Vintage camera collection – Miranda Sensomat RE with 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda lens.

Last week I discovered what a great camera the Miranda Fv was in its day, and this week I’ve moved on a few years by finding myself a Miranda Sensomat RE.

For the sum of £25 I got this Miranda Sensomat with its prime lens, a Tamron BBar Multi C 28mm f/2.8 Adaptall lens, a Tamron BBar Multi C 85 – 210mm F/4.5 adaptall zoom, a soligor F/3.5 Preset 135mm telephoto in M44 (miranda) screw thread and also thrown in an Industar 50mm f/3.5 in M42 mount. I also discovered in the bottom of the box, a Miranda waist level finder with critical focusing pop-up magnifier which I believe is type VR-1. The camera itself includes an Ever Ready Case, the original instruction manual, and there is a Tamron adaptall Miranda bayonet mount for the two BBar lenses. To me, that seems quite a haul! In fact, I’ve been on the look out for a Tamron BBar Multi C 28mm lens for a while to use on my Nex, so I’ll probably try to pick up an adaptall to Nex or adaptall to M42 adapter so I can try it out.

The previous owner of the camera was quite straight in the description of the camera, and said that the 1, 1/2 and 1/4 sec shutter speeds didn’t work, but I was fairly sure before I bought it that this was simply a question of not being used for 15 years and possibly lubrication. When I received it those speeds were certainly temperamental, but with a bit of use at the faster speeds the 1/4 is now working and the 1/2 works sometimes. I may need to remove the front panel to apply a small amount of lubricant, but I’m going to see how far usage gets me first.

The pictures give the appearance of quite a bit of dirt/marking on the camera, but it’s not actually that bad. There is a small mark near the word ‘Sensomat’ on the front, the rear door has a bit of paint missing and the strap holders are a bit rusty, but generally it just needs a bit of a clean to be pretty good.

Because the Sensomat is very similar to the Fv in many ways, this review concentrates on the differences and major features – please also read my Miranda Fv review for similarities.

Exposure system.

The sensomat is different than the earlier Fv because it has an inbuilt exposure system. Actually this is not completely accurate because my Fv was bought with a TTL viewfinder, but that was pretty badly marked, so I have replaced it with an unmetered viewfinder, which actually matches the one the camera would have originally been supplied with.

The Sensomat however had a match needle exposure system from the outset. It is supplied with power from a PX675 mercury cell in the bottom of the camera, but that is not an available option now so I’ve tried fitting a modern 1.5v cell in it’s place. This proves the system still works, but I suspect I would need to compensate for the higher voltage by lowering the film sensitivity. In operation the exposure meter works like this:

  • Wind on the film to the next frame – this turns on the exposure meter.
  • Compose the picture at fully open aperture.
  • Press the exposure meter/depth of field preview button on the front of the camera with your left hand.
  • The meter needle in the side of the viewfinder shows the exposure.
  • Adjust the aperture & shutter speed to centre the needle in the viewfinder
  • Press the exposure meter/depth of field preview button again.
  • Take the picture – the lens will stop down at the point of taking the image.

The light cell for the exposure system is built into the mirror – it’s possible to see the lines where it’s fitted on the mirror, although they don’t show when the picture is being composed through the viewfinder.

Something a bit odd which I noticed as I was trying the camera out is the fact that the shutter speed is limited by the iso range of the metering system. By that I mean that when the iso is set to its lowest limit, the top speeds on the shutter can’t be selected. At first I assumed that this was a fault with my particular camera, but having looked at the handbook this is expected behaviour. It also applies to the lower speeds as well – when iso (asa on the camera) is set to 1600 the shutter won’t select any speed below 1/8. I’ve actually used that so that I don’t lock the shutter at the lower speeds until I can get some lubrication on the mechanism.

The Viewfinder.

The viewfinder system is the same a the Fv. The two units can take exactly the same viewfinder and they are interchangeable between bodies. The useful addition to the Sensomat is the Waistlevel finder, which has saved me purchasing a separate one. The Sensomat release button is integrated into the rewind crank – a turn anti-clockwise pulls in the catch and the viewfinder can be slid backwards. This is another part of the camera which was stiff initially, but has loosened up after a few turns although I think at some point in it’s life it has had a bit of a knock.

Lens

The lens mount is the same dual mount system of the Fv with an external bayonet mount and an internal 44mm screw mount. The lens however is a slightly faster f/1.8 unit which also have larger aperture adjustment controls, and is missing the depth of field preview button (the metering button performs the same function).

Other Differences

The Sensomat has an optional ‘cold shoe’ accessory which fixes into a small slot in the rewind crank – on the Fv, a separate bracket which attached to the tripod socket was used.

The frame counter has lost the nice orange indicator to show when the shutter is cocked and ready for the next shot.

  • Miranda Sensomat RE 35mm SLR
  • Year of manufacture 1971
  • Removable/Replaceable viewfinder with lots of viewfinder options
  • Centre circle micro prism focusing aid
  • Bayonet and screw thread lens mount
  • Front mount release + optional top plate release
  • Cable release socket (dust cap missing on this unit)
  • Beautifully engineered
  • 1 – 1/1000 sec + B Focal Plane shutter
  • FP & X flash sync
  • Centre mounted tripod bush
  • 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda lens
  • Depth of field preview built into metering mode
  • Unit Ser No 6852988
  • Lens Ser No 2002703
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