Miranda Camera FAQs

What is the screwmount size? What is the bayonet mount ? What is the film-to-lens-mount distance ?
There are actually two mounts on any Miranda SLR: a 44mm diameter screw mount, and an external 4-claw bayonet mount. The camera’s narrower than average distance between lens mount and film plane (41.46mm) allowed the maker to supply lens adapters which provided infinity focusing for most other makes. In the 1950’s, this was most important, as it allowed customers to use all their existing preset German or Japanese lenses on their new Miranda camera.
What are Miranda's claims to fame? ("firsts", history, unique features, etc.)
Miranda was the first Japanese SLR with an eye level prism, and a removeable one at that. It had modern features for the time, with a full range of shutter speeds, and very good capabilities for using lenses from other makers.  The TTL meters in later Miranda cameras all used a "meter cell on the mirror" design, which allowed the metering to remain in use with any of the  interchangeable finders.
Macro photography? (Focabell, accessories, macro lenses, etc.)
Miranda Camera's origins were in the production of reflex housings and accessories for Leicas and other rangefinder cameras, so from the start there were professional closeup accessories for the Miranda SLR.  Extension tubes, several versions of the Focabell bellows, and specialist accessories such as microsope adaptors were offered.  The short mount 135mm bellows lens is highly regarded, as well as two different macro lens designs: initially  a 52mm f2.8 preset type, and a later 55mm f3.5 auto diaphragm in two variants. The first of these focussed to 1:1 without extras, the last one in EC mount needed a matching extension tube.
Special models? (Laborec, astrophotography, pellicle mirrors, etc.)
In keeping with the specialist market, Miranda offered a series of "Laborec" cameras for quite a long time. Early "Mirax" versions had a different mount from normal mirandas, later ones used the standard mount. The range included an electric motor drive model. "Laborec" cameras used outsized controls, and the mirror could be raised independently ahead of the shutter action through the cable release.  There were special viewfinders, and a wide range of screens for these models. Today, a "Laborec" cameras are still sought after for astronomy work where minimum camera vibration is essential. Laborec cameras had a specific VF-5 viewfinder only.
Can the serial numbers be dated and is there an estimate on production volumes for the various models?
The first knob wind Mirandas, the "Orion T" and the "Miranda T" are regarded as significantly collectable cameras and attract quite high prices. Other knob wind Mirandas are also not common, the model S being the most frequently offered. Lever wind cameras are more plentiful and by the mid 1960's, cameras were being made in batch groups of each model making production estimates impractical.  Many models were also made in black enamel finish.  The Pentax museum has a very rare black "Orion T" in its collection.
What does the "AiC" tag on Sensoret and others mean?
Allied Impex Corporation imported Miranda cameras to the USA from almost the first model, and became the owner of Miranda Camera Co. during the time of the Model F ( 1963).   The company also owned Soligor, so that the fortunes and distribution of both Miranda and Soligor became linked from that time. Eventually, when AIC folded, Miranda Camera Company also ceased to exist. Most of the later models in the USA market carry the "AiC" tag or sticker, but this is not necessarily the case in European or other markets.
What were the most popular models?
I understand that the most volume sales went to the Sensorex and Sensorex II range, with the Sensorex EE being the top selling individual model. Models D - DR - F - G were popular, also the Sensomat series sold well as a budget SLR during the early 1970's.  Please note that I presently do not have hard data to verify this opinion.   The level of finish, overall quality and useability of the Sensorex/Sensorex II/Sensorex EE cameras made them very attractive to many buyers.  Many of the Sensorex EE cameras are still working properly today.
Which lenses belong on which cameras (E, EC, etc.)?
This is quite a complex topic, since Miranda attempted to provide backwards compatibility from new models in several ranges. (I am preparing another article on this subject separately.)   Broadly, there are five major types of Miranda lenses, for different model ranges.   These are (1) preset lenses in M44 mount (2) early bayonet lenses with sidearm aperture closing for models through to DR (3) internal auto diaphragm lenses for models F through to Sensomat (4) the same with an aperture setting arm for meter coupling in Automexes and Sensorexes and finally (5) lenses with EE position for the Sensorex EE and later models. This group included both "E" and "EC" lenses.
What lenses are available with "sidearm" for cameras without internal auto diaphragm?
Known lenses include 28mm, 35mm, 50mm f1.9, 58mm f1.5, 135mm f3.5 and 135mm f2.8.  There may be others, possibly a 105mm f2.8.
Are there common faults to watch for and repair tips/resources? (Chrome finish, wires to mirrors, etc.)
Mirandas are basically straightforward, well built SLRs without major vices.  Chrome finish on some early models tended to suffer from pitting, and the chrome finish of the Automex III and early Sensorexes was fairly soft and easily marked. The metering on the mirror system can be   inoperative after 20+ years from cell failure or internal wire flexing, or battery compartment or switch contact corrosion.  Mechanically, I have seen many Mirandas with weak curtain springs (the fast speeds do not open fully) or the slow speeds are inoperative.  Most repairers will not accept Mirandas for repair at this stage, although a CLA is usually effective. Meter cells and parts are virtually unobtainable, so cameras with dead meters are much less attractive to users and collectors alike. The 135mm and 50mm lenses seem to be more prone than other lenses to having oil on the diaphragm which prevents them from operating properly, in my own experience.
How do the optics compare with contemporary camera brands? (Nothing super detailed, here - I don't mean to start a lens sharpness war!)
Miranda lenses were highly regarded in their day, and test reports from the times emphasized the consistency found over successive models, and the uniformly high  performance of the standard lens in particular over a good range of apertures and at centre and edges. Some lenses were regarded as excellent performers, such as the 55mm f3.5 macros and particularly the 135mm f3.5 Soligor Miranda Short Barrel lens. Generally Miranda lenses were regarded as highly comparable with other quality brands during the time of manufacture.
What was the relationship with Soligor? Did they make all the optics? Are "Zunow" and "Ofunar" lenses made by Soligor?
At the beginning, Miranda Camera Co. made the bodies and put out contracts for lenses to Zunow, Ofunar, Arco, and Soligor. Later suppliers included Tamron, and Kowa. After merging with Soligor via AIC, I believe all lenses for Mirandas came from Soligor.  The early "Zunow" is hard to find, and the "Ofunar" more so as it appears (from a sample I have seen) to be a "Zunow" lens with only a different front plate.
What happened to cause the demise of Miranda?
Miranda Camera Co.'s fortune suffered along with AIC, which finished up making Miranda cameras in 1976 when it went bankrupt.  Other "Soligor" photographic lenses and accessories were made for a few years later. The last new camera design made by Miranda, the dx-3, was supposed to compete against the Olympus OM series, or the Pentax ME series, but it never made the grade in sales numbers, or available accessories. 
Battery options for "user" Mirandas.
Most of the metered Mirandas use the mercury 625 or 675 types, with only the last cameras using the new silver-oxide 1.5v cells. There is a separate battery page on this site listing most models and batteries needed.  In my own experience, putting a 625A battery into a Sensorex for a short time to test meter operation, appeared to cause no damage to the meter. However, your mileage may vary. .I have heard from other users who have successfully used the later 625A batteries in a Sensorex, but without more substantial testing I can't recommend this longer term, or comment on the meter accuracy.
What were the available accessories for the various cameras (flash brackets, prisms, etc.)?
Viewfinder options have always been a comprehensive part of Miranda camera lore !
Most Miranda models will accept four types of  viewfinder:  waist level (VF-1 or VFE-1), prism (VF-2 or VFE-2), critical focussing finder 5x/15x (VF-3 or VFE-3), an finally a fixed 5x critical focussing finder with dioptre adjustment (VF-4 or VFE-4). There are three series of viewfinders with different bases, none of which are compatible with each other although there are obvious design similarities.
(1) The first set fits all the early models, F/G/Sensomats, TM models,  RE-II, and Laborec. These are labelled "VF-1" through "VF-4". The "VF-5" with condensor lens and full dioptre adjustment was provided only for the Laborec models.
(2) Next, there is a new series  for Automex and Sensorex  models which fits deeper into the body, and has a thin front flange to fit over the raised panel on the camera body. These are also labelled "VF-1" to "VF-3" only, no "VF-4" was available.
(3) The final series changed the prism design for Sensorex II and both model EE cameras.    This had the full range "VFE-1" through "VFE-4" available again.

External meters were provided for the F, Fv, and G models; prism meters (both TTL and non TTL) also fitted the F, Fv and G cameras, but  worked with all previous models too. The original accessory meter for the F was a fairly bulky unit that fitted over the shutter dial; the second "snap-on" meter for Fv and G replaced the shutter dial and was a compact, firm fit on the camera's top plate.

A large baseplate-mounted flash bracket suited all models. For the model G and both Sensomats, and TM models, a special small bracket fitted around the rewind crank. From the late Sensorex and RE-II models, a flash shoe was standard on all eye level prisms.

A comprehensive range of closeup accessories was offered, including several bellows units, extension tubes, reversing rings, etc. Microscope adaptors, slide duplicators etc. were also available.

Are there alternate focusing screens available for all models and what kind were available?
Only two Mirandas offered user-interchangeable screens, the model G and some Laborec models. For the model G and Laborec, a full range of six screens was available from plain ground glass, to clear lens with optical focus lines. The focus screen was mounted in the camera body (unlike the Exacta system), and accessed from above after removing the prism finder. Screen interchange was very simple indeed.

Screen options were available through dealers for some models.  The model D had a plain screen, but the DR offered microprism or split image options.  Since the method of screen mounting was basically the same for all the models from T through to model G, technicians could upgrade screens very easily. The Miranda screen is very accessible since the camera top does not have to be removed. Later models are more complex as the meter needle protrudes into the screen area, but the basic construction remained the same.

The red dot on the lens corresponds to the red hash mark (or triangle) on the mounting flange, but what's the green mark on the flange for?
This green index mark can be found on many models from T to Sensorex II, but not all. I'm advised that it indicates the correct mounting position when installing the Focabell vertically onto the camera.
Were there any cameras available with a motor drive?
Only the first Automex model and the dx-3 were made with an external drive cog for attaching a power winder. Neither (to my knowledge) were ever available commercially. The literature introducing the dx-3 shows a bulk film back and motor drive option.  For the original Automex (1960) apparently a spring-wound motor base was proposed, but I have never seen even a picture of this accessory.
Why did "Orion Camera Co." change to "Miranda Camera Co."?
Apparently, this was strictly marketing to ensure the name of the camera maker matched the name of the camera made. There was a clash of name with a German firm over the initially proposed name "Phoenix" .
Which DR is more common - the one with "Miranda" on the prism or the one with "MIRANDA" (all caps) on the prism?
Probably, the DR with capital letters. The change to upper case lettering (both on the prisms and on the front of the camera housing) occured during the model run. Prisms are quite interchangeable. Often, you will find Mirandas offered for sale with the prism lettering not matching the style of the front plate = the prism is not original.
What's the significance of the variations on model naming ("D" vs. "DR", "F" vs. "FV", etc.)? Did the suffix letters stand for anything?
Generally, the letter seqence for Miranda is T - TII - A - B - C - D - DR - F - FM - Fv - FvT - G - GT. The models ST and ST were also made between the original T and the F series. Here's a summary of the differences in the models with suffixes:
T - the original Miranda; TII offered a higher top shutter speed (1/1000)
D - the first lever wind with separate counter wheel. The DR was a slightly enhanced version of this model.
F - the first model with non rotating dial and internal aperture stopdown.  -
FM - was a new marketing version of the F, with a meter prism added to the original camera.
Fv - a new version of the F with removeable shutter dial for attaching a meter, and no preview control
FvT - the Fv with a TTL prism, also marketed as a separate model by AIC
G - significantly enhanced version of Fv with mirror lock, interchangeable screens, etc.
GT - as for the FvT, the addition of the TTL prism provided a top configuration available for customers.
S - a simple knob wind model, limited shutter speeds 1/30 to 1/500 only, sold with waist level finder.
ST - cometically similar to S but actually closer in age and specification to the original T camera.
Were there any Mirandas with Pentax style M42 screwmount or other bayonet mount? Do any other cameras use the Miranda mount?
Yes, to the 42mm Pentax style mount. Miranda offered the "TM" about 1974, which had a standard M42 mount and lenses, and stop down metering. Essentially, it was Sensomat RE with this mount. There were two versions, very similar, the latter known as "TM II". The matching standard lenses were fixed mount, but accessory lenses were simply "Soligor" in fixed or T4 mounts. In some markets, matching badge-engineered TM versions were sold marked "Soligor" or "Pallas".  These M42 Mirandas are still very useable cameras, offering interchangeable prisms in addition to a very similar specification to the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic.

Mirax Laborec cameras had their own unique bayonet mount and special internal screw mount, with only the 52mm MACRON available.

During the 1980's the Dixons chain in the UK offered a range of cameras and accessories marked "Miranda" which had nothing in common with the original makers. The SLR cameras had a Pentax K mount, and from my observations, appeared to be very similar to the equivalent Cosina SLRs of the period.

What the names "Sensorex", "Automex", and "Laborec" supposed  to imply? Do these words MEAN anything?
We have some feedback on this one:
   "Sensorex"   = Sensor exposure
   " Automex"  = Automatic exposure
   " Laborec(x)" = Labor exposure