Quote Originally Posted by Paul Howell
The top of the line Topcon was the Navy's 35 mm camera from the early 70s to the mid 70's, lots of nice features for the day, but less expensive than Nikon or Canon. From what what I recall Topcon did not hold up under daily use and by the late 70s the Navy moved to Canon. the Topcons that are engraved U.S Navy are very collectable, the other are not.


I was familiar with the Topcon from the Navy. Ours was seldom used so I don't know about its reliability. Out of curiosity where they came from, I found an article on the Web about them, from a Topcon collector's site. Someone in the US Government considered them to be the most rugged and reliable 35mm SLR available in the late 1960's. Not only did the US Navy buy a large quantity, but so did the FBI.

Basicaly, if a ship was built when the Topcon system was being issued, the camera stayed with the ship until it was decommissioned, unless the camera developed a problem and had to be refurbished.

Around 1980, the Canon F1 came out and had a mean cycles between shutter failures that was double the industry standard. Ships built from that time on were issued the F1. Don't know when its contract ran out nor what replaced it.

It seems the Topcon wound up as sort of an oddity. Someone, somewhere in the Government thought they were great, but maybe that greatness didn't pan out.