Topcon IC-1 Auto

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Topcon IC-1

There are phenomena that science is yet to address. Some items regenerate themselves once you are sure that there is no more. For example, we have a robotic vacuum that roams the house like a drunken goat, till it docks into its port. After each run, the canister there is full of dust. Now, this is the time of COVID-19. Only two of us are in the house, no one else enters, no pets. Being at our old age, we certainly do not create any mess. Living in Canada, all windows and doors are sealed as it ought to be when the thermometer stands on -16 C. So, the dust is either regenerate itself or there is an alien intervention.

The other occurrence belonging to our subject is the reappearance of Topcon cameras. Each time I remove one from the shelf, sure that there are no more, another one pops up as if it is a Topcon Matryoshka. I do not remember buying them, so it is either a phenomenon as above or superior power.

Once I have aired my concerns, we can proceed to the next Topcon SLR, the IC-1.

In the early 1970s, automatic cameras were widely available, made by all manufacturers. In Japan, there were the Olympus OM-1, Miranda Auto Sensorex, Canon EX Auto and Yashica TL-Electro Camera, to name but a few. Topcon came on board with the IC-1, so named after the integrated circuit that controlled it. Guess the name should have been Unirex IC, but they borrowed the ‘Uni’ and changed it to ‘1’, same meaning, and added it as a suffix.

Such cameras were the beginning of an era where cameras became fly-by-wire, rather than the good old mechanical systems that made sense to a person like me. I can follow cogs and levers,  but am helpless with wires and electronic boards. Think many more collectors feel the same, meaning that the ‘real’ vintage cameras ended when manufacturers added wires.

The IC-1 is a noticeable descendant to the Topcon SLR line. It looks like a refined version of the Unirex. Slight refinements in way of black accents make it look better.  The top is identical save for the meter selector on the Unirex that is excluded here. The lens barrel carries most of the setting, with the ring closest to the body sets the shutter speed. Speeds in green mark the slow, B to 4, indicating that these can be used only with manual settings. After that speeds are marked black for auto and manual use, with /60 marked red being flash synch.

The next ring carries the F stops marked white, with ‘auto’ option marked orange and the depth of field scale in front of it. The auto position clicks in with the ring’s turn but takes pressing a tiny catch to get back to manual F setting.

As with all Topcon UV, to remove the lens press a metal latch on the DOF ring. Only the front of the lens barrel comes off.

The focusing ring is marked metric and imperial, so the same parts were sold worldwide. The focusing ring has a long travel, making focusing easy. The film speed selection lever is at the bottom of the lens assembly, ASA and DIN. Here Topcon made it simpler, where you press a latch and set the value against a dot.  In the previous cameras using the same lens, the film speed was to be set against the given lens largest F stop.  In the IC-1 the max lens opening is set via an easy to use dial on the body, by the lens, marked from 2 to 5.6, to match the Topcon UV lenses range.

The lens base bottom support keeps the camera falling forward with a heavy lens, which is a nice touch. There is no self-timer.

Using the camera is as with the predecessors. The IC-1 is shutter priority, manual or fully auto. Either set the shutter speed and follow the meter needle within the viewer for the F value or set the aperture ring to auto and trust the camera. As mentioned above, the speeds on the selector ring that are marked green are used for manual only.  Two TTL CdS light meters provide an average reading.

Two 1.35 V batteries power the meter, speed and aperture controls. There are no 1.35 V batteries available so you may use 1.5V and allow for underexposure.

The camera feels and handles nicer than its forefathers.  It is quieter, as in this model Topcon moved to a vertical cloth curtain, that makes less racket than the leaf shutter. But, Topcon still uses the UV mount lens legacy. Built for the leaf shutter, the back element is smaller than a typical SLR lens used elsewhere.  In the next models, the Super DM, Unirex EE and the RE series, Topcon changed to Exakta bayonet. The RE200 and the RE300 were also rebranded as Exaktas, so am not sure what happened first; if the mount adopted to Exakta as part of the production deal, or once the mount was there, Ihaggee liked it.

The end of the Topcon SLR line came a short six years after the IC-1 was announced.

Apparently, there was also a later model of this camera, providing for a faster lens and adding a battery check light. I haven’t seen it.

Topcon IC-1 Auto current value
Topcon IC-1 user manual

List number 9887
Brand Topcon
Format 35mm
Model IC-1
Introduced 1973
AKA Beseler Topcon IC-1
Country Japan
Type SLR
Body material Metal
Mode Shutter priority auto / manual
Weight 660 gr,  Body only
Class average weight 598 gr,  Body only
ASA range 25-3200
Kit lens 1.2/50
Lens make HI-Topcor
Filter size 49 mm
Lens mount Topcon UV bayonet
Mount size NA
Aperture Feb-22
shutter Focal plane cloth horizontal
Light meter CdS TTL x 2
Winder Lever
Lock No
Speeds B, 25-3200
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync M
Sync speed 60
Timer None
Battery 675 2 ea
Battery style
Battery voltage 1.35
Integral flash None
Other

 

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