Voice your suspicions.

Another toy camera – Meikai EL

Mekai EL camera

This is a Meikai EL, circa 1963. Bought on eBay, I was the only bidder!

As toy cameras go, this one feels pretty solid. The body is metal and plastic and the leatherette makes it feel like a “real” camera. The film advance is smooth, and there’s an indicator to let you know when the film is properly advanced. The lens looks like it’s made of glass. The door latch is solid.

The fake light meter surrounding the viewfinder give it away as a toy camera, and the fixed focus, fixed shutter speed lens adds to the toy camera gestalt.



The camera has 3 aperture settings – f/8, f/11 and f/16. If you’re not sure which direction stopping down is, the BRIGHT and DULL labels should help to match the weather conditions to the aperture settings. There’s an Instant and Bulb shutter setting next to the aperture setting.

The Meikai EL has an accessory shoe and a PC socket for flash. The instructions recommend using the Bulb setting for flash shooting – flash bulbs need a a slower sync speed, like 1/15th sec or so.

The Meikai EL only has one lug for attaching a strap, so you’re stuck with a wrist strap. This camera CALLS OUT for a two-lug thin leather tourist-ey neck strap.

The pictures I’ve seen on the net have the simple lens elements, soft focus, toy camera look. I’ve shot a roll of 5-year-old Jessops 200 speed film on my lunch hour and should get it back from York Photo in a week.

Somewhere in my garage I have an old Vivitar 16M flash with a PC cord, I’ll have to dig it up tonight.


Meikai Links:






I’ve scanned the manual and put it here: http://www.kataan.org/manuals/meikai_el.pdf




  1. […] My original post/mini-review is here… […]

  2. […] My original post/mini-review is here… […]

    Pingback by Ping test 2 | poindexter, who? — November 17, 2008 @ 4:22 pm
  3. Hey there ifound your blog after googling for the camera. Just bought one myself and I am wondering what is the instand and bulb dial for? Thanks

    Comment by kitty — December 26, 2008 @ 7:14 am
  4. The Instant setting sets the shutter to one fixed speed, approximately 1/100th second.

    The Bulb setting keeps the shutter open continually (or at least until you let go of the shutter release)

    Enjoy, it’s a fun little camera!

    Comment by kweiske — December 26, 2008 @ 8:31 am
  5. Hi there, surfing on the net found your blog. Have a Meikai EL for sale. Any idea how much it could be worth on eBay or similar site? Thanks!

    Comment by Mario — February 3, 2009 @ 5:03 am
  6. Mario, if you look on eBay you can check out completed listings. I’d expect to see Meikais selling for $10-$20.

    Comment by kweiske — February 3, 2009 @ 8:23 am
  7. Thanks for your prompt reply!

    Comment by Mario — February 3, 2009 @ 10:46 am
  8. Hi I just got given one of these cameras. I tried to download the manual that you uploaded but was the link wasn’t working. Can you email me or re-post the manual?

    Your photos look like fun btw. Can’t wait to start using my Meikai

    Comment by Serlina — September 15, 2010 @ 7:50 pm
  9. Weird — I had it at one time, now I can’t find the manual. I’ll look for it and let you know if I find it!

    Comment by Kurt Weiske — September 15, 2010 @ 7:55 pm
  10. Found it! The Meikai El manual link works now.


    Comment by Kurt Weiske — September 15, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

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