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Ruvinal

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Japanese Six (6×6)
Postwar models (edit)
folding
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Japanese 6×6 TLR, pseudo TLR and medium format SLR ->
Japanese Semi (4.5×6) and older 6×9 ->

See also the Ruvinalflex 6×6 TLR.

The Ruvinal (ルビナル) is a Japanese dual-format 6×6 and 4.5×6 folding camera, made between about 1950 and 1955.

Origin Edit

The Ruvinal was a continuation of the National and Ugein folders, made until the end of the war by Tōa Kōki. The body was inherited from the original model dated 1937. The top housing and other controls were inherited from the dual-format Ugein, released in 1943.

The Ruvinal is usually attributed to Shōei Kōgaku or Shōei Sangyō, but no original document has yet been found to confirm this.[1]

The camera was first distributed by Maki Shōji, successor of Eikōdō, the distributor of the National and Ugein before 1945. The name of the company became Eikōdō again in 1953.

Description Edit

The Ruvinal is a horizontal folder, with folding struts inspired from the Balda folders. There is a top housing covering all the top plate, containing the finder in the middle, this top housing is the same as on the Ugein. The body release is on the right, the accessory shoe and folding bed release are to the left of the viewfinder. The advance knob is at the left end and is bigger than on the Ugein. It has an arrow to indicate the winding direction and three letters engraved, perhaps reading R.O.M. There is a swinging mask in the viewfinder for 4.5×6 pictures, actioned by a small button on the top, absent on the Ugein.

The back is hinged to the left and has two round red windows, protected by horizontally sliding covers, slightly different from the Ugein. There are 16 EX and 12 EX indications embossed in the leather on the left of the windows. The name RUVINAL 120 is also embossed the back leather under the red windows. It is said that the camera can take 120 and 620 film.[2]

Advertisements and other documents Edit

Some sources say that the Ruvinal was released in 1950.[3] A camera called Ugein Six (ユーゲンシックス) was featured in the December 1949 issue of the Japanese magazine Camera Art, with a Wester 75/3.5 lens and T, B, 1–200 speeds.[4] This was probably the name originally intended for the Ruvinal.

The earliest advertisement found in Japanese magazines is in the November 1951 issue of Asahi Camera.[5] The camera is simply called Ruvinal and has a coated 80/3.5 lens and a synchronized NKK Wester shutter, giving B, 1–200 speeds with a self-timer.

The camera was featured in the December 1951 issue of Asahi Camera as the Ruvinal III.[6] Advertisements dated December 1951 and later have a Ruvinal A with 1–200 speeds and a Ruvinal B with 10–200 speeds.[7] Both have a 80/3.5 lens, a self-timer and flash synchronization.

In advertisements dated May 1953, November 1953 and September 1954, the specifications are the same and the pictures show a R.V.L. shutter.[8]

Actual examples Edit

One example is pictured in McKeown as a Ruvikon 120. It has a Wester Anastigmat lens and an NKK Wester shutter of an early type, giving T, B, 1–200 speeds with no flash synchronization.[9] This version probably predates the Ruvinal.

On the early examples of the Ruvinal, the name RUVINAL is engraved above the viewfinder together with the serial number. The following lens and shutter combinations are known:

  • C Wester Anastigmat 7.5cm f/3.5 lens, N.K.K. Wester shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[10]
  • Ruvinal Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens, N.K.K. Wester shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[11]
  • Ruvinal Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5, NKS shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, two-pin synch);[12]
  • Ruviner 7.5cm f/3.5, Lotus shutter (reported only).[13]

Lotus shutters are also found on the Gelto.

On the later examples, the top plate is engraved RUVINAL MOD. III, even if it seems that the camera was never advertised as the Ruvinal III. (McKeown mentions a Ruvinal II but its existence is unconfirmed.)[14] No other change is visible: the company probably felt that the name "MOD. III" added to the value of the camera. It is probably for a similar reason that a MODEL III engraving was added to the Ruvinalflex TLR, again with no model II and no apparent change.

The following lens and shutter combinations are known for the Ruvinal III:

  • C Pentagor Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens, R.V.L. shutter (200–1, B, self-timer, one-pin synch);[15]
  • C Pentagor Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens, Model-III shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[16]
  • C Pentagor Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens, Model-B shutter (B, 10–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[17]
  • C Pentagor Anastigmat 80mm f/3.5 lens, no-name shutter (200–1, B, self-timer, one-pin synch);[18]
  • Seriter Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, Carl Mer-A shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[19]
  • Seriter Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, Model-A shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[20]
  • C Seriter Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, Model-A shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[21]
  • Seriter Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens, Model-B shutter (B, 10–200, self-timer, one-pin synch);[22]
  • C. Wester NKK 7.5cm f/3.5 lens, N.K.K. Wester shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer, one-pin synch).[23]

The R.V.L., Model-A and Model-B shutters have their respective name engraved at the base of the speed rim. The Carl Mer-A shutter is inscribed CARL MER-A at the top of the shutter plate (the name might be "Carlmer-A" as well). The Model-III shutter is inscribed MODEL-III at the bottom of the shutter plate, a similar shutter has been observed on a Gelto.

Rangefinder version Edit

An uncoupled rangefinder version with lever advance, called Ruvinal R, was featured in the news column of the November 1955 issue of Sankei Camera.[24] Another source mentions the 1955 uncoupled rangefinder version but calls it "R.L.L. II".[25]

There are three documented Mod. IV examples.

In all cases, the Ruvinal Mod. IV is a horizontal folder for 120 film. There is a top housing covering all the top plate, containing the uncoupled rangefinder, the advance mechanism on the left and the RF focus wheel at the right. The body release is on the right side, above the RF wheel. The accessory flash shoe is centered. There are no side strap fittings. The camera has a tripod screw fitting, underneath, in the centre.

Rangefinder is uncoupled, of the coincident type - aligning the superimposed images on the viewfinder. Distance is then read from a curved window on the top cover, and then transferred to the lens. The advance mechanism is by means of a folding lever, a clever detail not found on many folders. It has no auto stop, meaning that the red window must still be used to align the frame.

It is a dual format camera, capable of providing either 16 6x4.5 or 12 6x6 shoots per roll of film. The back door has two windows to accommodate for each format, with sliding covers. There are 16 EX and 12 EX indications embossed in the leather on the left of the windows. The name RUVINAL 120 is also embossed the back leather under the red windows.

The two earlier units documented have a C. Pentagor 80/3.5 lens on RCK 1-200 + B shutter. The late unit documented has the same lens on a 1-200 + B NKS shutter. Lens is front element focusing, multicoated, and closes up to f/22.

There is no serial number embossed or engraved on the leather. However, based on the lens serial numbers on the three units observed so far (and supposing these were not mounted on other cameras), it can be estimated a production of about 32.000 cameras. Earliest camera known (shown in this page) has S/N 40346, while the latest has S/N 62292.

Shoei RUVINAL Mod. lV 006
Shoei RUVINAL Mod. lV 003

The Shoei Ruvinal Med lV 120 Rollfilm Folding bed camera. c. 1955 from the David Bennett Camera Collection, Ref.061

Notes Edit

  1. Shōei Kōgaku: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.373. Shōei Sangyō: McKeown, p.891, Supuringu kamera de ikou, p.113, and Lewis, p.73. Sugiyama, items 1414–5, says "Shoei Manufacturing Co."
  2. McKeown, p.891.
  3. Supuringu kamera de ikou, p.113, and Lewis, p.73.
  4. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.371.
  5. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.209. It is the earliest advertisement listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.373.
  6. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.373.
  7. Date: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.373. Lewis, p.83, says that the "Ruvinal Six A and B" were introduced in 1953, but it is probably a mistake.
  8. Advertisements published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.209–10. See also the advertisement dated 1954 reproduced in this page at Shashin-Bako.
  9. McKeown, p.891.
  10. Examples observed in online auctions.
  11. Example pictured in Supuringu kamera de ikou, p.113.
  12. Example pictured in this page, the lens name Ruvinal is reported only. The example pictured as a "Ruvinal III" in McKeown, p.891, looks the same, with an NKS shutter and a similar lens bezel, and seems to have the early engraving type with the serial number.
  13. Example offered for sale by a dealer, reported as a "Ruvinal I".
  14. McKeown, p.891.
  15. Example sold in an online auction.
  16. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1415.
  17. Example sold in an online auction.
  18. Example observed in an online auction, and example pictured in this page of the Mokomoko Nikki blog.
  19. Example pictured in a website, currently offline.
  20. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1414.
  21. Example pictured in this page, the shutter name is reported only.
  22. Example sold in an online auction.
  23. Example sold in an online auction and example pictured in this page.
  24. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.373.
  25. Supuringu kamera de ikou, p.113.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In Japanese:

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