other Miranda cameras in my collection
1961 Miranda DR
1967 Miranda Sensorex
1974 Miranda (Soligor) TM
1975 Miranda RE II
Miranda 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!
Background to the
modernised lever winders
The F was based on the Miranda DR chassis and designed to accept new lenses with an automatic diaphragm, whilst retaining the old front of body shutter release button used in conjunction with earlier PAD lenses. The F introduced a new speed selector dial, which did not have a separated high and low speed selection, and didn't spin when the shutter was released. The F gained an optional screw-in, top-plate located shutter release button facility, via a cable release port.
There were four variations of the F (plus a G model), which were introduced to accommodate new metering accessories, and/or newer lens designs.
|The Four Miranda F variants|
|Dates||Name||Shutter Speed Dial||DOF Switch|
|On camera body|
|1964||FM/FMB||Removable to accommodate clip-on meter
|F||Removable to accommodate clip-on meter
|B indicates the camera was available in black.|
A bulky direct measurement meter accessory was available for the F. This clipped to and around the non-removable shutter speed dial. I've managed to find a picture (here) that shows the device somehow coupled to the shutter speed dial, and incorporated a substitute meter-housed shutter speed adjustment mechanism. Otherwise, I cannot locate any information for this accessory; indeed the Miranda F's instruction manual does not list the original clip-on meter as an available option.
Subsequent models have a removable shutter speed dial to allow the attachment of a smaller direct measurement meter. This fits neatly over the user's right side of the top-plate, following the lines of the camera with no overhang. Information available suggests that this meter was developed for the 1965 Miranda G, so something seems amiss with the 1964 date for the FM (or the clip-on meter date, or the assumption that the device was specifically made for the G?). Two further prism housed metering accessories were introduced for the Fv/G in 1967.
Overview of the Fv/FvT
T finder, introduced in 1967 as an accessory for the Miranda G, 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.
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.
• 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.
• 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
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!
Lens mount: Miranda mount - duel 4-claw bayonet and 44mm screw thread.
Focus: 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.
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.
Flash: 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).
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.
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.