4other Beauty cameras in my collection:

 

JapanBeauty Beaumat [1960]

 

Overview

The Beauty Beaumat is a fixed-lens rangefinder camera introduced by the Beauty Camera Company in 1960. The name is speculated to be a combination of Beauty and automatic, since Beaumat has no meaning.

Its most striking feature is the pod-like thing attached to the side of the lens that resembles a motorcycle headlight. It's a housing for the exposure meter match-needle window. The film speed is set on the thin black ring around the front of the lens barrel, next to which is the shutter speed ring, and then the aperture ring. These are coupled to the meter, and the correct adjustment of either will centre the meter needle. The shutter speed and aperture rings move separately when one is held still and the other turned, but otherwise synchronously (without any form of lock), allowing a set exposure value to be easily adjusted for bias towards motion capture or depth of field control.

The lens is an f/2.8 45mm Biokor. The focus ring has a protruding lever and is scaled in both feet (orange) and meters (white). It seems that the Biokor lens was made by the Tomioka Optical Company (Tokyo). Tomioka's origins date back to 1924, when optical products were designed and produced for the Japanese military and other industrial clients. The company went on to developed a respectable quality three-element triplet and four-element Tessar-type photographic lens, which were mainly used on a number of lower-priced 1950s Japanese TLRs. Some of the lenses were re-badged. From late 1949, Tomioka became the exclusive lens supplier for Yashica, and in 1983, the company became part of the Kyocera ceramic group following its takeover of Yashica.

Beauty cameras where among the pioneers of integral coupled metering (although the Mamiya Elca of around 1958 was the first). The 1958 Beauty Super L had an uncoupled meter with a light cell on the front-right (facing) of the top plate, and a match-needle display above. The Beauty Lightomatic of 1959 followed this layout, as did the 1960 Lightomatic II, but both with the addition of meter coupling. It therefore seems strange that the 1960 Beaumat took a different design route, with a less discretely integrated metering system in a different body style?

However, a glance at the 1956 35 Super / 1957 Canter 35 / 1958 Super II family reveals that the Beaumat is an evolution of this group, rather than an out-of-the-blue design. The Beaumat also underwent a little restyling, including the popular 1960 single glass panel to cover the rangefinder, viewfinder and the new bright-frame illumination windows, along with the distinctive light meter and its pod.

The Beaumat shares some of the features of its Lightomatic relatives; the film advance lever also functions as a shutter release lock when pushed-in flush to the camera body, plus an indentation in the body serves as a rest/housing for the Lightomatic-style rewind crank arm. It also has the meter light cell around the lens - in the style that would be adopted by the 1961 Lightomatic III.

This is a camera for which there is little information available, but a 1960 edition of Amateur Photographer included a guide to all the cameras available in that year. The Beaumat is listed at the price of £51 19s and 9d, which was equivalent to 3 weeks average UK wages (£18.25 per week), making the Beaumat quite an expensive camera.

 

 

I did wonder whether the Beaumatic was the first camera with a selenium meter ring at front of the lens barrel, but it wasn't. The first was the Lord Martian fixed lens rangefinder camera made by the Okaya Optical Works in 1959, followed by the Voigtlander Dynamatic cameras, also introduced in 1959. The relocation of the meter from the body to the front of the lens was an attempt to more accurately meter light entering the lens - and many camera makers of the 1960s adopted this design.

 

Specifications

Viewfinder: Coincidence rangefinder integrated with viewfinder. Self-correcting bright frame.

Focus: Coupled rangefinder with manual ring on lens barrel.

Lens: Biokor 45mm f2.8 (4 elements). The camera manual recommends setting in-between apertures to achieve correct exposure. Click stops are very soft to accommodate this.

Close Focus: 0.8m / 2'7".

Diaphragm: Stopping down to about f/16.

Shutter:. Copal SV shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/500th sec,. plus B. The shutter release locks when the advance lever is flush with the camera body. Self-timer of about 10 seconds.

Cable Release: Appears to have a standard screw thread in the shutter release button.

Meter: Coupled centre-the-needle system with pointer visible in the pod thing.

Exposure: Selenium photocell.

Film Speed: From ASA 10 - 1600.

Filter Size: 46mm screw thread.

Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync.

Film Advance Lever: 180° single stroke (including 20° offset).

Frame Counter: Counts up. Resets automatically when camera back is opened.

Rewind: Camera-bottom rewind tension release button with top crank.

Back Opening: Sliding catch.

Size: 126 x 84 x 72 mm (w x h x d).

Weight: 690g.

 

 

My Camera

I paid £11.00 for this camera in March 2015.

To my astonishment, Mike Butkus has a manual for this camera. The language used has a bygone charm, with its clumsy grammar and incorrect words. For example it opens with - The amazing fact in Beaumat is ... there has been no camera like Beaumat ... small and light with sleek and beautiful body ... yet has a wonderful functions and features as any other precisest camera on the market has. Ah... don't you just love it?

I don't think this camera could possibly be described as sleek or beautiful, but it is definitely interesting, and has character (a bit like me - perhaps in both respects?). I bought it because it is different, plus the build quality of my Lightomatic III has really impressed me.

My camera is in really good condition, and everything works. I'll fit new light seals - when I get around to it - but it doesn't seem to have any issues other than the focus adjustment being a little stiff, plus there appears to be a small decorative chrome cover missing from the top of the wind crank. It's a solid and seemingly well made camera, and I really like it.

 

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Beauty Beaumat

Beauty Beaumat

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↑ Beauty Beaumat & Canter 35

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Beauty Beaumat

Beauty Beaumat