Fandom

Camerapedia Wiki

Meiritto, Meisupi and Meikai

5,980pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.

Japanese no-need-darkroom cameras (edit)
box Baby Camera | Camerette | Chitose | Congo Camera | Hit-Go | It | Kamerette | Katei | Maruso Camera | Mikasa-Go | Speed-Go | Super Camera | Tougo
folding Baby Camera | Best Camera | Hero-Go | Highking Camera | Katei | Lead-Go | Maruso Camera | Meiko | Midori | Nice-Go |New Type- Unknown maker| Special Camera | Yuuhi-Go
viewfinder Meikai | Meisupi | Meisupi
SLR Auto Reflex | Baby Reflex | Chitose | Speed-Go Reflex
TLR Light-Go | B Light-Go | Maruso Camera | Meikai | Meisupi
unknown Alps | Lion | Tōkō
Plate cameras: monocular, box, folding bed, strut-folding and SLR ->
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6, 6×9 ->

The Meiritto (メイリット), Meisupi (メイスピイ) and Meikai (メイカイ) are Japanese cameras made and sold by Tougodo before 1945.

See also the Meiritto folding camera. The names Meisupii (with a different spelling) and Meikai were used again after the war by the Yamanashi-based Tougodo company: see Meisupii (postwar).

General evolution Edit

The Meisupi series was released in 1937, taking 28×40mm pictures on size C no-need-darkroom sheet film.[1] The cheaper Meisupi models are simple viewfinder cameras, whereas the more expensive ones are side-by-side TLR cameras. The Meiritto was introduced around the same time as a cheaper alternative to the viewfinder-only Meisupi.

The Meikai was introduced in 1940 as a more expensive model, taking 3×4cm pictures on a special rollfilm.[2] Most Meikai models are side-by-side TLR cameras, and the most expensive versions are called Meikai Ref. It is said that some Meikai viewfinder-only models were produced, but their actual existence is unconfirmed. The late Meisupi viewfinder models, probably those made after the introduction of the Meikai, take the same special rollfilm. The production of the Meiritto was also continued, but it is not known if it adopted the newer rollfilm too.

Original documents Edit

The advertisement in Asahi Camera August 1937, placed by the distributor Tōgōdō Shashin Kōgyō, shows and describes the Meisupi TLR.[3] It says that the camera was made by Tougodo, and that more 60 patents were filed for the camera. It lists a number of Meisupi versions, ostensibly differing by the price and lens aperture:

The advertisement says that all the versions have a self-timer, a close-up attachment and a bubble level. The important price differences perhaps indicate that some models were simple viewfinder cameras.

The advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1940, placed by the same company, shows and describes the Meikai TLR.[4] It again lists a number of versions:

  • Special B (特B號), f/6.8 lens, ¥25;
  • Special (特號), f/6.3 lens, ¥38;
  • No.1 (1號), f/4.5 lens, ¥68;
  • No.2 (2號), f/3.8 lens, ¥88.

One source says that only the No.1 and No.2 are TLR cameras, and that the Special and Special B are simple viewfinder cameras.[5]

The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 has various Meiritto, Meisupi and Meikai models, summarized in the table below:[6]

price category set price model names
Type 9, section 1 11 Meiritto No.1, Meiritto No.2, Meiritto No.4
Type 9, section 2 36 Meisupi No.2, Meisupi No.3, Meisupi No.4
Type 9, section 3 31 Meikai Special, Meikai Special B
Type 9, section 4 78 Meikai No.1, Meikai No.2
Type 9, section 7 90 Meikai Ref No.5
Type 9, section 8 50 Meisupi No.8
Type 9, section 9 25 Meisupi No.6

No further detail is given. However the prices and the ordering of the categories might suggest that the models listed in the three first sections are simple viewfinder cameras, and that the models in sections 4, 7, 8, 9 are side-by-side TLR cameras.

The April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production lists a number of models.[7] All are attributed to a company called Sangōsha (三郷社), and Tougodo is listed as the distributor only. The versions are summarized in the table below:

name type material[8] shutter lens
Meiritto I viewfinder wood (?) Patent (T, B, I)[9] Masumi 50/8, meniscus achromat[10]
Meiritto 4 viewfinder wood (?) Patent (T, B, I) Masumi 50/6.3, two elements[11]
Meisupi 2 viewfinder bakelite Patent (T, B, I) Masumi 50/8, meniscus achromat
Meisupi 3 viewfinder bakelite Patent Toumei (B, 25–150)[12] Masumi 50/6.3, two elements
Meisupi 4 viewfinder bakelite Patent Toumei (B, 25–150) Masumi 50/4.5, three elements[13]
Meikai 1 unclear alloy (?) Patent Toumei (B, 25–150) Masumi 50/4.5, three elements
Meikai 2 unclear alloy (?) TM (T, B, 25–150)[14] MK 50/4.5, three elements[15]
Meikai Ref 5 unclear alloy (?) TM (T, B, 25–200)[16] MK 50/3.8, three elements[17]
Meikai Ref 8 unclear alloy (?) Patent Shutter (T, B, 5–200)[18] MK 50/3.5, three elements[19]

Viewfinder-only models Edit

The Meiritto, Meisupi and Meikai were made in a great variety of models. The descriptions below correspond to the surviving examples actually observed. All the models have a telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly, and an everset shutter with no body release.

Sheet film, octagonal body Edit

The early models take 28×40mm sheet film and have an octagonal body, as seen from the top.

The Meisupi I[20] has an eye-level finder and a brilliant finder combined in a rectangular casing at the top. There is a round part at the left end of the top plate, containing a bubble level and holding the close-up attachment lens when it is unused. The back has a hinged door at the far right, to load the film sheets, and a pivoting cover in the middle, engraved PATENT Meisupi with the Tougodo logo, certainly covering a red window, whose purpose is unknown. There is another logo at the front of the body, perhaps reading TMS inside a circle. The apparent metal parts and the body edges are nickel-plated. The shutter has B, 25, 50, 100 settings. The black shutter plate is inscribed Meisupi I at the top and has the logo of Tougodo on the right. It perhaps also has the word "Toumei", reported by various sources.[21] The fixed-focus lens is reported as a Masumi Anastigmat, and has an adjustable diaphragm from f/6.3 to f/22.[22]

The octagonal Meiritto[23] has a folding frame finder at the top and a small cylindrical post at the left end, whose use is unknown. The shutter has O, I, B settings. The black shutter plate is inscribed PATENT SHUTTER at the top with the Tougodo logo, and MEIRITTO at the bottom. The unnamed fixed-focus lens has three aperture settings, simply marked 1, 2, 3.

Sheet film, rounded body Edit

The viewfinder-only models adopted a rounded body at some time. The early ones still take 28×40mm sheet film only.

The dual-finder rounded Meisupi[24] has the dual-finder casing of the Meisupi I, and a larger cylindrical prominence at the top, containing a magnetic compass. The back consists of a large metal plate screwed to the main body, richly decorated with the words Meisupi PATENT and the Tougodo logo. The shutter has B, 25, 50, 100 settings. The shutter plate has silver stripes and a dented pattern on the outer border. It is inscribed PATENT TOUMEI SHUTTER at the top and Meisupi at the bottom, and has a red Tougodo logo at the top right. The lens has a diaphragm from 6.3 to 22.

The Meisupi A[25] has a tubular optical finder at the top and cylindrical posts at both ends of the top plate. The shutter has O, I, B settings. The shutter plate is black with a silver rim. It is inscribed PATENT SHUTTER at the top with the Tougodo logo, and Meisupi A at the bottom. The lens is unnamed, and has diaphragm settings from 8 to 22.

The Meispee B is reportedly similar to the Meisupi A, with an unnamed f/6.8 lens and the name inscribed as "Meispee B" on the shutter plate.[26]

The viewfinder-only Meisupi B[27] is similar to the Meisupi A but has a Masumi Anastigmat 50mm f/6.3 lens. The shutter plate is black with thin horizontal lines in the middle. It is inscribed Meisupi B at the top and PATENT SHUTTER at the bottom, and has the Tougodo logo on the right.

The dual-finder rounded Meiritto, called "Meiritto No.3" in Sugiyama,[28] has the same dual-finder casing as the Meisupi models. It has a fake metal advance knob at the left end of the top plate, containing a compass. The shutter has B, 25, 50, 100 settings. The shutter plate has thin silver stripes and is inscribed TOUGODO CAMERA WORKS PATENT SHUTTER at the top and Meiritto at the bottom, with the Tougodo logo on the right. The lens is reported as a Masumi Anastigmat and has a diaphragm from 6.3 to 22.[29]

The tubular-finder rounded Meiritto have a tubular optical finder at the top, larger than that of the Meisupi A. One example[30] is known with a large cylindrical prominence at the top left, containing a compass, the same as on the dual-finder rounded Meisupi. The back has the same structure, with a large metal plate screwed to the main body, decorated with the words Meiritto PATENT in the middle, TOUGO MARK and a Tougodo logo at the top. The shutter has O, I, B settings. The shutter plate is black with a large silver rim, and is inscribed Meiritto at the top and PATENT SHUTTER at the bottom, with the Tougodo logo on the right. The unnamed lens has three aperture settings: 1, 2, 3.

Another example, called "Meiritto Special" in Sugiyama,[31] has a smaller cylindrical post instead of the compass support. The lens and shutter have the same features as on the previous example. The shutter plate has similar inscriptions but has no Tougodo logo and has a different checkered pattern.

The folding-finder rounded Meiritto[32] is similar to the so-called "Meiritto Special" but has a folding frame finder at the top. The lens and shutter have the same features. The shutter plate has the same checkered pattern but has the words PATENT SHUTTER at the top with the Tougodo logo, and MEIRITTO at the bottom.

Rollfilm, rounded body with hinged back Edit

The viewfinder-only models were modified at some time to take 3×4cm pictures on the special rollfilm introduced for the Meikai TLR. The rounded body was lengthened and the camera received a back hinged to the right.

The dual-finder rollfilm Meisupi[33] has an all-black body and the same viewfinder casing as on the previous dual-finder models. The advance knob is at the left end, the reverse of the Meikai TLR. It is probably surrounded by a disc with frame number indications. The shutter has B, 25, 50, 100 settings. The shutter plate has silver stripes and is inscribed PATENT TOUMEI SHUTTER at the top and Meisupi at the bottom, with no logo. The lens is reported as a Masumi Anastigmat and has a diaphragm from 6.3 to 22.[34]

The tubular-finder rollfilm Meisupi[35] has a silver top and bottom plate and a tubular finder at the top. The advance knob, at the right end of the top plate, is made of black plastic and has a conical shape, similar to that of the late Meikai. There is a black cylindrical part at the left end, certainly holding the close-up attachment lens. The shutter has O, I, B settings. The shutter plate has a checkered pattern, different from that of the rounded Meiritto. It has the words PATENT SHUTTER at the top and MEISUPI at the bottom, with no logo. The unnamed lens has three aperture settings: 8, 16 and 32. This progression perhaps indicates that these are Uniform Scale settings, respectively corresponding to f/11, f/16 and f/22. The camera certainly has no diaphragm but a plate with Waterhouse stops.

Viewfinder-only versions of the Meikai were perhaps made, but none has been observed so far.[36] It is not known if rollfilm versions of the Meiritto were ever released.[37]

Meisupi TLR models Edit

The Meisupi TLR models have an octagonal shape, similar to that of the early viewfinder model but longer. The taking lens and exposure chamber are offset on the right, as seen by the photographer. The left part of the body contains a reflex finder. The viewing lens is fixed-focus and has a conical barrel, and the reflex finder is only used for framing. There is an additional tubular finder on the top plate, to the left of the reflex viewing hood. This tubular finder is similar to that of the Meisupi A.

Fixed-focus Meisupi TLR Edit

The fixed-focus Meisupi TLR have no focusing ability, nickel-plated metal parts and a black tubular finder and viewing hood with no nameplate. The back is similar to that of the Meisupi I, with a hinged door at the far right used to load the film sheets, and a pivoting cover in the middle, engraved PATENT Meisupi with the Tougodo logo, covering a red window whose purpose is unknown.

The TLR Meisupi B[38] has a small compass at the right end of the top plate. The tubular finder is blue-tinted, to help imagining the final black-and-white result. The viewing lens is engraved TOUGO ANASTIGMAT in white on a black background. The shutter gives B, 100, 50, 25 settings engraved in that order. The shutter plate is black with thin horizontal lines in the middle. It is inscribed Meisupi B at the top and TOUMEI at the bottom, with the Tougodo logo on the right. It is thus similar to that of the viewfinder Meisupi I but for the camera name. The taking lens has diaphragm settings from 6.3 to 22.

The Meisupi II, called "Meisupi No.2" in some sources, is known in two versions. Both have B, 100, 50, 25 speeds and an f/6.3 lens. One version[39] has a compass at the right end of the top plate, and is extremely similar to the TLR Meisupi B, but for the plain black shutter plate engraved Meisupi II at the top, with the shutter name and Tougodo company name at the bottom, and the Tougodo logo on the right. The other version[40] has a bubble level instead, contained in a larger cylindrical part holding the close-up attachment lens. Its viewing lens has an unmarked silver rim, and its shutter plate is inscribed Meisupi II at the top and TOUMEI SHUTTER at the bottom.

The Meisupi III, called "Meisupi No.3" in some sources,[41] has a Masumi Anastigmat 50mm f/5.6 lens. All the known examples have the bubble level and close-up lens holder. The viewing lens is engraved TOUGO MASUMI LENS in black on a metal background. The shutter has 25, 50, 100, B, T speeds set by turning the rim. The shutter plate is inscribed PATENT TM SHUTTER at the top and certainly Meisupi III at the bottom, and has the Tougodo logo at the top right.

Focusing Meisupi TLR Edit

The focusing Meisupi TLR have a focusing helical at the base of the telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly. This focusing ring is not coupled to the reflex finder, which has no focusing ability. In addition, the focusing models have a chrome-plated tubular finder, chrome fittings on the viewing hood and a Meisupi nameplate screwed to the front of the hood. All the known focusing models have the bubble-level and the stand for the close-up lens.

The f/4.5 focusing Meisupi, called "Meisupi IV" by one source,[42] has an f/4.5 taking lens and 25, 50, 100, 200, B, T shutter speeds. The viewing lens and shutter plate are similar to those of the Meisupi III, except probably for the camera name. The distance scale is engraved in feet.[43] The back differs from the fixed-focus Meisupi TLR models, and has no red window but a large chrome-plated rectangular plate, onto which is screwed a depth-of-field table.

Another example of the focusing Meisupi is known with a simpler shutter and taking lens, but the details are unknown.[44]

Meikai and Meikai Ref TLR models Edit

Notes Edit

  1. Date: Sugiyama, item 4083.
  2. Date: Sugiyama, items 4094–5.
  3. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.99.
  4. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.99.
  5. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.342.
  6. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 9, sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9.
  7. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 129–32 and 189–93.
  8. This data is highly suspect.
  9. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-V-17.
  10. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Jd5.
  11. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Jd3. The reproduction of the document mentions lens item Jd4, certainly by mistake.
  12. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-V-13.
  13. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Jc4. The reproduction of the document mentions lens item Jc14, certainly by mistake.
  14. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-V-4.
  15. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Jc5.
  16. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-V-9.
  17. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Jc1.
  18. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-U-2.
  19. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item Jb1.
  20. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4083, example pictured in McKeown, p.930, and example observed in an online auction.
  21. Sugiyama, item 4083, and description of an online auction.
  22. Lens: Sugiyama, item 4083.
  23. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4084.
  24. Example observed in an online auction.
  25. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4085. This is perhaps the same example which is pictured in Neoka, p.24 of Camera Collectors' News no.36. The information is reproduced in McKeown, p.930.
  26. All features: description in McKeown, p.930. This source wonders if the camera is an export version, but it might as well be a typo in the markings, something not unusual at the time among the cheaper Japanese cameras.
  27. Example pictured in McKeown, p.930.
  28. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4089. The information is reproduced in McKeown, p.930.
  29. Lens: Sugiyama, item 4089.
  30. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4086.
  31. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4087.
  32. Example pictured in Lewis, p.43, and example observed in an online auction.
  33. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4088.
  34. Lens: Sugiyama, item 4088.
  35. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4090.
  36. Viewfinder-only Meikai are mentioned in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.342. The Meikai Special and Special B advertised in 1940 were much cheaper than the Meikai No.1 and No.2 TLR, and this might be a hint that they were viewfinder-only cameras.
  37. The April 1943 government inquiry mentions the Meiritto but only says that the film is a "special type", which may apply to sheet film as well as to the Meikai rollfilm.
  38. Example observed in an online auction.
  39. Example pictured in McKeown, p.930.
  40. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4092, and example pictured in Naka, p.26 of Camera Collectors' News no.47.
  41. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 4093, example pictured in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology, and example observed in an online auction and pictured in this page at classic-camera.com, where it is reported as a "Meisupi No.2".
  42. Example pictured in McKeown, p.930, where it is called "Meisupi IV", example pictured in this page by Nekosan, example pictured in Tanaka, p.26 of Camera Collectors' News no.31, and example observed in an online auction.
  43. The distance scale is not visible on the example pictured in McKeown, p.930, for some unknown reason.
  44. Example pictured in this page at ccc2000.net.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In Japanese:

In Chinese:

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki