Mamiya EE Super Merit
|Mamiya EE Super Merit|
image by Francisco Javier Cornejos C. (Image rights)
The camera is a fairly compact, conventional-looking rangefinder camera. The top is relatively minimalist, with a cold shoe, a recessed rewind knob, a small knurled push-and-twist control for setting the frame counter, the counter window, a socket for a cable release, and the name of the company selling the camera: Mamiya or whatever western company rebadged the particular example. The name of the company is immediately followed by the serial number of the camera. The top is kept relatively clean by placing the wind-on lever on the back and the actual shutter release on the front.
The front is also fairly clean, with a two-window finder, the shutter release, a PC socket and the lens assembly. The lens assembly has all the controls: film speed, shutter speed, aperture/auto selector, and focusing. Around the lens is a ring-shaped selenium photocell—located within the filter threads to compensate automatically for the light-loss when filters are used.
On at least the non-rebadged versions, the plastic-faux leatherette is textured with tiny "M"'s for "Mamiya."
The viewfinder has a number of features in it: parallax correction (not precise, but serviceable) in the form of a moving frame, a bright-spot rangefinder, a needle indicating the aperture suggested by the meter based on the shutter speed (regardless of whether the camera is in shutter-priority autoexposure mode) and, when the camera is advanced to the last frame, the word "END" to the right of the viewfinder (a metal tongue linked to the frame counter moves to uncover this indicator.)
The shutter is a two-blade type, with speeds 1/250s, 1/125s, 1/60s and 1/30s.
The aperture is the diamond type, formed by two sliding plates with notches that can be controlled by the aperture ring or the meter. When the camera is in "auto" mode, depressing the shutter release traps the meter needle, closes the aperture and finally fires the shutter.
Rebadging and other variants
Mamiya made a simpler variant of this same camera using zone focus, the Mamiya EE Merit. Besides the rangefinder focus, the EE Super Merit can be distinguished by the black plastic frame around the viewfinder windows.
As well, there are some physical variations within the production history. There are versions with a wide, curved frame-counter window towards the front of the top plate, and versions with a square window to the left (from the photographer's perspective) of the knob (pictured). The rewind knobs differ on some versions, as well as whether the name on the top plate is embossed and filled directly on the plate, or on a raised badge. See the page for the EE Merit for a look at some of these variations (the cameras pictured there match the other Super Merit variation closely, with the exception of the rangefinder and focusing ring.)
Overall, this camera is fairly characteristic of fixed-lens rangefinders of a certain period. It has the selenium meter and the shutter-speed priority autoexposure in common with the Canon Canonet that had been released the year before, and in some ways is comparable, though this camera has much simpler two-element aperture and shutter. The latter has only 4 speeds and no bulb exposure, thus limiting the camera considerably compared to the Canonet and similar cameras. Overall, this camera can be compared favorably to simpler handheld auto-exposure cameras of the era, such as the Olympus Trip 35, though it lacks compared to most fully-functioned rangefinders of the time.