Universal Univex Mercury


Sometimes called the Mercury CC, the Univex Mercury was a very early American venture into the new (at the time) world of 35mm still cameras.  It first appeared in 1938.  It is an odd-looking, but strangely handsome camera due to the rotary shutter, which required a large hemisphere on the top of the camera.  The lens and twin dials on the top  (one cocks the shutter, the other sets the shutter speeds) give the camera an attractive Mickey-Mouse appearance.  But if you imagine the top "chopped-off", the Mercury does not look that different from other 35mm cameras of the time, such as the Leica.  It came with a 35mm f3.5 focusing lens (equivalent to a 50mm in the full-frame format).   Apertures to f22 and speeds of B, 1/20 - 1/1000.  Close-focusing to 1.5 feet.  Two cold flash shoes, for some reason.   The camera lens has an interchangeable mount (somewhere around 7/8"), so other lenses might have been planned.  That might also explain the twin flash shoes -- the one right above the viewfinder might have been designed to use with slip-on supplementary viewfinders. Tripod socket and cable release connection.  Sounds pretty versatile for today, let alone 1938.  Special exposure guide on the camera back, and depth-of-field calculator on the hemisphere. Unusual parallax marks in the viewfinder.  It was a large camera by today's standards, but very convenient -- and small -- at the time.  Some sources report that it used special cassettes.  It did not.  It used regular, perforated 35mm film on special reels (similar to 35mm cassettes without the covers).  So if you want to use it, you have to have a pair of these reels and load them yourself.  The loading must take place in the dark, so you cannot change film outside of the darkroom.  The exposure counter only runs to 36 so longer rolls cannot be conveniently used.  The camera sold quite well at the time, but the onset of World War II soon brought a demise to camera sales and production.  Heil Hitler.

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