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 compatibility.

The "Model ID" page (33 models) just lists cameras, so this introduction  is written to trace the way in which the Miranda system evolved. It shows the major features as they appeared  and summarizes the efforts made to maintain backward compatibility.

At the Beginning
The design of the first Mirandas appears to be modeled on the classic Kine Exakta, with some important improvements. The basic mount appeared, which was to be unchanged for almost every subsequent camera. This mount at 44 mm was wider than most, and further back towards the film plane, to accommodate as many lenses as possible from other makes. Finally, the mount provided both an external bayonet and an internal screw thread.


Model T with PAD lens

This design remained unchanged through models T, ST, A1, AII, B, C, D, DR and S. All cameras had a front shutter release, which allowed the mounting of lenses with an external automatic diaphragm (known as a Pressure Automatic Diaphragm or PAD). Pressing the release button on the lens arm closed down the diaphragm and then further pressure pushed the camera shutter release. The same mechanism can be found on all classic Exakta models, although the shutter release is on the left hand side of the camera. The model T, ST and S came with preset screw mount lenses; all the others offered a bayonet mount PAD lens as standard I most markets. All lenses and bodies of this type are fully interchangeable functionally.
Shutter dial and top plate, Model A


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.

Updating the Original Models with a Revised Series

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.


Miranda GT showing prism and automatic lens

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.

Thus, the Miranda models from the 1962 Model F through to the 1973 Sensomat RE all have similar lenses, with some variations on stop down lever provision.

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.


dx-3 with f1.4 EC series lens

How to Classify all these Model Ranges ?

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.

  1. Early models all had a rotating shutter dial, and no provision for internal automatic diaphragm control. Lenses were preset or PAD type only. Viewfinders were the first system, with three types available. None of these cameras had any form of metering.
  2. The continuation of the basic model started with the Model F, with internal automatic diaphragm control and non-rotating shutter dial. Subsequent Sensomat models added a TTL meter. Viewfinders are the same as previously, with additional types appearing with built-in meters. Lenses were made to match, with a consistent style and finish continued right up to the ‘EC’ series lenses.
                                          Top plate for Sensomat model
  3. The selenium-metered Automex was a new design, quickly distinguishable by the shutter dial over the wind lever, and the meter in front of the prism. All lenses have a lever arm to connect to the meter, but otherwise look very similar to the non-meter coupled range. Automex quickly gained a CdS meter then became the very popular TTL Sensorex, but retained the front panel where the meter started as decoration. Viewfinder system components for these cameras have an odd shape to fit around this feature, and are not interchangeable with the simpler line of cameras. The final version of this series, the Sensorex II, changed the viewfinder system to match the new Sensorex EE.
  4. Sensorex EE is similar in shape and size to the last Sensorex, and shares the same viewfinders, but has a completely new lens range to support its shutter preferred automatic operation. Lenses are labelled with ‘E’ on the front ring, and should be standard on any Sensorex EE. This model was followed by the similar EE-2 which came with the more compact ‘EC’ lenses, and the same functionality. Both ‘E’ and ‘EC’ lenses dispensed with the external meter coupling arm, and the ‘E’ series in particular look very similar to the plain types found in (2) above. However, ‘E’ lenses are really much different with two extra internal couplings to the camera and its meter. ‘EC’ lenses are readily identified with their rubber grip focus ring, the first significant cosmetic change in lens style since the original model F was released. ‘EC’ lenses are also identified as such on the front trim ring.
  5. Other more individual models can be readily identified. The RE II looks like a Sensomat RE, but uses the ‘E’ and ‘EC’ lenses to provide full aperture metering. Model dx-3, the last beautiful small compact model, also uses these lenses, and offers LED metering and a fixed prism.

    The specialist ‘Laborec’ is found in several versions, and is readily identified by its oversized wind knob.


              Mirax Laborec model IIB, with special mount



  6. Finally, it is worth noting that an M42 mount version of the Sensomat was produced as Miranda TM, Soligor TM, and Pallas TM.

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 at shows

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!
  1. It is quite easy to damage the maximum aperture pin on the E and EC lenses, if the lens is mounted incorrectly. The pin is not very strong, and any damage is obvious. This is particularly likely against the viewing screen shrouds and mirror box baffles in the early model cameras.
  2. The RE II and dx-3 models do not use the "EE" position on the "E" or "EC" lenses. Turning the aperture ring past the minimum aperture is not recommended, and may even cause damage to the rather delicate variable resistor which reads the aperture setting.
  3. Although the Miranda bayonet mount is supposedly the same right through the model range, in practice I have found some difficulties in matching early lenses to later cameras and vice versa. Flange thickness tolerances do vary, and if you find a lens which doesn’t seem to fit or won’t lock fully… do not try and force it. The lens mount is also not always robust and may be loose or not lock properly.
  4. Many sellers of Miranda cameras at shows and auctions do not have sufficient knowledge of the models, lens series, and accessories. Expect to see mismatches such as automatic diaphragm lenses on old cameras without stop down control, and vice versa. Viewfinders being sold with an incompatible camera as a ‘set’ are quite common. I have even seen a camera with the TTL meter prism being sold as a model "T" because the meter sports a large "T" letter outside, so that’s what the camera was labeled !
  5. Generally speaking, Mirandas were well made by the standards of the day, and hold up reasonable well even after twenty years. Watch for sticky slow speeds, and sluggish curtains. The ‘meter on the mirror’ is susceptible to mechanical damage and loss of accuracy. Parts for Mirandas are problematical at best to find.

 

Copyright © Craig Holmes 2003

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