James's Camera Collection: Wards xp500 (Konica EE-matic)

Wards xp500 Japan 35mm cameras
Wards xp500 camera
Camera type: Rangefinder
Approx. date of manufacture: 1970
Approx. original price: unknown
Approx. street value: very low

Montgomery Ward was a department store and catalog mail-order retailer in the USA. Like their direct competitor Sears, they purchased cameras from other makers and had them badged under the Wards name. This camera happens to be a Konica EE-matic.

EE was a common designation in the 60s, meaning "electric eye." In this case the electric eye is the selenium photocell that surrounds the lens. If you set the aperture ring to Auto, the electric eye attempts to set the diaphram based on the light level it sees versus the shutter speed you chose. If the light level is too low, a warning lamp lights in the viewfinder and the shutter won't fire. The eye can handle the brightness range between EV 8 (ƒ/2.8 @ 1/30th) to EV 17 (ƒ/22 @ 1/250th) at ISO 100.

The selenium cell means you don't need batteries, as it generates a trickle of electricity through the light falling on it.

I bought this a) because I didn't have one, b) because it was cheap, and c) because I worked for the Monkey twice back in the 1980s when they were still in business. Even though I mostly cursed my time when I was there, they still had a strange 3-legged-dog charm and I like to keep a few things around with their name on it.

I've never used it so I can't comment on how well or poorly it works, if at all. It seems like a nice camera but it's far down on my list of cameras I want to run a roll of film through.

Konica's update to his camera, the EE-matic Deluxe, was rebadged as the Wards xp501.

Illustration from Konica EE-matic owners manual

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

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