Miranda SLR Models
|A Guide to the Miranda System
The Miranda 35mm SLR camera developed very
comprehensively over the twenty years of production. There is a wide
proliferation of overlapping features with changes in models and ranges.
Lenses, viewfinders, and other accessories have varying degrees of
|Miranda's Special Features
A major Miranda feature was the interchangeable viewfinder system. The viewfinder mount for the T was continued through to the DR above, and further into the F and later cameras. Waist level and magnifying finders were added. Various screens were built into the camera bodies, but none were user interchangeable except the later model G.
None of the early cameras supported metering, and all had revolving type shutter dials.
To accommodate the dual mount, the bayonet mount on Miranda had to be external. This makes the matching lens mount a little more complex and potentially vulnerable than the more normal design where the lens has the male part of the mount, and all locks and spring tension is provided within the camera mount. It is also more difficult to build after-market lenses or adapters for Miranda than other makes.
The Second Major Model Line
|In 1960, Miranda engineers made a giant leap forward by offering an entire new camera range. The Automex cameras provided an internal diaphragm control, built in metering in the camera body, and a new series of lenses with an external small aperture coupling arm, which mates the aperture setting ring on the lens with the camera meter, to provide match needle metering. A new suite of viewfinders was supplied, since the meter cell occupied pride of place above the lens, and the viewfinder needed an unusual shape to provide clearance. The two viewfinder systems were not interchangeable. However, matching viewfinder types were available in either system.|
|The external meter coupling arm of the original Automex range was innovative at the time. Most other SLR’s provided only meter scales, built in or attached to the shutter dial. However, it became out of date too soon. For the TTL cameras which followed, there was no way of transferring the maximum aperture value of the lens directly to the camera, and the user had to adjust this every time a lens was changed. This mount was not as neat and flexible as the competitive makes such as the Minolta with MC, neither could it be easily modified to a less clumsy mechanism such as Nikon’s move to AIS. It is likely that the external bayonet mount made such improvements difficult to implement without a complete redesign, so the Miranda design team elected to keep the mount unchanged for backward compatibility.||
Automex II, showing meter and coupling
|This type of lens – bayonet mount, internal automatic diaphragm control, external meter coupling arm – was standard for all models Automex I, Automex II, Automex III, Sensorex, and Sensorex II. Only the very first version with Automex I and Automex II included a specific "AUTO-MAN" switch. From the Automex III onwards, the diaphragm control lever was made more robust, and a simpler stop down lever was provided. All lenses of this series used a metal focussing ring, with lightly grooved scallops for grip.|
|Miranda provided a much-needed automatic diaphragm mechanism for the next meterless models. The same lenses from the Automex III were provided without meter coupling arm, for the new Model F in 1962. This model was a considerable update on the DR, both internally and in user features. The camera sported a non-rotating shutter dial at last, as well as the internal diaphragm control. The viewfinder system and front shutter release were retained, so that all previous viewfinders, pre-set lenses, and PAD lenses worked with this model. Miranda quickly took advantage of its interchangeable viewing system to offer a meter prism, then a TTL meter prism for the next Model G. Naturally, since the viewfinder mount was the unchanged, the TTL finder could also be retrofitted to any previous Miranda.|
|The Model F was extended into the more comprehensive Model G, with interchangeable focus screens, an oversize mirror, and mirror lockup. This last feature, coupled with the availability of a magnifying finder, made the G particularly attractive to astronomers for telescope use. The Model F was upgraded lightly to Fv to match. These were the last non-metered Mirandas.|
In 1969, Miranda offered a new development of the Fv called the
Sensomat. Essentially, this camera added the TTL meter-on-the-mirror from
the Sensorex. This was a stop down metering camera, so the lenses and
viewfinders from all the previous models were still compatible. A second
version in 1971 (the Sensomat RE) refined the controls but did not
significantly change the camera.
Extending the Sensorex into the Automatic Sensorex EE
|The big news in 1971 was the Sensorex EE, a sophisticated mechanical SLR with full shutter-preferred automatic exposure. This time, Miranda re-engineered the lens controls considerably. The meter coupling lever was moved inside the lens mount at last, and a pin was also added to convey the maximum aperture of the lens to the metering system. These new lenses also added an EE setting, used for the shutter preferred automatic mode with the Sensorex EE. Older lenses will fit on the EE, and vice versa, but only the "E" lenses couple automatically and easily to the camera’s metering system.|
Black EE with f1.4 E series lens
|Finally, the shutter release was moved to the top of the camera, so that the old PAD lenses would no longer work. Metering with lenses other than the new "E" series could be complex, depending on whether the lens had all the control pins and levers. Miranda also added the maximum aperture pin to both the last of the plain lenses for the Sensomat RE, and the meter arm coupled lenses for the Sensorex II.|
|For both the Sensorex II and the Sensorex EE,
a third series of viewfinders was developed. These finders are not
compatible with either of the preceding series, although they look similar
to those from the Sensomat series. The same types of finders were produced
as for previous series.
The Sensorex EE was deservedly popular and eventually an upgraded was offered, the EE-2 model. The "E" series lenses were modernized to become "EC" with rubber focussing rings and more compact designs, but essentially the two lens ranges work in exactly the same manner.
As a manual camera fully compatible with the "E" series lenses, Miranda finally produced two models, both with the later "EC" lenses as standard. The RE II developed the old Sensomat RE into a full aperture metering camera, with connections for both meter coupling lever and maximum aperture pin added inside the mount. The RE II therefore looks like the older model, but the metering system is quite different. The viewfinder system remained unchanged, so all earlier types can still be used on this camera. The RE II also dropped the front shutter release, so that the PAD lenses were also not usable with this model.
|The Last of the Line
Miranda’s first electronic (and last production) camera was the compact dx-3. This was completely new design, with LED full aperture metering, and a fixed pentaprism viewfinder. Lenses offered were the "EC" type; earlier lenses will mount and operate the aperture correctly, but need stop-down metering in use.
|How to Classify all these Model
The above specifications provide us with the information needed to group Miranda SLRs for compatibility of lenses and viewfinder systems. However, varying degrees of backward compatibility make this quite complex to summarize. I suggest the following broad groups, easy to differentiate even in the crowded conditions found at a camera show.
Diagram as a Summary
|I have drawn a diagram below of the standard
configurations and workable combinations, but it is not as straightforward
as I originally hoped. Solid lines and arrows indicate the "Original
Equipment" combinations, and dotted arrows show which lenses and
accessories can be made to work with which camera series. In these cases,
full functionality may be compromised.
The diagram is quite complex and needs to be studied carefully. There is more detail than can be shown in this general article. It is definitely helpful to study Miranda illustrations ( on my web site, or other references) to become familiar with the important identification features of each of the cameras, lenses, and viewfinder systems.
Interchangeability of Miranda Lenses and Accessories – a complex picture !
|Warnings, and what to expect
Some warning notes may be helpful, when you are faced with a collection of Miranda bodies and lenses in the jostling of a camera show!
Copyright © Craig Holmes 2003