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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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The Roavic (ローヴイック) is a Japanese 4.5×6 folding camera made by Miyoshi Kōgaku from 1940.

Description Edit

The Roavic is an horizontal folder; the folding struts and the general design are inspired from the Duo Six-20 Series II by Kodak AG. The camera is a successor to the Semi Prux, itself a copy of the Duo Six-20.

The optical finder is enclosed in the middle of a chrome top housing. The advance knob is on the right end, as seen by the photographer, and the body release is next to it. The name ROAVIC is engraved above the viewfinder, together with the serial number. There is an accessory shoe on the left, and the folding bed release is just in front of it. There is a rotating depth-of-field dial on the left end.

The back is hinged to the left and has two rectangular red windows, protected by a common sliding cover. The name Roavic is also embossed in the back leather, and the inner side of the back is engraved U.L.L.,[1] indicating that the camera was made by Miyoshi. There is a chrome bottom plate, with a tripod thread in the middle and film flanges at both ends. The lens standard consists of a chrome plate, supporting the lens and shutter assembly.

Commercial life Edit

The earliest advertisement reported for the Roavic is dated June 1940.[2] The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, has a Roavic I for ¥120 and a Roavic II for ¥160, with no further detail.[3] The same two versions also appear in a similar price list dated November 1941, where the camera is attributed to Miyoshi.[4]

The camera was featured as a new product in the February 1941 issue of Asahi Camera.[2] The column reportedly describes the Roavic I with Parkur-Rapid shutter (T, B, 1–500) and the Roavic II with Parkur shutter (T, B, 5–200).[2] These specifications are not consistent with the official price lists, perhaps because there was a mistake in the magazine.

The February 1942 issue of Shashin Bunka contains an advertisement by Miyoshi Kōgaku for the Roavic.[5] The main text mentions U.L.L. f/4.5 and f/3.5 lenses and a Parkur-Rapid shutter, described as a copy of the Compur-Rapid with five blades. However, the bottom part of the advertisement lists the following versions:

The Roavic is still mentioned in the April 1943 government inquiry listing Japanese camera production, with the U.L.L. 75/3.5 lens and Parkur-Rapid shutter.[6]

The Roavic was produced again after the war as the Apollo and Mikado, made by Sumida.

Surviving examples Edit

The camera pictured above has a U.L.L. Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5 lens and an unidentified shutter giving T, B, 5–200 speeds. It is the oldest example found so far, with serial no.3666.

Other surviving cameras have body numbers in the 4xxx and 5xxx range, sometimes with non-standard lens and shutter combinations. At least one camera has a D.K.K. 7.5cm f/3.5 lens on an unidentified shutter.[7] The lens bezel is merely engraved F=7.5cm 1:3.5 D.K.K. N°51129.

Another camera is known with a Nissei Anastigmat 8.0cm f/4.5 lens on a Nissei shutter (T, B, 1–400).[8] The lens has a very low serial number (either 267 or 287). The shutter is marked NISSEI at the bottom of the rim, and n.m.k. Nissei on a small crescent-shaped plate screwed above the lens. The "n.m.k." initials are found on other Japanese products of the time, but their meaning is currently obscure. The Nissei lens and shutter were probably made in the immediate postwar period, and were perhaps attached on that particular camera as a retrofit.
20130923 132950

Roavic No. 4075

Notes Edit

  1. Picture observed in a website that is now offline.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
  3. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 5B and 7B.
  4. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 5B and 7B.
  5. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.105.
  6. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 64, lens item Lb11, shutter item 18-R-5.
  7. Example observed in an online auction.
  8. Example observed in an online auction.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

  • "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 3, sections 5B and 7B.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Item 64.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in 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. Pp.108—9. Type 3, sections 5B and 7B.

Recent sources Edit

The Roavic is not listed in Sugiyama.

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