Beauty Beaumat [1960]

The Beaumat was the last model to use the 35 Super/Canter/Super II chassis, and was essentially a 1958 Super II with a clagged-on, fully coupled, light meterThe model name is speculated to be a combination of Beauty and automatic.

 

It's a bit of an oddity, given that the Lightomatic family had been designed around the incorporation of onboard metering. Whilst aesthetically different, the Beaumat and 1960 Lightomatic II were functionally extremely similar.


The Beaumat shutter was the same Copal-SV found in the Super II. The lens was a new f/2.8, 45mm, "Biokor" (4 elements), with soft aperture click-stops to accommodate in-between settings. The focus ring was scaled in both feet (orange) and meters (white), indicating its intended distribution to USA and European markets.


I don't know for a fact who made the various lenses found on Beauty (and Taiyodo Koki) cameras, but "the word on the street" - well the Internet - is that the Biokors were made by the "Tomioka Optical Company" (Tokyo). The only information I've found in print comes from "The Evolution of the Japanese Camera", where in an article by Takashi Hibi (JCII) it says ... Tomioka developed a triplet called "Tri-Lausar" for cameras like ... the Beautycord S.  This historical connection to Tomioka would appear to validate the Biokor story as being highly plausible.

 

Tomioka's origins date back to 1924, when optical products were designed and produced for the Japanese military and other industrial clients. The company went on to develop a respectable quality three-element triplet and four-element Tessar-type photographic lens, which were mainly used on a number of lower-priced 1950s Japanese TLRs. Some of Tomioka's lenses were re-badged. From late 1949, Tomioka became the exclusive lens supplier for Yashica, and in 1983, part of the Kyocera ceramic group following its takeover of Yashica. 


And so to the elephant in the room ... the Beaumat's most striking feature was the pod-like thing - which resembles an old motorcycle headlight - attached to the side of the lens. This was a housing for the exposure meter centre-the-needle window. The meter was calibrated via a film speed dial around the front of the lens barrel, which accommodated a range of 10 to 1600 ASA. The  shutter speed and aperture rings were coupled to the meter,  such that the correct adjustment of either would centre the meter needle. The shutter speed and aperture ring were "soft-locked": either can be held steady while the other is turned to effect a setting combination, but they otherwise adjust synchronously which allows a set exposure value to be easily altered for bias towards motion capture or depth of field control in one move (e.g. increasing the shutter speed one step automatically opens the aperture one step). Once either has reached their limit, the rings unlock. 


The top-plate was modestly restyled to give it a little more of a rounded edge, while the bottom-plate retained the unchanged angular corners which originally matched the Super II top-plate. A significant design change introduced the popular 1960 single glass panel to cover the rangefinder, viewfinder and a new bright-frame illumination window. The Beaumat also benefitted from a parallax-correcting viewfinder, the bright-frame alignment adjusting with the focus (see the Glossary for more information on parallax-correction and bright-frame viewfinders).


Other new features were the film advance lever also functioned as a shutter release lock when pushed-in flush to the camera body, plus there was a return to a more conventional and smaller rewind knob which retained an indentation in the body to serve as a rest/housing for the folded crank arm. Lastly, the shutter release button was threaded to accept a cable release.

 

Sales


From looking at serial numbers, my best guess is that around 12,000 Beaumats were made. Today they are not especially common, but do come-up for sale every now and then.

 

The Beaumat was definitely imported to the UK, at the recommended retail price of £51/19s/9d (Amateur Photographer Camera Guide for 8th June 1960), making it a fairly expensive camera. But it probably sold for the same sort of price as the £39 Lightomatic II with its faster lens. 

Follow this link for a copy of the Beauty Beaumat instruction manual at Orphan Cameras.

Known serial numbers

S1082 (this camera is depicted in the Beaumat instruction manual), S1624. S1707, S2321, S2416, S3556, S3669, S4566, S5716, S5968, S6354, S6420, S6440, S6753, S8250, S9211, S9340, S9556, S9608, S9726, S10054, S10722, S11229, S11236, S11352, S11396, S11543, S11586, S11594, S11674, S12117, S12185, S12241, S12252, S12468, S12558 (35 examples)

Beauty Beaumat
Beauty Beaumat
Beauty Beaumat
Beauty Beaumat
Beauty Beaumat centre-the-needle pod

Below: a 1961 advertisement from The Leader-Post (Saskatchewan - Canada)

Beauty Beaumat advert

Below: an Internet image of the Beaumat complete with box and case.

Beauty Beaumat box

I paid £11.00 (plus p&p) for my Beaumat in March 2015. It's in really good condition, and everything works. The only issues are the focus adjustment being a little stiff, and there appears to be a small decorative chrome cover missing from the top of the wind crank.