Miranda Sensorex II - 1972

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. Miranda Sensorex II - TTL metering at full aperture

    Kadlubek Nr. MIR03090

    Miranda bayonet (plus an M44 screw mount for older Miranda pre-set lenses).

    Auto Miranda 50mm f/1.8 with external aperture connector (see below)
    Kadlubek Objektiv-Katalog Nr. MRD0270

    Auto Miranda 105mm f/2.8
    Kadlubek Objektiv-Katalog Nr. MRD0620


    A friend of mine is setting me an example by cleaning up his house. In the process, he uncovered some interesting photographic gear, and he offered me a couple of Mirandas and a very nice Polaroid SX-70, which I accepted, of course. This is the first time I have ever had a Miranda camera--or, so far as I can remember, ever used one. The equipment lockers where I worked had things like old Leicas, Minoltas, and so on, but no Mirandas.

    The two Mirandas were a Miranda Sensomat with a 50mm f/1.8 lens and a 105mm f/2.8 lens, but a broken film advance, and a newer Miranda Sensorex II with its special linked aperture 50mm f/1.8. After cleaning it up, removing a somewhat deteriorated mercury battery, I got it working again. What follows is my report on this camera.

    Here is the broken Sensormat, just to get on for those who never get enough camera p o r n.
  2. The Sensorex II

    This camera has a relatively full line of professional accessories, including various viewfinders, which should remind us that the Miranda was one of the first eye-level Japanese SLRs.

    The Miranda line goes back into the post-WWII era, with their first production model around 1954-5 (Miranda T with 44mm screwmount). There was a 1953 prototype called the "Phoenix". Most models had removable pentaprisms, although the release mechanism was not always obvious.

    Ivor Matanle in his Collecting and Using Classic SLRs (1996), suggests Miranda, this specific model, as a cost-effective alternative to the Nikon F (p. 23).

    A more complete run-down of the various Sensorex models is found at http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Miranda_Sensorex . Somewhere along this line from the Sensorex to the Sensorex EE to the Sensorex II is to be found the development of one of the first TTL metering systems with metering possible with the lens wide open - apparently the first was the EE with special lenses . It's definitely there on the II model, anyhow.

    Others were impressed at the time - here is a Miranda ad for the Sensorex II from Popular Photography of May, 1972 highlighting a 'leading consumer testing organization' recommendation of the earlier, "unimproved" Sensorex. Rick Drawbridge has shown some Sensorex EE proper gear at http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00aPtr

  3. My Example

    After cleaning up the camera and lenses, I found that a 675 zinc-air hearing aid battery seemed to work and the readings agreed with my Gossen hand-held meter (and Sunny-16 for that matter). I'm not quite sure what went wrong here (especially considering the Sunny-16 agreement), but when the film (Fuji 200 C/N - f/11 to 16 at 1/250, right?) was developed, it was underexposed. That's corrected here, but will account for some of the graininess of the shots.

    Since the 105mm lens lacked the full-aperture TTL link, I had to do a kind of match-needle like process for setting the lens. The shots were exposed, or, rather, underexposed to the same degree as with the coupled lens.
  4. Here is the 50mm lens from the manual for the camera. You can imagine that I am predisposed to like the lens from its 'double-Gaussian' character.
  5. Here is the unusual coupling allowing the wide-open aperture metering.
  6. For the open aperture to work, you also had to set the maximum aperture of the lens on a ring beneath the rewind knob.
    Maybe no more complex than setting a Nikkor lens to f/5.6 to mount and then doing the Nikon "twist/shuffle" to set maximum aperture?
    I have a suspicion that something here may have affected the exposure problem I had.
  7. This image shows the mount on the camera body, with the exterior bayonet, the inner 44mm screw mount, and the TTL metering pattern on the mirror. And, yes, my Maksutov 500mm mounts on the inner ring with that mysterious adapter (below).
  8. Here is the camera from above, showing the lens mount, the removed prism, and the body.

  9. Unlike Canon, who never encouraged people to mount non-Canon lenses on their cameras with adapters, Miranda brags about their ability to accommodate other formats.

    Here, also from the Sensorex II manual, is the page of adapters available. At the bottom is the (originally mystery) adapter from my Soviet MTO 500mm mirror lens, which turns out to be the Sensorex "LF Adapter" (here M39>M44) in person.

  10. Here are some pictures taken on a relatively nice day -- we're easily a month behind our usual schedule for trees leafing and flowers flowering. All are with the Auto Miranda 50mm f/1.8 unless otherwise noted. (on underexposed Fuji 200).

  11. A view of my favorite, often posted, footbridge but from the other side of the lake (Auto Miranda 105mm f/2.8)

  12. This was the first film I had developed at our changed-management local camera store.
    Lots of dirt and scratches, I'm afraid (Is this perhaps another possible source of the problems with exposure?). Anyhow, not much green out there yet. (Also 105mm)
  13. In a sheltered spot I found some daffodils, but this is very late.- more like early March than early April.
  14. A nice camera, overall, for my first ever Miranda.
    Ah, Miranda, we hardly knew ye.

    That's it folks.
  15. My first "good" camera. My father and I bought a set of two to begin learning. They really gave a lot for the money. I think they were the Rodney Dangerfield of cameras. Tried like heck, but got very little respect.
  16. Great acquisition, JDM, and a good article. The Mirandas, in my opinion, are as under-rated as Ken Jeanette has suggested, and I have a few on my shelves. Our resident Miranda guru Pete Naylor is a great source of help and information. I really like the little quirky design touches and the overall feeling of solid quality and nice finish.
    There's a little Miranda background and some information on the later EE model in a post I did a while ago: http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00aRiN?start=0
  17. Lovely idea, interesting and surprisingly extensive system, questionable execution.
    One of my friends, influenced by a very glowing report on the camera in Consumers Reports, brought two Sensorexes home from Viet Nam with him. He swore by them, told me I was an idiot for having a mere Nikkormat FTn. Of course I'm an idiot, but I don't think my camera was the reason why.
    And then his beloved Mirandas started refusing to function properly. He had them repaired, they crapped out not long after they came back from the shop. One in use, one in shop was how he had to work.
    I taught him the technique of shooting fish in aquaria, he bought a Miranda Macron -- very good macro lens that, if I remember correctly, went to 1:1 on its own mount -- and teased me about my humble MicroNikkor that needed an extension tube to reach 1:1. And he produced some very fine fish portraits.
    Time passed, he spent a lot of money having his Mirandas repaired, and my Nikon kit was stolen. I replaced the Nik'mat with the FM2-n I still have. Friend and I took an excursion to Canada, where he was to give a talk, stopped en route to shoot some fish in the Niagara Falls Aquarium. Both of his Sensorexes died there. Starting with two cameras he got one shot off before he had no working cameras at all.
    And that was the end of his Mirandas. In the trash, and he got one of the Nikons he always professed to despise.
    I've known a few Miranda users, starting with a fellow in my dorm at Chicago who had, IIRC, a G (is there such a thing?). None of them got good service for long from their cameras.
    On another topic, without checking hard I'm pretty sure that all f/2 and faster normalish lenses for 35 mm SLRs of the late '50s-on were double Gauss types. All OPIC derivatives.
  18. On another topic, without checking hard I'm pretty sure that all f/2 and faster normalish lenses for 35 mm SLRs of the late '50s-on were double Gauss types.​
    My point exactly. And has been for a long time.
    If not quite "all", certainly close.
    Obviously, you must not have lived through the "double-Gauss wars." :)
  19. Obviously, you must not have lived through the "double-Gauss wars." :)
    I missed them. Do tell us more about them.
    The one thing I do remember and am reminded of when someone talks about one of the old crocks, is that 6/4 double Gauss lenses are slightly telephoto, i.e., back focus is shorter than usual given focal length. That's why some makers' early fast normal lenses, especially f/1.4 ones, for their late 50s-mid 60s 35 mm SLRs, had 58 mm focal lengths. Until the design problem was solved, shorter ones wouldn't clear the SLRs' mirrors.
  20. Do tell us more about them.​
    The Double-Gauss Wars
    In a galaxy far, far away ..
    ....a few of us (the usual suspects, in fact), got into an extended discussion on the relative priority of various versions of Biotars, Planars, the Cold War, and the problem of clearing mirrors on SLRs (specifically the role played by the Exakta, and in the post-War II era, the Contax S).

    At least some of the issues were addressed in Episode IV, "A New Beginning", where the sides got a little muddled. I thought I saw you there?
  21. I have heard that some say Miranda s are FRAGILE.
    But a tech at Spiratone told me he felt the bodies were robust..
    I have two each no shoe cold shoe and hot shoe.
    but all have a dial on the front not a ring., This puzzled me until I saw the photo.
    A advantage and annoyance is that original Sensorex lenses have NO click stops.
    not needed. But other Miranda lenses and third party lenses do.
    Adaptatall T4 and ys lenses will adapt.
    Early on some lenses for the Model D and some early sensomat lenses got oily stick diaphragms.
    The 1.8 and 1.9 can be easily cleaned/ DO NOT use the descrption on KYphoto.
    . simply unscrew the front and rear groups . You may need a sheet of rubber,
    NO tiny screws NO focusing helix.
    My Sensorex lenses do not need this yet.
    One strange ? feature is an lens you can glue screw or tape on the body can be used at full aperture metering.
    the dial or ring and the arm must be at the same setting.
    The accessory finders are waist level and the 5/15x critical peer down from the top
    finders/. but the deck on the Sensorex is higher than the letter series and the sensomat.
    I had one model D repaired many years ago ( before 1972)
    but the rest are fine ( so far) I like the way it works with my old eyes and I can wear gloves
    and operate the camera. Any camera could stick when it is really cold.
    thank you jdm for a good and accurate reporter.
    The Older Automex was essentially the same camera but no TTL metering.
    There were a few rare lenses like the 85mm that were never made or unheard of during the manufacture of the sensorex. the company and importer were managed poorly. and the last gast had a bad flecible printed circiout
    but was really a different camera. Thus it became like Rodney Dangerfield.
    the name was not the best choice as everyone thought of Carmen Miranda.
    I took a LOT of photos and things worked out well.
    it is interesting coming from perhaps the LAST new user.
  22. I respectfully request that photo.net no longer allows posts featuring cameras that I do not own.
  23. Brings back memories. I worked in camera retail (dept store) , in the mid-1970's.
    I do remember playing with the Miranda Sensorex and that way cool, removable prism.
  24. While Consumers Reports may have raved about the Miranda's initially, several years later they were rated sub par largely because of the poor frequency of repair records( sort of like the recommended rating they gave to my 1973 Fiat 128 sedan and one year later they, with some chagrin, gave it a "Do not Buy" recommendation due its dismal repair record.)
    I guess I should never compare any camera no matter what its faults to that awful little car.
  25. Nice lens, and very sharp. I love the looks of the camera. I've never seen one in the wild. The ad drives me a little coo coo, and I wonder who dreamed it up? All I could look at was the pencils and hands, and I forgot about the camera itself. But the ad isn't important (not now anyway, obviously), the camera is the thing. Nice work.
  26. As an aside to Gene M. and others,
    The Sensorex II had a roll of partly shot Kodachrome 25 in it.
    It may be my trial for B&W processing (scroll down at link) of K25. I'd like to surprise the giver, if appropriate. I guess the backing will come off if done right.
  27. That's funny, I do remember that choice by Consumer Reports.
    As a young opinionated behind the counter camera salesman, I used that choice of theirs a lot when someone would tell me that a certain camera in that year had been a Consumer Reports best pick.
    I always came back with a cheeky, "yeah sure, and they also picked a Miranda once"...
  28. JDM, I'm sorry, I still don't see a war about 6/4 double Gauss types. The Tessar's antecedents, yes, OPIC vs. symmetrical Planar, no.
    Fragile or no, Mirandas were appealing. So many nice features.
  29. fiat good enginering BUT the metal in the bodies always rusted.
    the charts in consumers reports showed that.
    I wonder if the new chrysler/fiats will be the same?
    I will not argue with bad Miranda experiences.
    if it happened it happened. I did buy one from a camera store junk box.
    I took it to Essex camera.,( in Bloomfield) and when I came to pick it up it would wind and fire once and the man shook his head. I gave them that camera for parts. I kept the lens.
    But I think your problems must have been a manufacturing problem.
    becuse - so far- I have had no problems.
    I think towards the end, when they were making Sensomat machines without miranda mounts
    Maybe m42 they were using up left over parts.
    The Sensorex EE and the later Sensomats I have little knowledge and no experience..
    I pointed Pete Naylor to a story about the importer.
    very erratic. Maybe the manufacturer worked the same way.
  30. fiat good enginering BUT the metal in the bodies always rusted.
    the charts in consumers reports showed that.
    I wonder if the new chrysler/fiats will be the same?
    I will not argue with bad Miranda experiences.
    if it happened it happened. I did buy one from a camera store junk box.
    I took it to Essex camera.,( in Bloomfield) and when I came to pick it up it would wind and fire once and the man shook his head. I gave them that camera for parts. I kept the lens.
    But I think your problems must have been a manufacturing problem.
    becuse - so far- I have had no problems.
    I think towards the end, when they were making Sensomat machines without miranda mounts
    Maybe m42 they were using up left over parts.
    The Sensorex EE and the later Sensomats I have little knowledge and no experience..
    I pointed Pete Naylor to a story about the importer.
    very erratic. Maybe the manufacturer worked the same way.
    Now I am going to find out when I go upstairs that they are all broken.
    they worked in February.
  31. Hi
    Great post on your recently acquired Miranda Sensorex II, I would occur with your findings that it is nice camera, I do find that the aperture connecting lever is a pain in the butt particularly when changing lenses but after using it for a while one get's used to it.
    I find Mirandas are well built cameras but not quite in the league of Canon, Pentax, Nikon, Olympus etc. but not far away. Interchangeable viewfinders are a great idea but IMHO overrated and not needed for most photographic situations.
    Miranda's seem to me be no more unreliable than most other SLR's that are 40 years old or more apart from the lenses which seem to succumb to sticky or non operating diaphragms than most others, I have over 70 Mirandas plus 90 odd Miranda/Soligor-Miranda/Soligor lenses to base my opinion on.
    As a Canon fan also I think you will find that Canon made almost as many adapters that Miranda made ie:
    Canon Lens Mount Converter A - for Lecia & Canon M39mm + other 39mm lenses close up use only
    Canon Lens Mount Converter P - for Pentax/Praktica M42mm + other 42mm lenses focus to infinity
    Canon Lens Mount Converter N - for Nikon bayonet mount lenses focus to infinity
    Canon Lens Mount Converter E - for Exakta & Topcon bayonet mount lenses focus to infinity
    Canon Lens Mount Converter B - for mounting Canon R/FL/FD lenses on Leica/Canon RF M39 cameras & focus to infinity
    The only adapters that Miranda made that Canon didn't were the Contax/Nikon S inner & outer bayonet adapters that were for close up use only.
    Enjoy your Sensorex and get some more of these interesting camera's many are quite reasonably priced. I was lucky to recently to add a Miranda T and a Miranda B to my Miranda armoury.
    Regards Richard
  32. I have a Miranda F which works pretty well - the slow speeds were not good until I exercised it, but since then it's been fine, and it seems all right if you run it through its paces a couple of times a year. But I have a question about lens mounts. Was there ever a lens that used the Miranda threaded mount, or was that reserved only for adapters and for the close-up ring set and other non-auto accessories?
  33. the model F was the first internal diaphragm model/.
    the automex that preced the d. had an interal diaphragm and
    meter coupling arm and interchchamhable but styled differently than Sensorecx lenses
    Meaning the A B C D DR S ST T or whatever. had no internal diaphragm link.
    these P A B auto lenses havbe a prong but it is not for that purpose.
    I think tjhe external P A D external diaphragm buttone bayonet mount lenses appearewd first on the C then the D
    many lenses were Preset thread mount lenses OR a PAD type lens sort of Like the Exacta.
    the Exacta was a left- handed camera.
    so many early cameras use a screw mount lens/
    I think the 50mm f/2.8 5 element preset lens was also screw mount.
    ( I recentlyu found there was a auto 50mm f/2.8 lens.(uk sales only) It is not clear to me
    as yet if it were a PAD or internal diaphragm lens.
    certainly not for automex or sensorex.
    The adapters I have NM PM and the XM are bayonet mount.
    I have a 135 f/3.5 preset screw mount Miranda lens I used on my 1961 model D.
    It is likely that is was intended as a universal lens as the back held by set screws is removable.
    captin Jack(exacta site) has a similar lens with an exacta mount.
    It is not a T or T2 lens. BTW there WAS a bayonet t adapter.
    On miranda collectors that wax nostalgically about early lenses such as the Zunow
    and the rare f/1.5 50 or 58 lens. all screw mount.
    as mentioned before the Automex at or before 1960
    was close to the Sensorex. but no TTL metering.
  34. Hi
    With regards to lenses for Mirandas using the M44 screw mount. Over the years there have been quite a few, I've listed some of them below:
    Zunow 5cm f1.9 Usually found on the Miranda T
    Zunow 50mm f1.9 Usually found on the Miranda T
    Arco 5cm f2.4 Usually found on the Miranda T
    Soligor Miranda 5cm f2.8 MT Usually found on the Miranda T All Chrome lens s/n begins with MT
    Soligor Miranda 5cmf2.8 T Usually found on the Miranda ST & A Zebra lens s/n begins with T
    Soligor Miranda 50mmf1.9 Y Usually found on the Miranda A,B & C Chrome/Black lens s/n begins with Y
    Soligor Miranda 50mmf1.9 Y Usually found on the Miranda T? All Chrome lens s/n begins with Y
    Miranda 5cm f2.8 T Usually found on the Miranda S,ST & A Zebra lens s/n begins with T same as Sol-Mir
    Miranda 5cm f2.8 MT Usually found on the Miranda T,S & ST? All Chrome lens s/n begins with MT
    Supreme 10.5cm f3.5 Accesssory lens from T era marked for Miranda
    Soligor 135mmf3.5 Y Accesssory lens from T/S/ST era Chrome/Black s/n begins with Y
    Miranda 135mm f3.5 FC Accesssory lens from T/S/ST era Black
    This is far from an exhaustive list I'm sure others will be able add examples they know of.
    Most of these lenses are uncommon and hard to come by, far more common are T mount lenses manufactured by many companies over the years such as Soligor and Tamron with the M44 T mount adapter especially in wide angle and telephoto.
    Good hunting.
    Regards Richard
  35. Thanks (I think) for that big list of interesting Miranda stuff to keep an eye out for. Those .9 fifties sound kind of fun!
  36. Zunow is a very interesting company with some claims to "priority" in certain areas ( http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Zunow ).
    Not to start off another flame war, but I do find it interesting that so often these sorts of claims occur with the most obscure places and companies
    -- it's sort of like the fact that the oldest people in the world tend to come from places that have little or nothing in the way of birth records.
  37. On the yahoo Miranda collectors forum
    many around the world * we have not heard much from japanese collectors)
    But there seems to be those that are on constant alert
    for these rare items. These are collectors and often not avid shooters.
    I am closer to being " just a shooter"
    the cost of a CLA it 2-3 x the cost of another camera.
  38. James, I haven't been that way in over 20 years. The last time I passed through Niagara Falls I was on my way to London to show one of my films film to an ichthyology class at UWO.
  39. @james martin
    Fortunately(?) I've never tried the Canon FD mirror lens. I don't quite have all the 500mm lenses yet. ;)
  40. Hmm. As long as the thread is drifting, JDM, you really shouldn't limit yourself to 500 mm mirror lenses. Stretch a little and, if you can find one of each, try a 700/8 Questar and a 750/6 Honeywell Lumetar. The Lumetar is a rebadged Celestron, and shows that Celestron made good as well as horrible (C-90) lenses. In MP's tests, the Q700 and 750 Lumetar stood out, the 500 MTO (which version, I wonder) was mid-pack.
    Y'r shots with the pride of the Soviet Union set me to thinking that Fuzzy Wuzzy was an MTO mirror lens, then to wondering where between your setting up to shoot and the images you posted the fuzz entered. My C-90 (worst lens I've ever used, absolutely horrible), Q700, a variety of long lenses hung in front of a Super 8 Beaulieu and failed Baby Bertha project have taught me the need for absolutely steady support when shooting long lenses.
  41. I can learn, I guess, but first I'd like to see some of your shots, unsharpened and unmanipulated, of 100% scans with ISO 400 film. Any lens will do.
    I did use a tripod and a monopod in the shots.
  42. I have a Miranda D and have never had a problem with it. Still looking for more lenses.
    I can't say it is the best made camera in terms of fit and finish (Miranda had a reputation for thin chrome and indeed on mine it has worn through where the prism slides on) but the mechanical quality is very good. The lenses are also pretty decent for the 1960 era.
    I also had a Miranda G but it jammed up within 5 seconds of me getting it. I wish that was an exageration because I would have loved to put a roll through it. Apparently the G is prone to the mirror locking up. The G uses an oversized reflex mirror (larger than even the Nikon F's) for use with super long lenses - but in order to fit it into the narrow body of the Miranda it swings on a sort of lever linkage so the mirror moves backwards and up at the same time. I guess this mechanism doesn't wear well and is prone to sticking in old age.
  43. JDM, I had to use a Miranda (G model I think) when I was a lab tech many years ago. I shot resolution charts with the
    50mm and it did very well. However when it was used for all day shooting, the ergonomics made it not fun to handle. I had
    for my personal camera a Nikon Photomic FTN (which I still have) that although it weighed more, was easier to use.
  44. I don't think that I will be tempted into a more complete "run" of Mirandas. It was fun to shoot with this one though, and I'll have to see if I can get into and fix the film advance on the Sensormat. There is, perhaps tellingly, little I have found so far on Mirand repairs on the "internets".

    I always liked the Arbus-esque ads that Miranda ran
  45. I've been having some PC problems that won't let me access any 'favourites', so I haven't been into the P-Net Forum for a while. However, Walt D. had mentioned in a recent post on The Yahoo Miranda Group about there being an interesting thread on Mirandas in the Forum, so here I am.
    Well, it's always nice to see interest in Mirandas, even if some of the points raised are a bit negative. There does appear to have been a drop in Miranda QC in the company's latter years, when maybe they were being pushed at too low a price. In the earlier years before AIC took control, they certainly weren't 'bargain basement buys' and were made in relatively low numbers.
    I've recently added a long-sought early Miranda to my collection, it being a 1959-ish 'ST/P', ie an 'ST' with a pentaprism. Only a few hundred of these were reputedly made, using left-over bits from the Miranda T. So it's certainly no watershed Great Leap Forward, still having knob wind and lacking an instant return mirror. In fact, the most obvious clue to distinguish it from the Miranda T is the rewind knob, which has a crank lever built in.
    It came with a preset F2.8 5cm Soligor Miranda, which was the 'correct' standard lens. However, some ferreting around has revealed that for extra $$$s, it could have been supplied with a more upwardly mobile F1.9 PAD Soligor Miranda. So I've cheated a bit and fitted a 'Y' Series F1.9 lens, which looks great with all that shiny chrome. Not that there's anything wrong with an F2.8 preset Soligor Miranda, 5 elements and all - it's just that I especially like 'Y' Series F1.9 lenses! PN
  46. A Black Miranda Sensorex caught my eye on 32nd St. in 1970, it had a very sharp 1.4 lens and I plunked down $195 pre-inflation dollars for it. It was lovely and I soon built up a nice kit of Miranda and Soligor lenses for my first vacation photos. The camera delivered incredibly sharp photos that I still consider some of my best work. Unfortunately, it did not like to be rushed and in the heat of battle it promptly jammed. The importers, AIC, treated me to the fastest repair ever seen - it took them about 3 seconds to slap the camera into their palm and clear the jam. This probably explains why so many Mirandas have prism dents! The mirror can also be pushed up with a tip of a finger, thereby clearing most jams - which happened frequently.
    Had I known this trick I probably never would have traded up to a Nikkormat, a camera which I used for 25 trouble free years before upgrading to an F3!
    Recently I have amassed a huge collection of Mirandas on Ebay. They are dirt cheap, take great pictures and build muscle mass as they are among the heaviest SLR's ever made!
  47. I have a Miranda Sensorex with 50mm 1.8, 135mm 2.8 and 28mm 2.8 lenses with original cases. I also have a "critical focuser" prism and a Focabell bellows for it that I never used. My cousin was in the US Navy in the late 1960s and when he went to Japan I sent him $300 and asked him to pick me up a camera. He went a little nuts. But I used the camera and lenses for 30+ years with no problems before going digital. If anybody can put any of this to good use let me know.

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