James's Camera Collection: Topcon RE 200

Topcon RE 200 Japan 35mm cameras
Topcon RE 200
Camera type: Single Lens Reflex (SLR)
Approx. date of manufacture: 1977
Lens mount: Topcon RE (Exakta)
Battery: two 1.5v silver 675 or equiv.
Approx. original price: $200
Approx. street value: Low

Bought it from a thrift shop because it was cheap and I didn't have already have a Topcon.

I knew almost nothing about it so I looked the test in an old Modern Photography magazine. I've never seen Modern pan anything—they don't review junk; so this was an interesting series of left-handed compliments. The way I read it, Topcon made a helluva great camera in 1962 (the Super DM) and coasted ever since. This camera, depending on how you look at it, was either (optimistically) a move toward modernity or (pessimistically) too-little-too-late. It's meant to compete in the "compact" niche created in mid 70s by the Olympus OM-1, but it lacks the automation of the Canon AE-1. As Modern put it (and I don't read it kindly), "you might call it the Nikkormat of the Topcon line."

It's not a bad camera; it's just that it's a me-too camera: Minolta has in-viewfinder LED metering? Me too! Canon has shutter-button-depress metering? Me too! Olympus has a hot-shoe? Me too! And so on.

That kind of marketing usually doesn't work very well unless you're about 1/4th the price of the competition. The chief appeal is likely having a light-weight, more modern body to use an arsenal of glass you already own.

Shortly afteward, the RE 300 came out; it's the deluxe version with three main differences: it's all black, it's got split-image/microprism focus (the RE 200 has microprism only), and the 300 can take an accessory motor drive. Other than that they appear to be the same.

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

Modern Photography magazine camera test: September 1978

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