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The Petal (ペタル) is a Japanese subminiature camera taking circular images on round film stock.
General description Edit
The light-tight film cassette is made of two parts: the rear part unscrews, revealing the film stock and factory-loaded paper shims, and the front part contains a spring-loaded dark slide, which opens only when the cassette is secured inside the camera. Preloaded cassettes were sold as "Petal film", and new film discs can be cut in the darkroom from standard 35mm film — it is said that a special film cutter was sold to that purpose.
The Petal can take six exposures on one film disc. The rear part of the camera rotates to move the film from one exposure to the next; the available positions, numbered from 1 to 6, are secured by click-stops.
There is a tubular viewfinder at the top of the camera, showing a round image. The 12mm f/5.6 lens is recessed in a hole in the camera's front plate, and has no aperture control. The shutter is tripped by pressing a button on the top right, as seen by the photographer. It is everset and only has bulb and instant settings, selected by a wheel at the front of the camera.
Two main versions of the camera were produced, distinguished by their round or octagonal shape.
The round Petal Edit
The round Petal is engraved PETAL at the front, and has B and I shutter settings. The bottom part of the front plate is either engraved PATENTS or PATENTED.
It seems that the PATENTS variant came first, perhaps while the patents were pending. At least one camera is known with a diamond-shaped CPO marking on the back, a marking which was in use up to 1949. Some examples have MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN at the same position, and others have no special marking.
The PATENTED variant supposedly came later, perhaps after the patents were actually granted. It is always marked MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN, either on the back or under the camera. At least one camera has been observed with the words N.Y.K. LINE engraved on the back, but the meaning of this inscription is unknown.
The octagonal models Edit
The Sakura Petal has an octagonal main body, a gear-shaped jagged part around the strap lug, and B and 25 indications for the shutter speed. The front plate is engraved SAKURA PETAL and PATENTS, in red and black or in red and middle blue. Variations have been observed in the size of the inscriptions and in the colour distribution.
Presumably early examples of the Sakura Petal have a nickel finish all around, and later ones have chrome plating on the main body, rear plate, speed dial and front half of the viewfinder, and nickel plating on the remaining parts. At least one example has been observed with a cherry blossom and a small flower branch engraved above the model name.
The Evarax A is an uncommon name variant of the Sakura Petal. It is exactly similar, except for the engravings on the front plate: the name Evarax.A. is inscribed at the bottom in medium blue, immediately above the word PATENTS in red. There is a large stylized flower branch with a cherry blossom, in red and blue. The same two colours are used for the speed indications, with 25 in red and B in blue.
Commercial life Edit
Most sources say that the Petal was introduced in 1948, though some say 1947 instead. It is often said that the camera was originally manufactured by a company called St. Peter Optical Company — whose Japanese name was Sei-Petero Kōgaku (聖ペテロ光学). No original document has yet been found to support these claims, which trace back to a Japanese book published in 1971.
The first mention of the Petal in a Japanese photography magazine is a column in the May 1949 issue of Kohga Gekkan. The camera was unusually featured in the foreign press review section, and the price is only quoted in US dollars. This is a sure indication that the camera was only available for export at the time.
- ↑ Picture size is reported as 6mm in Sugiyama, item 5110, and in this page at Submin.com; it is reported as 5mm in Lewis, p.64.
- ↑ Film size is reported as 25mm in Sugiyama, item 5110, and in this page at Submin.com; it is reported as 24mm in Lewis, p.64.
- ↑ Original boxes for "Petal film" are pictured in Pritchard, p.55, and in this page by Nigel Richards.
- ↑ Film cutter: this page at Submin.com.
- ↑ Lens features: Sugiyama, items 5110–1.
- ↑ Example pictured in this page at Submin.com, towards the bottom.
- ↑ Example observed for sale at an online dealer.
- ↑ Example observed in an online auction, and report by Awano, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.247.
- ↑ Example observed in a Japanese online auction.
- ↑ Example observed in a past sale by Auction Team Breker.
- ↑ 1947: Pritchard, p.54, and this page at Submin.com. — 1948: Awano, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.247, Sugiyama, item 5110, Lewis, p.64, and this page by Jerry Friedman at Submin.com.
- ↑ Sugiyama, item 5110, Pritchard, p.54, this page by Jerry Friedman at Submin.com.
- ↑ Japanese name: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.363.
- ↑ Awano, p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.247, says that the name Sei-Petero Kōgaku first appeared in the book Sengo Nihon Kamera Hatten Shi, published in 1971, and was copied in the book Kamera no Ayumi, published in 1976.
- ↑ Column reproduced in Awano, p.4 of Camera Collectors' News no.247.
- ↑ Awano, p.4 of Camera Collectors' News no.247.
- Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Item 803 (see also the picture on p.15).
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Petaru" (ペタル, Petal). In Camera Collectors' News no.247 (January 1998). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.64.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). P.867.
- Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. Pp.54–5.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Items 5035 and 5110–2.
- Petal and instruction manual at Submin.com
- Petal and variations among miscellaneous subminiature cameras at Subclub.org
- Past auctions by Westlicht Photographica Auction:
- Evarax A, lot no.666 of auction no.3 (May 24, 2003)
- Petal (round), lot no.605 of auction no.4 (November 22, 2003)
- Petal (round), lot no.667 of auction no.11 (May 26, 2007)
- Petal (round), lot no.466 of auction no.16 (December 5, 2009)
- Sakura Petal (octagonal), lot no.666 of auction no.9 (May 20, 2006)
- Sakura Petal (octagonal), lot no.741 of auction no.7 (May 21, 2005)
- Sakura Petal (octagonal), lot no.467 of auction no.16 (December 5, 2009)
- Petal in Nigel Richards' website