other Topcon cameras in my collection
Topcon Uni [1964 - 1969]
The Topcon Uni was released in 1964, and also sold as the Beseler Topcon Auto 100 (USA) and Hanimex Topcon RE Auto (British Empire). It was the base model of Topcon's range. While the 1963 Topcon *RE Super* was the first SLR with open aperture TTL metering, the Uni was the first SLR with open aperture
auto exposure TTL metering.
* [a.k.a Hanimex Topcon RE Super, Topcon Super D (type 46A - where 46 is the first two digits of the serial number), or Beseler Topcon Super D (type 46A)] *
The Uni features a centre-weighted metering system using a CdS cell, powered by a 1.35v mercury battery. A viewfinder needle points to the aperture the camera will set for any selected shutter speed when in
auto mode, or the aperture that the user should select when in manual mode. The light sensor is like a net printed on the mirror. This camera is unusual for an SLR with interchangeable lenses because it has a (Seikosha made) leaf shutter, with speeds from 1 sec to 1/500th sec, plus B, which are set on the lens mount dial. Accordingly, the camera is not limited to a single speed for flash sync.
The lens aperture selector is also found on the lens mount housing (i.e. it is part of the camera body), and therefore all Topcon lenses are limited to aperture sizes between f2 and f22. Not all Topcon lenses accommodate this range of apertures, and the camera has a further dial on the lens mount on which the maximum aperture of the lens must be set (whenever a lens is first fitted to the body).
The camera is supposed to look like it is winking at you when a picture is taken (the
Wink Mirror System term Topcon used was reportedly appropriated from a description of the 1958 Zunow Reflex). There are three items in the path of the light: the mirror, the shutter, and the aperture blades. When idle, the mirror is down to block the film from exposure (like an auxiliary shutter), and shutter and aperture are wide open. When the shutter release is pressed, the shutter closes, the aperture stops down, and the mirror turns up. Once the mirror has moved, the shutter opens then closes. The mirror falls down back to block the light pathway as both the shutter and aperture return to their open idle positions.
I have been unable to establish the new cost of the Uni, but near the end of its production, a two-page Topcon advertisement in a 1968 edition of
Amateur Photographer magazine, the Uni with Hanimex RE Auto branding was advertised at £79 - 19s - 6d. Oddly, the text of the advert described the Uni as costing
less than seventy pounds! The Uni also came in an all black finish, and surviving examples are quite uncommon.
Lens mount: Topcon UV bayonet. The mount included a locking facility when Topcor UV lenses are attached.
Focus: Fresnel screen with central mirco-prism focusing spot, and a fine focusing ring around this. Magnification x 0.75.
Shutter: Leaf shutter in camera body. Speeds 1 sec to 1/500th plus B and self-timer. 1/8th to 1/500th available for auto-exposure (in red: lower speeds in white). 10 sec self-timer (set
MVX switch to V, and press shutter release).
Meter: Open aperture needle based (f stop shown) TTL centre-weighted metering system using a CdS cell. Includes under and over exposure warning zones (but the shutter will still fire).
Exposure: Automatic shutter speed priority, or fully manual.
Film Speed: 25 to 400 ASA (selector dial has a locking lever).
Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync (set to X for daylight photography).
Film Advance: Single long stroke lever (180°).
Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.
Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.
Size: 136 x 93 x 63mm (W x H x D).
Battery: 1 x 1.35v PX625A mercury battery (use the equivalent WeinCELL MRB625 zinc air cell).
I paid £6.50 for this in May 2013. It came with a 53mm lens, but this had to go due to fungus between the elements. These lenses are hard to find in good condition, so I acquired a Topcor 35mm f3.5 lens as a replacement for £11.99 (less £5.00 achieved for re-selling the 53mm, making a net cost of £6.99).
My camera is fully operational, and in very good condition. I replaced the light seals, but it's almost impossible to access the mirror damper. The mirror movement is very loud and clunky: but that's how it is supposed to sound! I bought the camera because it was one of the first open aperture TTL metering cameras.
Other camera manufacturers took a long time to develop open aperture metering: the Minolta SRT101 got there in 1966, followed by Nikon's Nikkormat FTN in 1967, and it took Pentax until 1973 to introduce their Spotmatic F. However, none of these cameras also offer automatic shutter priority exposure.
The Topcon Uni is solid, chunky, and advanced; if it was a person, it would be Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the shape of a T-800, sent back to 1964 from the future.