Whenever the topic of Leica copies come up, most film photographers immediately think of Soviet Era cameras like the FED and Zorki cameras. However, there are also some lesser known copies from Japan, as strange as that sounds for most of us. Among them are the Leotax 35mm rangefinder cameras which were introduced prior to World War II. For today, let’s take a look at the Leotax TV 2: one of the last few models in the series.
According to Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, the Leotax rangefinders were regarded as some of the better built Leica copies, especially the ones made in the early 1950s. In 1958, the Leotax TV 2 came out, and the T 2L followed a year later. They were also called Merit/Merite and Elite respectively. CanonRangefinder.org tells us that both essentially had the same features: lever film advance, top shutter speed of 1/500 sec, slow speed dial with lock (for speeds of 1-30 sec), and flash sync for electronic strobe (through coaxial connection at the camera back). The only difference is that the T 2L/Elite didn’t have a self-timer.
Design-wise, Leotax cameras like the TV 2 bear an uncanny resemblance to the Leica rangefinders — including the cursive logo on top of the camera and even the red dot logo on the boxes, as we can also see in the blog post above by Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic. If you think your collection of Leica-inspired cameras needs this Japanese copy, expect it to cost you about $150 to $200 on eBay for the body only — more than the Soviet copies, as Leotex rangefinders are now pretty rare.
Not the vintage rangefinder camera you were looking for? In case you missed it, we suggest checking out our post on other interesting rangefinder film cameras you can get for cheap!
Photos from the eBay listing by sonyeric01c