Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, May 29, 2012.
Not quite the last of the fine range of Miranda SLR's, but almost. The Miranda Auto Sensorex EE.
Created in 1971, the Auto Sensorex EE was the first Miranda model to offer a shutter-preferred auto-exposure system, with the designated "E" series lenses, or stopped-down metering with the complex range of older Miranda lenses with their varying array of pins and levers. The original Mirandas had Exacta-style external aperture-diaphragm control, and the lenses that relied solely on this system will not function on the EE. The Sensorex EE was followed by an upgrade, the EE-2 and the "E" lenses were given a mainly-cosmetic makeover and designated "EC". Two further cameras followed, the RE-II and finally the new electronic DX-3, both using the "EC" lenses. And that was the end of the line.
The Miranda cameras were created by the Japanese Orion Camera Company, later known as the Miranda Camera Company, under the direction of a Mr.Ogihara, who set out to create a camera rather in the style of the Exacta, slightly less complex in some respects but with the adoption of a very similar and distinctive external aperture coupling. The cameras were very well built, and featured interchangeable viewfinder assemblies, an innovation in their day. A full range of accessories was offered and the cameras were seen as a challenge to the emerging market leaders, Nikon and Canon. Orion did not manufacture their own lenses, but depended on other optical manufacturers, notably Kowa. The US company Allied Impex Corporation took control of the company some time in the mid '60's, being major importers of Japanese photographic equipment and owner of the "Soligor" brand. From that point Miranda and Soligor are closely linked, with many lenses being branded with either name depending on their intended use, but the origin of Soligor lenses is another complex story.
The Auto Sensorex EE is a nicely-finished and well-balanced camera. It has a solid, high-quality feel about it, and everything functions smoothly. The viewfinder is particularly bright, with fresnel spot and split image, the metering information being displayed down the right-hand side. The horizontal-travel fabric shutter is gentle and quiet, though perhaps a little outdated in a 1970's camera. Speeds range from 1 second to 1/1000 plus B. The camera's interior is very well finished. This pic shows the large viewfinder eyepiece, the prism release button and the battery cover, a delightful little fitting in it's own right. The camera used the old 1.3v mercury battery, but the system seems quite happy with a modern 1.5v replacement.
The EE systems works well, with a choice of average or spot metering. Stop-down metering for non "E" lenses is a little tedious, with manipulation of aperture and/or shutter speed being used to bring the metering needle to a mark at the bottom of the scale. However, I used both systems, and exposures were excellent. I used a very fine 50mm Auto-Miranda f1.4 (5 groups / 7 elements) for the stop-down shots, and the kit 50mm Auto-Miranda "E"(4 groups / 6 elements) f/1.8 for the auto tests. Both lenses performed really well, as expected from past experience, both having the Miranda bayonet fitting, though Miranda could supply a range of adapters to fit other lensmounts to their cameras. Here's the "E" lens.
The removable prism had long been a Miranda feature. It slides off very smoothly, and the instructions suggest that the camera can then be used in waist-level mode. I guess this is possible if one has great eyesight, but there are a range of viewfinders that can be fitted, including a proper waist-level finder with built-in magnifier.
Overall, it's not a particularly exciting or innovative camera when observed in retrospect, but it sold well and was a quality choice in terms of build and reliability. It's a shame that the marque disappeared; the name was eventually acquired by the UK Dixon's retail chain, but we won't go there... Here are a few pics; the camera performed well in our brutal low winter sunlight.
Film was Fuji Superia 400, scans from an Epson Perfection V700.
Did the Auto Sensorex EE have the threaded mount (inside the bayonet) like the earlier Sensorex (which I see in the background in your top photo - that was my first SLR). I mostly used that with a threaded mount extension tube and adapter for the 50/1.8 lens.
Those are excellent samples you've found. I still have a soft spot in my heart head for that fickle wench, Miranda.
An obviously very capable camera particularly in the right hands. Gorgeous product shots of what looks like superclean examples! Great shots as expected but Mail No More and Last of the Leaves are the stand out for me!
BTW, with regards to being able to take shots in the waist level mode - is that without the top covered? I was under the impression that this allows light to enter the top and possibly influence the meter reading?
Yes, Lex, the threaded mount is still present. Mirandas do sort of grow on one. Glad you liked the post, Les; there's just a passing reference in the manual to using the screen as is, with instructions to "shield the screen from excess light, especially in EE mode". I don't think I'd want to try it, though.
Another minty marvel! I have never shot a Miranda before so I appreciate reading and seeing your post. Nice looking pics with good snap. Thanks, Rick!
Really nice writeup. And the pictures are at your high standard.
Of course, the camera came with "luck built in", so you can't take full credit
Another CMC with spot metering? It still puzzles me that even though Pentax was able to prototype spot metering in the Spot Matic in 1960, they never used it in an actual production model till much later.
With reviews like this who needs old magazines? Well done, Rick!
Nice looking camera. It looks like it just off the camera store shelf. As usual you have provided
us with some great examples of what the camera and lens are capable of when in skilled
Looks like fall is setting in down there.
Lovely pictures as always Rick. Did Miranda also make cameras with M42 mounts? Because, I have seen a few on sale in Ebay UK/Europe branded Soligor with M42 mounts. They looked exactly like the Mirandas of the mechanical age. Thanks for the post. sp.
Thanks, SP, there was indeed an M42 Miranda, the Miranda TM, based on the Sensormat models and produced for a period of about 5 years from 1969. It often appears as the "Soligor TM". That's a great ad, JDM; one I hadn't come across before. Thanks Louis and Brian, your comments are appreciated. Good point about Pentax's spot metering, Les... You're right, Rod, we're heading into winter, down here. Brrrr...
Hi, Rick A very nice, detailed account of one of the last of the Miranda line, and some great photos as always. Your late autumn sunlight is very similar to what we're experiencing here in Perth.
Although Mirandas - ie, the kosher ones, not the Dixon's Ltd ring-ins - disappeared around 1977, there's still quite a lot of good information around on the Net for anybody wanting to read up further. For example, there's the Miranda Historical Society at www.mirandacamera.com . There's also a Yahoo 'Miranda Collectors Group' at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mirandacollectors/, which has a lot of scans of interesting stuff like adverts (including some of the 'naughty' ones from the 60s), instruction booklets and roadtests. (Pete In Perth)
I worked in a camera store c 1970's. The pictures of your camera, brings back memories. I used to play with the Miranda that slid off it's penta-prism. As always: nice images Rick.
Nice series, Rick. I don't own any Miranda gear, but the Auto Sensorex EE would be my first choice. Yours looks mint, almost like it fell into a time warp in 1971 emmerged in present time. Back in the 50's when Miranda cameras started appearing they had a budget model to supplement their line (like Exakta did).
Great results and thanks for posting.
Excellent series Rick. I am not too familiar with this gear. Looks like it is just out of the box. Very nice photos too. Thanks for posting.
What a gorgeous camera. It is a real looker. I actually think that I might like one. And of course the photos, both of the camera, and those taken with it, are brilliant, as usual, Rick. Thanks for the potted history, too. I think that if Ivor Matanle ever retires, Amateur Photographer might like to hear from you.
I bought a prism for the FX online tonight...
Thanks Rick. A beautiful classic camera and some fine photographs. The presence of adapters for other optics is interesting, and perhaps might allow some more recent OEM camera or third party lenses (Voigtlander-Cosina?) to be fitted to the body. Do you know which other adapter bayonet mounts can be fitted, and whether they are available or not? Where is highway 2 and the location shown?
Besides being a camera collector you are a good photographer.
a great report on an almost forgotten camera.
I started with a Miranda D in 1961. sort of like a senomat., but no meter and no auto diaphragm.
it used the PAD ( external lever) lenses.
I have the XM ( manual Exacta) NM - nikon F and PM pentax m42.
all had to be used as manual lanses, though there was a AXM
that allowed auto external Exacta lenses to be used all focused to infinity.
There was no adapter to allow use of Miranda lenses to be used on other cameras.
And no adapter to let T4 or YS or other changablke mount lenses to be used with the external diaphragm mount cameras.
So the older models without internal diaphragm were a dead end.
Thesre is NO WAY to use miranda bayonet or screw mount lenses on other cameras
I only progressed as far as the Sensores which was match pointer / full aperture. and own YS and T4 lenses.
One awkwardness that turned out to be an advantage was the max aperture dial and external meter coupling arm ( not auto diaphram arm) It allowed any kind of lens that could be screwed glued or taped to the Sensores body to properly meter at full aperture.
The waist level VF with the magnifier and the "VF3 5x 15x finder was very useful for close up work.
at Sel-0rex, I was asked to photograph the inside of a 25 cent piece that had been heavily gold plated cut in half and then the inside was etched away.
it was easy to both focus and Meter these photographs.
The camera was constructed so it could easily be operated wearing Gloves.
I never owned or used or handled any of the EE cameras.
but I read the ee mechanical metering worked very well.
After THE END and after Dixon's in the UK sold variations on the Sensomat. with several names,
there was a Cosina K mount "Miranda" sold several years later.
There were Miranda branded lenses to fit other makes of cameras but having nothing to do with real mirandas.
Thanks Pete, always good to win approval from the Miranda guru! I guess Perth is not too far away from our latitudes, with the low winter light. Arthur, there was a wide range of adapters, including M42, Nikon, Contax, Leica, Canon screwmount, Exacta and Topcon. Mirandas were truly a system camera. Highway 2 runs through the lower eastern plains of the North Island of New Zealand, and the pic was taken near my home, outside a little settlement called Tauherenikau.
Thanks Brett, high praise, but I think I have a way to go before I catch up with Ivan. Lots of interesting information there, Walter; many thanks.Thank you Steve, John, Mike and Sadanand, I'm pleased you all enjoyed the post.
I have written about my Mirande EEs in other postings. It would be nice to have the other finders which Walter mentions. I find the finders of the EE models to be somewhat dim, especially when I compare them to Nikon N90S, Canon F-1N and Minolta X-700 cameras. The overall costruction does not seem to be comparable to that of a Nikkormat FTN or Canon FTb. At some point I will add an EE2 just so I have both EE models. The cloth shutter doesn't bother me. I use Minolta SRT and Canon FTb/FTbN cameras with cloth shutters and they work very well. Somewhere I have a Vivitar T4 adapter for pre-EE Mirandas. Does anyone know whether Vivitar TX and Tamron Adaptall mount adapters were made for the EE/EE2 cameras?
Jeff, I've seen Tamron Adapt-a-Matic and Adaptall couplings for Miranda bayonet, including the EE models , though I assume EE functions would not be supported. Jim's Cameras in Seattle used to stock them. I've not come across an Adaptall 2 fitting and, as for Vivitar, I have no knowledge.
Rick, thanks for the adapter information. I ought to have guessed your picturesque New Zealand location from the position of the car on highway 2. The lighting on the nicely designed wooden neo-gothic church is nicely captured. Some of these classic cameras are formidable devices. The former head of our local camera society used the older Minolta SRT 101 classic SLR camera and lenses right up to and within the present millenium. The quality of many of his 16 x 20 images was hard to better.
Great camera, great shots. Have fun...
Your light is just like ours at this time of year, and well captured through the Miranda. They were often touted as a bit second class in the day (although never cheap) but the more that I use them the more I like them. Quite well made and certainly pretty....also the ads with the somewhat naked girls were always interesting!
Thanks Master, I'm doing my best on the fun front...And Tony, I always felt those ads, while being kinda fun, did cheapen the image of the Miranda, setting the camera squarely in the consumer class rather than giving it the pro image the system deserved. Still, I guess they had to sell cameras in a competitive market, somehow...
Jeff, you're comparing an early '70s camera's screen brightness with cameras made in the '80s and later? Kinda loading the dice with that comparison.
Rick, I have to agree about those Hal Rieff risque adverts for the Miranda range, amusing though they were, must have cheapened the all-important image aspect. After AIC assumed control of the Miranda Camera Co in the early 60s there seems to have been a decision to increase production volume and lower prices, possibly because of that lowered image. So Mirandas became 'middle-of the-road' rather than the cutting edge pricey items they had been. A good example is the Automex trio, which were the precursors of the Sensorex. These had been ferociously expensive in the late 50s and into the 60s, and in many countries (eg Australia) they weren't even sold because of their high price tags.
OK, so Hal Rieff never did one of his 'Oh, That Miranda' photoshoot ads for the Automex (AFAIK) but I reckon the brush had tarred it as tad nevertheless. As a result Automex model Mirandas never sold as well as they should when you consider their very advanced features, and they're rarely seen today. I feel quite humble to have picked up a really nice, fully working Automex 111 at a local charity shop for a mere song a couple of years ago - and it was one of the rare variants with a 'gold' fascia! For those unfamiliar with Automexes, here's a write-up and photo about them from my Flickr Pages:
Great little line-up of lovely cameras, Pete. Automexes are an extremely rare item, this side of the ditch.
I know this post is rather late just catching up on the Miranda posts, enjoyed your pic's from around Tauherenikau with your Sensorex EE. I thought I knew New Zealand fairly well but had never heard of it so google to the rescue, the moment I saw Woodside come up I new where I was. I used to live just down the road at Pigeon Bush & then Cross Creek but that's over 50 year's ago. Now I'm in the Bay of Plenty.
Keep those Mirandas clicking.
Nice to hear from you, Richard. I currently live just out of Featherston, so Cross Creek and Pigeon Bush are familiar haunts. Used to orchard in both Katikati and Opotiki, so I also know the BOP fairly well; miss that great climate, though we get more exciting weather down here. I don't get as much time as I'd like to spend with the Mirandas, with far too many cameras in residence. Though changes Photo.net made to their file handling have degraded the images a little, there's another Miranda post of mine which may interest you, here:
Separate names with a comma.