UK: Wrayflex: 1959 (51)-1961:

The British Pioneer:

Wray London had a patent for a special penta prism slr since 1947. But the step from drawings to production obviously must have been hard, as their first and only PP SLR was produced in 1959 and discontinued in 1961. They did present an slr in 1950, produced from 1951, but with a reduced prism that turned the image sideways. That gave 44 frames of 24x32. The name was Wrayflex 1. Then followed Wrayflex 1a in 1953, the only visible difference being the film counter going to 36 frames, not 44, but giving a normal 24x36 frame. A flash shoe came in 1954, and finally the true penta prism camera Wrayflex II in 1959. 

But during the 10 years of production, only some 2 800 cameras were produced. So, despite a promising start with an impressing patent, the English contribution to the PP SLR history was rather short, and not at all shining. 

Wray of London produced this Wrayflex from 1951 onwards. Strictly, it should not be shown here, though: it is not a true pentaprism. The subject was not seen rightsided. Wray succeeded in making a PP SLR in 1959, but the company had to end production in 1961. Here is a worn sample with sn. 2195. It is believed that the first camera had number 1501. Only some 800 pieces of the first edition was produced, from late 1953 joined by the next model, the 1a, adding some 1600 pieces to the total number. This first edition produced 24x32 mm frames, not the conventional 24x36, wich gave 44 frames per film. The mount was a M40, thus between the Leica 39 and the Contax/Praktica/Pentax M42.
Not exactly like everybody else! Small prism (not penta prism), asymmetric shape, to mention some of it.
Wrayflex II of 1959, more than ten years after Wray Optical got their PP SLR patent. At this point, the leading brands offered Instant Return Mirror, some even external selen light metering. Pentax was only a bit more than a year away from showing their TTL metering and had shown the world how a modern camera should look. So, Wrayflex II was outdated upon presentation. Size: 139x102x49 mm. Weight: 725 grams w/o lens. 4366. Only less than 350 pieces were produced, as quality problems followed this model.
Controls: Frame counter to the right, then shutter speed dial and trigger. Flash shoe on top of prism house. To the left was the film type reminder. But where is the rewinder?
Here, in the middle of the base plate. The release button for the back wall to the left, a threaded hole for support to the right.
The lens was a Wray Optical Unilite 50/2. The mount was an M40, so between Leica M39 and Praktica/Pentax M42. Aperture openings between 2 and 22. 121094
The aperture control ring in the front, with values from 2 to 22. The focus ring turns smoothly. This normal lens was used from the first Wrayflex in 1950 till the last in 1961. Seems like a solid and well functioning lens.
The logo with serial number, shutter time dial and frame counter.
A Unilite 90 mm lens with hood together with the 50 mm standard lens.
The Wrayflex II with Ulilite 90 mm.

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I går | 14:32

It might be worth to mention that the Ia, IIa and IIb also were found in the US under Tower 23 and Tower 24 names.

I går | 14:28

Hi Bosse,
There is very little evidence to support that the m42 versions were made by Asahi Opt. Company but more evidence that these were made by resellers.

20.11 | 00:08

Hi Roland,
No I have no information about it. There were several producers of long tele lenses and they came with many names. Is it a preset lens? Serial nr?

19.11 | 20:32

Hi Roland,
I have a Miranda camera and purchased a Safari 500mm 1:6.3 lens for it, but now cannot find any information on Safari lenses. Can you help?

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