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Camera wisdom that isn't so wise



Repeat something often enough, and it becomes the accepted truth.

There is a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth; it's called the Illusion of Truth Effect.

Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this cognitive failing, while in other areas of life, it can happen accidentally.

Take the example of the Minolta Hi-Matic.

Google this with the added term CLC, and it can be seen there are multiple sites that say the CLC comprised two CdS cells.
It's even stated in Wikipedia, so it must be true!
The problem is, anyone who glances at a Minolta Hi-Matic should observe that it has just one light cell, and the quoted information source document (Minolta Technical Bulletin A) refers solely to a completely different Minolta camera. And yet, despite evidence to the contrary, most authors repeat the false facts, and so perpetuate the illusion of truth.

This page is a collection of examples of the illusion of truth effect, where authors have failed to spot that the information they are copying is in fact total BS. Of course, the web is a dynamic place, and some of these spurious claims come and go, but they were all prevalent at the time I first researched each camera model.


The Canon FTb has a Shock-less Mirror System (SMS)

Haha ... some myths come about as the result of a misunderstanding, but this one is just totally made-up. The FTb has a strip of foam like just about every other 35mm SLR ever made. This delusion was created by a popular camera reviewer (Mr KR - who invites us to pay for his wisdom to help support his growing family), and is thus far only repeated in eBay seller's spin.

The Contax 137 MD, released in 1980, was the world's first and smallest camera with an integrated motor drive

The 1964 Zenit 5 was the first 35mm SLR with a motorised winder, followed in 1970 by the Minolta SR-M, which was the first SLR capable of continuous shooting. Thankfully, this myth seems to have largely disappeared, and the camera is mainly recognised as being the smallest with an integrated motor drive rather than the first.

Graflex Graphic 35 production ceased in July 1957

A careful search of photographic magazines of the period shows that Graflex Graphic 35 cameras were sold up until 1961, when the model was replaced by the Graflex Graphic Jet. I suspect this myth came about because Graflex added a model to their line-up (the Century 35) in about 1957, and it has been incorrectly assumed (by the originator) that the new camera replaced the Graphic 35.

Later Graflex Graphic 35s were made by Kowa and had a Seikosha MX shutter

I have been unable to discover when later was (i.e. pre or post 1957), but either way, the Graflex Graphic 35 was never produced by Kowa. They did make the Graphic Century 35, a completely different model, which had a Seikosha MX shutter. The originator of this myth has clearly confused two different models.

The singular of lenses is lense, and the plural of lens is lens's

If a word ends in s, x, z, ch, or sh, the plural is usually formed by adding 'es'. The apostrophe is a punctuation mark used to mark omissions, and possessives of nouns and pronouns. A singular is never changed into a plural by adding an apostrophe s.
I am not loving it!
[OMG ... there's another one! In English there are two groups of verbs: dynamic and stative.Dynamic verbs relate to an action or a process. For example, 'to write' in the progressive tense is 'writing' (e.g. I am writing about grammar). Stative verbs, on the other hand,describe a state of being and are not supposed to be conjugated in the progressive tense (e.g. 'I own 60 cameras', not 'I am owing 60 cameras').]

The Minolta Hi-Matic 7s, 9, & 11 had a Contrast Light Compensator (CLC), which comprised two CdS cells

All Hi-Matics had one single light cell: on the front of the lens housing ... visible to all. Minolta patented a system for a lens housed light-cell with a viewpoint that's off-the-axis of the camera lens, and which favours exposure based on the foreground. This was to have been accomplished by the angle of view of the cell being altered by a lens cover, and the field of view modified by a form of slot blind over the cell. This may (or may not) be present in the Hi-Matics, but they do not have a CLC system based on weighted averaging of two light cell readings.

The function of a mirror lock-up was to reduce motion blur resulting from mirror slap vibration at slow shutter speeds

The mirror lock-up was originally designed to be use in conjunction with wide angle lenses where the lens intruded sufficiently into the camera body such that the rear element and mirror could come into contact. It has subsequently become associated with low speed photography, but the jury is out on the question of whether or not a mirror lock-up actually makes any difference to image sharpness in anything other than macro-photography.

The Nikon EM's meter does not operate until the frame counter is set to 1

This is true in the case of the Nikon FG, but the EM claim appears to be based on a very literal interpretation of the instruction manual, which details how to insert a film and wind to frame 1 before describing pre-shot metering. The real cause of initially erratic meter movements is corrosion of electrical contacts, which is cleared by movements of the lens aperture setting ring.

The fake ridged window to the right of the Olympus Trip 35 viewfinder mimics a rangefinder

It mimics a Bright Frame window, which is normally translucent and placed next to the viewfinder window, while a rangefinder window is small and clear (because it otherwise wouldn't work), and ideally located some distance away from the viewfinder window. This is another one down to KR.

The Pentax ME was the most compact 35mm SLR ever made

The ME measured 131mm x 82.5mm, however it wasn't actually the smallest 35mm SLR camera. So far as I am aware, that title was claimed way back in 1959 by the long forgotten Topcon PR, a 35mm SLR that was 130mm x 82mm. The depth of the cameras is not directly comparable, since the Topcon had a fixed lens while the ME did not.

The Pentax MX was a professional camera

Whilst the MX may have had features more commonly associated with professional cameras, such as interchangeable view screens (as did the Praktica VLC, Miranda G), it wasn't professional quality: made to work for a living. At launch the MX was the same price as its automated twin - the ME - and its target market was the competent amateur. By 1982, the MX typically sold for 20 less than an ME super. The MX's specification is most similar to the previous K series KX model, while the top of the range K2 featured aperture priority auto exposure and manual control ... just like an ME Super. A professional camera ... that could be bought in Dixons ... for less than an ME Super ... I don't think so!

The Petri 7s was used by professional photographers in the 1960s as a handy backup camera

Anyone who has ever owned a Petri 7s will know that the camera is not exceptional in any way, was cheaply made, low priced, and entirely aimed at the amateur photographer.

The Topcon Unirex was one of the first SLRs with open aperture metering

The first SLR with open aperture metering was the 1963 Topcon RE Super - some six years before the Unirex - and followed by the 1964 Topcon Uni. It took a short while for other manufactures to get on board with open aperture metering (e.g. 1965 Nikon Nikkormat FT, 1966 Minolta SRT101 and Miranda Sensorex, 1967 Nikon Nikkormat FTN, 1968 Konica Autoreflex T). By 1969, when the Topcon Unirex was launched, even the Praktica LLC and Petri FTEE had open aperture metering.

I guess you could argue some logic to this claim, but to my way of thinking, that would be like saying the last Apollo astronaut to walk on the moon was also one of the first; a statement which bends reasoning to abstraction.

Topcon Unirex production ceased in 1970

Authoritative websites like the Topcon Club of Japan state this camera was produced until 1973, and the development of the replacement model - the IC-1 Auto introduced in 1974 - is rumoured to have been triggered by Seiko's cessation of the Seikosha SVL leaf shutter's production (used in the Unirex), which forced Topcon to modify the Unirex to accommodate a focal-plane shutter. Camera manufacturers don't normally stop producing a camera until its replacement is ready for market.

By 1957 the Voigtlander Vito IIa was described as the last of the folding 35mm cameras

Except it wasn't, because the Welta Welti Ic, which was produced into the 1960s, and the Super Dollina II (amazingly) remained in production until the beginning of the 1970s (according to Camera-Wiki). According to Amateur Photographer magazine's 1960 annual camera guide, folding Kodak Retina IB, IIC, and III C models were still being sold.

The Yashica TL Electro X was the first camera with viewfinder LEDs

This camera had miniature viewfinder lamps, not LEDs. The first to use LEDs was the Fujica ST801.