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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 Korok (コロク) or Vest Korok (ベストコロク) is a Japanese strut-folding plate camera. It was made from about 1914 by Rokuoh-sha, the manufacturing branch of Konishi (predecessor of Konica), and it exists in 5.5×8cm (meishi) and 8×10.5cm (tefuda) size.[1] It was the successor of the Minimum Idea.

Name Edit

The Roman name "Korok" is found in an original catalogue by Konishiroku; the Japanese name was written either "Koroku kamera" (コロク、カメラ) or "Vesuto Koroku kamera" (ヴヱスト、コロク、カメラ).[2]

In the 1920s or 1930s, the word "Vest" (Vesuto) would commonly designate 127 film in Japan (as in Minolta Vest); at the time of the Vest Korok, the prefix was simply used to bring to mind the Vest Pocket Kodak.

The Japanese name "Koroku" was certainly formed after the company name Honten Konishi Rokuemon. (The name "Konishiroku" would later be constructed in a similar way.) The name, pronounced as "Korok", is also obviously made with "Kodak" in mind.

Description Edit

The Korok is one of the first Japanese cameras to have a metal body. It is inspired by the Vest Pocket Kodak and has a pop-out rectangular front standard mounted on trellis struts. This front standard contains a single brilliant finder at the top, and in the middle a single-element meniscus lens and a simple shutter.[3] The shutter release is placed behind the front standard, to the right of the brilliant finder.

The speed settings are Time, Bulb and Instant, selected by an index above the lens; the T, B, I indications are complemented by a caption in kanji characters: 定時 ("fixed time") for T and B, 瞬時 ("instant") for I.[4] The words MANUFACTURED BY ROKUOH-SHA TOKYO. are inscribed around the lens. The aperture is set by an index at the bottom, with four positions indicated both by the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and by words in kanji script: 近き人物 and 曇天景色 ("close portrait" and "cloudy landscape") for "1", 晴天景色 ("fair-weather landscape") for "2", 遠景 ("distant landscape") for "3", 雪海景 ("snow or seascape") for "4".[5]

The rear part of the camera has no similarity with the Vest Pocket Kodak, and simply consists of a box with attachment rails for the ground glass or plate holders.

Commercial life Edit

The camera was reportedly released in October 1914.[6] In a March 1916 catalogue by Konishi Honten, the camera is called "Korok Camera" (コロク、カメラ, Koroku Kamera) in katakana writing and "Korok Hand Camera" in Roman writing.[7] It is presented as a new model (最新型), evolved from the Minimum Idea through various improvements. The format is mentioned as meishi (名刺) size, given in older units as 1 sunbu (一寸八分) width and 2 sunbu (二寸七分) height; this translates as 5.5×8.2cm, commonly rounded to 5.5×8cm. The dimensions of the camera are given as 10.3×7.3×3.3cm, and its weight as 263g.[8] The camera was supplied with six single-sided plate holders in a choice of two sets: set A (A號) with a cloth wallet, at ¥15, and set B (B號) with a leather case, at ¥16.

The advertisement for the Korok reproduced here at the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website is an abridged version of the catalogue contents, and the main text is exactly the same. However the title differs and reads "Vest Korok Camera" (ヴヱスト、コロク、カメラ, Vesuto Koroku Kamera).

The chronological list of the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen published in 1973 has a Sketch (スケッチ) meishi-size camera released in September 1914, one month before the Korok.[9] A picture of this camera is shown elsewhere in the same book, but it seems indistinguishable from the Korok.[10] For some reason, Kikuoka reports that the Sketch was made of wood and has no B setting.[11] However these features are perhaps mistaken, and "Sketch" was perhaps the original name of the Korok. A tefuda-size (8×10.5cm) version of the Korok is also reported in Kikuoka, but this is unconfirmed.[12]

Surviving example Edit

It seems that the surviving example pictured in the various sources is one and the same.[13] Its format is quoted as 6.5×9cm or daimeishi in some sources, and as 57×83mm or meishi in others; the latter seems more plausible.[14] Some pictures shows the full set, complete with original buck-skin wallets for the camera and for the six plate holders.[15]

Notes Edit

  1. Date: Kikuoka, p.32 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, Sugiyama, item 1080, Lewis, p.35.
  2. "Korok", "Koroku kamera": catalogue by Konishiroku reproduced in Yazawa, p.4 of Camera Collectors' News no.259. "Vesuto Koroku kamera": advertisement reproduced in this page at the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website.
  3. Single-element lens: Yazawa, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.259.
  4. Detailed picture in Yazawa, p.3 of Camera Collectors' News no.259.
  5. Detailed picture in Yazawa, p.3 of Camera Collectors' News no.259.
  6. Chronology of the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  7. Catalogue by Konishi Honten dated 15 March 1916, reproduced in Tanaka, p.92 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and in Yazawa, p.4 of Camera Collectors' News no.259 (the reproduction is more readable in Yazawa).
  8. This is given in old units: 3 sunbu length, 2 sunbu width, 1 sunbu depth, 70 monme weight.
  9. Chronological list reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  10. Extract of Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen reproduced in Tanaka, p.93 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  11. Kikuoka, p.32 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  12. Kikuoka, p.32 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  13. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1080, in Yazawa, pp.1–3 and cover pages of Camera Collectors' News no.259, in Kikuoka, p.32 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, in Lewis, p.35, and in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology. The camera is said to belong to M. Morihara in the three first sources, and the picture is the same in the last three.
  14. Format quoted as 6.5×9cm in Sugiyama, item 1080, and as daimeishi in Kikuoka, p.32 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. — Format quoted as 57×83mm in Lewis, p.35, and in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology, and as meishi (50×77mm actual picture size) in Yazawa, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.259. The most detailed account of the camera is found in Yazawa, who seems to have examined the example at first hand instead of merely via pictures.
  15. Sugiyama, item 1080; Sakai, p.10 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

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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