The Buccaneer

The Universal Buccaneer was introduced in 1945 by the Universal Camera Corp.

The New York-based company was a prolific camera manufacturer in their brief twenty year existence, mostly known for cheaply made and inexpensive cameras such as the Univex. After WWII, Universal turned toward producing a few “high end” model cameras, the most famous of which is arguably their Mercury II half-frame camera. The Buccaneer also fits this higher end category.

Armed with a 50mm f/3.5 Tricor lens, mounted on a Chronomatic shutter, that is collapsible into the body of the camera, the Buccaneer aimed to deliver high-quality images. Of course, quality is relative and, as far as 35mm rangefinders go, the Buccaneer was nowhere near the same level as Contax, Leica, Canon, Nikon or Kodak at this time. Nonetheless, the Buccaneer does have its charm, and for a photographer who had grown up on the likes of an Argus C3, the Buccaneer presented a moderate upgrade. One nifty feature of the Buccaneer is its built-in extinction meter. Having a built-in light meter was far from common at the time, and most photographers either used the Sunny 16 Rule or carried handheld light meters. The extinction meter on the Buccaneer is a simple mechanism that can work quite reliably, one that continues to work well even today.

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