9other Beauty cameras in my collection:


JapanTaiyodo Beauty 35 [1955 - 1956?]



This humble little camera was the first (and last) 35mm viewfinder made by Taiyodo. It was re-badged as the Milo 35 (or Mil-o 35) for Miller Outcalt (a photographic equipment seller based in Santa Monica, USA), and as the Ward 35 for Montgomery Ward (a Chicago based department store chain which is reputed to be the first mail order catalogue operator). This was how small Japanese manufactures brought their products to a wider market in the 1950s. In a way, the triple identity of the 35 is the most interesting thing about it.

The model is best known under it's Ward badge; as might be expected. I believe the Beauty wasn't imported to Europe, so cannot report a UK selling price, but in the USA the Ward cost $29.95, and was enthusiastically promoted (see the Montgomery Ward catalogue entry to the side of this text).

The 35 was made with two lens and shutter combinations. The Ward had an f/2.8 four-element lens and a five speed shutter (1/10th to 1/300th sec.) - according to the catalogue. The Milo user manual (see link at the foot of the page) records that their model had an f/3.2 three-element lens and an NKS-FB Prontor-type shutter with 9 speeds (1 sec., to 1/300th sec.).

Ward 35There are very few images of 35s on the Internet, but other small differences can still be observed. The Beauty and Milo shared features; a two-piece wind arm with a knurled tip and inset leatherette panel, plus matching black leather trimmed rewind knobs, while the Ward's wind arm was smooth and one-piece, and its rewind control was similarly plated. The Beauty and Milo had Beauty inscribed lenses, but the Ward's lens was re-badged. The film type reminders were also different; the Ward's had red and yellow speed scales, while the Beauty/Milo's were black and white, No doubt there were other minor differences.

The Ward and Milo have one slightly unusual feature. What appears to be a knurled end stop for the cold shoe is something more; it's a rotatable frame-counter setting wheel, as this does not automatically zero when the camera back is opened. The Beauty is somewhat different (well mine is?)

I don't know when production of the 35 ceased, but given Taiyodo's almost yearly launch of new models, and the fact it ceased to exist in 1957 (and began trading as the Beauty Camera Company), it's a safe bet that the 35 was made for a short period. I have been unable to find any post-1956 references to the 35.


Beauty Specifications

Viewfinder: Galilean reverse telescope with Albada bright line.

Focus: Manual scale focus.

Lens: 45mm f/3.2 with 3 elements.

Close Focus: 3'6" (scaled in feet only).

Diaphragm: 10 blades. Stops down to f/16. Is not click stopped.

Shutter:. Unknow make with 5 blades and 9 speeds - 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/20, 1/50, 1/100 and 1/300th sec,. plus B. Self-timer of about 10 seconds )presumably).

Cable Release: None.

Exposure: Manual.

Filter Size: 39mm screw thread.

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

Film Advance Lever: About 180° single stroke with no offset.

Frame Counter: Manually set, counts up.

Rewind: Camera-bottom rewind tension release button with top crank.

Back Opening: Sliding catch.

Size: 130 x 77 x 68mm (w x h x d).

Weight: 507 g.



My Camera

For me, the appeal of the Beauty 35 is that it's a Beauty well a Taiyodo technically. Having collected all the Taiyodo/Beauty 35mm rangefinder cameras, I thought I might as well take the next step and acquire their viewfinder model too. I added this to my collection in March 2019, for £9.00.

It's not in great condition, and has a few mechanical issues .. but it'll do! The aperture selection dial works, but that's about it. The focus adjustment turns, but does nothing more. The shutter speed selection dial is very stiff. The film transport system winds, but the shutter release disengages the interlock without tripping the shutter. The self-timer setting arm is ceased. The receiving spool is gummed-up with what looks like contact adhesive. The rewind knob turns but will not retract (for cassette insertion), and, the viewfinder reflecting frame lines are out of alignment and almost invisible.

Oddly, the frame counter does not have a resetting mechanism. The cold-shoe mounted knob seen on the Ward is merely a fixed post on my Beauty. There is no discernible means of re-setting the counter but there must have been a way to do this?

In terms of specification and handling, the 35 is very average. It features touches of 1955 modernity - such as the large viewfinder, and wind arm instead of a knob - but it very much followed the trends and was not cutting edge in any respect. Yet, the target audience was the amateur snapper, and in this respect it did - as the Montgomery Ward catalogue suggests - offer feature loaded quality at a low price.


The first PDF link is to the Milo 35 manual (left), and the second to the Ward 35 (right).


Beauty 35

Beauty 35

↑ 1956 Montgomery Ward catalogue description of the Ward 35

Milo 35

↑ Beauty and Milo 35 winder arm and film type reminder dial

Beauty 35

Beauty 35