f1.8 Canon lens with "A" setting, Canon skylight filter (55mm diameter), Canon lens cap, eveready case (in poor condition) and Canon rigid sun shade. All in all a very solid SLR with everything you need to take quality photos and nothing else.|
|Canon F-1 introduced March 1971 according to Canon Camera Museum. Improvements were made in September 1976 in what the Canon Camera Museum calls the F-1 (Later model) or the F-1N. A new F-1 was introduced in September 1981 according to the Canon Camera Museum. The F-1 was Canon's first truly professional level SLR designed to compete with the Nikon F. It is heavy, rugged and designed to withstand the rigors of professional use. "With the first F-1 in 1971, Canon promised that the camera would remain unchanged for 10 years." (Canon Camera Museum discussing the New F-1.) This was achieved with relatively minor updates with the F-1N. The camera was designed to withstand 100,000 camera cycles. Mine is the original model since, among other things, the film advance is 180 degrees and the top ISO is 2000. The F1 was expensive with the body only priced at $399.50 in the 1977-78 Sears Camera Catalog. That's equal to $1,400 in 2008 dollars. Comparing it to other cameras at the time, a Canon AE-1 body was $219.50 and a Nikon F2a body was $454.50 in the 1977-78 Sears Catalog. Comparing it to modern Canon professional level cameras, it was more expensive in constant dollars than a new Canon 50d digital SLR body at about $1,100 or a 40d at about $780, although less expensive than a Canon 5d Mark II full frame 21.1 megapixel SLR at about $3,300 (approximate prices at Amazon on 1-2-09). It is a manual camera with open aperture match needle metering, removable finder, depth of field preview, mirror lock-up and shutter speeds of 1 to 1/2000. The manual is available in pdf format at www.canonfd.com. Several sites have detailed information about the F-1 including: Classic Modern SLR Series, Wikipedia - Canon F-1, Mayer, "The Canon F-1 35mm SLR; A Real Pro Of Its Time," Shutterbug (April 2007). I purchased mine in the summer of 2008 in La Mesa, CA from an ad on Craigslist paying $150 for the F-1, a Ricoh twin lens reflex and a Gossen Luna Pro meter. It is in excellent working and cosmetic condition (slight dent on prism housing). The lens pictured, a 135mm f2.5 Canon FD, was purchased earlier.|
|Canon EF (November 1973-1978) (Large Image, Top View) Starting date from Canon Camera Museum. Date range from Canon EF Camera - Wikipedia. Photo.net has an extensive discussion of date codes in the film chamber and serial numbers. Mine has a date code of 01015 (I think) and a serial no. of 230854. I assume the 0 is the letter O giving a date of October 1974 for my camera. The date code is explained at www.kenrockwell.com.
Shutter priority exposure system. The shutter speed is shown in the bottom of the viewfinder. The aperture is shown by a needle along the right side of the viewfinder. If the FD lens is set to the green O or A setting on the aperture ring, the camera automatically selects the aperture. If the green O or A setting is not used, you have to turn the aperture ring to the correct aperture as shown by the needle to the right of the viewfinder. Since the actual aperture you select is not shown in the viewfinder, you have to take you eye off the viewfinder to set the aperture. In other words in manual mode it is not match needle or a coupled exposure system. It uses a Silicon meter instead of a CdS meter. It has a very wide range of shutter speeds from 1/1000 second to 30 seconds and the meter works across this entire range. It uses a Copal Square vertical-travel blade focal plane shutter. It is apparently the only Canon SLR using a shutter not made by Canon. (Canon EF Camera - Wikipedia, Shutter speeds from 1/1000 second to 1/2 second are mechanically controlled, while those from 1 second to 30 seconds are electronically controlled. There is also a B setting. Flash sync is at 1/125 second. The manual is available at butkus.org.
The name implies that it is an electronic version of the top of the line Canon F-1. Like the F-1 it is a solid, well constructed camera. The Canon EF was made for less than five years, while the F-1 went from 1971 to 1981, and with the advent of the New F-1 in 1981, continued until the early 1990s. (Wikipedia, Canon New F-1 states it is thought the New F-1 was made until 1992 and was officially discontinued in 1994.) The EF lacked the interchangeable viewfinders and the motor drives that the Canon F supported. The Canon EF had a fixed viewfinder that initially had only a microprism and then later added a split image. (Mine does not have the split image. The 1976-77 Sears Camera Catalog describes the EF has having a split image.) The Canon EF did have professional features such as mirror lock-up and depth of field preview. Both are controlled by the same switch that the self timer uses.
The Canon EF cost $459 with the 50mm f1.4 lens in the 1976-77 Sears Camera Catalog. (The F-1 with the same lens was $90 more, while the FTb with the same lens was $160 less.) $459 in 1976 equals $1,820.85 in 2011 dollars!
I purchased my Canon EF on Sunday July 17, 2011 at a garage sale advertised on Craigslist (listed "camera equipment") in the Mira Mesa area of San Diego. The seller was apparently the second owner. She got it from a service man in, I assume, around the 1970s or 1980s. It is in good cosmetic and working condition. The meter works fine. The only problem is the lens mount is slightly loose. I bought the camera, with the 50mm f1.4 lens, a Vivitar 28mm f2.8 close focusing lens, a camera bag, and some filters and booklets for a total of $30.
Canon AE-1, introduced in April 1976, the Canon AE-1 was "the first camera in the world to incorporate a CPU (central Processing Unit) by means of which automatic exposure, memory, transmission of signals, display, regulation of time and completion signal are all electronically controlled. It is an entirely new kind of SLR camera." (AE-1 Manual) According to the Canon Camera Museum, by incorporating electronics Canon was able to reduce the number of camera parts by 300. This, combined with a highly automated manufacturing process, made it possible to produce a moderately priced camera with high end features such as shutter priority automatic exposure. The price in the 1978-79 Sears Camera Catalog was $299.50, or well over $800 in today's dollars (about the price of a 6.3 megapixel Digital Rebel). My AE-1 was purchased on e-Bay April 5, 2005 for $41.09, outbidding the next highest bidder by 9 cents in the last 11 seconds. (I know I bragging, but I've been on the other side plenty of times - especially bidding for an AE-1.) It is in excellent condition. The meter is right on with my Canon Digital Rebel. No shutter squeal common with some Canons. I haven't test it with film yet, however.
|Canon T50 (Large Image) (March 1983 to December 1989) The first and simplest of the T Series cameras. Programmed automatic exposure only. Built-in automatic film advance at 1.4 frames per second. Manual film advance eliminated. Vertical metal electronic shutter. Takes two AA batteries. The price in a December 1985 Popular Photography ad from Camera World of Oregon was only $94.85, although in a in a January 1988 Popular Photography ad at page 105 from B&H it was $159.95. Both are for body only. The camera shows the trend to automatic, electronically controlled cameras. I purchased it on eBay on 7-7-09 as part of a package which also included a Minolta Hi-Matic F rangefinder camera, a small Acme electronic flash, and a Minolta Maxuum Autofocus 24mm lens with shade, front cap and UV filter. The total was $63.99 plus $9 shipping. By far the most valuable part of the the package is the 24mm lens which can be used on my Sony Alpha 350 DSLR with an angle of view the same as a 36mm lens on a 35mm camera. My T50 is in very good working and cosmetic condition. I have a second one that I purchased at a garage sale on December 6, 2008 in the San Carlos area of San Diego. It was part of a package I believe which included a telescope for a total of $40. It includes a 135mm f2.8 Canon lens. Price in 1984-1985 Sears Cameras Catalog with the 50mm f1.8 lens was $199.99, or $400.90 in 2009 dollars. (Inflation from 1985 to present has been relatively calm only doubling in almost 25 years or slightly more than 4% per year. That contrasts with the double digit inflation in much of the 1970s and early 1980s.)|
|Canon T70 (Large Image, Top) (Marketed April 1984) The T70 was the second in the T series. It featured automatic film advance at up to .7 frames per second and programmed, aperture preferred, shutter preferred and manual modes. It was powered by two 1.5 volt AA batteries. (Canon Camera Museum.) The T70 had center weighted metering or an 11% selective metering. The T70 was praised as a technologically advanced camera. (Wikipedia - Canon T70 - Reception) "In 1984, the camera won the Good Design Award (from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry) and the European Camera of the Year Award. (Canon Camera Museum.) Ken Rockwell is less generous reviewing it in hindsight in 2008 stating: "The Canon T70 is Canon's first clunky 1984 attempt at the computerized cameras of tomorrow." Nevertheless, he says pretty good things about it. The new price in a December 1985 Popular Photography ad from Camera World of Oregon was $159.85. I purchased my Canon T70 on March 8, 2011 on eBay from a seller in El Cajon, California for only $4.69. As I write this in December 2022, I don't know what the shipping was or whether I picked it up. It looks like the batteries leaked. The battery door is missing the latch and the metal piece that goes across the battery contacts. The camera will power on and fire with some aluminum foil across the contacts and holding the door closed with your hand. Battery doors on eBay are more expensive than parts cameras.|
|Canon T90 (Large Image, Back, Top) (Marketed February 1986) This was last and most advanced camera in the T series with three metering systems, eight auto-exposure modes, two manual exposure modes, and a built-in motor drive shooting at up to 4.5 frames per second. (Canon Camera Museum.) It has rounded contours, a top LCD information screen and a shutter release and command dial that will be found a year later in the Canon EOS 650, marketed March 1986, Canon's first EOS autofocus camera. The release of the EOS 650 came with an entirely new lens mount with electronic connections. The Canon T90, therefore, is the last camera made by Canon using the FD mount and lenses with an aperture ring. There was a later Canon T60 introduced in 1990 using an FD mount. It was made by Cosina, however, and quit different from the other T series cameras. (Canon T60 - Wikipedia.) The Canon T90 was referred to as "the tank" by Japanese photojournalists. The T90 was the first Canon camera with through the lens flash metering. (Canon T90 - Wikipedia.) It is powered by four 1.5 volt AA batteries which fit in the botton of the camera. The manuual is a cameramanuals.org. The camera was expensive. A January 1988 Popular Photography ad at page 105 from B&H lists the price as $499.95 for the body only. In addition to the T50, T70 and T90, there was also the T80 introduced in April 1985. This was Canon's first autofocus camera. It used FD mount lenses with a rather bulky motor in the lens. It could also use manual focus FD lenses. It was superseded by the EOS autofocus system. Since it is an autofocus camera, I have included my T80 in the autofocus 35mm SLR section of the museum. As I write this in December 2022, I think I purchased this from an ad on Craigslist many years ago. I don't recall the price. It is in excellent cosmetic and working condition including the LCD screen on top. It comes with a 50mm f1.4 FD lens with A setting, as well as a leather case designed for the T90.|
Canon FD Lenses: The A series and later T series Canon cameras take Canon FD (open aperture) bayonet mount lenses which go on with about 1/4 turn as opposed to screw mount lens cameras. I have several Canon FD and Vivitar Series 1 Canon FD mount lenses: Canon FD 24mm f2.8, Canon FD 50mm f1.4, Canon FD 50mm f3.5 Macro with 1:1 extension tube, Canon FD 135mm f2.5, Vivitar Series One 28mm-90mm f2.8-3.5, Vivitar Series One 70mm-210mm f3.5, Canon FD 100-200 f5.6. All of the lenses seem to be in excellent working condition with no scratches, mold or other marks on the glass. The Canon FD 24mm was purchased on eBay on 7-12-07 for $36 with $9.35 shipping. The other Canon lenses were purchased at a La Mesa, CA garage sale on 7-8-07 for about $95 total. The two Vivitar lenses were purchased on eBay in 2005. Canon Lenses, Canon Lenses Front. With the exception of the 100-200mm lens, these are all quite fast (i.e. large maximum aperature). The Vivitar Series One lenses also have a reputation of being equal to the camera manufacturer or marquee lens quality. The 1977-78 Sears Catalog had the following prices: Canon 100-200 zoom $196.50, Canon 135mm f3.5 (not f2.5) $114.50, Canon 24mm f2.8 $184.50, 50mm f3.5 macro $179.50, 50mm f1.4 $105, Vivitar 35-105mm f3.5 $237.50, Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f3.5 $349.50 That's over $1350 in lenses in late 70s prices which is over $4,300 in 2007 dollars adjusting for inflation! Update: I also purchased a Canon FD 70-210mm f4, a Canon FD 135mm f2.5, a Canon extension tube FD 50, and a 2X teleconverter (unknown mount - I thought it was Canon, but it apparently is not) at a La Mesa, CA garage sale on 8-16-08 for $50 total, all in very good cosmetic and working condition.
|Canon FL 55mm f1.2 Lens. (Large Image) A very fast f1.2 normal Canon lens in the FL mount. FL mount lenses must be stopped down for metering. In constrast, the FD mount lenses do not have to be stopped down. I purchased this at a garage sale in the San Carlos area of San Diego near my house in July 2009 for $20. It is one of five f1.2 normal lenses I have - one a 58mm Minolta MD, this Canon 55mm FL, a Nikon 55mm, a Konica, and a second Canon FL 55mm which I bought with the original Canonflex camera discussed above. For an extensive discussion of fast, normal lenses, go to my page Wide Aperture Lenses.|
It was made by Chinon. Exactly which model is confusing, however! According to Chinon Screw Mount Cameras, the GAF L-CM, as well as the Argus CR-1, are the same as the Chinon CM (1975). (See also acecam.com.) Chinon Screw Mount Cameras does not have photos, however, and I have not independently varified that they are same or that a Chinon CM with no other designation exists. Also, JW Photo shows the Argus CR-1 as a different looking camera. See also Asian Site - Argus CR-1. Manuals for most Chinon cameras are available at www.butkus.org/chinon/index.html. I haven't found the exact same designation there although it appears very similar to three other models: GAF L-17 (1973) (chrome body and battery check button), Chinon CS (chrome body), Chinon SLR (looks almost identical but according to Chinon Screw Mount Cameras the Chinon SLR has open aperture metering), Chinon CX (chrome body and battery check button - a black model was on eBay, however). Butkus.org has an image of the GAF L-CM, which he labels as a Chinon L-CM. Similarly, an Asian site shows a photo of a GAF L-CM with the label of a Chinon CM (1974). That site apparently indicates a GAF L-CM is the same as a Chinon M1, an Argus CR-1 and Revueflex 3000 SL. A list of GAF labeled Chinon models is at camerapedia.org. An eBay listing had a repair manual for GAF L-CM, L-CS, L-ES and Sears 2000 ES SLR cameras suggesting these are all similar models. The GAF LC-M is mentioned as a low priced reliable model at a photo.net discussion.
|Edixa Reflex (Large Image) (circa 1959). Date is from the printed date on the warranty card. A fascinating and detailed account of the history of Kamerawerk Gebr. Wirgin and the Edixa camera is at Klaus-Eckard Riess, "The History of Kamerawerk Gebr.Wirgin and Edixa Reflex." The camera was designed by famed camera designer Heinz Waaske, who would later design the Rollei 35 for Franke & Heidecke. Wirgin was located in Wiesbaden, West Germany. The Jewish owners had fled Germany in 1938 but returned after the war. The goal was to produce an economical single lens reflex camera to compete with Exakta and Pentacon (Praktica) in what had become East Germany. According to the Riess article, the company eventually ceased operations by 1972 around the same time that German camera manufacturers Zeiss Ikon and Voigtl�nder ceased business, surcoming to the Japanese competition from companies like Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta and others. A listing of Edixa cameras is at Edixa Reflex Cameras and UK Camera. See also La collection d'appareils photo anciens par Sylvain Halgand (French). The manual is online at www.mikebutkus.com. My camera was purchased on eBay on 8-9-07 for $12.50 plus $7.50 shipping. It works although the shutter curtains are slow to close and the exposure counter knob has come off (included, however). This has a waist level finder with a magnifer. You really have to use the magnifier to focus. Apparently, an eye level penta prism finder was available. The waist level finder hood has a bi-fold design which is pretty neat. The box, in very good condition, is very cool with a red alligator skin type design. A warranty card is included, but a manual is not. It has a 50mm f2.8 Isco-Gottingen Isconar lens. The rim of the lens is bent and would not accept filters without repair.|
|Exakta VX (Large Image, Top View) (circa 1954) serial no. 750614 which according to the excellent discussion at Pacific Rim Camera makes it the version 2 first produced in 1954. According to the label on the inside of the door of the film chamber, "Made by IHAGEE CAMERA WORKS, Germany, for Exclusive Factory Distributors, in U.S.A. EXACTA CAMERA CO.,INC , 46 West 29th Street, New York 1, N.Y." The front says Ihagee, Dresden. Extensive information about the Ihagee company is at ihagee.org. The city of Dresden at the time was in the USSR occupied zone of Germany at the time following World War II. On the bottom is a white stamped writing saying "U.S.S.R occupied." According the Wikipedia article on East Germany, in 1955 the USSR declared the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or in German the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), to be fully sovereign, although the USSR maintained troops and political influence over the country, commonly known as East Germany in English speaking countries. In 1990, East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) hence reuniting West and East Germany, although cultural differences remain and the former East Germany has struggled economically. Dresden was an industrial hub and the home to Praktica cameras also.|
The lens is a 50 mm f1.9 Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon. The Exacta was the 35mm SLR of the 1950s. It was not until the late 1950s and 1960s that the Japanese SLRs started to predominate. (See Pacific Rim Camera - Ihagee referring to the Pentax (1957), Minolta SR-2 (1958), Canonflex (1959) and Nikon F (1960). The Exacta VX was expensive. In the 1956 Sears Camera Catalog, an Exakta that looks like mine with the same lens cost $398.70. That's over $3,000 in 2007 dollars! The only other camera more expensive in the catalog was the Leica M3 rangefinder at $447. The Exacta VX came with either an eye level Penta Prism finder or the less expensive waist level finder. Less expensive lenses were also available. There was no instant mirror return - the viewfinder was blacked out after releasing the shutter until you wound the film advance. According to the 1956 Sears Camera Catalog the "Automatic Exacta VX" has "a fully-automatic pre-set diaphragm control . . . closes to pre-set opening when shutter is released . . . reopens automatically." There are several excellent and detailed sites about Exacta cameras including: exataphile, wrotniak.net - Exakta, Classic Exakta SLRs, Captain Jack's Exakta Pages.
My Exakta was purchased in the Hillcrest area of San Diego on 11-19-07 with six other cameras and assorted lenses for $150. It had belonged to the seller's father in law who was going into a nursing home. The father in law had been an avid amateur photographer amassing a large camera collection, most of which had been disposed of earlier. The camera is in very good cosmetic condition. The shutter works well. (I have not yet figured out the slow speeds which are on a separate dial.) The lens is clear and in beautiful cosmetic condition. I think the diaphragm is not functioning, however. At first I thought it was probably a preset lens and I just didn't know how to set it. I think it is fully automatic, however, and stuck at f16 or so. If you look very closely there is some slight movement to open the blades. It probably needs cleaning and lubrication, although that likely would be expensive. The 50 mm f1.9 Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon lens does seem to be expensive. An Exakta VX with that lens went for over $200 on eBay in October 2007 with a sticking diaphragm. The camera comes with a leather Exakta case in near new condition. A very cool camera indeed, although I sure wish the aperture wasn't stuck!
An interesting fact is that Jimmy Stewart, playing a photographer confined to his apartment with a broken leg, appears to use an Exakta VX with penta prism finder and telephoto lens to get a closer view of the murderer (Raymond Burr - soon to become defense attorney Perry Mason on television) across the courtyard in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film "Rear Window." (See photo at Internet Movie Database (IMDb) - Rear Window and extensive discussion at photo.net.) According to Camera Wiki the lens used was a Kilfitt Fern-Kilar f/5.6 400mm lens. As explained under the Exakta VX IIa below, I have a Heinz Kilfitt Munchen Tele-Kilar 300mm f5.6 lens which is quite impressive at nearly 12 inches long including lens hood. While professional photographers tended to use 35mm rangefinders more than 35mm SLRs in the 1950s, SLRs were needed for telephoto lenses and close-up work. The Exakta was the choice of most professionals using a SLR. Medium format twin lens reflex cameras and press view cameras were also popular. The flash from a press view camera was used in Rear Window to temporarily blind the murderer.
|Exakta VX IIa (Large Image, Back, With Lens) The Exakta VX IIa was sold between 1957 and 1963. Those sold in the United States were the VX IIa. Outside the United States it was called Varnex IIa. The Varnex name was not used because of trademark issues. There were several versions of the VX IIa (or Varnex IIa). (See, e.g., wrotniak.net.) Mine appears to be one of the later versions made somewhere between 1960 and 1963 because it has the rectangular nameplate which had the name EXAKTA on a black background. Mine has the rectangular nameplate but missing the name. I need to research exactly which version it is. The serial number would actually indicate the version before the nameplate. On the top plate it says: "GERMANY - U.S.S.R. OCCUPIED" which I assume is the same as East Germany. Shutter speeds are listed as 25, 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000. This is a purely mechanical camera with no light meter. Page 8 of the Montgomery Ward New 1957 Camera Shop Catalog has the 1957 Model II a at a price of $352 with 50mm f2 Auto-Westagon lens and "free wide angle lens." $352 in 1957 has the same buying power as about $3800 as I write this in December 2022! I don't recall exactly when I got this camera but I do have an email referring to Craigslist and "Camera bag filled with old cameras and lenses Exakta! - $60" from August 2010. I'm guessing that's the transaction. I had stored with this camera a Heinz Kilfitt Munchen Tele-Kilar 300mm f5.6 lens which is almost a foot long when at the close focus mark of 10 feet. Paired with the Exakta VX above it makes for a good "Rear Window" setup. It has a tripod socket and a drop in filter slot. Unfortunately, 3 or 4 leaf blades have come loose and hence the aperture does not work properly. The lens is in nice cosmetic condition. The camera is in pretty good cosmetic condition although it is missing the Exakta name and has some paint loss around the top edge. The shutter fires and the cloth shutter curtains seem to operate correctly. The trailing shutter curtain is wrinkled, although this does not seem to affect the operation. I have not tried different shutter speeds for fear of messing something up! Exakta cameras were common in the 1950s. With the Nikon F, the Minolta SR-2 and the Canonflex introduced to the American market in March 1959, Japanese cameras would begin to predominate in the 1960s, however.|
|Kodak Retina Reflex (1957-1959) (Large Image) the first in the Retina Reflex series made for Kodak in West Germany. The rear element of the lens stayed the same and the front element could be replaced to achieve different focal lengths. These lenses were not compatible with the later Retina Reflex S, III and IV cameras and the Kodak Instamatic Reflex. I have three of the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon Retina lenses: Normal 50mm f2.0, Wide 35mm 5.6 (Curtar name before Xenon), and telephoto 80mm f4 (Longar name before Xenon). The wide and telephoto come in their own plastic cases (black bottom, clear top). The mirror stays up until you advance the film. The camera and lenses are in good cosmetic condition. The viewfinder appears fairly dirty, with perhaps dust or mold on the mirror or focusing screen. The mirror folds up so you can't see it or the focusing screen. The diaphragm is sticky. At first it would not open at all. I took off the normal lens and then it started working. Sometimes it does not fully open, however. You have access to the front of the diaphragm when you remove the front elements. It might be possible to try to clean it with solvent, but I'm just going to leave well enough alone. It has a Selenium non-through the lens exposure meter which does not appear to work. Purchased on eBay on 9-1-07 for $38.76 plus $15 shipping. Additional information about the Retina Reflex can be found at Chris' Camera Pages and Photoethnography. The manual is available at www.butkus.org. The 1963 Montgomery Ward Camera Catalog at page 11 shows the later Retina Reflex III priced at $194.50.|
|Kodak Retina Reflex S (1959-1960) (Large Image) This was the second model in the Retina Reflex series. Unlike the original Retina Reflex above, with this model the entire lens was interchangeable, not just the front element. The S type lenses were also useable on the Retina IIIS type rangefinder cameras. My camera comes with the Schneider Retina-Xenar 50mm f2.8 lens. A 50mm f1.9 lens was also available. (Chris's Camera Pages.) My camera also came with a 35mm f4 Rodenstock Retina-Eurygon lens and a 135mm f4 Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Tele-Xenar lens. Both are beautiful and come in very substantial clear plastic cases. Both seem to work. The owner's manual is available at butkus.org. Kodak Classics has the scanned 1970 book The Retina Reflex Guide. Shutter speeds are 1 second to 1/500 second. Apertures are up to f22. The shutter speed is set by the shutter speed ring that has two black notched handles. Aperture is set by the setting wheel on the camera by the bottom of the lens assembly. There is a non through the lens (non-TTL) light meter. Turning the setting wheel, you line a yellow arrow up with the light meter needle to get the correct shutter speed - aperture combination. You can then change the shutter speed and the aperture will change to the correct value. At least that's how it is supposed to work in theory. My camera does not appear to be doing that. The camera or the operator may not be working right! The Selenium light meter is active, but I do not know if it is accurate.|
The Retina Reflex has a leaf shutter between the mirror and lens like the Voigtlander Bessamatic and the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex cameras, also from West Germany. As I wrote regarding the Bessamatic, this design complicates things! As you advance the film, the shutter must open, the aperture must fully open, the mirror must go down, and a capping plate must be lowered in front of the film. In this position you can view the image. When you hit the shutter release, the shutter closes, the capping plate and mirror go up, the aperture stops down, the shutter opens, and the shutter closes after the set time. The plate and mirror remain up and the shutter closed until you advance the film again. Most of this process works in my camera except that while the shutter opens when you advance the film, as soon you let go of the shutter the shutter closes. It is supposed to remain open in order to view the image. The rest of the process seems to work. For example, after you advance the film lever, the mirror is down and the capping plate is closed. As stated at Chris's Camera Pages: "The Retina Reflexes are mechanically quite complex and since they have rarely been serviced in historically recent times, they are often found in less than perfect mechanical condition, and may be suffering from a variety of problems as a result." He describes my camera's problem at this page under Retina Reflex: "A problem with adjustment in the mechanism may be indicated if the shutter opens when you swing the film advance lever, but then immediately closes and remains closed as the film advance lever returns to the rest position." A CLA (Clean, Lubricate and Adjustment) might fix the problem. Chris is in New Zealand and is now retired. He recommends Paul Barden in Oregon (see Chris's Repair Page) but Paul Barden's site states: "I provide servicing for the following Retina models: type 117-141, 010, Retina II, IIa, IIc, IIIc, IIIC." He does not refer to the Retina Reflex. Retina Reflex - Camera-Wiki states: "The Retina Reflexes are fascinating instruments, which make them a joy to use, but after many years in service, it is not to be expected every function works properly, yet the camera might still take pictures. The cameras are expensive to repair, and most repairmen are reluctant to touch them." That page states the Retina Reflex S originally sold for $235. That's almost $2,400 in 2023 dollars. Cosmetically, my camera is in excellent condition. My camera may have been purchased with the case as part of a collection of 35+ vintage consumer cameras for about $200 from an ad on Craigslist on 6-27-08 in Oceanside, CA. It comes with a leather case in good condition.
|Kodak Retina Reflex IV (1964-1967) (Large Image) This was the fourth and last in the 35mm SLR Kodak Retina Reflex series. After this there was an Instamatic Reflex from 1968 to 1974 which used 126 Instamatic film cartridges. The Retina Reflex IV is recognized by the small square window in front of the pentaprism housing to display the aperture in the viewfinder. It also added an accessory shoe with flash contacts. The frame counter also automatically resets to 36 when the back is opened and counts down. "The frame advance slider is used to set the counter for shorter rolls." (Wikipedia.) The Retina Reflexes all had a Synchro-Compur lens with speeds from 1/500 to 1 second. As with the other Retina Reflexes and similar German cameras the leaf shutter is located between the lens and the mirror. The Selenium light meter does not read through the lens. The meter needle is on the left side looking through the viewfinder. The bottom of the viewfinder shows both the shutter speed and aperture selected. The manual is available at butkus.org. The basic procedure in taking a photo is on summarized on page 3. "1. Turn the shutter speed dial by its black handles to select a shutter speed . . .. 2. Rotate the setting wheel, located below the shutter housing, to center the needle between the pointers on the top of the camera or in the viewfinder. 3. Look through the eyepiece; adjust the focus; compose the picture; check the exposure. 4. Press the exposure release to take the picture." The setting wheel hence functions as an aperture ring.|
|Once set the shutter speed and aperture are coupled. You can change the shutter speed, and the aperture will change appropriately to maintain the correct exposure. For example, if you originally set 1/125 second f11 and then set the shutter to 1/500 second to stop action, the aperture will open up two stops to f5.6. The Retina Reflex and similar cameras with a leaf shutter do not have instant return mirrors. Once you fire the shutter, the mirror remains in the up position and you cannot see through the viewfinder until your advance the film again. The film advance is on the bottom of the camera and can be turned with your right thumb. I don't recall off hand where I got my camera. It is in excellent cosmetic condition. The shutter works and the speeds seem appropriate. The shutter is a little slow to close at all speeds, however. That's not unusual since these types of shutters require periodic maintenance. (Chris's Camera Pages - Common Faults.) While the meter needle occasionally moves, I think my meter is no longer operational. My camera comes with a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 45mm f2.8 lens which is in good condition. My camera has the bottom half of a leather case in very good condition. According to Wikipedia, the Retina Reflex IV originally sold for in 1964 for $277. Sounds reasonable, but that's almost $2,700 in February 2023 dollars! According to Wikipedia, over 524,000 Retina Reflex IV cameras were made, over double that of the three prior Retina Reflex models combined. Many sites discuss the Kodak Retina Reflex IV including Chris's Camera Pages, Down the Road, All My Cameras, Camera-Wiki, bluemooncamera.com, Kodak Classics - 43 page Retina Reflex Guide (pdf version link at end, as well as links to the Retinette Guide and the Retina Guide), Photos by Bernard, and CJ's Classic Cameras.|
|Konica Autoreflex T (1968-1970) Described at the superb www.buhla.de site as "the first camera with fully automatic exposure control and metering through-the-lens (TTL)." Shutter preferred automatic and full manual open aperture exposure control. With the shutter preferred automation, you set the aperture ring to EE and set the desired shutter speed. The camera selects the aperture which is displayed in the viewfinder. Shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000 seconds. 52mm f1.8 lens. It is a very solid camera with advanced features including mirror lockup and depth of field preview. My only other cameras with mirror lockup are the Minolta SRT-101 and Canon EOS Elan. Uses two PX675 1.35 volt mercury batteries which are no longer available. I used two LR44 batteries and the meter seems consistently two or three stops off which I could compensate for by changing the ISO. www.buhla.de has a comprehensive discussion of alternatives. My camera was purchased on eBay. It is in excellent cosmetic and working condition. I don't think the camera was used much. Came with Konica ever ready case in good condition although the interior felt may be deteriorating and getting dusty. On 10-24-07 I acquired 28mm and 135mm Konica lenses for free from Ocean Beach, CA from a craigslist ad. They are in good cosmetic and working condition.|
|Konica Autoreflex T3 (1973-1975) (Large Image, Back) A beautiful, hefty camera, mine is the black model in fantastic shape weighing in at about 2.3 pounds with the Konica 52mm f1.8 lens. Mine came with the Konica every-ready case. The shutter fires and the speeds sound accurate. It has a vertically travelling metal shutter with shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second. It has open aperture manual metering as well as shutter preferred EE metering with compatible Konica lenses with an EE setting on the aperture ring. The T3 has many high quality features of a classic early 1970s camera including depth of field preview, mirror lock-up function with the timer, and display of both shutter speeds and aperture in the large, bright viewfinder. It was the first Konica SLR with a flash hot shoe, although it was an optional accessory. (Konica Autoreflex T3 - buhla.de.) Mine has the hot shoe. There are also X and M flash contacts. There is a small multiple exposure lever labeled M.E. by the shutter speed dial. This model was replaced by the Konica Autoreflex T3N, although the newer has the same designation on the camera. T3 / T3N Differences - buhla.de lists the differences. Mine is the original model. I don't have the price for the original T3, but the new T3 on page 8 of the 1976-77 Sears Camera Catalog with f1.7 lens sold for $379. $379 in 1976 has the same buying power as about $2,000 in late 2022! The case sold for $19.50. That Sears Camera Catalog page also had the Olympus OM-1 selling for $334 and the Mamiya DSX 1000 selling for $239. The Konica represents the classical 1960s and early 1970s large SLR while the Olympus OM-1 represents the new, slimmer SLR trend. The buhla.de website has a pdf copy of the T3 manual. The T# takes two PX675 mercury oxide batteries which are no longer made. SR 44 siler oxide or LR 44 batteries fit, although they have a different voltage than the PX675 batteries. The buhla.de site has a detailed page of how to deal with this problem. I have not tried the light meter recently although I think it was working. As I write this description in December 2022, I can't remember where exactly I got this camera. It may be from a couple in the Fletcher Hills area of El Cajon who I originally met at a garage sale and who I later purchased a Konica camera as well as several vintage typewriters around 2008. I also purchased a Konica SLR from a gentleman in La Mesa from an ad on Craigslist around the same time frame. It also came with a Chinon 85-210mm f4.5 lens and a Vivitar 352 automatic and manual side mount flash.|
|Konica Autoreflex TC (1976-1982) (Large Image) 35mm SLR with shutter preferred automatic exposure with Konica automatic lenses with an AE setting. To use this, set the aperture ring to the AE setting. Set the desired shutter speed on the shutter speed dial. The camera will choose the correct aperture. The aperture being used is shown in the viewfinder. Manual mode is also possible with the correct aperture being shown in the viewfinder. The camera has a vertically running metal shutter with a flash synchronization speed of 1/125. Shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/1000 plus B. Most SLRs also had 1/4, 1/2 and 1 second. The meter is turned on when you rotate the film advance. When the meter is on, the film advance lever sticks out somewhat. Below the film advance lever a switch shuts the meter off and return the film advance lever to the closed position. The meter takes two PX-13, PX-625 or EPX-13 1.35 volt mercury batteries which are no longer made. Buhla.de discusses alternatives. The camera is made in Japan. The manual is available at butkus.org. The price in the 1978-1979 Sears Camera Catalog was $269.50 with the 50mm f1.4 lens or $229.50 with the 50mm f1.7 lens. That corresponds to approximately $1,235 and $1,050 in January 2023 dollars. My camera is in good cosmetic condition. The leatherette covering is shrinking around the edges which is common for these cameras. The film advance works and the shutter fires. I have not tested the meter. Numerous sites have excellent information of the Konica Autoreflex TC including Camera-Wiki, buhda.de, Matt's Classic Camera, imagingpixel.com, and casualphotophile.com.|
|Konica Autoreflex T4 (1977-1978) (Large Image) Dates from KonicaFiles.com. 35mm SLR with shutter preferred automatic exposure with Konica automatic lenses with an AE setting. To use this, set the aperture ring to the AE setting. Set the desired shutter speed on the shutter speed dial. The camera will choose the correct aperture. The aperture being used is shown in the viewfinder. Manual mode is also possible with the correct aperture being shown in the viewfinder. The camera has a vertically running metal shutter with a flash synchronization speed of 1/125. Shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000 plus B. Depth of field preview. Accepted an autowinder which advances the film up to 2 frames per second. Multiple exposures possible. (The similar looking Konica TC lacked depth of field preview, did not accept an autowinder, could not do multiple exposures and slow shutter speeds stopped at 1/8 second.) The meter is turned on when you rotate the film advance. When the meter is on, the film advance lever sticks out somewhat. Below the film advance lever a switch shuts the meter off and return the film advance lever to the closed position. The meter takes two PX-13, PX-625 or EPX-13 1.35 volt mercury batteries which are no longer made. Buhla.de discusses alternatives. The camera is made in Japan. The manual is available at butkus.org. The price in the 1978-1979 Sears Camera Catalog at page 11 was $294.50 with a f1.7 normal lens and $334.50 with a f1.4 normal lens. Adjusted for inflation, those prices would be $1,300 and $1,478 in March 2023 dollars. The autowinder was $99.50 or $440 in March 2023 dollars. My camera is in very good cosmetic condition although the covering is shrinking. The camera works well, although I have not tested the meter. I may have acquired this camera with the 57mm f1.4 lens and an autowinder for $50 on Craigslist in April 2012.|
|Konica FS-1 (1979) (Large Image) The Konica FS-1 is the first 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera with a built-in motor drive. It was also Konica's first electronically controlled SLR. The manual is available at butkus.org. Film loading is simple. Simply pull the film out to the prescribed position and close the back. The film automatically advances at 1.5 frames per second. Rewind was not automatic. There is a rewind button on the bottom of the camera and a rewind lever on top of the camera. Exposure is either shutter preferred automatic or metered manual. To use shutter preferred automatic exposure set the lens aperture ring to the AE setting. Then set the desired shutter speed and the camera sets the correct aperture. A red LED is displayed next to the selected aperture on the aperture scale on the left side of the viewfinder. To use metered manual set the shutter speed. The camera will show the correct aperture in the viewfinder for that shutter speed. Set that aperture on the aperture ring. The camera has a vertically traveling metal shutter with speeds from 1/1000 to 2 seconds plus B. Flash synch in automatic mode is 1/100 second. When in manual mode flash synch is 1/60 second. ASA (ISO) values from 25 to 3200 are set in an inner dial within the shutter dial on top of the camera. The camera has a nice large viewfinder with a split image and microprism in addition to the ground class. Its a relatively heavy camera at 574 grams for the body only without the batteries. It seems relatively wide with the built-in motor, but is much less bulky that a camera with a separate winder. It takes 4 AA 1.5 volt alkaline batteries. Rechargeable batteries are not to be used and apparently can damage the camera. The camera does not operate without batteries. Overall, it seems to be an easy camera to use and very intuitive.|
|I don't recall where I got the camera. It was many years ago. It came with a Tokina 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 lens, a Toyo Optics 80-200 f4.5 lens, the manual and a Tamron case. The camera is in very good cosmetic condition with some minor paint loss on the edges of the back and bottom. It is also in excellent working condition. The meter responds and appears to be reasonably accurate. All of that is great since these cameras have a reputation for failing electronics. Floggingenglish indicates the level of electronics problems is tied to the serial numbers. Earlier cameras had more problems. More specifically, cameras with serial numbers 100,000 to 345,000 had common electronic failures. Cameras with serial numbers 345,000 to 420,000 had issues but far less frequently. My serial number falls under this category. Finally, cameras with serial numbers greater than 420,000 were quite reliable. Buhla.de has three similar categories with different ranges. Up to 250,000 have common failures, 250,000 to 350,000 still have problems but fewer, over 350,000 have very few problems. Using these ranges, my camera falls under the third problem free category. :) There are many other sites reviewing and discussing the Konica FS-1 including Aperture Preview, Camera-Wiki, 678 Vintage Cameras, Vintage Camera Digest, Lens-DB.com, KonicaFiles, Stephen Daugherty Photography, botew.com, and Everything Vintage. A full page ad for the Konica FS-1 is on page 45 of the January 1981 Popular Photography Magazine. On page 129 Adorama was selling the FS-1 body only for $211.95. That's equal to $735 in March 2023 dollars. I also have a very informative brochure for the Konica FS-1. In handwriting it has $279.00 for the camera with the 40mm f1.8 lens. That's equal to over $1,100 in March 2023 dollars.|
|Konica FT-1 Motor (1983-1987) (Large Image, Without Grip, Back, With Battery Pack Cable) The Konica FT-1, also known as the Konica FT-1 Motor, is the last 35mm SLR produced by Konica itself prior to the merger with Minolta. (Wikipedia.) (The Konica TC-X was introduced later, but it was made by Cosina.) Camera-Wiki describes the FT-1 as "basically an updated FS-1." The Konica FS-1, introduced in 1979, was the first 35mm SLR with a built-in motor drive. (Camera-Wiki - Konica FS-1. The FT-1 improved on the FS-1's fragile electronic circuitry. (Konica Files.) The FT-1 also has a faster film advance advancing at 2.5 frames per second. (Konica publications say 2 frames per second.) Both cameras have a very easy film loading system. The FT-1 is powered by four AAA 1.5 volt batteries in the more common smaller grip, or by four AA batteries in the less common larger grip. Rechargeable batteries should not be used. (Buhla.de.) There was also an optional remote battery pack as shown at page 12 of the Manual available at butkus.org. My camera only has the remote battery pack grip and cord. My cord is somewhat different than that shown in the manual since it also has a connection to the remote shutter release input. While film advance is automatic, film rewind is manual. Unfortunately, the film rewind knob on my camera is missing.|
|The camera has shutter preferred automatic exposure. You select the shutter speed. The camera then selects the proper aperture which is shown in the viewfinder display. The manual also says the camera has aperture priority. "While looking through the finder, depress the Shutter button slightly, and turn the Shutter speed dial until the LED of the desired aperture value is turned on." (Manual at butkus.org at page 19.) This seems to really still be shutter priority, although the shutter knob is easily turned by your right thumb. There is a single-frame or continuous action mode switch behind the shutter release. The six pin circular input on the front of the camera is for a remote cable release. Uniquely, you can also install an optional left handed release switch. The new price at page 154 of the January 1984 Popular Photography Magazine in a B&H Photo ad was $139 ($408) for the body only, $184 ($540) with f1.8 lens and $219 ($643) with f1.4 lens. The amounts in parenthesis are the equivalent amounts in January 2023 dollars. The July 1983 Popular Photography Magazine at page 34 has a full page ad for the FT-1. Other sites discussing the Konica FT-1 include davidde.com, mflenses.com, theothermartintaylor.com, and cameragocamera.com. Since my camera does not have the battery grip, it is difficult to test it thoroghly. I did hook up thoroughly a 4 AA battery pack to the terminals that the battery grip fits into. The shutter fires and the mirror operates properly. The camera is in very good cosmetic condition. The mirror is in good shape, but dusty.|
|Konica TC-X (1985-1987) (Large Image) Dates from buhla.de. The TC-X was Konica's last single lens reflex camera model, although it was actually produced by Cosina. According to Camera-Wiki the TC-X was the "first SLR to use a body completely cast of plastic, and first camera to use the then new DX encoding for film sensitivity." You could also set the film speed manually. It is a fully mechanical camera except for the light meter. It has a metal, vertically traveling shutter with shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/1000 second plus B. The manual is available at butkus.org. Shutter priority automatic exposure is available for Konica lenses with AE mark. Set the aperture ring to the AE mark. Set the shutter dial to the desired shutter speed. The camera automatically selects the correct aperture which is shown in the viewfinder. Manual metering is also available. Flash synch at 1/60. It takes one readily available 1.5 volt AA alkaline battery for the meter. Davidde.com has a review with a June 26, 1985 Baltimore Sun newspaper advertisement for the TC-X at a price of $149 ($418) with a 50mm f1.8 lens. A Konica FT-1 was $239 ($670), a 60% increase. The numbers in parenthesis are the values in March 2023 dollars adjusted for inflation. I don't recall where I got my Konica TC-X. It is in excellent cosmetic condition. The shutter seems to work fine. The meter reacts to light, but it shows significantly overexposed readings. While not cutting edge at the time, the TC-1 represented a good value for an automatic exposure camera at the time. While not as convenient as a Konica FT-1, it would take the same quality photos at a budget price.|
Tower 32A, (circa 1962) (Large Image). Tower is a Sears brand. The Tower 32A is same as the Mamiya Prismat NP, the first Mamiya 35mm SLR marketed, as explained at Ron Herron's Collecting Mamiya 35mm. Shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second. 58mm f1.9 Mamiya Sekor lens with an Exacta style mount. The projection from the lens on the side with the self timer is the mechanism for opening and closing the aperature. Mamiya had not yet adopted the Pentex screw mount lenses. Canon even made a lens for this camera. Mamiya also made a camera similar to the Mamiya Prismat NP for Nikon called the Nikkorex F as explained at Ron Herron's Collecting Mamiya 35mm. The Tower 32A is a purely manual camera with no light meter and no batteries of any sort. It is in excellent cosmetic and working condition with very little wear. It looks like someone used it a short time and then put it away for the next 45 years! It is missing, however, a circular dial on the back which I believe may have been an ASA film speed reminder dial. It comes with a nice ever-ready leather case also in excellent condition. Purchased on eBay on 7-30-07 for $9.99 plus $11.10 shipping.
|Sears Mamiya 1000 MXB,very similar to the Mamiya MSX 1000 except it carries the Sears nameplate, is black and comes with a 55mm f1.4 lens instead of 55mm f1.8 lens. The price on page 2 of the 1976-1977 Sears Camera Catalog was $239 with case. The lens clearly displays the "Sekor SX" name clearly indicating it is a Mamiya. This camera is in great condition.|
|Mamiya Auto XTL (Large Image) (1971-1975) Introduced April 1971, the Mamiya Auto XTL was likely the most advanced SLR in its day with shutter preferred automatic exposure, manual match needle exposure, a full information viewfinder showing both shutter speed and aperture, and spot and averaging open aperture metering. Metering was off the film plane. These innovations were pretty remarkable in 1971 since widespread use of electronic controls in cameras was still several years away. The Mamiya Auto XTL was a purely mechanical camera except for the meter. According to cameraquest.com, the only other automatic exposure SLRs at the time were the Konica Autoreflex T2 and Miranda Sensorex EE although in 1972 the Nikormat EL and the Pentax Electro Spotmatic came out. The Mamiya Auto XTL had a connection for a motor drive, but a motor drive was never produced. Shutter speeds are 1 second to 1/1000 second. Electronic flash synchronization is at 1/60 second. The exposure meter is powered by one 1.5 volt silver oxide S-76 battery which are still readily available. The camera never used mercury batteries which were common at the time but are now no longer available. There is no mirror lock-up. While a remarkable camera for its time, it was not that successful. Cameraquest.com indicates it was relatively expensive at the time selling for $259 in December 1971. (That's equal to about $1,470 in 2012 dollars.) That was in line with the cost of high end Nikon, Canon, Topcon, Pentax and Minolta cameras at the time. It was hard to compete with those brands at the time and there was not a lot of professional acceptance of an automatic exposure camera at the time. There were several lenses available for the Mamiya Auto XTL, but much less than for the other brands. On hindsight, it was a great camera that was ahead of its time. Besides cameraquest.com, Ron Herron's Collecting Mamiya 35mm has excellent information about the Auto XTL and other Mamiya 35mm cameras. The instruction manual is at butkus.org.|
|I purchased mine on May 24, 2012 for $150 in the Loma Portal area of San Diego from an ad on Craigslist. I have purchased from the same gentleman on several other occasions. He used to be an avid collector who also knows how to maintain and repair cameras. His equipment is always in top notch condition. The camera came with the following lenses and other items: (1) Auto XTL body (P143807) (2) 55mm f1.8 ES lens (40487), (3) 35mm f2.8 ES lens, (4) 28mm f2.8 ES lens (10708), (5) 135mm f2.8 ES lens (12218), (6) 90-230mm f4.5 zoom ES lens (10506), (7) auto bellows for Mamiya/Sekor ES series cameras and lenses, (8) Microscope adapter, (9) Mamiya/Sekor P Adapter, (10) Mamiya/Sekor T-Mount Adapter for Auto XTL, (11) Sigma YA mount adapter, (12) owner's manual and other paper work. The camera is in excellent working and cosmetic condition except for some loss of the black paint on the metal below the spot/averaging meter switch. Everything else appears to be in excellent condition. It is a remarkable collection since the camera itself is rare, it includes a large assortment of relatively rare lenses, and the mount adapters are apparently very rare. The P adapter allows use of widely available screw mount lenses with stop down metering. Automatic aperture function is maintained. The seller also gave me three other cameras - a Petri FT EE, a Petri IV, and an Agfa Ambi Silette rangefinder that takes interchangeable lenses. All are truly wonderful additions to the Camera Museum.|
|Mamiya ZE (1980) (Large Image) Introduced in July 1980, the Mamiya ZE (sometimes marked Mamiya ZE Quartz) is an aperture preferred automatic exposure SLR with center weighted through the lens metering. (See, e.g., Camera-Wiki.) You set the aperture on the lens aperture ring. The camera automatically sets the shutter speed which is displayed on the right side of the viewfinder. Shutter speeds are up to 1/1000 second. There is no manual mode. While there is no manual mode, at least you know the aperture and shutter speed and can get the aperture/shutter speed combination desired for creative effect. There is also an exposure compensation feature of +/- 2 stops in one stop increments on the right side of the ASA dial. The exposure can therefore be varied. For these reasons, having aperture preferred only is generally preferable to having a program only automatic exposure. The ZE-2 introduced in December 1980 added a shutter speed dial for manual exposure in addition to aperture preferred automatic exposure. The camera takes 4 MS 76 batteries which are still readily available. The January 1981 Popular Photography Magazine starting at page 103 has an extensive lab report on the Mamiya ZE.|
|The ZE series introduced a new bayonet mount and the Mamiya ZE "was the first Japanese SLR to use an electronic coupling system to transmit information between the camera body and its interchangeable lenses." (Ron Herron - Mamiya ZE.) The new lens mount complicated the use of prior lenses as described at Ron Herron's site although there were adapters to use other mounts including screw mount lenses. The manual for the Mamiya ZE is at butkus.org. Before you open the pdf manual there are additional comments not in the manual about problems in compatibility of some lenses and the adapters which should be read carefully before attempting to use the adapters. Camera manufacturers would continue to face this tension throughout the 1980s between new lens mounts and electronic innovation on the one hand and backwards compatibily on the other hand. For example, Canon abandoned their FD mount for the new EOS mount with the introduction of the autofocus EOS 650 in 1987 and Minolta abandoned their MC and MD mounts for the Minolta A-mount with the introduction of the Minolta 7000 in 1985. Nikon and Pentax on the other hand tended to maintain backwards compatibility sometimes at the expensive of innovation.
Looking back through emails, I apparently purchased my camera for $11.50 plus $5 shipping on eBay in November 2009. It came with a 50mm and 200mm lens. My camera body is in good condition. The shutter fires. I can't put batteries in it, however, since I'm missing the battery holder. The focusing ring on the 50mm f2 E lens is totally loose and the lens will not focus.
|Minolta SR-2 (Large, Top) (1958-1960) Minolta's first single lens reflex camera. It had many advanced features at the time including an instant return mirror, open aperture viewing, bayonet lens mount, and a single shutter dial. Shutter speeds: 1 second to 1/1000 second plus B. Lens is 55mm f1.8 Minolta Auto Rokkor-PF. It is purely mechanical with no exposure meter. Due to its historical significance, many sites discuss the SR-2: cameraquest, Manual Minolta, Camerapedia, rokkorfiles. The SR-2 cameras are becoming relatively rare and hence prices are rising according to a discussion at photo.net. Mine was purchased at a garage sale on November 17, 2007 for $25 in the San Carlos area of San Diego. The owner purchased it new and was 81 years old when I purchased it from him. I bought several other items from him. The camera came with the nice chrome trimmed leather case and a manual in good condition. The camera is in very good cosmetic and operating condition. The one exception is that there appears to be a small spot of fungus on the inside of the front element of the lens. A very cool camera! A magazine ad from 1959 stated the price was $249.50. (cameraquest.com, pinterest - cameraquest - scrolling down shows a lot of other camera ads from other sources also.) That's almost $2,600 in March 2023 dollars.|
|Minolta SR-1 (Large, Back) (1959-1965) Despite its name, this was the second Minolta single lens reflex model after the SR-2 above. The less expensive SR-1's top shutter speed was 1/500 second instead of the SR-2's 1/1000 and it usually came with the slower 55mm f2 lens. A 1960 magazine advertisement on eBay listed the price for the SR-1 as $179.50 which is over $1,800 in 2022 dollars. There were several versions of the SR-1 as explained at camera-wiki.org/. Mine looks like it may be the version introduced in 1961 with chrome bracket on the front of the camera with two holes in the top. The bracket was designed to hold a non-TTL (not through the lens) light meter which was coupled with the shutter speed dial. Tinkering With Cameras shows an SR-1 with a light meter attached. As I write this in December 2022, I think I likely got mine at a garage sale, perhaps at an annual sale in the La Mesa/Spring Valley area. My camera seems to work fine. It is in good cosmetic condition with a slight ding in the pentaprism housing. It has an optional cold shoe on top. Mine did not come with the exposure meter. Today, SR-2 cameras sell for significantly more than SR-1 cameras because of the greater rarity and historical significance of the SR-2. (See Rokkorfiles.com.) I also purchased a later version Minolta SR-1 camera with the smaller light meter bracket in front, along with the Minolta XG-7 and the Minolta SRT-MC below on eBay on May 14, 2011 for $22.50 plus $10.70 shipping.|
|Minolta SR-7 (Large Image) (introduced 1962) Everything the SR-2, SR-1 and SR-3 had, plus a built in coupled CdS light meter. (Clip-on meters for the earlier cameras had been introduced.) The light meter was coupled to the shutter speed dial. You selected the shutter speed and the meter would advise you what the proper aperture was. You then set the aperture. The light meter is not through the lens. Rather, the light meter is the round window on the front, top of the camera below the rewind lever. This is a disadvantage when using other than normal lenses or when doing close-up work, since the scene the light meter is viewing may be different from the scene the lens is viewing. It also does not indicate the decreased light received when certain filters are put in front of the lens or when extension tubes are used. Hand-held and clip-on meters generally had the same problems and were much less convenient. Also, some through the lens metering systems require you to "stop-down" the lens to the aperture you are going to use to get a correct meter reading. This was not necessary with a separate metering window. Through the lens metering which did not require you to stop down were called "open aperture" metering systems. The Minolta SRT 101 below, introduced in 1966, had a open aperture through the lens metering system. The SR-7 was introduced in 1962. In 1965 the SR-7 (model V) was introduced. It was basically the same except it was lighter and was somewhat differently styled. The The Rokkor Files, The Minolta SR Series has excellent, detailed information about the SR series. My SR-7 is in good working condition. I bought it, an SR-1 and a Black SRTMC for only $22.50 plus $10.70 shipping on eBay from seller jamest9245 on May 14, 2011. (The SRTMC is essentially a slightly scaled down SRT 101 sold in J.C. Penny Stores from 1973-1973. The Rokkor Files - The Minolta SRT Series (again, that site has great detailed information).) I thought this was a great price. All three of the cameras had been film tested. They also represent a nice progression of Minolta single lens reflex cameras from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s.|
|Minolta SRT 101 (Large Image) (1966-1975) classic SLR with open aperture match needle metering, depth of field preview, mirror lockup, mechanical self timer, and large bright viewfinder with shutter speeds shown on bottom. Mirror lockup, enabled with a small switch above the self timer, is an uncommon feature which I have only on this camera, my Konica Autoreflex T and my Canon Elan. Shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second. 1.3V mercury battery so you have to find substitutes. Manual Minolta states three different variations: (1) 1966-1969 with black (even in chrome model) finely milled shutter dial, (2) 1969-1971 shutter dial has 3 rows of rectangles and is chrome in the chrome model (some other minor changes), (3) 1971-1975 no mirror lock-up and no revolving ASA reminder dial on back. I have the second variation. Owner's manual available in pdf format at Curtis Smith. Purchased at a yard sale in the San Carlos area of San Diego in Spring 2007 for only $20 with 3 Minolta MC Rokkor lenses: 58mm f1.4, 35mm f2.8 with removable lens hood and 135mm f2.8 with built in lens hood. Included: Komura 2X teleconverter, Minolta polarizing filter (separation of coating on edges), green Hoya filter, +1 and +2 Minolta close up adapters (I think double element!), 2 front and rear lens caps, 2 skylight filters (one has scratches or coating problem) and a large hard leather gadget bag! For $5 more I got a large flash and bracket. For $10 more I got an Olympus microscope without eyepiece. Everything works. Glass is clear. Camera has 3 small dents on right top edge. Focusing rings show some paint loss. The Minolta SRT-101 is truly a fine, work horse of a camera. It is one of my favorite cameras. I have purchased other SRT-101 cameras for as little as $5. They almost always still work. An excellent description of the SRT-101 is at Analog Vision Photography.|
|Minolta SR-M (Large Image) (1970-1975) Minolta's first motorized SLR. They were quite specialized and not widely sold. They are hence relatively rare today and I was lucky to come across one. In many ways it is quite simple. There is no meter and no depth of field preview. Shutter speeds are up to 1/1000 second. There is a mirror lockup. The unique thing about it is that it has a built-in motor drive capable of 3 frames per second. While that is not a big deal on digital SLRs today, it was a big deal then. It was especially unusual to have the motor drive built-in. The handle on the side is detachable. The handle is the power source holding 8 AA batteries. My camera came with two of the handles. The handle has a button that you turn to "off," "c" for continuous, or "s" for single. Flash sync is at 1/60. The Minolta SR-M only came in black. It was designed for professional use. It accepts an optional 250 frame film back. While photographing youth sporting events today I will frequently fire off that many shots. Besides not having to have a huge, specialized back, it costs me virtually nothing extra. In contrast, film and processing for 250 frames gets expensive! Rokkor Files - The Minolta SR-T Series has excellent information on the Minolta SR-M. I purchased my SR-M at a garage sale advertised on Craigslist in May or June 2011 in La Mesa, CA. I bought it and perhaps ten other cameras for a total of $160. The cameras had belonged to the seller's father in law who had a camera shop in San Francisco. This was the most valuable of the cameras, but there were some other nice ones including a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta (works and lens in good shape, but hinge on back broken) and a Voightlander Bessamatic. The Minolta SR-M is in good cosmetic and working condition. It does have some brassing and it looks like some touch-up paint has been applied in some areas. There is also a small ding on the back corner by the rewind knob. The serial no. is 1002902. (Is it the 2902nd made?) The cloth shutter curtain looks good. The shutter speeds sound reasonably accurate. Both handles are in good shape. The motor drives works well.|
|Minolta SRT-MC (Large Image) (1973-1975) The rokkorfiles.com indicates this is similar to a Minolta SRT-101 except it had no self-timer and the focusing screen had a microprism only with no other focusing aids. A hot shoe was added. It was only available in black. It was sold exclusively at K-mart and J.C. Penny stores. Mine comes with a Vivitar 28mm f2.8 close focusing lens. It is in very good cosmetic condition with some scratches and initials on the bottom. It seems to work fine although I have not tried the meter. It takes a 1.35 volt mercury battery which, of course, is no available any longer. I purchased this camera, along with the Minolta XG-7 below and a Minolta SR-1 on eBay on May 14, 2011 for $22.50 plus $10.70 shipping.|
|Minolta XE-7 (Large Image, Back) (1974-1977) The Minolta XE-7 is a full featured SLR with aperture preferred and manual exposure control, depth of field preview, and a full information viewfinder with aperture and shutter speed information. It does not have mirror lockup. (687 Vintage Cameras.) It has an electronically timed Leitz-developed Copal CLS vertically traveling focal plane metal shutter with stepless speeds from 1/1000 to 4 seconds. The camera was developed as part of a joint agreement with Leica to share patents and product development. It shares many of the -features Leica R-3. (Mikeeckman.com. That page has extensive information including an extensive links list, and copies of magazine articles and ads.) It represents a time of transition from purely mechanical cameras to the increasing incorporation of electronic components. It is a hefty, well-built camera. The camera sold for $419 with a 50mm f1.7 lens in the 1976-77 Sears Camera Catalog. That's nearly $2,200 in December 2022 dollars! (Mikeeckman.com shows somewhat higher prices.) The instruction manual is available at cameramanual.org. I purchased this many years ago likely at a garage or estate sale. It is in good cosmetic condition with some brassing on the edges which is not usual for black bodied cameras. Unfortunately, it has issues. The shutter will not fire and the film advance will not move. With fresh batteries (two 1.5 volt S-76), the battery check light on the side of the camera below the rewind knob turns red as it should. When the camera is off, the light meter needle is on the bottom of the display. When you turn the camera on, the needle jumps to the top and stays there no matter what settings or light levels. If I move the ISO dial the meter needle will move sometimes but erratically. The battery compartment is clean. The shutter also does not fire on the X or B settings. These are mechanical settings that should fire even if there is no power. The problem may therefore be mechanical and/or electronic. Some later Minolta cameras are known to have capacitors that go bad and which are easily accessible from the bottom. I took the bottom plate off and did not observe any easily accessible capacitors. The entire 167 page repair manual is available. It is apparent that camera repair professionals are skillful and knowledgeable because it looks very complicated! Unfortunately, it is not cost effective usually to fix a vintage camera.|
|Minolta XE-5 (Large Image, Back) (1975-1977) Dates from Wikipedia - Minolta XE-5 which states the XE-5 "was a simplified and lower-cost version of Minolta's XE/XE-1/XE-7, keeping that camera's automatic exposure but removing viewfinder displays, multiple-exposure capability, the built-in eyepiece shutter (replaced by a viewfinder cap on the shoulder strap), the film tab holder and the film advance window." It was replaced by the XG-7. Casual Photophile indicates the only important change was eliminating aperture information in the viewfinder. The review indicated the shooting the XE-5 is nearly as enjoyable as the shooting the XE-7. It give a glowing review finding the fit and finish of the XE-5 near perfect with wonderful handling. The manual is at butkus.org. I don't recall where I got my XE-5. It is in very good cosmetic and working condition.|
|Minolta XG7 (Large Image) (released October 1977) The rokkorfiles.com has excellent information. The Minolta XG-7 was the first camera in the XG series. The XG-7 reflects the growing use of electronics by the late 1970s allowing the XG7 to have aperture priority exposure. You choose the aperture and the camera selects the shutter speed which is shown in the viewfinder. Manual control is also possible but the metering information was generally not displayed in the viewfinder in manual mode. The XG7 has a horizontally traveling shutter speed with a flash sync of 1/60 second. The XG series was released at the same time as the more advanced and expensive XD series. The XD series included shutter priority automatic exposure in addition to aperture priority, showed both the shutter speed and aperture in the viewfinder, had a vertically traveling metal shutter with a 1/100 flash sync, had a silicon photocell instead of CdS metering, and had a brighter viewfinder among other things. The XD series was developed by Minolta with Leica. As detailed in the rokkorfiles.com, the XG7 in 1978 was $195.90 compared to the XD11 at $289.90. Both cameras are also in the 1978-79 Sears Camera Catalog with the XG-7 with 50mm f1.7 lens priced at $299.50 and the XD-11 with the same lens at $399.50. That page also priced the older Minolta SRT 201 with the same lens at $249.50. While the XD11 was a better camera, the XG7 was no slouch and met most users' needs at a significantly lower cost. That's not to say the XG-7 was inexpensive. $299.50 in 1978 has the same buying power as about $1,400 as I write this in December 2022. I purchased this camera, along with the Minolta SRT-MC above and a Minolta SR-1 on eBay on May 14, 2011 for $22.50 plus $10.70 shipping. It is in very good cosmetic condition. It takes two S76 silver oxide batteries. I tried it with two new LR44 alkaline batteries. At first the exposure and shutter seemed eratic. After using it, however, it seems to be working properly. (Minolta cameras of the era sometimes have capacitor issues as explained at www.679vintagecameras.ca.) There is a repair guide at Learn Camera Repair. The exposure was within a stop of the readings from my Olympus E-M10II camera. The seals need replacing. There is a little bit of debris somewhere in the viewing path although the mirror and focusing screen look clean from what I can see.|
|Minolta XG-1 (Large Image) (released 1978) The rokkorfiles.com has excellent information. The Minolta XG-1 was the second camera in the XG series. It is a less sophisticated and less expensive variation of the original XG-7 above. There is less information in the viewfinder with "shutter speeds between 1/2 to 1/15th seconds are displayed by a line of single dots," and the back is not removable. (Excellent review at Imaging Pixel.) It was priced at $239.99 with 50mm f2 lens in the 1981-1982 Sears Camera Catalog equal to about $750 in December 2022 dollars. That page includes the new Minolta XG-M (see below) with a full information viewfinder and the same lens at $269.99, or about $850 in December 2022 dollars. I don't recall where I got my camera. It is in good cosmetic condition. It was not working, then it started working, then it quit again. I'm going to try and replace the capacitor at the bottom. (See generally 678vintagecameras.) The owner's manual is at butkus.org. The service manual is at Learn Camera Repair. Learn Camera Repair CLA Tutorial for the XG-1.|
|Minolta XD-5 (Large Image) (1979) The rokkorfiles.com calls this the little brother of the XD-11 camera. (XD-11 was the North American name. The XD-11 was called the XD-7 in Europe and the XD in Japan.) The XD-5 has all the mechanical and electronic features of the XD-11 except the aperture information in the viewfinder, a viewfinder blind, the film safe load indicator. The missing aperture information is likely the only significant thing missing. There is a plastic viewfinder blind on my camera strap as well a spare battery holder. The viewfinder blind would be used to block light from entering the viewfinder when you don't have your eye to the viewfinder. The XD-5 is highly regarded with a vertical, electronically controlled, Seiko metal shutter, as well as manual, aperture preferred, and shutter preferred exposure control selected by a switch alongside the shutter speed dial. There is a exposure compensation switch near the rewind lever. The XD-11 with 50mm f1.7 lens was priced at $399.50 in the 1978-79 Sears Camera Catalog. That's about $1,700 adjusted for inflation as I write this in January 2023. Neither that catalog or the 1980-81 Sears Camera Catalog had the XD-5. An Adorama ad at page 129 of the January 1981 Popular Photography Magazine in Google Books had the following body only prices: XD-11 $279.95, XD-5 $234.95 ($800 in December 2022 dollars), XG-9 $172.95, XG-7 Black $159.95, XG-1 $134.95, SRT-201 $99.95. The manual is available at manuals.org. The camera takes two S-76 silver oxide batteries. The batteries are needed both for the exposure meter and the electronic shutter, although the camera will still fire at the O and B shutter settings. Several sites discuss the XD-5 and have specifications including Matt's Classic Cameras, Imaging Pixel, Rokkor Files, and Urban Adventure League. I purchased this camera many years ago perhaps with the Minolta SR-M referred to above. It is in great cosmetic condition and seems to work fine although I have not run film through it.|
|Minolta XG-M (Large Image) (introduced October 1982) a manual focus aperture priority and metered manual exposure SLR. Accepts motor drive with 3.5 fps. Shutter speeds to 1/1000 second. Flash synch at 1/60 second. Full information viewfinder showing both shutter speed and aperture. Depth of field preview, but no mirror lockup. Uses two 1.5 volt silver oxide batteries (S76). Nice information, including a copy of a brochure, at www.rokkorfiles.com. See, also, The Camera Site. The instruction manual is available at butkus.org. The camera was purchased at an estate sale in El Cajon, CA on September 10, 2011 for $0.92. The price was $1, but I only had 92 cents and a $20 bill. The seller took the 92 cents. It was very dirty but cleaned up pretty well. I put new batteries in. The meter is showing some activity but the shutter and film advance do not work at all. It may perhaps be a bad capacitor. See, e.g., rangefinderforcum.com discussion. The 50mm f1.7 lens seems to be working fine.|
|Minolta X-370 (Large Image) (introduced 1984) a manual focus aperture priority and manual exposure SLR. It is based on the X-700 and X-570 but is less expensive and lacks certain features such as depth of field preview, TTL flash metering, interchangeable focusing screens, and f-stops displayed in viewfinder (shutter speed is displayed). Shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second. Shutter speed dial displays only one speed at a time. Price in the 1984-85 Sears Camera Catalog was $179.99. Purchased at a La Mesa, CA (off Massachusetts Street) garage sale in May or June 2007 for $25. Camera and 50mm f1.8 lens are in good cosmetic and working condition. Did not include manual but did include brochure, lens booklet and warranty cards. Includes wide strap with Mickey Mouse on it! Skylight filter seems to be stuck on lens. Uses two L44 or S76 batteries. A nice useable camera.|
|Minolta X-570 (Large Image) introduced in 1983 as a lower cost alternative to the X-700, it actually has several more advanced features than the X-700 including showing both the actual shutter speed and suggested metered shutter speed in manual mode. See Rokkorfiles. While it lacks the programmed automatic exposure of the x-700, it retains aperture preferred automatic exposure in addition to the better manual exposure. Mine includes the sophisticated optional data back and a Minolta autowinder, both of which also work with the X-700. In addition to the Minolta 50mm f1.7 normal lens, my camera also came with two cult classics: the Vivitar Series 1 28mm to 90mm f2.8-3.5 zoom and the Vivitar Series 1 70mm to 210mm f2.8-4.0. The discussion under the Nikon FG has more information about the classic Vivitar Series 1 lenses. The camera with 50mm f1.7 lens was priced at $219.99 in the 1984-1985 Sears Camera Catalog. A Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f2.8-4 lens was $234.99. (The earlier fixed f3.5 Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm lens was actually much more expensive having a price of $359.50 in the 1980-1981 Sears Camera Catalog.) A non-Series 1 28-85mm f3.5-4.5 Vivitar lens was $179.99 in the 1984-95 Sears Catalog. My camera also came with a very nice Tamrac gadget bag that converts from a shoulder bag to a fanny pack, a Focal 2X teleconverter, a set of Cokin filters and an inexpensive Quantary Q15 flash. Everything appears to be in good working and cosmetic condition. Purchased from an ad in Craigslist near Home Avenue in San Diego on December 8, 2007 for $80. A very nice set up indeed!|
|Minolta X-700 (Large Image) (introduced 1981) the highest level of the Minolta X series, the Minolta X-700 was a highly successful camera that was made from 1981 until 1999 with production shifting from Japan to China along the way. See Rokkorfiles. Mine appears to have been from around 1983 from the date on the accompanying flash manual and was made in Japan. The X-700 was a highly automated camera with programmed, aperture preferred and manual exposure. It had a full information viewfinder showing both the aperture and the shutter speed. The shutter speed is shown as an LED light along a shutter scale. The manual mode only shows the suggested shutter speed, however. You have to look down at the shutter dial to set it to the desired shutter speed. The price in the 1984-1985 Sears Camera Catalog was $279.99 with the 50mm f1.7 lens. The 135mm f2.8 lens was and 28mm f2.8 were each $94.99. Mine is in near new condition except for some brassing near the strap attachments. This was likely due to the metal hooks of the strap. It came with three Minolta lenses in basically new condition: a 50mm f1.7, a 28mm f2.8 and a 135mm f2.8. The camera and all lenses come in their own boxes with all of the original foam packing, manuals and warranty cards. It also came with a Sunpak Auto 444-D Flash also in its original box in essentially new condition. It also came with a Cokin filter set and a nicely padded gadget bag in great shape. It's basically a new 25 year old camera and accessories. The sellers indicated it had belonged to their grandparents. I purchased the items for $40 at a garage sale in the Allied Gardens area of San Diego on Sunday, December 16, 2007. The seller said he had taken it to a local camera repair shop which offered him $25. The shop said the camera was in good shape and parts were available. The seller had also said he tried to sell it at the swap meet with only very low offers.|
|Minolta 58mm f1.2 lens (Large Image) A normal lens with a very large aperture or maximum lens opening. Puchased at a garage/estate sale in the Mt. Helix area, an unincorporated area in San Diego County near La Mesa, CA. It appears to be in great condition. I got the lens and a Rollei 35 for $100 total. This is one of five f1.2 normal lenses I have. Go to Wide Aperture Lenses to find out more.|
|Miranda D (Large Image) Introduced in 1960 as an entry level SLR. The price of a body and pentaprism finder was $99.95, half the price of the similar looking Model C. See Bill's Miranda Page. Mine has a 50mm (labeled 5cm) f2.8 lens. Unlike the C, the D has neither a self timer or a cable release socket. The fastest shutter speed in the D is 1/500 second compared to the C's 1/1000 second. Bill's Miranda Page lists other differences also. There was also a DR which was a D with a microprism center in the viewing screen. Mine appears to be a D. It is also an earlier D with angular bottom corners instead of rounded. There is no light meter. It has an instant return mirror. In other words, when you take the photo the mirror comes up and then goes back down. While we take this for granted today, the mirror on many SLRs before the 1960s stayed up until you advanced to the next frame. The Miranda D does not have an internal automatic diaphragm. You focus with the lens wide open. You then move a lever that stops the aperture down to the aperture you have selected. You then press the shutter release. There were lenses available for the Miranda D with a external automatic diaphragm like on an Exakta, however. The Miranda D was superceded by the Miranda DR which was priced at $159.95 in the 1963 Montgomery Ward Camera Catalog at page 11.|
|The Miranda D has a dual shutter speed dial with the top for speeds of 1/60 to 1/500 second, and a bottom setting for slower speeds from 1/15 to 1 second. When using the faster speeds, the lower speed dial should have the black arrow matched up with the red arrow. You then set the faster speed dial. (I didn't know that at first and though my shutter may have been broken because it only fired at about 1 second no matter what I set the shutter speed dial to. The low shutter speed dial was set to one second.) Miranda cameras are unique in that they take either 44mm screw mount lenses or a Miranda type bayonet mount lens. The 44mm diameter (M44) screw mount lenses are not the same as 42mm (M42) Pentax screw mount lenses. Miranda did make adapters for Pentax and Nikon mount lenses, however. See Camerapedia. The manual is available at cameramanuals.org (butkus.org). My Miranda D seems to be in good cosmetic and working condition. It is a little dusty. I purchased it with several other cameras, some working - some not, and other photographic items at a sale in Fletcher Hills in July 2008 for $112 - all the money I had in wallet.|
|Miranda Sensorex (Large Image) (1969) date is for this particular camera which, according to the seller, was purchased by his father in 1969. This date is confirmed by a price list dated 6/69. According to the price list, the Miranda Sensorrex Camera with 50mm f1.4 lens was $299.95 (Maximum Retail Price - Local Dealer Determines Exact Prices.) Even assuming the street price was less, these cameras were expensive. $299.95 in 1969 is equal to over $1,700 in 2007 dollars. The less expensive Sensormat camera with the same lens was $239.95. In addition to the price list I have the manual and 8 page brochure. In addition to the 50mm 1.4 lens, my camera includes a Miranda 135mm f2.8 lens (List price $149.95), a Miranda 35mm f2.8 lens ($99.95) and a Cosmos Auto 2X Teleconverter. Both lenses include metal lens caps, metal lens shades, plastic rear caps, and cases. The lens cases are not perfect cylinders, but rather stick out on one side to accommodate the aperture coupling lever on the side of the lens. This matches an aperture lever on the camera. This diaphragm mechanism is coupled with the light meter and permits open aperture metering. On the front of the camera is a dial that must be set to the maximum aperture of the lens you are using to allow open aperture metering.|
It has a unique bayonet type lens mount for Miranda interchangeable lenses of the Auto-Miranda Series. It also has inner threads, however, for Soligor or other pre-set lenses. These screw mount lenses are M44 lenses (44mm in diameter) and not the same as Pentax M42 (42mm in diameter) screw mount lenses. Rick Oleson - SLR Lens Mount Identification is a great page that describes all the different SLR lens mounts. Miranda did make adapters for Pentax, Nikon, Exacta, Leica and Contax lenses. In the price list these are either $9.95 or $12.95.
Shutter speeds are from 1 to 1/1000 second plus Bulb. The shutter release is on the front of camera just above the self timer. The pentaprism viewfinder is removable although not the focusing screen. In addition to the eye level finder, two waist level finders were available. The camera does not have a hot shoe or accessory shoe probably due to the removable pentaprism. Two flash brackets were available, however ($4.95 and $2.95). The CdS through the lens meter takes a 1.3 volt 625 mercury battery, no longer available. The meter is reactive and correct within a stop with a 1.5 volt 76PX battery I had available. I haven't extensively tried out the meter, however. The meter switch is on the top left next to the rewind crank. The battery compartment round black screw cap is on the chrome trim just below the rewind crank. The hefty camera weighs in at 1,100 grams with the 50mm f1.4 lens (650 grams body only).
The camera is in good cosmetic and working condition with a few areas of dirt, scratches or slight corrosion on the chrome. The two extra lenses, teleconverter and cases are in excellent condition. I purchased the items on 10-27-07 for $75 in La Jolla, CA from an ad on Craig's List. (The house was just below the area of the recent landslide.)
The literature that came with the camera indicates it is imported by Allied Impex Corp., a Division of AIC Photo Inc. Miranda cameras were made from the first prototype in 1952 until 1978 when they were forced to quit operations. A description at Bill's Miranda Page by a former Miranda sales representative gives the sales representative's impressions why the company ceased operations. Comprehensive information about Miranda is at Miranda Camera and mikeckman.com. According to Bill's Miranda Page, Miranda introduced the first Japanese single lens reflex camera in 1958. (See Miranda Orion at Camera Quest.) Photoethnography has excellent information on the Sensorex. The manual for the Sensorex is at butkus.org (my manual is different looking). Miranda Society Japan has a very comprehensive site largely in Japanese but with some English. It has several Mirada ads that featured a naked woman carefully posed to not show too much and a proper looking English gentlemen with a bowler hat and a Miranda camera around his neck.
|Nikkorex F (1963) (Large image) as stated at CameraQuest this camera was the first Nikon F mount camera: (1) after the Nikon F was introduced in 1959, (2) with vertical metal shutter, (3) with hinged back, (4) with 1/125 flash sync, and (5) not made by Nikon. It was made by Mamiya and the design was later sold as the Ricoh Singlex and the Sears SL 11. The Nikkorex F with 50mm f2 Nikkor lens sold for $199.50 in the 1963 Montgomery Ward Camera Catalog, page 10, or almost $2,000 in 2022 dollars! The Nikon F with the same lens was $375 on the same page, or almost $3,700 in 2022 dollars! The Nikkorex Zoom below was $219.50 on the same catalog page, or about $2,150 in 2022 dollars. The Nikkorex F had shutter speeds of 1 second to 1/1000 second, plus bulb. It accepted all Nikon F mount lenses except 8mm and 21mm wide-angle lenses. It is an entirely mechanical camera with no light meter. There was a clip-on light meter for $27.50 in the Ward catalog, however. In many ways the Nikkorex F is very similar to my Pentax H3v, my first serious camera. My Nikkorex F is in non-operable condition. It is missing the return lever and is heavily dented in that area. The shutter release doesn't feel right. Despite that it looks to be in otherwise good cosmetic condition. I think I bought it used in a lot of camera equipment for a very low price. Usually, I try to have complete and hopefully working cameras in the museum. The Nikkorex F is interesting enough to include in this condition, however.|
|Nikkorex Zoom 35 (1963) (Large image) the first non-interchangeable zoom lens SLR, it was one of three in the Nikkorex 35 series with bodies made by Mamiya and a non-interchangeable lens made by Nikon. The first was the Nikkorex 35, followed by the Nikkorex 35-2 and then the Nikkorex Zoom 35. In the early 1960s, the Nikkorex series was a low cost alternative to the professional level Nikon F. The Zoom 35 featured a 2X zoom lens, 43mm to 86mm f3.5. The Nikkorex 35 series had leaf shutters unlike most 35mm SLRs that had focal plane shutters. The Nikkorex Zoom 35 did not have an instant return mirror. When you press the shutter the mirror goes up and stays up until you advance to the next frame. The leaf shutters in the Nikkorex series are reported as unreliable in several sites. Ivor Mantanle, Collecting and Using Classic SLRs (Thames and Hudson 1996) at pages 134-135 indicates that the Nikkorex series was generally not highly regarded. One exception according to Mantanle was the Nikkorex F which had a focal plane shutter and interchangeable lenses. The body may have been made by Yashica and may be essentially the same as the original Ricoh Singlex. (Note in the source for the Nikkorex F above, it was made by Mamiya.) The Nikkorex Zoom below was $219.50 in the 1963 Montgomery Ward Camera Catalog, page 10, or about $2,150 in 2022 dollars. In 1965 Nikon came out with the Nikkormat series which were high level Nikon cameras, but more affordable than the professional level Nikon F. I purchased it with several other cameras, some working - some not, and other photographic items at a sale in Fletcher Hills in July 2008 for $112 - all the money I had in wallet. It is in decent cosmetic and working condition. I don't think the meter works.|
|Nikon F with Photomic T metered prism (1959-1974) (Large image) Perhaps the most famous 35mm single lens reflex model, the professional level Nikon F elevated Nikon to the 35mm SLR leader, helped elevate the Japanese camera industry past the German camera industry, and led a trend away from 35mm rangefinder cameras to single lens reflex cameras. (See Cameraquest - The Nikon F's Place in History. See generally Wikipedia, History of the Single Lens Reflex Camaera.) It was the choice of photojournalists for many years in places as diverse as the White House to the jungles of Vietnam. It has all the required professional features including through the lens open aperture metering with the Photomic finders, interchangeable focusing screens, depth of field preview, mirror lock-up, 100% viewfinder, a huge system of lenses and other accessories, and a reputation as a rugged workhorse. Several of these features were lacking in other early Japanese SLRs introduced at the same time including the Minolta SR-2 and the Canon Canonflex as explained at Cameraquest - Canonflex. Mine was manufactured from September to November 1966 as indicated by Nikon F Serial Numbers and Production Dates. According to Cameraquest - The Nikon F's Place in History 862,600 Nikon F cameras were made. The metered "Photomic" finders like on mine began in 1962. (The Nikon F). Comprehensive information is also at Nikon F - The Modern Classic SLR Series. The Nikon F was followed by the F2 through F6 as explained at Photoethnography. For a huge collection, check out Nikon F, Collection & Typography, by Richard de Stoutz. Mine was purchased on eBay on 9-22-07 for $85 plus $9.60 shipping. It is in good operating and cosmetic condition. It came with two lenses also in good condition: (1) a 28-80mm f3.5-4.5 Makinon MC zoom, and (2) a 80-205 f3.8 Vivitar zoom. While I was the sole bidder, I thought this was a great deal for a clean, solid Nikon F and two lenses, albeit, not Nikon lenses.|
|Nikon F with original Photomic metered prism (1959-1974) (Large image) According to Nikon F Serial Numbers and Production Dates, mine was produced from November 1966 to January 1967 making it just slightly younger than the Nikon F above. This one has the original Nikon F Photomic metered prism which according to Modern Classic SLRs Series: Nikon F - Nikon F Metering Prisms and Meters was made from 1962 to 1966. I believe the Nikon F above has the second metered prism, the Photomic T. My camera was purchased on 2-23-08 at a San Carlos area of San Diego garage sale about 1/2 mile from my house for $65 with dark brown leather case and a Nikon EM. It is in fantastic cosmetic condition with only minor scratching on the base plate and no brassing except for a small portion on the back edge of the metered prism. The lens is a 50mm Nikkor-S Auto f1.4 that is crystal clear. It comes with a Nikkor lens cap. It seems to work flawlessly. The price of a Nikon F with f1.4 lens was $368 in the 1967 Leedar Photographic Catalog. A Photomic finder was $79.50. The total price was hence $447.50. That's over $2,800 in 2008 dollars! It was clearly a high end professional level SLR. A truly wonderful piece of photographic history preserved as it was over 40 years ago.|
|Nikon F with Photomic T metered prism (1959-1974) (Large image) According to Nikon F Serial Numbers and Production Dates, mine was produced from November 1970 to August 1971 making it my newest Nikon F. This one appears to have the same Photomic T metered prism as the one I purchased on eBay. It came with a Nikkor-Q Auto 135mm (labeled as 13.5cm) f3.5 lens with cap and hard Nikon hood. Camera and lens appear to be in very good working and cosmetic condtion. I have not yet checked the meter. Purchased with a large lot of cameras in Oceanside, CA on 6-27-08. About $125 was allocated to this, a Nikon F3 and a Nikon autofocus SLR.|
|Nikon F with Sports Finder (1959-1974) (Large image, Back View, With Finder Removed) Camera serial no. 7066625. According to Nikon F Serial Numbers and Production Dates, mine was produced from December 1969 to January 1970. It comes with the Nikon F sports finder or action finder. The sports finder does not have an exposure meter. The eyepiece is about 3.4cm x 2.6cm, close to the film frame size of 3.6cm x 2.4 cm. That's much larger than a normal eyepiece. It has a long eye relief of about 6cm, allowing you to hold the camera 6cm from your eye. This is the first one I have come across, although Nikon make several versions over the years for the Nikon F through Nikon F5. (See Nikon Viewfinders.) Several versions for the Nikon F are shown at www.destoutz.ch - Nikon F Finders. The sports finder allows you to use the camera with googgles or protective glasses. The large eyepiece and long eye relief is also excellent when the camera is placed in an underwater housing and used for SCUBA diving. (See photo.net - Underwater Housings, referencing at the end of the section "Which Camera Should You Use?" the use of sport finders for the Nikon F3, F4 and F5 in underwater housings.) I purchased my Nikon F with Sports Finder at an estate sale in the San Carlos/Del Cerro area of San Diego on November 11, 2011 (11-11-11) for $50. It came with a 70-300mm f4-5.6 Nikon AF Nikkor lens. The zoom does not appear to be working on that lens. While that lens mounts on the camera, it does not have manual aperture control and hence would not work on this camera. On that lens the aperture is set through electronic communication between the camera and lens. Originally the mirror was locked up on the camera and only one shutter curtain was moving. I played around with it and eventually got it working. It seemed to be something more than just the mirror lockup being in place. It seems to work fine now, except shutter speeds of 1, 1/2 and 1/4 seconds lock up. You can release the shutter at those times by moving the shutter dial to B. The mirror is quite dusty. The prism is very clean. The shutter curtains are in good shape. Cosmetically, the camera is in very nice condition. It was marked at $65. I got it for $50 after pointing out the zoom lens did not appear to zoom. The rather unique sports finder makes it a nice addition to my collection.|
|Nikon F with Standard Prism Finder (1959-1974) (Large image) My camera is serial no. 7293767 which according to Nikon F Serial Numbers and Production Dates, was produced from October 1971 to February 1972. I was a freshman in high school and would have loved a camera like this one. This was near the end of production of the Nikon F which stopped in late 1973. Mine has the standard prism finder which has no exposure meter. The standard prism finder and the waist level finder were the only finders initially offered for the Nikon F which introduced in 1959. (See "The Nikon F's Place in History," Cameraquest.) As indicated above, the original Nikon F Photomic metered prism was made starting in 1962 which greatly added to the convenience of taking photos. With the standard prism you would have to use a handheld light meter or estimate the exposure. "The Nikon F's Place in History," Cameraquest states, however, "As F Photomics of various models fail without replacement parts, the smaller [meterless standard] prism finder has found new life and popularity. Today, F prism finders are worth more than the Photomics." My Nikon F with standard finder comes with a 35mm f2.8 Nikkor-S Auto lens. The camera was purchased at a garage sale in Bonita (San Diego area) on August 9, 2014. I purchased it for only $10. Initially, it appeared not to be working. The winder would just keep winding and the shutter would not release. I played with the shutter lock switch when I got it home, however, and it now works well. The shutter speeds sound about right with 1 second about 1 second and speeds appropriately increasing. The shutter curtains look good. The finder or mirror has a little dust. The lens looks to be scratch free and free of mold. The aperture works well. This lens can be used on my Nikon D5100 digital singles lens reflex camera although the Nikon D5100 does not meter with a manual lens. The mirror dampening foam on the Nikon F is crumbling a bit and needs replacing. Cosmetically, the camera is in good shape. There is some minor pitting between the finder and rewind knob. There is a driver's license number or other identification number poorly etched onto the bottom plate. It came with a wide leather strap. There is no lens cap. All in all the camera is a very nice find and my first Nikon F with a standard prism. Next, I'm hoping to find one from 1959!|
|Nikkormat FTN (1967-1975) (Large image) Rugged fixed prism Nikon with open aperture - center weighted metering, depth of field preview, and mirror lockup. It also had a somewhat easier method to mount the Nikon "rabbit ear" lenses. It is all mechanical except for the meter. Modern Classic SLR Series indicates it was used by many professionals as a backup to a Nikon F or by advanced amateurs who might not be able to afford a Nikon F. Its successor, the Nikkormat FT2, was $299 with an f2 lens or $384 with an f1.4 lens in the 1976-77 Sears Camera Catalog. The Nikkormats had the shutter speeds on the base of the lens mount instead of on the top plate like the majority of SLRs. Mine is in good operating and cosmetic condition. It came with a Vivitar 24mm f2.8 lens also in good cosmetic and operating condition. I purchased it around the summer of 2007 for $50 in Lakeside, CA (near Lake Jennings) in the Summer of 2007.|
|Nikkormat FTN (1967-1975) (Large image) Black version of the Nikkormat FTN discussed above. This came with a Tamron SP 28-80mm f3.5-4.2 lens, a Nikon Series E 70-210 f4 lens, and a very long, impressive looking, but not necessarily impressive quality, 400mm f6.3 Spiratone, non-automatic lens with what appears to be a Pentax screw mount, with a Nikon adapter. It also came with a nice, although dirty and well used, canvas Domke bag. I took out the bottom and dividers and washed in the washing machine. It cleaned up nicely. A working Vivitar 5200 Zoom Thyrsitor flash was also included. The camera is in good cosmetic condition except for a dent in the top of the penta prism. It seems to work well at all shutter speeds. I have not yet tested the meter with a new battery. The battery compartment is clean, however. The Tamron lens is in decent cosmetic condition, has clear glass, the front being protected by a UV filter, and seems to work fine. The Nikon lens is a nice straight f4 that seems to be in good cosmetic and working condition. The rear element was not protected with a cap and was dusty. It cleaned up well, however. The front glass was protected by a haze filter which is a good thing since the haze filter rim has some significant dents in it. There is no external damage to the lens itself and it seems to work well. I have not film tested it, however. The 400mm lens seems to be in good operating and cosmetic condition. I purchased the outfit at a garage sale in the San Carlos area of San Diego for about $40. ($80 for it and a Kaypro 4 computer with printer and software.) Conclusion: A very nice classic SLR camera with two very nice lenses.|
|Nikon F2 Photomic (September 1971 to June 1980) (Large image) Replaced the Nikon F. Like the Nikon F, it is an all mechanical camera. The only electrical function is the light meter in the viewfinder head. In the Nikon F, the battery for the light meter was in the head itself. In the F2, the two S-76 or equivalent batteries are in the bottom of the camera. Other differences compared to the F2 are an increase in the fastest shutter speed to 1/2000 second and a swing open back. The Nikon F2 also offered a detachable motor drive. This was only possible as a custom modification with the Nikon F. (Nikon F2 - Wikipedia.) My camera comes with the Nikon MD-3 motor drive with the Nikon MB-2 battery pack offering up to 2.5 frames per second. There was also a faster and more expensive Nikon MD-1 motor drive. Mine comes with the original Photomic DP-1 metered prism viewfinder. (The camera is a Nikon F2. The "Photomic" part in the name refers to the head.) My camera's serial number is F2 7212161. According to Nikon F2 Serial Numbers and Production Dates it was therefore made from November 1972 to December 1972. The price for a Nikon F2 in the 1976-77 Sears Camera Catalog was $589 with a 50mm f2.0 lens. $589 in 1976 has the same buying power as $2,336.56 in 2011. That catalog did not feature a motor drive. The 1978-79 Sears Catalog sold the Nikon MD-2 Motor Drive for about the same price as the camera, $589. The Nikon MD-2 operated at up to 5 frames per second, faster than my MD-3.
Starting in 1977 Nikon started offering its Nikon AI or Automatic Indexing lenses. Prior to this Nikon had its non-AI lenses that required you to "turn the aperture ring all the way to the minimum aperture setting (largest f/number), then all the way in the opposite direction. This step automatically fits the coupling pin in the Photomic finder into the coupling prong on the lens and adjusts the meter to the maximum aperture of the lens." (Nikon F2 Photomic Instruction Manual at page 30 available online at butkus.org.) With these new lenses, Nikon introduced the Nikon F2A and Nikon F2AS with new Photomic heads that did not require you to twist the lenses back and forth to adjust the meter to the maximum aperture of the lens. Nikon F2 - Wikipedia has a detailed discussion of the various viewfinder heads available over the years.
I purchased my Nikon F2 Photomic and motor drive on July 29, 2011 in La Mesa, CA from an ad on Craigslist. The seller was a nice gentleman who I believe indicated he purchased the Nikon F2 new. He was also selling a Nikon F, and several lenses including a Nikkor 105mm f2.5 and a Nikkor 200mm. Being on a budget, I initially limited my purchase to the Nikon F2 Photomic and meters for a total of $100 ($70 for the camera and $30 for the drive). The camera, head and drive are all in very good cosmetic and working condition. The only cosmetic defect is some slight brassing around the bottom of the camera. Ebay prices vary widely depending on the working and cosmetic condition as well as the type of head and drive. While the cameras tend to be very reliable, heads without functioning meters can be common. Additionally, the later heads that can use the features of the AI lenses are more valuable. Finally, the MD-1 and MD-2 drives are more valuable than my MD-3 drive. I later returned to purchase the Nikkor 105mm f2.5 lens for $50.
|Nikon EM (Large image) introduced in 1979 this was the first in a series of compact SLRs followed by the FG in 1982 and the FG-20 in 1984 according to Modern Classic SLR Series. It is a straight-forward aperture preferred automatic exposure camera with no manual mode. It was targeted to beginning amateur photographers who wanted to move up to an SLR but did not want to deal with manual settings. I purchased it, with a Nikon F, for $65 at a San Carlos area of San Diego garage sale on 2-23-08. Obviously, the greater portion of the price was for the professional level Nikon F. It seems to be in excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition. It comes with the bottom half of the case.|
|Nikon FE (1978-1983) (Large image.) Compact aperture automatic exposure and manual match needle exposure with full information viewfinder. It cost $289.50 ($730 in 2007 dollars) for the body only in the 1980-81 Sears Camera Catalog. That compares with $184 for the Nikon EM, $209.50 for the Nikon FM (similar to the FE but without aperture preferred automatic) and $699.50 for the professional level Nikon F3. Information at Modern Classic SLRs Series, Alford, photo.net, Nikon FE and FE2 and Wikipedia. Mine was purchased at a garage sale in the San Carlos area of San Diego about three blocks from my house on 9-29-07 for $22. The shutter fires. The focusing screen was loose and the viewfinder shows vignetting. I think maybe the focusing screen just needs to be secured properly. I acquired another one with a Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens all in good working and cosmetic condition on 12-14-07 at an estate sale in La Jolla, CA for only $18. At the same estate sale I purchased a 24mm f2.8 Nikon lens for only $10 although it has damage to the lens coating.|
|Nikon FG (1982-1986) a compact SLR with manual, aperture preferred and program modes. According to Wikipedia, the FG was the first Nikon with a program mode and the first amateur level Nikon with through the lens (TTL) off the film (OTF) flash exposure. The original list price of the body only was $322.50, although street prices were usually 30 to 40% lower bringing the street price to around $200. Wikipedia indicates many complain it was not as reliable or rugged as prior Nikons, but I think it has a very solid feel and a very nice traditional design with most features one needs for what was then a reasonable price. It does not have depth of field preview as I would expect of a camera at this level, however. (See Nikon FG Sprecications.) It receives about 4 out of 5 stars at Camera Review. See also Nikon FG with photo showing internal views. Photography in Malaysia has an extensive discussion of the FG and other Nikon models. The instruction manual is available at www.butkus.org. I just about bought one new around 1987 that was on clearance sale at Montgomery Ward for about $150. I held off, however, due in part to the lack of depth of field preview and in part to wait to get the autofocus Canon EOS 650. Page 60 of the July 1983 Popular Photography Magazine has Lab Report on the Nikon FG.|
Nikon cameras have traditionally been the favorite professional level 35mm SLR, although many professionals use Canon or other brands. According to Wikipedia, Nikon in January 2006 announced it would continue to produce only two SLR film cameras, the entry level manual focus FM-10 actually made by Cosina and the professional level F6. This clearly shows the revolution in photography that has occurred in the last ten years with a switch from film to digital.
This was my first Nikon. Purchased on eBay on 5-8-06 for $61 and $11.50 shipping. It came with a Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f3.5 lens and a Vivitar Zoom Thyristor SMS 40D flash. The camera is in very good cosmetic and working condition. There appears to be some slight dust on the mirror. The lens is also in good condition with clear glass, but some scrapes on the body and the ring surrounding the front element.
The 70-210 Series 1 lens itself is somewhat of a cult classic intended to compete with lenses from the camera manufacturers. Mine is the first of the five versions. It was make by Kiron and has a 67mm filter size. According to the numbers on the lens, mine was apparently made in the 18th week of 1981 following the code set forth in the Mark Roberts site. See also Camera Quest. It has a 1:2.2 magnification ratio and a fixed f3.5 maximum aperture, impressive for a zoom lens. A Vivitar Series 1 70-210 lens cost $374.50 in the 1978-79 Sears Camera Catalog, nearly $1,150 in 2006 dollars, although a Nikkor 80-200 zoom in the same catalog cost $639.50, almost $2,000 in 2006 dollars. I also have Series 1 70-210 lenses in Pentax screw, Minolta MD and Canon FD mounts.
|Nikon FG (Black Body) (1982-1986) I purchased a black body Nikon FG with 50mm f1.8 lens at a garage sale in La Mesa, CA, a few blocks from my house, for $5 on 8-29-09. It is in very good cosmetic condition. It took awhile to start functioning. I put two new 1.55 volt Silver Oxide 357 batteries in. The shutter was closed and would not fire. The mirror was locked up. The film advance did not turn. After trying several settings, I put it on the one manual shutter speed of M90. It made a click and after pressing the shutter release, the mirror came down. It then fired at various shutter speeds, but the speeds appeared constant. I then tried it on program mode, and the shutter speeds started to vary appropriately. The lens, including glass, looks very clean. The mirror was dirty and scratched. It has one small area where the silver may be missing. The mirror dampening foam is deteriorated and gooey. I think the goo may have stuck to the mirror and then someone tried to clean it. The goo may have also stuck the mirror in the up position. The general rule is never clean a camera mirror. It has the silver coating on the front side and can easily be scratched. Follow that rule! That being said this is a $5 garage sale camera with a very dirty mirror. Also, this summer when I was buying a Nikon N90s, the seller, a professional photographer, cleaned the mirror with his T-shirt tail when I mentioned the mirror looked dirty! It actually worked quite well. Therefore, I cleaned the mirror of my black FG with a soft cloth (an old handkerchief) with a drop of lens cleaning solution on it. This actually worked quite well. It, of course, did not get rid of the scratches or the area of missing silver coating. (Closeup Image of Mirror.) If you value your camera at more than $5, I still highly recommend avoiding getting your mirror dirty in the first place and leave any cleaning to a professional!|
|Nikon FM2 (FM2n) (1982-2001) (Large image) A compact, rugged, mechanical SLR. The two S76 or A76 batteries only power the light meter. It has a top shutter speed of 1/4000 second, which is extremely fast for a mechanically controlled shutter. The FM2 originally reached this speed by using a honeycombed Titanium shutter. The shutter flash synch speed was 1/200 second which was increased to 1/250 second in 1984. At this time the camera model became the FM2n as indicated by the shutter flash synch speed in red of 1/250 second and an N before the serial number. The name on the front of the camera was still the FM2, however. The Titanium shutter was replaced with an Aluminum shutter in 1989. (Nikon FM2 - Wikipedia. See also Modern Classic SLRs Series: Nikon FM2(n).) Nikon FM2 - Wikipedia states the list price in 1982 was $364 with actual prices often up to 40% less. The actual price for the body only may hence have been as low as about $218, which is equal to about $500 in 2009 dollars. At a time when most SLRs were becoming increasingly electronic, and just before the emergence of auto focus SLRs, the Nikon FM2 continued as a simple, yet eloquent example of a precision, mechanical SLR suitable for the professional and advanced amateur for nearly 20 years. The manual is at butkus.org. I acquired mine from an ad on Craigslist on 7-13-09 for about $40 in Carlsbad, CA. (The FM2 and a N90s for $70 total.) It is in very good cosmetic and operating condition. No lens included. It is a FM2n since it has a N before the serial number and the 1/250 marked shutter flash synch speed. I also don't see honeycombed shutter curtains so I think it is probably the later model (1989-2001) with Aluminum shutter curtains.|
|Nikon FM2 (FM2n) (Black Body) (1982-2001) (Large image) At a garage sale of a retired professional photographer in the Point Loma area of San Diego on 1-16-10 I acquired a black bodied FM2 for $25 to complement my chrome body FM2 above. Like the chrome model above, this camera is an FM2n since it has the N in front of the serial number (N 7343476) and has a flash synch speed in red of 1/250 second. This camera has a honeycomb shutter and hence must have been produced between 1984 (start of FM2n) and 1989 (start of Aluminum shutter) according to the discussion relating to my chrome FM2n above. This camera came with a Tamron 35-135mm f3.5-4.2 lens. The camera and lens are in decent cosmetic condition with some minor brassing on the body. The lens is clear with no scratches on the glass or signs of mold. The front of the lens was protected with a 67mm UV filter. The camera appears to work fine including the meter although I have not yet checked the accuracy of the meter.|
|Nikon N2000 (1985) (Large image.) According to Nikon, this was the first Nikon SLR with automatic film advance built in, automatic film loading and automatic ISO DX-Code setting. International designation is the F-301. The N2000 has aperture preferred and two program exposure modes. The N2000 has manual focus only, but paved the way for the introduction of the similar looking N2020 autofocus camera in 1986. Mine was purchased at a San Carlos area of San Diego garage sale on 9-29-07 for $22. It is in good cosmetic condition and powers on. The vertical shutter is smashed, however, and hence is not working properly. I did manage to push it back but the shutter does not open. I didn't know that when I purchased it. :( It seems to be firing at the continuous mode always also and shutter speeds do not seem to vary. The mirror works fine. Looks like unfortunately this one will be a display model only.|
|Fast Glass from Nikon! (85mm front, 85mm side) Two very "fast" lenses from Nikon. As explained more in my page on Wide Aperture Lenses, the maximum aperture of a lens is an important factor. It allows you to take photos in dimmer light, or at a higher shutter speed, or with a very low depth of field. Also with single lens reflex cameras it also gives you a very bright image to view and focus. Fast Glass from Nikon! (85mm front, 85mm side) Two very "fast" lenses from Nikon. As explained more in my page on Wide Aperture Lenses, the maximum aperture of a lens is an important factor. It allows you to take photos in dimmer light, or at a higher shutter speed, or with a very low depth of field. Also with single lens reflex cameras it also gives you a very bright image to view and focus. Acheiving a large aperture is a more difficult optical and engineering feat, however. Hence, large aperture lenses are usually considerably more expensive. An aperture of f1.2 is about the widest one finds for a "normal" focal length lens on a 35mm camera. The focal length for these lenses would typically be 50mm, 55mm or 58mm. As focal length increases it becomes more difficult to achieve a wide aperture lens. For a moderate telephoto lens like 85mm the widest aperture is usually f1.4. A new autofocus Nikon Nikkor 85mm f1.4 autofocus lens sells for about $1,230 on amazon.com in April 2010. By contrast, a Nikkor 85mm f1.8 lens is about $450.
My 55mm f1.2 lens is the Ai series. According to the fabulous serial number chart at www.photosynthesis.co.nz, my 55mm f1.2 Nikon lens was made between April 1977 and April 1978. According to that site, 25,518 were made. My 85mm f1.4 lens is the Ai-S series. According to the serial number chart at www.photosynthesis.co.nz, it was made between March 1981 and 2005. The serial numbers range from 179114 - 245720 so mine, with serial no. 241994, is likely much closer to 2005. 66,630 were made over the course of 24 years. 24 years is an incredibily long time to make a particular model of a lens. Photosynthesis.co.nz states the 85mm f1.4 AI-S Nikkor is: "The fastest telephoto in the Nikon lineup and the first Nikkor telephoto with floating elements."
The Ai and Ai-S series appear to be the last manual focus series before the introduction of Nikon autofocus lenses in the mid 1980s. Luckily for owners of manual focus Nikon lenses, however, the physical mount for the autofocus lenses remains the same as for the manual focus lenses. (Canon and Minolta completely changed the mount with the introduction of their autofocus single lens reflex cameras. Pentax kept it's same mount and has the highest degree of compatibility.) The Ai and Ai-S lenses do not have electronic contacts like the autofocus lenses and later autofocus digital lenses. According to the Lens Compatibility Chart at www.kenrockwell.com the Ai and Ai-S series lenses can be mounted to any autofocus or digital Nikon single lens reflex camera. The meter will still work on most of the earlier Nikon digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras and the higher end modern Nikon DSLR cameras but only using manual and aperture preferred modes. (I haven't researched whether you have to stop down to meter.) The meter will not work, however, in the newer consumer oriented Nikon DSLR cameras. You have to use an external meter and set the shutter speed and aperture manually. In glancing through the Internet, it appears the electronic connections can sometimes be added to the lenses.
These lenses are therefore still quite useable today without modification. Even if there is no metering, you can always just use an external meter. The 55mm and 85mm focal lengths are great for portraits. The 55mm lens with a DSLR with an APS sized sensor will have the same field of view as a full frame camera with an 82.5mm lens (55 x 1.5 = 82.5). That's a nice moderate telephoto for upper body portraits. The 85mm lens is a nice portrait lens on a full frame camera. With a DSLR with an APS sized sensor, it will have the same field of view as a full frame camera with a 127.5mm focal length lens, between traditional telephoto focal lengths of 105mm and 135mm and again useful for portraits. Unfortunately, the only working DSLR cameras I have are the original Canon Digital Rebel and the Sony Alpha 350. You never know when I might come across a deal on a decent used Nikon DSLR, however.
I purchased the 85mm f1.4 lens for $150 on April 24, 2010 in the Del Cerro area of San Diego garage/estate sale advertised on Craigslist. That's the most I ever paid for a lens at a garage sale, but it is a pretty unique lens in pretty near perfect condition from what I can tell. One sold the following day on eBay for over $500. I went back the next day and purchased the 55mm f1.2 lens for about $90. ($120 for it and a 1990 Sony MVC DC-95 digital camera.) The 55mm f1.2 is also in excellent condition. The seller was an elderly gentleman who was ill and downsizing. He is an attorney. In talking with him it turns out he knew my father well. There were several cameras including some Nikon F3 cameras, a Nikon FA, a compact Canon digital, and a beautiful French movie camera. These were beyond my budget, however.
|Olympus Pen FT with 42mm f1.2 lens (Large Image) A classic half-frame metered 35mm single lens reflex camera. The Olympus Pen F was introduced in 1963 and continued to be made until 1966 when the Pen FT was introduced. The Pen FT added a light meter and a self-timer. The Pen FT was made until 1972. There was also a Pen FV made from 1967 to 1970. The Pen FV was essentially a Pen FT with the meter removed and a lower price. The usual 35mm frame size is 36mm wide and 24mm tall with the camera held horizontally. The half-frame size is 18mm wide and 24mm tall with the camera held horizontally. When you hold an Olympus Pen camera horizontally, you actually get a vertical (or portrait) image (i.e. the image is taller than it is wide). To get a horizontal (landscape) image, you hold the camera vertically. It's pretty strange when you first look through one if you are use to a regular 35mm SLR. The half frame size is essentially the frame size used in 35mm motion picture cameras.
The Olympus Pen cameras also included less expensive viewfinder cameras without through the lens viewing or interchangeable lenses. These were first introduced in 1959. Several other manufacturers had non-SLR half frame cameras. For example, Canon had the uniquely styled Canon Dial camera as well as the more traditionally styled Canon Demi. The Pen F series cameras were the first half frame 35mm SLR cameras, however, and to my knowledge perhaps the only purely half frame 35mm SLRs although I know Konica made a camera that could be used in either full frame or half frame mode and some other 35mm SLRs were modified to allow half frame photos.
The Olympus Pen F series cameras are not only smaller than an ordinary 35mm SLR because of the smaller frame size, they also lack the typical hump on the top of an SLR where the pentaprism is. Instead of a pentaprism, the Olympus Pen F series cameras use mirrors and prisms. The small size and lack of a pentaprism hump, together with classic, simple styling, reminds one of the classic Leica, Canon and Nikon interchangeable lens rangefinder cameras. Instead of the typical focal plane shutter, the Olympus Pen F series cameras use a rotating focal plane shutter. This allows flash synchronization at up to 1/500 second. Typical flash synch in 35mm SLR cameras at the time was 1/60 second. That increased later to 1/125 second and even 1/250 second with vertical shutter curtains. Even the most advanced full film 35mm SLRs never achieved the flash synchronization of a Pen F, however. The smaller frame size allowed for twice as many photos on a roll of film. For example, a 36 exposure roll will give you 72 images on a half-frame camera.
Even with their small size and ecomomy of twice as many photos on a roll of film, half-frame cameras never took over the full frame 35mm camera market likely for two reasons. First, while the half-frame cameras could produce excellent photos, the larger image area of a full frame camera does give the potential for better image quality especially for enlargements and heavily cropped photos. Second, camera manufacturers became better at making 35mm full frame cameras smaller. For example, Olympus came out with its very small Olympus XA rangefinder camera in 1975. Even more traditionally styled rangefinders like the Olympus RC were quite small. This decrease in size continued as autofocus cameras were developed like the Olympus Stylus Epic. (The XA, RC and Epic can be seen in the 35mm Rangefinder and Other Wing of the Mr. Martin's Camera Museum.) The decrease in size was also seen in 35mm full frame single lens reflex cameras led by the first compact 35mm SLR, the Olympus OM-1 (see entry below) introduced perhaps not coincidentally in 1972 the year the Olympus Pen FT was discontinued. The full frame OM-1 and later OM-2 cameras are about the same size as the Olympus Pen F although the OM series cameras do have the Pentaprism hump. (Olympus did introduced the screw mount Olympus FTL full frame SLR in 1971. It was quickly forgotten with the introduction of the OM series.)
The internal through the lens meter of the Pen FT was a significant advance over the Pen F and Pen FV but it did result in a somewhat dimmer viewfinder since part of the light went to the meter from a half silvered mirror. The meter was through the lens, but not coupled. The meter needle in the viewfinder points to one of eight numbers from 0 to 7. What number the needle points to depends on the amount of light and what shutter speed is set. The photographer notes that the number the needle in the viewfinder is pointing to and sets the aperture ring to that number for the correct exposure. You have to take your eye away from the viewfinder to do this. The numbers from 0 to 7 are simply a simplification of the f-stop values. 0=f1.2, 1=f2, 2=f2.8, 3=f4, 4=f5.6, 5=f8, 6=f11 and 7=f16. The numbers from 0 to 7 are on the top of the aperture ring and the f-stops are on the bottom of the aperture ring. You can mount the lens so that the f-stops are on top if you wish. The numbers seem to be a gimmick to me. The f-stops could have just appeared in the viewfinder. Shutter speeds are from 1 second to 1/500 second. The manual for the Olympus Pen FT is at butkus.org.
A variety of bayonet lenses were made for the Olympus Pen F series lenses. My camera came with a 42mm lens which has the same angle of view as a 60mm full frame lens. The maximum aperture is a very fast f1.2. The lens generally gets good reviews. For example, at page 176 of Collecting and Using Classic SLRs (Thames and Hudson 1996), Ivor Matanle states it is "surprisingly good for its extreme aperture." Erphotoreview.com states: "This lens has very good center performance across the range, but also very strong field curvature." As that site and www.43rumors.com indicate, the Pen F lenses with an adapter can be used on modern 4/3 format digital cameras. (See last paragraph below and dpreview - forums.) Given its very large maximum aperture, rarity and ability to use it on 4/3 digital cameras with an adapter, the lens has been selling for very high values. 43rumors.com indicates it is rare on eBay and can sell for upwards of $1,000. One sold on eBay on August 16, 2012 for $699.99. Those prices are really amazing for a 40 to 50 year old lens.
I was incredibly lucky to purchase my Olympus Pen FT camera with 42mm f1.2 lens for $40 at a La Mesa, CA garage sale on August 18, 2012. It is now likely my best deal in 8 years of doing this Web site. You have to remember that is a lot of Saturday mornings, however. Sometimes I come up pretty empty handed. The trick is to look for a variety of things you are passionate about and be patient. The camera and lens both seem to be in excellent condition. The camera seals could use replacing. The lens looks to be in very good condition with perhaps a bit of dust. The camera comes with the original every-ready case. The lens comes with the original lens cap with what I assume is a fancy, cursive FT on it. The meter works and appears to be accurate. The shutter works and sounds accurate. The aperture works.
The Olympus Pen name remained dormant from the beginning of the 1980s until 2009 when Olympus introduced the Olympus PEN E-P1. The new Olympus Pen series remains loyal to its non-traditional roots. While it has interchangeable lenses like digital SLR cameras, it does not have any pentaprism or mirror and uses a somewhat smaller sensor compared to DSLR cameras. This allows for a smaller camera again with no pentaprism hump. This also allows for styling that is reminiscent of the original Olympus Pen F series cameras. The new Olympus Pen series cameras are called four-thirds or 4/3 cameras because they uses a 17.3 x 13.0mm sensor which has an aspect ratio of 4/3. (I.e., we have the proportion of 18/13.5 = 4/3.) The surface area of the sensor is 17.3 x 13mm or 225 sq mm. That's smaller than the typical APS-C sized sensor in DSLR cameras such as the Sony Alpha 57 or the Nikon 3100 DSLR cameras which have image sensors of 23.5 X 15.6mm. That's an aspect ratio of 3/2 with an area of 366.6 sq mm. The APS-C sensor size is based on the frame size of the old Advanced Photo System C (APS-C) film cameras. There are also full frame DSLRs with sensors based on the size of a full frame 35mm camera with a frame size 36mm x 24mm with an area of 846 sq mm and an aspect ratio also of 3/2. Advocates of the 4/3 sensor state the 4/3 aspect ratio is closer to the traditional 8x10 inch print than a 3/2 aspect ratio. They also believe it allows for more innovative and smaller lens design. Because of the flange design on 4/3 cameras it is also often possible to provide adapters which allow the use of other lenses on these cameras while still allowing focus at infinity. (See, e.g., Brandmore Castle - Olympus OM Lenses on Four Thirds Cameras, Olympus America. This includes using old 35mm manual focus lenses or a lens for the original Olympus Pen F series cameras. You, of course, have only manual focus and you must stop down the lens to meter. A disadvantage of the 4/3 system is that the smaller sensor size may result in reduced image quality even if the number of pixels on the sensor is the same.
|Olympus OM-1N (Large, Top) The Olympus OM-1 was introduced in 1972 and marked the beginning of more compact 35mm SLRs. A fascinating and thorough speech on the development of the OM-1 by one of the Olympus engineers involved is at the Olympus site. In 1974 the OM-1 MD was introduced which was the same except for an opening in the bottom for the addition of a motor drive. In 1979 the OM-1 N was introduced which was largely the same except for a different film advance lever, a flash ready light and an an automatic flash x-sync. (See camerapedia.) The OM-2 is similar but has an electronic shutter and aperture preferred automatic as well as manual exposure. The OM-2 was also the first camera with TTL flash metering. (Id.) Photography in Malaysia raves about the OM-1 N noting among other things its compact size, wonderful positioning of controls, great feel and handling, and the large bright viewfinder that provides an image 30% larger than most 35mm SLRs. The OM-1 N is a fully mechanical camera. The battery is only for the light meter. It takes a 1.3 volt PX 625 mercury battery which is no longer available. Search "mercury battery replacement" in a search engine and you can find dozens of discussions on how to handle this, many of which are very technical and beyond my immediate understanding. I tried a no. 9 O-ring from the plumbing section at Home Depot with a 1.4 volt hearing aid battery. The meter was somewhat off. I then tried a 1.5 volt S-76 silver oxide battery. This worked fine without adjustment leading me to think perhaps someone changed the circuitry within the camera to take 1.5 volt batteries. It's smaller than the original battery, but seems to fit in okay once you screw down the battery cover. I'm definitely not an expert at this, however, so try things at your own risk and read the many technical articles on the subject if you wish. The camera was purchased in June 2007 at the "Thrift Korral" in La Mesa, CA for $65 including a leather case in great condition, a Vivitar 135mm f3.5 lens in okay condition, the manuals, and a Vivitar 253 small automatic flash. The camera is in immaculate condition and seems to work perfectly. A great deal! The Thrift store is run by the Grossmont Hospital Volunteer Auxilary. My mother was a volunteer at the hospital for over 25 years. I was also born at Grossmont Hospital shortly after it was constructed.|
|Olympus OM-2 N (1979) The OM-2, introduced in 1975, is similar to the OM-1 but has an electronic shutter and aperture preferred automatic as well as manual exposure. The OM-2 was also the first camera with TTL flash metering. The OM-2N, introduced in 1979, is similar to the OM-2 with some additional features. The Olympus Site states: "This model was based on the OM-2 with additional features, including a coupling contact for the matching strobe, and an LED in the viewfinder to indicate when the matching T32-T20 strobe was fully charged." A significant advantage to the OM-2N for a user today is the OM-2N's use of two 1.5 volt silver oxide batteries (S-76, SR-44, or equivalent). The OM-2 took 1.3 volt Mercury batteries which are no longer available today for environmental reasons. The OM-2 and OM-2N were expensive. The OM-2 in the 1977-1978 Sears Camera and Photographic Supplies Catalog sold for $459.50 with the 50mm f1.8 lens. The OM-1 sold for $294.50. The OM-2 was the same price as the top of the line Canon F-1 although somewhat less than the Nikon F2A which sold for $534.50 with a 50mm f2 lens. The OM-2 was considerably more than the Canon AE-1 selling for $279.50 with the 50mm f1.8 lens. The Canon AE-1, like the Olympus OM-2, had aperture preferred automatic exposure and manual exposure. $459.50 was a lot of money back in 1978 with double digit inflation. $459.50 in 1978 has the same buying power as $1,524.60 in 2009. Wait 20 plus years, however, and you can get a used OM-2N for much less. I bought mine with a data back, a Quantaray 28mm f2.8 lens, a Tamron 80-200 zoom lens, the owner's manual, and an Olympus XA compact rangefinder camera with flash attachment, all in good working order, for $15 at a La Mesa, CA (La Mesa address - in the Rancho San Diego area) on January 2, 2010. The batteries were dead which results in the mirror being locked up and the shutter inoperable. I tried it with two 1.5 volt silver oxide batteries, and after turning to the check/reset position, everything worked fine. I'm not sure if the shutter speeds are accurate. At first the 1 second speed seemed long. It seems better after some use, however. The data back also takes two 1.5 volt silver oxide batteries. It seems to work fine although I have not taken the time to figure out how to set and use it. The manual is luckily included. It sets the year automatically only though 2009 - ironic that I got it two days into 2010. This is my second OM-2. I acquired another one about two or three years ago for $50 from an ad on Craigslist, but never got around to putting it on my Web site.|
|Olympus C-35AD-4 (Large, Back Opened) a specialized 35mm camera body for photomicroscopy. (See OM Based Microscope Cameras) "The C-35AD-4 has a very small built-in winder (!) which is triggered by the Automatic Exposure Body PM-PBS / PM-PBSP and requires the adapter PM-35A to pass the electrical signals." (id. See Automatic Exposure Bodies PM-PBA / PM-PBS / PM-PBSP) Olympus Photomicrographic Systems shows the complicated system. The system in effect constitutes the lens and viewing system. Unlike the other cameras on this page, the viewing system is not in the camera itself. The camera is interesting in that the shutter looks to be a vertically traveling metal shutter immediately behind the "lens" opening and not immediately in front of the film plane. Besides having been a leading camera company, Olympus is a leading microscope company and has been for over a century. Digital photography has brought major changes to photomicroscopy. While purely an amateur system, I have used my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II digital camera to make photographs with my Zeiss Standard 14 Microscope. Having a viewing screen to frame and focus is wonderful. As I write this in December 2022, I assume I got this Olympus C-35AD-4 at a garage sale many years ago.|
|Olympus OM-88, aka Olympus OM-101 (1988) (Large Image) This is an unusual camera. While not autofocus, it is also not a traditionally manual focus camera. Instead, it has a power focus wheel that you turn with your right thumb. You move this instead of turning a focusing ring on the lens. You still have to judge when the subject is in focus. It works well, although I don't think it is a significant improvement over traditional manual focus. It works with Olympus power focus lenses as well as Olympus auto focus lenses. There are two power focus lenses - 50mm f2 PF and 35–70mm f3.5–4.5 PF. My camera has the 35-70mm lens. The camera has program mode only with no manual override. You could buy an adapter to allow manual and aperture priority automatic exposure. A photo of this adapter and an explanation of its use is at Camerapedia. The camera will use manual focus Olympus OM lenses. The exposure then becomes aperture priority. You set the aperture on the lens' aperture ring and the camera sets the shutter speed. In either this aperture priority mode or the program mode, there is no indication what your exposure settings are in the viewfinder or elsewhere. Without the adapter there is no way to adjust the exposure except a backlight button on the front of the camera. The camera was basically a point, (power focus) and shoot camera. Much better choices at the time in my opinion would be the Canon EOS 650 or the Minolta 7000 both of which had autofocus, manual focus, and a range of exposure modes including program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual. If you wanted to use either of these as a point and shoot camera, set it on program mode and fire away. While the Olympus OM-88 did accept excellent manual focus OM lenses, it does not in my opinion have significant advantages over a much smaller and sturdier feeling Olympus OM-1. (Although the Olympus OM-88 did have automatic film advance.) So why get an Olympus OM-88 in the late 1980s? The answer was probably price. In searching 1989 Popular Photography magazines which are online, the price for an Olympus OM-88 was as low as $150 while a Canon EOS 650 was $300. I think these prices were for body only. I did not see the price for the manual adapter in my cursory search. I'm guessing I got my camera at a garage sale. It is in excellent cosmetic and working condition and even includes a roll of film in the camera. I do not have the manual adapter. Other sources include: cameragocamera.com (the comments include a review that the camera with manual adapter is actually quite good), and world-traveller.org which includes the owner's manual.|
|Pentacon (D) ZI [Contax D] (Large Image, With Lenes) (Circa 1953 to April 1956) The Pentacon is same as a Contax D. The Contax D or Pentacon was produced from March 1952 to March 1962 according to www.praktica-collector.de. That site also indicates the Pentacon name was used for export models starting in 1953. Until April 1956, the initials ZI (Zeiss Icon) were under the Pentacon emblem (the Ernemann tower). My camera, with the ZI, was hence produced during the time frame of 1953 to April 1956.
Zeiss Ikon - Pentacon History. The camera was made by Zeiss Icon VEB, Dresden, Germany. The camera's immediate predecessor, the Contax S produced in 1949, was the first single lens reflex 35mm camera using a pentaprism for eye level viewing. (Captain Jack's Contax/Pentacon SLR Cameras.) Zeiss Icon was formed in 1926 from the merger of four German camera companies. It was headquartered in Dresden with plants also in Berlin and Stuttgart. (Camerapedia - Zeiss Ikon) Following World War II, Dresden became part of East Germany and Stuttgart became part of West Germany. The company also split with Zeiss Ikon AG headquartered in West Germany and VEB Zeiss Ikon located in Dresden. After trademark disputes with Zeiss Ikon AG, East German VEB Zeiss Ikon was renamed to VEB Kinowerke Dresden in 1958 and later became part of the East German Pentacon company, which by that time included Praktica cameras. (Camerapedia - Zeiss Ikon) I have given Praktica cameras a separate section - see Praktica below. The West German Zeiss Ikon AG made single lens reflex cameras with leaf shutters. Some examples are included in the Zeiss Ikon section of this Web page. Zeiss Ikon AG ceased camera production in 1972, although the Contax name and technology was continued by the Japanese Yashica company. Yashica was acquired by Kyocera in 1983. In 2005 Kyocera ceased production of cameras. (Camerapedia - Zeiss Ikon)
Development of the First Pentaprism SLR. Contax was the name given by Zeiss Ikon to its 35mm rangefinder camera made to compete with the Leica rangefinder camera in the 1930s. Leica was the first 35mm still camera. Before World War II, Zeiss Ikon was working on transforming the Contax rangefinder into a 35mm single lens reflex camera. Development was delayed as a result of World War II, but in 1949 Zeiss Ikon produced the Contax S, the first 35mm single lens reflex camera with eye level viewing using a pentagonal prism or pentaprism. The S stood for "Spiegelreflex," spiegel meaning mirror in German. The S was not actually marked on the camera. (Contax - Wikipedia) The S model was followed by the similar Contax D in March 1952. By that time, West German Zeiss Ikon AG complained of the East German company using the Contax name, and the Contax D was branded Pentacon starting in 1953 in the West. The "Pentacon" name is derived from from Pentaprism and Contax. Some Contax D cameras sold in the United States had store brands instead of the Pentacon name. Captain Jack's Contax/Pentacon SLR Cameras shows the many name variations. The pentaprism not only allowed for eye level viewing. It gave a corrected image just as the viewer would naturally see it. Unlike waist level viewing reflex cameras, the image is right-side up and not reversed. Besides the pentaprism, the Contax S and later Contax D (Pentacon) had a horizontal running shutter and 42mm screw mount interchangeable lenses, both of which became industry standards. This 42mm screw mount would later be used by the Japanese company Asahi in their Pentax cameras starting with the Pentax S in 1957.
Camera Operation. Since it served as the basic design for 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) cameras in the last half of the 20th century, and indeed shares many elements of digital SLR cameras in the 21st century, the Pentacon's basic use will be familiar to SLR users. Focus by turning the focusing ring until the image is clear. Set the aperture. Set the shutter speed. Press the shutter release. Wind to reach the next frame. A few things we take for granted were not present, however. The Pentacon has (1) no automatic diaphragm, (2) no instant return mirror, (3) no built in light meter, and (4) no single set of shutter speeds. The manual, which explains these concepts in much greater detail with diagrams, is available at butkus.org.These features would become commonplace in the 1960s.
No Automatic Diaphragm. With an automatic diaphragm the diaphragm remains at the widest aperture until you press the shutter release. The camera then automatically stops down to the selected aperture value (f-stop). This allows you to focus and view a bright image. With the Pentacon you have to turn the aperture ring to the maximum aperture to focus and view. Then you turn it to the aperture you need for correct exposure. Only then do you press the shutter release. The standard 58mm f2 lens on the camera is a preset lens which makes these steps a little easier. You can "preset" the lens to the correct aperture, open up to the widest aperture, and then return it to the correct aperture by turning the aperture ring to the right. When you can't turn it further, it is a the correct preset aperture.
No Instant Return Mirror. An instant return mirror allows for the image to be blacked out only momentarily while the shutter is released. SLR cameras have a mirror which is in the down position until the shutter is released. This allows the photographer to compose and focus the image. When the shutter button is pressed, the mirror flips up and the shutter opens allowing the light to expose the film (or today the digital image sensor). With automatic mirror return, the mirror automatically goes back down when the shutter closes allowing you to view the image again. The image is only blacked out to your eye for the moment the shutter is open. In early cameras like the Pentacon the mirror remained in the up position until you advanced the film to the next frame. In addition to advancing the film and cocking the shutter, turning the film advance knob brought the mirror back to the down position where you could see through the viewfinder again. The film advance knob in this camera was also replaced with a single stroke lever in later SLRs.
No Internal Light Meter. The Pentacon has no built in light meter. Built in light meters which measured the light through the lens were generally not introduced until the 1960s. This camera is purely mechanical with no electronics and no battery.
No Single Set of Shutter Speeds. Finally, the Pentacon does not have a single set of shutter speeds. While the camera has a wide range of shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/1000 second, they are in two ranges. The fast speeds are from 1/50 second to 1/1000 second, and the slow speeds are from 1/20 second to 1 second. The slow speeds are in red and the fast speeds are in black. There is a switch on the back by which you select the slow (red arrow) or fast (black arrow) speeds. You then turn the shutter speed knob to the correct speed. The Pentacon has a single knob with the lever selecting the slow or fast speeds. Other cameras like the Japanese Asashiflex models and the early Exacta models had two shutter speed knobs. By the 1960s most SLRs had a single knob that you simply turned to the desired shutter speed. The shutter speed sequence on the Pentacon is 1/1000, 1/500, 1/200, 1/100, 1/50, 1/20, 1/10, 1/5, 1/2, 1 and bulb (stays open until you let go of the shutter button). The modern sequence is slightly different with 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 1.
Purchase and Accessories. I purchased my Pentacon with numerous accessories for $50 on August 21, 2010 in La Mesa, CA. I ran into a gentleman at a garage sale while I was buying an old lens. I told him I collected cameras. He indicated he had some old cameras including the Pentacon that he would like to see go to someone interested in them. He called me up latter in the day. My Pentacon came with four lenses: (1) Biotar 58mm f2 T Carl Zeiss Jena (3646325), (2) Soligar 135 f2.8, (3) 100mm f2.8 Berlin-Optik-Germany Nr. 14707 C Speed-Astra, and (4) 35mm f2.5 Suptk T 1570. I believe they are all preset lenses. The purchase also included a Kopil Folding "Bellowscope" (closeup bellows), 3 piece Telesar (Japan) extension tubes, an Argus Selenium light meter with low light attachment, two folding bulb flash units (one I believe Argus and the other Minolta), a Vivitar Auto 2600 electronic flash (likely from the 1970s or later), and some other assorted accessories including filters. The camera is in fine working and cosmetic condition. All shutter speeds appear to work and vary appropriately. I'm not sure, but the first shutter curtain may get stuck before fully opening. It makes it most of the way. The lenses look fine at least with a cursory inspection. All have caps, including some caps and a lens shade machined by the owner! The owner worked in the Praktica Industry in San Diego for many years building jet engines and knew how to finely machine Aluminum! Indeed the caps and shade he made are downright beautiful works of craftsmanship. I also bought a Kodak Retina IIc, a Yashica 44 and an Olympus 35 ED from him. The seller was the original owner of all the items except for the Retina IIc which belonged to his dad. It was very interesting learning about the seller's personal experiences with the cameras.
|Pentacon F (Contax F) (Large Image) The Pentacon F was produced from September 1956 to June 1961 according to www.praktica-collector.de. I don't recall where I got my camera. It is in decent cosmetic condition. Someone engraved "USSR Occupied Germany" at the bottom chrome strip in front. It does not appear to be an official marking. There is an "Made in Germany" imprint on the back chrome of the rear door release mechanism. Mechanically, the first curtain goes about 3/4 across then stops. The second curtain runs into it. It winds properly. Additionally, the mirror is stuck in the up position. It is present and in good condition. You can pry it down with your fingernail and it will stay down. If you press the shutter, it properly flips up and stays up. (It is not an instant return mirror.) In normal operation it should go back down when you wind the film. It is not doing that, however. The manual is available at www.cameramanuals.org. The camera is very similar to Pentacon D above. I'm not sure of the differences. There is reference to the Pentacon F having a semi-automatic diaphragm although I'm thinking that is an operation of the lens.|
|Asahiflex. Asahi Optical Company started in 1919 making eyeglass lenses followed by movie camera lenses and later binoculars. A late bloomer to cameras, it came in with a splash in 1951 making the first Japanese 35mm single lens reflex camera. In 1951 the rangefinder was still king. Those using 35mm single lens reflex cameras were largely limited to German Exakta and Praktica cameras. Asahi's entry of the its Asahiflex, however, marked the beginning of the dominance of Japanese single lens reflex cameras which continues with digital single lens reflex cameras to the present day. While the Asahiflex cameras were single lens reflex, viewing and focusing were done by looking through the ground glass at the top of the camera similar to a twin lens reflex camera. A magnifier was present also like a twin lens reflex camera. The cameras gave a relatively bright clear image with the eye brought to the magnifier for accurate focusing and framing. There was a separate, non-reflex, viewer on top of the cameras for eye level viewing. This, of course, did not allow for focusing and was accurate for framing only with a 50mm lens. It was not until 1957 that Asahi would introduce its Asahi Pentax with its pentagonal prism or "Pentaprism" for eye level, single lens reflex viewing. The pentagonal prism, of course, was the inspiration for the Pentax name (Pentaprism and Asahiflex combined) and over time the company would simply become known as Pentax. It was not until two years later that Nikon, Canon and Minolta would introduce their eye level, single lens reflex cameras. Pentax, along with Nikon, Canon and Olympus, are still major players in the digital SLR market. Pentax was merged into Hoya Corporation in 2008, however, according to Pentax - Wikipedia. Minolta has sold its DSLR camera assets to Sony in 2006 according to Minolta - Wikipedia.
Roughly, four Asahiflex models were made. All were simply called Asahiflex. Further, minor changes were sometimes made to a model during its lifetime. Adding further complexity, the cameras were marketed in the United States by Sears under the Tower brand name. In simplified form, the models were:
The Asahiflex cameras were budget cameras compared to the German single lens reflex cameras of the day. For example, in the 1955 Sears Camera Catalog the Tower 23 cost $79.50, while the Praktiflex FX Reflex was $139.50, almost double the Asahi, and the Exakta VX was $239.50 or three times the price of the Asahi. The Hasselblad medium format SLR was $476. The Asahiflex was also cheaper than an Argus C-4 at $84.50 and the Kodak Signet 35 at $87.50, both considered moderate priced American rangefinders. Cameras, including an Asahiflex, in 1955 were still relatively expensive. $79.50 in 1955 has the same buying power as $641.73 in 2009. Surprisingly, the Asahiflex cameras today are quite collectible and usually sell for more than any of the cameras mentioned except for the Hasselblad. This may represent their historical significance as well as their relative rarity. The 1959 Sears Catalog shows that the Tower 23 camera's price dropped to $65 and the Tower 22 camera's price dropped to $89.95 with the introduction of the Tower 26 (Asahi Pentax) in 1957 and the Tower 29 (Asahi Pentax K) in 1958. The 1959 Sears Catalog also shows that the eye level viewing of the Asahi Pentax cameras came at a considerable price increase with the Tower 26 (Asahi Pentax) originally priced at $169.50 and the Tower 29 (Asahi Pentax K) price $179.50. Part of this price increase also represents faster lenses with the Tower 26 having an f2.4 lens and the Tower 29 having an f1.9 lens. The Tower 29's $179.50 price represents the same buying power as $1,334.41 in 2009, exactly 50 years later.
Several sites have detailed discussions about Asahiflex cameras: Asahiflex - Wikipedia, Asahiflex - Camerapedia, Pentax Collector Homepage (leads you to several detailed articles on Asahiflex and Tower 22, 23 and 24 cameras), Nanites Camera Services (UK) (nice table of various models with photos), Asahiflex Cameras (detailed chart describing model variations), Early Photography, Marc's Classic Cameras, Complete Asahiflex Set, Danilo Cecchi, Asahi Pentax And Pentax Slr 35mm Cameras, 1952-1989, Chapter 2, at Google Books, Pentax Manuals - Owner's Manual for Asahiflex IIA and IIB (password "Pentax"). Books discussing the Asahiflex include Ivor Mananle, Collecting and Using Classic SLRs, pages 117-118 (Thames and Hudson 1996), and Joseph D. Cooper, Honeywell Pentax Manual, pages 1-17 to 1-18 (Garden City, N.Y., Amphoto 1975).
I am lucky enough to have two Asahiflex cameras, an Asahiflex IIA and a Tower 23 (Asahiflex IIB).
|Asahiflex IIA (Large Image) (February 1955 to 1957) Dates from Asahiflex Cameras. This model is easily identified by the slow shutter speed dial on the front of the camera. The shutter speeds on the top are 1/500, 1/200, 1/100, 1/50 (x synch), Bulb and 1/25 (marked "25-2"). The shutter speeds on the front slow shutter speed dial are 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10 and 1/25. The lens is a Asahi-Kogaku Takumar 50mm, f3.5. Close focus is about 2.5 feet. It comes with a nice metal lens cap inscribed "AOG." The manual for the Asahiflex IIA and IIB is available at Pentax Manuals (password "Pentax"). The camera comes with the leather case in good condition except for a tear all along the bottom. The top of the case therefore can no longer connect to the bottom of the case. The camera is in good cosmetic condition. The lens is clear and appears to be fungus free. The aperture works. The shutter fires, although the curtain does not close all the way. The mirror usually stays up preventing you from seeing through the reflex viewfinder. Occasionally, the mirror does go down, however. The mirror appears to be in good condition and the image is clear and bright. Focusing with the magnifier is relatively easy. My guess is that with a cleaning, lubrication and adjustment, the mirror would go down properly and the shutter curtain would close completely. I purchased my Asahiflex IIA at a La Mesa, CA garage sale on 12-19-09. The original price for this and the Tower23 below was $5. I told the seller they were valuable. She was satisfied to have them go. I ended up paying $33 which was what I had in my pocket. I explained that they were worth far more than that, but they would be going to a good home. They belonged to her husband who has Alzheimer's Disease. He was the original purchaser of the cameras in the 1950s. I met him, but he had no knowledge of the cameras any more. The story of the technology I encounter in my treasure hunting is interesting. The stories of the people I meet is often far more gripping, however.|
|Tower 23 (Asahiflex IIB) (Large Image) (November 1954 to 1957) Dates for the Asahiflex IIB are from Asahiflex Cameras. My Tower 23 appears to be a later variation of the Asahiflex IIB made from June 1956 to 1957. It appears to be largely the same as the Ashiflex IIA above except there is a round black patch where the slow shutter speed dial would be on the Asahiflex IIA. Like my IIA above, the shutter doesn't fully close on this camera and the mirror usually stays up. The aperture on the lens of this camera does also not work. The lens is clear and appears to be fungus free. This camera has some corrosion on the metal work. The Asahiflex IIA above came with a leather case which likely explains the fact that it is in better shape. This camera was purchased with the Asahiflex IIA as indicated above. It is interesting that the original owner had two cameras that were so similar. Both the Asahiflex IIA and the Tower 23 handle well even without an eye level reflex finder. Taking vertical shots with the reflex viewer is a bit odd at first. You have to stand at a right angle to the subject. The owner's manual (password "Pentax") at page 5 of the PDF file (page 4 of the actual manual) shows a woman taking a photo this way. Of course, you can use the non-reflex viewfinder on these cameras to frame vertical shots. You can't focus with the non-reflex viewfinder, however. Medium format SLRs without eye level viewfinders avoid this problem in one of two ways. Some, like the Haselblad, simply have a square 6cm x 6cm format. Twin lens reflex cameras also generally have a square format. Others, like the Mamiya RB67 have a revolving back. (The RB stands for "revolving back." The 67 means a 6cm x 7cm format.) The camera therefore stays in the same position and the back moves to the vertical position.|
|Asahi-Kogaku Takumar 100mm f3.5 Lens (Large Image) a beautiful chrome lens that came with the Asahiflex cameras above. As indicated in the introduction this has a 37mm lens mount and cannot be used on later Pentax cameras with the 42mm Pratika/Pentax screw mount without an adapter. It is in excellent condition - clear, no scratches, no mold, a little dust, chrome in perfect shape, front and end caps, and a beautiful leather case. Unfortunately, as I am testing it as I write this, I notice the aperture is not working correctly! :( Bummer! As it stops down, it appears that some of the shutter leaves are not closing properly on one side. The owner's manual (password "Pentax") at page 31 of the PDF file (page 30 of the actual manual) describes it has a 3 element lens focusing from 4.5 feet to infinity. It is 9.8 ozs. It is a small lens compared to later 35mm SLR lenses. When focused at infinity, it is only about 3.25 inches long. At its widest diameter, it is less than 1.75 inches wide. It is "equiped with pre-set diaphragm adjusting ring." These early lenses did not automatically stop down when you took the picture. You set the aperture. You use the pre-set diaphragm adjusting ring to view at full aperture and then stop back down to the pre-set aperture without looking at the aperture ring again. With "automatic" lenses you do not have to do this. You set the aperture but view with the aperture fully open. When you take the photo the aperture automatically closes down to the aperture you set. The manual continues: "Although composed of 3 elements, aberrations are satisfactorily corrected. Recommended for taking sceneries, portraits, news pictures, etc." It came with the Asahiflex cameras above. It is in such nice condition apart from the aperture blades, I may see if I can get it fixed sometime. In addition to this lens, I also received a set of three extension rings for macro work.|
|Asahiflex H2 (Large Image) (1959) The Asahiflex H2 is essentially the same camera as the Ashahi Pentax S2 for the world market and the Honeywell Pentax H2 for the North American market. The only difference is the Asahiflex name on the front of the camera. The Asahiflex H2 was made for the South African market to avoid a trademark problem with Pentacon. According to Cameraquest it was also "sold through the PX to American servicemen in Libyan and Spanish American military bases." The name, of course, comes from the earlier Asahiflex line of cameras such as the Asahiflex IIA above. It is clearly part of the new line of Pentax cameras, however, that took the 42mm Pentax screw mount lenses as opposed to the earlier 37mm screw mount lenses of the original Asahiflex series. The camera also appeared with Penta Asahiflex name. Both the "Penta Asahiflex H2" and the "Asahiflex H2" cameras are described as "extremely hard to find" (Cameraquest) and "probably the rarest among the regular production M42 Pentax cameras" (Club M42 - Yahoo Groups). The Asahiflex H2 hence has been sold as a collectible camera for hundreds of dollars. (Chrisities (5-12-2000 sale for $621), Pentaxforums.com ($300 with 6.5 hours to go on a 7-9-08 eBay sale).) The Pentax H2/S2 cameras were a technological advance for Pentax. It was the first Pentax SLR with the slow and fast shutter speeds combined in a single dial. (See Pentax Forums.) Also, prior Pentax cameras had a manual diaphragm. With a manual diaphragm you have to open up to the maximum aperture for easy viewing and focusing. You then stop down the aperture to the desired aperture prior to making the exposure. This camera and lens has a semi-automatic diaphragm. With the semi-automatic diaphragm you push the knob at the base of the lens down to open up the aperture. The lens stops down to the selected aperture when you push the shutter release half way or all the way. Later Pentax cameras have an automatic diaphragm. The lenses often say Auto on them. An auto or automatic diaphragm lens has a pin in the back. The automatic diaphragm allows you to focus and view with the lens at the widest aperture. When you press the shutter release the lens automatically stops down to the selected aperture. After the shutter closes, the diaphragm opens back up to the widest aperture. (See generally Cameraquest.) I purchased my Asahiflex H2 on September 29, 2012 for $30 in Carlsbad, CA through an ad on Craigslist. It is in very good cosmetic condition. The shutter fires but seems to be at about the same speed no matter what setting it is at. A cleaning, lube and adjustment (CLA) is therefore needed before using the camera. The aperture works. The lens does not appear to have any mold. The glass looks to be good shape although there are numerous cleaning marks or very fine scratches to the coating when you look at the surface of the front and rear elements with a loupe. I don't think it would affect image quality. The film advance works fine. The shutter curtains are in good shape except one is somewhat wrinkled. I also purchased a Pentax Spotmatic SP 1000 from the same seller for $25. It is in good working condition although I have not put in a new battery to see if the meter is working. The Asahiflex H2, of course, does not have a meter.|
|Asahi Pentax S3 (Large Image) (1960) The Asahi Pentax S3 is the same as the Honeywell Pentax H3 or the Honeywell Heiland H3. The H3 models were sold in the United States. Shutter speeds to 1/1000. Mine comes with a Takumar 50mm f1.8 lens. It is entirely mechanical with no exposure meter. It was the first model to accept the clip-on coupled Pentax meter. You can see a notch on the shutter dial next to the T setting to engage the meter. I don't recall where I got this camera. It is very nice cosmetic condition. It has major mechanical problems, however. The shutter does not fire. You can't see through the viewfinder; hence, the mirror must be locked up. Further, the lens won't fully attach and cannot be removed. I never had the lens issue with a Pentax before. Bummer! The repair manual is available at learncamerarepair.com. The operating manual is at cameramanuals.org.|
|Honeywell Pentax H1a (Large Image) (1963) Essentially the same as the Honeywell Pentax H3v, except with a maximum shutter speed of 1/500 second instead of 1/1000 second, no self timer, and a lower cost. It was also known as the Asahi Pentax S1a and the Honeywell Heiland Pentax H1a. Like the H3v it is an all mechanical camera. This one has the attached Honeywell Pentax meter couple with the shutter speed dial. It meters through the lens on the meter and not through the camera lens. You select the shutter speed, then look down at the top of meter to see what f stop to set. You then set the aperture ring to that f stop. If you do not have the meter on top, you can use a hand-held meter. (Today there's an app for that available for your smart phone!) Alternately, you could use the "sunny 16 rule" - on sunny day set aperture at f16 and the shutter speed to the ISO of film, or any equivalent combination. For example, if using ISO 125 film, you would shoot at 1/125 second, f16 for a subject in full sun, or any equivalent combination such as 1/250 second, f 11. Finally, you could use the little sheet that came with film. An example, was taped on the back of my camera. My camera is in fair cosmetic condition with some scraps, tape on back and an old label/adhesive on the bottom. It does not work properly. The mirror is present and in good shape, but will not come down. The film advance lever works and the shutter fires. The curtain does not fully close, however. I think I got this with some other marginal condition cameras for a very low price.|
|Honeywell Repronar 805 A (circa 1972) (Large image, Camera) A slide copier with a Pentax non-prism single lens reflex film camera (serial no. 10828) with 5cm (50mm) f4 lens (f stops from f4 to f32). The owner's manual for the Honeywell Repronar 805 is available at butkus.org. The bellows and the lens appear to be permanently mounted to the camera. At the base is an electronic flash. There is also a modeling light at the base to see and focus on the image. The lights shine up through the slide towards the lens. There is also a filter drawer to add colored filters to change the color balance. Adjustable voltage from 90 to 270 volts AC. 50 to 60 CPS (cycles per second or Hertz). The camera is made in Japan and is obviously a Pentax although it does not actually say Pentax. The rest of the unit says Honeywell, Denver, Colorado, Made in U.S.A. Honeywell, or its Heiland division, was the importer of Asahi Pentax cameras to the United States for several years in the 1960s. For example, the Honeywell Pentax H3v above was the United States version of the Asahi Pentax SV. While primarily used for copying slides, the Repronar can also be used to photograph other translucent materials like leaves, petals and insect wings. Olympus/Zuiko - "Macro Photography Simplified with the Honeywell Repronar 805 A provides some nice examples often using both the flash from below and natural light from above. It also contains tips on exposure. The camera does not have a built in exposure meter. As stated in that article, "the magnification range is 1/2x, 2/3x 1x, 2x, 3x and 4x." Earlier versions of the Repronar date back to at least January 1963 as indicated in an ad for the Repronar in Science Magazine dated January 1963. AOHC.it indicates the Repronar was first introduced in 1960. Die Cast Pro - Honeywell Repronar 805 A has several nice photographs of the Repronar 805 A. Worthpoint.com states the Repronar 805 A was priced at over $400 in 1972. $400 in 1972 has the same buying power as almost $2,100 in 2010! The price is given as $325 in an August 1975 Popular Mechanics article. The Reponar is largely obsolete today since you would usually use a digital film scanner to copy an image from a slide. I got mine as an addition to my historical collection as well as with the idea of perhaps using it for some creative macro photography. My initial thought that I could just replace it with a digital SLR with a screw mount to e.g. Minolta/Sony Alpha mount adapter. It's not that easy, however, since the bellows and lens are actually fixed on the camera. The camera itself is pretty well fixed onto the rail also. Some have used parts of the system to create some amazing digital macro images such as the insect images at www.microscopy-uk.org, A Macro Stacking Rig by Michael Reese Much. I purchased my Honeywell Repronar 805A on 7-4-10 for $25 in the North Park area of San Diego from an ad on Craigslist. The seller is a photography instructor at UCSD Extension. He indicated he purchased it used it the early 1970s and used it frequently for many years. It is in good working and cosmetic condition. The lens, however, has some white paint splatters. The paint appears to have just missed the glass, however.|
|Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII (Large image) (1971-1976) similar to the original Spotmatic SP released in 1964 but with a hot shoe and increased ASA range. Stop down metering. I acquired this one at a garage sale on July 19, 2008 in the San Carlos area of San Diego for $40 with 50mm f1.4 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar lens, a 135mm f3.5 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar lens with hood and caps, a ready case, a Sportsman 502 leather gadget case, a Hoya 58mm filter size +2 single element close-up lens attachment and some Kodak lens cleaning tissue. Camera, lenses and cases are all in very nice condition. The camera has an identification number engraved on the bottom plate. The meter works but I have not tried out to see how accurate it is. It even came with an extra 1.35 volt mercury battery that still works. The mirror coating is degrading from the edges. It does not appear to significantly affect the viewfinder image or brightness yet, however. The Sportsman 502 leather gadget bag is just like the one that came with my first Pentax H3v. It is in near new condition with one small stain. The sellers' were two brothers. The camera belonged to their dad. A very nice, basic, classic and solid SLR. The manual is available from pentax-manuals.com (password is "Pentax").|
|Honeywell Pentax ES (Large image) (1971-1973) In 1971 Pentax introduced "the ES single-lens reflex camera (SLR), the world's first SLR camera with a through-the-lens (TTL) aperture-priority (AE) control. Using aperture priority, the stepless electronically controlled shutter responds to the amount of light and chooses the appropriate shutter speed." (Pentaximaging.com - History on the WaybackMachine - scroll down to 1971.) Camera-Wiki has an extensive article. It was also the first Pentax with open aperture metering. Stepless shutter speeds from 8 to 1/1000 seconds. In addition to automatic aperture preferred exposure, the ES could operate in manual mode even without a battery although the longest manual shutter speed was 1/60. There is no self timer. Pentax Forums lists the prices when new: Camera with 50mm f1.4 $360, Camera with 55mm f1.8 $320, Body only $290. $360 in 1971 equals over $2,600 in January 2023 dollars. The owner's manual is available at butkus.org. According to the manual the camera takes one Eveready #544 6V silver battery. These appear to be the same as S28PX, 4SR44, V28PX, PX28, and 544 silver oxide batteries. My camera had a 28L or 2CR11108 6 volt Lithium battery. Sciencing.com states: "Compared with alkaline batteries, silver oxide batteries have a flatter discharge curve, and compared with lithium-ion batteries, silver oxide batteries have a greater run time." The battery compartment is on the front of the camera where self timers are frequently located. The positive end of the battery faces out. Several sites discuss the Pentax ES including Fogdog Photography, Chemical Cameras, Simon Hawketts' Photo Blog, Photo.net (includes magazine ad that states: "INTRODUCING the world's first SLR camera with a fully-automatic Electronic Shutter - Pentax ES"), Chris's Camera Pages ("The ES . . . had a reputation for unreliability, although I certainly found my one to be a great picture-taker."), and cameragx.com (discusses Pentax lenses). I don't recall where I acquired my camera. It is in very good cosmetic condition. The shutter works but the mirror was stuck in the up position. I followed the instructions at Instructables.com to fix the stuck mirror. With two drops of sewing machine oil it works! The 50mm f1.4 Super-Multi-Coated (SMC) Takumar lens is in good condition although it has an amber cast to it which is common in these lenses which contained radioactive Thorium. The lens does not seem to mount correctly however. Sometimes it takes effort to screw it all the way into positon. Additionally, the aperture ring will then not move all the way to the widest apertures. The meter is active and seems reasonably accurate with another non-SMC lens when stopped down. I need to explore further the lens/camera mount issue. Service manuals are available at Learn Camera Repair.|
|Honeywell Pentax ES II (1973-1975) (Large image) The ES (1971-1973) was the first aperture preferred automatic exposure 35mm SLR. The ES refers to Electro-Spotmatic. On the Asahi model introduced in Japan in 1971 it actually said Electro-Spotmatic while on the Honeywell distributed model with improved electronics it said ES. The first ES was followed by this camera, the ESII, produced from 1973 to 1975. See Asahi Pentax Screw Mount Cameras. Die Cast Pro - Pentax and Other Cameras has specifications and numerous photos. The manual is available at butkus.org. The ES, ESII and Spotmatic F (1973-1976) were the three Spotmatic (screw mount) cameras that had open aperture exposure metering when used with the SMC lenses. With earlier lenses you still needed to stop down to meter. I purchased my ESII on 7-24-08 from an ad on Craigslist for $40 in Santee, CA. My ESII is in good cosmetic condition with some brassing. The shutter fires, but sometimes the mirror does not come back down. The meter is not working. It comes with an SMC Takumar 55mm f1.8. The glass is in great shape. The aperture works. The automatic-manual button does not move, however. The camera also came with a 90-230mm f4.5 Vivitar zoom lens and a Sigma 28mm f2.8 lens, both in good condition. Also included were at least ten filters and the book Joseph D. Cooper, Honeywell Pentax (Amphoto 1975) which is a wonderful and comprehensive guide to Pentax cameras through 1975 including a chapter on the Pentax 6x7. The seller was a computer network specialist at a university and a former wedding and portrait photographer. This was his first serious camera. Mike Eckman has an article on the ES II and says it "is one of my favorite SLRs in my entire collection and one I will definitely come back to again." Regarding which lenses can be used, he states: "Although the ES II could use it’s auto exposure on almost any M42 screw mount lens, it required the Super Multi Coated Takumars for full open aperture metering. When using non-SMC lenses, the photographer must use stop-down metering."|
|Pentax K1000, a manual SLR manufactured from 1976 to 1997, a very long run for a camera. They still have quite a following today and fetch rather high prices on eBay. The Pentax K1000 is very similar in design and feel to the earlier Spotmatics and earlier Pentax cameras like my Hv3 above. The K1000 uses Pentax K bayonet mount lenses, however, instead of M42 screw mount lenses. Metering is open aperture which was only true of Spotmatic F in the older Pentax cameras. Excellent information is contained at photoethnography.com which also discusses the shift in production from Japan to China. Very interesting is the Pentax Collector's Page. It includes K1000 and other Pentax cameras, including some very early ones, for sale. Wikipedia has a summary about the history of Pentax. This K1000 is in good cosmetic condition but does not work. The film advance lever would only turn with a grind and then stopped. The shutter will not fire. The camera was made is China. It came with a very compact 70-210mm f4-5.6 Promaster lens in well used but working condition and a wonderful, but very well used, SMC (Super Multi-Coated) Pentax-A, 28-135, f4.0 (constant aperture) lens. The Pentax 28-135 lens works but the front element has several shallow scratches and the filter threads appear to be somewhat stripped. Unfortunately on closer examination it appears the zoom doesn't work -bummer! Pentax K mount lenses apparently work on all Pentax cameras since 1976 including Pentax digital SLR cameras. I purchased this camera at a garage sale in the Fall of 2005 with the lenses, about a dozen filters and a case for $30. |
I purchased another Pentax K1000 in very good cosmetic and working condition with ever-ready case for $25 from an ad on Craigslist in Santee, CA on 5-26-08. The one exception to the working condition is that when I checked it a few weeks later the rewind knob had fallen off. You can't just screw it back on since the spindle is pushed down. You can't just open the back up to push up the spindle since you pull up on the rewind knob to open the back! The easy five minute solution is to take the bottom cover off. That reveals a round plate you take off by removing two screws. Under the plate is a hole from which you can push the spindle up. Then, just screw the rewind knob back on. I discovered this five minute solution after 90 minutes of completely disassembling the rewind knob, the plate under it, etc.!
|Asahi Pentax ME with Winder ME (1976-1981) (Large image) aperture preferred compact SLR. You set the f stop on the aperture ring on the lens. The camera automatically sets the correct shutter speed. There is a shutter speed scale on the left side of the viewfinder. A red LED light appears on the shutter speed the camera selects. No manual metering, although with a dial on the top left you can easily increase or decrease exposure one or two stops. (Whole stops only.) Shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/1000 second, plus bulb. Shutter dial on top right has only L (lock), Auto, 100x (1/100 second flash synch), and B (Bulb - shutter remains open while shutter release is pressed). ASA (ISO) 20 to 1600. Center-weighted Gallium Arsenic Phosphorous metering. Takes two 1.5 volt silver oxide S44 batteries. Price for body only in 1977-78 Sears Camera and Photographic Supplies Catalog, page 6 was $214.50 which has the same buying power as $709.60 in 2009. Today you can get a Pentax K20D 14.6 megapixel digital single lens reflex body for $629.95 at Amazon.com. One of the unique things about Pentax is that all of the lenses that fit a Pentax ME will still work on a Pentax K20D. Also, unlike Canon and Nikon, Pentax has image stabilization built into the camera. You will therefore have image stabilization with the old lenses. I purchased my Pentax ME from an ad on Craigslist on 7-13-09 for $10 - actually $30 for it and a Pentax MX and Ricoh KR-5 Super II. All were body only since the seller kept the lenses to use on her Pentax K20D! Mine also came with the Asahi Pentax Winder ME which can continuously wind at up to 2 frames per second. It alone sold for $104.50 in the 1977-78 Sears Camera and Photographic Supplies Catalog, page 6, or $345.70 in 2009 dollars. It has a nice grip. The shutter button is at the top of grip. The regular shutter button does not control the winder. My camera and winder are in good cosmetic and working condition. There is some paint wear on the black body camera. Also, I cannot get the battery door to lock. It works when I hold it closed, however. The winder takes 6 AA batteries. (The Sears catalog says 4, but mine definitely takes 6.) The manual is available at pentax-manuals.com (password = Pentax).|
|Asahi Pentax MX (1976-1984) manual, full information viewfinder, open aperture metering, compact SLR. The MX was introduced with the ME with the MX being the mechanical, manual camera and the ME being the electronic, aperture preferred camera. It takes two S44 1.5 volt silver oxide batteries for the meter only. The shutter works without batteries. Has depth of field preview. Unlike the ME which has a metal vertical shutter with a 1/100 second flash synch, the MX has a cloth horizontal shutter with a 1/60 flash synch. Very traditional design with shutter dial on top and aperture ring on lens. The manual is available at pentax-manuals.com. The MX body was $219.50 in the 1977-78 Sears Camera and Photographic Supplies Catalog, page 6, five dollars more than the ME. The Pentax K1000 with 50mm f2 lens was only $154.50. The Pentax K1000 was a mechanical, manual SLR similar to the old Spotmatics. The MX was smaller, had a full information viewfinder, and depth of field preview. Camerapedia shows the size difference. I purchased mine from an ad on Craigslist on 7-13-09 for $10 ($30 for it, the ME, and the Ricoh KR-5 Super II bodies). It is in very good cosmetic and operating condition.||Pentax ME Super SE, Large Image (1979-1984) a compact SLR with aperture preferred and metered manual exposure. Vertical shutter with speeds from 4s to 1/2000s and 1/125 flash synch. Instead of a shutter speed dial, there are two buttons to adjust the shutter speeds. Aperture adjustment is still on a ring on the lenses. It's a very solid camera. It is in good cosmetic and working condition. Purchased on 9-8-07 at a San Carlos area (Golfcrest Drive) of San Diego garage sale for about $30. (This and a Yashica Electro 35 GSN rangefinder camera for $55.) Good information at several sites including: Camerapedia, kyphoto.com - Pentax Me Ramblings (nice internal photos), Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page - ME Super, Pentax Manuals (full owner's manual). According to Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page - ME Super the SE (Special Edition) model only differs with the ME Super in that the SE has a diagonally instead of horizontally split focusing screen. The SE only came in the chrome finish while the non-SE model was also available in an all black finish.|
On 6-20-08 I bought in Escondido through an ad on Craigslist another Pentax ME Super (not SE) model for $10 with a 50mm f2 Pentax lens, a TOU/Five Star 28mm f2.8 lens, a Makinon 80-200mm f4.5 lens, a Pentax AF200S automatic flash, an every-ready camera case, a large gadget bag and manuals. The lenses appear to be in good condition with no scratches, mold, etc. The flash was initially not working but I roughed up the contacts with an emery board and it now works well. The every-ready case is in good condition. The mirror was initially up on the camera and the shutter would not fire. I gently moved the shutter and got it to fire and the mirror to work. The camera, which is in great cosmetic condition, now works intermittently. The problem is the film advance will often just keep going and not cock the shutter. The problem is with the wind lock and wind lock catch which can be readily seen with removal of the bottom plate as explained at ME Pentax Ramblings - Three Common Shutter Problems. I have not yet been able to fix it, however. The 31 page pdf "Disassembly of Pentax ME Super" has complete disassembly procedures and many fine photos which make you appreciate what precision pieces of equipment 35mm single lens reflex cameras are! As noted in that article "the camera shares the same basic mechanical design as the rest of the popular 'M' series ( MV, MV-1, MG, ME, ME Super, ME-F.). The only real mechanical differences are those required to deal with the different metering electronics."
I bought a third ME Super (Serial no. 2859503, lens 3348796) for about $10 on 4-3-10 at a La Mesa, CA garage sale with 50mm f1.7 lens and working batteries. It is in near new condition.
I also appear to have a fourth Pentax ME Super which perhaps I got at a May 2011 garage sale. It is a black bodied camera in very good condition. The shutter fires fine and the speeds sound appropriate. It was missing the lever for the self timer, but I subsequently took the self timer lever from MV1 below and put it on this ME Super. The self timer works. At first the meter seems somewhat erratic. After using it a while, however, the meter seems to be working well agreeing with my Olympus OM-D E-M10II digital camera. The manual is available at butkus.org. It takes two LH44 alkaline batteries which are cheap and readily available. It has a "Passed" Professional Photographic Repair San Diego sticker on it indicating it has been serviced at some point.
|Pentax MV1 (Large Image) (1980) Part of the newer generation of compact Pentax M series cameras. Pentax MV - Camera-Wiki presents the background. "In 1977, Pentax introduced two compact 35mm SLRs, the MX and the ME, after the Olympus OM-1 presented in 1972 had introduced a new trend for compactness in SLR cameras. The Pentax ME was succeeded in 1979 by the more advanced ME Super and the simpler Pentax MV." Both the ME Super and the MV had aperture preferred exposure. The MV had no manual exposure, however, and did not display shutter and aperture information in the viewfinder. Other differences are listed at Pentax MV - Camera-Wiki. The MV1 was introduced in 1980. The MV1 added to the MV a self-timer, a memo holder, an expanded ASA range, the ability to accept a data back, and the ability to accept a winder. (Pentax MV1 - Camera-Wiki.) The MV1 was followed just one year later with the Pentax MG which added shutter information in the viewfinder. (Pentax MG - Camera-Wiki.) Neither the MV1 or the MG had manual exposure. The only reason to get a MV, MV1 or an MG instead of a Pentax ME Super was that the MV, MV1 and MG sold for less than the ME Super. For example, the Pentax MV with 50mm f2 lens sold for $189.99 while the ME Super with the same lens sold for $259.99 at page 10 of the 1981-82 Sears Camera Catalog. By the 1984-85 Sears Catalog at page 16, the ME Super price with lens had dropped to $199.99 with an additional $25 rebate available. By that time Pentax had added the SuperProgram ($244.99 body only) with programmed, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes, and the Program Plus ($199.99 body only) with program, aperture priority and manual modes. It is curious how much the price differences among the Pentax MV, MV1 and ME Super were due to marketing versus different costs of the producing them. I don't recall where I got my MV1. It has issues including missing the film advance lever and the film rewind lever. The film advance does work using a small crescent wrench and will cock the shutter. The shutter will fire on auto but stays open with the mirror up. The shutter will close, and the mirror go down, when you turn the knob to the 100X setting. The red and orange LED lights show in the viewfinder but never the green light. I later removed the self timer lever and put it on a ME Super above that was missing the lever. 50mmf2.com and imagingpixel have articles on the MV1.||Pentax Super Program (Large Image) (1983-1987) The Pentax Super Program is at the pinnacle of manual focus 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) cameras with program, aperture preferred, shutter preferred and metered manual modes with A series Pentax lens. With older M and K lenses you could still use aperture preferred and metered manual modes. It was known as the Pentax Super A outside North America. The camera has a metal vertically traveling shutter with speeds from 1/2000 to 15 seconds and B. Flash sync was at 1/125 second. It also fires without batteries at 1/125 second. ISO film range is from 6 to 3200. It has depth of field preview. Small LCD displays at the bottom of the viewfinder show the aperture and shutter speed. It can take a winder and motor drive. The manual is available at butkus.org. The body alone was $244.99 ($700) in the 1984-85 Sears Camera Catalog at page 16. With a 50mm f1.7 lens it was $299.99 ($860). A winder ME II at 2 frames per second was $81.99. The values in parenthesis are March 2023 values adjusted for inflation. I don't recall where I got mine. It is in good cosmetic condition and seems to work fine. Several sites discuss the Pentax Super Program including 35mmc.com, Pentax Forums, Imaging Pixel, Camera-Wiki, Classic Analogue Cameras and Wikipedia.|
|Petri VI (Large Image, Top View, With Lenses) (1966) Japanese single lens reflex with no internal meter. It does has a working external Petri CdS meter which is coupled to the shutter. It originally took a 1.3 Volt mercury battery. It works with a 625 alkaline battery but I have not checked the accuracy. Shutter speeds from 1 to 1/500 second. Cloth focal plane shutter. Self timer. Accessory shoe. Has proprietary bayonet lens mount. It is a breech mount system. You line up the red mark on the lens with the red mark on the rotating mounting ring of the camera in the top position. You then turn the rotating mounting ring to the left. Purchased on 11-6-09 from an ad on Craigslist in the Loma Portal area of San Diego for $100. I purchased a Retina III S, Retina Reflex IV and Instamatic Reflex from the same seller a few weeks earlier. Also I purchased a Mamiya 23 medium format reflex from him several months earlier. The Petri VI is in excellent cosmetic and working condition. It comes with five Petri lenses: 55mm f1.8, 28mm f3.5, 35mm f2.8, 135mm f3.8 (EE), 200mm f3.5 with rigid hood. The lenses all seem to be in good shape except the 200mm lens appears to have a slight mold or coating issue on an internal element. It is only visible when you hold the lens up to a bright light. My guess is it would not significantly affect the image. The 135mm lens is an EE model with an EE setting to use in automatic mode with the Petri FT EE below. All lenses except the 55mm come with cases. All also have front and back caps except the 28mm and the 55mm. The 55mm comes with a 1A skylight filter. The same gentleman gave me another Petri VI on May 24, 2012 when I purchased a Mamiya Auto XTL. Matt's Classic Cameras has a good discussion of the camera. A discussion at photo.net indicates the Petri VI is not very valuable today, but is a good, reliable camera.|
|Petri FT (Large Image) (Circa 1969) Date is from a January 1969 ad at Flicker.com. Since the ad is in January, I assume production likely began in at least 1968. It has stop down CdS metering activated by pressing the lever between the shutter release and the lens. The ad places a positive spin on the stop down as opposed to the much preferred open aperture metering by stating: "A touch of the meter lever activates the built-in meter, permits simultaneous check on depth-of-field." Shutter speeds are from 1 to 1/1000 seconds. ASA from 25-1600. They made lenses for it from 28mm to 1000mm. Breech lock mount. The suggested retail price with a 55mm f1.4 lens in January 1969 was $235 and $185 with a 55mm f1.8 lens. $185 in 1969 has the same buying power as $1,158.47 in 2012. While more of a budget camera than a Nikon, Canon or Minolta at the time, that was still a lot of money. Mine was purchased around April 2012 at the Goodwill in La Mesa, CA for $15. It comes with a 35mm f2.8 lens that has a dent on the filter threads. The camera is in good cosmetic condition although the shutter release will not fire and the film advance will not turn. Bummer!|
|Petri FT EE (Large Image) (1969-1973) Date is from ozcamera.com. TTL full aperture metering. It has shutter preferred automatic exposure. You set the shutter, the camera automatically sets the aperture when the Petri lenses marked EE are used. For the automatic setting, the lens aperture ring is set to EE. Fully manual operation is also available. A discussion at the Classic Camera Repair Forum indicates that it was one of the first automatic exposure single lens reflex cameras. (See also photo.net.) Shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/500 second. Hot shoe. Comes with 55mm f1.8 EE lens. Mine also included a Petri 135mm f3.8 EE lens and a Petri 28mm f3.5 non-EE lens. Mine also comes with the instruction manual, original box and a Vivitar flash. Purchased on 11-7-09 on eBay (Buy it Now) for $42 plus free shipping. Description indicates it is in excellent condition and working order. The instruction manual is available at butkus.org. It does appear to be in good working order except I cannot get the meter to operate. Bummer! The box contains the original price sticker from a store call "Nichols" with a price of $179.99. $179.99 in 1973 has the same buying power as $876.34 in 2009. Going back to 1969, $179.99 has the same buying power as $1,060.21 in 2009. This was clearly not a cheap camera. I got another one on May 24, 2012 from an ad on Craigslist in the Point Loma area of San Diego. It is in good working condition. This and a couple of other Petri camera were included when I bought a Mamiya Auto XTL and accessories for $150.|
|Petri FT 1000 (Large Image) (1976) a basic screw mount SLR. Match needle metering. The shutter works. The lens aperture stops do not click, but the apertures still work. The metering needle moves in response to light but the matching circle does not move. It is also missing the cap over the film advance lever. Purchased on eBay on 12-2-07 for $9.99 plus $8.95 shipping. Merril Photo - Junk Store Cameras has an interesting review of it. The manual is available at www.butkus.org. Photo.net also has a discussion.|
|Praktiflex (1939) (Large Image, Back, Bottom) This appears to be the first generation, third model of the Praktiflex cameras produced from August 1939 to November 1939 as indicated at praktica-collector.de. It is one of the earliest 35mm single lens reflex cameras. I place it to 1939 since it does not have camera strap lugs and it has large film advance (25mm) and rewind (24mm) knobs. On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland marking the start of World War II. The camera was made in Dresden. In February 1945 90% of the city center of Dresden was destroyed in bombing raids by Great Britain and the United States. (Bombing of Dresden in World War II - Wikipedia.) Dresden would later become part of Soviet influenced East Germany until reunification of Germany in 1990. (German Reunification - Wikipedia.) My camera looks very similar to the one at praktica-collector.de except mine has what might be a flash synch connector on front bottom left, does not have exactly the same emblem on the back, has bare metal trim around the black leather covering instead of black enamel paint, and has a "Made in Germany" sticker inside instead of a "Kamerawerkst�tten Dresden Niedersedlitz" label. I assume that the "Made in Germany" sticker means it was for the export market. Mine has what I assume may be an early serial number of 1006 compared to the serial number of 1112 for the one at praktica-collector.de. The praktica-collector.de site says only about 900 of the first generation, third model cameras were made, although the various models of first generation cameras were made from 1939 through 1948 totaled 33,900 items according to praktica-collector.de.|
|The early Praktiflex cameras had a 40mm lens mount instead of the later 42mm lens mount which ultimately became widely known as the Pentax screw mount. The only earlier 35mm single lens reflex camera was the Kine ("little") Exakta introduced in March 1936 by Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen GmbH also in Dresden. (Kine Exakta - Wikipedia.) The Exakta VX above in my collection is a successor to the Kine Exakta. Compared to the Exakta, the Praktiflex had a simpler design and served as the basic design for most succeeding 35mm single lens reflex cameras. (See Praktiflex - Wikipedia.) The Praktiflex design and name served as the predecessor to Praktica cameras such as the Praktica MTL 3 camera below. After World War II, however, the factory became part of VEB Pentacon. (See Praktiflex - Wikipedia and Pentacon entry above.) My camera has shutter speeds of 1/20, 1/30, 1/50, 1/75, 1/100, 1/200, 1/300 and 1/500 in addition to bulb. It is therefore different than the standard speeds today of 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500. While it is a relatively simple camera compared to the Exakta, it did have a form of an instant (or at least rapid) return mirror. Until the mid-1950s other 35mm single lens reflex camera mirrors stayed in the up position until you advanced to the next frame on the film roll. From the time you pressed the shutter release until you advanced the film you could not see through the viewfinder. With the first generation Praktiflex, however, the mirror returned to the down position as you released the shutter release. You could then see again! (See Praktiflex - Wikipedia.)
I purchased my camera on March 2, 2013 for about $33 at a garage sale on Maple Street in La Mesa, California. (I purchased this camera, a Praktica FX and a Voigtlander Bessa I for $100.) The sale was only a couple of blocks from the home I grew up in. I had also purchased a 1950 Crosley television from the same person in 2007. The camera comes with a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 50mm (5cm) f3.5 lens, serial no. 1373869. The camera works well. It winds, the shutter fires and the shutter curtain moves. I suspect the shutter speeds may not be accurate, however. The lens look clear. The aperture adjustment and focus works well. The mirror looks scratched although it still produces a reasonably bright image allowing you to focus reasonably accurately in at least bright light. The cosmetic condition is quite good. While I have not used it, I suspect it would still take very nice photos today. It is a wonderful addition to the museum since its manufacture in 1939 is both a milestone in photography history as well as a critical time in German and world history.
|Praktica FX (1952-1954) (Large Image) Dates are from www.praktica-collector.de which also indicates that the FX designation means it could synch to either flash (F) bulbs or electronic flash (X). It has a top view finder although an "eye-level prismatic viewfinder," that fit over the regular viewfinder, could be purchased. Unlike the original Praktiflex above, the shutter release is on the front and is not instant return. It was sold in the export market to the United States as the Praktiflex FX. Mine is a Praktica FX although it came with a brochure and owner's manual with the Praktiflex FX name. The 1953 brochure states "The Praktica Company, Inc., is the exclusive, factory-appointed representative in the U.S.A. for Sales and Service for the KW-OPTIK WORKS, GERMANY, manufacturers of the Praktiflex FX." The 1953 price with the Zeiss Tessar T-coated 50mm f/3.5 like mine was $139.50 or $1,213.00 in 2013 dollars! The owner's manual has a slightly different designation of the U.S. representative stating the guarantee is from the "Prakticon Company as the exclusive factory-appointed representative in the U.S.A. for Sales and Service of Praktiflex Cameras." In addition to the brochure and manual, I also coincidently have a Praktiflex FX box in good condition which I picked up at a garage sale about a year earlier. I think the box may have been free with some other things.|
|My camera with three flash synch terminals has a serial number of 60838 underneath where the film cartridge goes. I think that makes it the first variant of the Praktica FX as explained at the German site www.dresdner-kameras.de. My serial number is lower than the numbers at that site, however. I can't find any other number on my camera body. My camera looks similar to the one on the front of the 1954 brochure at www.cameramanuals.org although that brochure also shows another cosmetic variation with the flash synch terminals labeled and the name Praktica painted in black. The price in that 1954 brochure with the Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm f3.5 lens like mine is $119.50 or $20 less than the price in 1953 brochure I have. I purchased my camera on March 2, 2013 for about $33 at a garage sale on Maple Street in La Mesa, California. Specifically I purchased this camera, the Praktiflex above and a Voigtlander Bessa I for $100. The camera appears to be in good working and cosmetic condition. The shutter fires, although I have not checked the speeds. Shutter speeds are B, 1/2, 1/5, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200 and 1/500. Besides not being the same sequence as more modern cameras, the shutter speeds are not in order and there are both inner and outer shutter speed dials. The lens is clear and the aperture works. The aperture does not have specific click stops. Several sites discuss the Praktica FX or Praktiflex FX: praktica-collector.de, praktica-collector.de - Praktiflex FX, museum.praktica.de, photo.net, The Camera Site, flickr - The Casual Camera Collector, and www.marriottworld.com. Butkus.org has the Praktiflex FX manual.|
|Praktica MTL 3 (1978-1984) A solid screw mount manual SLR with match needle, stop down metering. The stop down button is next to the shutter release which makes it very convenient to stop down to check the depth of field and meter. The shutter is noted for its very solid sound. The camera was made in Dresden, East Germany. Dresden was severely damaged by bombing raids in World War II. Mike's Praktica Collection is a wonderful site displaying an individual's extensive Praktica collection with fascinating information about the history of Pentacon Praktica which was liquidated after the fall of the Berlin Wall but still survives under different ownership today. The manual is available at www.butkus.org and prakticausers.com. Notes and photos on disassembling are at kyphoto.com. My Praktica was purchased at a garage sale in the Fall of 2005 for $25 with a Pentax Spotmatic, three lenses and a Minolta 110 Weathermatic A. It is in very good cosmetic and operating condition with two exceptions. First, there is a chip on the glass within the viewfinder. Second, the self timer lever is missing. It looks as if it may have been broken off, or perhaps the camera never had one since these were sold with and without self timers. There is a dent in the filter but it does not extend to the lens itself. The meter works and is accurate comparing it to my Canon Digital Rebel.|
|Sears SL9 (1963) is the same as the Ricoh 35 Flex camera. The manual is available online at www.butkus.org. Rikenon f2.8 to 22 with automatic setting. Focal length 5cm (i.e. 50mm). Single lens reflex viewing and focusing with frensel screen and split image. Lens is not interchangeable, but a wide angle and telephoto conversion lenses were available which screwed onto the standard lens. Close focus 2' 8". Seikosha leaf shutter. Selenium meter above lens. ISO range from 25 to 400. Shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/300 seconds and bulb and automatic setting. Aparently aperture and shutter preferred automatic exposure since automatic setting on both shutter and aperture scales. Aperture and shutter set by sliding bars under lens. Made in Japan. Removable accessory shoe. Camera is clean and in good cosmetic condition. Film advance turns. Unfortunately the shutter does not fire. Pushing up the mirror with your finger reveals that the shutter is stuck in the open position. The aperture also does not appear to change. Purchased on eBay on 11-21-05 for $.99 with $3.30 for shipping and sales tax.|
|Sears SL-11 (screw mount version) (Circa 1966) (Large Image) There were multiple versions of the camera called the Sears SL 11. All were made by Ricoh. Mine is the second, screw mount, version. The first was a 1964-65 Sears SL 11 which was a rebranded Ricoh Singlex which had a Nikon F mount. (See Camera-Wiki - Ricoh Singlex.) This camera is shown at destoutz.ch and cameragx.com. The second Sears 11 looks nearly identical to a Sears TLS which is a rebranded Ricoh Singlex TLS. Both this second Sears 11 and the Sears TLS have the shutter dial on the front of the camera and have changed the Nikon mount to a Pentax screw mount. However, this second Sears 11 lacks the internal exposure meter of the Sears TLS and Ricoh Singlex TLS. This can be seen by comparing the screw mount Sears 11 owner's manual and the Sears TLS owner's manual, both from butkus.org. The manuals are largely identical except the Sears TLS manual explains the exposure meter and shows an exposure meter switch. The screw mount Sears SL-11 therefore appears to be a scaled down Sears TLS (Ricoh Singlex TLS) without an exposure meter. I don't think there was an Ricoh version of this screw mount Sears SL-11.|
Both the Sears TLS and the screw mount Sears SL 11 show up in the 1966 Sears Christmas Book, the Sears TLS on page 356 and the screw mount Sears SL 11 on page 357. The Sears TLS with 50mm f1.4 lens was $197.50, or over $1,800 in March 2023 dollars. The Sears SL 11 was $137.50 for the camera with 50mm f1.8 lens, or about $1,260 in March 2023 dollars. An outfit with the SL 11 camera, case, clip-on exposure meter, and 135mm f3.5 lens was $176, or about $1,615 in March 2023 dollars. The SL 11 has a "Copal square metal focal plane [shutter] with 11 speeds from 1 second to 1/1000 second" plus bulb. Flash synchronization is 1/125. It has an instant return mirror, frame counter with "0" reset, and an 8 second self-timer. The Sears Christmas Book is from christmas.musetechnical.com which has "289 Vintage Christmas Wish Books and Retail Department Store Catalogs, featuring 259,514 catalog pages from Sears, Montgomery Ward and JCPenny over the years." That's a resource I never knew existed until now!
My camera comes with a Auto Sears 55mm f2.8. It is a strange lens in that f2.8 is in the middle. On the right side, labeled manual, the other f-stops stop down. On the left side, labeled auto, the f-stops do not stop down when viewing. It is an automatic diaphragm, however, so they do stop down when the shutter fires. Old Pentax lenses have an auto/manual switch. When switched to manual, the lens stopped down for depth of field preview. This lens accomplishes the same thing in a way I have never seen before. Close focus on the lens is only about 3 feet. It's also rather slow for a normal, non-macro lens. As indicated in the 1966 Christmas Catalog the lens that came with the camera at that time was a 50mm f1.8 lens. I'm not sure where I got this camera. It is in good cosmetic and working condition although a black, fuzzy horizontal line shows up in the viewfinder. The camera is sturdy and weighs almost 1.6 pounds without the lens.
|Sears KS-1000 (Large Image) (1977-78) Same as the Ricoh XR-1. The manual is available online at www.butkus.org. Shutter Speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second plus B. Flash synch 1/125 second. Vertical metal shutter. Hot shoe as well as X synch socket (left side). Open aperture, center weighted metering. Comes with Auto Sears MC 50mm f1.7 lens. Close focus 1.5 feet. Pentax K mount. ASA 12 to 3200. Depth of field preview. Self timer. Takes winder - up to 2 frames per second.. Made in Japan. Fully manual shutter speeds - no battery needed. Meter powered by two 1.5 volt S76 or equivalent batteries. Full information viewfinder including aperture in top window and shutter speed by green line on scale on right side. Black dial shows correct shutter speed for selected aperture. You match the green line with the black line to obtain correct exposure. Multiple exposure capability - ME button and lock on back - right - top. A solid, no nonsense camera with most everything you need. It still seems to work perfectly after 30 years and is capable of delivering professional quality photos with a wide assortment of K mount lenses available. In addition to the 50mm f1.7 lens, it also came with a 135mm f2.8 lens with Macro capability. The camera was $5 and the 135mm lens was $2 at a Spring Valley (near Casa de Oro), California garage sale on 12-26-09.|
|Ricoh KR-5 Super II (Circa 1989) (Large Image) Date from manual date (1989) and magazine review dates (1990) listed at oldtimercameras.com/ephotozine. Pentax K mount lens. Manual SLR with full aperture TTL metering. Exposure indicated by three LED lights in the viewfinder. Meter takes two LH-44 alkaline or two SR-44 silver oxide 1.5 volt batteries, both of which readily available today. Shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/2000 second and bulb. Vertical metal shutter with 1/250th flash synch. 10 second mechanical self timer. Mirror locks up at beginning of self timer hence operating as a mirror lock-up. Manual available at butkus.org. Nice solid camera that gets good reviews. (See photographyreview.com.) No depth of field preview, however. Purchased (body only) from an ad on Craigslist in the San Carlos area of San Diego for $10 (this and two other Pentax SLRs for $30.) In good cosmetic and operating condition.|
|Ricoh KR-10SE (released February 1980) (Large Image) Date is from Camera Stuff. The Ricoh KR-10SE (Ricoh KR-10 SE) is the same as the Ricoh KR-10 except the Ricoh KR-10SE lacks a self timer. There is simply a cap over the hole where the self timer would be. The manual for the Ricoh KR-10 is at butkus.org. The Ricoh KR-10 is functionally the same as the Sears KSX. (See Butkus.org - Ricoh Kr-10SE and butkus.org - Sears KSX for photos of a Ricoh KR-10SE and a Sears KSX with motor drive attached.) The naming of the Ricoh models is indeed confusing with a later KR-10M and Kr-10 Super as well as a Sears KSX Super appearing. The KR-10SE (and KR-10 and Sears KSX) has aperture preferred automatic exposure (you set the aperture, the shutter speed is automatically selected) as well as full metered manual exposure. The viewfinder has a shutter speed scale on the right side. A needle shows the shutter speed selected by the camera when the "auto" mode is used. The auto mode is selected on the shutter speed dial. To get off auto mode you have to press a green button on the side of the shutter speed dial which then allows you to turn the shutter speed dial. In using the manual exposure mode you match a green line with the needle on the shutter speed scale in the viewfinder. Shutter speeds are from 1/1000 to 4 seconds. Flash synch is up to 1/125. There is also an X setting of 1/90 seconds. The camera takes two 1.5volt LR-44 (alkaline) or S-76 (silver oxide) batteries. The shutter is electronically controlled and will only fire on X (1/90 sec.) and bulb without batteries.|
|There is no depth of field preview on the Ricoh KR-10SE, KR-10 or Sears KSX. The projection just below the SE lettering is where the depth of preview would go and it appears on the Sears KS Auto sold at the same time. In addition the Sears KS Auto shows aperture values in the viewfinder, has multiple exposure control, and has an eyepiece diaphragm to cover the eyepiece when using a tripod to prevent extraneous light from affecting the meter. Sears also had a KS 500 in the same series that had only manual exposure and a fast shutter speed of 1/500 second. The KSX with 50mm f2.0 lens sold for $176.50 in the 1980-1981 Sears Camera Catalog. Adjusted for inflation, $176.50 in 1980 has the same buying power as $464.26 in 2010. That's about the price of a budget priced digital SLR in 2010. The manual exposure KS 500 was $147.50 with 50mm f2.0 lens while the Sears KS Auto was $246.50 with 50mm f1.7 lens. See page 2 and page 3 of the 1980-1981 Sears Camera Catalog for details. I purchased my Ricoh KR-10SE for about $10 at a La Mesa, CA (Dallas Street) garage sale on 8-3-10. Serial no. 53 210743. It is in good operating and cosmetic condition. The meter was not working at first but I added a small piece of aluminum foil for better contact and it now works fine. The lens is an off brand CPC Phase 2 CCT 28-50mm f3.5-4.5. It has a dent on the filter and the aperture ring does not move smoothly.|
|Beseler Topcon C (Large) (1960 - 1961). The Beseler Topcon C was imported into the United States by Beseler. It is the same as the Topcon RII. It was preceded by the first Topcon 35mm SLR, the Topcon RE that sold from 1957-1960. The RII or Beseler C was succeed by the RIII Automatic (1961-1963) and then by the Topcon RE Super and the U.S. import version Beseler Topcon Super D (1963-1972), the first 35mm SLR with an internal through the lens meter. (Tokyo Kogaku (Topcon) - Camerapedia.) An April 1961 ad states: "Fully automatic 58mm, F:1.8 Standard Topcon Lens. Fully automatic diaphragm. Instant return mirror. Interchangeable Viewfinder. Camera comes with eye level Pentaprism viewfinder. Can be interchanged with waist level view hood. Split image rangefinder. (Clear ground glass available on special order.) Preview lever lets you check depth of field - at any time. Shutter speeds from 1 sec. to 1/1000 & Bulb. Single stroke advance lever. Self Timer. Click stops. Rewind crank. Wide range of accessories. Interchangeable lenses, of course, plus two $25 check up certificates included with each Beseler C Topcon." It is a fully manual camera with no meter or any electronics. Mine was purchased from an ad on Craigslist for $35 in the Clairemont area of San Diego on April 13, 2009. It is in good cosmetic and operating condition. It comes with a macro setup including a Novoflex-Automatik 105mm f3.5 lens made in Germany, a Kopil Duo-Track Bellowscope bellows made in Japan, a pistol Mobilgrip grip made in U.S.A., and a German Prontor plunger button which you insert into the grip. The lens does not appear to have any focusing mechanism apart from the bellows. The lens appears to work although the bellows has holes.|
|Topcon Super D (Large) (1963 - 1972) known as the Super D in the United States and the RE Super elsewhere. Beseler was the United States distributer for this Japanese company. There was also a later different model known everywhere as the Super D. According to The Casual Collector, the Super D (RE Super) was likely the first camera with through the lens light metering. Alpa and Pentax also came out with through the lens light metering in 1963, although the Super D had open aperture metering which Pentax did not have until the Spotmatic F in 1973. The Super D is a professional level camera with interchangeable viewfinders and motor drive capability. It also has depth of field preview and a self timer. The Super D (RE Super) used an Exakta bayonet mount which was somewhat limiting because of the narrow throat. The Topcon Collection site is devoted entirely to information about the Super D (RE Super). Photo.net also has an interesting discussion. The Super D (RE Super) was made until 1972. While Topcon was an early innovator, its SLR business never advanced like Nikon, Canon and others. Topcon stopped making consumer cameras in 1981, although it is still very active in making surveying equipment and ophthalmological equipment.|
|My Beseler Topcon Super D was purchased at a San Carlos area (towards Mission Trails Park Visitors' Center) of San Diego garage sale on July 19, 2008 for $80 with a 100mm f2.8 Topcon lens (on camera), a 200mm f4.5 Steinheil Munchen Tele-Quinar lens and a 35mm f 4.5 Enna Werke Munchen Lithagon lens. The 200mm lens is impressive looking with a chrome body and a large chrome hood. The second element from the front is quite foggy, however; I assume from mold. The 35mm lens looks to be in good condition although it is an exceptionally slow 35mm lens at f4.5. The 35mm and 200mm German lenses, of course, show the German heritage of the Exakta mount. Steinheil lenses are featured at Captain Jacks Steinheil Exakta Lenses and Enna lenses are featured at Captain Jacks Steinheil Exakta Lenses. Some other miscellaneous equipment and a large leather case were also included. The camera itself is in very good cosmetic and working condition including the meter.|
Top View with Finder Removed
|Topcon RE Super (Large) (1963 - 1972) three days after getting the Topcon Super D above, I spotted an ad on the Craigslist photo section for "a thrilling deal for camera buffs." The ad offered this Topcon RE Super, a Canon AE-1 Program, an Ansco medium format folding camera, a Minolta Mark II 110 film SLR camera, and an Adams 725 Zoom movie camera. I responded asking about the price. The response - the seller just wanted them to go to someone who would treasure them and take them all! I satisfied that and she delivered them to me the next day! The package included a nice Aluminum Canon case, another gadget bag, several filters and close-up lens attachments, a Canon 100-300mm f5.6 lens, and a Minox "spy" camera. The cameras belonged to the seller's father who passed away about 5 years ago. They represent a nice range of quality cameras since about the 1950s and I was very lucky to get them. The Topcon RE Super is a nice complement to my Super D above. First, with my Super D I did not have a normal lens. The RE Super has a wonderful, very fast 58mm f1.4 Topcon lens in great condition. Second, it shows the distinctions between the RE Super and the Super D. Namely, the Super D has the Beseler name, the United States distributor for the cameras. This RE Super just has the Topcon name. Otherwise, I think the two cameras are the same. Third, this RE Super comes with a manual, full case, and the cap to the motor drive socket. My Super D does not have the manual, just has the bottom of the case, and was missing the cap to the motor drive socket on the bottom. The "Photographic Catalog 1967 (Ziff-Davis Publishing Co.) has a list price of $409 with the 58mm f1.4 lens. That's equal to $2,680 in 2008 dollars. While the street price may have been less, the camera was expensive. Like my Super D, my RE Super is in great shape. Shutter, aperture, self timer, depth of field preview and meter all seem to work well. Cosmetically it is in great shape except for a ding on the corner where it says "RE Super." This Topcon RE Super with the 58mm f1.4 is really a joy with a huge, bright viewfinder and an innovative "thru-the-lens Mirror-Metering system which is a CdS exposure meter attached behind the relex mirror and internally coupled to both the lens diaphragm and shutter speed." (Mannual page 2.) This 45 year old technology is capable of producing photos as good as photos from most digital SLRs today and still works like it was new. Granted, I use a digital SLR which is extremely convenient and inexpensive to use. Nevertheless, this Topcon RE Super and other quality vintage film SLRs are wonderful cameras that are still very useable. And to think, four days earlier I had never even touched a Topcon. Update: I purchased another Topcon RE Super with 58mm f1.4 lens on August 9, 2014 at a Bonita, CA garage sale for $25. It is in good working and cosmetic condition with a couple of small dents. I also purchased a 35mm f2.8 Topcon lens and Vivitar 90 to 230mm f4.5 lens with the camera. The lenses were $10 each. They appear to be in good condition. I also purchased a Nikon F with Standard Prism at the sale for $10. (See above.)|
|Topcon Auto 100 (1964-1969) besides being known as the Beseler Topcon Auto 100 it was also referred to as the Topcon Uni and the Hanimex Topcon RE Auto depending on where it was sold. (See Tokyo Kogaku (Topcon) - Camerapedia.) The Auto 100 was a less expensive consumer camera compared to the Topcon Super D (RE Super). It used Topcon UV lenses which are a completely different mount compared to the Exakta mount used in the Super D (RE Super). The standard lens was a 53mm f2. The wide angle lens was 35mm f3.5. The telephoto lenses were a 100mm f4 and a 135mm f4. It used a leaf shutter unlike most 35mm SLRs which use a focal plane shutter. The owner's manual is at www.butkus.org. The Auto 100 is discussed at photo.net. Mine was purchased on eBay on 7-20-08 for $21.51 with $9.75 shipping. I came across it while researhing my Super D. The Auto 100 comes with an eveready case, strap, standard 53mm f2 lens, and wide angle 35mm f3.5 lens with case. It is in good cosmetic condition. The shutter fires. The lenses look good, although the 53mm f2 was very dusty externally. Viewfinder is pretty dirty and there is something internally partially blocking the viewfinder. The mirror and focusing screen look good. It might be something over the pentaprism. I haven't checked out the meter yet. The ready case is in good condition.|
|Topcon IC-1 Auto (1974-1978) (Large Image) The last of the UV lens based cameras and the only one to use a focal plane shutter. Dates are from Topcon - Camerapedia. There are actually two ranges. The original IC-1 Auto from 1974-1976 and the "new" IC-1 Auto from 1976-1978. According to the site Topcon Club the "new" model had the standard lens upgraded to the "HI TOPCOR 55mmf1.8." (Japanese site with some English.) I must have the first version since I have a 50mm f2 lens. Following the IC-1 was the Pentax K mount RM300. The earlier cameras such as the Super D (RE Super) that took an Exakta mount were considered to be higher quality than the Topcon cameras which took the UV lenses. According to a post at photo.net, the UV lens based cameras were generally more cheaply made and leaf shutters in SLR cameras tend to be unreliable. This camera appears to be very solidly made and has a focal plane shutter. You are still limited to the UV lenses. According to the post photo.net since the UV lenses were designed for a leaf shutter which does not open as wide as a focal plane shutter the apertures tend to be smaller.|
Shutter speeds are from 1/500 to 1 second and bulb. Apertures are from f2 to f22. Both the shutter speed dial and aperture rings are at the base of the lens. Unlike most cameras the aperture ring is part of the camera and not the lens. Since there is a single aperture ring, you have to set the maximum aperture of the lens you are using on a dial on the front of the camera. The camera has shutter preferred automatic operation. You set the aperture ring to auto. Select the shutter speed you want. The camera automatically selects the aperture. For manual exposure, take the aperture ring off of auto. Set shutter speed. In the viewfinder, a needle falls on the correct aperture. You then have take you eye from eyepiece and turn the aperture ring to the suggested aperture. It is not match needle metering. It takes a PX-675 1.3 volt mercury battery that is no longer made. A 1.5 volt silver oxide S-76 battery will also fit, but the manual indicates readings will be under-exposed. The owner's manual is at butkus.org. It refers to the IC-1. It appears the IC-1 is the same as the IC-1 Auto.
A 1973 magazine ad on eBay states in part: "the Topcon IC-1 is equipped with an integrated circuit electronically-controlled focal plane shutter. Couple this with these other superb features: a fully automatic exposure system with manual override, a thru-the-lens light metering system for center-weighted average readings at full aperture. An automatic 50mm standard Topcor lens. And all these come in an elegant everready case. Now you've got the camera that can create the photographs you want accurately, simply and fast. To take great pictures simply, set the camera on "Auto" and you're on exposure automation. Just set the shutter speed (and you've got a wide choice of seven speeds), focus and start shooting." And all these for less than $290." The $290 in 1973 has the equivalent buying power of $1,415.65 in 2010. Even assuming a street price substantially less than the $290, it was still an expensive camera.
I purchased my Topcon IC-1 Auto (serial no. 37982) on April 8, 2010 in the Point Loma area of San Diego from an ad on Craigslist. I have purchased several nice cameras and lenses from the same gentleman in the past. I paid $75 for the Topcon IC-1, a Topcon Auto 100, a 200mm f4 lens, two 135mm f4 lenses, one 35mm f3.5 lens, a 2X teleconverter, a ever-ready case for the Auto 100, a lens case for the 20mm f4 lens, a lens case for one of the 135mm lens, a case for the teleconverter and a modern nylon case. Everything appears to be in very good working and cosmetic condition. The IC-1 is very clean, although the Auto 100 has some dust in the viewfinder. All the lenses are Topcon. They all appear to be clear.
|Vivitar XV-1 (1980) (Large Image) A rebadged Cosina CT-1 according to forum.manualfocus.org. Date is from Cosina, Wikipedia. It's a nice, basic SLR with a mechanical shutter with shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second. Center weighted averaging, match needle, open aperture metering. 1/125 second flash synch. Pentax K lens mount. It good cosmetic and working condition. In order for the shutter to fire, the film advance must be out a little. This also turns the meter on. Purchased on 11-21-09 at a San Carlos area of San Diego garage sale for $10. The manual for the Cosina CT-1 is at butkus.org. Takes one 1.35 volt H-C silver oxide battery. It seems to work fine with a 1.5 volt S76 or equivalent battery. Die Cast Deluxe has a long list of Cosina made cameras as well as information about Cosina.|
|Voigtlander Bessamatic (1959) (Large Image, Top, Interior, Bessamatic w/o Lens, Bessamatic with Box, Bessamatic Case, Bessamatic w/o Lens Camera 2.) Most SLR cameras use a focal plane shutter located just before the film. When you take a picture, the mirror goes up, the aperture closes down, and the shutter curtains move across exposing the film. The mirror then returns and the aperture reopens. The Bessamatic, however, has a leaf shutter mounted between the lens and the mirror. This design complicates things! As you advance the film, the shutter must open, the aperture must fully open, the mirror must go down, and a plate must be lowered in front of the film. In this position you can view the image. When you hit the shutter release, the shutter closes, the plate and mirror go up, the aperture stops down, the shutter opens, and the shutter closes after the set time. The plate and mirror remain up and the shutter closed until you advance the film again. It's a very complicated process that is explained well at Mike E. Eckman and simonhawketts. It is no wonder than focal plane shutters predominated in SLR cameras. Kodak Retina SLR cameras and Zeiss Icon Contaflex cameras also had the leaf shutter between the lens and mirror. Additionally, both Kodak Retina SLR cameras and the Bessamatic used the DSK lens mount. The Bessamatic mount and Kodak mounts were somewhat different but they each could be adapted to fit on the other brand's camera. All three companies made these cameras in West Germany.
The Bessamatic with 50mm f2.8 lens sold for $199.95 in the 1960-61 Sears Camera Catalog. That was a reduction from the prior price of $220. $199.95 in 1960 is equivalent to an astonishing $2,000 in buying power as I write this in January 2023! "The Bessamatic is often associated with the first 35mm zoom lens, the 36 to 82mm f/2.8 Zoomar made by the Zoomar Corporation of USA." (Bessamatic - Camera-Wiki.) Sears sold this lens for $298, or almost $3,000 in 2023 dollars.
Voigtlander as a company dates back to 1756 and was making cameras by 1840 right after the invention of photography. (Voigtlander - Wikipedia.) The company started in Vienna, Austria moving the Braunschweig, Germany in the mid-1800s. In 1923 the most of the shares were acquirred by Schering AG's photo division. Schering sold its shares to Carl Zeiss Foundation in 1956, and Zeiss-Ikon and Voigtlander were integrated in 1965. They ceased producing cameras in on August 4, 1971 and closed the Voigtlander factory. "Since 1999, Voigtländer-branded products have been manufactured and marketed by the Japanese optics and camera company Cosina, under license from Ringfoto." (Id..) In addition to the Bessamatic, Voigtlander made many high quality zone focusing and rangefinder cameras in the 1950s, three of which are displayed in the Rangefinder section of the museum.
I have two Bessamatic cameras, at least one of which was purchased at a La Mesa estate sale in May or June 2011 along with the Minolta SR-M above and several other cameras. One is in pristine cosmetic condition and comes with the original box, an "eveready" leather case, and the instructions for use. The other is in good cosmetic condition. Both come with the Voigtlander Color-Skopar X 50mm f2.8 lens. The lens on the camera with the box is in excellent condition. Unfortunately, both cameras have mechanical issues which apparently is not uncommon as I look through eBay. Not surprisingly, the light meters are not active. The camera in the box is locked up. It is in the position to fire, but the shutter does not fire. The film advance, of course, also does not move. The mirror is down in the correct position and the plate is closed. The view through the viewfinder is excellent. The other camera appears to fire and the film advance level moves correctly. The shutter is not actually firing, however. The shutter remains closed, the mirror I think stays up and the plate does not come down all the way. The plate is prevented from closing all the way by a spring with a piece of plastic around it. The plastic looks irregular like something may be broken.
I purchased on eBay a Bessamatic DSK mount to Nikon F AI mount adapter for around $13. This allowed me to take photos using the Voigtlander Color-Skopar X 50mm f2.8 lens on my Nikon D600 digital camera. The metering and exposure work fine in aperture preferred mode. Unlike most adapters on mirror cameras, this one appears to focus to infinity. I believe that's because the lens mount on the Bessamatic sticks out and the adapter sticks out the same distance. It's a little tricky mounting the lens on the adapter. There were no instructions. First, you have to set the Bessamatic lens to f22. There is projection in the adapter that must meet up with the sliding pin on the lens that moves the aperture. The adapter has its own aperture ring. You have to be careful that everything is secure or you may drop the lens on the concrete steps to your backyard, not once, but twice, denting the filter ring, causing more scrapes on the metal, and creating a slight chip on the glass. Guess how I know! :( It was the lens on the second camera and I believe the focus was a little stiff anyway which contributed to it falling off. Still the adapter seems trickier to use than those I've used with my micro 4/3 camera. Here is a photo of the Nikon D600 camera with the adapter and lens and a couple of sample snapshots using the lens (1 and 2). It is sort of cool using a circa 1959 lens with a 2013 digital camera at the beginning of 2023! The close focus is only about 3.5 feet which is not very close compared to modern lenses.
"The Bessamatic has a reputation as a tricky camera to repair." (Bessamatic - Wikipedia.) The Disassembly Procedure is at learncamerarepair.com. It looks complicated and doesn't go into the disassembly and timing of the shutter "because if you need that you shouldn't be working on one of these cameras." Chris Sherlock has a series of videos on repairing a Kodak Retina Reflex S and Bessamatic M. Learn Camera Repair has an entire course on camera repair. Retina Rescue has repair information on the similar Kodak Retina Reflex cameras. Repair of mechanical cameras is becoming a lost art.
|Yashica TL-Electro (Large Image) (1972) See the discussion below about the history of Yashica. The Yashica TL-Electro is a fully manual 35mm SLR introduced in 1972. It takes Pentax screw mount lenses. The stop-down LED meter is powered by two PX640 batteries (2.7 volts total). Some versions are instead powered by one PX28 six volt battery. The manual is available at butkus.org. That site indicates the original batteries were two PX 640 1.35 volt mercury batteries for a total of 2.7 volts. You can get PX640 alkaline batteries today which are 1.5 volts each or a total of 3 volts. That site says it knows of one report of the alkaline batteries at the higher voltage of 3 volts burning out the meter LEDs. Other sites seem to suggest it should be okay, however. Photoethnography.com states that TL-Electro is almost identical to a Pentax Spotmatic II except the TL-Electro uses an LED meter instead of a match needle meter. The stop-down metering switch is in the same location as on the Pentax to the left of the lens. For stop-down metering I prefer the Mamiya cameras of the same era which used the film advance lever as the metering switch. Like the Pentax the Yashica TL-Electro is a solid, well made camera. Shutter speeds are from 1 second to 1/1000 second. Flash synch is at 1/60 second. It has a horizontal, cloth focal plane shutter. Mine has a Yashinon-DS 50mm f1.9 lens. Mine also came with a Tokina 80-200mm f4-5.6 lens and a small automatic flash. I bought my Yashica TL-Electro from an ad on Craigslist on June 28, 2012 in the Clairemont Mesa area of San Diego. I purchased this and Olympus C-2100 digital camera for $25. The price on Craigslist was $25 for the Yashica and $10 for Olympus. I negotiated the price down to $25 for both since the slower shutter speeds on the Yashica are hanging up and the Olympus was only intermittently turning on. When I got home and put fresh batteries in the Olympus it worked perfectly, however. The shutter speeds on my TL-Electro work fine until about 1/8 or 1/4 second or slower. At those slower speeds the shutter will close. When you move the film advance the shutter partially opens and then gets stuck. If you turn the shutter speed dial to a faster shutter, put pressure on the film advance and press the shutter release things start working again. I assume a cleaning, lube and adjustment is in order but not something I'm going to have done on a $15 camera. I've ordered some batteries to try out the meter. All in all a great addition to my Yashica 35mm SLR collection which has exploded in 2012.||Yashica FR (1976) (Large Image) Yashica's history is documented at Yashica, Wikipedia. Yashica was a Japanese camera manufacturer formed in 1949. It produced its first camera, the medium format twin lens reflex Yashimaflex, in 1953. In 1958 it acquired the Nicca camera company which made quality 35mm rangefinder cameras. This allowed Yashica to enter into the 35mm rangefinder business. In 1959 it made its first 35mm single lens reflex camera, the Yashica Pentamatic. In the late 1980s it made 35mm autofocus SLRs, although they were not very successful compared to offerings by Minolta, Canon and Nikon. Yashica also made movie cameras, 126 cartridge cameras, 110 cartridge cameras and 35mm half frame cameras. Mr. Martin's Camera Museum is proud to have examples of Yashica cameras in each format. In 1983 Yashica was acquired by Kyocera Company. Kyocera ceased production of cameras in 2005. In 2008 the trademark rights to the Yashica name were sold to a Hong Kong company. The Yashica FR was first marketed in 1976. It has design similarities to the Contax RTS which was introduced in 1974 and was jointly developed by Zeiss Ikon and Yashica. Like the Contax RTS, the Yashica FR shares an electronically controlled electromagnetic shutter release. The camera has a Contax/Yahica bayonet lens mount. My camera comes with the winder which advances at up to 2 frames per second. It takes 6 AA batteries. My camera also comes with the interchangeable data back which can record the date on the photo. The data back can also be used with the winder and an optional Contax Interval Timer for time lapse photography. I do not have the interval timer. It has open aperture metering with an LED display showing the correct exposure. The viewfinder displays both the shutter speed and the aperture. Exposure is manual with shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second. Flash sync is at 1/60 second. The camera was available in either chrome or all black finish. The cost in the 1978-79 Sears Camera Catalog was $224.50 with a 50mm f1.7 lens or about $800 in 2012 dollars. It was $259.50 with a 50mm f1.4 lens. The winder was $114.50 or about $400 in 2012 dollars. I purchased my camera, winder and data back with the manuals and a right angle finder, but without any lens, for $15, together with several older digital cameras and two GPS units on March 17, 2012 at a La Mesa, CA, garage sale about 1 block from my house. It was a lucky find since it was raining and I only went to that garage sale and a nearby estate sale. The camera and accessories are in good cosmetic condition. I put in a 6 volt 4LR44 alkaline battery. The shutter fires, but you have to press down on the shutter release 3 or 4 times sometimes for it to release. The instruction manual specifies a silver oxide battery. I've ordered a 4SR44 battery and give it a try. With a camera this old, however, I might have a bad capacitor or some other electronic component. That's, of course, a downside to having an electronically controlled shutter. The shutter speeds sound reasonably accurate. I don't see any of the meter LED lights in the viewfinder. The winder works fine. The camera has the regular back on it. I have not installed or tried the data back.||Yashica FR I (Large Image) (1977-1981) Electronically controlled open aperture metering with both manual exposure and aperture preferred automatic exposure. It has a full information LED display and depth of field preview. Shutter speeds are from 1 second to 1/1000 second in manual mode and 4 seconds to 1/1000 second in automatic mode. Contax/Yashica lens mount. The camera takes a 6 volt silver oxide battery, PX-28 or 544. It takes the same auto winder as the FR as explained above allowing for film advance at up to 2 frames per second. The manual is at butkus.org. I purchased this, a winder, 28mm f2.8 lens, 50mm f1.7 lens, 42-75 f3.5-4.5 lens, Tokina 80-200mm f4.5 lens for $50 from an ad on Craigslist in the Point Loma area of San Diego for $50. I have bought many cameras from the same gentleman before and he gave me several additional cameras. The camera and accessories are in good cosmetic and working condition.||Yashica FR II (Large Image) (1977-1981) The Yashica FR II is based on the FR I, but drops the manual controls of the FR I in favor of just aperture preferred automatic exposure. The camera and shutter are electronically controlled. Powered by a six volt silver oxide battery. Shutter speeds from 4 seconds to 1/1,000 second. Flash synchronization at 1/60 second. It takes Yashica/Contax mount lenses. Mine has a 50mm f1.9 lens. The manual is at butkus.org. Mine is in good working and cosmetic condition. It was included as part of the FR I outfit above. The FR II with 50mm f1.7 lens was $224 in the 1978-79 Sears Camera Catalog. $224 in 1978 has the same buying power as $850 in 2012.|
|Yashica FX-3 (Large Image, Back, Before Re-covering) (Introduced 1979) The Yashica FX-3 was the first in a series of FX-3 cameras. It is a mechanical, manual SLR with a vertically running metal shutter with a top shutter speed of 1/1000 second and I believe flash synchronization of 1/125 second. It has open aperture, center weighted, through the lens metering powered by two 1.5 volt LH44 or equivalent batteries. The batteries only power the meter; otherwise, the camera is purely mechanical. Correct exposure is shown by a green LED light in the viewfinder. Single red LED lights above and below the green LED show under and over exposure. Neither shutter nor aperture information is shown in the viewfinder. Mine comes with a 50mm f1.9 Yashica lens. The camera has a Contax/Yashica lens mount giving a reasonable supply of reasonably priced used Yashica lenses or very high quality Carl Zeiss T lenses. It has a mechanical 10 second self timer. The self timer also operates as a mirror lock-up since the mirror comes up immediately when the shutter release is pressed starting the timer. There is no depth of field preview. It has a hot shoe but no flash socket. Some sources say the camera was made by Cosina and marketed by Yashica. (See, e.g., shootfilmco.com.) Camerapedia states that it "was released by Yashica in 1979, and built by Cosina." After this someone added, "Actually no evidence of this. A lot of evidence shows the FX-3 was built by Phenix in China though some may have been built elsewhere before that." There is a discussion on Yashica Forum with a variety of opinions. (See also contax139.blogspot.com (perhaps the source of the Phenix reference in the camerapedia article), 35mmc.com (some of the comments say the FX-3 is based on the Cosina CT-1A).) Cosina CT-1 - Wikipedia states: "The [Cosina] CT-1 chassis is also often, mistakenly, referred to as the basis of some other cameras such as the Yashica FX-3 . . . but, although the FX-3 etc. uses a similar chassis, also from Cosina, it's not the same." My camera says Japan on bottom. The camera is relatively compact and light weight with a mass of 450 grams without the batteries or lens according to the short owner's manual which is available online at cameramanuals.org. Related manuals are available at butkus.org. The design is very traditional similar to cameras dating back to the 1960s or before with the shutter speed dial, shutter release and film advance grouped on the top right. The aperture ring is on the lens. The ISO is set by lifting the shutter speed dial. The back is opened by lifting the film rewind knob. The rewind release is on the bottom of the camera. The camera was relatively low priced with an FX 3 with 50mm f1.9 lens only $134.50 (about $480 in January 2023 dollars) in a Midtown Foto ad at page 148 of the January 1981 Popular Photography Magazine.|
|I think I purchased my camera many years ago at a garage or estate sale. My camera suffered from deterioration of the leatherette covering which is common for this camera. I replaced the covering with some self-adhesive leather repair material and cut it to size with a box cutter. The material was only $7 and is enough to cover several cameras. It looks much better now. While not perfect it is much less expensive than buying pre-cut material. There is wear and brassing on the bottom plate. The seals on the camera have deteriorated badly and need to be replaced. The shutter works well and sounds accurate. The meter works surprising well and is within a half stop of the readings from my Olympus E-M10II digital camera. Surprisingly, I noticed the lens does not appear to be stopping down. I assume this is a lens problem and not a camera problem. I think when you move the lever on the back of the lens the aperture should stop down. It does not. The problem is discussed at Flickr - Contax/Yashica Group. Yashica DSB 50mm F1.9 lens disassembly YouTube video shows complete disassemby of the lens. Finally, the shutter button looks like it broke off the camera. There is still a little button visible that triggers the shutter although it is difficult (but doable) to get your index finger in position to push it down. It is a remarkably durable camera after 40+ years and still very useable with a working lens.|
|Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 (Large Image) (Introduced 1986) Like the FX-3, it is a mechanical, manual SLR with a vertically running metal shutter, 1/125 second flash synchronization, green and red LED lights to show correct and over/under exposure (no other information), self timer that also operates as mirror lockup, hot shoe, and no depth of field preview. According to Camera-Wiki: "In 1984 the FX-3 was replaced by the FX-3 Super, that added a vestigial grip to the body, a flash-ready indicator in the finder, and moved the meter switch to the shutter release button." Both the FX-3 and FX-3 Super were black bodied. In 1985 the FX-7 Super was added which was an FX-3 Super with a chrome body. "In 1986 the FX-3 Super was in turn succeeded by the FX-3 Super 2000 with a shutter speed range extended to 1/2000, and a wider ISO range from 25 - 3200 ISO instead of 12 - 1600." (Camera-Wiki.) The FX-3 Super 2000 was produced until 2002, a very long run for a single lens reflex camera. By that time the camera was introduced Yashica had been acquired by Kyocera, a Japanese high tech ceramics and electronics manufacturer. The Kyocera name is on the bottom right while looking at the front of the camera. The camera is relatively compact and light weight with a mass of 455 grams without the batteries or lens according to the owner's manual which is available online at butkus.org. When it was introduced in 1986 most new SLRs were electronically controlled with autofocus, automatic programmed exposure (and other modes), automatic film advance, and automatic film rewind. The simple design of the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 with manual control forcing the photographer to select the focus, shutter speed and aperture is ideal for a photography student. The camera would have competed favorably at the time with the Pentax K1000. It still is capable of producing excellent photos as good as high end digital SLRs although not with the same convenience. I bought mine at a garage sale in the Granite Hills area of El Cajon, California on September 8, 2012. I bought two film cameras (this and a Canon A1 body only) and three digital cameras including a Canon G5 for a total of $35. I allocated about $10 to this camera. It is in good mechanical and operating condition. The lens glass is excellent. The meter seems accurate. The shutter speeds sound right. It was outside with considerable dust on it, but it cleaned up nicely. It had a wide angle converter lens attached to the filter threads. That helped protect the camera lens although the converter lens has numerous small scratches on the front glass. There is a very nice article on the FX-3 Super 2000 at Film Advance.|
|Zeiss Ikon Contaflex II, (Large Image) West German SLR produced from 1954 to 1958. Non-interchangeable 45 mm f2.8 lens. The Contaflex II has a Selenium meter. The Contraflex I introduced the year before lacked a meter. Syncho-Compur leaf shutter. While the lens is fixed, there was a conversion lens called the Zeiss Telskop 1.7 that fit on the existing lens with an accessory clamp as explained at Matanle, Collecting and Using Cassic SLRs (Thames and Hudson, 4th ed. 1996). As indicated below, the Contraflex III (no meter) and Contraflex IV (meter) actually had interchangeable front lens elements. The Contaflex II was relatively expensive with a price of $199 in the 1956 Sears Camera Catalog. By comparison, in the 1956 Sears Catalog an Argus C-3 was $66.50 and a Leica M3 was $447. The Contaflex's price of $199 is equal to $1,600 in 2008 dollars! Shutter speeds on ring closest to body of 1/500 to 1 second with B. Apertures on next ring from body from f2.8 to f22 (clicks on full stops only). Focus ring is on the outer ring. Close focus slightly less than 3 feet. The mirror stays up after the shutter is released. It is returned by advancing the film to the next frame. To open the back, you lift and turn both locking rings on the bottom. The whole back and bottom then come off the camera. The manual for the Contaflex I is at cameramanuals.org (butkus.org). My Contaflex II was purchased at a San Carlos area (towards Mission Trails Park Visitors' Center) of San Diego garage sale on July 19, 2008 for $20. It is in very good cosmetic and operating condition except that the meter does not respond to light at all. It comes with an eveready case in excellent condition.||Zeiss Ikon Contaflex IV, West German SLR produced from 1957 to 1959. 50 mm f2.8 lens. The front element can be removed and replaced with wide angle and telephoto front elements. Mine is in good cosmetic and operating condition with a fairly dusty viewfinder with some broken glass in it indicating the mirror may be chipped. The non through the lens Selenium meter works. Purchased on eBay on 10-10-05 for $12 (buy it now) with $8 shipping. Excellent information at Photoethnography.com.||Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super B, (Large Image) West German SLR produced from 1962 until 1965. The Super B has a Selenium meter behind the Zeiss Ikon name plate. According to Pacific Rim Camera, it was the first 35mm camera with automatic exposure. It was followed by the Super BC (1967-1970) which had "battery-powered TTL light metering with a CdS cell." (www.lumieresenboite.com) Like the other Contaflex cameras, the Super B has a 50mm f2.8 lens with a front element that can be removed and replaced with wide angle and telephoto front elements. The owner's manual is available at cameramanuals.org. The automatic exposure was shutter preferred. You rotate the aperture ring to the automatic position marked by a little red triangle. You select the shutter speed. The camera chooses the aperture which is shown by a needle in the viewfinder. That was a very sophisticated system in the early 1960s. The camera has a leaf shutter instead of a focal plane shutter. The mirror is not instant return. When you press the shutter, the mirror goes up and stays up. You can no longer see anything in the viewfinder. When you advance the film, the mirror goes back down and you can see the image. The entire back comes off to load film. As I write this in December 2022, I don't specifically recall how I got this camera. It may have been from a 2008 Craigslist purchase of several cameras. The camera is in excellent cosmetic condition. It seems to work well. The shutter fires and the speeds seem to vary appropriately although I don't know if they are accurate. It winds correctly. The light meter appropriately responds to light, although I don't know if it is accurate. It focuses correctly although the focus seems a little stiff. The camera came with a nice leather every-ready case. A 1963 magazine ad for sale on eBay states the price for a Super B as less than $260 which is about $2,500 adjusted for inflation in 2022! The 1963 Montgomery Ward Camera Catalog at page 11 has the prior Contaflex Super at $237.50.|
|Zenit E (Large Image) (1965-1982) 35mm SLR made in the USSR by the Soviet manufacturer KMZ. 1965-1982 dates are from 35mmc.com. Camerapedia gives the dates as 1965-1986. Camera-Wiki - Zenit E has the dates as 1965-1968 which may be a typo transposing 1986 to 1968. Many of the Zenith E cameras were exported to Europe and sold under different brand names. Zenit - Wikipedia details all the Zenit models and their export. My Zenit E has a M42 screw mount lens. The shutter speeds are 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and B. You lift up on the shutter dial to change shutter speeds. The lens on my camera is a Helios 44mm f2. It has a non-TTL (not through the lens), uncoupled Selenium match needle exposure meter. The meter needle is on top of the camera. You move the ring until the yellow circle and needle match up. You can then read the possible aperture and shutter speed combinations for the correct exposure. There is no indication of the exposure in the viewfinder. It has a horizontal cloth focal plane shutter. My shutter is working, but occasionally the second curtain does not close all the way. My light meter reacts to light although I have not tested its accuracy. The aperture ring is at the front of the lens. Immediately behind it is a ring which opens and closes to the set aperture. I think it is not an automatic aperture and you have to close it down prior to taking the photo. Overall, it seems to be a very sturdy camera but outdated compared to other SLRs made at the time. The manual is available at butkus.org as well as zenitcamera.com. I purchased several cameras including the Zenit E, a Keystone A-7 16mm movie camera, a Yashica-Mat 124G TLR, a Minolta Autocord I TLR, a Beautycord S TLR camera, a Nikon 80-200 f4.5 lens, a Tamron 35mm to 80mm f2.8-3.5 lens with adaptall mount for Nikon, and a wood case that fits everything for a total of $77 at a La Mesa, California garage sale on October 25, 2015.|