Does Anyone Know the Wink Mirror E?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. This arrived this morning, along with some other slightly more desirable stuff.
  2. It's a Topcon Wink Mirror E, also known as the Beseler Topconette, a leaf shutter SLR from around 1963. It has a fixed 48mm Topcor f/2 lens, and a Seikosha-SLV shutter with speeds from 1 second to 1/500th, plus B. It's very tidy, but the shutter is stuck and I'm wondering if it's worth trying to repair. Does anyone have any first-hand knowledge of the Wink Mirror E? Most leaf-shutter SLRs seem to be a technical nightmare, and I guess this is no exception. It's historically interesting in the "Wink Mirror" family of Topcons, but perhaps it might be just as interesting left on the shelf. Any comments or advice?
  3. Ivor Matanle describes it as "unreliable" and "not to be recommended for photography."
    Title of his book is "Collecting and Using Classic SLRs."
    The "Wink" is described in the "Leaf shutters and just plain weird shutters" chapter.
  4. I bought 2 of them, dismantled, years ago, and tried to get one working. I wasn't able to get the lubrication right to allow the most complete of them to work, without it being over oiled, and contaminating the shutter blades and diaphragm. The shutter would fire at all speeds, but only at f2.
    Interestingly, the parts from the 2 cameras weren't all interchangeable.
    I sold it as an ornament.
  5. The wink mirror is just another name for instant return, fairly unusual on leaf shutter SLR. I have heard that they are very prone to premature death and I would imagine that it's not repairable. Still, a handsome looking camera, and I'll bet the lens is really good.
  6. Rick,
    It has been my experience that there has to be some reward to counter the risk. Be it cameras or cars you have to find that point where one exceeds the other. If you got this camera in top working order would you use it a great deal? Does it feel good in the hand? How is the viewfinder? Sometimes we have personal attachments to things that throws all that reasoning out the window.
    Anyway, I found a test in the February 1962 issue of Modern Photography.
    Here is part 1.
  7. Here is part 2.
  8. I think all the Topcon leaf-shutter SLRs depended on some exotic lube, possibly Teflon-based.
  9. The degree of difficulty would depend on how deeply the shutter is buried Rick. For instance, I love my Bessamatic, but it is so much harder to access the shutter of it than it is with a Contaflex. So if it is too hard to reach the shutter proper of your Topcon I would probably take the front off, trickle a few drops of lighter fluid into the escapements, clean the shutter blades and aperture, and hope for the best. When it comes to the lens shutter 35mm SLRs, frankly I suspect you are probably better off with a Contaflex anyway. Once cleaned they are a super reliable camera and their Tessar lenses (bypass the budget Pantar models) are capable of superb results. The shutter was after all considered good enough for Hasselblad/Zeiss to pinch for their 500C. If you get a later model, you can also exploit the ability to swap films mid-roll with the magazine backs, which actually work very well.
  10. In Marc's supplied "Modern Tests", as it relates to the complexity, design and durability concerns:
    "leaves even a tough, thick-skinned camera tester in awe"
    "Of course we did our very best, through constant windings and shutter releasings, through use and misuse, to break down the Topconette. After nearly a month of ugly treatment, the mechanism was still operating merrily." H.K.of Modern Tests
    If they weren't so scarce, I would tear this unit down (But because of that fact I'd leave it alone),
    if anything, just to gain an appreciation for what they had to engineer in order to achieve their amazing end result.
    BTW: Thanks to Marc B. for the resource of his photographic info archiving & retrieval.
  11. Thanks, everyone. I don't really think the time and effort involved in trying to ressurect the Topcon would be well-spent. As Marc wisely pointed out, unless the camera is somehow "special"or potentially a great user, very often one's time can be better spent on other projects. Thanks for the test reports, Marc; interesting reading. You're right about the Contaflexes, Brett; I do have a couple of examples and they are magnificent, and I even have a couple of Kowa leaf shutter SLR's that still function. I guess I just have this insane preference for cameras that work, rather than those that just sit there, but it can be an expensive form of madness. I may try the Zippo treatment, in the off chance it might help. You're quite right, Gus; sometimes an historic camera is best left untouched, unless one intends to make a it frequent user.
  12. Interesting example. So much has to happen when the shutter is released on a leaf shutter SLR that it's not surprising that sooner or later, many of them fail. Good luck with it. Who knows, maybe you can revive it. Thanks for posting.

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