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Royal 35

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The Royal 35 fixed lens rangefinder camera was the first camera made by Royal Camera of Tokyo in 1955, featuring:

  • rangefinder-coupled Tomioka Tominor 50mm / f2.8 - f22 with 5 elements, or, Tominor 50mm / f2.0 - f22 lens with 7 elements and with a 40.5 filter ring. The f2.8 lens was developed in two versions. The early f2.8 lens version had a stepped barrel and 32mm filter ring. The later f2.8 lens version appeared similar to the faster f2.0 lens with 40.5 filter ring, so that both Royal 35 versions (and later Royals) could use the same size filters, hoods and lens caps.
  • Copal-S shutter with shutter speeds: B, 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and 1/300s. The shutter was located in the body behind the lens, which was not usual for mid-1950's mid-market Japanese rangefinder cameras.
  • body-mounted Copal self-timer with lever, versus a lens-mounted self-timer.
  • Shutter speed dial on the body, versus a speed ring on the lens.
  • 10-blade aperture diaphragm on each lens version, giving nearly circular pupils.

There were two main Royal 35 versions. The 'deluxe version'[1] used the f2.0 lens, had a conical chrome-capped black shutter speed dial. The standard model used the f2.8 lens, had a larger, flatter silver shutter speed dial.

Royal 35 bodies were numbered sequentially from 18xxx up into the low 2xxxx's. Both 'deluxe version' and standard version Royal 35 were produced concurrently. Earlier standard models had the f2.8 with stepped lens barrel. From standard version body number 206xx the later f2.8 lens was also available.  Each lens version had its own separate serial number range: the early f2.8 began in the 19xxx range, the later f2.8 in the 2xxxx range and the f2.0 lens in the 3xxxx range.

For both, only the 'Royal' script logo was engraved on the front plate and the model name '35' was not engraved anywhere on the body. This is why this camera is sometimes called the 'no-name Royal'.


The reference book by Sugiyama & Naoi supposes that a Royal 35 S[2] was introduced in 1955, at least for the Japanese Domestic Market. And, according to Sugiyama & Naoi, the 35 S may have had capability for interchangable lenses but only the normal 50mm f2.0 Tominor lens was ever mounted. Royal itself may have added to the confusion: in its literature[3] Royal called the 50mm f2.0 lens an "S-Type", even though the lens did not have a screw-type interchangable mount.

See also the earlier Miyagawa Royal 35, version of the Picny 35.

References Edit

  1. Use of this term follows Sugiyama & Naoi practice: Royal Camera did not appear to differentiate between versions when variations of the same model were made.
  2. Sugiyama/Naoi "The Collectors Guide to Japanese Cameras", code number 3743, p229. The photo illustrating code number 3743 is of an early standard Royal 35, and so the accuracy of their entry may be in question.
  3. "Royal 35 Instruction Book", back cover: camera specifications.

Links Edit

In Japanese:

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