Sanei Sangyo Samoca late models

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Sanei Sangyo Samoca late models

All Samoca models list page 
Early Samoca models page

The early Samoca models were peculiar-looking, basic, sturdy, but able cameras. It offered the entry-level user all needed for picture taking if she/he was immune to odd remarks by other camera owners. To conform with mainstream camera styles, Samoca graduated to classic-looking cameras. As with most short-lived Japanese camera makers of the time, information about the model line-up is scarce and confusing. I tried to make some sense of these models, and the result is the table below. I strongly suspect it is incomplete and welcome any additions/corrections.

The models in this group seem to fall under L and M series. The L models carry a light meter, and the M do not. An outlier is the EE, a shutter priority viewfinder, while the rest of the L category are rangefinders with uncoupled meters. I have not seen the EE model, and there is no supporting information besides a note to that effect in McKeown’s. Another odd model is the 28 E Elite, which looks exactly like the LE and could be a marketing rebadge.

The last of the early models, the two Super X cameras, were introduced in 1957, so it seems that Samoca sold both body styles alongside.

Disregarding the 28E Elite, the first of the new style cameras was the 1958 Samoca 35 LE, a fully featured rangefinder equipped with a Selenium meter. The camera is similar to most compact rangefinders of that crop. Other than the big boys, 1958 saw compact rangefinders made by passing manufacturers such as Aires, Acon, Beauty, Kowa, Petri, Taron, Walz, or Yamato, to name just a few, all long gone.

The LE had all the latest features. Double stroke cocking lever, light meter with an EV calculator, wide speed array, and a relatively fast 2.8 lens.

The Selenium uncoupled light meter has a hinged cover, slotted Zeiss style, for low or bright light measuring. Two concentric dials, one for film speed in Din / ASA and F stop and the other with recommended shutter speed, correlate with the meter needle. Values are red for open cover and black for closed. The frame counter is embedded within the cocking lever, easy to adjust.

A synch selector allowed for bulb or electronic flash, yet with a cold shoe. There is no self-timer, and It looks like none of the following models had one. The speed selector dial and the aperture dials are close to each other and could be challenging to purchase, more so with a gloved hand. The clear viewer shows a parallax frame. The focusing dial is marked feet, meant for the US market. The hinged back offers an uncommon touch; a roller in front of the takeoff spool guides the film into place.

The LE II, a successor to this model, came in 1963 and was the last camera offered by Samoca. The Features and speeds are similar, and the same 2.8/50 lens is marked here as Samocar.

The meter lens cover has gone, as did the variations scale by the meter needle and the strap lugs. The frame counter moved to the bottom, easy to adjust via a knurled knob. Other than that, it seems that changes are cosmetic only.

There were three viewfinder models in this category: the EE pair, and the M35. The latter is the same as the LE but without the light meter paraphernalia. All other parts and finishes are indistinguishable.

I have two cameras of the early, all metal generation and three of the late generation, described here. Something had happened to Samoca in between these groups. The older models operate and click like an eager kid, all moving parts smooth. The three newer models are dead, with moving parts stuck or stiff. These three are thrift store crops, so there is no loss, but I wonder whether quality issues had killed Samoca once they transitioned to the late camera models.

For the collector, the late Samoca models are meaningless. If one passes by, it can find a place on the shelf, but I wouldn’t suggest having them at a meaningful expense.

Camdex number 121854 12659 12662
29707 12669 12667
Model 28 E Elite 35 LE M-3.5
35 LD MR EE 3.5
EE 2.8
35 LE II
Year 1957 1958 1958 1961 1961 1962 1963
User manual Butkus Butkus Butkus Butkus
Value 28 E Elite 35 LE M-3.5
35 LD MR EE 3.5
EE 2.8
35 LE II
Type Rangefinder Rangefinder Rangefinder Rangefinder Rangefinder Viewfinder Rangefinder
Format 35mm
Meter Selenium Selenium None Selenium None Selenium Selenium
Lens 2.8/50 2.8/50 3.5/50
2.8/50 2.8/45 3.5/45
Lens make Ezumar Ezumar Ezumar Ezumar Samocar Samoca Samocar
Cocking Lever
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make COPAL MKV
Speeds B, 1-300 B, 1-300 B, 1-300 B, 1-500 B, 25-300 B, 25-300 B, 1-300
Weight, gr with lens 650 640 670
Class average
Shoe Cold Cold Cold Cold Cold Cold Cold
Synch M/X M/X M/X M/X M/X M/X
Timer No No No No No
Filter 34mm 34mm 40.5mm 34mm


Samoca LE images

Samoca LE II images

Samoca M-35 images

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