Beseler Topcon Auto 100

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by andy_collins|1, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Who knows anything about this camera? A coworker gave me one with a 53mm lens came from his grandmother's attic and he was going to take it to
    Goodwill before he realized I have a collection in my office (an
    unintentional, but very effective strategy for attracting more cameras, by the
    way!), and might appreciate adding to it. I'm not sure how well it works,
    though. With the back open, when I fire the shutter I can hear the mirror
    operate, but there is a flat barrier that sits at about a 45 degree angle that
    looks like it needs to move along with the mirror in order for the light to
    hit the film. It doesn't move, and I'm not sure what to do to repair it or if
    there is something I'm missing. Any ideas? Any info on this camera would be
    greatly appreciated.
  2. Andy - I have basically the same camera, a Topcon UNI. These are unique cameras as they use their mirros as the main shutter component. They have interchangable lenses and the mount is called UV, in other words any UV Topcor lens will fit this mount. The optics are top of the line in line with the Topcon tradition. However the cameras don't inspire a feel of quality as did the Topcon RE Super for example. They were considered a budget line for Topcon(Tokyo Kogaku) and do not command high price o fleabay. I do not think there is anything wrong with the camera, just put a roll through it and have fun. I used mine a couple of times and the results were pretty impresive.
  3. Andy, you're right about your strategy for attracting cameras. I told a guy about my love of 6 x 6 format and the next day I was the owner of a mint Rolleiflex and an Ikonta. Now I talk it up everywhere. Your also right about Topcon, I don't have the UNI, I have the RE line, but I've heard the UV lenses are very good performers. Have fun with it.
  4. The only really reliable UV-mount Topcon camera is the IC-1, which was the last model, using a focal plane shutter instead of the leaf shutter used on all the prior models. The rest (Uni, Auto 100, and Unirex) are cantankerous, fussy about lubricants, and very tricky to repair. The number of moving parts in a leaf shutter SLR are incredibly high, and the sequencing of operations is quite complicated.

    However, the mirror is not part of the shutter on any Topcon. (That's the Exa from Exakta.) But they are a light baffle, to prevent the film from fogging during viewing. (The real shutter behind the lens is open, so you need a light-tight mirror system.)

    While the Exakta-mount Topcor lenses are mostly excellent, the UV-mount ones were a budget product, and it shows. Period reviews of the lenses in Camera:35 were pretty bad. Their optical design is compromised by the small opening in the leaf shutter, and the long distance from mount to film.
  5. John - I quote Ivor Matanle in his classic SLR book: "...Topcon Auto 100 (USA) or UNI (in Europe), which has a shutter mechanism using the mirror as the main shutter component..."
    Also on the lenses: "...Topcon UV bayonet lenses in focal lengths from 28mm to 200mm provide remarkably good performance considering their low original and current prices..."
  6. Ralf --
    I haven't seen Matanle's book; I have no doubt you quote him correctly.

    But I must agree with John. I am holding a Topcon UNI in my hands as we speak, and I can definitely say the mirror is NOT a component of the shutter in any way, shape or form. If the mirror were removed the shutter would still function normally. The Topcon shares the Seikosha SLV shutter with the Kowa SETR/SETR2 leaf-shutter SLR (the lenses, however, will not interchange).

    However, the meter cell is etched into the front surface of the mirror, an unusual design.

    Fun little camera, though.
  7. The mirror also does not serve as the light baffle. These are two seperate parts.
  8. "The optics are top of the line in line with the Topcon tradition."

    The UV-Topcor lenses are definitely NOT top of the line. They are cheaply made and do not perform very well. You certainly cannot compare them to Nikon, Canon or Pentax lenses.
  9. By the way there are so many errors in Matanle's books, he's just not believable as an authority on cameras.
  10. Yikes, don't know who to believe these days, even the mighty McKeown has made a few errors in his grand book.
  11. Yes, McKeown DID make an error with his statement about the mirror/shutter system of the Topcon cameras. The mirror just acts as a mirror for the viewfinder. The special thing about it is that it is semi-transparent and also holds the lightmeter cell.

    There is a separate light baffle flap behind the mirror, but - again - this is used to keep light from the film plane when the shutter is not released. It does in no way determine exposure - it just flips upward when the shutter is released.
  12. Thanks for all the replies. It sounds like an interesting camera, if it works. My concern is that the light baffle flap doesn't move at all, not even when the shutter is cocked and fired. I don't see how any light can reach the film at all. Perhaps this is why it's been in an attic all this time.
  13. Yes, if the baffle doesn't move at all, the camera won't work.
  14. I had to 'exercise' my not used (30years) UNIREX for a while to get all that baffle, shutter stuff working properly. After I got it working a chunk of something fell into view on the viewfinder screen. I thought I could live with that but when I took a vertical image the pentaprism started to move around. A tiny screw driver let me into the top so I could clean and refix the prism. All is well now. Here is an image taken with the UNIREX and a $14.00 ebay 135mm UV Topcor lens.
  15. Matanle has nicely written books, but occassionally has some glaring errors that shows he hasn't handles some of those cameras very much.

    I have a Unirex and an IC-1. The Unirex seems well made, but suffers from a sluggish shutter at slow speeds. The mirror is not part of the shutter mechanism and there is a baffle in addition to the mirror. All those moving parts result in a very loud camera.

    The IC-1 is very similar and uses the same lenses, but it has a focal plane shutter rather than the leaf shutter. It is reputed to be more reliable than the Unirex, but I disagree. The shutter is wound using a tiny steel cable wrapped around a turning channel and it is subject to wear at this point. Eventually the cable will snap.

  16. This is a camera you eally have to enjoy using to want to take pictures with it. I just bought another 135/2.5 Canon FL lens in excellent condition for $21.50. I would much rather have the Canon 135 than the Topcon lens. This model is right up there with the Kowa 35mm SLR models. It is an interesting design but not the most reliable model.

Share This Page