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Minimum Idea

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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 Minimum Idea (ミニマムアイデア) is a Japanese strut-folding camera taking 5.5×8cm meishi plates (more precisely 55×82mm). It was made by Rokuoh-sha, manufacturing branch of Konishi (the predecessor of Konica), from about 1911.[1]

Description Edit

The Minimum Idea has a wooden body with an almost rectangular front standard mounted on spring-loaded folding struts inspired from some models of the Folding Pocket Kodak. This front standard contains two brilliant finders, for horizontal and vertical pictures, a simple shutter giving Time and Instant settings, and a simple meniscus lens.[2] The name MINIMUM IDEA CAMERA is inscribed on a small nameplate below the lens.

Commercial life Edit

The Minimum Idea was reportedly released in April 1911.[3] It is listed as a new model (最新型) in the December 1911 catalogue of Konishi Honten, where it is called the "Idea" Minimum Camera (ミニマム、アイデヤ、カメラ).[4] The exposure format is 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 as 5.5×8cm, and corresponds to the meishi (名刺) format. The dimensions of the camera are given as 9.7×7.3×2.7cm, and its weight as 225g.[5] The camera was supplied with six single-sided plate holders; set A (A號) included a cloth wallet and cost ¥9.50; set B (B號) included a leather case and cost ¥10.50.[6] Various accessories were also offered for the Minimum Idea, including a tripod and various darkroom accessories to process meishi plates.[7]

It is said that the Minimum Idea was a sales success, at least in relation to the state of the Japanese market at the time.[8] In March 1913, Konishi Honten organized photography awards for pictures taken by the Minimum Idea; the selected photographs were displayed at the fourth exhibition of the Tokyo Photographic Research Society (東京写真研究会).[9] A specific photographic club for the owners of the camera, called the Minimum Photographic Society (ミニマム写真会, Minimamu Shashin Kai), was founded on September 20, 1913.[10] It was perhaps the first time that such clubs appeared in Japan around a specific camera;[11] this would later become a common practice, notably around the Vest Pocket Kodak and Pearlette. The Minimum Idea was succeeded by the Korok, and it announced the wide success of the Pearlette.

Variations Edit

In the original drawings known so far, the camera has a small leg retracting on the right side of the front standard, allowing it to stand on a table, and has no leather handle.[12] On the surviving examples, minor variations are visible in the shape of the standing leg and of the lock for the plate holders.[13] At least one surviving example has no standing leg at all and has an additional leather handle on the top.[14] It probably corresponds to a later evolution of the camera.

Notes Edit

  1. Date: Kikuoka, p.28 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, Sugiyama, item 1085, Lewis, p.21.
  2. Time and Instant, meniscus lens: Kikuoka, p.28 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, Sugiyama, item 1085.
  3. Kikuoka, p.28 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and chronology from the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  4. December 1911 catalogue of Konishi Honten, p.7.
  5. This is given in old units: 3 sunbu length, 2 sunbu width, 9 bu depth, 60 monme weight.
  6. The cloth wallet and leather case are also visible in the advertisement reproduced in this page of the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website.
  7. December 1911 catalogue of Konishi Honten, p.37.
  8. Kikuoka, p.28 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, Sugiyama, item 1085, Lewis, p.21.
  9. Tamura, p.41 of Kokusan kamera no rekishi.
  10. Tamura, p.41 of Kokusan kamera no rekishi, (with the precise date), and Sakai, p.10 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Sugiyama, item 1085, says that various clubs appeared. Lewis, p.26, speaks of the "Minimum Idea Study Society".
  11. This is stated in Sakai, p.10 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  12. December 1911 catalogue of Konishi Honten, p.7, and drawings in this page of the R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha website.
  13. Examples pictured in Sugiyama, item 1085, in Lewis, pp.20–1, in Kamera no ayumi, p.67 (same picture in Sakai, p.10 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10), in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology and in this page and this page of Neco's camera collection.
  14. Example pictured in Kikuoka, p.28 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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