Beauty Lightomatic

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by davecaz, May 21, 2018.

  1. Hi,

    I recently found this little Beauty in a package lot I bought. I've seen a couple threads on other Beauty models, here, but I didn't see one on this model. I really have nothing to add to the world's knowledge of the camera or its manufacturer, but I thought people might appreciate seeing it.

    As others have said about the other Beautys, it is a solidly built machine, weighing in at 27 1/2 ounces or 779 grams. I haven't cleaned it, yet (sorry about that), but it arrived in fairly nice condition. I'm calling it fairly nice because, while it looks fantastic, it doesn't actually work. The aperture and shutter speed rings on the lens were extremely reluctant to move, at first. They have become freer with repeated exercise, but clearly still need to be cleaned and re-lubed. It still takes considerable effort to adjust them, and it feels gritty.

    The focus is what I would call high-resistance, but smooth. It could probably due with a CLA, too, but it's acceptable, as-is. The rangefinder is faint, but it works, and the viewfinder is large, bright, and clean, with a very clear parallax-corrected brightline. The meter is on the top plate, and there is no indicator in the viewfinder. It seems to work, sort of, but it's very "jumpy", swinging from one extreme to the other very quickly and suddenly.

    The big disappointment, though, is that the film advance is stuck. It may be related to a stuck shutter, but I'm not sure. The self-timer runs down when the shutter button is pushed, but there is no click, and I don't see anything happen. I haven't yet tried using a cable release, which I've seen recommended elsewhere. But, if anyone knows of any other tricks, please share them with me.
    sergtum1958 and PapaTango like this.
  2. I have the Lightomatic II, a very similar camera, in much the same condition, and I'm sure it's just sticky shutter blades. It winds on OK, and one has to depress the shutter release before it will wind on again, a symptom of stuck shutter rather than a problem in the winder. I initiated a thread on the camera some time ago.

    Behold, another Beauty.

    I've hardly used it since, but I discovered that it had ceased to function a couple of months ago and it's on the waiting list for some attention. There is a feeling of fragility in the aperture and speed rings, as you mention, though the ones on mine move freely enough. Overall, the Beautys were nicely made, and the qualiity of that 45/1.9 lens makes an attempt at repair worthwhile. I hope you can get it sorted.
  3. I have a Beauty Lightomatic III - which looks remarkably like an original Canonet from the front - f1.9 lens, and a selenium element around the lens. It's even the same diameter as the lens barrel on a Canonet. It doesn't have the Canonet's auto exposure, though. There is a meter readout on top, linked to the shutter speed and diaphragm rings.

    This one works, but someone has removed the delayed action, and flash synch levers. This means no B speed, and only X synch.
  4. Thanks, Rick. Yes, I enjoyed your thread, but didn't want to revive it because people get cranky about that. (And I annoy people enough without adding that crime to the list.) Your results with the Lightomatic II, gorgeous as always, made me wish I could try out my Lightomatic. And maybe I'll be able to, after all.

    Something must have convinced my Beauty to unclench her sphincter, because the shutter is working, this morning! I have no idea what could have caused this, with the camera just sitting on my desk overnight. I suppose all the exercise I gave it yesterday may have freed something up just enough to let the shutter spring eventually pull the shutter blades apart. Or a temperature and/or humidity change, since we had the windows open last night.

    In any case, it works, though there are still some quirks. One of the quirks is by design. That one is that the advance lever must be pulled out from the body in order to unlock the shutter button. Like this...

    If it's tucked in, as in the previous photos, it won't fire, at all. That, I've found, is definitely by design, but I previously couldn't move the lever, at all, so it wasn't apparent.

    Another quirk, which seems to be fading away, is that the advance lever was sticking at about 80-90% of it's intended full travel, so it wasn't really cocking properly. Putting just a bit more pressure on the lever at the sticking point caused it to get past that and fully cock the shutter. Having done that a few times, it no longer sticks (for the moment) at that point. But it does stay fully extended, like this...

    When I release it, it returns approximately one "click", and stays there. Then I have to advance it that one click again, and then it is fully cocked and the lever returns all the way. I don't know if that quirk will vanish with more exercise, or not. It's liveable, if it doesn't, since this is not a camera for fast action photography.

    The worrisome quirk is that the shutter button has to be "mashed" down in order to release the shutter. Maybe something is bent, maybe a spring has stretched, maybe it's something I don't know enough to even imagine. It does work, but it worries me that I may be making a problem worse.
    Thanks, John. That's cool, although it's a shame that it's been modified. I could swear that I read somewhere on the web that Beauty and Canon both sourced their lenses from Tomioka, for awhile, but I can't find that, this morning, so maybe I'm mis-remembering. It could have been another brand.

    They do both use the same shutter mechanism, though, the Copal-SV leaf shutter. Not the most rugged or flexible design, but a lot of them are still working all these years later.
    John Farrell likes this.
  5. Davecaz said:

    Yes, I think it's the very good 45/1.9 Tomioka lens that appears in various guises in several rangefinder cameras of the era. Tomioka, later owned by Yashica, supplied some really fine lenses to a wide range of manufacturers, creating many of the excellent Yashinons, obviously.

    Pleased to hear the old girl has sprung into life. The stand-off wind lever that locks the shutter release is a feature of many similar cameras, and the quirky wind is not uncommon; I have a couple of cameras that require a tiny additional advance movement after the lever has returned to rest, and many that require a little help to return the lever to the rest position. It's all a matter of age, tired springs and sticky lubrication, I guess. Your shutter release may loosen up with exercise; so long as it doesn't feel as if there's some actual obstruction to the movement, I'd doubt that you could do much harm. I have been known to let a couple of drops of machine oil to slide down the shaft, with remedial results...
  6. Thanks! I may give the oil a try, now that I have time. But, I can't help wondering if a drop or two of naptha applied before the oil, might not clear away some of the gunk.
  7. Davecaz said:
    Possibly, but bear in mind that the naptha might well carry the gunk someplace else...
  8. True, but it's all a crap shoot, anyway. The oil could make things better or worse, too. *shrug* I haven't decided which course to take, yet.
  9. I haven't done anything with the Beauty, yet. I've been procrastinating because, when you have a finely honed skill, you should use it. Also, I've been pondering which oil to use. I have several viscosities to choose from, ranging from mid-weight to super-light. Anyone have any thoughts on which would be best? Or, whether one with a graphite additive would be good or bad?
  10. davecaz said :
    I have a little flask of Bernina Sewing Machine oil, a kind of high quality..umm..machine oil, that has done much more service on cameras than the makers probably envisaged. Something along those lines might be appropriate.
  11. Sounds good. Thanks, Rick.
  12. Well, I tried the lightest oil I had, last night. I dripped it on the shutter button and let it work its way into the body. It didn't really do much for the shutter button, but it did make the film advance much smoother. For a while. It even eliminated the little hitch in the advance, so that I didn't have to do the two step every time, but only for awhile. I kept exercising it, hoping the shutter button would loosen up, but it only sporadically improved, and in the end it was as bad as, if not worse than, it was before oiling.

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