Yep, I bought another old camera. This one is an Olympus Auto Eye from around 1960. I haven't nailed down a definitive model yet. Olympus built several models with this name. The more 'modern' AutoEye II offered both manual and automatic exposure control, but the one I have is auto-only. It's a shutter priority system.
This old Olympus has one nice feature that I'd like to see in more modern cameras. It doesn't require batteries. There's a selenium cell that powers the metering mechanism. For an excellent discussion of replacing a dead selenium cell in an AutoEye II, see this site.
I don't buy collectible quality cameras. I buy them to use, so a few scratches and dents are OK. This one has a small dent in one end of the top cover. There's no denying that this camera seems to be durable. It's heavy, for one thing, but the lens mechanism shows no wear after 50 years. It operates smoothly without any of the looseness that seems typical of later rangefinders like the Canonet and Yashica Electro.
A couple of quirks are apparent. First, the self-timer works, but it sets the aperture to a smaller one that it does in automatic operation. That may have something to do with flash guide numbers, but I'm not sure. Second, the rangefinder assembly is incredibly dirty! It's so bad I couldn't find the yellowish rangefinder patch unless I looked toward a very strong light source. There's enough crud to plant grass in there. Finally, the camera doesn't appear to have any light seals. It doesn't look like it ever had them. Oh, there's a small seal on the hinge end, but that's it.
I removed the bottom cover to look for corrosion, and found what appears to be some fine sand. It wasn't loose as is was stuck to the case and cover. It could result from a visit to the beach long ago, and if it's confined to only the bottom I won't worry about it. I'll take the top off this weekend.
One of my co-workers looked at this camera and asked, "Where's the SD card go?" Gosh, it's just as funny now as it's been the last fifty times I've heard it.
Labels: olympus autoeye