other Fujica cameras in my collection:
Fujica ST701 [1971 - 1976*]
The Fujica ST701 was a landmark camera. It was the first with a metering system that used silicon photo diodes, and moreover, Fujica's first proper SLR (not counting the 1963 Fujicarex II with its leaf shutter and fixed lens).
Silicon photo diodes react tens of times faster, with a greater sensitivity range and improved accuracy over conventional CdS photocells, and became universally adopted by other manufacturers; although it took a while. Pentax, for example, first started to use them in their top of the range 1975
K series cameras.
The Fujica ST701 was otherwise pretty conventional, with a stop-down viewfinder displayed match-needle TTL metering system, a focal-plane shutter with speeds of 1 to 1/1000th sec., a viewfinder micro-prism focusing aid, etc. It was slightly smaller than other cameras of the time, and had a nice bright viewfinder. The ST701 came in chrome or black finishes. The lens mount was an unmodified Praktica M42 screw fitting, and it was sold with either a Fujinon 50mm f1.4 (7 elements in 6 groups), or a 55mm f1.8 (6 elements in 4 groups) lens.
There were three versions of this camera, and mine is the first type. The second version was released later in 1971, with the only apparent change being replacement of the shiny raised Fujica logo with one engraved and painted black. The third version came in 1972, and boasted a more radical face-lift (of the plastic replacing metal variety), and got a split screen focusing spot and a hot shoe. It seems have taken a while for the new versions to enter the UK market. A couple of camera shops advertised the third ST701 as
new (with built-in hot shoe) in an October 1974 edition of Amateur Photographer.
* I guess the ST701 continued to be produced up until 1976, when Fujica introduced the ST705? It was definitely still in production in 1975 - according to an article in
Camera User magazine. The replacement camera copied the styling changes of the ST605, used modern batteries, and had a slightly higher top shutter speed at 1/1500th sec. Its most significant difference was the upgrade to open aperture metering.
The original Fujica ST701 was priced at £76.95 (exactly two weeks average UK pay). The third version was advertised at £89.95 in an October 1974 edition of Amateur Photographer, when the average UK weekly wage was £58.15.
Lens mount: M42 screw.
Focus: Penta-prism eye-level finder (0.96x magnification with f1.8 55mm lens), micro-prism focusing centre. DOF preview available via stop down metering.
Shutter: Cloth Focal plane shutter, 1 - 1/1000th sec., plus B and self-timer with concealed trigger button under the setting lever.
Meter: Through-the lens average light measurement with close-down-aperture. Two Silicon photo-cell receptors coupled to FET (Field Effect Transistor) circuit.
Exposure: Manual match needle metering, with indicator visible in viewfinder.
Film Speed: 20 to 3200 ASA.
Flash: X sync at 1/60, with X and FP ports, and removable cold shoe (clips around viewfinder window).
Film Advance: Single-stroke lever action, 193° winding angle, 20° latitude,.
Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.
Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.
Size: 133 x 98 x 88mm (W x H x D) with lens.
Weight: 585g body alone (780g with f1.8 lens).
Battery: Two 1.3V mercury Mallory RM-400R/Ever-ready E400 (use zinc air WeinCELL MRB400 - see below).
I paid £19.00 in January 2015 for my ST701 with a Fujinon f1.8 55mm lens (less £10.63 achieved by the sale of an unwanted Fujica camera case and Cobra gadget bag that came in a bundle, making a revised cost of £8.37). It crossed my mind that this lens might be one of those on the radioactive list, but it isn't.
I haven't as yet been able to check the meter, but the camera and lens otherwise appears to be in full working order, and great condition for their age. The light seals need to be replaced along with the mirror damper, which I'll do when I have the time. This camera has a solid feel to it: like it would be a joy to use.
The ST701 is one of the forgotten gems of SLR camera development; a worthy contender to the Pentax Spotmatic II, but smaller and with a better metering system, brighter viewfinder, and a push-in/depressible
stop-down button that was better located than the Spotmatic's - left-side-of-the-lens-mount-housing - sliding switch. Nevertheless, it wasn't a big seller, but in 1971 there was a cultural phenomenon called
brand loyalty, and Pentax had it.
If I had been a camera buyer (at this level) in 1971, I think I would have seriously considered the Fujica, but I was just 11-years old, with a pound-a-week pocket money income.
The problem with ST701 ownership today is its reliance on the defunct mercury battery: the meter will not work at all with modern higher voltage batteries. Because mercury batteries produced a constant and reliable voltage, devices like the ST701 were built without voltage regulation circuitry. If you don't want to spend money on a zinc air batteries, it is apparently possible to re-calibrate the ST701's meter: here's how to do it. Good Luck!
At the end of April 2015, I bagged a black ST701 (first version) for £6.00. It was a
mercy purchase as much as anything else. The poor little ST701 has had a hard life. It's got lots of paint missing on the corners, plus other faults.
The camera was filthy, and the paintwork had to be cleaned with T-cut; I wanted that visible brass to shine rather than trying to hide it.
I haven't yet checked to see if the meter works, but I suspect it does not. There's something amiss with the film speed selector (it will only select two speeds), and the film rewind button is missing. The light seals have been replaced at some point in the camera's life, but with open cell foam applied to the door (yuck!), and this has now totally perished.
Apart from the two fairly significant faults, everything else works fine. These were not disclosed/noticed by the seller, but as I said, I bought the camera mainly to rescue it from becoming land-fill, and I'm OK with it being a display model (unless I get the time to try fixing it). Meanwhile, it makes my other ST701 look mint.