other Beauty cameras in my collection:
Beauty Lightomatic III [1961 - 1963]
Pending the collection of a Lightomatic II, and the creation of a page for that model, I've listed the changes between this camera and the previous model below.
A bright-frame viewfinder was added in place of a bright-line (i.e. projected rather than reflected frames, via an illumination window), which in turn led to the viewfinder, rangefinder, and illuminating windows being given a single glass cover. The illumination window further allowed the projection of a viewfinder meter image, making it possible to set the exposure while viewing the subject. The graphic next to the needle pointer window on the top plate was also changed to an ASA/DIN conversion table in place of a film type reminder. The camera also got a standard cable release thread added to the shutter release.
No prizes for guessing that the Lightomatic III (also sold using the alternative names of Lightmatic III and Lite III) was the third version of this camera. To avoid repetition, I have only described how it differed from its predecessor.
- The most obvious design change is movement of the meter cells to surround the lens. This also forced subtle changes to the front of the top plate, since it no longer had to house a meter cell window.
- The space on the top plate between the shutter release and meter pointer window was finally left empty (i.e. no naff graphics or tables).
- The lens housing got a new all black look, loosing most of the chrome.
According to the Classic Camera Repair Forum (see links), the flat screw on the back of the top plate cover is horizontal adjuster for the rangefinder.
There's a strange Internet blog account by a clever man who modified the lens from a Lightomatic III for use on his Sony Digital. There is a further posting where he shows some of the pictures he shot using the lens.
The Beauty was sold exclusively by Dixons (in the UK), making the camera available on the high street Nationally. It cost just under £30 (£29-17s-6d) in 1963 - at the end of it's production. That would have been the equivalent of about a week and half average UK wages.
I paid £11.50 for this camera in July 2014.
I had never heard of the
Beauty Camera Company, until I spotted a Lightomatic III one day when trawling eBay. It's a camera with mixed reviews; some say it's great, while others think it's rubbish. Whatever, they seem to have more supporters than detractors.
Personally, I like it. It's a fairly typical rangefinder camera of the period, with a few nice little touches (like the shutter lock, and little body indentation that provides a rest for the rewind crank). It has a certain style, and for unexplainable reasons, I think it's good looking. The condition is very good, and everything works, although the meter needle seems a little jumpy at times. It feels well made and solid. I think the Beauty must have been a bit of a gem in 1961. It's certainly a camera that temps me to load-up a film, and take it out for a spin.
Today we tend to think of Dixons (Camera-Wiki article) as selling trash (those of us that remember Dixons), but what they once did very well was the exclusive importation of products from smaller manufacturers, which they sold cheaply, often in large quantities.
To put this achievement into context - the 1960 Beauty Lightomatic III was a Dixons special import, while the 1959 Beauty Lightomatic II came to the UK via Rosley Products Ltd. The Lightomatic II sold for just under £39, while the Lightomatic III was just under £30. Assuming everything else to be equal, this suggests Dixons were providing the public with 25% savings through their exclusive import deals.
It's a bit of a shame that Dixons ended-up selling cheap rubbish, rather than good products cheaply, but in the 1960s they brought some quality gear to the high street.