Topcon RE Super

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ishutteratthethought, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. ishutteratthethought

    ishutteratthethought Subscriber

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    Hello folks,
    Just wondering if there are many Topcon shooters out there.
    I recently picked up a Topcon RE Super with a beautiful RE 85mm 1:4 Auto-Topcor lens - Tokyo Kogaku Japan
    I am anxious to shoot it soon. Appears everything is working.

    Question, how is this lens? Looks like it is multi coated - very clean lens with massive amounts of glass. Are there any manuals for the re super to download a pdf on?

    Thanks in advance for your input/answers.
    Steve
     
  2. panchro-press

    panchro-press Member

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    I've used Topcons, RE Super and Super D, for more than twenty years. Very good cameras. Very good system.
    Sorry, I can't give you any first hand information on the 85mm; I'd be surprised it it wasn't a quality lens.
     
  3. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    The Navy used Topcons for several years, I saw several Navy kits, Topcon Super D, 3 lens and a motor drive in a all metal case. The Air Force used Nikon Fs but what I liked about the Topcon was that the meter was build into the camera body, change finders and keep the meter. Lens had good reps, but I think some were slow compared to Canon and Nikon, from what I recall had something to do with the Extka mount Topcon used.
     
  4. ishutteratthethought

    ishutteratthethought Subscriber

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    The fella I bought this from told me his grandfather bought it or acuired it when he was in Veitnam. The camera says that it is an RE SUPER in the upper left hand corner looking directly towards the lens. I am not sure what determines the "D" title. Camera serial number is 4663524, lens sn is 11226460 so I am not sure what year it is either.any help would be great.
    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  5. Karl K

    Karl K Subscriber

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    Super D in the USA

    This model was known as the Super D in the USA. I bought mine in 1963 or '64. It was the first 35mm SLR with a TTL full-aperture light meter, interchangeable prism, interchangeable focus screens, and a real motor drive system. Nikon followed later with the Nikon F Photomic Tn, and later again with the Nikon F Photomic FTN. Then followed Canon with the F-1 system. But Topcon was first. I have used that camera many times in the past, but not with the 85mm lens. All the Topcon glass that I owned was spectacular, especially the 25mm and the 100mm. My friend had a complete Nikon system in the early '60's and we tested my Topcors against his Nikkors. The Topcors were slightly superior in resolution, but slightly less contrasty. Good luck!
     
  6. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I am just waiting for an opportunity to try out my brother's Topcon RE-2, it belonged to my dad. From what I gather, the optics are really nice. The camera is on loan for the next little while.
     
  7. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I am sure you will be greatly pleased with the results. Those model Topcon SLRs had outstanding reputations; flexible, rugged, very good glass. Underappreciated, IMHO.
     
  8. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    I have several Topcon's - a Super D - two RE Super DM with winders and a LOT of lenses - but the lens I have never had is the 85mm..... (on the other hand I have the "legend" - the very first produced 300mm 2.8, which is huge and heavy!!

    you're are in for a treat!

    I have always been amazed with the quality of the lenses.
     
  9. haugstrup

    haugstrup Member

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    I recently picked up a Topcon Unirex -- my first non-compact camera! I've been reading a bit and the unirex is one of Topcon's consumer cameras from the first half of the 70s. I'm having a lot of fun learning how to use an SLR with this camera. The unirex doesn't seem to have the best reputation because of the leaf shutter, but mine seems to be in good condition (and the camera only had previous owner).

    I had to jam a hearing aid battery into the camera, but the exposure meter works fine with the battery replacement.

    A quick google search locates the manual for the RE Super: http://www.butkus.org/chinon/beseler/topcon_re_super/topcon_re_super.htm
     
  10. hansutrecht

    hansutrecht Member

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    In my collection there are 3 Topcons: RE Super, RE-2 and a Super DM. Lenses 35mm, 58mm, 100mm, 135mm and the Soligor-built zoom without tripod ring.
    The light metering system of the RE Super is not functional, both other cams are fine. I like the GN (Guide Number) lens of the Super DM best.
    Also some instruction manuals are here: R, RE Super, RE-2.
    IMHO an underrated system.
    I sold the Unirex variant, after acquiring the RE equipment...
    Hans.
     
  11. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    Only multicoated Topcor lens for the Super D (and other Exakta mount Topcon cameras) is the RE GN Topcor 50mm f/1.4 lens. Unfortunately, that lens was built with radioactive glass, and they all have "tan" glass by now. It was quite a sharp lens.

    The 58mm f/1.4 lens is a tank, a lot of glass, but only single coated. Sharp, but probably not as sharp as the razor-sharp 58mm f/1.8 normal lens.

    There is an 85mm f/1.8 Topcor, about a thousand made, rarer than even that would suggest, shows up a few times a year on eBay, selling for over $1000.

    Of the RE Auto Topcors, the only real disappointment is the 200mm f/5.6. Very slow, and not really that sharp. Most of the other Topcor lenses can do 80 lp/mm without really trying, even at wide apertures.

    RE Super (outside US), Super D (US through Beseler, later rest of world not through Beseler), and Super DM are tanks of cameras. Very reliable. The RE-2 (outside US) and D-1 (US through Beseler) is also a good camera, but the shutter speed linkage to the Copal Square shutter is fragile.

    The US Navy used Super D cameras in the Orion sub surveillance planes flying on the west coast. They special ordered lenses with an infinity lock, which are maked with a red N on the dress ring. It was a hard life for those cameras.

    As for the leaf shutter Topcor cameras (Uni, Unirex), they are incredibly unreliable, have a great deal of mirror and baffle shake, and the UV Topcor lenses are mostly dissapointing. The IC-1 body should be reliable, but the lenses just aren't worth the trouble.

    Topcon's biggest problem was probably Charles Beseler Company's distribution, especially compared to what Nikon got out of EPOI. More focus on "fair trade", and protecting dealers from each other, than from competing with the competitors.
     
  12. Shelly Grimson

    Shelly Grimson Member

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    My first camera was the Topcon R. Had an Exacta mount and had the 1.8 lens. Fantastic images. I still give away portraits I took of my highschool friends with that camera and they do have that older lower contrast look but it really paints faces in a tender way. But then again, they were tender faces then....
     
  13. ishutteratthethought

    ishutteratthethought Subscriber

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    Update: In my excitement from the first post..... i gave erroneous info. The lens is not an 85mm it is actually the 58 mm...ufta.
    Any how, the images I have been getting are simply amazing. I shoot a number of the high end Nikkor lenses with the FM2 and FE but this 58 topcor and Super D body have performed flawlessly. I have been shooting Ilford fp 50 asa through it with wonderful results(very cool film, i wish they made it in 4 x 5). With all that glass I have been able to shoot in many situations that I normally couldn't before.
    This is one camera that will stay with me for as long as I am around.
    peace
     
  14. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    I TOLD you!.. :wink:
     
  15. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I too have a Topcon RE Super. I bought mine in Japan in 1968 when I was in the Navy. It is a workhorse, I have dropped it a few times and it has survived, still is a sharp camera with the 58mm 1.4 lens. I don't use it too much any more, I have been using a Mamiya C3 TLR for a lot of my film work. I also recently acquired a Toyo 4x5 view camera and am learning to use it.
     
  16. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning;

    These memories are from the early and middle 1960's. In general, the Topcon cameras were considered to be very good cameras, and the lenses were quite high resolution also. They brought several inovations to 35 mm photography. As someone who had just learned that he was starting out with a family, instead of just being a couple, I had to scale back my intended purchases. The Topcon was one of those I had to just wish about, along with Alpa, Canon, Leica, Nikon, and a few others.

    If the camera is still functional and the lubricants are still reasonable (a serious question after all of these years), you will be pleased with the results. It is certainly worth finding an older camera technician who remembers these and can do a proper CLA.
     
  17. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I was lucky enough to find a shop with TWO camera techs who were familiar with the camera. Since I had two bodies, each was able to work on a camera. I got my cameras back much quicker than anticipated and they both work great. My only problem with the Topcon is the weight. They are built like bricks, but they are rugged and work great.
     
  18. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    I have a Navy Topcon. The 58 f1.4 is so outstanding that Cosina rebuilt it within the last few years
    Mark
     
  19. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I was in the Royal Marines in the 1960s, and served alongside the U.S. Marines, their photographers were issued with Khaki Topcon Super D cameras as far as I recall.
     
  20. birdman

    birdman Member

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    Just joined APUG and saw your note about Topcon 85mm's. You mentioned that they were "1:4" May I assume that this was a typo, and you meant "1.4?" If the latter, I'm puzzled, because I have a pair of black 85's, and they are f1.8's.

    I was doing a lot of research using Topcon cameras in the 70's and 80's, and Beseler, who imported Topcon at the time, graciously went through their supply of 85's, which according to my tests, had the highest resolving power of any commercially available mid focal length lenses, and found a pair that were very closely matched in focal length. Usually a focal length of 85mm means "85mm +-about 4mm. I needed them matched within a millimeter.

    For 25 years, I taught a scientific photography course using Topcons, and they were, and are, supurb cameras for the purpose. I'm sure mine will outlive me.

    Frank Heppner
    Department of Biological Sciences
    University of Rhode Island
     
  21. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    Hi Birdman, and welcome to APUG.

    I'm with you. I have been wanting the 85mm F1.8 (they didn't make a F1.4 to my knowlegde) for many many years...

    there is a big site where we can go and see what's out there:

    http://members.cox.net/topconcollection/index.html
     
  22. leapinggrassroot

    leapinggrassroot Member

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    I have both the RE Super and Super D. They are almost the same. The lenses are just perfect. But, it does not handle glare very well, as somebody mention before that they were single coated. For B&W, this issue is not as obvious as color.

    Just love the system. Getting another Super DM too.
     
  23. Christopher Amati

    Christopher Amati Member

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    super dm meterproblem

    Its your battery. Mine came with the original mercury- dead. I bought an insert that
    a D 386 fits into that steps down the voltage . I bought it online from an outfit in arizona and I cant tell you the brand name or the place I got it but it makes the meter act as it should. . The big black bar is there to tell you not to take the picture. The slim needle is as usual to be centered. I will try to find out the name of the product and the supplier and post them here.