Past Times

by Steve Warren Aquamatic 11

La Spirotechnique is an illustriuos name. Originally set up as the diving equipment manufacturing arm of the Air L'iquide group to build and market Cousteau - Gagnan Aqualungs, the French company has many innovations to its credit.

One of Spiros most revered products was the Calypsophot developed for the Cousteau divers. Later the rights to this camera were bought by Nikon and the Nikonos line was established and passed into legend.

In the late seventies Spiro introduced another underwater canera aimed at the mass market. The Aquamatic used 126 cartridge film that yielded a square picture. Exercising extreme caution given the camera would be used by divers, they made it largely freeflooding. Only the film chamber remained dry. Even the shutter got wet, reducing the damage that would be done when the inevitable leaks occured. Internal weights overcame the Aquamatics natural tendency to float. Two shutter

speeds and four apertures provided for exposure control. Magicube disposable bulbs permitted four flash pictures to be taken before the cube had to be replaced.

A neat touch is the choice of two close up lenses mounted in a track on the camera front. These made the camera exceptionally versatile while remaining compact and fast to shoot.

Spiro developed a line of accessories for the Aquamatic including an off camera bulb flash, additional close up lenses and a back to allow the use of 35mm film. It was depth rated to 90m.

Aquamatics sold for around £80.00. They are rarely offered on the used market.

Steve Warren

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