Sociedad Ibero-Americana de la Historia
de la Fotografia Museo Fotográfico y Archivo Historico "Adolfo Alexander"
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Phoenix - Miranda
In 1954, the Orion Seiki Sangyō Y.K. produced three 35mm SLR prototypes, and in October of the same year presented the Phoenix 35mm SLR to the Japanese photographic press. Ogihara and Ōtsuka had been developing an SLR camera for several years, and the Phoenix was mainly developed as a promotional product to advertise their future camera. This new camera was built using mechanical parts from Asahi and Nicca and the first one used a Zeiss Jena lens from Exakta. It was a sort of feasibility study to prove that a compact, quiet shuttered system SLR could be made by a small company with plenty of ingenious engineering ideas but no background in actual camera production. The company boss was so impressed he gave the go-ahead, and in 1955 the new Orion Miranda T (from Technology) hit the shops.
Those early three prototypes were identified as 'Phoenix' on the front of the pentaprism plate, but just as production was about to start it was discovered that the name was already been trade-marked. So, it was chosen a new name: 'Miranda'. And so it was world known. Only one of those original prototypes is known to exist today. Pictures of the camera were taken from Shashin Kōgyō Magazine November 1954.
Orion Phoenix 35mm SLR Prototype c. 1954
There were tried various standard Standard lenses : Tessar 50mm f2.8, Crystar 58mm f2 and Zunow 50mm f2, and later Arco 50mm f2.4 and Soligor-Miranda 50mm f1.9.
Focal plane Shutter : B,1,2,4,8,15,30,60,125,250,500. This was the test camera for the next Orion Miranda T
Phenix, Focabell and Supreme lens.
The Orion Seiki Sangyō Y.K. company was founded in 1946/1947 by Ogihara Akira 萩原彰(1920–1992) and Ōtsuka Shintarō 大塚新太郎, (1921-2005). Both were formed in aeronautical engineering in the Imperial University of Tokyo (later University of Tokyo).
During World War II, Ogihara Akira worked on pulse jet engines for the Japanese Navy in the University's aeronautical research center. He notably developed the pulse jet engine of a manned flying bomb inspired by the German V1, certainly the Ka-10 engine for the Baika. Ōtsuka Shintarō graduated from the same department one year after Ogihara, worked on the compressor of the Ne-20 engine for the Kikka jet fighter.
The Ohka (Baika) and the Kikka
When the war ended, all military research was halted in Japan, and Ogihara started a small camera workshop in a room of the former aeronautical research center. He was offering repairs and modifications for professional cameras, notably making Leica mount barrels for older lenses or military camera lenses. At the time, Ōtsuka was working on gas turbines for civilian applications; he soon became aware of Ogihara's activities and partnered with him.
Orion Precision Products Industries Co., Ltd. company was named after the constellation of Orion, because Ogihara had a special interest in astronomy. Its early logo consisted of the word ORION with three stars and an arc; the three stars correspond to Orion's belt, and the arc is often associated with the figure of the mythological hunter Orion in drawing the constellation. His special interest upon Exakta cameras led him to be influenced on the Ihagee logo the Exakta’s manufacturer.
The company's first product was the Coupler, an extraordinary adapter designed by Ōtsuka to use Contax lenses or Nikon lenses on Leica screw mount cameras while keeping the rangefinder coupling.
The next products, released from 1952 by Orion Seiki, were the Mirax reflex housings, Supreme lenses and Focabell bellows. These can be considered as the first step in the development of the Miranda SLR cameras. The Mirroscope and Mirabox are name variants of the Mirax. Observe that the original screw/bayonet mount of the first Mirax reflex housing was retained up to the last original Miranda produced by Miranda Camera Co. successor of the Orion Seiki YK.
The Mirax, the Mirax prism, the Supreme 105mm 2.8 lens and the Focabell with Mirax and Supreme lens attached in a Nikon camera.
As soon as the war was ended Ogihara and Ōtsuka begun thinking in developing a 35 mm SLR camera. They used the remaining tools left for developing military stuff. Works begun in 1950. Their first idea was to combine a Leica based system with an Exakta Varex reflex system. For the Leica basis they used the Japanese Nicca. But soon in 1952 appeared the the Asahiflex, the first Japanese SLR. Things became easier, they had the basis for aan original Japanese SLR. But they thought in build a compact and high class camera with removable prism and slow speeds, and also automatic return mirror. Finances were limited by this reason the new Miranda had no instant return mirror preciously invented by Ogihara and Ōtsuka this invention was sold to Asahi together the solution of slow speeds control which was originally a modification of the Nicca System on the Asahi shutter system. The slow speeds system was adopted by Asahiflex in 1955 and in order to lower production prices Miranda removable prisms and Pentax fixed prisms were unified in 1957.
These were the inspiring cameras which contributed for the birth of the Orion Phoenix.
The Exakta VX
The Asahiflex I
(Picture shows model IIA with slow speeds and quick return mirror from Miranda project)
The Nicca III
First Commercial Miranda
The Miranda T
Fitted with the famous Zunow 50mm f2, normal lens
Several modifications were introduced in the Miranda T, the successor of the Phoenix camera. A new slow speed control was adopted. The firing button was added in the front of the camera, although no basic changes were introduced in the shutter mechanics, and a clever removable door system on the hinge.
Miranda T, was the first Japanese 35mm SLR camera commercially available with a pentaprism.
List of Normal lenses available from 1955 to 1959.
Tessar 50mm f2.8, Crystar 58mm f2 and Zunow 50mm f2, and later Arco 50mm f2.4 and Soligor-Miranda 50mm f1.9, Soligor Miranda 50mm f2.8 Miranda 50mm f1.9, Soligor Miranda 50mm f1.9(PAD), Prominar, Prominar Miranda 50mm f1.9
From the Manual:
The creative double mounting system inherited from Mirax reflex housings (4-claw bayonet and 44×1mm screw mount) together the short lens mount register (41.5mm) enabled adapt almost any lens or system from foreign makers.
As a company specialized on photographic accessories, the Phoenix 35mm SLR was born a full system camera. It not only accepted Orion previous produced elements but its coupling rings enables accepting all Exakta, Pentacon, Leica and Contax Rangefinder lenses and accessories.
Here we have the Miranda own accessories from the first generation.
LL Leica lens to Mirax or Focabell
CT Contax /Nikon Tele or Wide angle lens to Mirax or Focabell
CS Contax /Nikon Normal lens to Mirax or Focabell
Coupler A Contax Universal lens to Mirax or Focabell
Coupler B Universal lens to Mirax or Focabell
ME Exakta bayonet to Supreme lenses
For Nikon and Contax normal lens
For Nikon and Contax telephoto and wide angle lenses
Miranda to Leica
Extension tubes for Mirax and Miranda 44mm thread
Exakta lens to Miranda body
Pebtacon lens to Miranda body two types at right more recent.
Leica lens to Miranda body
Miranda lens to Leica body
A more recent issue Alpa lens to Miranda body
High quality eveready case