Beauty Super II [1958 - 1959]

The Super II built on the Canter 35 specification and was the first 35mm rangefinder produced by the newly formed Beauty Camera Company. It differed from the previous model in several respects.


Three models were initially planned for the Canter 35, but only realised in its replacement model, which supported an f/1.9 Canter-S, a revised f/2.8 Canter with fewer aperture blades, or a new f/2 Canter-S.


The f/1.9 lens was set in a Copal MXV shutter, while the f/2 & f/2.8 lenses came in a new Copal SV. The focus scale units remained as feet.


During this period, camera manufacturers were drifting towards a new shutter speed interval convention. The steps of the new Copal SV were: 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500 (the old Copal MXV steps were: 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250 and 1/500). All previous Beauties shutter dials were scaled low to high/left to right. The Super II shutter was scaled high to low/left to right, and would remain so in all subsequent models.


The f/2.8 lens housing was restyled with wider aperture and shutter speed dials, plus a black DOF scale, and the diaphragm construction was reduced from ten blades to five.
The top-plate was restyled to be flatter, along with more heavily raised viewfinder and rangefinder window frames, and the frame counter was moved from the hub of the wind-lever cap to an inset window. The wind-arm was re-shaped and simplified. The integral film-type reminder dial and pop-up film-wound stud were ditched.


The finger-rest collar at the base of the shutter button was widened, and the rewind-crank-arm changed to an unconventional design with a central pivot (functionally resembling a wing-nut when erected). When closed, the winder-arm handle sat in a small top-plate depression, which was to become a repeated Beauty design feature. Of course, this means that the rewind knob did not spin when the film was wound-on.

 

The flash synchronisation port was moved to the body front on the lens mounting plate, plus there was a new lens mounted M/X synchronisation selection switch (see the Glossary for more information on flash synchronisation).

 

According to Camera-wiki, Super IIs (and only Super IIs) are date stamped on the back-cover, under the film pressure-plate with the Japanese "Showa"* Year. For example, '33 9 12' would be the year Showa 33 (1958), September 12. I am not inclined to check this detail on either of my cameras, because I can't see how this plate can be safely removed.

 

* The Showa era refers to the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) from 25 December 1926 until his death on 7 January 1989.

 

Variations

 

The f/2.8 Super II was also produced under the name Varicon S II. Follow this link for more information on Varicon.

 

Most Internet photos show that the focusing lever was a bar and knurled knob, like that of the preceding Canter 35, but my f/2.8 model has the half-moon found on the Super 35. My early to mid-production camera is the only one of its type I've seen. It appears to be another anomaly; like the wind-arm on a Super 35 lacking a film-type reminder.

 

Sales

 

The serial numbers I have collected do not allow for very robust estimates of production numbers, but suggest something like 18,000 f/2.8 Super IIs were made. The numbers of f/2 cameras appears to be in the order of 2,000, while the f/1.9 numbers may have been as low as 1,000.

Today, f/2.8 Beauty Super IIs are not uncommon, but the f/2s are hard to find, the f/1.9s very seldom seen, and the Varicon S II almost impossible to acquire.

In the USA, the f/2 sold for $69.99, while the f/2.8 cost $49.99, according to a 1959 magazine advertisement (shown top right). Again, it is highly unlikely that the Super II was sold in the UK. In 1958, a mere 1,467 cameras were imported from Japan under the quota system (according to Hansard). The Super II was engraved "Made in Japan" on the bottom plate, as were all Beauties from this time onwards.

Follow this link for a copy of the f/2.8 Beauty Super II instruction manual at Orphan Cameras: although the images within are actually an f/2 with the PC socket at the top, rather than the bottom of the lens mounting plate (never seen "in-the-wild").

I have an f/2 and f/2.8 Super II. I paid £27.00 in September 2018 for the f/2. The low speeds below 1/15th are too slow, but otherwise everything works. I cannot recall when I acquired the f/2.8, nor how much I paid. Like the f/2, it's in nice condition, and all working but for the shutter speed selection. The shutter trips at a constant speed regardless of the speed selected.

Known serial numbers

f/2.8: see the Varicon page for details

f/2: K1881, K3253, K3882, K4447, K5362, K6203, K6298, K6747, K8136, K8265 (10 examples)
f/1.9: K9006, K9481, K9578, K9788, K9921 (5 examples)

Beauty Super II
Beauty Super II
Beauty Super II
Beauty Super II

Below: the f/1.9 (Internet image) and f/2.8 models.

Beauty Super II f/1.9
Beauty Super II f/2.8

Below: a February 1959 advertisement  from Popular Photography magazine. Note that the PC socket is in the "wrong" place ... at the top rather than the bottom of the lens mounting plate.

1959 Beauty Super II magazine advert
Beauty Super II box