F. and S. Marriott 140 Newbegin, Hornsea, England, HU18 1PB

May 2010. Stephanie died peacefully on 19th April after a short stay in hospital. She had been suffering from acute cervical cancer. Fred will continue to run the business to the best of his ability. The web site is slowly getting under control again as he tries to take over some of Stephanie's responsibilities, and learns some of the mysteries of Dreamweaver.

Pieces An on-line look at cameras etc. by Stephanie Marriott
July/August 1998

An assortment of cameras this time, with nothing in common except that they all have something a bit odd about their design or specification, starting with a 126 camera with clockwork motor wind.

The Minolta Autopak 800 This 126 camera was packed with features to make life easier, yet is now an underrated collectible camera which barely rates a second glance. One of the innovations which we now take for granted in a modern compact is associated with the way the flash works. Minolta called it the "Flashmatic" system and in 1969 it was unique. The "Flashmatic" system allowed a flash cube to be in place at all times. In low-light conditions, the camera would use one forty-fifth of a second as the shutter speed, select the aperture depending on the distance and fire the flash. In normal lighting, the flash would not be fired, but there is provision to "force flash". The camera has a Rokkor f/2.8 38 mm. four element lens and a two-speed shutter linked to a CdS meter. It has a coupled coincident image rangefinder and a clockwork motor wind. This can give 12 frame advances to one wind, but does not fire sequentially. Despite this limitation, it was estimated that up to 12 pictures in 14 seconds would be possible. This is a sophisticated camera for 126 cartridges and in 1970 in the U.K. it cost £52 19s, while the e.r.c. was an extra £4 19s. I started work in 1971, when this camera cost much the same as in 1970 (£52.95 and £4.95 respectively; Britain had "gone decimal" by then) and my weekly wages (as a shop assistant) were £5. This camera was out of reach of many working people.

Minolta did make other models, many with the same distinctive styling but fewer features:-

The Autopak 400X, introduced to the U.K. about 1971. Takes Magicubes. U.K. 1972 price £21.95. Appears to have been withdrawn from U.K. around 1976.

The Autopak 500 (introduced 1966) has a selenium meter, zone focusing and no motor wind. f/2.8 Rokkor lens. First appears in U.K. in 1969, when U.K. price £29 19s 6d (approx. £29.98) Appears to have been withdrawn from Britain within a year.

The Autopak 550 (introduced 1969) has a single speed shutter, CdS meter and zone focusing. 38 mm. f/2.8 Rokkor lens. Like 500, but has a backlight control to allow flash to be used. U.K. 1970 price £29 18s 9d (approx. £29.94). Appears to have been withdrawn when 600-X introduced, i.e. about 1971.

The Autopak 600-X (introduced 1971) is similar to the 550. U.K. 1972 price £31.95. Appears to have been withdrawn from U.K. around 1976.

The Autopak 700 (UK c1967) has different styling, Rokkor 32 mm. f/2.8 lens, coupled rangefinder, and CdS metres. It has an accessory shoe and coaxial connection for flash. 1967 U.K. price £40 10s 8d (approx. £40.54). Appears to have been withdrawn from U.K. in about 1970.

The next interesting (to me, anyway) camera is a cine camera designed for use underwater.

Eumig Nautica. The Eumig Nautica first appeared in Britain in about 1979, and it disappeared again by 1982. It has a 9 mm. to 30 mm. f/1.9 Viennon zoom lens, and was originally supplied with a PMA wide-angle converter which gives approximately 5.3 mm. This attachment is stored in the fixed grip and is essential for underwater filming. These attachments hardly ever appear second hand without a camera, so if buying a camera for use ensure you also get the wide-angle converter. For ease of use, especially important underwater, the camera has fully automatic CdS metering (with manual override) and Eumig's "Servofocus" system that keeps the lens focused throughout the zoom range. The drive gives a single filming speed (18 f.p.s.) and single frame. Many of the controls are stiff as they have to fit tightly to help keep the camera watertight - a feature which is as useful when filming on a wet day (in England? surely not!) as it is when underwater. Check rubber seals have not perished; they should be kept lubricated to stay watertight. The camera, when new, was supplied with a big, orange, plastic framefinder that screws onto the camera top plate for underwater use. As well as being able to stand up to water up to forty metres deep, the Nautica could also repel sand and snow, making it a go-anywhere camera. It was not cheap though; the specification is based on that of the Mini 3, which in 1981 cost about £99 including a case. The Nautica cost £149, including PMA converter, framefinder, and O-ring grease and the case was an extra £19. In Australia, the Nautica was $420 in 1981.

Finally, a camera which is interesting for what it does not have as well as for what it does have; I simply cannot see where Meopta expected to find a market for this camera.

Admira 16A. In 1960 the Admira 16A 16 mm. cine camera was believed to be the first 16 mm. cine camera aimed at the amateur market to have an electric motor drive. NiCad batteries in the grip provided power for variable speeds (8 - 32 f.p.s., with marks at 8, 16, 24 and 32 f.p.s.). There is no single frame. An extension lead carried power from grip to camera when the camera was used on a tripod; the grip has to be removed for this operation as it utilises the tripod bush. The interchangeable lens has a non-standard fitting but a C-mount adapter was available at the time (also Contax/Kiev and Pentacon adapters). The footage counter operates from the take-up spool; a more usual arrangement is to have the feeler operating on the feed spool. Broken or bulk-loaded films therefore presented a problem as the camera gave no indication of the amount of film remaining, only the amount of film used. The camera will take 50 ft. and 100 ft. spools but the footage gauge gives no indication which is in use. The camera has an optical viewfinder with provision for adapters/masks for various focal lengths. The standard lens is a 20 mm. f/1.8 Meopta Openar, and the camera, lens and charger cost £112 in 1960. Accessories available included a set of seven filters (£11 11s/£11.55) and a titler (£7 10s/£7.50). I find this camera baffling; the viewfinder optics are coated to reduce reflection yet the camera has no single frame, and why fit a non-standard lens mount?

 
Note: I like to give price information in both sterling and American dollars. However, this information is not always available to me, in which case I use whichever I can get. I do not convert from one currency to the other; market conditions vary and camera prices were often very different in the U.S.A. and Britain, so conversion would not give an accurate picture.

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