9other Beauty cameras in my collection:


JapanBeauty Lightomatic [1959]



This family of models started with the 1958 Super L, which was followed by the Lightomatics; a series of four very similar rangefinder cameras with coupled light meters. The first model was introduced in 1959, and also know as the LM (But I have no idea why the advert below calls it the Beau Lightomatic. Maybe there wasn't enough space for a ty?).

Lightomatic advert• The camera was revamped the following year and became the Lightomatic II.

• The third 1961 Lightomatic III was re-styled so that the frog-spawn light cells surrounded the lens.

• The final model was called the Lightmatic SP. It was introduced in 1963 and was possibly the last camera the Beauty Camera Company made.

The user manual describes the first Lightomatic as the camera everybody has dreamed of, and it certainly has all the features possible for a camera of 1959, but it also has a very similar look and specification to many other Japanese cameras available at the time. It differed from the Super L through having a self correcting (parallax compensating) bright-frame viewfinder, and a coupled match-the-needle type meter (with a pointer on the top-plate). The LV dial was abandoned, but the shutter speed/aperture dials remained semi-interlocked, so that the shutter speed dial moves synchronously with aperture adjustments to maintain an exposure value. The two-stage metering system was set aside, and the light meter cell accordingly lost its covering flap.

The lens is a Beauty-S 45mm f1.9, fitted in a Copal-SV leaf shutter (the same shutter as the Canon Canonet). Speeds range from 1/500th to 1 sec, with a B setting. The camera's other features include X and M Flash sync through a pc flash socket.

Lightomatic meter windowThe Lightomatic has nice little design quirks like the offset angle of the wind crank arm incorporating a shutter lock (locked when the arm is flush with the camera body), and a top plate indentation providing a housing for the rewind crank arm.

A less charming peculiarity is the graphic next to the meter needle window, which attempts to illustrate lens adjustments required to centre the needle. That weird bit on the right is a film type reminder. There are two setting options: colourful sideways-w, and black & white sideways-w (presumably representing colour or black & white films).

The Lightomatic II sold for £38 - 19s - 6d when new, so I guess the Lightomatic was very similarly priced (about two weeks average UK pay).

Click here for a complete comparison of Beauty 35mm rangefinder models.




Viewfinder: Coincidence rangefinder integrated with viewfinder, with self-correcting bright frame.

Focus: Coupled rangefinder with manual ring on lens barrel.

Lens: Beauty-S 45mm f1.9 (6 elements in 4 groups).

Close Focus: 0.8m / 2'7" (scaled in feet and metres).

Diaphragm: Five blade, stopping down to f/16.

Shutter:. Copal-SV five blade with speeds from 1 to 1/500th sec,. plus B. Self-timer of about 10 second, with separate setting arm on underside of lens. The shutter release locks when the advance lever is flush with the camera body.

Cable Release: None.

Meter: Coupled match-the-needle system with pointer visible via a window on the top plate of the camera.

Exposure: Selenium photocell.

Film Speed: From ASA 6 - 1600.

Filter Size: 55mm screw in.

Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync.

Film Advance Lever: 180° single stroke including 20° off-set.

Frame Counter: Counts up. Resets automatically when camera back is opened.

Rewind: Collapsible crank, and bottom rewind selector switch.

Back Opening: Sliding catch.

Size: 140 x 83 x 65 mm.

Weight: 776 g.


My Camera

I paid £13.50 for this camera in July 2016. I really wanted the model, so I had to accept the £5.50 postage charged by mentali-2008, when it could have gone via Royal Mail for £2.85. Thus the true cost of this Beauty was £16.15 (£13.50 + £5.50 - £2.85 appropriate postage costs).

Buying a camera as old as this is always a risk, especially when the seller doesn't know if it works (along with not knowing the postage cost - just to give mentali-2008 the benefit of the doubt), but I was happy to find it's in FWO, so this one just needed a good clean. The focus adjustment is a little stiff, but hey-ho.

The camera came with the original push-fit metal lens cap, which is nice (and a case, but I always bin them unless they are perfect). It's heavy and well made. I was reading somewhere on the Net that the early Beauties had machined internal parts (which are better quality than die-stamped) and all it's bits are made of brass.

This is my fourth Beauty: I like them. One more, and I'll have the whole set of Lightomatics! [accomplished!]



Beauty Lightomatic

Beauty Lightomatic

Beauty Lightomatic

Beauty Lightomatic