Beauty Super L

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Alan Johnson, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. The Beauty Super L (1958- ) is a 35mm rangefinder with a 45mm f1.9 Canter-S lens and a selenium needle light meter on the top plate from which EV readings are transferred manually to a ring at the front of the lens. It is said to have been virtually unobtainable in Europe but exported by the manufacturer to the US, but not commonplace there. The Japanese company that made it re-named themselves Beauty but folded in 1961-2.
    Mine was purchased by a sailor in the British merchant navy on an overseas trip, and recently rediscovered. Everything still works, including the light meter.
    I have a camera store catalog from 1957,it does not list a single 35mm rangefinder with a lightmeter. So it may be that this 1958 camera was one of the first ever to have a built-in lightmeter. The large selenium plug-in panel on the front is for low light,it is removed for using the camera in daylight.
    I took it for a trip to the riverside.
  2. Now mainly used for passenger charter work, there are about 30 Thames Barges left from the peak of over 2000 used to carry cargoes, mostly into London.
  3. Sailing the barges up the river and mooring them is a skilled occupation.
  4. Along the riverside is a place where old wooden boats were left when no longer repairable.
  5. Up a nearby creek is an old landing stage,my guess is that it was probably used by barges to transfer cargoes from nearby farms.
  6. All these pics were taken with the the Beauty Super L but I can imagine I might have wanted one of the new-fangled interchangeable lens SLRs that began to appear about early 1960s.
    Thanks for comment.
  7. Very nice. Here are some other "Beautiful" cameras.
  8. Beauty is as Beauty does. Bravo.
  9. Pictures are well exposed and have interesting subjects. Photographer and camera worked well together. Did Beauty ever make an SLR?
  10. Alan,
    You have done a wonderful job showcasing this camera. I really enjoyed your pictures.
    The Beauty is a brand that I am vaguely aware of through some store ads. They ran into stiff competition in that time frame from other Japanese cameras and also those from Germany and America.
    I did manage to find an ad from the Beauty Camera Company. It was the only one I saw. It was in the Feb. 1959 issue of Popular Photography.
  11. What a great name for a camera, describes it well! Great looking camera and I really like these pictures, especially the hulk, that would also look great in B&W.
    Thanks for posting this, I have heard of, but never seen a Beauty.
  12. They seem to have been very price competitive. The things that hurt were lack of advertising and perhaps the fact that other RF cameras having a more integrated light meter styling.
    Here is an ad from Oct. 1959 from Direct Import. They had already started to slash the price.
    As an aside, I found out that Modern Photography had a test of this camera in the Mar. 1959 issue. It just happens that issue is one of the 4 issues of Modern that I am missing from the 1950's.
  13. Great work, Alan. The Beauty cameras had great lenses, though the build quality tended to be a little flimsy, despite good solid bodies. It was the peripherals, like rings and handles and meter covers, that tended to let the quality slip a little. Nice series of shots, "Hulk" being a great study. There's some stuff on the Lightomatic II here:
  14. The Kodak Retina IIIc of 1954/55 had a light meter as did the earlier (short lived) Kodak 620 Special of 1938. and I think there were others
  15. Gene,thanks for the links, the Beautyflex seems pricey now, there is one on ebay for GBP 235 at this time.JDM, thanks for comment.
    Randy, I get the impression that it was the lack of an SLR that contributed to Beauty folding but don't know for sure.
    Marc, thank you very much for the interesting ads, it seems 1959 was a year of new and varied with-lightmeter-rangefinders.With the aid of my inflation calculator I recon the Beauty Super L started 1959 at $800 and ended at $400, in todays money.
    Tony, yes it is a beauty with its unique plug-in lightmeter amplifier.
    Rick, what rapid changes there were in light meters in those days , already I have the old model.Charles, thanks for noting earlier examples of built in meters.
    Regards to all.
  16. I purchased a Beauty Super II rangefinder with the f/2.0 Canter lens in 1960 when I was a high school senior. I bought it from a New York mail order store for about $35 (with the leather case), which was about all I could afford at the time. The Beauty Super II turned out to be a great camera with a rugged build and a fast, high-quality lens that produced thousands of fine photographs for me (some of which have been published in books and scientific journals).
    The Beauty Super II served as my primary camera for ten years until I purchased a Canon FT-QL SLR in 1970. After that I used the Beauty as a backup camera. Louis Meluso contributed a fine Photo Net thread on the Beauty Super II in 2009 which is well worth reading:

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