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Japanese plate strut-folding cameras (edit)
No.0 (4×5cm) CH
atom (4.5×6cm) Idea Spring
meishi (5.5×8cm) Minimum Idea | Korok
daimeishi (6.5×9cm) Idea Spring | Minolta | Auto Minolta | Auto Press Minolta | Nifca-Dox | Vester Klapp
tefuda (8×10.5cm) Focal Happy | Idea Spring | Idea Telephoto
10×15cm Kongo Press
kabine (12×16.5cm) Idea Spring | Idea Telephoto
Japanese plate film: monocular, box, folding bed and SLR ->
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Idea Spring (アイデア・スプリング) are Japanese strut-folding cameras with a focal plane shutter, made by Rokuoh-sha, the manufacturing branch of Konishiroku (predecessor of Konica). The name Idea was used on various other products by Rokuoh-sha. The name "Spring" was certainly patterned after the German "Klapp", and was probably first used in Japan on this camera; the words "spring camera" (スプリングカメラ) later became a generic term for a self-erecting folder in that country.

First generation Edit

The first generation models were released in 1926.[1] They were available in three different formats: kabine (12×16.5cm), meishi (5×8.5cm) and atom (4.5×6cm).[2] They are only known from original advertisements, and no surviving example seems to have surfaced so far.[3]

Kabine model Edit

The larger kabine model (12×16.5cm) was a copy of the Goerz Ango, as is blatantly said in original advertisements.[4] It has various shutter controls on the right-hand side, a folding optical finder with no cover flaps and a front standard allowing vertical and horizontal movements, locked by two knobscrews. The lens is mounted on a focusing helical with a focus tab. In an early advertisement, the picture shows a multi-creased bellows, and the shutter is said to give 22 settings from 1/10 to 1/1200, other than T and B.[5] Three lens options are listed: Dynar 210/5.5, Collinear 200/6.3 or Heliar 180/4.5, all of them supplied with three double-sided plate holders and one film pack holder. The dimensions are given as 22×18½×6½cm, and the camera is boasted as weighing no more than 1950g with the Heliar lens.[6] One source says that the kabine model cost ¥295 in 1926 with the Heliar lens.[7]

In the December 1926 issue of Ars Camera, the kabine model was advertised along with the Neat Reflex SLR; no other Idea Spring model was listed. It is presented as the "latest model" (最新型). The picture shows a single-creased bellows; no other difference is visible from the picture described above. The weight is again made a sales point of the camera. Four lens options are listed, all made by Voigtländer:

  • Dynar 18cm f/5.5, ¥290;
  • Dynar 21cm f/5.5, ¥320;
  • Collinear 18cm f/6.3, ¥310;
  • Heliar 18cm f/4.5, ¥330.

The pictured camera has the f/4.5 lens.

A very similar advertisement appears in the February 1930 issue of Asahi Camera.[8] The camera is again presented as the "latest model" (最新型), a mention which is now unfounded. The picture is exactly the same, and the only difference is the list of lens options: Dagor f/6.8, Tessar f/4.5 and Heliar f/4.5. The latter is written in bold characters, perhaps because it was considered the most prestigious. No price is mentioned.

Meishi model Edit

The middle meishi model (5×8.5cm)[9] was somewhat inspired by the Ernemann Klapp, but it seems to have four struts hinged at the middle, the same as on the kabine model, instead of the rigid struts of the Ernemann camera.[10] There are two knobs on the photographer's right, apparently copied from the shutter controls of the Ernemann model. The upper knob presumably winds the mechanism and the lower one presumably sets the slit width; there is probably a third control on the left to set the tension of the main spring. The release button protrudes at the front of the right-hand side plate. One advertisement says that the shutter gives 21 settings up to 1/1000, other than T and B.[11] The lens is mounted on a focusing helical with a large focus tab, and is surrounded by a sort of hood, slightly off-centered towards the bottom. It seems that the folding optical finder was originally uncovered, then received two cover flaps copied on the Ernemann camera.[12] The advertisements say that the camera was made of mahogany; one of them mentions "polished wood" (木製塗), another presents it as a "tropical model" (トロピカル・モデル). One advertisement only mentions the Heliar 120/4.5 lens, and says that the camera was supplied with six single-sided metal plate holders and one pack film holder. The other advertisement lists the following lens options:

  • Dynar f/5.5, ¥175;
  • Heliar f/4.5, ¥200;
  • Heliar f/3.5, ¥220.

Atom model Edit

The smaller atom model (4.5×6cm) is presented as a copy of the Ernemann Miniature Klapp in an original advertisement.[13] No picture is known of this model. According to the same advertisement, the shutter gives eight settings from 1/10 to 1/650, other than T and B, the camera was only available with the Heliar 75/3.5 lens, and was supplied with six single-sided metal plate holders and one pack film holder.

Second generation Edit

The second generation models were released in 1932.[14] They were again available in three formats: kabine (12×16.5cm), tefuda (8×10.5cm) and daimeishi (6.5×9cm).

Kabine model Edit

The kabine (12×16.5cm) model was essentially a continuation of the earlier model. It has a neater side plate with two controls only: the winding knob for the focal-plane shutter, which is also used to set the slit width, and a smaller knob at the bottom controlling the tension of the main spring. There is a table riveted between these two controls, showing the shutter speed resulting from the selected settings, from 1/10 to 1/1000. (One source mentions T, B, 15–1000 speeds, perhaps corresponding to early examples of the camera.)[15] The shutter release is placed at the front of the right-hand side plate, in a slightly recessed position; there is a thread for a cable release placed just above.

The bellows are single-plated, the same as on the Goerz Anschütz Ango. The viewfinder is larger than on the previous model, and has cover flaps on both sides, the same as on the late Ernemann Klapp. The front standard is normally similar to that of the previous model.[16] However at least one example is known with a fixed lens standard, allowing no movements, perhaps the result of a repair.[17]

The camera was reportedly available in 1932 with the Dynar 180/5.5 (¥255), Dynar 210/5.5 (¥275), Dagor 180/6.8 (¥295), Tessar 180/4.5 (¥295) and Heliar 180/4.5 (¥295).[18] It later received the Hexar Ser.1 18cm f/4.5 lens made by Rokuoh-sha itself, perhaps from 1933.[19] The helical for the 18cm lens focuses down to 2 metres. The focal length is repeated on the fixed and rotating parts, perhaps to avoid mismatching the helical and lens during the assembly process. The diaphragm is built in the focusing mount, and has many blades, perhaps 17 or so, giving a near perfect circle.[20]

Tefuda model Edit

The tefuda model was a new design, much inspired by the Ernemann models, with four straight folding struts, mounted by pairs on spring-loaded axis. However the shutter controls are similar to that of the kabine model, and the mechanism was probably a downsized version of the latter, inspired by the Ango. (This is the reverse of the previous meishi model, which combined an Ernemann-type shutter with Ango-type struts.) The table of shutter speeds is reportedly the exact same part as on the larger model;[21] the viewfinder is similar and the shutter release is placed the same but is not recessed. The front standard has semi-circular indents on both sides, helping to pull it out, and provides horizontal and vertical movements.

The camera was reportedly available in 1932 with Tessar f/4.5 (¥234) and f/3.5 and Heliar f/4.5 (¥234) and f/3.5 lenses.[22] It seems that an Hexar Ser.1 13.5cm f/4.5 lens was offered after some time.[23]

Daimeishi model Edit

The daimeishi model is a downsized version of the tefuda camera. The cable release thread is placed below the shutter button instead of above. The right-hand side plate is inscribed ROKUOH-SHA at the top and has a small additional lever at the bottom. The lens standard has a different construction, apparently allowing horizontal movements only.[24] The only surviving example observed so far has a thick metal plate screwed to the left of the viewfinder, with a protruding pin, whose purpose is unknown.

The daimeishi model was reportedly available in 1932 with Tessar f/4.5 and f/3.5 and Heliar f/4.5 (¥200) and f/3.5 lenses.[25] It was probably released with an Hexar lens after some time, perhaps with the Hexar Ser.1 10.5cm f/4.5, but this is merely a guess.

Military models Edit

The kabine and tefuda models were also supplied to the Japanese military forces as the Handheld Land Camera (手持式地上写真機, temochi-shiki chijō shashinki).[26] They have an identification plate riveted to the top, on the right of the viewfinder, and no other visible difference. This plate reads as follows:

  • 手持式地上写真機 ("Handheld Land Camera", the name of the camera);
  • カビネ (kabine size) or 手札 (tefuda size), in parentheses;
  • 第xxx號 (the serial number);
  • 昭和xx年x月 (the Shōwa year and month);[27]
  • 株式会社小西六工場 / 六櫻社製造 (Made by Rokuoh-sha, a factory of K.K. Konishiroku).

The plate also has an anchor and another sign stamped on it, perhaps indicating that delivery was taken by the Navy. (However a few sources say that the camera was made for the Japanese Army.)[28]

The kabine cameras normally have a Hexar Ser.1 18cm f/4.5 lens[29] , but the example pictured in Sugiyama has a non original Dagor 180/6.8,[30] perhaps taken from a civilian Idea Spring. The tefuda camera has a Hexar Ser.1 13.5cm f/4.5 lens.[31] The serial numbers known so far are no.84 (Dec. 1938),[32] no.102 (Mar. 1939)[33] and no.164 (Jun. 1939)[34] in kabine size, and no.56 (Jan. 1939)[35] in tefuda size, apparently indicating that the total numbers were quite low.

The 1939 and 1940 dates inscribed on the military models indicate that they were made long after the introduction of the second generation models in 1932. It is not known if civilian production was continued until that time, or if the military models were a resurrection of a discontinued camera. The Idea Spring does not appear in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in 1941, thus indicating that civilian sales were stopped at the time.[36]

Notes Edit

  1. The date is given as November 1926 in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and as December 1926 in the chronology from the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. It is simply given as 1926 in Lewis, p.35, in Sugiyama, item 1104, and in the chronology at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
  2. Advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22.
  3. The Idea Spring cameras pictured as made in 1926 in Lewis, p.36, and in Kamera no ayumi, p.53, are actually of the second generation.
  4. Advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22, whose illustration is also reproduced in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and advertisements in Ars Camera December 1926 and in Asahi Camera February 1930, p.A1.
  5. Advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22, whose illustration is also reproduced in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  6. The weight is "no more than 520 monme".
  7. Lewis, pp.35–6.
  8. Advertisement on p.A1 of the magazine, reproduced in this page.
  9. Meishi size: advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22, and advertisement reproduced in the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website. Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, says daimeishi (6.5×9cm) instead, probably by mistake.
  10. Advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22, whose illustration is also reproduced in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and advertisement reproduced in the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website.
  11. Advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22.
  12. Uncovered: illustration reproduced in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Cover flaps: advertisement reproduced in the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website.
  13. Advertisement reproduced in Morishita, p.70 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.22.
  14. Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Lewis, p.47, about the tefuda and daimeishi models.
  15. T, B, 15–1000 speeds: Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, reportedly quoting a 1932 leaflet.
  16. This front standard was apparently mounted upside down on the example pictured in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10 and in Sugiyama, item 1104 (certainly the same), as is shown by the position of the locking knobscrews.
  17. Example pictured in Lewis, p.36.
  18. Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, reportedly quoting a 1932 leaflet.
  19. Hexar Ser.1: examples pictured in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, in Sugiyama, item 1104, in Lewis, p.36, in Kamera no ayumi, p.53. Year 1933 reported in this page of the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website.
  20. These details of the focusing mount are visible in the pictures published in this page at Kore nāni.
  21. This is reported in this page at Kore nāni.
  22. Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, reportedly quoting a 1932 leaflet.
  23. Example with Hexar lens observed in an online auction. The example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1105, and in Kamera no ayumi, p.57, owned by the Pentax Gallery, has four small holes on the right of the viewfinder, perhaps because it is a military model whose identification plate is missing.
  24. Picture reproduced in this page of the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website, and example pictured in Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, with no lens mount.
  25. Tanaka, p.35 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, reportedly quoting a 1932 leaflet. The price of ¥400 is given for the Tessar f/4.5 version, certainly by mistake.
  26. Sugiyama, item 6009, says that the camera is identical to the 1926 Idea Spring, whereas it is actually similar to the 1932 model.
  27. Add 1925 to the Shōwa year to obtain the year in the Christian era.
  28. Sugiyama, item 6009, this page at R.Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
  29. Documented serial numbers: 4343 (eBay nº 110517330896 / Apr 16, 2010)
  30. Sugiyama, item 6009.
  31. Lens reported in this page at Kore nāni.
  32. Example observed in an online auction (Hexar lens no.2272).
  33. Example pictured in Nakayama and Imai, pp.146–7 of Militarī gun'yō kamera daizukan (Hexar lens no.2258).
  34. Example pictured in this page at Kore nāni (Hexar lens no.2407).
  35. Example pictured in this page at Kore nāni.
  36. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku".

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In Japanese:


Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
plate hand cameras stereo hand cameras strut folders box telephoto SLR
Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy Idea Telephoto Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano
rollfilm folders box or collapsible TLR
Pearlette | Special Pearlette | B Pearlette | Pearl (for plates and rollfilm) | Pearl No.2 | Pearl (Year 8) | Baby Pearl | Semi Pearl | Sakura Palace Record | Sakura (box) | Sakura (bakelite) Sakura-flex

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