other Miranda cameras in my collection

1971 Miranda Auto Sensorex EE

1974 Miranda (Soligor) TM

1975 Miranda RE II

 

JapanMiranda FvT [1968 - 1969]

 

There's a shortage of good Internet information describing early Miranda cameras, so it's a pleasure to have acquired and be able to write about the Fv/FvT. I've always considered Miranda to be very odd branding for a camera, but apparently this girls name has the original Latin meaning of worthy of admiration". Now it makes sense!

 

Overview

This model belonged to a family produced between 1963 and 1969, comprising the F (early and late versions), FM, G, Fv, GT and FvT. The top camera was the G/GT, which had an oversized mirror with a lock-up for wide-angle lenses, self timer, and interchangeable viewfinder screens. The Mirandous (an obsolete alternative to miraculous) G was known as the poor man's Nikon F.

Although the Fv doesn't have an interchangeable view screen, it's nevertheless easy to remove the fixed screen for cleaning. Here's how it's done.

Miranda Fv/FvT advertMiranda finders are interchangeable, so can be prism, waist-level, magnifying or ... something more exotic. This camera has the T finder, which was introduced in 1967 as an accessory for the Miranda G, and incorporates an uncoupled TTL CdS meter built into a prism housing. So ... the 1967 Miranda GT is the same camera body as the 1965 G, but for the addition of the slot-in T finder, and the 1968 Miranda FvT is the same camera body as the 1967 Fv, but for the addition of the T finder.

The T metering prism offers the advantage of measuring light levels through the camera lens, but it requires the user to look away in order to establish what level of illumination the meter has registered. In other words, it provides TTL light measurement without viewfinder exposure information. It therefore works like any other hand-held device, except for the need to dial-in the maximum aperture of the lens mounted to the camera (as with TTL metering Topcons and pre-AI Nikons). Essentially, the level of illumination observed though - say an f/4 maximum aperture lens - is going to be half that of an f/2.8 aperture, and so the meter needs to be informed what it's looking through in order to evaluate what light levels it's looking at.

Detailed instructions on how to use the T Prism meter can be found here.

The Miranda Fv has some cool features.

• The shutter release is on the front of the camera body. Older Miranda camera models were pioneers of systems to automate closure of the lens diaphragm immediately prior to exposure, and achieved this by using an external mechanism known as a Pressure Automatic Diaphragm. PAD lenses had an arm with a button on the end that reached to and aligned with a front-of-body shutter release. Pressing the release button on the lens arm closed down the diaphragm, and then further pressure pushed the camera shutter release. Miranda where very mindful of providing backwards compatibility, so that's why the Fv has a shutter release on the front of the camera. It's nothing to do with ergonomics (as some website resources suggest); it's primarily a legacy feature to accommodate the use of older Miranda PAD lenses with external diaphragm couplings. The Fv/FvT is otherwise designed to be used with newer Auto Miranda lenses with internal automatic diaphragm couplings.

cable release socket cap• The camera also has the provision for a top plate mounted shutter release. Here there is a cable release socket, which allows the shutter to be fired from the top plate, via a screw-in release button. Few examples seem to have this, or the original metal cap that covered this port.

• The shutter speed dial has a central post with a coin slot ... to enable its easy removal. This is to allow the fitting of a snap-on exposure meter, which couples to the shutter speed selector post. The snap-on was made for the Fv (and G), and is a direct measurement device, i.e. not TTL. The FM had its own direct measurement prism meter accessory (but don't forget - they are all interchangeable, so I could turn my Miranda RE II into an RE II T).

• A delightful design detail can be found in the frame counter, where the marker that points to a digit on an arc of numbers changes colour from white to red when the film is wound ... and back to white when the shutter is tripped. Also, the back release has a double release-catch; a shiny chrome press button which unlocks a sliding bolt-style lever. It's these little design touches that say quality.

 

 

According to a dealer advert in a 1968 edition of Amateur Photographer, the cost of a new FvT was £94 - 19s - 6d, but had been reduced, for a Winter sale, to £78- 5s - 0d. A Dixons advertisement offered a Miranda G with a 50mm f/1.9 lens for £69 - 15s - 0d. This price included a snap-on meter, stated to be worth £7, and a waist-level finder, worth £3 - 10s - 0d. Today that seems like a total bargain, but in 1968, the average UK weekly wage was £28.63. Miranda cameras were exceptionally good value, since the same advert detailed a Prinzflex TTL (which was a rebadged Chinonflex TTL) for £89 - 7s - 6d. I know which I would have bought!

Click here for an overview of Miranda 35mm SLR camera models.

 

Specifications

Lens mount: Miranda mount - duel 4-claw bayonet and 44mm screw thread.

Miranda Fv viewfinderFocus: Viewfinder magnification 0.92x with 50mm lens at infinity. Condenser and Fresnel lens combined focusing screen with micro-prism centre spot. Interchangeable viewfinders. DOF preview switch on Auto-Miranda lenses.

Shutter: Horizontal travel cloth focal plane with speeds of 1 sec., to 1/1000th sec., +B. No self-timer.

Meter: Removable uncoupled TTL CdS metering prism finder with film speed range of ASA 6-3200. Requires 1.35 v mercury cell.

Exposure: Manual.

Film Advance: Winding angle 180°. The film winds on to the spool emulsion side out.

Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset. Pointer changes colour from white to red when the film is advanced.

Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.

Miranda accessory shoeFlash: FP and X terminals. X synch at 1/45 sec. No accessory shoe - this was an extra that clipped over the rewind knob.

Size: 146 x 95 x 45mm (W x H x D).

Weight: 640g (body only).

 

My Camera

The Miranda FvT was not cutting-edge technology in 1968, but neither was it a dinosaur. Today, using a camera like the FvT seems cumbersomely complex, but that's the way it was. I got interested in photography in the early to mid 1970s, and my first SLR was no where near as sophisticated as the FvT, but that didn't put me off.

I like the availability of upgrade accessories, because that's the way we bought equipment in the 60s/70s - one piece at a time, because money was tight.

What I admire about Miranda cameras is their designers took an independent route to incorporate new ways of meeting photographers' demands, while still retaining compatibility with pre-existing products. In some ways, Miranda operated like German companies, developing pre-existing cameras, rather than starting afresh: it's no wonder they shared the same fate and went out of business. Mirandas were never a copy of something else, and are masterpieces of mechanical engineering. They are very well made, but were not hugely expensive in their day. They came to the UK High Street via Dixons, who struck import deals with smaller Japanese manufacturers to bring consumers low price equipment.

My camera was advertised as being in near mint condition, but for a bit of a scuff on the front of the prism housing, and an occasionally sticking mirror. The seller sat on the fence with regard to the operational condition of the meter, preferring to describe it as untested - because I wouldn't ever trust an old meter. I could see from the seller's photos that the camera had a missing cable release socket cap ... but most of them do!

I've seen a few FvTs for sale recently, but they've sold for a price beyond reason. The bidding on this example was frenetic, but my closing seconds maximum bid sealed the deal by pennies (June 2017). I paid £32.30, with some Nectar points available to reduce the real cost by £10.00 (making it £22.30). The camera came with an Auto Miranda f/1.9 50mm lens (6 elements in 4 groups), so I think I got quite a bit for my twenty(-ish) quid.

Mint is not a term that would immediately spring to mind to describe this camera ... but it is in very good condition, full working order, with clean glass ... and a quite enchanting thing.

July 2017 - I managed to buy an f/2.8 35mm Soligor Auto lens (6 elements in 5 groups), with the original branded front cap, for the bargain cost of £2.84. This is a T4 mount lens, i.e. the lens doesn't directly mount on to the camera, but has a removable adapter that allows one lens to be used on more than one brand of camera. Obviously this lens has a Miranda adapter. These adapters are commonly seen on eBay, and usually priced at a ludicrous £30. Some people even want up to £15 for an original lens cap!

The T4 system was marketed from about 1969, in collaboration with Vivitar, with the lenses probably manufactured by Tokina. The idea behind the T4 system was retailers had to stock one lens type model and a variety of mounts, rather than many versions of a lens in every different type of lens mount. It was a good idea.

 

nextnextdoc

Miranda FvT - image pending

Miranda FvT

Miranda FvT

Miranda FvT

Miranda FvT

Paying for equipment before 1974

Prior to the UK Consumer Credit Act of 1974, there were two ways to spread the cost of significant purchases. You either saved money - in advance - until you had the full amount required, or bought on HP (hire purchase), which entailed paying an initial instalment (often about 10% for a camera), followed by fixed monthly payments (over something like 8 months). The total cost of an HP purchase was about 10% more, because the arrangement attracted a fee. The goods, whilst in your pocession from the outset, didn't legally become yours until the balance was paid off, and could therefore be taken back if the buyer defaulted on their payment plan.

Although credit cards had existed in the UK since 1966, the 1974 Act was a turning point in their popularity, because it introduced consumer protection against faulty goods (the cardholder can claim compensation from the card-issuing bank).

Neither HP or credit were options available to me, because you had to be an adult to sign a legal agreement. I had to save to purchase photographic equipment.

August 2017 - I bought a Miranda M42 adapter for about £10. While this feels like an obscene price for a little metal ring, they normally get listed on eBay for £30 and more ... so it felt like a bargain. Many online reviews of the marque (that I've read) talk about the dual lens mount providing increased lens compatibility, but the truth is, this flexibility arose from camera bodies having a narrower than average distance between the lens mount and film plane, which allowed space for adapters - made and sold by Miranda - to connect other common German and Japanese lens systems of the time.

I was also very lucky to find a top-plate shutter release button listed on eBay. There were no other bidders, so I snapped it up for £5.