29 Jun 2012

Miranda and slow photography

If you are a car or motorcycle enthusiast you know that the list of vanished brands is a long one --from AC to Zebra,AJS to Zandupp.It's the same in the world of cameras.Even the ranks of the Japanese camera brands have dramatically thinned since the heady days of the 60's and 70's when Japanese camera manufacturers were making some beautiful, high precision cameras at very affordable prices.The Topcon,Cosina,Yashica,Minolta,Konica,Bronica,Widelux and Miranda brands have all disappeared and probably more will go in the next few years .
Just as there are collectors of old cars and motorcycles there are also collectors of old cameras .Early Japanese single lens reflexes (SLRs) in particular were in general very well made and their appeal is similar to the appeal of say old watches -- they are great examples of engineering.The great thing is that here in Australia good examples of old cameras can still be picked up for little money-- often from charity shops,cash converters, junk shops and pawnbrokers, garage (yard) sales and even from Ebay or classified ads (see below).So camera collecting has the appeal of being an affordable and harmless hobby which does not take up much space.A lot more affordable than collecting old wine,old watches,old cars or motorcycles and particularly old Porsches but not as interesting as the latter.

John Maries in the UK picked up a Miranda SLR for a song as he recounts......
"I set out in November 1963 to buy a Miranda F but couldn't find one, so ended up with an Asahi Pentax S1a.That was no bad thing and is another story in itself.

However, the Miranda yen was still there and about ten years ago,I found an unloved Miranda RE in a charity shop for ten pounds sterling .I bought it.

Sadly, on its very first outing, to the RAF Museum at Hendon, the breach-mounted lens fell off and the airfield notched up another "kill".The Miranda body got put away.

Now, regular readers will probably know that this blog has a Hasselbad thing going-on currently and so do I, and it was whilst e-shopping for 'blad bits that I came across a Miranda standard lens for just under ten pounds.  The lens is a generation later than the RE (1971), which is itself later than the "F" (1963), but it fitted and this was just camera candy, not part of a serious collection.

As with many 60s/70s 35mm SLRs, the Miranda is nicely built, but its real claim to fame was the fact that you could remove the prism and fit a waist-level finder - camera candy is always better when it comes in different flavours. The RE features stop-down metering and a modern LR44 battery, provided identical readings to those from my iTouch's Light Meter app (shouldn't do, but it does).

The Miranda lens' mount owed much to the earlier German Exakta camera, but it also featured an inner 44mm screw thread, which the extension tubes utilise.

Clearly, distribution limited the brand's success, as did, the fact that Miranda used Soligor lenses at one time.  When the factory went under in 1977, the brand name was to be used on products from many factories, but these later offerings weren't the "real" Miranda."

A growing number of enthusiasts are turning back to analogue( film) photography as a more satisfying form of photography than mass digital snapping and a solid SLR such as the Miranda is a very inexpensive way to get into the movement.
If you live in Australia a small publication with a yellow cover "Photographic Trader" published bi-monthly and widely available at newsagents is full of classifieds for old film camera gear much of it at very low prices.Get in early and beat the rush.Look what's happened to vinyl records and Amazon reports that fountain pen sales have doubled in the past 12 months-albeit off a very small base.Slow is making a-small-comeback.If you would like to read more about the Slow Photography movement see SLOW PHOTOGRAPHY .

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