Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL 35mm camera

This is a quick pictorial review of the Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL 35mm SLR camera which was introduced by Mamiya in the late 1960s.

Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL images

My Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL camera

This camera is one of a very select few in my collection in that it was gifted to me. In fact, it was surprise gifted to me by a fellow camera collector John Bear, who also runs a vintage camera site called Camera Portraits. The story is that John found and bought a copy of the Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL camera and when it turned up there were actually two camera bodies instead of one. The seller had apparently included an extra in the sale!

Very kindly John packaged the extra one up and sent it to me. That was an extraordinarily kind and thoughtful gesture and as well as the email of thanks I sent him I’d also like to add a big thanks here. I would also recommend you take a look at John’s site and find the review of the Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL camera he has done. I deliberately haven’t looked at it myself so I don’t inadvertently influence this review, but having read John’s reviews in the past I’m sure it will be a detailed and well thought out piece.

The camera as supplied by John is a fully working unit, including the meter (which is fairly surprising in vintage camera terms), with only a couple of minor dents and marks on the brightwork. The shutter speed dial is very slightly out of registration, which suggests it’s been off and replaced slightly out of position, but it’s by no means difficult to see the speed selected.

The lens fitted in the pictures above is a Mamiya/Sekor 50mm F/2 lens which I had in my lens collection and is a reasonable match with the body.

Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL Description

The 500 DTL is a solid, well made unit with a standard M42 lens mount which is similar in many ways to a variety of other mechanical 35mm SLR cameras, but there are a couple of features which make is stand out from the crowd.

Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL 35mm SLR camera - Side view showing metering switch and flash sync

Side view showing metering switch and flash sync

The first feature which is a little different from the norm at the time this camera was produced is the ability to change the metering from averaging to spot metering.

On the bottom of the lens mount, in a quiet convenient position when the camera is held to the eye, is a switch which will change the metering mode. Inside the viewfinder, the metering mode is indicated by a small arrow which moves between an ‘S’ and an ‘A’ to show the selected mode, and the actual area which makes up the ‘Spot’ mode is marked. Oddly, this area is at the  bottom of the frame rather than where I would expect it to be, in the centre. The picture of the mirror in the gallery above shows the position of the light sensor.

Irrespective of how the metering is set, the actual meter operation is the standard stop down metering – i.e. the shutter speed is set, the metering is activated and then the aperture is adjusted until a needle visible in the viewfinder is within a small circle which indicates the exposure is correct.

Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL 35mm SLR camera - Top view of camera

Top view of camera

The method of turning on the metering and stopping down the lens is the other feature which sets the Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL apart from other cameras. It is enabled by pushing the film advance lever forward towards the camera body.

The picture of the top of the camera shows that the film advance sits away from the camera body in normal operation and this is the reason why that is. When the film advance is pushed forward, it turns on the metering circuit and pushes the bar which actuates the lens stop down, enabling meter reading to be made.

This is actually quite a neat and useful mechanism for starting the exposure control and makes sure the battery is not unnecessarily drained because the lever automatically springs back to the off position after use.

In most other ways the Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL is similar to many other cameras available at the time it was produced although the top shutter speed of 1/500th is a little limiting. A sister camera to the 500 DTL, the 1000 DTL was available which had a top speed of 1/1000.

Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL Specifications

  • Mamiya/Sekor 500 DTL 35mm SLR camera
  • Horizontal cloth focal plane shutter.
  • Shutter speeds 1 sec to 1/500 sec + bulb
  • Self-timer
  • Flash sync at 1/60th
  • FT & X flash sync ports
  • TTL, stop down metering activated with the film advance
  • Spot and Averaging meter selection by switch
  • Match needle exposure control
  • Frame counter by film advance
  • Micro prism focusing aid
  • Threaded cable release
  • Tripod bush
  • ASA 25 to 3200 meter range
  • Eveready S-76E Silver Oxide battery for metering
  • Ser No: 190133
  • Manual available on-line here

One comment

  • The Mamiya/Sekor cameras of the mid-t0-late 1960s were straight-forward, decent cameras at a decent price. By the late 60s, wide-open metering, compact size and the end of the 42mm thread mount as a dominant mount led to their decline in sales. A lot of airmen in my unit bought them at the BX since there were few other choices. The speed dial was connected to the meter resister via a fine chain that ran through a groove. When one broke, one of my airmen went out and bought a necklace of similar spec and used it as a substitute.

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