Mamiya U AutoFocus

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A couple of weeks ago I picked up, in a junk store, a Mamiya U AutoFocus. It is a point and shoot camera that I had not heard of before, also sold in Europe via Foto-Quelle as the Revue 500AF Super. The lens is a Sekor 35mm f2.8 comprised of 5 elements in 4 groups. Given the quality of Mamiya Sekor lenses on the medium format cameras of this vintage, I thought the optics might be superior. Research on the internet is not all that informative, but this model seems to have been in production for only a year or two right around the time that Mamiya went through a financial reorganisation after the bankruptcy of a major distributor in 1984. This restructuring included getting out of 35mm camera manufacturing.

I have taken shots of all sides of the camera since there really are none on the web that I could find. Click on any image in the gallery below and navigate with the arrows.

The Mamiya U AutoFocus was introduced in July 1983, two years after the Mamiya U (4 zone manual focus). Both models are plagued by cheap plastic components that fall off like the battery compartment door, parts of the lens cover mechanism and the red shutter button on top. This quality issue probably means few of them have survived in working order and thus not many make it onto the used market. On my one the only exterior problem was that the rewind crank was partly missing, though enough of it is there to rewind the film. The film advance is by a dial in the right corner, and it felt a bit stiff, but I bought it anyway hoping for the best. Otherwise, the case was only a bit marked and the lens looked to be in good condition.

Once I put a roll of film in I found that the frame counter was a bit wonky, not returning to 1, but everything else seemed to work. After a dozen frames or so it became evident something was screwy inside, the film seemed to be no longer advancing and otherwise felt all wrong, so I rewound the film. Turns out that while the film was being pulled across by a ratcheted wheel, the take-up spool was not rotating or taking up and so the exposed film was piling up in that side of the camera. Eventually it caused the film advance sprocket to slip giving a stack of multiple exposures on one frame. This was likely also causing the film to rub on itself as there are numerous longitudinal scratches on the film (which might also have come from a bit of grit in the camera, though none was visible).

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Today’s pictures are from the film that was folded into one side of the camera – it was kind of lumpy and needed flattening prior to scanning. While the images are just fine in many respects, I don’t think they are of sufficient quality to motivate me to dismantle the camera to see what might be wrong – after all my Olympus XA and XA2 and other small cameras I have and occasionally use take at least as good pictures and they are working. I suspect the problems with mine are the result of bad design, just as the cosmetic ones are. In this case, the take up spool is on the opposite side of the camera to the film advance wheel, with a sprocket wheel to move the film along half way between, so the problem is likely to reside in some kind of linkage or gear between the working sprocket wheel and the take-up spool. Fixing the self timer and low light buzzer would not be a priority if I were wanting to use the camera, but that might just be a loose connection.

I have other cameras in need of repair that are much higher priority than this one. This one will either languish in a bag somewhere for a long time, or perhaps I will try to sell it as a parts camera since it has most of the parts that are commonly missing or broken. Someone surely will want it, if that person can be found!

 

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Autofocus is by infrared and ranges from 0.9m to infinity. The light meter is CdS, and the camera recognises film from 50-1000 ISO. The shutter speeds vary from 1/8 to 1/450 second. In addition there is a built-in pop-up flash (also cheaply constructed and not very durable). The flash is activated by popping it up, though it only fires when the camera thinks it needs to. There is a low-light buzzer, but it can be turned off by a switch, and a self timer, activated with the same switch in a different position. On my camera the switch seems to be broken, there is no low light buzzer and no self timer functioning.

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Multiple exposure – last frame that advanced

To view images from this partial roll click on any image in the gallery below and then scroll with the arrows and escape or “x” to return to this screen.

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Sources:

Mamiya U AutoFocus, f2.8/35mm lens, Fuji Superia 200 film, scanned with Epson V700.

Photos of camera taken with Canon G15, see gallery for exposure info.

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6 thoughts on “Mamiya U AutoFocus

  1. Hello I just picked up this camera at auction last week for nearly nothing , a box lot of lots of different items for $2.50 it is in its in its original box with instructions warranty & bubble wrap just wondering if has any value Thanks Sherry

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    • Hi Sherry – I don’t think they are worth much money, though one that is brand new probably will be easy to sell. I would be surprised if you got more than $25 or $30 for it though. They are very easy to break with all the fiddly plastic bits so there are not many around in perfect condition, so perhaps such are worth more than that, if you can find the right buyer.

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      • ehpem , thank you so much for your reply I am just beginning to sell what I collect. so if i come across something I know nothing about. I just do a little research & I know nothing about cameras. Im going to list it on ebay for a very low price & hope that someone who it has some meaning to for some crazy reason would love to have it . Again thank you so much for your time to reply . Just for curiosity my ebay name is perriwinkle2014 & I do have & find cameras quite offten

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      • Good luck – they do take pretty nice pictures, and there are Mamiya collectors out there, so maybe you won’t have any trouble at all.

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  2. I admit i have a facination with most old (and new) photo gear and this camera has a lot of appeal. While it may not be worth the dollars to fix it still id a nice collectable because of its rarity. The photos lookk very nice and sharp and it looks nice in the photos. However, given the cost of film and processing (not to mention repair), it might be better sitting on a shelf. Then again, you can’t put a price on fun!

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    • Hi Ken, this camera does have a lot of appeal, which is probably what sucked me in to buying it even though it was more than I like to pay for these point and shoot cameras (I am happy at $5 or less!).

      I think the lens is just fine and nearly to the Olympus standard for similar camera/lens combinations (which is saying quite a lot). The light meter works as it should and there are no light leaks (that is one good aspect of the design – there are almost no seals necessary).

      I would use the camera if it was not going to be a lot of work to get it going, but am loathe to spend any more money on it. However, I am not adverse to digging some way into the guts of a camera, but only so far before I turn back. I suppose a quick look might reveal a very simple problem that I can fix myself. If so, then it would be a camera to use from time to time.

      I bought an Olympus Infinity Jr yesterday for $3, including working batteries and an unexposed roll of (expired) film perfect for testing for light leaks, etc – that is my kind of price. It is a very similar camera to this one, but with f3.5 35mm lens. The roll of film is in it, soon to be shot. I think it is a more recent equivalent to my XA2 with built in flash and autofocus and thus quit a bit larger than the XA2. If the exposure meter and lens work as well as the XA2 then it will be a camera I use. I expect I will do a post about that one in January.

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