other Fujica cameras in my collection:
Fujica ST801 [1972 - 1978*]
It built on the features of the ST701 by adding open aperture metering (ahead of the rival Pentax Spotmatic F), and was also the first camera to use viewfinder LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) instead of a needle-pointer metering system or miniature lamps seen in the Yashica TL Electro X.
Exposure is indicated by seven LEDs. It's a centre the light system, where the three lights on either side of centre indicate whole stops under or over exposure. LEDs glow through a range of brightness levels, which allows some degree of sensitivity to the meter readings. Two LEDs equally lit (say the centre and one above) is an indication that exposure is half a stop over. If the centre LED is bright and the one above dim, this shows exposure is a quarter of a stop over, etc.
The purpose of this metering system was faster performance, and elimination of meter deviation caused by shock or mechanical failure. It is also good in low light situations. However, I rather suspect another strong driver was a growing demand for electronic wizardry in all things, and in this respect, the ST801 design paved the way forward for newer generations of cameras (like wet shave razors getting higher numbers of blades - manufacturers just added more and more LEDs in an effort to go one better).
The Fujica also boasted a fast 1/2000th sec., top speed from a
self-lubricating Teflon shutter - a whole stop higher than the Spotmatic's. It retained the lovely bright viewfinder used in the ST701 (claimed to be nearly 50% brighter because of a special coated prism and mirror), and added a viewfinder shutter speed information display window.
The ST801 appears to have been produced right up until 1978, when Fujica abandoned M42 based lens mounts, and revised their model range to accommodate the new Fujica X mount system. No modifications were made to the ST801 during its lifetime, save for a slight styling change in the first year of production, when it lost the raised chrome Fujica logo, and gained an engraved and painted one.
Although this camera appears to use a standard Praktica M42 screw lens mount, open aperture metering Fujinon lenses are slightly different due to the need to
communicate lens aperture information to the camera, and facilitate locking of the mounted lens. The camera could accept other M42 lenses, but they had to be used with stop-down metering, facilitated by the ST801's DOF button. For more information, see the
clam shell coloured information box at the bottom of this page.
According to advertisements in a 1974 edition of Amateur Photographer magazine, the cost of the Fujica ST801 with an f/1.8 lens was about £125.00, about £10 more than a Pentax Spotmatic F with an f/1.8, although there were fewer dealers selling the Fujica. In 1974, that was about two and a half weeks average UK pay. It also came in black.
Lens mount: Fujica M42 screw.
Focus: Penta-prism eye-level finder (0.96x magnification with f1.8 55mm lens), central split-screen rangefinder and surrounding micro-prism focusing ring. DOF preview available via stop down metering switch.
Shutter: Cloth Focal plane shutter, 1 - 1/2000th sec., plus B and self-timer.
Meter: Open aperture through-the lens average light measurement. Two silicon photo-cells. Stop-down metering with non-auto-Fujinon lenses. Shutter speed shown in viewfinder.
Exposure: Centre the LED, via seven LED lights in viewfinder. A slight depression of the shutter release button activates the meter. Shutter button incorporates a safety lock.
Film Speed: 20 to 3200 ASA.
Flash: X sync at 1/60, with X and FP ports, and hot shoe.
Film Advance: Single-stroke lever action, 193° winding angle.
Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.
Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.
Size: 133 x 91 x 88mm (W x H x D) with lens.
Weight: 635g body alone.
Battery: One 6-volt battery. Malory PX28, Eveready No. 544).
I paid £17.05 in April 2015 for my ST801. The camera came with two lenses: Fujinon f/1.8 55mm, and Chinon f/2.8 35mm. I'm going to keep the Fujinon lens (despite already having three Fujinon 55mm lenses, because they are all different models), but the unwanted Chinon lens was put on eBay and achieved a sale price of £10.50 (plus postage costs - OMG!!!), reducing the cost of my ST801 and its Fujinon lens to a very low £6.55 (and I'm all smiles).
The Fujica ST801 is another of those cameras I had fantasises about as a teenage lad (I had other more normal fantasises too ... like I was totally-in-love with
Emma Peel ... but let's not get into that...), so ... anyway ... er ... yes ... it's fab to own one after so long. My impression of the ST801's reputation is that it's a bit like ABBA: unpopular in its day, but loved now its a relic.
My camera is an early version with the raised chrome Fujica penta-prism logo, which, contrary to Fuji's styling department's view, I like best (because it's
different, and shinny). It's in good condition and full working order; just needs a good clean, and some new light seals, plus a new mirror damper. I've said this elsewhere within these pages about Fujica cameras, but this camera offers Spotmatic-style-simplicity in a neater, more user friendly package. It's why I have so many Fujica cameras: they are very good.