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National (4×6.5)

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Japanese Vest (4×5 and 4×6.5) (edit)
folding
4×4.5 Orient
4×5 Minion
4×6.5 Clover Vest | Dianette | Eagle | Friend | Kooa | National | New Vest | Nifcarette | Pearlette | B Pearlette | Special Pearlette | Pionette | Pocket Prince | Sirius Bebe | Speed Pocket | Tsubasa Spring | [[Victory]
rigid or collapsible
4×5 Alfax | Olympus Standard | Sakura (bakelite) | [[Well Standard|Well Standar
4×6.5 Vest Adler | Vest Alex | Kowa Kid | Light | Light Super | Baby Minolta | Minolta Vest | Regal Olympic | Vest Olympic | Tsubasa Chrome | Zen-99
box
4×6.5 Baby Clover | Sakura (box) | Spirit
unknown
4×5 Vesten
999+99*9999999 Victor Vest
unknown Meiro
Japanese 3×4 and 4×4, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

For the National 4.5×6 and 6×6 folders, see National and Ugein.

The National (ナショナル) is a Japanese folding camera, taking both 4×6.5 and 3×4 pictures on 127 film and distributed by Eikōdō from 1936 to 1938.[1] The actual maker is unknown: it might be Tōa Kōki, which made the contemporary Semi National and National Six. All the models are vertical folders, with the advance knob at the bottom right, as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally, and all have an Elka shutter giving 25, 50, 100, B speeds.

First version: frame finder Edit

The first version of the National has a folding frame finder, with two bars in the front frame to indicate the 3×4 image size. It is said that the Elka shutter is dial-set in the earliest reported advertisement, in Asahi Camera July 1936, whereas it is rim-set in all later advertisements.[2] An advertisement in the June 1st, 1935 issue of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin[3] says that the National cameras were distributed by Eikōdō; it is not known if it corresponds to the 4×6.5 rollfilm camera or to another National model.

In an advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1937,[4] the National is offered in three lens versions:

The camera pictured in the advertisement corresponds to the f/4.5 version. It has incurved folding struts and the lens standard is hinged to the foot of these struts in the usual way. The folding bed release is placed to the right of the viewfinder and intentionally looks like a body release. It seems that the lens is front-cell focusing. The front leather is embossed National.

The only surviving example observed so far is pictured in Sugiyama and has a fixed focus 70mm f/6.8 lens marked TORIONER.[8] It has some differences with the camera pictured in the advertisements: the folding struts are straight except for a small triangular hump and the lens standard is hinged to about the middle of these struts. The front leather has no markings but it is perhaps not original. It is not known if these features correspond to a version made at a different date or to the f/6.8 version only.

Second version: tubular finder Edit

The second version has a rigid tubular finder, again with two bars in the front frame for 3×4 pictures.

The advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1937[9] lists the same lens options as in March, at an unchanged price, except that the Heliostar lens name is written Hemiostar,[10] presumably a typo.

In the advertisement in the June 1938 issue of the same magazine,[11] all the lenses are called Torioner or perhaps Trionar (トリオナー).[12] The prices are slightly higher:

  • Trionar/Torioner f/6.8 (¥19.50);
  • Trionar/Torioner f/6.3 (¥30);
  • Trionar/Torioner f/4.5 (¥38).

No surviving example of that version has yet been observed.

Notes Edit

  1. Dates: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  2. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  3. Advertisement on p.9, reproduced on p.27 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  4. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.80.
  5. Inferred from the katakana トリオナー and from the TORIONER marking in Sugiyama, item 1209.
  6. Inferred from the katakana ヘリオスター.
  7. The adverisement reads ベンナー in katakana, probably designating the Venner lens made by Ginrei Kōki.
  8. Sugiyama, item 1209.
  9. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.72.
  10. Inferred from the katakana ヘミオスター.
  11. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.81.
  12. The spelling Torioner is found on the example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1209, but a Trionar f/4.5 lens is reported in Sugiyama, item 1035, and McKeown, p.261, on the Collex, a contemporary camera also distributed by Eikōdō.

Bibliography Edit

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