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.
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....
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.
I TOLD you!..
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.
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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.
Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington
When they ask you; "How many Mega Pixels you got in your camera?"
just tell them; "I use activated silver bromide crystals tor my image storage media."
Originally Posted by Ralph Javins
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.
I have a Navy Topcon. The 58 f1.4 is so outstanding that Cosina rebuilt it within the last few years
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.
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.
Originally Posted by ishutteratthethought
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.
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Rhode Island