Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Meguro Optical Melcon II

The Melcon II was an ambitious project to replace the original Melcon with something more modern, more market appeal. They aboandoned the screw mount Leica styling for a copy of the Nikon S2. And there is some debate about how Nippon Kogaku felt about it at the time, and the concensus is that they approved of the design. They continued to provide lenses for the camera, and had been helping the company with work on the first model of Melcon. Also, the camera was distributed by Hinomaruya, who also distributed the Nicca, which was a major source of lens sales to Nippon Kogaku. Hinomaruya would not have continued distributing the Melcon if it was going to jepordize the business arraingements with Nippon Kogaku and Nicca, especially since the Melcon was not a strong seller.

The new design boasted a combined viewfinder and rangefinder, with a 1.0x magnification (allows you to shoot with both eyes open), a brightline frame for 50mm, and a 70mm rangefinder base (longer than the 60mm of the Nikon S2, or even the Leica M3 which was 68mm). The film advance was by lever, and the back opened completely (like the Melcon Original), which made loading easier. Unlike the Melcon Original, it has a baseplate lock key, which allows the use of reloadable cassettes, but only cassettes from Meguro.

Other features include a rewind knob with folding crank, both shutter speed dials on a single shaft (similar to the Nikon S2), and finally, strap lugs on the body!

The Melcon II is a very well made camera, which feels very smooth and reassuing when you handle it. The fit and finish is impeccable. And yet it was priced 2000 yen lower than the Melcon Original, and with the 50/2 Nikkor, 1000 yen lower than the Tanack SD. You would think that this model would have been successful, and yet it was in production for about one year, with an estimated 500 or less units built. Most likely Meguro faced the same problem that many smaller camera makers faced at this period in history. Once the major makers recoverred from the war, they had the resources to commit to research and development to design cameras with features that the smaller companies couldn't match, plus a much larger advertising budget. They were competing with the Nikon SP, the Leica M3 and the Canon V series. It is unfortunate, as this is a really nice camera that many people would enjoy having.

The Melcon II with standard 50/2 Nikkor lens.