The 1967 - 1970 Compact Deluxe is an uncommon, full featured, shutter priority AE rangefinder camera with fully metered manual mode.
The Compact Deluxe incorporates many original features not found in other fixed lens rangefinders. Combining a fast, high resolving, six element Fujinon 45mm f1.8 lens, and a virtually silent leaf shutter, with fast focusing done via a thumbwheel on the top deck yields an ideal street shooter.
The film advance lever is on the bottom right, and a unique distance scale is installed close to the shutter release button. The meter on the top deck measures continuously while the meter in the viewfinder only displays as the shutter release is depressed halfway much like an AE lock. Over or under exposures are notified by a red warning flag in the viewfinder window.
This quirky, niche camera was expensive in its day with a US Retail price of $100 in 1967, translating to $715 in 2015 dollars.
Key Features Include:
- Sharp, 45 mm Fujinon 6-Element, 4-Group, double-Gauss f/1.8 lens with 52 mm filter thread that Fuji ads boasted as “the best we’ve ever made”
- Intermediate size and weight: 126W × 78H × 56D mm, 630g
- Bright viewfinder with easy to see yellow RF spot, fixed framelines with parallax compensation marks, and indicated f/stops.
- Citizen MXV leaf shutter provides quiet operation. 1/8 to 1/500 + B and self timer.
- Fully mechanical; can be used without batteries. The battery is only necessary to operate the meter.
- Wide aperture range: f/1.8 to f/22
- Originally designed to use modern cells unlike competitors that require now-outlawed mercury cells, meaning that meter recalibration is not required for proper operation.
- Shutter priority automatic exposure with exposure lock feature activated by partially depressing the shutter release.
- Top-mounted meter with meter and over/under exposure warning flag in the viewfinder
- Key operational controls including focus thumbwheel, shutter speed ring and film winding lever are prominently accessible on the right side, enabling camera operation solely with the right hand as the camera is held tightly in the left.
- CdS cell located on the lens mount directly above the taking lens provides automatic filter compensation.
- Lens cap serves as ON/OFF switch to save battery current.
- The Compact Deluxe was actually a facelift of the previously released Compact D. The two cameras shared the identical chassis and feature set.
- Standard accessories include an eveready case, push-on lens cap; carry strap and owner’s manual.
Minus Points Include:
- Prone to lens flare
- Focus thumbwheel poking through the top deck requires a cutout that provides an ingress point for dirt and dust. As the owner’s manual cautions, “Dust is the enemy”
- Shutter-priority AE although full manual operation is available
- Lacks a flash hot shoe; PC socket is available on lens barrel
- Bright silver is the only available finish
The Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. was founded in 1934 as a producer of several types of film products. It wasn’t until 1948 that Fuji began producing cameras using the name Fujica; a contraction of Fuji and camera. Fuji had at its core been primarily a film manufacturer; never making significant efforts to market their cameras to be able to compete effectively. This lack of visibility meant Fujica cameras were on few consumer consideration maps and sales as a consequence were limited. Truly unfortunate as Fujica offered superior products featuring excellent engineering, superb lenses and its cameras were filled with original features and innovative design. Fuji dropped the Fujica name entirely by 1984.
Rare in its day; the Compact Deluxe is a virtually unknown camera as result of Fuji’s ambiguous positioning, and tepid marketing. Fujica cameras are uncommon today in the secondary market where they’re not particularly sought after, underrated and a great value.