I acquired the Beauty Super II F2 after it caught my attention at a local online auction. Before bidding I did a little research about this camera. Manufactured in Japan in 1958, these 35mm cameras are pretty rare and working samples are as someone described “Unicorns”. The Beauty was sold with the original box, instruction manual, and cloth bag.
With a fixed 45mm f2 lens, and full range of shutter speeds, it was obviously marketed for the advanced shooter. In 1958 It sold in the U.S. for $69.99, or $652.25 in today’s dollars.
Since it didn’t have a famous pedigree like Nikon or Leica, there were few competing bidders and I won the auction paying the equivalent of a lunch for two.
Upon receiving the camera, it’s condition would be best described as “Like New”. The Beauty felt heavy for its compact size. In my hands it felt like I was holding a solid chunk of metal. The Beauty, while not delicate, exudes precision in it’s design. I learned afterward that the camera was owned by a decades long professional.
The focus ring was very stiff and the shutter opened for the same duration no matter what setting. I learned that if I waited a few seconds after cocking, the shutter would work normally.
After waking from it’s 63 year slumber, I loaded the Beauty with Ilford FP4 and took a road trip to the coast of downeast Maine. I don’t believe in letting antique cameras sit on a shelf.
The Beauty has an incredibly quiet shutter and the shutter button is smooth and requires no effort at all to trigger. My only complaints are the rewind button has to be held down while rewinding the film and there is no provision for a cable release.
A cool feature is when holding the rewind button while advancing the film it allows a double exposure.
Exposure settings were determined with a Weston Master IV light meter. It’s nice to go out to shoot and not worry about batteries especially in Maine in December.
I processed the film in Cinestill Monobath, and then reproduced the negatives digitally using an Olympus OMD EM1 or Sony A7II with macro lenses. The raw digital files of the negatives were inverted in Photoshop and edited in Lightroom.
After looking at the results, I expect the Beauty Super II will be my new everyday carry film camera.
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