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  1. #1

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    Scored a cheap Topcon Super D. How do I meter?

    This post is partly to gloat, partly to request information.

    In the course of my annual tour of the antique stores of Florence, Oregon, I stumbled on a cluster of fairly neat mid-century 35mm cameras; there was a Petri rangefinder, a Bolsey of some sort (not a C22, unfortunately), some other compact rangefinder, and a Topcon Super D (the US version of the RE Super).

    Long story short: sixty bucks later, I have a Super D in what seems to be excellent condition overall, with the 58/1.8 lens. Now, I knew these things were tanks (or more properly battleships, since they're best known for being the US Navy's standard camera for a couple of decades), but I didn't really appreciate until I held the camera just *how* robust they are. This thing doesn't just feel like a big hunk of metal, it feels like it was carved from a single piece of granite or something like that!

    It had a clean PX625 in it; I swapped in an LR44, which seems to fit (I know about the voltage difference, but I'm just smoke-testing the camera so I'm not too worried about it).

    Everything seems to work, except that I'm not sure about the meter. I gather that the readout is in the bottom of the viewfinder, and that I should be positioning the black bar to "split" the two little peaks; however, if that's how it's supposed to work, it ain't. The black bar does move as I change the exposure or ASA, but it doesn't seem to be responsive to the amount of light---I can point it into bright sunlight, get the bar positioned (at about seven stops of overexposure), and if I then turn into a dark room the bar doesn't move.

    I think either (1) the meter is dead, (2) the battery isn't connecting properly, or (3) I don't know how to turn the meter on. (The "on/off" switch on the bottom seems to make no difference.) Is there a trick?

    Thanks

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  2. #2
    wiltw's Avatar
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    Do you have a user manual? Go here. http://www.butkus.org/chinon/beseler...on_super_d.htm

    I had a serious case of lust for a Super D as a young teen

  3. #3
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiltw View Post
    Do you have a user manual? Go here. http://www.butkus.org/chinon/beseler...on_super_d.htm

    I had a serious case of lust for a Super D as a young teen
    If you find the download useful, please donate the $3 to keep that site going. I use that site, but I do not have any connection to it.

    Steve
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  4. #4
    Hexavalent's Avatar
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    Sweet Score!

    I have one of those stowed away - haven't used it in years. They are indeed built like tanks - I accidentally left on a beach in Atlantic Canada, it stayed there for a week, (ooooops), wiped the salt spray off and it was fine.
    Being able to slide the pentaprism off is neat feature too.

    Enjoy your find!

    -Ian
    - Ian

  5. #5
    agfarapid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    This post is partly to gloat, partly to request information.

    In the course of my annual tour of the antique stores of Florence, Oregon, I stumbled on a cluster of fairly neat mid-century 35mm cameras; there was a Petri rangefinder, a Bolsey of some sort (not a C22, unfortunately), some other compact rangefinder, and a Topcon Super D (the US version of the RE Super).

    Long story short: sixty bucks later, I have a Super D in what seems to be excellent condition overall, with the 58/1.8 lens. Now, I knew these things were tanks (or more properly battleships, since they're best known for being the US Navy's standard camera for a couple of decades), but I didn't really appreciate until I held the camera just *how* robust they are. This thing doesn't just feel like a big hunk of metal, it feels like it was carved from a single piece of granite or something like that!

    It had a clean PX625 in it; I swapped in an LR44, which seems to fit (I know about the voltage difference, but I'm just smoke-testing the camera so I'm not too worried about it).

    Everything seems to work, except that I'm not sure about the meter. I gather that the readout is in the bottom of the viewfinder, and that I should be positioning the black bar to "split" the two little peaks; however, if that's how it's supposed to work, it ain't. The black bar does move as I change the exposure or ASA, but it doesn't seem to be responsive to the amount of light---I can point it into bright sunlight, get the bar positioned (at about seven stops of overexposure), and if I then turn into a dark room the bar doesn't move.

    I think either (1) the meter is dead, (2) the battery isn't connecting properly, or (3) I don't know how to turn the meter on. (The "on/off" switch on the bottom seems to make no difference.) Is there a trick?

    Thanks

    -NT
    I have a couple of these, both in working order. A Super DM and an older RE Super. If the needle doesn't move with changes in light, it means that the battery is probably at fault--either dead or the wrong type. I suggest you try a Wein cell battery (available at Freestyle). This button battery is a replacement for the PX625 and I use them in all my older cameras. Also, try cleaning the contacts and scraping out any corrosion. If this doesn't solve the problem, than your meter cells are probably dead. Get it CLA'd and at least your camera body & lens will work. it's a great shooter's camera and will give you years of enjoyment.

  6. #6

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    Cool find - I had one in the 60's - picked it up in a PX in Viet Nam, with a couple of lenses (the RE Super, as you point out). Eventually sold it all and got Leicas.
    I would try using the right battery, as agfarapid suggested, cheap, and you can eliminate the battery as the problem.

  7. #7
    gandolfi's Avatar
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    congrats - it's a great camera.
    I have several of those cameras, and more importantly I have almost all the lenses for it.... (missing some important ones, though..).

    Great lenses!! And I don't think it is a tank - it is like a VOLVO.. and I happen to like them too....

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by gandolfi View Post
    And I don't think it is a tank - it is like a VOLVO.. and I happen to like them too....
    Actually, on reflection, it reminds me a little bit of MechaGodzilla!

    Everything else is in such good shape that I'm inclined to think the meter problem is with the battery. The thing acts like it was just CLA'd; the slow speeds are spot on, self-timer works, focus on the lens is smooth, shutter curtain looks great and moves cleanly. The focussing screen is pretty scratched up but usable.

    I ran a roll of Superia 200 through it and gave it to a 1-hour minilab---the results look good, or would if the colour correction wasn't so wacked out. All the reds look purple and the skin tones are blown to hell---but it's very doubtful that the camera achieved that without some help from a minimum-wage staffer and a vat of sour chemicals. :-)

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  9. #9
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    I have a waist level finder for these cameras. Anyone wish to make an offer?
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  10. #10

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    Well, I dropped in a zinc-air battery (a 675 hearing-aid battery with a washer and an O-ring), and now the meter *works*, but it consistently indicates 5 stops of overexposure. I can compensate, of course, but that's a big enough error to be inconvenient---the meter seems to bottom out at a reading of about EV 8, which means I can't meter below EV 13. (The ASA dial only goes to 800, so I'm limited in how much I can compensate there too.)

    Calibrating this meter is fairly major surgery, isn't it? I found a few comments on it in a thread at kyphoto.com, and it sounds like to change the meter sensitivity I have to actually fiddle with the mechanical coupling between the body and the meter housing. Sounds intimidating.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

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