Topcon RE Super

The world’s first TTL metering SLR
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Background

As SLRs grew in popularity the increasing limitations of hand held or body mounted averaging meters became more acute. SLRs had a significant advantage over every other design when it came to longer focal lengths and subjects at a distance – the photographer could see and focus exactly as the camera saw. The problem was that the meter still averaged from the scene as a whole, not the small section of detail that could now be captured by a telephoto lens. Along comes Tokyo Optical Company with the Topcon RE Super and an innovative approach to capturing some light for metering purposes – the worlds first.

Technical Details

The RE Super uses a fairly standard horizontal cloth shutter, with speeds from 1s to 1/1000th and flash sync at 1/60th. The lens mount is Exacta bayonet, and the prism finder is removable – a waist level finder was available as an alternative. Unusually for the time there is also support for a motordrive.

Now to the really interesting aspect of the RE Super – TTL metering. The main mirror has a number of finely etched lines on it that cut through the silvering and allow light to pass through to the meter surface, which is actually part of the mirror backing itself. Really quite a clever and elegant design and the concentration of the lines takes more light from the lower part of the image avoiding undue influence from the sky. Not only is this TTL metering for the first time, but it also works wide open.

Why it’s special

First anything is always special, and in this case it’s TTL metering. Nicely implemented in a body with a number of “system” features, this is a historically significant camera.

The Museum Sample

Purchased in January 2013 through eBay for $72 this is a pretty good deal. The metering seems to work – I don’t have an Exacta mount lens yet – and the body is in very reasonable condition. Construction quality is very good with everything fitting precisely and all controls feeling very precise. Serial number places this as one of the first series of RE Super.

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: Topcon
  • Year Introduced: 1963
  • Year Discontinued: 1971
  • Film format: 35mm
  • Serial Number: 4602447

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