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Petri Super

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Postwar models (edit)
folding
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The Petri Super (ペトリスーパー) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera with a coupled rangefinder, made by Kuribayashi in 1954–5. The Petri Super V (ペトリスーパーV型) is a derivative announced in 1955 but perhaps never released.

The Petri Super Edit

Description Edit

The camera is a vertical folder, with the same architecture as the 4.5×6cm Weltur made before World War II by the German company Welta. In the early 1940s, Kuribayashi already released a copy of the Weltur called the Auto Semi First, and the Petri Super may be considered an updated version of the latter.

The folding struts, focusing mechanism and rangefinder coupling cam are copied on the Weltur. The camera is focused by a small knob placed on the right of the folding bed, moving the whole lens and shutter assembly (unit focusing). The main difference with the German camera and the Auto Semi First is that the distance scale is engraved on the focus knob, instead of lying under a cover inside the folding bed.

The chrome top housing containing the combined range- and viewfinder looks the same as on the former cameras, only slightly more modern with a small rectangular window for the rangefinder and no protruding frame. The eyepiece is at the right end of the camera — as seen by the photographer. There is a depth-of-field table above the top casing, marked ORIKKOR LENS and Made by Kuribayashi Camera Works Co., Ltd., and an accessory shoe on the side. The shutter release is to the left of the casing and is surrounded by a male thread to attach a distant release. The advance knob is placed next to it, at the left end of the top plate, unlike the Weltur and Auto Semi First.

The back is hinged to the left for film loading, and is retained by a sliding bar on the right. The film advance is fully manual, controlled via a single red window at the top right, protected by a vertically sliding cover. The bottom plate is chrome finished. It has film flanges on both sides, and a massive fairing for the tripod thread in the middle. There is also a small button used to release the folding bed.

The camera name Petri Super is embossed in the leather covering on the back, and also appears on a plate screwed inside the folding bed, marked Coupled Range Finder Petri Super KURIBAYASHI CAMERA WORKS CO., LTD. MADE IN TOKYO JAPAN, with Kuribayashi's round logo. The ever-ready case is made of brown leather, with the name Petri Super embossed at the front and Kuribayashi's logo embossed at the top. It has a hole at the front for the focus knob.

The regular Petri Super has a four-element[1] Orikkor 7.5cm f/3.5 lens, whose rim is engraved KURIBAYASHI C. ORIKKOR 1:3.5 f=7.5cm No.xxxxx on a black background (with a red C. for Coated). The shutter is a Carperu (1–200, B) in #0 size[1] with a self-timer and flash synchronization via a PC socket. There is a nameplate above the shutter casing, marked CARPERU SHUTTER, Flash synchronizer, Self-timer and Made by Kuribayashi Camera Works Co., Ltd., with the red logo of Kuribayashi.

Commercial life Edit

The Petri Super was first announced in Japanese photography magazines dated April 1954, and was advertised from June 1954 to March 1955.[2] The advertisements placed in Asahi Camera are reproduced below. Those from June to August 1954 are mainly about the 1954 Petri Camera Contest, and only show a picture of the camera in a corner.[3] The September advertisement gives an extensive description of the camera, but does not mention a price.[4] From October to December, the Petri Super is listed for ¥17,500, case included.

At the same time, Kuribayashi was also offering the Petri RF 4.5×6cm rangefinder camera for ¥5,000 less. This camera had a much more modern look and feel than the Petri Super, but had a lesser three-element lens. In 1955, the Petri Super was looking quite antiquated, and was not on par with contemporary coupled-rangefinder cameras for action shooting.[5] Despite its good four-element lens and robust construction,[5] it was not a big commercial success.

Variations and actual examples Edit

Serial numbers on the Orikkor f/3.5 lens are known in the 22xxx and 23xxx range, from 22221 to 2360x. The sequence of numbers seems specific to this lens, which was also used on the Petriflex 6×6cm TLR (in taking and viewing position). Consequently, total production of the Petri Super may be estimated at around 1,000 units.

Three variants have been identified, differing by the markings on the shutter face and by the presence or absence of a film reminder. The first variant has a round leatherette patch on top of the advance knob and no film reminder. On the shutter, the name CARPERU is inscribed at the top of the fixed part, and the speed scale is engraved on the rotating rim in the order 1–200, B. For this variant, lens numbers have been observed from 222xx to 225xx. The second variant has identical shutter markings and a film reminder added at the top of the advance knob, with provision for HSPAN, PAN, COLOR, ORTHO and INFRA-RED. The only serial number confirmed so far is 23189.

The third variant has different shutter markings. The speed scale is engraved in the reverse order (B, 200–1) at the top of the fixed part, and the aperture scale has a newer style. The name CARPERU is normally inscribed at the bottom of the rotating rim, but it is sometimes absent.[6] For this variant, lens numbers are known in the 235xx and 236xx range.

The Petri Super V Edit

The Petri Super V was an evolution of the Petri Super, announced in February 1955 and advertised from March to June of the same year.[2] No surviving example has been observed yet, and it is dubious if the camera was actually released on the market.

In the April 1955 advertisement in Camera Mainichi, the Petri Super V was listed in two versions.[7] One, priced at ¥21,000, has an Orikkor 8.4cm f/2.8 five-element lens, a Seikosha-Rapid shutter (B, 1–400) and double exposure prevention.[8] The other, priced at ¥19,000, has the same Orikkor 7.5cm f/3.5 four-element lens as the ordinary Petri Super. It is not entirely clear if it has the other two features but the ¥2,000 price difference with the earlier model makes this likely.

In the document, the pictured camera has a Seikosha-Rapid, certainly paired with the wider f/2.8 lens. The top casing extends all the way to the left, under the shutter release and advance knob, certainly to accommodate an interlock mechanism between these two controls. Inside the folding bed, the nameplate has a clear-coloured instead of black background.

Notes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Advertisement in Asahi Camera September 1954, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.179.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.364.
  3. Advertisements in Asahi Camera June 1954, p.87, July 1954, p.115, August 1954, p.48, September 1954, p.105, October 1954, p.118, November 1954, p.92, and December 1954, p.104. Those dated September and December are reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.179.
  4. Advertisement in Asahi Camera September 1954, p.105, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.179.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Test report by Haga, p.203 of Asahi Camera October 1955.
  6. The CARPERU marking is absent from the shutter of the example pictured in Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.21, but appears on all the other cameras observed so far.
  7. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.179.
  8. Baird, p.126 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, says that the wider lens was an Orikkor 75/2.9, and the shutter was a Seikosha-MX with 1/500 top speed, but these specifications seem mistaken.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

  • Asahi Camera. Advertisements by Kuribayashi Shashinki Seisakusho:
    • June 1954, p.87;
    • July 1954, p.115;
    • August 1954, p.48;
    • September 1954, p.105;
    • October 1954, p.118;
    • November 1954, p.92;
    • December 1954, p.104.
  • Haga Hideo (芳賀日出男). "Kokusan kamera shiyōki Petori Sūpā" (国産カメラ使用記ペトリスーパー, Japanese camera user report: the Petri Super). In Asahi Camera October 1955, pp.75 and 203.

Recent sources Edit

Links Edit

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