This camera was not given to me, I did not buy it in Japan…shocking really as it is a Kowa. I don’t really remember buying it at all. But there it was on my “to try” shelf. It had been there for about a year. I think I left it there without really looking at it as I was sure the light meter wouldn’t work. I was sure the auto exposure wouldn’t work either, making it a manual camera only.
But it did work, even on auto.
You can find this camera very cheaply on eBay and other sites. It was produced from 1963 and as the stamp says, in Japan. Once I sat down and looked at this example carefully I couldn’t find a fault with it. Even the light seals were perfect. And here is the special thing…if you put your ear to the camera and press the shutter, you can hear a “chime” sound. I didn’t notice it at first, but then I read about it on this website and I had another listen. Sure enough there it was, like a clock or church bell. So I took the camera to Canterbury Cathedral.
Unfortunately, as I was walking around I bumped the camera and the back sprung open. This reviewer also had the same issue. I didn’t know when it had happened and thought the whole roll had fogged. So to finish the test I also took it to Headcorn Air Show and finished half a roll of an expired film there.
As it turned out many of the shots from the first roll were fine and the exposure choices were spot on. That is pretty amazing as this great review says it was the first camera with an electronic eye…and this one’s still works.
Using the Kowa was a delight. The viewfinder was super bright, the mechanics worked and the selenium cell powered everything perfectly. I tried the camera on both auto and manual mode. The only issue I had was the placement of the film speed dial. It is in the right hand thumb position on the back of the camera. That is usually where the wind on is. But on this camera the wind on is under the camera, so it is moved with the opposite thumb. That meant I naturally moved the film speed when I wanted to advance the film. The camera is slightly on the heavy side and there is no hot shoe. Those are my only niggles.
Keep or sell: no point in selling it just yet as they are super cheap. I might give it away or trade it with someone.