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Ramera

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Japanese subminiature on cine film (edit)
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unknown Matchbox camera
roll film and other film see Japanese roll film subminiature
110 film see Japanese 110 film

The Ramera (ラメラ) is a fancy combination of a transistor radio and a 16mm camera, made by Kowa in 1959–60. It was also distributed by Bell International Corp. under the name Bell Kamra.[1] The camera part was sold alone in limited quantities as the Bell 16.

Both the Ramera and Bell Kamra are alternatively named "Model KTC-62", where "KTC" certainly stands for Kowa Transistor Camera. This name is in line with the "KT" model names used for other Kowa transistor radios.[2]

Context Edit

The idea of combining a radio and a camera was made possible by the emergence of pocket transistor radios in the 1950s. It was first done in 1959 by Kowa, both a radio maker and a camera maker.[3] (This was four years after the release of the first Japanese transistor radio by Tōkyō Tsūshin Kōgyō, predecessor of Sony.)[4] Kowa had no previous experience of subminiature cameras and decided to use the Minolta 16 cassette system for the camera part, which was disproportionately smaller than the transistor radio. In 1963, Minolta revived the idea with the Sonocon 16, based on the Minolta 16 and integrating a miniaturized radio component in a much smaller package.

Description of the camera alone Edit

The Bell 16 is the camera part alone, and is very uncommon.[5] It takes twenty 10×14mm pictures on 16mm film in Minolta 16 cassettes.[6] It is shaped as a matchbox, with the lens on the larger side and satin metal finish overall. The viewfinder is at the bottom right, as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally.

The film is advanced and the shutter is cocked by pulling a bar on the right, next to the shutter release. The exposure counter is visible in a small window next to the viewfinder eyepiece — it displays a red dot when the shutter is cocked, and the number of exposures after a picture has been taken.[7] There are two dials at the top, near the front edge, controlling the aperture on the left (from 3.5 to 11) and the shutter speed on the right (B, 50, 100, 200). The rest of the top plate is hinged to the left for film loading, and is opened by a button next to the shutter release. The camera is synchronized for flash, via a PC connection on the front plate.

The lens is a fixed-focus Prominar 25mm f/3.5, made of three elements.[8] On the Bell 16, it is surrounded by a round plate inscribed 1:3.5 f=25mm and 16 Bell.

Combined radio and camera Edit

The Ramera and Bell Kamra contain the camera described above, stripped of its metal casing, combined with a transistor radio inside in a plastic shell. The camera part is inserted at the right end of the item, and is oriented vertically, with the release button at the bottom right and the film loading door at the right end, as seen from the rear. The lens is surrounded by a rectangular metal plate inscribed ramera KOWA or BELL kamra in red and white, and Prominar 1:3.5 f=23mm.

The radio part was made by Kowa itself, which was offering a range of transistor radios at the time.[9] There is a large round loudspeaker on the front face, a tune dial, a volume dial and an earphone socket on the left face, and a tripod thread on the underside.

The rear part of the plastic shell is removable, giving access to the radio internals to change the 9V battery, and revealing part of the camera's mechanism. The radio's specifications are reported on a sticker inside: 6 TRANSISTOR / FREQ. RANGE 535–1605KC / OUTPUT 70mW / BATTERY 006P. The electrical scheme is sometimes displayed on another sticker. One of the electrical components is sometimes inscribed KOWA, and sometimes has a sticker with the radio's serial number.

The Ramera and Bell Kamra exist in four different colours: red, blue, ivory and black.[10] The front and rear half of the plastic casing is usually of a different colour. The following patterns are confirmed:

front rear names
black white Bell Kamra[11] / Ramera[12]
blue white Bell Kamra[13] / Ramera[14]
blue blue Ramera[15]
red white Bell Kamra[16] / Ramera[17]
white black Bell Kamra[18] / Ramera[19]
white red Bell Kamra[20] / Ramera[21]

The device was normally sold in a red cardboard box, inscribed ramera KOWA and MODEL KTC-62, or BELL kamra and MODEL KTC-62 MADE IN JAPAN. It contains the radio camera, an ever-ready case, an earphone and its own pouch, a strap, a transparent plastic lens cap, and the user manual. The colour of the main case, strap and earphone case matches that of the front casing.

Commercial life Edit

The Ramera was announced in Camera Mainichi in April 1959, and was featured in other Japanese magazines from July onwards.[22] It was advertised in Japan for a brief period, from November 1959 to March 1950,[22] at the price of ¥12,800.[23] It seems that the bulk of the production was directed to the export market.[24] The Bell Kamra and Bell 16 were certainly distributed by Bell International in the US only.[1]

Notes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 The company name "Bell International Corp." appears on the instruction manual of the Bell Kamra, reproduced here at Submin.com.
  2. For other Kowa KT models, see this page at Fifties Radio.
  3. For other Kowa transistor radios, see this page at Fifties Radio.
  4. See this page of the Sony company history.
  5. Examples are pictured in Sugiyama, item 5016, and in this page on Kowa cameras.
  6. Instruction manuals of the Ramera and Bell Kamra, reproduced here at Submin.com.
  7. Operation of the exposure counter: instruction manuals of the Ramera and Bell Kamra, reproduced here at Submin.com.
  8. Three elements: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.413.
  9. For other Kowa transistor radios, see this page at Fifties Radio.
  10. Colour names given in the instruction manual of the Bell Kamra, reproduced here at Submin.com.
  11. Example observed in an online auction.
  12. Example pictured in this page at Submin.com, in this page at Chokkura Pinboke, in this page at Cameras Downunder and in this page at Benbojo's Classic Cameras.
  13. Example pictured in this page at Submin.com.
  14. Example observed in an online auction.
  15. Example pictured in this page at Benbojo's Classic Cameras.
  16. Examples pictured in this page at Submin.com and in this page at Benbojo's Classic Cameras.
  17. Example pictured in this page at Submin.com.
  18. Example pictured in this page at Submin.com.
  19. Examples pictured in this page at Submin.com and in this page at Benbojo's Classic Cameras.
  20. Example pictured in this page at Chokkura Pinboke.
  21. Example sold as lot no.658 of Westlicht Photographica Auction no.11, and example observed in an online auction.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.413.
  23. Price: advertisement in Asahi Camera December 1959 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.314.
  24. Lewis, p.103, says that the Ramera was "primarily made for export".

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In Spanish:

In Japanese:

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