other Miranda cameras in my collection
1961 Miranda DR
1967 Miranda Sensorex
1968 Miranda FvT
1974 Miranda (Soligor) TM
Miranda (Sensomat) RE II [1975 - 1976]
The Miranda RE II was the last in a long line of cameras that started with the Miranda T.
T was one of the early pioneers of 35mm SLR design. Early Miranda products kept pace with trends, with each new model modernising its predecessor, while retaining older features to provide great backwards compatibility between new bodies and older lenses and accessories. The company largely went their own way in terms of the technological execution of new developments. Unfortunately, this ultimately led to camera designs that were somewhat out-on-a-limb, and increasingly difficult to re-engineer in order to keep up with changing consumer demands.
The last of the dynasty that began with the
T were the Sensomats. The first of this group - the 1969 Sensomat - added stop-down TTL metering in an attempt to refresh earlier designs. The technology was borrowed from another line of Miranda cameras - beginning with the 1966 Sensorex - which offered open aperture TTL metering. The 1971 Sensomat RE refined the controls, but did not significantly change the 1969 camera.
The 1975 RE II dropped the
Sensomat name, and was something different: the product of another effort to inject modernity into an aging design. It works with
EC lenses (developed for the radically revised, last new Miranda model - the dx-3) to offer full aperture metering, but abandoned some of the legacy features that had otherwise been perpetuated by the Sensomat family (such as the front shutter release button).
Assessment of the RE II has to be made in the context of its ancestry: it was essentially ten years out of date at the time of its launch, and the product of a company struggling to keep up with competition from other manufacturers. Nevertheless, the RE II is a capable camera.
In a nutshell, this camera offers a viewfinder centre-the-needle, open aperture, TTL metering exposure system, with a partial, bottom-weighted metering pattern, which requires Miranda EC (or E) lenses to work (although it cannot be used with these lenses set to the auto-aperture mark). The meter is activated by a combination of two switch systems; there's a kill switch (i.e. the meter has to be turned on), and the film advance provides the second activation switch. The meter turns off after the shutter has fired. As found in the Auto Sensorex EE, the meter does not couple across the entire range of settings at all film speeds, but it's no big deal (e.g. you can't get 1/1000th at film speeds of 80 ASA and below, and you can't select 1 sec., at film speeds of 250 ASA and above, etc.). The camera body is compatible with older Miranda accessories, including the original interchangeable
VF viewfinders. The finder release dial is at the base of the rewind knob. The RE II also got a dedicated prism finder that incorporated a hot shoe.
The viewfinder focusing screen is a type I have not encountered before. There is a central micro-prism spot, surrounded by a micro-prism ring, and the effect of this is like a two-way split screen. When the camera is out of focus, the central part of the image misaligns on both the horizontal and vertical planes. Unlike most micro-prism focusing aids, this one does not darken the view. The system was patented by Miranda, used in the dx-3 and EE-2, and named the
Quadrascopic Image System (QIS) rangefinder.
According to a dealer advertisement in a 1976 edition of Practical Photography magazine, the RE II sold with an f/1.8 lens for £125, or an f/1.4 for £137, which was £10 less than the Auto Sensorex EE also offered by the seller with two lens options. In 1976, the average UK weekly wage was £84.99. I guess the model endured until the cessation of the Miranda Camera Company in 1976?
Lens mount: Miranda mount - 4-claw bayonet and 44mm screw mount. Requires
E/EC lens for TTL metering.
Focus: Viewfinder magnification 0.92x with 50mm lens at infinity, field of view 95%, condenser and Fresnel lens combined, focusing screen with micro-prism spot and mirco-prism collar. The shaded area on the illustration is not visible - it's simply there to show the metering field. DOF preview switch on EC lenses. Interchangeable viewfinders - release switch is the dial at the base of the rewind knob.
Shutter: Rubberised cloth focal plane, B. 1-1/1000 sec. No self-timer.
Meter: Exposure Meter measuring at open aperture, built-in TTL CdS light sensor within the mirror, cross-coupled to shutter speed and aperture setting. Meter switches on when film is advanced, and off when shutter is tripped. Separate meter on/off switch on bottom right front of body.
Film Speed: ASA 25-1600.
Flash: FP and X sockets, plus X hot-shoe with synch at 1/45th sec.
Film Advance: Winding angle 180°. The film winds on to the spool emulsion side out.
Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.
Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.
Size: 144 x 95 x 82mm (with f1.8 lens).
Weight: 661g body only.
Battery: Mallory PX675 1.35 v mercury cell (or use the equivalent WeinCELL MRB675 zinc air cell). The meter needle pointer also functions as a battery check, and moves to rests between the claws when there is no battery power, and the meter is switched on.
I obtained my RE II, with a 50mm f/1.8 EC lens, in June 2017, and paid a massive £29.67 ... except I didn't ... because I cashed-in £20 worth of Nectar points, making the real cost a mere £9.67. The condition is excellent; it's a very clean example with few signs of use. It even has the flash sync port covers. The lens has an integral pull-out hood, is very clear, and seems to have worn a filter since new.
With regard to performance, the mirror hangs every now and then, but I suspect it just needs a little exercise and lubrication. I have confirmed the meter works, but there's some sort of problem with the battery contacts, and the cell has to be wedged into just the right position before the meter circuit draws a current. The camera has suffered a slight knock on the hot shoe, which has distorted the prism housing, but this damage is only noticeable because it makes the shoe a little off level. I think I might be able to beat-out this ding. I would also consider replacing the prism (†) with one from an older model, since I think it looks more retro without the hot shoe. As to be expected, the seals/damper need replacement. Clearly this camera has been valued, carefully stored, and not used for a long time ... but it needs a bit of restorative work doing.
The QIS is very good. The central spot image is bright, and the out of focus mirco-prism granularity low. I'm surprised it gets no mention in the on-line reviews I've seen. It doesn't work quite like the diagram (above) suggests, in as much that it provides the option to align a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal - as is convenient. Elsewhere I've read reviews that say the RE II lacks the fit and finish quality normally associated with Mirandas, but I don't agree. I can find no difference in quality between this camera and my other Miranda cameras; they are clearly from the same stable.
My only criticism of this camera is ... I'm not keen on the way the
correct exposure and
dead battery viewfinder pointer signals are one and the same. Otherwise, it's excellent.