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     Miranda Orion

The Miranda Orion is one of the rarest of 35mm SLRs, and one of the most historically significant.  This 1956 camera was the first Japanese SLR to use a pentaprism.  The Orion was the product of the Orion Seiki Company, founded by the brilliant and innovative Mr. Akira Ogihara.  His genius   brought forth three notable products which cast a long shadow of influence over the Japanese camera  industry.

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The famous superbly made Orion adapter, available for either Contax Rangefinder lenses  or Nikon Rangefinder lenses,   allowed  their use WITH  rangefinder coupling on Leica screw mount cameras.  See Separate Profile.   Once word got out, demand exceeded production.  That is still true today, with collectors avidly seeking them.   I was lucky enough to get one literally for free--it was at the bottom of a camera bag and was not even figured into the value of an outfit I bought.

Orion's Mirax Reflex housing,  converted Leica, Contax and Nikon rangefinder cameras to single lens reflexes for longer than 135 lenses (similar to the Leica Visoflex).   It foreshadowed the later Miranda's great versatility by using interchangeable adapters for different cameras.     Perhaps most importantly, it had an optional pentaprism.

Orion's entry into the SLR market was ready by the end of 1956, the famous Miranda Orion.   The first few hand made prototypes were called the Phoenix.   Due to trade mark restrictions with a German camera, the Phoenix was renamed Miranda.    The first model was the Miranda T, but the first T's also had the "Orion Camera Company" on the   front nameplate, below the  Miranda name.   Thus the "Miranda Orion."  Hand made at the blistering rate of about 50 per month,  the first Miranda sallied forth to change the photographic world.

orion15.jpg (253244 bytes)Orion Serial #'s:    I suspect  the serial number may indicate a starting date,  such as  used on the first Nikons.   Nippon Kogaku started the serial numbers of their new "Nikon" camera with 609x,   signifying September of 1946.     The earliest Orions I know of are in the 554xxx range.   The starting 554 sequence may indicate April of 1955.   That would make the probable  starting Orion serial number 554001.   I admit I'm guessing,  if anyone has more accurate info, please contact me.   On the other hand, 554 may commemorate the  five famous camera assemblers who could down 5 saki drinks in four seconds -- who knows ?? 


Miranda Orion Firsts and Influence, the Orion exerted quite an influence:

Orion Features:

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The Orion's features might seem outdated today, but for 1956, it was on the cutting edge. Just consider what today's Nikon F5 and EOS 1V will look like in 2040--now that's a depressing thought.  

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Revised: November 26, 2003 Copyright  1998-2002  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.