3other Topcon cameras in my collection

 

Topcon PR II [1960]

 

Overview

The original Topcon PR was launched in 1959. There were two variations (the early and late) with largely cosmetic differences between them (e.g. silver lens barrel/black lens barrel, etc.). A year later, the PR specification was changed more significantly, and this model has become known as the PR II. The II appears to be a name adopted retrospectively, to differentiate between the 1959 and 1960 models, since the user manual for this later camera, and magazine advertisements of the time, refer to the 1960 model as the PR. Although the PR and PR II look very similar at first glance, the main differences (for the purposes of identification) are as follows.

  • The Citizen MV shutter was replaced by a Seikosha SLV.
  • The II gained a top plate exposure counter.
  • An EV scale was added to the underside of the aperture dial.
  • There was a change to the lens glass, but details are unclear.
  • Aesthetic changes included
    * the advance lever cap changing from silver to black (with a chrome ring);
    * the rewind knob colour similarly changed to black with a new film speed reminder dial at the base;
    * the PC socket moved from the front of the camera body to the lens barrel;
    * the focusing dial had handles added to it, and;
    * the film advance lever arm changed shape slightly.

Topcon PR II advertisementThe Topcon PR II is quite different to more modern SLRs. It has an automatic diaphragm (i.e. it automatically stops-down to the set f-stop on exposure, so focusing can be performed at full illumination), but it doesn't have an instant return mirror. The viewfinder blacks-out on exposure, and the film has to be advanced to re-set the mirror. It also has a viewfinder blind which closes at the moment of exposure to prevent stray light entry, and this similarly remains closed until the film is wound.

The ground glass focusing screen beneath the pentaprism has a plastic fresnel type plate lens to aid viewfinder brilliance; something Topcon called Tokobrite.

The lens is fixed, but there where supplementary lenses available, which attached to the front to produce 37mm and 85mm focal lengths, and were priced at about £13 each (the advert says 95mm, but the instruction manual says 85mm).

The aperture and shutter speed dials are adjacent, and have a friction coupling, allowing an EV - if set - to be maintained.

The PR is a very small camera; indeed it's a tiny bit smaller than the 1977 Pentax ME (0.5mm lower (H), and 1mm narrower (W)).

 

 

The Topcon PR II was also sold as the DeJur Dekon-SR. Both cameras were identical apart from the engraved maker/model names. The DeJur-Amsco Corporation was an American company that designed and made some items of photographic equipment, but (like many US companies such as Ansco, Bell & Howell, GAF, Honeywell, Sears, Vivitar, etc.) it also imported cameras for sale under its own brand name.

In 1960 the PR (II) sold for £45, the equivalent of 2 1/2 weeks pay (based on a UK average of just over £18 per week). This model was produced for just six months, and superseded by the Topcon Wink Mirror. The Wink Mirror looked very similar to the PR II, but amongst other improvements, it had a quick return mirror.

Click here for an overview of Topcon leaf shutter 35mm SLR camera models.

 

Specifications

Lens: Fixed 5cm f/2.8 stopping down to f/22. Tessa type (4 elements in 3 groups).

Focus: Ground-glass screen with plastic Fresnel-type lens. No focusing aids.

Shutter: Seikosha SLV leaf shutter. Speeds 1 sec to 1/500th plus B and 10 second self-timer (switch sync selector to V, and press shutter release).

Meter: None.

Exposure: Manual with EV scale and coupled aperture/shutter speed dials.

Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync (set to X for daylight photography).

Film Advance: Single long stroke lever (180°) plus an offset angle of about 30°. Film winds emulsion side out.

Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.

Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.

Size: 130 x 82 x 71mm (W x H x D).

Weight: 620g.

My Camera

I got my hands on this camera in September 2017 for the price of £21.05. That's a lot in my world, for a camera my age, but they come up for sale infrequently, and are often broken. This camera was described as being in nice cosmetic condition, but advertised for spares or repair because - it cranks and fires ok but does not finish the shutter cycle leaving the view finder in the dark ... which is exactly what it is suppose to do. As it turns out, it does have a problem, but it's not the one described. When wound-on everything happens as it should; the shutter re-energises, the mirror lifts, and the viewfinder blinds open. But, when the wind crank arm is returned to it's rest position (as it must be), the viewfinder blinds re-close, as if they are failing to properly latch. This might be fixable? I've also noticed the frame counter doesn't increment beyond 3.

The viewfinder is surprisingly nice and bright. Focusing is easy, despite the absence of any aids. It's cute. Curiously, the camera came with a DeJur branded lens cap.

The film speed reminder dial on my example is different to that described in the manual. It is suppose to have an ASA scale split into white numbers for black & white films, and orange for colour, along with the marking Emp for empty. Mine has a DIN scale, similarly split into white and orange values. It also has a focusing scale in meters rather than feet (as per the manual).

This is a Topcon, so for continuity, I should replace the covers with burgundy snakeskin, but I don't think I'll bother. The PR II is very collectable, and I don't want to de-value it.

 

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Topcon PR II

Topcon PR II

Topcon PR II

Topcon PR II

Topcon PR II with a Pentax ME Super. The Topcon may be a bit more chunky, but the overall size is smaller than the ME.