8other Fujica cameras in my collection:


JapanFujica ST601 [1976]



The Fujica ST601 was the first of several 600 models, and the new base camera in the ST series (taking the ST701's position). Aesthetically it very closely resembles a late (3rd version) ST701, and functionally it also differs very little. It has a reduced shutter speed range; down a stop to 1/2nd at the low end, and more than half a stop to 1/700th at maximum speed. The highest film speed setting dropped to 1600 ASA, the second FP flash connection was lost (but it was effectively redundant in 1976) and the ST601 weighed few grams heavier. The ST601 was accompanied by a new plastic 55mm f/2.2 lens - to keep the overall cost low.

The 55mm f/2.2 lens

This is made of the usual materials except for the focusing and aperture rings, which are plastic. Today these lenses are often found with the rings cracked, due to aging of the plastic. There are two versions. Externally the difference is the first has an engraved distance scale, while this is printed on the second. The later lens is shorter/stubbier, and I believe it also has a plastic focus helicoid - reducing manufacturing cost.

The lens is an uncommon Unar, which comprises four elements with each separate (i.e. an air space between elements with no cemented pair), designed in 1899 by Paul Rudolph of Carl Zeiss Jena. Maybe this gives the lens its characteristic bubble bokeh (which I find ugly and distracting)? In 1902 Rudolph went on to design an improved lens - the famous and much copied Tessa (a four element design, with the rear two elements cemented together). I suspect Fuji went with the older Unar configuration on the basis of lower cost rather than the performance characteristics.

Further information on Unar and Tessa lenses can be found in Rudolf Kingslake's book - A History of the Photographic Lens.


Click here for an overview of Fujica ST M42 35mm SLR camera models.


The ST601 had all the hallmarks of a product developed and launched in haste: to plug a gap in the manufacturer's range. It was produced for a very short time before being replaced by the Fujica ST605 - later in 1976 - with the key differences being the ST605's circuitry was not dependant on mercury cells, the top film speed increased back to 3200 ASA, and the ST605 shed 45 grams - along with some low-key styling changes.

There isn't much more that can be said about the ST601, especially when it followed three innovative Fujica camera models. In 1976 it was a bit of an oddity, with its reliance on mercury cells (when Fujica's 1972 and 1974 ST801 and ST901 did not), stop-down metering and nonsensical top shutter speed.

However, what Fuji had done was dispense with electronics for their own sake, and make a camera whose prime function was taking photos. The ST601 was a concept ahead of its time; long before the automation bubble burst. Other (later) models became the choice of those who sought a camera that could enable them to learn the fundamentals of photography, rather than allow the camera's electronics to decide how to expose a shot.

According an article in a 1976 edition of Practical Photography, the camera sold with an f2.2 55mm lens for around £90.00. That was roughly equivalent to a UK average weeks wages in 1976, so it wasn't a cheap item.




Lens mount: Praktica M42 screw.

ST601 viewfinderFocus: Penta-prism eye-level viewfinder with 0.96 x magnification; 92% field of view (with f2 2 55mm lens); micro-prism, centre split image and ground glass focusing. DOF preview available via stop down metering.

Shutter: Mechanical cloth focal-plane shutter. B + 1/2nd - 1/700th sec. Self-timer with trigger button hidden beneath the setting lever.

Meter: Stopped-down TTL centre weighted averaging metering via two Silicon photo-cell receptors coupled to a FET (Field Effect Transistor) circuit.

Exposure: Manual match needle metering, with indicator visible in viewfinder.

EV range: 3 to 17 at 100 ASA.

Film Speed: 20 to 1600 ASA.

Flash: X sync hot shoe at 1/60th.

Film Advance: Single-stroke lever with 140° winding angle.

Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.

Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.

Size: 133 x 86 x 88mm (W x H x D) with lens.

Weight: 610g body alone.

Battery: Two 1.35V 625 type mercury batteries.



My Camera

mag coverI paid £7.00 for my camera in September 2015. Unexpectedly, it came with a lens (the original 55mmm f/2.2). I stuck this back on eBay, as I already have one, and mine is in better condition. The lens sold for £7.70 (!!!!), making the net cost of my ST601 body minus £0.70.

I wanted the ST601 as a step towards completing my M42/ST collection, and because it's fairly rare due to the short production time. Otherwise, in the scheme of things, the camera is not particularly meritorious, although I would have been super happy to own one back in 1976.

Practical Photography magazine's assessment of this camera was enthusiastically favourable. It said -

The Fujica ST601 is a refreshing change from the complex automatic cameras which are attracting most attention at the moment. Here's a camera which is straightforward, simple to use and easy to understand. Yet it still makes use of the latest advances in camera design, with silicon metering cells ... In fact we'd go so far as to say that the Fujica ST601 is one of the best value cameras around at the moment.

The magazine also commented on the odd top shutter speed. It said - Off-hand, we can't think of any other camera which has a top speed of 1/700 sec. (Well that's not true - (†) there are quite a few cameras with a top speed of around 1/700 sec. but they have shutter speed dials which pretend this is 1/1000 sec. Fujica are just being honest.).

(†) A case in point is a review of the Mamiya DTL 1000 by Ron Spellman in the November 1968 edition of Photography magazine, in which testing showed that the speed marked 1/1000 actually operated at 1/769th sec.

My camera seems to be in good condition and full working order - although I haven't checked the meter yet. As to be expected, it needs new light seals and a replacement mirror damper. I dithered about buying this camera, but I'm glad I did (buy it; not dither about buying it!).



Fujica ST601

Fujica ST601

Fujica ST601

Fujica ST601

FP shutter

Shutter Speeds Explained

While we often describe SLR cameras in terms of their fastest selectable speed, the actual top speed of a focal plane shutter is its x-speed.
The x-speed is the time for which both shutter curtains are fully open ... which is critical to flash photography, since it's the maximum speed at which the whole surface of the film is revealed.
Faster shutter speeds are achieved by the second shutter blind starting to close before the first has fully opened. In other words, the two curtains create a slit that travels across the film plane, and at the highest possible speeds, that slit becomes the most narrow.

Essentially, the shutter curtains' velocity is the x-speed, and faster (or slower) exposure times are achieved by altering the timing of the shutter curtains' movements.
The Fujica ST601 thus has a shutter as quick as any other 1/60th x-sync speed camera, and merely lacks the means to produce the smaller slit between its shutter curtains that would produce an exposure time of less than 1/700th sec.