[QUOTE=David Lyga;1407132]OK: I have been buying SLRs and RFs (the cheap ones) for literally decades and do minor repairs. MY EXPERIENCE has been that (E von Hoegh) Mirandas are MOSTLY good but I admit that there are some dogs, and for no apparent reason. I have always thought that their really silly advertising (essentially 'sex' ads glorifying the man/woman sexual attraction that segues into their product(?!) is what they were trying to use to sell their cameras. Compare those 1960s ads with the cool, quite, intellectual ads placed by Nikon. Advertising, more than any other factor destroyed Miranda. Who was their Madison Avenue agengy? But, no, Mirandas were generally not faulty products.
(Dali): Nikkormat was never quite the 'god' it was cracked up to be. I have had Nikkormats, Spotmatics, and SRTs get truly soaked and only the Nikkormat did not respond to drying and TLC.[QUOTE]
Thanks, I found a Miranda Fv with a 350mm Soligor tele on it, in a dumpster. Someone had done a camo paint job with acrylics on the body. The camera functions, and the shutter is accurate enough to be useable. I guess I'll get a normal lens for it and try it out.
As for the Nikkormat, it's the only one of the three you mentioned with a metal Copal square shutter. Yours behaved about as I'd expect. Mine has been as reliable as a post for the past four years I've had it, it was made about 1970.
The thing to remember is that there were a lot of cheaper or more basic SLRs aimed at the same market as digital bridge cameras - people who wanted better quality than the average compact but didn't want to pay for a fully fledged bells and whistles pro-spec SLR. This is presumably where all the Miranda/Cosina/Chinon stuff came in, as well as the Pentax MV/MV1 (which are so simplified that they don't even tell you what shutter speed they intend to use!)
I remember my Father being unhappy with the Exaktas he had in the 60's and 70's....querky solid cameras, very versatile and with a huge range of accessories, but, from day one, spending more time at the repairers than in use! Probably the same issues of indifferent factory QC as Prakticas, also from East Germany. He eventuallty switched to Rollei SL35's with West German Zeiss lenses, and never had any trouble, although they seemed lighter and more delicate than the East German products. I inherited the Rolleis and used them for several years before selling them on, still working as good as new.
That's odd because Exaktas tend to be very robust. With the exception of the clockwork for the slow speeds and self timer, they're very simple cameras. On the other hand the last ones, the VX1000 - the quality was really bad. The 1950s Exaktas are made about as well as anything, but by the 1960s Exakta apparently was competing on price instead of features. I think the VX1000 I had may have been the shoddiest SLR I've ever laid hands on. At that point I think there may have been a lack of pride or interest in the product as Exakta was enduring a lot of legal troubles with the copyright holders in West Germany.
I don't know if I would put Miranda in the budget group. The Sensorex cameras were very advanced and very expensive when they came out. Miranda also had one of the largest lens line ups, from I believe, 17mm to 500mm. Prior the introduction of the Nikon F, the Miranda was Japan's "pro" SLR, and even for a couple years after Miranda competed with Nikon. When Nikon came out with the 21mm lens (which needed MLU to work) Miranda came out with the 17mm lens the next year - and it worked with reflex focussing!
However Miranda was a small company, never made their own lenses, etc. etc. - IIRC Soligor bought them up in 1968 or 69, and managed to kill the whole operation in less than a decade (apparently through gross mismanagement).
Never liked the Contax II. The design of the camera ignores how the human hand operates. The choice of lenses is limited by the design decision to include the focusing helix in the camera body rather than in the lens. A well made but very poorly designed camera.