other Topcon cameras in my collection
Topcon RE-2 [1965 - 1969*]
• The 1963 RE Super (a.k.a the Beseler Super D) was an innovative and high-end open aperture TTL metering SLR (the first camera to offer this facility).
• The 1965 RE-2 (a.k.a the Beseler D-1) was an intermediate model, designed for the serious amateur or as a backup to an RE Super.
In a nutshell, the RE-2 offers open aperture metering which is fully coupled to the shutter speed and aperture controls, and requires no indexing when lenses are changed .. unlike other SLRs of the time.
The meter cell is part of, and covers the entire mirror. The user manual therefore advises how to meter subjects where average brightness is inappropriate.
As found in the RE Super, the RE-2 has a chain-link system which connects the shutter speed and aperture settings to the meter, as shown in the illustration (to the right) and discussed/described at Photonet.
The RE-2 is functionally similar to the RE Super, but for the shutter and a smaller overall size. The latter has a horizontally travelling cloth focal plane shutter, while the former boasts a newly developed, horizontally travelling metal Copal Square. In consequence, the positions of the shutter release and shutter speed selector were swapped, so that the release was placed on the top-plate, and the speed selector relocated to the body front. Whilst the RE-2 also shares the Exakta lens mount of the RE Super, this layout change prevents the use of the external automatic stop down linkage found on earlier Exakta lenses.
The RE-2 is otherwise not as well specified as the RE Super: the viewfinder is not removable, and neither is the viewscreen interchangeable. It also lacks a DOF preview lever, secondary top deck exposure meter match-pointer window, motor-drive connectivity, and automatic internal peak compensating flash synchronization (i.e. a single flash socket).
According to the Topcon Club website, the RE-2 was sold for 4 years (*). It also came in an all black finish, and surviving examples are quite rare today. I have been unable to establish the 1965 UK cost, but according to an October 1968 issue of Amateur Photographer magazine, the recommended retail price of an RE-2 with an f/1.8 58mm lens was £129.00, and £159.00 with an f/1.4 lens. This was roughly similar to the price of equivalently specified Pentax Spotmatics.
Lens mount: Exakta type modified bayonet.
Focus: Ground glass and Fresnel screen with central micro-prism spot, and a fine focusing ring around. 93% view coverage. Magnification unknown.
Shutter: Vertically travelling Copal Square FP shutter with speeds of 1 sec to 1/1000th plus B and 5 to 10 sec., self-timer.
Meter: Open aperture, TTL, whole scene averaging using a CdS cell built into the mirror. Separate on/off switch.
Exposure: Manual with a circular tipped viewfinder match-needle, where the edges represent one stop over/under compared to the centre point.
EV range: 2.7 to 16.7 at 100 ASA.
Film Speed: 25 to 1600 ASA.
Flash: Prism mounted accessory shoe with separate M/FP and X terminals. X sync speed is 1/125th sec..
Film Advance: Single long stroke lever (180°).
Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.
Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.
Size: 143 x 91 x 51mm (W x H x D).
Battery: 1 x 1.35v 625 type mercury battery.
Early Topcon FP shutter models tend to be rather expensive, with the RE-2 being the most affordable. I purchased mine in May 2019 for £25 (body only … and I expect finding a correct Topcor lens may be challenging!). The seller sat on the fence as to its working order, saying - the person I bought it from said it worked, but I haven't tested it. I was not assured by this, and mockingly stroked my chin as I clicked at the
Buy it Now button.
My RE-2 is in quite reasonable cosmetic condition with a very clean viewfinder, and operational but for a few issues. Obviously the light seals have degraded to the point of non-existence, and the mirror damper has been replaced with something that resembles the fluffy half of a piece of Velcro … an amateur job than needs re-doing. The wind arm is a bit loose, and requires some attention. Sadly, the meter doesn't seem to work; the wiring to the mirror is exposed and looks like a repair was attempted at some time in the camera's past. But, it's not the end of the world, given that this camera is some fifty years old.
Hands-on, it doesn't feel very different to most other SLRs of the 60s and 70s. However, the shutter speed control location makes it easy to make adjustments with your second finger, while peering through the viewfinder with an index finger poised over the shutter release. It's quite heavy - compared to an Asahi Pentax of the same period.
This Topcon should have been an absolute winner, but - perhaps due to poor marketing and maybe the Exakta lens mount - it lost-out to the Pentax Spotmatic in terms of sales. Today it's not a camera many have written about on the Net, and I guess it still lives in the shadows of it's iconic big brother - the RE Super.