Taiyodo Koki Beauty Super 35 [1956 - 1957]

The Super 35 was the first camera with a coupled-rangefinder produced by Taiyodo Koki. "Super" (or sometimes "S" for short) was a term commonly used by 1950s German camera manufacturers to indicate a rangefinder equipped model, but this camera was not simply the "35" with a rangefinder; it was a comprehensively revised design and would become the parent of future models (see the Glossary for more information on rangefinders).  

The lens was a new Canter 45mm f/2.8. This was a five element design, as can be seen in a Japanese leaflet (top right). Due to the lens designation, this model often seems to be misidentified as a Canter, since the camera body was not marked as the "Super 35". The diaphragm comprised ten blades, and closed to f/16, but was not click-stopped. The absence of aperture click-stops would become a common Beauty feature. The lens focus dial had a half-moon shaped handle on the majority of cameras. The frame counter reset automatically when the camera back was opened.



The Super 35 came with three shutter options: a Japanese Copal-MX (introduced in 1955) or later MXV with a maximum speed of 1/300th sec., or a German Synchro-Compur with a maximum speed of 1/500th sec. The focus scale on my MXV Super 35 is in meters - not the unit of choice of English speaking countries - but I note that the Synchro-Compur model was scaled in feet.

The MX camera lacked a self-timer, but had an "M/F" selector switch in its place: a flash bulb speed synchronisation selector, where F is Fast and M is Medium (see the Glossary for more information on flash synchronisation).

There were a few other differences between the MX and MXV models. The MX camera had an additional large and proud screwhead, just below the film advance wind-arm tip (on the back of the top-plate). It's tempting to imagine this was for access to a rangefinder adjuster, but I can't say for sure without being hands-on with one of these models.


The internal film guide rails in the MX are the same as those found on the earlier Beauty 35, but were redesigned for the MXV Super 35 and subsequent models.

Internet images of Super 35s, where the serial number and shutter type are visible, show the Synchro-Compur and Copal-MX models came first, and their manufacture initially overlapped.

Versions and variants of models were typical in early cameras. Products tended to go to market rapidly, leading to necessary mid-production changes as and when "issues" emerged, which may have encompassed problems such as the need to re-source parts supplied by other manufacturers.


I've noticed a few Super 35s without a film-type reminder, but there's no rhyme or reason to these: one was an MX-type (#33912), while the others were MXV-types (#69151 & #71544), so they are simply inexplicable anomalies. A further aberration can be found on the lens focus dial handle. Some have a knob on a back-plate.


I have also found an earlier version of the Super 35, which can be seen in both the manufacturer's 1956 Beauty Camera booklet, a July 1956 advertisement in Asahi Camera (a Japanese monthly photographic magazine), and another from a 1956 edition of "the Illustrated Weekly of India".  I have only ever seen one example of this model "in the wild". It differs from later models via a fluted lens mount plate, a leatherette infilled rangefinder handle (visible in the booklet), a different viewfinder objective with only perimeter mirroring, and altered screw cover on the back-plate. Note that both the adverts say the Copal MX shutter has a top speed of 1/500th. This may well be accurate, since a newer version of the MX shutter, with a 1/500th top speed appeared in 1956.



The serial numbers I have collected suggest that somewhere in the order of 42,000 Super 35s were made, assuming that numbering started at 30000. Of these, the "early version" seems to be extremely rare, followed by the still very rare Synchro-Compur model (maybe a few thousand were made). The Copal cameras are not uncommon, but the MX models are far more numerous than the MXVs.


I have little idea where the Super 35 was marketed outside of Japan (where it cost 14,000 Yen), and the USA. Although my example is not marked "made in Japan", a 1957 US Department of Commerce report (extract here) shows that the Beauty Super 35 was imported to the States (although the shutter speed is documented as 1-1/200). The f/2.8, 1-1/500, "Beauty" detailed at the bottom of the extract is probably the Canter 35, given the price quoted. The Super 35 definitely wasn't sold in the UK due to a ban on Japanese imports. My does bare a maker's mark: it isn't marked TKK.


Known serial numbers


Synchro-Compur: 32885, 38376

Copal-MX: 30014* (in advertising), 30062*, 33060, 33912, 35601, 40439, 43365, 44527, 46552, 47145, 47252, 47262, 47445. 48065, 52546, 55149, 56316, 59915, 61498, 62448, 62951, 63043, 63155, 63252, 63648, 65756

* early versions

Copal-MXV: 64360, 67569, 67658, 67995, 69068, 69151, 69721, 70498, 70673, 70958, 71242, 71544, 71585

Note that the Super 35 numbers seem to be sequential across all model variations, and Canter 35 numbers started at 80,000. There seems to have been some overlap in the production of MX and MXV models.

Below: a leaflet shows the Canter lens is comprised of five elements (click here to view the entire leaflet).


Below: an early version Super 35 with a fluted lens-mount plate, and inset image of the adjustment screw cover on the back of the top-plate (Internet image).


Below: the Beauty Super 35 with a Synchro-Compur shutter (Internet image). This model also has an adjustment screw cover on the back (like the MX), and a part silvered viewfinder objective (like the early MX).


Below: M/F selector on Beauty Super 35 model fitted with a Copal MX Shutter (Internet image).

Taiyodo Koki Beauty 35 Super with Copal MX shutter

Below: the film rails of the Copal MX Beauty Super 35 (top) and Copal MXV camera and subsequent models (bottom). Note the large and proud screwhead. below the wind-arm tip.


Below: a Super 35 lacking a film-type reminder (Internet image).


Below: the later Beauty Super 35 with a Copal MXV shutter.

Taiyodo Koki Beauty 35 Super

I acquired my Copal-MXV model in November 2018. It was purchased from a seller in Japan for £31 - with free shipping. However, the total cost with import taxes came to £41.10. At the time, goods from outside the EU attracted 20% tax on any value over £15, so the duty on this purchase was £3.10, which is fine, but the UK Post Office charged an additional £8.00 to collect the Import Tax. My Super 35 is in nice condition and FWO, with only the screw-fit shutter release finger rest missing.