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Topcon Super D
Old 12-26-2010   #1
David Murphy
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Topcon Super D

Anyone here have an opinion on the Topcon Super D (also called the Topcon RE Super apparently)? It seems to have a dedicated following. I've been thinking about getting one since I like to shoot with collectible cameras that are also relatively functional.
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Last edited by David Murphy : 12-26-2010 at 13:57.
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Old 12-26-2010   #2
Roger Hicks
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Very solid, excellent lens, historically very significant.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-26-2010   #3
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I had an RE-Super with the 58mm f1.4 for a brief time back in 1970. The Kodachromes I shot with it looked good, though maybe a trifle 'warm'. Big, solid camera, viewfinder easy to see when wearing specs, front mounted release seemed to help overcome camera shake at slow-ish shutter speeds. I parted with it partly because it felt very angular, and partly because lenses were hard to find.

Perhaps the major problem today might be the CdS lightmeter which was built to be powered by the now almost impossible to find Px625 mercury battery. There are alternatives but the meter may need re-calibrating to read accurately. Always assuming the CdS meter cells are still functioning properly.

The Super D was very little different to the Re-Super - either would be a nice camera to have if you want to recreate a "state of the art mid-1960s" photographic experience.

If my memory's correct, the US Marines adopted one of them as their official camera !
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Old 12-26-2010   #4
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I have been outbid on many of these.
It wasn't the Marines, who used the Topcon, it was the US Navy.
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Old 12-26-2010   #5
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Hi,

The United States importer was the Charles Beseler Company.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topcon_RE-Super

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Robert

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Originally Posted by Greyscale View Post
I have been outbid on many of these.
It wasn't the Marines, who used the Topcon, it was the US Navy.
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Old 12-26-2010   #6
Pablito
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and some of the cameras (not sure which models) were marked "Beseler Topcon"
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Old 12-26-2010   #7
Brian Levy
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When they were around, the models were considered to be the best you could get. Nikon and the like were not as well thought of at the time. Sadly, their light was short lived and dimmed rather quickly. There was a local hi-end camera dealer in my town and the only 35mm gear he would sell was Alpa, Leica and Topcon. He had access to Contax, and was willing to selling the Contraflex and Contaflex and Voightlander but, as for the imports from across the other pond, he refused to sell or even discuss. He taught me to appreciate quality and that it did not necessarily translate to a profitable business.
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Old 12-26-2010   #8
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well the shutter release was very awkwardly located on the front of the camera. Not particularly ergonomic.
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Old 12-27-2010   #9
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He preferred to sell quality systems vs. systems with quantities of lenses and accessories. He was an old timer and had not realized that the world had moved to mass market and mass produced merchandise being the wave of the future. He'd spend the better part of a day showing a customer who bought a camera how to use it including shooting each lens and then developing the results so the customer saw what he could be capable of while the customer waited. I used to sit around and watch his approach to customer service and years later it stood me in good stead when I had my hi-fi shops.
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US Navy and US Air Force
Old 12-27-2010   #10
kuzano
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US Navy and US Air Force

I bought a Topcon in 1972... as I was impressed by the US military use (Navy and Air Force) at the time.

According to this page.... Topcon was used from the 60's to the 80's to fill military contracts as a combat camera.

http://www.lomography.com/magazine/r...-battle-camera
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Old 12-27-2010   #11
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Love it. Works like a charm. Indestructible. Extremely solid and has a very pleasing ka-thunk when shutter fires. I don't know the technicalities except for its revolutionary TTL metering. Just from the sheer weight and density, you'll think you've gotten a good deal if you can find one operational. Here's mine:



Mr. (Cosina) was inspired by Topcon to make his own version of Super D:

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Old 12-27-2010   #12
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I've been looking (not very actively) for one of these for some time. I have the lesser, but very nice, RE-2, which is similar to the Nikkormat FTn or Canon FTb.
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Old 06-19-2013   #13
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I was reading the "ugliest camera" thread and doing Google searches to see what some of them looked like. Somehow in the search, Besler Topcon Super D came up, and then this thread in the search. I know the thread is three years old now, but I have to comment anyway.

I used the Beseler Topcon Super D's in the US Navy when they were still current issue. They were, in fact, competent. And they were built like a battleship. They were also heavy, clunky, and sounded like a 12 gauge shotgun being racked every time the shutter release fired. The shutter release button was almost impossible to press with your index finger. I can't remember anyone saying "gee, I like that Topcon." There was lots of grumbling about them though.

They were commonly known as "Slopcons" among navy photographers, and the Nikon F2 soon displaced the Topcons in the fleet. The Topcon Super D was the camera that drove me to the Leica M4 kit (KE-7A,) so it has a special place in my heart.
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Old 06-19-2013   #14
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I'd still like to get ahold of one of these. Very hard to find these days, especially with no dents!

The shutter button on the front is not a problem -- the Miranda Sensorex is the same and the Exaktas (opposite side).
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Old 06-19-2013   #15
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They have a really strong following. I have never used one but seen them in some of the shops I used to go - they do seem pretty heavy and quite solid. But for me I didn't think they were worth the prices asked, so I've never bought one. They are still very pricy and the value of the lenses in particular has shot up in recent years.

Topcon was just another camera company killed by the move to electronics, like Miranda and Petri. (I know the company still exists, but they're not a camera company now)
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Old 06-19-2013   #16
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Shot with the Super D & DM in my younger days. Loved them. Built like a tank. Metering was Built in the body, not the Prism. When they were discontinued I went to Nikon. I wish I still had one.
Memory serves, you can use Exacta lenses on them . Same mount.
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Old 06-19-2013   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewis44 View Post
Memory serves, you can use Exacta lenses on them . Same mount.
Sort of. It will work for early and all-manual lenses only. Exakta and Topcon have the release button in different locations and locked at different angles - when both makers added their own mutually incompatible aperture automation, the mounts drifted apart.

With "automatic" Exakta lenses on Topcons you could fake the stop down operating the camera with both hands or using a twin (or locking) cable release, and can mount the lenses if you temporarily remove the prism for mounting or use some finder insert that is flush with the front plate. The other way around all later Topcon lenses with internal couplers have similar (or worse) stop-down issues on the Exakta, and what is more, they may come stuck.
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Old 06-19-2013   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
They have a really strong following. I have never used one but seen them in some of the shops I used to go - they do seem pretty heavy and quite solid. But for me I didn't think they were worth the prices asked, so I've never bought one. They are still very pricy and the value of the lenses in particular has shot up in recent years.

Topcon was just another camera company killed by the move to electronics, like Miranda and Petri. (I know the company still exists, but they're not a camera company now)
Yes, I believe they make surveying equipment. Likewise, Kowa has moved out of photography and concentrates on spotting scopes and similar optics. At least they are still in business.
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Old 06-19-2013   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewis44 View Post
...
Memory serves, you can use Exacta lenses on them . Same mount.
Yup, same mount but, as noted in another post, the release was on the opposite side.

The choice of using the Exakta was a big reason for Topcon's inability to keep up with the competition. It's rather small opening prevents many modern lens designs, particularly fast lenses and zooms. This is one area that Leica and, especially, Nikon got right.

One of the big reasons the US Navy went with Topcon over Nikon was Topcon's motor drives. They were interchangeable between bodies when Nikon bodies and motors had to be mated sets, adjusted to work together. Nikon didn't solve this until the F2 in 1970.
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Old 06-19-2013   #20
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There were still a few Topcon's floating around Navy photo labs in the early 70's. I used one and liked it a lot. In fact both of my Navy marked D's were Navy surplus along with several lens.

Still use them......
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Old 06-19-2013   #21
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I have a great condition Super D with 50 1.4 lens, case & the optional rare waist level finder. Also a 35mm & I think the 50 or 58 macro lens. Hood, filters etc.

If anyone wants to re-live the Topcon experience let me know.
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Old 06-20-2013   #22
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damnit now I want one.
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Old 06-20-2013   #23
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When I worked in Saudi Arabia, 1974 - 1976, they were very populair.
Most of us went for Minolta or Nikon these days.
I got me a Minolta SRT 101 and a SRT 303b and some beautyfull lenses from 24 to 500 mm in that little camera shop in Dahran. Never let these go and over the years I got some nice XE and XM as well.
The Topcon's were sold in the same shop in Dahran but almost at a double price compared to the Minolta's and the Nikons.
Those were the days.

Best regards from the Lowlands.
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Old 06-20-2013   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
Anyone here have an opinion on the Topcon Super D (also called the Topcon RE Super apparently)? It seems to have a dedicated following. I've been thinking about getting one since I like to shoot with collectible cameras that are also relatively functional.
for
very well made precision camera
generally great optics
1st production TTL meter in a 35mm slr
pro level system camera with lots of options
generally dependable
takes most Exakta lenses

against
not so bright finder
very long film advance - its gets old fast

most interesting variants
the USN engraved bodies and lenses


Stephen
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Old 06-20-2013   #25
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There may still be a few military bases around the world that have these buried in closets as part of their official gear pool.
I'm sure there were a few bodies at the "Big Navy' base on Guam when I was there in 2003 (ten years is nothing in military bureaucratic terms when it comes to getting rid of equipment.) There were also some at NAS Keflavik, Iceland the same year.
The Navy still likes to keep around the reliable old technology because it's proven and sometimes, one needs to make photographs when battery power or computer power isn't available.

Phil Forrest
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Old 06-21-2013   #26
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I have really enjoyed mine , they are large , but very well made.

Topcon R
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Old 06-21-2013   #27
Tom hicks
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Here is the Topcon C
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Old 06-21-2013   #28
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Now the Topcon B
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Old 06-21-2013   #29
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the Super d is a very smooth operator
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Old 10-09-2015   #30
limubai88
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Hi,
Can anyone tell me with certainty if lenses for the topcon Re2 will also fit the topcon super d (re super) ?
thanks
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Old 10-09-2015   #31
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Quote:
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Hi,
Can anyone tell me with certainty if lenses for the topcon Re2 will also fit the topcon super d (re super) ?
thanks
Yes they will. All of the lens for the Re and D and DM's were the same..
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Old 10-10-2015   #32
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Topcon (Exakta derived mount) lenses are compatible across all Topcon bodies. But there are some variations regarding which Exakta lenses the Topcon bodies will take. Exakta and Topcon went different ways regarding the aperture automation, and in later years they grew increasingly incompatible where aperture-automated lenses were concerned. Even some all-manual German lenses have their bayonet screws in places where they can come stuck on late Topcon bodies.

Just in case somebody hits this from a search engine: Topcon also made the more affordable Uni series, with on-body leaf shutter and a completely different and incompatible proprietary (UV) mount.
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Old 10-10-2015   #33
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Here's my RE Super with Topcor 5.8cm f1.4. I also have the Topcor 13.5cm f3.5. The camera is large and solidly built. It makes a precision thunk when you press the shutter. I don't find the position of the shutter release natural, having come from Nikon F and Olympus OM.

That 5.8cm f1.4 lens is an impressively large piece of glass. It focuses very close. The slightly longer focal length and the lens signature make it very nice for portraits. It has character.





5.8cm f1.4 Topcor

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Old 10-10-2015   #34
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They never had the sales/following needed to develop more of a professional system around it as Nikon did with the F and, later, Canon with the F1.

High quality. I was going to say built like "a brick" but really, it is more like "a bank vault."
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Old 10-10-2015   #35
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I bought an RE Super a couple of years ago, mainly for the ƒ1.4 58mm lens on it, to use with my RE-2. But I discovered that it is a wonderfully designed camera. I've only really messed about with it, to date, but I actually find the front shutter button quite easy to use. It is built like a tank and sounds like one too. But it is a precision instrument, smooth to us.

The lenses have a wonderful rendering to them, IMO.

This is from the Topcor 58mm 1.8 lens.

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Old 10-17-2015   #36
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I just picked up an RE Super at the PHSNE show, from Michael Zacks (Zacks Camera Repair in Providence, RI). I already have one of the Super Ds (same camera; the Super D was the North American model name). The one I just got is a little lumpy cosmetically, but works perfectly, and came with the flash coupler, which I've never seen before.

I think these are really nice cameras -- the meter readout is very easy to see, and having the meter built into the mirror is a great idea. They are beautifully made and quite sturdy. The only ergonomic complaint I would raise is that the depth of field preview lever is a little awkwardly placed , but that's a mild criticism.

The RE-Topcor lenses are really good. The 58/3.5 macro is flat-out fantastic. I think it's better than any of the competitors' offerings. The 58/1.4 also fully deserves the praise it gets.
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