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Seica (4.5×6)

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Japanese Semi (4.5×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
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Postwar models ->
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The Seica is a Japanese coupled-rangefinder folding camera taking 4.5×6cm exposures. It is not listed in any source found so far, and it is only known from pictures in an American online auction. The camera was probably never sold and the surviving example is certainly a prototype.

Description Edit

The Seica is a horizontal folder. The viewfinder is contained in a top housing, where it is offset to the left, as seen by the photographer. The rest of the housing contains a rangefinder, with two round windows and a separate eyepiece on the left, under the accessory shoe. The lens standard consists of a large rectangular plate, moving back and forth for focusing. This is controlled by a wheel protruding from the rangefinder housing and driven by the right hand index. The focusing mechanism is somehow reminiscent of the Dollina cameras. No distance scale is visible, perhaps because the camera is a prototype, lacking some features that would have been added in the production camera.

The back is hinged to the left and contains two red windows to control the film advance. The advance key is at the bottom right.

The name Seica, the company name SEIKI-KOGAKU and the serial number are engraved above the top housing. The only surviving example observed so far has N°1503. The name Seica is also embossed at the front of the leather case.

On the Seica no.1503,[1] the shutter is a Compur giving T, B, 1–300 speeds and the lens is a Nikkor 7.5cm f/4.5 by Nippon Kōgaku, with no.75109. The lens has no focusing helical because of the special focusing mechanism.

Maker and date Edit

The camera's general appearance is that of a wartime model. The SEIKI-KOGAKU engraving might indicate that the Seica was made by the company Seiki Kōgaku, predecessor of Canon. A similar engraving is found on early Canon rangefinder cameras made from 1938 to 1947, such as the Canon S, NS, J and followers.

The presence of a Nikkor lens is a further hint: Nippon Kōgaku was the supplier of the lenses of the Canon rangefinder, and only very few other Japanese camera makers are known to have used Nikkor lenses.[2] The lens number 75109 certainly consists of the "75" prefix for the focal length and the number 109. This numbering pattern was used by Nippon Kōgaku for 5cm lenses until June 1944.[3]

Among the objects offered by the auction seller was a Hexar 50cm f/5 lens by Konishiroku, engraved Konishiroku Tokyo (no.3152). This lens was most certainly a military lens made between 1943 and 1945.[4] These items perhaps came from the estate sale of a former US soldier who had access to some Japanese production facilities during the occupation of Japan.

Pictures Edit

Notes Edit

  1. The Seica no.1503 and its lens and shutter unit were sold in separate auctions, but they appear to fit perfectly together.
  2. Konishiroku used Nikkor lenses on special versions of some folding plate cameras.
  3. Dechert, pp.30–3.
  4. Konishiroku lenses made before 1943 were engraved Rokuoh-sha.

Bibliography Edit

  • Dechert, Peter. Canon Rangefinder Camera 1933–68. Hove (UK): Hove Books Ltd., 1985. ISBN 0-906447-30-5. This book does not mention the Seica but contains much information about early Canon cameras and Nikkor lenses for them.

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