This is a fixed lens rangefinder camera made in Japan by Taron. Taron were not a major manufacturer but seem to have made respectable cameras. The basic outline of this camera is much the same as the offerings from Yashica and Petri, etc. In fact, there is little to set it apart. There is a rangefinder for focusing – the rangefinder window is 45 mm from the viewfinder window which is far enough to give good accuracy in focusing. For comparison, my Yashica Minister D has 35 mm and my Petri 7s has 25 mm (my Soviet Fed 2 has 65 mm!). This camera cost, in 1965, £37-15-0 (in old British money or £37.75 in modern British money). This equates to £1,219 in 2020 values which is a sizeable price.
focal length: 45 mm
apertures: f/1.8 to f/16
focus range: 0.8 m to infinity
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Citizen MVL leaf shutter
speeds: 1 second to 1/500 seconds plus B
flash: PC connector
film size: 35 mm
There is a light meter built in that is coupled to the aperture and shutter speed controls. This is not a TTL (Through The Lens) meter but has a sensor window beyond the rangefinder window. To use the meter, you set the aperture to Auto, and the shutter speed to the speed you want (i.e. it is a shutter priority system). The camera then sets the aperture. A fully manual mode is also available.
Time for a description: the camera measures 135 mm by 85 mm by 40 mm (body) or by 72 mm (body plus lens). It weighs 772 g with no film in place.
On the right of the top plate is the film advance lever. This moves through about 135° to advance the film one frame. In addition to advancing the film, this also cocks the shutter and switches on the light meter. To conserve the battery, you need to store this camera without advancing the film. In the centre of the film advance lever is the frame counter. This counts up from S to 36. Only every fifth frame has a number, the other four frames being represented by a dot. Frames 20 and 36 (and S) are in red as these indicate the end of the film – 20 and 36 exposures were the normal film lengths in the 1960s. When fitting a new film, you set the counter to S, fire two blank shots to get unfogged film in place and you are ready to go at frame 1.
At the front of the of the top plate, 10 mm from the film advance lever, is the shutter release button. This is chrome plated metal and is threaded for a standard cable release.
The front part of the top plate, left of the shutter release button, is a black painted plate. This bears the legend “TARON Auto EE” – the ‘O’ has a cross superimposed on it to represent the rangefinder and the ‘EE’ means Electric Eye or light meter. Behind the black painted plate is the accessory shoe. There are no electrical contacts so this is a cold shoe. On the far left of the top plate is the film rewind crank. This is the fold-out type. The crank lifts up to allow film cassettes to be inserted – more later – but it does not function as a latch for the back.
Moving to the front of the camera, the front part of the top plate has a black bezel containing three windows. On the right (when looking at the lens) is the viewfinder window. This measures 18 x 14 mm. Left of this is a grey area. This actually has a function. It provides the light needed to create the bright lines in the viewfinder.If you put your finger over this, the bright lines disappear. To the left of this grey area is a small rangefinder window – 5 x 3 mm. This provides the split image in the viewfinder used for focusing. Left of the rangefinder window is the light meter sensor window. This measures 7 x mm in a larger secondary bezel which measures 18 x 14 mm. Left of the black bezel is the name Taron in Art Deco capitals.
Very slightly left of centre is the shutter housing. This contains a Citizen MVL leaf shutter. The shutter leaves sit within the lens. This is a coupled shutter which is linked to both the rangefinder and light meter.
The innermost ring on the shutter housing is the focus ring. This has a largish lever on the left which both helps the user to turn the ring and makes it easy to find by feel. Focus range is from 0.9m to infinity. Turning this ring moves a split-image in the viewfinder – when the two parts of the split-image are superimposed, the lens is in focus. On my camera, the split-image is rather faint and does not move smoothly with the focus ring.
Just outside the focus ring is the aperture ring. The camera is designed to be used with this ring set to auto – the meter sets the aperture based on the shutter speed and light level. It can also be used manually with an aperture range of f/1.8 to f/16.
The outermost ring is the shutter speed ring. This readily offers speeds from 1/4 seconds to 1/500 seconds. 1 second, 1/2 seconds and B are also available but it is necessary to press a button beneath the shutter speed ring to select these. The shutter speed ring also incorporatesa film speed selector. This is adjusted by a lever in the underside of the speed selector ring. This offers film speeds from 11 DIN to 24 DIN or 10 ASA to 200 ASA (ASA is basically the same as ISO). The upper range of 200 ASA might seem rather slow in 2018 but in 1963, 100 ASA was fast film and Kodachrome slide film was either 25 ASA or 64 ASA.
Also on the shutter housing is a delay action lever. The standard advice is to never use these as they can be quite fragile with age. This one works mostly but requires manual help with the last part of it travel.
By the delay action lever is the flash synch selector – X or M. On the other side of the shutter housing is a PC connector for a flash gun.
The lens is a Taronar f/1.8 45 mm focal length lens with six elements (according the Sylvain Halgand‘s site). It has a serial number of 70198. The camera itself has a serial number of E4295. Both of these are rather low numbers suggesting that Taron never produced large numbers of cameras.
The left hand end of the camera has a battery holder. At this age of camera, it is designed for a mercury battery. Also, as the camera can manage auto exposure, the meter is not using a bridge circuit to measure light so the battery voltage is critical. Using a modern alkaline or silver battery will produce poor exposures (although you can compensate by adjusting the DIN/ASA setting). This is academic with my camera as the light meter does not work.
To open the back of the camera, there is a slide catch on the left hand edge of the camera. Inside, the layout is absolutely standard. Film cassette goes on the left, film gate in the middle followed by the sprocket shaft and then the take-up spool.
Opening the back also allows you to look at the back of the lens. The rear element is clearly coated. You can also see the iris diaphragm – this has a meagre four blades producing a square aperture. For exposure, this is fine but it will impact on bokeh quite dramatically.
Other comments: there is a strap lug on either front edge just below the top plate – an essential item that is frequently missing. The body of the camera is covered in black leatherette (as you might expect) which is firmly fixed and in good condition except at the left hand edge of the back. There is a fair bit missing here, presumably removed by the user’s fingernails as they opened the back. When you open the slide catch there are only smooth surfaces to get a hold of to open the back.
There is a standard 1/4 inch Whitworth tripod boss on the base. This is offset from the centre – it is 1/4 of the width of the camera from either the centre or the edge. On a cheaper tripod, this will have issues for stability and levelling the camera.
The shutter housing is not rigidly fixed to the body – it should be – and occasionally the shutter will not fire when the release button is pressed. I suspect that these two are connected.
|My Final Word||The Taron Auto EE is a workman like rangefinder camera but it is not outstanding. There is nothing to set it apart from its competitors from either Japan or Germany. It is robustly made.|
|Images||Handling||Features||View -finder||Feel & Beauty||History||Age|
|Bonus||I can think of no bonus features so 0|
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