8other Fujica cameras in my collection:

 

JapanFujica Rapid S2 [1965 - ?]

 

Background

Agfa's 1964 Rapid system was apparently intended to compete with Kodak's easy-to-use Instamatic 126 film cartridge launched the previous year.

14 Japanese camera manufacturers and about a dozen European makers signed-up to technical cooperation with Agfa. The big name players included Canon, Fuji, Minolta, Ricoh, Voigtlander, and Yashica. According to a 1964 Time magazine article, half a million Rapid cameras were sold in Europe within the first 10 weeks of its introduction. However, by 1967 Agfa started producing cameras for rival Kodak's 126 film, and by 1971 they had ceased to make Rapid cameras. While Rapid film production continued into the 1980s, the system had effectively fallen into disuse by the end of the 1970s.

The Rapid system's key component was a cassette which had no central spool. The film used in this system was the same size as 35mm film with exactly the same sprocket holes. However, the film is pulled out of the cassette by two geared sprockets in the camera's film chamber, and pushed into another (empty) Rapid cassette ... rather than wound/pulled on to a fixed takeup spool, hence there is no need to rewind Rapid film (the exposed film is simply allowed to remain in the second cassette) and (I feel like I'm repeating myself here) two cassettes - one full and one empty - are required to use a Rapid camera.

35mm film cassettes can't be used in Rapid cameras because they are too large, but 35mm film can be loaded into Rapid cassettes. There are plenty of Internet sites that explain how to do this.

Rapid CassetteThe Rapid system had the added capability of setting the camera's exposure-metering mechanism automatically (as did the 126 cartridge). A T-shaped silver metal plate is fixed to the side of the Rapid cassette. The length of the central tab (i.e. the upright of the T) was proportional to the speed of the film. The tab therefore depresses a lever inside the camera [see Green Arrow in third photo] by varying degrees, transmitting speed information to the camera. Not all Rapid cameras can accommodate the full range of film speeds available.

Follow this link for a table of Rapid film speed data.

 

Overview

Although the Fujica Rapid S2 is not a 35mm camera, it's part of my collection because it effectively uses 35mm film.

The S and S2 were Fujica's first Rapid cameras, the S being fixed focus and the S2 zone focus with a bright-line viewfinder. Exposure is fully automatic via an around-the-lens Selenium meter, and features a viewfinder red flag low light warning. The camera appears to set an aperture and shutter speed combination, which cannot be overridden by manual selection of either. The shutter speed steps are a bit of a mystery, and I suspect it has just two: 1/30th and 1/250th. There is a aperture selector ring around the lens, with an A (auto) setting, and apertures from f/2.8 to f/22. These f-stops are only used with flash, where exposure setting is fully manual. It has an accessory shoe and PC socket. The camera shoots a 24cm x 24cm square format of 16 exposures. The frame counter counts down from 16 to 0.

After loading with film and closing the back, the film advance lever must be advanced three times before the shutter tensions and the winding lever locks, ready for the first exposure. After 16 exposures (when the counter reaches 0) the shutter release locks (although the film advance continues to operate, because the whole film needs to be loaded into the receiving cassette). I have read that Rapid cameras were limited to films of sixteen exposures because that was the length of film that could be comfortably pushed (rather than pulled) into a cassette.

The focal length of the lens is shown as 28mm, but due to the 24x24mm Rapid format this equates to a 35mm film format equivalent focal length of about 35mm.

a) √(242 + 242)mm = 33.9mm (film format diagonal = focal length of neutral lens)
b) √(242 + 362)mm = 43.3mm (35mm film format diagonal = focal length of neutral lens)
c) Ratio of diagonals converts lens focal length, i.e. 43.3 ÷ 33.9 x 28mm ≈ 35mm

I have no clue what this camera cost in the UK in 1968, but understand that it was intended to be a luxury specification Rapid model. Neither can I establish the duration of camera production, but I imagine it would have only been made for a few years - if that?

 

 

Specifications

Viewfinder: Reverse telescope type with fixed parallax markings. Magnification x 0.4.

Focus: Manual click-stopped zone focus, also has feet and meters scales.

Lens: 28mm Fujinar-K. Number of elements unknown.

Close Focus: About 3 feet.

Diaphragm: f/2.8 stopping down to about f/22.

Shutter: Seikosha. Speeds believed to be from either 1/25th or 1/30th to 1/250th (according to the information sources).

Cable Release: Standard screw-in.

Meter: Selenium.

Exposure: Automatic with a viewfinder red flag for under/over exposure.

Exposure range: EV8 (1/25th @ f/2.8) to EV 17 (1/250th @ f/16) at 100 ASA.

Film Speed: 25 - 200 ASA (one of those cameras that cannot support the full range of Rapid film speeds).

Filter Size: 49mm screw.

Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal.

Film Advance: Lever.

Frame Counter: Count down to zero with auto reset.

Back Opening: Sliding catch.

Size: 130 x 61 x 57mm (W x H x D).

Weight: 480g.

 

 

My Camera

I paid €21.50 (£15.79) for this camera in October 2015. It was purchased from a seller in Germany, so the postage cost was a little higher than usual. The description translated as ... As far as I could test it, it seems to work. One can cocking and releasing. More I can not check. After opening the lid you have 3 times stretch until you can trigger.

I became aware of the Rapid S2 when I first spotted one for sale on eBay, but it went for way more than I was willing to pay. Enchanted by its styling, I have been on the lookout for one ever since, and this camera is the first I've seen for auction in around a year: so I think it's fair to say this is an uncommon model. I knew I would be away from home at the time the auction ended, so I made a healthy bid first thing in the morning, fully expecting my limit to be exceeded. It was a pleasant surprise to get home in the evening and discover the S2 was mine ... Mwahaha!

The styling is fabulous, and almost 50 years on from its inception the camera still looks modern. The S2 feels like a quality item. The square viewfinder feels weird: very un-35mm like. It's delightfully simple to operate - or it would be if it worked! My camera is in good condition, but the meter is inoperative.

The way to test this camera is to trick it into thinking the back is closed. There's a small lever in the top light seal channel, in line with the axis of the wind crank [see Red Arrow in third photo], which can be depressed with a thumbnail. Firing the shutter while looking though the lens from the open back, the aperture blades can be watched as they open and close. My camera does not respond to light; the aperture opens to a constant f/2.8, and the shutter speed sounds like a 1/30th (or thereabouts). Although the light seals have degraded, everything works apart from the auto exposure system.

I'm not too worried about this camera being non-operational. That would have been a bonus, but it was bought for it's looks and obscurity, and the absence of Rapid film today (plus it's small negative size) always made it an item unlikely to ever take another photograph.

 

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Fujica Rapid S2

Fujica Rapid S2

Fujica Rapid S2

Fujica Rapid S2

Fujica Rapid S2

Fujica Rapid S2

Fujica Rapid S2