The Graflex Norita 66 is a medium format single lens reflex camera which was produced in Japan under various names between 1968 and 1976. It was styled like a supersized 35mm SLR, unlike its main competitors, the modular Hasselblad and its Japanese lookalikes from Mamiya and Zenza Bronica. It was, sadly, never a great success in the marketplace, and there is some doubt about exactly how many of these cameras were ever produced, but it was reportedly around 5,000.
In 2021, the Nortia 66 and its variants are highly sought after. Let’s consider why that might be, apart from mere rarity.
Firstly, the camera is well made, robust and reliable; and is entirely mechanical, making repairs simpler and cheaper.
It has better ergonomics than other cameras in the class of medium format SLRs. It is smaller and lighter than the Pentax 6×7. It is more comfortable and of more consistent build quality than the Pentacon 6. And for someone coming from 35mm SLR cameras, it is more familiar to use than a Mamiya 67, Hasselblad or a Bronica.
The other major factor contributing to the cult status of these cameras is the humble kit lens that shipped with most of them – the Noritar 80mm f/2.0. This was at the time the fastest lens available for medium format cameras, a full stop faster than any competitor. It is a beautifully designed, well corrected, single-coated double gauss lens which is sharp wide open, allowing for natural light photography. Over the decades since, this lens has become prized for these characteristics, and its unique bokeh rendering.
In 2021 they sell for around US$1500-2000 in good condition with a 2.0/80 Noritar lens. The lens alone often sells for around US$1000 and is frequently adapted for use on modern digital cameras. As it is a medium format lens it covers a large sensor and produces sharp images with a distinctive signature.
Rittreck, Norita, Warner 66
The Rittreck 66 was launched in 1968, inspired by the German Practisix and Pentacon 6. However, it failed to gain much share in the crowded Japanese market. The Musashino Kōki company (武蔵野光幾), which originally produced the camera, was bankrupted in 1969. Norita Optics, the company which had produced the standard lenses for the camera, was able to bring over some staff, blueprints, tooling and rights to the camera from their bankrupted partner. With help from Tokyo Optics (TOPCON) they were soon producing export quality cameras.
In 1970, Norita Optics secured a partnership with the American company Singer Graflex to market the camera into the United States under the name Graflex Norita 66. Marketing into Europe followed, where the camera was branded the Warner 66.
Sadly, in spite of all these efforts, Singer discontinued the Graflex division in 1976, and the Norita was no more.
- Noritar Super-wide 40mm f/4
- Noritar 55mm f/4
- Noritar Professional 70mm f/3.5
- Noritar 80mm f/2
- Noritar 160mm f/4
- Noritar 240mm f/4
- Waist Level Viewfinder with loupe
- Prism finder
- Metered prism finder with shutter speed dial
- Cold shoe block attaching to prism finder
- Macro extension tube set
- Bright screen
- Width 172mm
- Height 112mm
- Depth 74mm
- Flange focal distance 68.2mm
- Breech mount 64mm ø
- Shutter speeds X Sync, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60 ,125, 250, 500
- Film type 120 or 220
- Double exposure facility