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Japanese Baby (3×4) and Four (4×4) (edit)
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rigid or collapsible
3×4 Baika | Baby Chrome | Comet | Cyclon | Gelto | Baby Germa | Gokoku | Hamond | Baby Hawk | Kinka Lucky | Lausar | Light | Baby Light | Molby | Mulber | Olympic | Baby Ōso | Peacock | Picny | Ricohl | Rorox | Shinko Baby | Slick | Baby Sport | Tsubasa Arawashi | Baby Uirus | Zessan
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4×4 Alma Four | Andes Four | Anny 44 | Arsen | Balnet Four | Bonny Four | Freude | Kalimar 44 | Auto Keef | Kraft | Letix | Mykey-4 | Olympic Four | Roico | Royal Senior | Seica | Terra Junior | Vero Four | Welmy 44 | Yashica Future 127
Baby First | Baby Lyra Flex
Japanese SLR, TLR, pseudo TLR and stereo models ->
Japanese 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Roico (ロイコ) is a 4×4cm format camera, made by Riken Kōgaku Kōgyō (today Ricoh) from 1940 or 1941. The Roico name is the acronym of Riken Optical Industry Co.,[1] and the camera was certainly produced in Riken's Ōji plant.[2] At about the same time, a sub-company of Riken called Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō was making the Letix, another 4×4 camera.

General description Edit

The Roico has a metal body, said to be based on the body of the Gokoku and Ricohl 3×4 camera,[3] without the focal plane shutter and adapted for the larger 4×4 exposure format. It seems that the Molby camera by Kuribayashi also shares the same body.

The lens and shutter assembly is mounted on a collapsible helical with a focusing tab. There is a tubular optical finder in the middle of the top plate and an accessory shoe at the left end. The name ROICO is engraved between the two.

The advance knob is at the top right and is mounted on a small housing containing an automatic stop advance device and an exposure counter. (This device was necessary because at the time, the film paper backing was not marked for 4×4cm pictures.) The frame counter is reset by a rotating button which looks like a body release (certainly on purpose). The release lever itself is on the shutter housing.

The back is removed together with the bottom plate for film loading. It contains a single red window on the left, protected by a cover retracted via a thumbwheel. The red window is used to set the position of the first exposure. The back is locked by rotating knobs at both ends of the bottom plate, with O and L positions. The serial number is engraved in the left hand knob. There is a red window in the back, apparently protected by a rotating cover.

All the Roico models have a Roico Anastigmat 60mm f/3.5 lens unless noted. It is a three-element lens made by Nippon Kōsokki.[4]

Original Roico Edit

The Roico camera was perhaps planned after the Gokoku proved unreliable, to make use of the dies or body castings. It is announced for future release (予告) in advertisements for the Olympic Four in the March to May 1940 issues of Asahi Camera.[5] In these documents, no price is indicated and no picture is provided. The camera is announced as having a 60mm f/3.5 lens, T, B, 5–250 speeds, auto-stop film advance, helical unit-focusing and a parallax correcting viewfinder. This version with parallax correcting finder might correspond to the "Roico I", but that feature was certainly abandoned before the camera went into series production.

Early Roico II Edit

The camera appears in the list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, under the names "Roico II" (¥95) and "Roico III" (¥125), with no further details.[6] In an advertisement in the January 1941 issue of Asahi Camera, the Roico II is listed as a new product with a 60mm f/3.5 lens and T, B, 5–250 speeds.[7] The document mentions helical unit-focusing and auto-stop film advance, but not parallax correction; again no picture is given.

The Roico II was advertised in February and April 1941 by the distributor Doi Shōten.[8] These documents mention the lens name Roico Anastigmat and the price of ¥95, and show a picture of the camera.

Actual examples corresponding to the early Roico II have been observed with a Roico Anastigmat 60mm f/3.5 and an everset shutter giving 5–250, B, T speeds.[9]

Late Roico II and Roico III Edit

The Roico II and Roico III are mentioned in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production.[10] On both models, the lens is a three-element Roico 60mm f/3.5 made by Nippon Kōsokki. The Roico II is listed with a Roico shutter (5–200, T, B) and the Roico III with an RKK shutter (1–200, T, B).

Actual examples have been observed with an everset shutter giving 5–200, B, T speeds, corresponding to the late Roico II.[11] The exposure counter reset button differs from the early production.

At least one surviving example corresponds to the Roico III, with a setting shutter giving T, B, 1–300 speeds, engraved RKK at the bottom of the speed rim.[12]

Other variants Edit

The example pictured above has a Kraft-Anastigmat 5cm f/3.5 lens mounted on a shutter with setting lever giving B, 1–300 or perhaps B, 1–500 speeds (the top speed is barely legible).[13] It is not known for sure if this equipment is original or not. This lens was originally made by Takahashi for the Kraft, a camera made by Echt. Conversely one Kraft camera is known with a Roico Anastigmat 50mm f/4.5 lens. This might indicate that there were reciprocal supply agreements between Echt and Riken (see also the discussion on the Kraft and Letix).

Late production examples also exist with an NKS shutter (T, B, 1–200) with setting lever. They have ROICO at the bottom of the shutter plate. Some have NKS at the base of the speed rim, whereas others have NKS–TOKIO.[14]

Total production Edit

The lens numbers observed so far go from 11813 to 17486, for a sequence perhaps starting at 10000. The Roico 60mm f/3.5 lens was probably used on this camera only, and we can thus give a rough estimate of about 8,000 examples of the Roico.

Rangefinder conversions Edit

The Cyclon coupled rangefinder conversion offered in 1943 and 1944 for the Gelto was also available for the Roico.[15] The conversion is described in detail in this section of the Gelto page. It is not known if the earlier conversion with separate range- and viewfinder, called Suzuki coupled device, was offered for this camera. No surviving example of the Roico has been observed with a rangefinder conversion.

Notes Edit

  1. According to this page of the Ricoh official website.
  2. Arimura, p.6 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14, says this of the Gokoku, which has a similar body.
  3. "Senzen no rikō kamera – hoi", p.21 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14, and this page of the Ricoh website.
  4. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item K7.
  5. Advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1940, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104, advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1940, p.A86, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.64, and advertisement in Asahi Camera May 1940, p.A83.
  6. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 1, sections 9 and 10.
  7. Advertisement in Asahi Camera January 1941, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.65.
  8. Advertisement in Asahi Camera February 1941, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.104.
  9. Examples pictured in this article by David Silver (lens no.11813), pictured in this page and this page at Asacame (lens no.12125), and observed in an online auction (body no.12182, lens no.12172).
  10. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 146–7.
  11. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3049 and "Senzen no rikō kamera – hoi", p.21 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14 (lens no.13150), examples pictured in this page (lens number is probably 13433) and this page (lens no.13674) of the AJCC, and examples observed in online auctions (lens no.15392 and 15738).
  12. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3050 and "Senzen no rikō kamera – hoi", p.21 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.14 (lens no.16528).
  13. Example pictured in this page, body no.12552. The example was repaired at some time: two screws are missing from the front of the top plate.
  14. NKS: example observed in an online auction (lens no.14235). NKS–TOKIO: example pictured in McKeown, p.833 (lens no.17486), and example observed in an online auction (body no.17223, lens no.17422).
  15. Advertisements dated July 1943 and May 1944 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.111–2.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

Recent sources Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In Japanese:

Asahi Bussan and Riken prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rigid or collapsible
Vest Adler | Gokoku | Semi Kinsi | Letix | Olympic | New Olympic | Regal Olympic | Semi Olympic | Super Olympic | Vest Olympic | Riken No.1 | Ricohl | Roico | Seica | Zessan
folders pseudo TLR TLR
Semi Adler | Adler III | Adler A | Adler B | Adler C | Adler Four | Adler Six | Gaica | Heil | Kinsi Chukon Ref Ricohflex | Ricohflex B

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