Mansfield Skylark

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Skylark is the name of no less than four rebadged cameras sold by Mansfield Industries of Chicago, Illinois.

  • The 1957 Skylark is a rebadged Argon[1] rangefinder camera, the export version of the Windsor 35 by Tōkō Shashin. This rangefinder camera has a 45mm f/1.9 lens, shutter speeds 1 - 1/500 second plus 'B' (a much higher specification than the early-50s Windsor 35 in the current Camera-wiki.org article).
  • The 1957 Skylark E (pictured right) is a Royal 35M by Royal Camera Company, rebadged for Mansfield. Like the 35M, this coupled rangefinder camera has a Tominar 45mm f/1.9 lens , with shutter speeds 1 - 1/500 second plus 'B', and an uncoupled selenium meter.
  • The 1957 Skylark V is a rebadged Royal 35P, a coupled rangefinder camera with a Cimenar 45mm f/1.9 lens (stopping down to f/16), and shutter speeds 1 - 1/300 second plus 'B'. It has no meter.


  • The 1961 Skylark is a slightly modified Palmat Automatic made by Yamato. This last Skylark is of a much lower specification than its predecessors. It is a fixed-focus viewfinder camera with automatic exposure controlled by a selenium meter. This was the only Skylark that was actually engraved with “Mansfield” as well as the “MI” crest logo seen on the earlier versions.
    • The lens is a coated 40mm f/3.5 Mantar or Luminor (the same lens, either renamed for Mansfield or using Yamato's original name for it).
    • The shutter has speeds 1/10 - 1/200s. However, these are not identified as such; the speed scale is labelled with numbers 2 to 6, and 'B'. In normal use, the shutter speed is set with reference to the 'Film Guide' panel on the camera back. That is, shutter speed is used to copensate for different film speeds.
    • There is an aperture control on the lens barrel. In daylight, this is set to 'Auto', and the aperture is set automatically by a trapped needle mechanism driven by the meter. There are also three manual positions (labelled A, B and C, not with actual f-numbers) which are for use with flash.
    • The selenium meter generates its own voltage, so needs no battery.
    • The viewfinder is large, and has a brightline frame (an Albedo type) with parallax correction marks for close-up use. There is, however, no depth-of-field guide, which would be useful on a fixed-focus camera; perhaps the user's manual contains one.
    • There is an ingenious periscopic device that shows a green-filtered light in the viewfinder, if the ambient light is sufficiently bright for the meter needle to detect (that is, it confirms that there is enough light to take a photograph). This is simply light transmitted from behind the meter panel, not a lamp.
    • Like Yamato's other cameras, the back and base detach as one piece to load and unload the camera.


Notes

  1. Sugiyama/Naoi “Collector’s Guide to Japanese Cameras” code #3099, p.140.

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